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Posts tagged: Michal Rozsival

Defense Pairs Take Shape

Andrew Gross is tweeting that the Rangers defensive pairs are beginning to take shape, with the always reliable combination of Marc Staal-Dan Girardi being one of the pairs. Michael Del Zotto and Michal Rozsival are going to be paired as the second unit. This leaves Matt Gilroy and Michael Sauer as the third pairing, assuming Steve Eminger is the odd man out.

The Staal/Girardi pairing is going to be ole reliable, but with a twist. Both defensemen have gained more experience from the last time they were paired together. Both defensemen are positionally sound, and will always play defense before offense. However, Staal is beginning to show signs of life in the offensive zone, showcasing an ability to go end-to-end with the puck on multiple occasions. If Staal is able to add the offense without it being a detriment to his defensive game, then this can be a legitimate top pairing that can shut down most teams top lines. Staal generally does a good job at clearing the crease as well. No wonder why everyone wants him in a trade.

The MDZ/Rozsival pairing is an interesting pairing that could pay dividends for the Rangers. MDZ is hopefully going to be an offensive force this season, while growing into the defensive responsibilities that come with being an NHL defenseman. With MDZ taking care of the offensive responsibilities of the pairing, Rozsival can concentrate on defense, where he is undervalued and under appreciated. With this defensive role comes a need for Rozsival to clear the crease and protect Henrik Lundqvist, something we haven’t really seen him do much during his tenure in New York. With clear cut roles for each player, this pairing will either flourish or flounder, I don’t think there’s a middle ground here.

The final pairing of Gilroy/Sauer is the pairing that will garner the most questions, as it pairs two kids who have a combined one year of NHL experience. Both had a stellar preseason, with Gilroy showcasing some ability to quarterback the powerplay. Sauer is going to have to be the rock defensively on this pairing, and also a physical body that will clear the crease. Gilroy appeared to be a victim of the proverbial NCAA 40 game wall last season, but was one of the best skaters this preseason, coming to camp in excellent shape. Although this pairing will have the most questions, they also have the most to prove, which is a good motivational tool.

Steve Eminger will probably be the seventh defenseman, and will replace anyone injured or who just lost their game. That was pretty much expected to be Eminger’s role since his acquisition from Anaheim in July. Not much is expected of a seventh defenseman except to play bottom pairing minutes once a week.

The Rangers defense pairings may have a lot of questions after Staal/Girardi, but could also be one of the better defensive core in the Eastern Conference. The Rangers defense scored 15 points in the preseason (5-10-15), which was more than two points per game. However, they faltered on defense in all but one game. With more clear cut roles defined, and the NHL caliber players now in the lineup regularly, those defensive lapses should be at a minimum. It’s going to be an interesting season for the Rangers blue liners, which has an average age of 25. Many have a lot to prove, and with a seventh defenseman finally in the mix, they will have to show they can remain in an NHL lineup.

Training Camp Preview: Defense

Training camp is right around the corner, and in our next training camp preview series –goalies were done last week– we are going to look at the defensemen vying to make the roster for the 2010-2011 season. Defense isn’t as cluttered as the forward position, but there are going to be some interesting battles in camp for those final two spots in the top six. The battle for that seventh defenseman spot, should there be a seventh defenseman, is also going to be interesting. The Rangers have four players battling for those three spots, and there are some other rookies that may be off most people’s radar, but could be dark horses to make the team.

Marc Staal: The unsigned defender is the Rangers best defenseman. Seeking a big raise from his $800,000 salary last year, the Rangers are going to need Staal signed and playing in order to compete this year. Staal logs all his minutes against opponents top lines, and does a great job at shutting them down. At the end of last season, he showed some offensive prowess, scoring in three straight games as the Rangers made a desperate push for the playoffs. Staal’s 10.4 GVT was third on the team last year, and second among skaters (Marian Gaborik was tops). His 6.4 DGVT was tops on the team by a full goal. Staal’s value to the team is almost immeasurable, and many fans are starting to get worried about when he will sign.

Dan Girardi: Girardi is an interesting conundrum. On one hand, all fans see is that he didn’t stand up for Gaborik as he got pummeled by Dan Carcillo. On the other hand, Girardi’s 5.0 DGVT (second on the team) and 6.8 GVT (fifth among skaters) shows just how valuable he really is. To put those numbers in perspective, Girardi had a better GVT than Fedor Tyutin (who some fans want back), Jay Bouwmeester, Dennis Wideman, Dion Phaneuf, Anton Volchenkov, and Zbynek Michalek. His 5.0 GVT is good for 32nd in the league, better than all those guys just mentioned, and other guys like Dan Hamhuis. Sure, Girardi may be a little overpaid at $3.325 million per season, but he’s a top four defender on almost every team in the league.

