Posts tagged: Jaromir Jagr

Trade deadline target: Jaromir Jagr

This post is complete speculation and is not intended to infer that the Rangers have seriously considered Jagr or that any negotiations are underway.

In the wee hours of Thursday morning, Penguins GM Ray Shero was able to snatch Jerome Iginla out from under the Boston Bruins.  This acquisition made the Pens incredibly formidable on paper, and took the top RW available off the market.  For this post, however, I want to focus on another right winger, who could have a serious impact on the playoff races this season.  I think the Rangers should bring (back) Jaromir Jagr.

I know that there will be quite a few questions about the recently re-signed Mats Zuccarello, since they will have ostensibly have been brought in for the same purpose.  However, I don’t believe (with all due respect to Zucc) that the Rangers should let his arrival impede a possible pursuit of Jagr.  While Zuccarello is a nice little player, he has something of a spotty track record of NHL success.  Nothing should be guaranteed to him, and anything that will improve the current squad should be considered. Read more »

Other free agent forwards of interest

We’ve already covered some of the more intriguing players that will be available via free agency, but it doesn’t appear likely that the big-ticket guys like Zach Parise and Ryan Suter will end up in New York.  The 2012 free agent class is extremely thin, but at the draft last weekend GM Glen Sather confidently stated the team would still be “fairly aggressive” in free agency.  So who else could the organization pursue on July 1st?

Today we’ll look at the forwards.

The Dinosaurs

Ray Whitney – Scares many off because of his age (40), but he actually seems to be getting more productive somehow.  Wants to be paid, but doesn’t require a long-term commitment.  Might make a lot of sense on a one- or two-year deal.

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Lessons learned from Jagr

Take a good look at this picture. Those aren’t the legs of a man who slacks or avoids the gym. This is a photo of a man who is serious about being in the best possible shape you can be in. Jagr’s training and conditioning is bar none and it is one of the reasons why he has dominated professional hockey for 20+ years.

As a member of the New York Rangers, Jagr’s ability to create offense off the cycle was beyond elite. Part of what helped create those plays in the OZ was his ability to protect the puck, and a lot of it had to do with his build and conditioning. Whenever I talk to those who have either worked for or covered teams Jagr has played for, I always hear admirable stories about JJ working out at night after playoff games, or at 3am in the morning. The guy just took his workout regimen to another level and it showed.

So what does this have to do with the current Rangers squad?

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Free Agency Musings!

It’s Musings Thursday. The day before Free Agency so that makes this the Free Agent edition of Musings. See what I did there? I’m a genius I tell thee….

I wanted to tell you all that today was Christmas Eve and that we would all be excited like little children for tomorrow morning. Someone got to it before me but the thought remains. I’m so excited. Are you?

Inconvenient: I’m moving apartments tomorrow. Location is a massive upgrade but in terms of Free Agency it’s a huge pain in the ass. Moving all my stuff to a place with no internet connection for two weeks on free agency day? Sweet Jesus! My dad is getting an unexpected visitor tomorrow as I use and abuse his internet connection all day. No way do I miss Free Agency day.

Brad Richards. Everyone has taken their guess at where he goes, for how long and most importantly for how much. I think the Rangers offer him 6 years and 42 million. Does he take it? I think so but the Rangers (in my humble opinion) will not be competing against themselves even if they are the best fit.

Random moment of the day: Driving to the garage to get my car fixed – for the second time in a week! – and a Mercedes drove past me with the private licence plate: CD NMC.  I kid you not. Has Chris Drury and his No Movement Clause come all the way over to the UK to get away from it all?

Fact: The Rangers will be considerably better after July 1st than it is today. Of that, I am convinced.

Over/Under on Rangers free agent signings? With the over/under being 2 I’m saying over. I think they bring in two new faces (including Mr Richards) and bring back one of their own free agents.

A few players have got new (temporary?) homes this past few days. Let’s discuss them. James Wisniewski; I know a lot of you guys wanted him on the Rangers but the defense (barring a depth addition) is set. The West got tougher though, because if Columbus can sign him up and they have Carter to go with Nash then this team is definitely a playoff team in my opinion. Or is it? The West remains stacked.

