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Posts tagged: Glen Sather

Musings; momentum growing for the Rangers

Photo: AP

Photo: AP

It’s a good day to be a Rangers fan. Two wins on the bounce, two four goal games produced by the Rangers and suddenly a goaltender who was boasting about a lack of challenge has started to look rattled. Let’s get into the musings

I don’t care who you are – the 80’s Oilers aside – no player or team should ever provide motivation for the opposition. Holtby’s comments and Ovechkin’s comments have both being countered by improved play on the ice by the Rangers. Adam Oates cannot be happy with the way the series has begun to swing.

Obvious thought of the day: Derek Stepan is going to be a very rich hockey player sooner rather than later.

Is Stepan the first of the home grown kids – talking ‘tweener contracts – where Sather really doesn’t have the same power as he usually has in regard to controlling costs? With Richards clearly in decline (despite the occasional production recently, Stepan is an absolutely critical Ranger long term given the way he is developing.

Derek Stepan has four game winners in his last nine goals. Please remember this young man is just twenty two.

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Musings; the futures edition

Can Kreider's recent good form translate to the NHL this year?

Can Kreider’s recent good form translate to the NHL this year?

It’s rather a sombre beginning to a Musings post today as the unfortunate news of Glen Sather receiving treatment for prostate cancer reached us all. Whether you’re a Sather fan or not, I’m sure everyone joins me in repeating the wishes from this morning’s post here at the site in wishing a full and quick recovery.

One more thing regarding Sather; following an abysmal start as Rangers general manager he’s done a terrific job over the past several seasons. Wherever you look the Rangers have a bright future. Prospects dominating in Europe, a young farm team full of prospects and a young, growing contender in New York. Eventually, Sather has restocked the franchise and fleeced several of his colleagues along the way. It’s that last aspect why I’m not nervous heading toward the trade deadline.

Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh have truly developed into integral parts of this roster. That isn’t going to be a cheap summer for Sather and co. Further down the line I can see problems for the Rangers; with the cap coming down after this year and Del Zotto, Girardi and Stralman with expiring contracts after the 13/14 season the management may have to part with one or several players for financial reasons.

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Musings: Del Zotto appreciation, Cally, Redden, and more

"Some fans don't like me?Oh no!" *Family gay guy voice*

“Some fans don’t like me? … Oh no!” </sarcasm>

There’ll be no Marc Staal defence’s today (kudos Suit), no long-winded rants, just lots of discussion. I’m feeling concise today so let’s get straight into the Le Musing (ooh, very French…)

Michael Del Zotto: The young and oft maligned blueliner is off to a great start to the year. He’ll never win over all his critics but he’s been the Rangers best blueliner at both ends so far. For a unit that struggled early on, and for a player with much to prove, he’s doing exactly that. Several big plays already this season.

Glen Sather deserves a ton of credit for Del Zotto’s start. Sather challenged Del Zotto to earn a bigger deal. He called him out while at the same time ensuring he publicly acknowledged the young defenseman’s worth to the franchise. He doesn’t speak in public much but Sather hit this one on the head. Sather dealt with the MDZ situation perfectly.

If I were to personally grade Marian Gaborik after 6 games, I’d probably be harsher than most people. I’d give him a B+ where some people would see the totals and assume excellence. I’m one of Gabby’s biggest fans, but he’s at times dominated and at times been found wanting. Of course, the times he’s impressed have outnumbered those he’s struggled in. The only thing missing from Gaborik’s season thus far is that elite level of consistency.

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Rangers’ powerplay crucial to season

We need to see more celebrating from the Rangers PP unit - and soon

We need to see more celebrating from the Rangers PP unit – and soon

The Rangers need to get their powerplay to at least an acceptable standard and soon – otherwise it threatens to derail a hugely promising season. Already in this young but abbreviated season we’ve seen the Rangers powerplay, despite the addition of an elite talent in Rick Nash, fail to come through in crucial occasions in multiple games and we’re only a handful of games in.

