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Posts tagged: Markus Naslund

Naslund Joins Forsberg in Modo

Ex-Ranger, and recently retired, Markus Naslund has decided to end his retirement and play with Peter Forsberg for Modo in the Swedish Elite League. Ready for the kicker?

According to reports, Naslund and Forsberg have both turned down salaries with the team will play for free.

Naslund turned down a guaranteed $3 million from the Rangers to retire, and has come out of retirement to play for free. That’s just a love for the game. Naslund performed reasonably well during his one year with the Rangers. He still had some gas left in the tank. It will be interesting to see if both he and Forsberg make the Swedish Olympic squad.

Naslund: I Liked New York

Jim Jamieson of The Province caught up with the forever-class-act Markus Naslund to discuss his career, his family, and his retirement. His time with the Rangers was addressed, and Naslund had nothing but great words for the organization:

Q: When you signed with the Rangers year ago, had you made a decision it was time for a change or were you still open to returning to the Canucks?

A: I hadn’t made a decision prior to July 1. I was still talking with Mike (Canucks GM Gillis). I was hoping and expecting to have a choice about coming back. But after July came around, more and more I had the feeling it wasn’t meant to be and it was time for a change. Looking back, it was probably the right thing. I had a great time in New York. I was treated like a king there.

Q: Was being in a secondary role in New York a relief in some ways?

A: It was good for me to go to New York and not be the focal point and not have that media attention. I felt I could relax a bit.

While Naslund didn’t live up to some people’s expectations last season, he definitely exceeded mine. I had him penciled in for 15-20-35 while leading the kids. He did all that, and even chipped in ten extra goals to lead the team in that department (sad when the leading scorer put up 24 goals).

Brian Burke offered him a scouting job, it’ll be interesting to see how he would do in that role.

Official: Naslund Retires

Well, it’s official, Markus Naslund has retired. He had a great career, and was a class act all the way.

This is nothing short of great news for the Rangers, who needed his $4 million off the books quite badly. For more on the impact of his retirement, refer to our previous post.

Update 5:10pm: The Depth Chart has been updated to reflect Naslund’s retirement.

Naslund to Retire?

So, as per Larry Brooks, and all the beat writers, Ranger winger Markus Naslund is going to retire, having confirmed it to his teammates during breakup day. However, Naslund has yet to confirm this to the media, so it is still an unofficial retirement.

Personally, I won’t believe it until a press conference is called, or Naslund confirms it to the media. I find it very hard to believe that someone who put up 24 goals last season, someone who is guaranteed $3 million next year, is going to hang them up. But that’s just my two cents.

If Naslund does retire, he retires with career totals of 395-474-869 in 15 NHL seasons (1117 games). While that’s not Hall of Fame, that’s a pretty solid career.

In Naslund’s defense, while he may not have been worth the $4 million cap hit (2 years – $8 million, cap hit is yearly average of the deal), he, for the most part, brought exactly what I thought he would, a 20-30 goal season, decent leadership, and a fading ability to keep up with the younger talent. I thought he would help the anemic powerplay, I was wrong there, but you can’t really blame Naslund for that one.

So what does this do for the Rangers? First, and most importantly, this saves them $4 million in cap room. It may not seem like much, but when Sather must resign Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky, and Lauri Korpikoski this offseason, and Dan Girardi and Marc Staal next offseason, that $4 million is going to come in handy (especially with the cap headed to an estimated $48-$50 million for the 2010-2011 season). That $4 million can also be used to help resign Blair Betts and Fred Sjostrom this offseason. These are 7 players that the Rangers can ill afford to lose if they want to get younger and faster.

Second, this opens up a winger spot on a top line for the aforementioned Korpikoski, who for a while was toiling on the 4th line. He will finally have a consistent chance to show he is better than the 6-8-14 he put up this season. He will need that chance, and I am happy he finally gets it.

Third, and this part scares me a bit, it opens Sather up to resign both of the Niks. Personally, I would just want Zherdev back, for the RIGHT deal. But with the added flexibility, and Sather’s track record, I wouldn’t really be all that surprised if both of them wind up back in Blue for next season, and a few seasons down the road. (Side note: I think his best option would be to cut both Niks loose and steal Alexander Radulov back from Russia, who has a $1 million cap hit for one season, and puts up the same numbers as the Niks.)

This is all speculative, as these are unconfirmed reports that he will retire.

Also, Ranger backup Steve Valliquette will be back next season. Apparently his deal was for two years, not one. He is a solid backup, and comes at a cheap price. Nothing wrong with this one.

Update 4:00pm I guess me and Stas need to work on our communication skills. We posted on the Naslund retirement at the exact same time. Creepy.

What’s the Swedish Word for Adios?