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Buyout Period Begins, Who are the Candidates?

Today marks Day One of the 15 day buyout period for NHL contracts. Teams have until June 30 to decide if they will buy players out. Spector at FOX Sports looks at each teams’ buyout candidates, and mentions Wade Redden and Michal Rozsival as potential candidates for the Rangers. Unfortunately, it is very unlikely that Redden will be bought out, and this has been discussed ad nauseam here and around the Rangers community.

While buying out Rozsival has only been discussed once here , it’s far less restrictive than buying out Redden. With a cap hit of $2 million or less for three of the four buyout years (a cap hit of $3 million for the other year), this is a far more likely scenario from a monetary standpoint. However, the coaching staff and management are happy with Rozsival, and it was shown by giving him the ‘A’ when Ryan Callahan was out of the lineup at the end of the season. While buying out Redden is unlikely from a monetary standpoint, buying out Rozsival is equally unlikely from a coaching/management standpoint.

When looking at the buyout period realistically, the only candidate that could or would be bought out would be Aaron Voros. Of course, buying out Voros doesn’t provide much cap relief, just $600,000 in extra space this season ($400,000 cap hit), and a $300,000 cap hit for next season, when Voros’ contract will have expired. This doesn’t really offer much of anything for the Rangers, so expect them to be quiet from a buyout perspective. There just simply aren’t any players that can be bought out that make sense fiscally and for the betterment of the team.

Souray For Rozsival?

According to Pierre LeBrun, the Rangers are interested in Oilers defenseman Sheldon Souray. To make it work financially, the Rangers would send Rosy or Redden (but most likely, Rozsival). Souray is 3-9-12 on the year, but he’s also on the Oilers, and quite frankly, they suck. That’s why the -15 isn’t too alarming. I’ve always liked Souray. He’s got a booming slap shot, and a change of scenery would do him well. Would you do this deal?

Brooks: Time for Slats to Admit Mistakes

Never short on criticism of Rangers GM Glen Sather, Larry Brooks of the NY Post has called out Slats and says it’s time to admit some big mistakes.

If it is true that pride goes before the fall, then if Glen Sather is too proud to admit his mistakes in signing Wade Redden, Michal Rozsival the second time and Donald Brashear, he has no place running the Rangers any longer.

Brooks is dead on here, for the most part. It has become abundantly obvious that the Rangers are, at best, a mediocre team. It is time that Slats admits his mistakes and cuts ties with the albatross twins and Donald Brashear. Sending the albatross twins to Hartford will clear $11 million in cap room, but unfortunately sending Brashear down won’t clear his entire salary, just $100,000, as per the CBA and 35+ contracts. Clearing that $11 million will give the Rangers much needed cap room to improve the blue line in the short term during the off season, or at the trade deadline.

The Rangers will not be a better team if these three are banished, but they will not be a worse team either. Rozsival and Redden have proven time and time again that they are inconsistent and unreliable. It is truly unfortunate, as I expected Rozsival to be a rock this season. Redden was also showing signs of improvement, but his play has tapered off and he was benched for two games. Although I initially praised Brashear, he has proven me wrong, and shown that he is useless. Hey, I can’t get them all right.

Replacing Brashear is relatively easy, and can be accomplished by inserting Aaron Voros or by calling up Dane Byers for a more permanent stay. Replacing the albatross twins though, is actually harder than it seems. Ilkka Heikkinen appears to be ready to contribute at the NHL level, but it is clear that Bobby Sanguinetti needs another full season at the AHL level. Where would the Rangers get the sixth defenseman from? It’s an interesting debate, and there doesn’t appear to be an in-house solution. Maybe Mathieu Dandenault? He’s not really impressing in Hartford, he’s the best solution available thus far.

It is highly unlikely that Sather demotes any of the three, but clearing cap space is the first step to fixing the Rangers defense.

Where Sather Went Wrong: Extending Rozsival

Part One.
Part Two.

This is now the third part of a the decisions of General Manager Glen Sather. Sather has come under some real heat lately, as the Rangers are in what appears to be a free fall, and have no cap room to make any adjustments. The highest paid players on the Rangers have been, to be delicate, disappointing. Sather’s strength during his tenure with the Rangers has been his ability to make trades, but this does not overshadow his weakness of evaluating the market and making the best decision for the team. In this series, I will analyze where Sather went wrong, and where he lost the fans.