Christian Ehrhoff; First the Isles and now the Sabres. First things first he is a good defenseman that is about to be handsomely overpaid. I know plenty of people will have laughed at the Islanders inability to sign him but in the end it didn’t cost them to try so kudos for being aggressive. Speaking of aggressive, if the Sabres sign him they become much better. Given the new owners ambition don’t rule them out of the Richards sweepstakes, assuming BR would be willing to play there.

  • You want examples of Free Agency being shallow this year? The deals for Tomas Kopecky, Chad Larose and David Jones were very generous to say the least, especially Kopecky’s.

Jaromir Jagr. He loves the attention doesn’t he? If he signs with the Pens that’s bad news for the Rangers as he’s in the division and makes the Pens much better. They say the deal is stalling. Some say it’s because he wants to come back to New York. This is the guy that was the first hockey $100m earner. If I’m Sather I welcome him back IF he will play for league minimum. Money shouldn’t be a factor for him.

Beyond Free Agency: Prospect Camp has been interesting. A lot of players have impressed. Andrew Yogan looks like a keeper; strong on the puck with good size. He’ll impress for the Whale if he plays a full year there. Ryan Bourque has impressed, Fasth and Thomas are scoring goals, McIlrath is playing both ends of the ice well and Erixon has displayed some slick puck movement. All bodes well.

On McIlrath: He’s taking responsibility over? Hard to gauge amongst fellow kids but the fact the player covets the role of leader bodes well. If he can improve his skating he may be in New York sooner rather than later. I had him tabbed for the MSG no earlier than 2 more years but if he’s growing as a personality and his skating catches up to his size is it a long shot that he makes it next year? Not at all.

  • Hall of Fame Selection: I may be biased but I think Eric Lindros deserves entry eventually. This year’s class was a good one though and given the candidates next year he’s going to have to wait a while longer. Does Pavel Bure deserve it? Yes.

Good luck in retirement to Todd Marchant and Paul Kariya. In very different ways both were very good NHL’ers. Kariya for a while was truly elite while Marchant is an ex Ranger.

I purposely got to the end of this Musings post without discussing the Chris Drury buy-out. I’m the bigger man! Enjoy Free Agency people. Fingers crossed!! Go RANGERS (welcome, Brad).

 

Musings Time: Post Awards

It’s a Musings day and we have a lot to discuss. How much of it is worth discussing is up to you.

April 23rd. That was the date the Rangers were eliminated from the playoffs. Its two months today already. Time really does fly doesn’t it? Look at it this way: at least the next Rangers game should come around quickly.

It’s official: The Rangers are playing the Winter Classic. I have to admit, it’s great the Rangers are involved, but I truly think the league should have staged the game in New York. Imagine a game between two hated rivals such as the Rangers and Flyers and at an epic, famous venue like Yankee stadium (I know not available) or Giants Stadium? Hard to think the Phillies venue holds as much intrigue.

Music moment: I’m in a lively state recently. On my iPod right now are the Beastie Boys. Always gets me motivated. Sabotage is still the best music video of all time, in my opinion.

Awards Night 1: Nick Lidstrom did NOT deserve the Norris. His brand and reputation won him the trophy last night. The winner of the best defenseman title going minus 2? Oh my.

Awards Night 2: Corey Perry DID deserve the Hart. It seemed that every time I checked box scores during the season, especially down the stretch, he seemed to score the game winner or have a two goal game or massive influence the outcome of games. He was clutch, elite and it’s nice to see a fresh face win the trophy. 50 goals is always an impressive achievement.

Awards Night 3: I think the league (given the candidates) got most of the other major awards right. Kesler deserved to be the Selke – he had a stunning regular season. Thomas was dominant and statistically was the best goalie while Jeff Skinner had a 63 point rookie season which included an all star weekend – a very deserving Calder winner.

Nice to see ya! Henrik Lundqvist gets to face his hometown club before next season starts? Well, Torts may dress Marty Biron for the game. Yeah, right. It should be a great occasion for Henrik, wonder if his brother Joel will score on him?!