Larry Brooks writes today in the New York Post that Rangers winger Markus Naslund has told his teammates that he will retire, a move that definitely helps the Rangers salary cap situation.  The 35-year-old forward from Sweden was set to make $3 million next season, with just one year left on his contract.  Once considered the best two-way player in the game, Naslund has steadily declined over the last 5 years, registering a mere 46 points this season.  The move saves the Rangers from a buyout that would have likely occurred, seeing that Naslund didn’t fit into John Tortorella’s plan.

Even though he only played one season for the Rangers, I came to respect Naslund for the effort and class he put forth this season.  His 24 goals were exactly what you expected from him at this point in his career.  It was foolish to believe that he would step in for the departed Jaromir Jagr and as the season dragged on, so did Naslund.  Rather than draw out his career at a relatively ineffective level of play, the winger saw best to skate off at this point.

Finals Thoughts and a Recap on a Season on the Brink

I allowed myself to decompress for 24-48 hours after the Rangers season officially ended to talk about what happened.  Much like a legendary player being asked to retire when he’s ousted from the playoffs, you have to sift through your emotions before you give an honest assessment of things.  100% agree with Dave that the better team won this series, but ironically, I thought the Rangers were the better team for the most part in Game 7.  The game itself was a microcosm of the the Blueshirts season and series:  strong to start, treading water in the middle, and plagued by an inability to score and create chances in the end.  This team truly gave their all in the final game though, and that makes the sting a bit more bearable.  Now that the smoke has cleared, it has become obvious to me (and hopefully all of you) that John Tortorella got the most out of a team that has seemingly zero offensive firepower, and the fact that he got them to claw all the way into the playoffs says a lot about the type of coach he can be for this franchise.

So now that the sting is starting to subside, lets take a look back on the highs and lows of this season, and what’s to come from the 89 games:

HIGHS

-The Blueshirts got off to a fantastic start, going 10-2-1 in the month of October and staking themselves to a huge early lead in the Eastern Conference

-Three players had their numbers retired: Harry Howell (3), Andy Bathgate (9), and Adam Graves (9)

-Tom Renney and his stale style of hockey were finally replaced by John Tortorella’s aggressive attack, making for a much more efficient and relatively exciting Rangers team to watch.

-The Rangers re-acquired Sean Avery off waivers from the Dallas Stars, adding the edge that the team needed down the stretch.

-Henrik Lundqvist gave no doubt to the fact that he is easily one of the top 3 goalies in the world today

-After falling out of the playoff picture in late February/early March, the Rangers made a remarkable turn around, headlined by John Tortorella’s coaching, to finish 7th in the Eastern Conference standings.  The team had several key wins down the stretch to jump into the playoffs.

-Nik Antropov and Derek Morris were acquired via trade at the deadline, and provided some size and stability to their respective positions.

-The combination of Blair Betts and Frederik Sjostrom (throw Hank in there if you’d like) emerged as the best penalty killing unit in the NHL.

-While maybe not necessarily a high, Markus Naslund provided exactly what was expected of him: a 20-25 goal season and consistency up front.

LOWS

-The start of 2009 brough no joy to the Rangers, as they started to collapse under the Tom Renney regime.  The low-point was highlighted by a 10-2 drubbing at the hands of the Dallas Stars, and ultimately would signify the end of the Renney era.

-The tragic death of top-tier prospect Alexei Cherapanov cast a shadow over the Rangers future.

-Nikolai Zherdev’s did not provide the 30+ goal output that many believed it would, and the youngster crumbled in his first post-season

-The offseason acquistion of Wade Redden was nothing but a complete disaster.

– Michael Roszival’s absurd contract extension (mainly its length) is beginning to rear its ugly head, and the combination of Redden and Roszival’s salaries and contract length will plague this franchise for years to come.

-The power-play never amounted to anything, under both coaches, and has been the most pressing issue since the lockout ended.

-An inability to provide consistent offense or any offensive threat whatsoever doomed this team as the season progressed

-Leading 3-1 in their opening round playoff series, the Blueshirts fell apart when it mattered most, a series headlined by the suspension of John Tortorella for Game 6

-Versus continues to cover the NHL

WHATS TO COME

-Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan, Lauri Korpikoski, Sean Avery, Marc Staal, Dan Girardi will be the core of this team under the John Tortorella regime.  The new coach must also find the right players for his style of play, as it became obvious that the current group cannot provide the type of play Tortorella would like to play.

-Blair Betts, Frederik Sjostrom, Colton Orr, and Nik Antropov MUST be re-signed.  Betts and Sjostrom combine to be the best PK tandem and 4th line in the league.  Orr is the best fighter in the NHL, and you still need at least one of them on your team.  Antropov provides much needed size and scoring touch going forward.