In this third installment, we again look at the 2008 offseason. The Rangers found themselves with just four defensemen, and three big names in free agency coming their way. Having just spent a combined $14 million on Scott Gomez and Chris Drury the previous season, the Rangers could only afford one of the big name free agents, while attempting to retain others who were free agents. Of course, the Rangers signed Wade Redden and Dmitri Kalinin, re-upped Paul Mara, and then traded Fedor Tyutin and Christian Backman for Nikolai Zherdev. Perhaps the deal that made the most noise, other than Redden’s signing, was the extension given to Michal Rozsival; a four-year deal worth $20 million.

The Rangers had their fair share of large contracts before Rozsival re-upped with the Rangers. They had the aforementioned Gomez/Drury contracts, and now the Redden contract. In three players, the Rangers had committed more than $20 million. They also had to resign Henrik Lundqvist, who gave the team a break and allowed them to deal with the salary cap woes prior to signing his long term deal. Rozsival was a key cog in the Rangers defense during his stay in New York, and deserved to be resigned. Insert Glen Sather, and his inability to appropriately read the market, and Rozsival now sits with a $5 million cap hit, more than double his previous contract.

This move was, in short, a disaster. For $5 million, the Rangers got a regressing Rozsival who has yet to find his game after his hip surgery. After a career year in which he anchored the powerplay, he became shot-shy, and rarely put the puck on net. Instead, he deferred to the larger contracts of Gomez and Drury to create. He stopped hitting people, and forwards just started skating by him, untouched.

Meanwhile, the current Rangers defense, already with Redden’s abysmal contract, became one of the softest in the league. A more appropriate contract for Rozsival, say three years $10 million, and the Rangers find themselves with more wiggle room, and maybe the ability to trade Rozsival to fill the hole of physical defenseman.

Chalk up this signing to poor timing and a regressing player. Had the Rangers not already committed $6.5 million a year to Redden, this signing would be easier to swallow. As it stands now, both signings are terrible, but Rozsival has become a black hole on defense, and prone to epic turnovers that have cost games.

Luckily for the Rangers, buying out Rozsival is a feasible option (If you haven’t checked out that post, you should, it took me forever to write). It’s not the prettiest of solutions, like the Gomez trade, but it gets the job done.

Rozsival Saves the Game

The Rangers withstood the storm, literally, from the Hurricanes last night. Up 2-1 in the third period, Carolina put up 13 shots, forcing Henrik Lundqvist to be at his best, making some incredibly difficult saves look easy. This it was Michal Rozsival’s turn to have the spotlight. Rozsival, who has been playing a lot better as of late (maybe he felt the fire under his ass), played just under 25 minutes of ice time, and blocked four shots. One of those shots just happened to be a sure-fire, game-tying goal late in the third. But Rozsival got in the way, and literally saved the game.

The Rangers did a lot of little things right last night. They won face offs (31-25), they put shots on goal (30), and they didn’t take that many penalties (only 3, which is pretty good for this team). Sure, they allowed 33 shots, but when you have Lundqvist in net at the top of his game, just clearing rebounds will suffice.

And how about that goal by Brandon Dubinsky? Was that pretty or what? Beautiful passing, great shot to capitalize.

The Rangers weren’t perfect, no team is. The key to winning is dealing with a part of your game that isn’t clicking and stepping up the other areas. The Rangers did that last night.

Buying Out Michal Rozsival

To say that the Rangers have had trouble on defense is an understatement. They have been terrible, and the worst culprit of them all has been Michal Rozsival. He has been flat out horrible, getting caught out of position on a shift-by-shift basis. Many, including myself, thought that Rozsival would have a good year this year in an offense-first system. Instead, he has regressed even further.

The Rangers won’t be trading or waiving Rozsival any time soon. He is impossible to trade with that contract, and waiving provides too many risks. It looks like for this year, the Rangers are stuck with him. One remaining option, that unfortunately cannot be exercised until after the 2010 playoffs conclude, is buying him out.

For those who may be unfamiliar with how the buyout works, you can find an explanation here on BSB. In short, a buyout lets a team sever ties with a player for 2/3 of their remaining salary (not the cap hit) over twice the remaining years on the contract. The math is also explained in the link.

With the salary cap expected to drop after this season, and the Rangers already at the cap limit for this year, they will need to find cap room for raises to Marc Staal, and possibly Dan Girardi. Assuming the Rangers let Chris Higgins go, but decide to retain Vinny Prospal, there isn’t much wiggle room left.