Awkward moment: I was at work last night and a man came up to me asking if I wanted to work with him. I had the ‘right look’ and he ‘liked the way I engaged’. I would be his ‘big summer signing’. I really struggled to take the man seriously.

What do you all think of the Islanders new lease agreement? I’ll be happy if it really means securing the Islanders locally. I like the rivalry.

Soccer time; Chelsea one of the biggest teams in World Football have just employed a 33 year old as their new manager. That’s less than 4 years older than me. Does that mean I can coach the Rangers?

NHL Draft week! Friday night is the first round, the Rangers are drafting 15th. Or are they? There is a legitimate chance they could move in the draft, but of course it depends who falls and who is available. Given the Leafs are itching to move up the draft (25th and 30th at present) I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Leafs try and swing a trade with the Rangers. Don’t forget we will be doing a live chat for the first round of the playoffs right here on BSB.

My draft choice: The more I look at it, the more I want Mark McNeil. Will he be available at #15?

Free Agency is 8 days Away. Who can say Richards?

When will Callahan and Dubinsky get their new deals? I’m thinking Callahan gets his new deal in July, Dubinsky in August. I don’t think Dubinsky’s new deal takes as long as his last one.

Rangers Top Rookie in 2011/12? Tim Erixon. He’ll score at least 25 points.

By the time free agency is upon us will Jagr have a new home? He will. It just won’t be New York. Has anyone divided opinion in recent years like number 68?

I am far, far too excited about the draft and free agency. I think the Rangers will be significantly better by the time the sun sets on July 1st. What do you think?

Jagr to New York Won’t Go Away

In a rumour that just won’t go away Jaromir Jagr remains a possibility for the Rangers as his agent Petr Svoboda has ‘offered’ him to five clubs – including the Rangers. Even more odd than the veteran winger being linked to the Rangers is the fact he is being linked to another ex club; the Washington Capitals. Jagr’s exit from Washington to New York may be one of the bitterest departures from a club in league history so to see him linked to the Caps is amusing.

With several sources including TSN reporting the rumours, there seems to be some legitimacy to it all ,however Jagr back to New York simply doesn’t make much sense. Yes the Rangers need scoring and yes, personally I would like to see one of my hockey idols return as he has proved in the KHL (and more recently the World Championship) that he still has a lot of game. However the Czech legend is 39, was never known for his speed and has a huge ego – all reasons why he doesn’t fit on this Rangers club, a club trying to be known for speed and collective effort.

Could he make a (positive) difference to the Rangers? Perhaps. He adds a lot skill; would help the power play and would take some pressure off of Gaborik and should the Rangers really manage to get Brad Richards, Jagr on the second line would give the Rangers real offensive depth. At this stage it is unclear what Jagr would expect to return to the NHL but the rumours of other involved parties such as the Montreal Canadiens (who could really do with Jagr’s size) seem to be much more realistic than a surprise return to Broadway. When will these NY rumours end? The day he actually signs somewhere else, so get used to hearing about them.

 

Jagr Not Even Considering NHL Return?

Apparently the great 68 is not even discussing terms with NHL clubs over a return to the league he once dominated. Jagr’s agent, Jaroslav Zidek, said that Jaromir was only talking to KHL teams at the moment with SKA of St Petersburg apparently leading the way. Once again playing devil’s advocate, what would Jagr really mean if he shocked the world and came back to NY?

The Good: Jagr still possess unbelievable skill, at a level not even Gaborik can match – indeed there are not that many current NHL superstars throughout the league that boast the skill set of Jagr. An infusion of such skill is sorely needed for the Rangers. He’d help the power play and certainly alleviate some of the pressure and attention off the Rangers other skilled star, Gaborik. He proved at the recent World Championship he has plenty left to give, but at what capacity and on what line remains to be seen.