-Markus Naslund, with only one-year remaining, should be dealt somewhere.  The aging forward, once considered the best two-way player in the NHL, did not thrive in Tortorella’s system.

-Time for Scott Gomez and Chris Drury to finally step up and take the reigns as the elder statesmen on this team.  The honeymoon is over boys.

-Say goodbye to Paul Mara (regretably), Nik Zherdev, and Derek Morris.  In addition, Sather must find a way to part ways with either Redden or Roszival, either through a buy-out or trade.

-Its time for the Rangers projects and farm system to step-up and become elite players in the league.  This includes players currently on the team (who have now played in enough tight playoff series) and players in their farm system (who up until this point have done nothing but be talked about).  History shows that free-agent/trade acquisitions don’t do it for this team, and the home-grown talent must finally rise to the top.

-If they are going to keep him for the next 3 seasons, the organization must get on the league’s case about the officiating bias towards Sean Avery.  While he is no saint, the abuse this guy takes on a nightly basis is absolutely absurd.  Game 7 was just an example.  Generally speaking, the officiating around the league in general must change, as these ticky-tack calls are making even the most die-hard hockey fan’s head spin.

-While no fault falls on him, Henrik Lundqvist must find a way to be better than spectacular come playoff time.  I’m talking god-like, all the time.  If you want to know what I’m looking for, see Giguere for the Ducks and Khabibulin for the Lightning.

-The power-play can no longer be the Achilles heel of this team.  Either through someone currently on the team stepping up or by acquiring someone via free agency or trade that can FINALLY do it themselves, the Rangers must learn to capitalize on the opportunities provided.

-Whatever the makeup of this team comes to be, they have to find a way to be consistently good all season long.  The continuous ebb and flow of the Rangers the past few seasons has come back to haunt them in the playoffs, as the lack of home-ice advantage has made things very difficult.

Whew.  I’m sure there are plenty of things here that plenty of you agree/disagree with.  I’m pretty sure there are plenty of things that I missed and will think about later.  It was a crazy season for so many reasons, and to try to cover it all would take weeks and months.  I’d like to hear about what you all have to say about the Rangers season, and what you think should/shouldn’t happen as the organization moves forward.  Either way, this has been a very enjoyable experience, and I’m looking forward to adding thoughts and insight to a team I love so much.

Playoffs?! PLAYOFFS!

Well, after what has been an incredible roller coaster of a season, the Rangers finally clinched a playoff spot yesterday with the win over Philly. I got a text message from my friend in Miami, she is a die-hard Panthers fan (apparently there are a lot of them, who knew?), and said that the first goal was “bogus”. I still don’t know how it went in, but hey, I’m not complaining. A goal is a goal. And it’s us in the playoffs, not them.

There’s no other way to put this, but Hank was brilliant in net. That glove save on Carcillo in the 3rd, WOW! Save of the year. The Garden was rockin all night, but that save made the Garden shake. Outside of Hank, the Rangers got their scoring from two of their 20-goal scorers in Callahan and Naslund. Christopher Cross Drury added two assists. He came on when the Rangers needed him the most, with two goals and two assists in two must win games. Thank you Captain Clutch.

As for playoff seedings, with the Ranger win and Montreal OTL last night, the Rangers actually sit in 7th place, tied with Montreal in points, but hold the total wins tiebreaker. A 7th place finish means Washington and the Alexanders. Should Montreal manage to sneak ahead of the Rangers in the final game of the season, it’s 8th place and the Bruins. Personally, I would rather face the Alxeanders, the goaltending is shaky in Washington, and good goaltending goes a long way in a seven game series. That said, the Rangers will need to improve on their 16-19-5 record away from home in order to advance in the playoffs.

There are two playoff spots left, for three teams out west. The Ducks, Blues and Preds all sit tied with 88 points. My prediction? I think Nashville is the odd-man out. Anaheim has been good lately, and I like the Blues, and want JD to make the playoffs. Call me sentimental. All three of those teams are in action tonight, and if you have NHL Center Ice, and have nothing to do on a Friday night, I recommend watching them.

Update 10:05am: I guess it’s time to close the poll. They are in. It feels good to be an optimist.

At risk of overstating the obvious….

That was a big win.  A huge win.  I sometimes laugh at sports reporters and anchors who ask questions that they know the answers to (i.e. “is this a big game tonight?”) and make statements to players that are so obvious its disgusting, but you can’t deny the magnitude of tonight’s W.  Sure, every game this time of year is the biggest game of the season and is a must-win, but when you consider the history and drama between these two teams, it doesn’t get much sweeter than this.  And it speaks volumes to the dynamic change undergone in the Rangers locker room from their last meeting, even though many parallels existed between now and then….

