So long Emmy, it’s been fun (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images).
Over the past two days, Glen Sather has made two minor trades to acquire much-needed depth defensemen in Justin Falk from Minnesota and Danny Syvret from Philadelphia. Defensive depth was clearly an issue, as the Rangers were exploited against the Bruins without Marc Staal, and hopeless once Anton Stralman went down. They needed to address this, and they have done just that.
In Falk and Syvret, the Rangers get two young(ish) defensemen –both left-handed shots– who are on the cusp of cracking an NHL lineup. Falk has more NHL games under his belt, but both are capable of dressing in a pinch and holding their own. Neither is going to wow you, but they are certainly better than what we saw from Roman Hamrlik (or what we didn’t see from Matt Gilroy). It is likely that Falk and Syvret will mean the end of Hamrlik and Gilroy on Broadway. However, Steve Eminger is a curious case.
Warning: #fancystats coming up.
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Defense was a hallmark of the 2011-2012 New York Rangers. It was arguably the key ingredient in their run to the Eastern Conference Finals. They had an unwavering commitment to shot-blocking and solid play in their own end. Even without a ton of roster turnover, the unit was not as proficient as they were last season, but still had a solid campaign overall. Let’s look at the individual contributions of each blue liner…
McDonagh experienced a slight drop off from his 2011-2012 form, but overall showed off a much more well-rounded game. Although his point totals remained very similar to last season, he showed an increased willingness to jump up into the play and be more involved in the offense. He still plays a top-notch, shutdown defensive game and can eat workhorse minutes. As his offensive game improves, he could develop into a Norris level defenseman. Let’s not forget, he’s only 24. A-
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Source: Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images North America
Matt Gilroy may not be the most complete defensemen. In fact, he isn’t a top-four defenseman at all. But this isn’t the same Matt Gilroy that came to the Rangers after college and was immediately exploited for not being NHL ready. Gilroy has some NHL experience under his belt now and it’s showing, as Torts has been playing Gilroy over ten minutes per game in the absence of Dan Girardi.
It’s interesting to see Gilroy getting the playing time over veteran Steve Eminger, but it’s clear the coaching staff has seen something in Gilroy’s game that is making them rely on him more than Eminger or Stu Bickel. Gilroy isn’t without his flaws, as he does have many, but he brings more to the lineup –specifically against teams that skate well– than the other two spares.
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Per Larry Brooks, the Rangers have agreed to terms with defenseman Matt Gilroy. The contract is believed to be for one year at $650,000. We noted that Gilroy adds some much-needed depth and flexibility to the Rangers blue line, and was number two on the list of things we can expect the Rangers can do with business operating as usual.
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With the official signing of the Memorandum of Understanding yesterday the NHL lockout officially ended, and teams are now free to pursue business as usual. Teams are now finally allowed to sign free agents (restricted or unrestricted), make trades, make call ups, and perform other duties required for the start of the season.
For Glen Sather and the Rangers, there isn’t much to do to get this team ready for the season. Their top 12 forwards are already set, as are their top six defensemen and two goaltenders. That said, there are a few moves we can expect the Rangers to make in the coming days, some obvious, some not so obvious. Let’s get into the moves we should expect the Rangers to announce
1. Sign Michael Del Zotto
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Per Jim Cerny, both Chris Kreider and Matt Gilroy are skating at “camp” today. While Kreider was an expected Whale camp invitee, Gilroy’s status was always a bit up in the air. With his inclusion in camp, two things are assumed: 1) Gilroy will likely get an NHL contract when the league resumes business as usual on Sunday (this could be dependent on how he performs at camp), and 2) Kreider and Gilroy are the only players from the Whale roster who will get a look during mini-camp.
If assumption #2 is correct, then J.T. Miller may not be invited to camp. This is mostly because of the nature and timing of camp this year, and not an indication of how the organization views Miller.
(Photo by Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images)
No matter how much we choose to ignore it, injuries happen to every NHL club. Players get banged up, nicked up, and bruised just like everyone else. It is one of the reasons why teams spend some time and money building their depth in the AHL, as these players can come to define a season. Some players, like Ryan McDonagh, can even make veterans expendable (see: Rozsival, Michal). Others enter in an attempt to shake things up (Carl Hagelin) or due to large numbers of injuries (Stu Bickel). Either way, AHL depth is often an overlooked quality for perennial contenders.
As the Rangers call up more players, their depth in the AHL diminishes slightly. Gone are the big effects of Hagelin and McDonagh. Even Bickel has parlayed his call up into a two-year deal. The Rangers already have a spare forward (Michael Haley) and a spare defenseman (Steve Eminger) on the roster, but the injury bug isn’t always that friendly. As multiple players go down, others will need to be brought up.
Naturally, the role the injured player has will affect the player called up, so let’s look at the strong possibilities to fill these important roles:
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When Matt Gilroy re-signed with the Rangers organization (currently spending his time with the Connecticut Whale), it was presumed that if/when the NHL season begins, Gilroy will be back with the NHL club. It’s not as simple as calling him up, but that actually plays into the Rangers’ favor.
Gilroy is currently inked to an AHL contract, meaning that he would have to sign an NHL deal with the Rangers before he can skate with the club post-lockout. While that’s a bit of a bump in the road in that Gilroy can’t be immediately called up, it does help the Rangers since Gilroy would need to pass through waivers. It’s semantics, but the end result is still Gilroy with the Rangers, filling a role of bottom-pairing and/or depth defenseman.
Barring injuries, and assuming that Anton Stralman doesn’t regress, that leaves Gilroy, Stu Bickel, and Steve Eminger fighting for the sixth, seventh, and eight defensemen roles.
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Welcome back Matt Gilroy to the New York Rangers organization. Recognizing that they are (very) thin on defense, CT GM Jim Schoenfeld turned to a familiar face by signing the former Ranger defenseman (per Larry Brooks).
Matt Gilroy has signed AHL contract with Whale. Prodigal free agent D presumably will sign with Rangers when lockout ends.
What Brooks adds there is an interesting little tidbit, as the Rangers were short on defensive depth last season. Remember that Gilroy was a free agent when the lockout began, which made him free to sign with any AHL club. Gilroy will remain with Connecticut for the duration of the lockout, and as Brooks mentions, might be up with the Rangers once the lockout is over.
In two seasons with the Rangers, Gilroy contributed 7 goals and 19 assists in 127 games before signing with the Tampa Bay Lightning for the 2011-2012 season. That year, Gilroy finished with a line of 3-17-20 in 67 games with Tampa Bay and the Ottawa Senators.
After the draft ended yesterday, Glen Sather was pretty candid about the RFA situations, qualifying offers given, and the Evgeny Grachev trade. Regarding Grachev, it appears he asked out of NY over a year ago, and that the Rangers had been shopping him all year. St. Louis was the only team interested, which severely limits his trade value. That surely explains not only the trade, but the lack of return for a kid with that much potential. It does make you wonder why he wanted out though.
As for the RFAs, Slats stated that all RFAs have been given qualifying offers except for Matt Gilroy. Gilroy QO of $2.3 million was too much for the Rangers, who offered him a separate deal, which he rejected. Gilroy will now hit the open market on July 1. As for the remaining QO’s, the dollar value is as follows:
Artem Anisimov – $803,250
Brian Boyle – $605,000
Ryan Callahan – $2.4 million
Brandon Dubinsky – $2.0 million
Mike Sauer – $550,000
Slats does not expect the Rangers to sign any pending RFAs prior to July 1, which gives them flexibility to go after UFAs, particularly Brad Richards.