The Bad: Can his ego survive not being the ‘main guy’ if he chose a place like New York? Would his recruitment retard the development of a young player or block the chances of acquiring a younger skilled forward? After all, there are only so many spots to go around. Then there are wage demands; while they may not be at the level he commanded in his previous turn on Broadway it’s unclear what he’d expect to come back – surely it would not be peanuts. One would also need to consider whether he would mesh with a coach like Tortorella? Unlikely.

The truth: With every passing rumour from his agent, out of the KHL or in the domestic Czech media it seems an NHL return is becoming less likely. A return to a club like the Rangers, on a distinct youth movement seems even more unlikely. Yes, he could certainly add to the current Rangers but the key question is at what cost? If Sather hasn’t been in contact yet, there’s a pretty high chance he won’t be anytime soon. It seems it is time to remember Jagr purely on his past Blueshirt merits.

 

Thoughts and Musings; Jagr Anyone?

Thoughts and Musings time once again. As we get deeper into the Rangers’ off season more and more rumours and players names will get circulated. If they do, we’ll discuss them. For now, put up with me.

Let’s not pussy foot around: Jaromir Jagr. If Selanne can do it, I sure as hell believe Jagr can. He can make plays and if he has kept himself in good condition then he can still be a 50 point player for an NHL club. The question for me is dollars. If he truly just wants to return to the big league (don’t forget he was the first NHL player to earn $100m) then he’ll play for a sensible amount. He makes sense for the Rangers. He can help Gaborik and do not forget the chemistry he and Dubinsky had. Don’t think he can help Dubi go to a higher level now he’s maturing? Think again. Jagr makes sense short term.

I’m revising for end of year exams, the first of which is a week today. Study is not going well. Twitter, the Rangers and my dog are significant distractions!

Ryan Callahan is a 50 point player whether the Rangers bring in a Jagr type vet or not. He’s becoming one of the top 10-20 all-round players in the league all things considered. What are those things?  Physicality, leadership, effort, two way ability, skill, hustle, defensive conscience, hitting and attitude.

Chris Drury; I will personally donate a small amount from my personal ‘fortune’ to charity should you choose to retire. That is all.

So how was the World Championship for our Rangers? Mixed. Stepan has really kicked on and it will have helped him. McDonagh will benefit from the experience as will Kreider but it was another ‘mixed’ occasion for Gaborik. He needs to take a big deep breath this off season before heading back to NYC.

I’ve given some thought to someone’s recent idea of moving Brian Boyle. If a team is willing to give up something good to get him, I’d consider it. I like him a lot, love his size and dedication but I’d rather Richards-Stepan-Anisimov down the middle and get something for Boyle rather than waste him on the 4th line. If you can get a good pick or prospect for him, do it?

I need a holiday, preferably soon. Why can’t the Rangers play in July/August?!

I am repeatedly amazed at the ability of Sean Avery to be a newsworthy sports athlete in spite of his sport. He hasn’t been newsworthy on the ice for a good while yet here he is being a huge topic of conversation once again this past week. I’m more intrigued to follow his post NHL career than his current one and I’m a big Avery fan.

I think Mike Del Zotto has a bounce back year next season (lord does he AND the Rangers need it). He would instantly solve a big headache for the Blueshirts if he can find his form once more. This team is defensively better equipped now, to allow him so leeway too.

Who is the most irrelevant Ranger of the season? Jeremy Williams or Chad Johnson?

Speaking of Chad; been nice knowing you kiddo. You were still worth the low pick that we gave the Penguins. 6 games played, 2.59 GAA, .911 save percentage… not bad pick up, was worth the ‘risk’. Yes, I think he is not re-signed.

So what position do the Rangers draft this June? Do you think they draft up or down or stay pat?! I’d like to see them move down and accumulate assets (picks or prospects) unless there’s another ‘can’t pass up kind of guy’ falling to them.

The curious case of Vinny Prospal. How much will he ask for to return? He wants to come back, and you have to assume he knows he’s not a priority. If you can have Jagr and you already have Fedotenko and Prospal – who do you choose of the three? One or more? Depends on which prospects the Rangers think are ready. I don’t think Prospal or Feds have a contract any time soon, that’s for sure.

Please, Rangers fans, no one suggest this summer the idea of another season of Nik Zherdev. Thank you.

