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Posts tagged: Michal Rozsival

Which lineup is better: The 2014 Rangers, or the active ex-Rangers?

Marian Gaborik heads up a deep group of ex-Ranger forwards

We’re (finally) just one day away from training camp! There will be a whole lot of real Ranger news coming up, but since we’ve exhausted pretty much every type of camp preview imaginable this summer – allow me just one more random post before the action kicks into high gear.

What would happen if you were to pit the 2014 New York Rangers against the best lineup of former Blueshirts still currently playing in the NHL?

Here’s my take on the best hypothetical roster of ex-Rangers that takes into account positions and logical scoring and checking lines:

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The lockout-eve Musings

As we approach the lockout deadline – faster than most people would wish – lets jump straight into another episode of Musings and talk about non – CBA, Rangers orientated stuff.

Personally I’m somewhat underwhelmed with the Steve Eminger re-signing. Yes, he fits in well with the club and has had partial success with the Rangers however the Eminger and most, if not all, veteran defenseman available would have limited offers at this stage. My preference would have been to invite Eminger and a couple of other veterans to camp (if there is one) and have an open competition. Everything seems pretty safe and secure now, heading into camp.

NHL.com recently started discussing fantasy options (getting ahead of themselves?) and they talked about Chris Kreider as a strong sleeper candidate. Kreider is exactly that. He can’t be a sure fire draft pick and his actual (non fantasy) production can’t be projected too closely, despite his playoff exposure. But Kreider has tremendous potential next season; for fantasy owners and the Rangers.

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Potential UFA target: Michal Rozsival

Don’t laugh, don’t get angry, don’t ignore the rest of the post. I’m serious on this one. Michal Rozsival could be a good temporary solution to the defensive depth issues we saw during the Rangers playoff run this year.

His name brings out the boo birds at MSG, and to be honest, it’s easy to see why. Many looked at his contract, that $5 million per year contract, and saw that Rozsival should be putting up better numbers. He shouldn’t be sitting back and playing fairly well in the defensive zone, he should be up on the powerplay and helping make it go. He did not, thus he was booed.

That’s why Rozi might be such a fit for the Rangers: He doesn’t need to be that guy to put up offensive numbers anymore. He won’t cost $5 million a year either. For the Rangers, he would be a depth defenseman, someone to play on the bottom pairing. And let’s remember that he was playing top-four minutes for this club just last year before Ryan McDonagh’s emergence made Rozi expendable. Despite lack of offensive production, he was still somewhere between serviceable and solid in his own end.

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Guest Post: The Effect of Roszival’s Absence

Afternoon everyone, it’s a game day. And what a huge game it is – against the fast closing Buffalo Sabres. However before we get to that I wanted to share a post from a guest blogger with you all. Please bear in my mind that it’s written prior to both the deadline and the McCabe deal and therefore is slightly dated.

However, the content is very debate worthy and much of it is unaffected despite being a few days late. Anyway, here it is – from guest blogger Will (sorry, Don’t have your full name – if you want to post it in the comments I’d be happy to fully credit you.)

Let’s see how many of you agree with Will on this hotly debated former Ranger….

The Effect of Roszival’s Absence

As the trade deadline approaches and GM’s around the league are making their last-second moves, Glen Sather and the typically active Rangers have been uncharacteristically quiet. The organization’s recent lack of activity on the trade front can be attributed to the move that Slats made on Jan. 10 to acquire Wojtek Wolski.

It was a trade that carried deadline-day overtones, with the Rangers picking up a high-end forward and first-round talent for an aging, and overpaid defenseman. It was the type of deal that Sather would have made in the pre-lockout era – except he would have acquired Roszival.

So it seemed, at the time, that the Rangers had committed a form of highway robbery, stealing Wolski from the Coyotes in exchange for the dispensable and replaceable Michael Roszival.

But now, 19 games later, it appears that Roszy, often a target of the Garden jeers during his New York tenure, may deserve much more credit for the Rangers’ success than he was accredited. He didn’t put up overly impressive offensive numbers (then again, none of the Rangers blue-liners do), he wasn’t a physically imposing opponent, and his fleetness of foot had long since betrayed him. But Roszival was steady. He was accountable. Sure, his game was modest, but it was largely mistake-free. He was a proven penalty-killer and an effective point-man on the powerplay. But perhaps most important of all, he was a veteran. He understood the defensive system the Rangers employed, and he was a leader for the abundance of youth around him. He was a calming influence among a defensive corps that was still young enough to get lost in Manhattan. Now, without Rosival, nevermind Manhattan, the Rangers simply look lost on the Garden ice.

When Roszvial departed for Phoenix on Jan. 10, the Rangers, 6th in the Eastern Conerence, stood at 25-15-3, and were surrendering 2.5 goals per game. Since then, they have posted a 7-11-1 mark, slipped to seventh in the conference standings, and are allowing 2.63 goals per game. The .13 increase seems trivial, but given the Rangers’ offensive struggles, an extra goal here and an extra goal there is huge. Their powerplay has also felt the absence of Roszy, as, save the game against the Penguins on Feb. 13, the extra man unit has been even less successful than usual. Roszival’s six powerplay assists with the Rangers were first among defenseman, and still today, no Rangers defenseman has eclipsed that total.