Remember way back in the Tom Renney era, circa February 2009?  The Rangers were coming off three straight losses: a blowout @ the Igloo, a blanking at the hands of the #1 seeded Bruins, and a lackluster effort against lowly Atlanta on Adam Graves Night (salvaged only by Markus Naslund’s miraculous goal with 11 seconds remaining to force OT).  Renney did his best Herb Brooks impression and chose to skate the team until their blades wore thin prior to heading out for a road game in Dallas.  The result (if you need refreshing): a 10-2 drubbing by the Stars.  The Blueshirts had the rest of the weekend to think about how shameful they played, and a shot at redemption was provided in front of a national TV audience against their archrivals across the Hudson.  Back then, I tabbed it as the most important game in Tom Renney’s tenure.  The team responded with an effortless, almost pathetic 3-0 shutout loss.  In the end, it was probably the straw that broke the camel’s back, with Renney getting fired several weeks later, a decision Sather claimed was in the works for about as long.

Tonight was the most important game in John Tortorella’s short tenure.  A blown shootout loss to lowly Atlanta and another failed attempt @ the Igloo, not to mention a pressing Florida Panthers team only 2 points away, and the Rangers again found themselves with their backs against the wall against their archrivals on national TV.  The result was a complete 180-degree reversal of fortune, all due to reasons that have been discussed ad nauseum to this point.  And a certain diminutive player wearing #16 in blue giving everyone grey hairs in red and black (Brendan Shannahan doesn’t count) didn’t hurt too much.

When you put these two periods together side by side, its easy to see how far this team has come in a relatively short amount of time.  Its great to see how everyone on the team has responded.  More importantly, we weren’t all taking crazy pills when we were screaming about how much potential this team had.

Accountability, Thy Name is Zherdev

One of the main reasons why we here at BSB were so excited about John Tortorella becoming head coach of our beloved Blueshirts was because he would finally make his skill players accountable for their actions and effort on the ice. Too many times did we see lackadaisical efforts go unpunished by Tom Renney (no offense to the Renney lovers, but this was so true it hurt).

All that changed during Thursday’s game with the Predators. First, we saw a change in the lines, as Markus Naslund was dropped to the 3rd line for his inability, thus far, to keep up with the demands on the ice of Torts. You can argue that this happened during the game against Carolina on Tuesday, but it was official for the starting lineups on Thursday.

But the accountability factor really took hold in the first period against Nashville. Nikolai Zherdev, probably the most skilled Ranger, had a lackluster effort throughout the period, which led to a terrible turnover and a goal against. From that point on, Zherdev saw just 6 minutes of playing time for the remainder of the first, and didn’t play at all for the rest of the game. There were several times when the cameras panned in on Zherdev, who looked like someone shot his puppy.

To this, I say, Bravo Torts. It’s about time the star players got punished for not trying. It sure did light a fire under Gomez, who has been the best Ranger not named Sean Avery or Henrik Lundqvist in the past few games. For this team to win, Gomez needs to be at the top of his game, and that is exactly where he is right now.

I am a fan of Zherdev, and if the Rangers resign him, his will be the next jersey I purchase (with the need to retire my Prucha jersey). He is young, skilled, and exciting to watch, when he puts forth the effort. He, along with the rest of the Rangers, need to give 110% every game for the remainder of the season just to make the playoffs, so there is no room for any one player to just mail it in.

Kudos to Torts, kudos to accountability.

New Lines, Hank Sick

Torts switched up the lines a little bit today (as per Andrew Gross). And by switching up the lines, I mean swapping Avery and Naslund. Avery, who has been working his butt off, save for two really stupid penalties, and is getting rewarded for his play. Meanwhile, Naslund, who had the least amount of ice time amongst the top six, is dropped to The Korpedo’s 3rd line. So, with the swap, you get these lines:

Avery-Gomez-Zherdev
Dubi-Drury-Antropov
Naslund-Korpedo-Cally
Sjoe-Betts-Orr

Same defensive pairings.

As per Rick Carpiniello Jane McManus (Wow, I’m really dropping the ball today):

On defense, Paul Mara played with Michal Rozsival and Derek Morris was with Wade Redden.

I like having Avery on Gomez’s line, he really complements Gomez’s speed, and will be willing to grind it out in the corners, something that line looked like it was missing. Maybe Naslund will add a little bit of a scoring touch to the Korpedo/Cally combination. This is the first “line change” under Torts, and it took 5 games to get there. It’s not even much of a change either, just a swap of two wingers.

As for Hank, Andrew Gross is reporting that Hank has a “mysterious stomach ailment”. He hasn’t been able to keep his food down, and is always feeling run down and tired. Sounds like mono to me.

If Hank has mono, that doesn’t bode well.