 

Rangers Need Skill, Not Skilled Blockers

I like a lot of what John Tortorella has done as coach of the New York Rangers. I like his commitment to youth. What I do have an issue with however is something that I have also read from other Rangers bloggers in recent days –something that Tortorella is guilty of. An elite, finesse player is an elite, finesse player. To get the best out of players such as Marian Gaborik you have to put them in the position to succeed. Not expect them to block every shot, dump and chase or play the boards with enthusiasm. You play them to their strengths. How can Gaborik use his shot when he’s thrown the puck in the corner or is in the corner himself? Far too often we have seen the Rangers few skill players tow the company line and play the grinding game. Wrong move.

A few bloggers around Ranger Land have recently been wondering why Gaborik isn’t blocking shots with reckless abandon, why a Jagr or (insert skilled free agent acquisition here) wouldn’t play ala Ryan Callahan. Well I’ll tell you this; personally I’d sure as hell be annoyed if Gaborik and Jagr threw themselves in front of shots, risking injury. What Ryan Callahan does (including his shot blocking) is what makes him a special player but even he has proven to be far from invincible. I guarantee most Rangers fans would rather he blocked a shot or two less and play 82 games a season. Goals and saves win games not blocked shots. Look at the stats and not many of the league’s leading shot blocking teams made the playoffs. Yes, this Rangers team is a blue collar bunch but it needs an infusion of skill not necessarily more work ethic.

The point here is this: the Rangers will very likely upgrade their skill level this offseason whether it’s by bringing in Brad Richards, a (short term) reunion with a guy like Jaromir Jagr or a trade to bring in another skilled veteran. When they do, they better play them as their skill sets suggest and not play them like the ‘foot soldiers’. The Rangers lost in the playoffs for a few reasons; they couldn’t win face offs, they couldn’t score on the power play and they lacked skill in comparison to the Capitals – they were often a step behind. So many of those reasons for the five game defeat come back to skill and not playing a grinding game. The Rangers have laid a great foundation for future success. There is a core in place that plays with passion, plays a strong grinding game and is a core that has some skill. This core is predominantly home grown and will be the basis of any Rangers success in the future. Now they need help. If and when the cavalry (aka the skill) gets here let’s let them do their thing shall we?

Problems With Gaborik Nothing to Worry About

This will be a brief post as I’m on the way to London to get to the airport to get to New York. Am I excited? Did the Rangers win the cup in 1994? Exactly! I can’t believe the next home game I’ll be there (in a Rangers jersey which I have yet to buy and whose name on the back I’ve yet to determine!). This is about Marian Gaborik. Gabby cannot buy a goal and cannot, it seems, even string together a few solid performances in a row. I recently mentioned how he needs to throw the puck at net as much as possible yet in the Dallas game he had one shot and played tentatively on the power play. But Rangers fans don’t need to panic. Why?

This is a player that will always score goals and he’ll find his form again, I know everyone knows that – or they should – but what’s a key difference from team’s of old is that the Rangers are a good team without getting much from their best skater. They are finding ways to win and are never out of any game and I’m hoping the coaching staff are telling Gaborik to relax and just focus on himself because the rest of the team can support him. This is a major difference. During the Jagr years, If Jagr would have had a first half like Gaborik has had (wildly inconsistent, underwhelming, injury filled) there would be no chance the Rangers are almost 10 games above .500. However if anything, Gaborik’s subpar season is merely highlighting the new found depth and development of the kids who are able to carry the Rangers through such a promising season. The Rangers never had any of this during the Jagr years where they relied on a small nucleus (of mainly veterans) to get them to the playoffs. All this bodes well for the Rangers. It’s why Gaborik can afford to find himself, although the sooner the better obviously.

Gaborik needs to shoot more, he needs to show his old confidence on the puck and he needs to take the occasional risk and fly into the offensive zone with the puck regardless of the defenseman who is waiting for him. Gaborik needs to try to be the Gaborik of old, all the while the Rangers are the Rangers; a new, young, promising bunch able to carry their elite scorer when needed. Promising times.