This is no knock on Wolski – I think he has been the best forward on the ice in a number of his Broadway performances. He is sure to be a key piece on future Rangers teams, and I am still encouraged that Slats was able to pry him from the hands of Don Maloney. I just wish he hadn’t given up Roszival.

Given the effect of the Wolski-Roszvial swap, Sather may be somewhat hesitant to make another deal before Feb. 28 at 3 p.m. The Rangers had a good thing going, and the trade seemed to slow some of their momentum. If he is to make a deal, perhaps he should dial up Maloney and ask for number 33 back.

For a guy we all used to boo so much, he was a pretty darn important player.

 

The Rangers May Miss Rozsival In The Short Term

Don’t get me wrong, I love the trade of Michal Rozsival for Wojtek Wolski. But for a while now, Ranger fans have been relatively unkind (understatement) to the veteran defenseman. There was some logic there, as Rozsival was being paid $5 million and wasn’t contributed offensively the way he should be. He was also prone to making big mistakes in his own zone, and seemed gun shy on the point on the powerplay. However, what many fans overlook is that Rozsival averaged 20 minutes per game for the entirety of his stay on Broadway. Playing 20 minutes a game means playing on the powerplay, penalty kill, and at even strength, and doing so with enough consistency that the coaching staff doesn’t deem him a liability.

In the game against St. Louis, the last game without Rozsival that the Rangers played, the time on ice differential was staggering. Marc Staal and Dan Girardi each played over 25 minutes. Steve Eminger got in 20 minutes. Michael Sauer played just under 18 minutes. Matt Gilroy and Ryan McDonagh played under 15 minutes. This is what the Rangers are going to expect from their six defensemen going forward. This is a big gamble, as the effectiveness of this strategy is heavily reliant on Eminger and Sauer being able to handle 20 minutes per game on a consistent basis.

With Rozsival in the lineup (last full game was 1/2 at Florida), Staal and Girardi still played their 25 minutes, but Eminger and Sauer played at 16 minutes and 15 minutes respectively (Rozsival skated for 19 minutes). Not many defensemen can play that many minutes at a consistent level. Sure, Rozsival had his issues (see above), but he was what you expected him to be. He’s not stellar, he’s just consistent and can play at all times in the game. He was third in scoring among defensemen with 15 points (Girardi – 20, Staal – 17), second in powerplay points with 6 points (Staal – 7), and third in GVT with a 3.7 rating (Girardi – 5.4, Staal – 5.0). The numbers show his ice time is consistent with his production, third best on team, third most ice time.

It’s tough to replace consistency in the lineup. However, the Rangers are hell-bent on the youth movement, and this move proves it. The Rangers coaching staff and upper management are happy with allowing players like Sauer to grow into a top-four role, and to see what they have in Gilroy and McDonagh. The Rangers defense is one of the youngest, if not the youngest, in the league with an average age of 24.3 years. Any defense corps that young is going to have growing pains. The Rangers may miss Rozsival for now. In the long run, the Rangers look pretty set on defense.

Rangers Acquire Wolski From Coyotes For Rozsival

According to Darren Dreger of TSN the New York Rangers have traded Michal Rozsival to the Phoenix Coyotes for Wojtek Wolski.  .  The move will save the Rangers 1.2 million against the cap this season and bring in an extremely talented if underperforming forward to give the Rangers another push as they look to rise to the ranks of contender.  Wolksi, 24, has six goals and ten assists in 36 games this season for the Coyotes after having a breakout year last year in which he posted a line of 23-42-65 in 80 games.

All day there has been trade talk surrounding the Rangers with their vast assortment of injuries with the latest being Alex Frolov out for the year with a knee injury.  To turn the disappointment that has been Frolov into the talent that is Wolski is beyond the scope of what many would let themselves imagine especially for only surrendering Rozsival.  This is a brilliant move by the much maligned Glen Sather who once again has found a way to correct a free agent contract mistake though the trade market.  Wolski has one year remaining on his deal at 3.8 million against the cap, but to compare that to the 5 million that Rozsival was due to count it only makes the deal look better.  A little over a month ago I pondered what a Wolski move would be like for the Rangers when there were first rumblings that he could be on the market.  The biggest thing that the Rangers have been lacking is secondary scoring and elite talent and Wolski has the potential to bring both of those things in droves.

From the Coyotes perspective they receive a veteran defender to merge into their core and will save 800K in salary next season.  Rozsival has three goals and 12 assists in 32 games so far this season for the Rangers.  There is a familiarity there for Maloney with Rozsival from his time in New York and he has the ability when healthy to eat up minutes.  The have to be concerns about his healthy considering he has missed the last two games with a rib issue and missed nine earlier this season with a shoulder and knee issue.