Against Philadelphia on Thursday the Rangers had a long 5 on 3 chance that gave them the opportunity to tie the game. Including the final two minutes of the double minor, the Rangers mustered just two shots on goal in four minutes and in the game overall had just three shots on four powerplay chances. That simply isn’t good enough. Against the Penguins the Rangers had a big chance to get back in to the game when back to back minors for the Pens handed a chance to the Rangers but again, the Rangers failed to capitalise. It continues…

In the Bruins game – the season opener – the Rangers went 0-5 on the powerplay and again, had a chance to tie the game early in the third but failed to take advantage of the five on three advantage. As you can see, the Rangers powerplay is literally costing the team points. How much is too much?

John Tortorella has done a wonderful job as Rangers coach and this is by no means demanding any drastic changes. Along with Glen Sather he has overseen the return to respectability of the franchise and indeed has built up what could be a perennial contender. However, the powerplay has been at best ordinary, at worst brutal, for several seasons. At some stage the coaching staff need to answer why this ongoing issue hasn’t been remotely resolved as it’s certainly not for a lack of talent available. Whether Tortorella takes over the duties for righting the PP wrongs, or whether he changes the personnel who run the unit something needs to be done.

We’ve seen clubs such as San Jose directly address special teams’ woes with adding new coaching staff. The Sharks brought in Larry Robinson and Jim Johnson, expanded former Shark Mike Ricci’s role on the penalty kill and have seen immediate improvements on the penalty kill. It could be time for the Rangers to address their ‘situation’ in similar fashion. Why not bring in specialist coaches? Why the reluctance to draw on the obvious offensive skills and knowledge of a guy like Brian Leetch? A Leetch can’t do any worse with this group of players and at the very least would provide fresh impetus and a PR boom.

When a team can put Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik, Nash and Ryan Callahan on a first powerplay unit that team certainly has enough firepower to have a threatening special teams unit. That isn’t the case here. Something is wrong and someone needs to address it before it ruins the season. It’s already cost this team points.

It is worth noting that Torts has run successful powerplays throughout his entire career, including in the minors prior to coming to the Rangers. Pierre McGuire (hold your laughs) noted this on the radio. Naturally, Torts doesn’t have control of the powerplay this season, Mike Sullivan does. Not sure if you should read into that, but not sure you shouldn’t either.

The Alternatives (or lack of)

Do you own a pair of skates? Give Glen a call, you could be of help!

Do you own a pair of skates? Give Glen a call, you could be of help!

Yesterday we discussed how the Rangers may eventually look outside of the organisation for help on the blueline. Unless you think Stu Bickel, Matt Gilroy or Steve Eminger are the answer then it’s perhaps inevitable that the Rangers are on the lookout. Of course, this is assuming team brass do not want Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh on the ice every other shift. So, with other teams such as the Red Wings signing viable alternatives such as Kent Huskins already, who’s still out there that could help?

The Rangers decision to bring in another defenseman will depend on what the Rangers want from their last pair. The options from either a free agent or trade perspective are limited, but there are some intriguing options, both defensive and offensively.

Chris Campoli

From the unemployed pool, Campoli would likely be the most expensive, but at this stage of an abbreviated season, anyone looking for work isn’t likely to make dollars a major stumbling block. The former Islander has likely plenty of gas left in the tank, but has been injury plagued in recent times. What makes him appealing for the Rangers is that he only costs dollars. Given the issues with moving the puck out of the zone, Campoli could help given that he’s a solid puck mover. If it’s offense and mobility the Rangers are after, then Campoli is the best of the rest at this stage.

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Could the Rangers’ start prompt a search for blueline help?

(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

The irony of the Rangers unimpressive start is that this team could really benefit from Wade Redden on the bottom pair. His passing ability and experience would have been a boost to the bottom pair. Clearly though, that was never going to happen. All jokes aside, two bad losses doesn’t mean a general manager should blow up his roster and beg for help elsewhere.