You have to consider that a move like this is likely the result of the relationship between Maloney and Sather due to their frequent trade partnerships and could be a piece that pushes the Rangers forward to another level.  I would have expected a move for Wolski to come at a much steeper price than this given his age, contract status and skill level.  This move gives the Rangers another toy to wind up and go play with Marian Gaborik in an attempt to get him into full gear this season.  Playing the skill of Wolski and Gaborik with the skill and physicality of Anisimov gives the Rangers a tremendous amount of potential and only makes the team deeper when Ryan Callahan returns from injury.  To this point in the season the Rangers have been a pleasant surprise, but now with the addition of young talent to go with all the homegrown talent that is emerging the Rangers have to now be considered a team to truly contend with in the Eastern Conference.

McDonagh In, Rozsival Out

As per Andrew Gross, Michal Rozsival will be out tonight with his bruised ribs. Rookie Ryan McDonagh, acquired in the Scott Gomez trade, will be making his NHL debut tonight against the Stars, and will likely be paired with Matt Gilroy. McDonagh was called up when Michael Del Zotto was sent to CT, but was a healthy scratch on Wednesday, as the Rangers evaluated what they had in the youngster.

Injury Update: Rozsival and Drury; Stepan To Hartford?

The banged up Rangers got some good news yesterday, despite the loss to the Bruins. Chris Drury, who has been out for pretty much the entire season with a broken finger, began skating again, and his timetable for a return is 2-3 weeks. The inevitable return of Drury poses an interesting question for the Rangers: Who gets scratched? The rotation of Todd White/Derek Boogaard on the fourth line is actually working out, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see White stay. To be perfectly honest, I believe that once Drury returns, Derek Stepan will be sent to Hartford. It is no slight against the kid, but there is no point keeping him with the Rangers if he is going to be playing fourth line minutes. I believe he is still with the club only because the Rangers are so decimated by injuries.

As for Michal Rozsival, who has been out for the past week with a knee injury, his return is slated for next week. Steve Eminger has played very, very well in Rozsival’s absence, bringing a physical game to those playing 20 minutes each contest. If he continues this when Rozsival returns, while presumably being paired with Michael Sauer, then the Rangers defense will be much improved. Unfortunately it looks like Matt Gilroy, who seems to have lost his way in NY (and might benefit from a trade), will be the odd man out when Rozsival returns.

Gaborik Set To Return; Rozsival Injured

Don’t forget to check out Chris’ post below on THN giving the Rangers some love.

The news out of practice this morning, per Andrew Gross, is that Marian Gaborik is indeed ready to return for tomorrow’s game against the Buffalo Sabres. Gaborik has missed 12 games with a separated left shoulder, which he suffered after a Colby Armstrong blindside hit during the Rangers home opener. A returning Gaborik would be a big welcome for the Rangers, who have desperately need another scorer in the lineup to take pressure off of Brandon Dubinsky and Brian Boyle*, who currently have 17 of the Rangers 41 goals this season. A returning Gaborik would likely mean a spot in the press box for Todd White, who seems to be hanging around because of the injuries the Rangers have faced all year.

*-Yes, Brian Boyle too. Scary, right?

The lines from practice were the same as before:

Brandon Dubinsky-Artem Anisimov-Ryan Callahan
Sean Avery-Brian Boyle-Brandon Prust
Alex Frolov-Derek Stepan-Ruslan Fedotenko
Derek Boogaard-Erik Christensen-Todd White/Marian Gaborik

If Gaborik returns, White being scratched is almost a certainty. However, the rest of the lineup is up in the air. It is unlikely that the coaching staff will break up the Dubi/AA/Cally line; and considering the success of the Avery/Boyle/Prust combination last game, it seems that line won’t be broken up yet either. That means Fedotenko will be sliding to the fourth line with Boogaard and Christensen, with Gaborik being inserted on a line with Frolov and Stepan. In the preseason, the Frolov/Stepan/Gaborik line clicked, so it will be nice to see them reunited for the time being.

In other news, Michal Rozsival sat out of practice today with an undisclosed injury, and is questionable for tomorrow’s game. Should Rozsival need to sit, Matt Gilroy will play after being scratched for five games in a row.

Update: As per Steve Zipay, Rozsival is out 7-10 games days with a sprained shoulder. Gilroy will be getting the playing time while Rozsival is out.

Evgeny Grachev Called Up

As per Steve Zipay the Rangers will call up highly touted prospect Evgeny Grachev to replace the injured Derek Boogaard. Boogaard cut his hand during his fight with Shawn Thornton, and his hand is now infected. He will unlikely be able to go tomorrow or Saturday. Grachev, still just 20 years old, has a goal and an assist in nine games with Hartford/Connecticut this season. His offensive numbers are not impressive, but his overall play has been much better than last season, which is the main reason why he has been called up.

In other injury-related news, Zipay is confirming that Artem Anisimov (ankle) and Michal Rozsival (knee), who both missed practice today, will not be out of the lineup this weekend. Both injuries are minor, with no lingering affects.