However, maybe the two losses have reinforced (or exposed) a need in the eyes of Glen Sather. Countless twitter fans, media types and pre-season’ predictors expressed varying levels of concern at the bottom end of the Rangers blueline depth. Basically the concern was – is there any?

Stu Bickel has been horrible thus far, Matt Gilroy is surely just an emergency measure (based on his at best mediocre play with the Whale), and Steve Eminger would have the same problem shaking off the rust that the current defense corps is encountering. So will Sather be tempted to look for an upgrade outside of the organisation and is it needed?

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Del Zotto’s next move is critical to his Rangers career

Big decision looming for MDZ

Big decision looming for MDZ

Michael Del Zotto needs to be very conscious of how the next few days play out. How the young blueliner deals with the contract situation and the start of the upcoming abbreviated season is – to an extent – a crossroad in his young Rangers career.

The Rangers fan base can be an unforgiving one. When the crowd turns on you, the Garden can be a tough place to play (see: Malik, Marek; Rozsival, Michal). Negativity surrounding a player can certainly affect their performance, as these former Rangers would attest to. Del Zotto is in danger of coming across as greedy or unrealistic in the eyes of many, especially when the focus should be on getting up to speed as quickly as possible.

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Rangers continue to do the right thing

Will the Rangers be celebrating this summer?

Recently, Ryan Lambert suggested that the Edmonton Oilers would be looking to shake things up in the near future and suggested the Rangers as a trading partner. This prompted Dave to look at some possibilities between the two clubs and correctly noted there would need to be a lot of work done to get a deal done. Basically a deal between the two clubs remains a very long shot.

What all this theorising and suggesting does do however is emphasise one thing: The Rangers should stay the path and stay true to their own internal development. Why do the Edmonton Oilers have glaring needs that they need to address? In part because of a failure to develop their own draft picks. Goalies such as Devan Dubnyk have failed to live up to their draft status, defenseman such as Alex Plante have not emerged at all and highly touted forwards such as Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson have adapted slower than expected thus far.

The opposite can be said of the Rangers. The Rangers team is stacked with draft success stories such as Lundqvist, Callahan, Hagelin and almost the entire defense. Naturally the Oilers would enviously look to the Rangers and their ability to churn out prospects in recent years and of course, would gaze eagerly over the Rangers prospects outside of the NHL right now. But seller beware… The Rangers don’t need to make a move right now but instead should continue to build the franchise from the bottom up and make sure the pipeline to the NHL remains flowing.

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The Del Zotto contract scenario

With the Rick Nash acquisition and the changing faces among the Rangers bottom six forwards the Rangers roster has undergone considerable change. Glen Sather appears to have made most of his moves when factoring in the new contracts handed out to players such as Anton Stralman. Barring a Shane Doan arrival the last significant move the Rangers GM must make is re-signing Michael Del Zotto.

Del Zotto’s contract situation is a pretty key situation for all concerned. On the one hand the player himself would surely prefer a significant commitment from the Rangers before any possible CBA decisions can influence what he may receive. Del Zotto had a fine bounce back season and is comfortably the Rangers most offensively inclined blueliner making his position (and future) in the organisation a critical one.

Then there are the Rangers themselves. How do they address Del Zotto’s new deal? After Del Zotto was qualified for the 105% figure that was needed (after his rookie deal of $875k) Sather has been in – what appears to be – no rush in inking Del Zotto.

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One creative way that Glen Sather may already be planning for the new CBA

We’ve repeatedly lauded Rangers GM Glen Sather for his patience this summer, but rumors of new framework for the next CBA could represent just another example of the wisdom of Sather’s willingness to hurry up and wait.

One of the pieces of the owners’ first proposal to the players was to extend Entry Level contact lengths from three years to five.  It’s another attempt by teams to control their carefully selected young players on the cheap for as long as possible.

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