Thus comes the intriguing option of buying out Michal Rozsival and his $5 million cap hit. If the Rangers were to buy him out at the end of this season, the cap hit for each of the following four seasons would be as follows:

  • 2010-2011: $2.16 million
  • 2011-2012: $3.16 million
  • 2012-2013: $1.16 million
  • 2013-2014: $1.16 million

The Rangers would save roughly $3 million in cap room for the 2010-2011 season, which is more than enough to keep their RFAs in town, and may leave for some wiggle room at the deadline to improve the team if need be. The interesting part here is that the savings for the Rangers actually decreases for each subsequent year. This is due to Rozsival’s contract structure.

A buyout is calculated based on the savings in salary versus the cap hit. Since Rozsival is set to earn $4 million in 2010-2011 and $3 million in 2011-2012, the Rangers’ savings actually decreases, thus the cap hit increases. The final two years ($1.16 million) compensate for the “twice the remaining years”, meaning that although Rozsival’s contract would expire at the end of the 2011-2012 season, the buyout would add two extra years of cap hits to the Rangers.

Is it worth it for the Rangers to buy out Rozsival? The quick answer is obviously yes, and the long term answer is yes as well. The Rangers will need that $3 million for raises, and maybe to add a bruiser to a blue line that sorely needs one. But, when considering these options, one needs to look long term as well. The economy is slowly recovering, meaning ticket sales will be on the rise. The salary cap is tied to revenue, so as sales go up, revenues go up, and the salary cap goes up.

Looking ahead to the $3.16 million cap hit the Rangers will have to endure for the 2011-2012 season, the extra $2 million saved can go to potentially resign Matt Gilroy and Bobby Sanguinetti. It is unlikely that either will command a large raise on their current salaries. But, the other notables that will be resigned, and need to be resigned, are Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky, and Artem Anisimov. All three will be due raises, either through arbitration or just a raise from an entry-level contract. While the $2 million is not a huge savings initially, you add that to the $2.4 coming off the books in the form of Aaron Voros and Donald Brashear, and suddenly, the five players can each get an average raise of $800,000. Couple this with an increasing salary cap, and there shouldn’t be an issue in resigning these players.

The extra two years are where things get really interesting. The Rangers will be on the hook for $1.16 million in salary that was not expected to be there. However, the Rangers have a whopping $12 million coming off the books (Chris Drury, Sean Avery, Ales Kotalik). The two biggest names to be resigned are Evgeny Grachev and Michael Del Zotto, which will be done. The slightly disturbing part is that for each of these two years, the Rangers have just three players signed, to the tune of $20.875 million. There will have to be some savvy maneuvering to get a decent team on the ice.

A buyout seems to be the most logical choice for the Rangers when it comes to the Michal Rozsival situation. It makes sense for the betterment of the team, it makes sense financially, and it makes sense with the fans. Of course, the question of it actually being done though, is a whole other topic.

Trade Rozsival? Waive Rozsival? Not Likely

Let’s preface this title by saying that Michal Rozsival has been atrocious this year. He is eating up cap space, and this signing is really hurting the Rangers. Larry Brooks has called out the Rangers to get rid of Rozsival at any cost:

Rozsival is chewing up nearly $26,000 a day on his annual $5M cap hit. Deleting him by the end of the month via trade or demotion would clear an additional $3.4M of space that increases proportionately with the season.

Moving Rozsival this month would allow the Rangers to be in the market for pretty much anyone who becomes available. Including, perhaps, a player who will look out for his teammates.

Brooks’ numbers are right on. Each day Rozsival is on the roster, he eats up precious cap space. But, to be blunt, how exactly are the Rangers supposed to move Rozsival? Who in their right mind would trade for him? Even Mike Milbury wouldn’t trade for him at this point. So that option is out.

Waive him? Dump him in Hartford? Maybe. I mean, it seems easy, right? Just bury him in the minors, and free up all that cap space. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as you might think. There are a several risks involved with this maneuver.

First and foremost, remember that Bobby Sanguinetti and Ilkka Heikkinen did not impress in camp. If you waive Rozsival, and neither can handle the workload, then what? Recall Rozsival you say? Well, he has to pass through re-entry waivers. Teams may not want him at $5 million, but there’s a solid chance someone will scoop him up at half that. In this worst case scenario, you realize that neither Sanguinetti or Heikkinen can play in the NHL yet, you lose a defenseman who can at least fill a void, and you still have to pay $2.5 million for the life of the contract. Ouch.

There’s also the minor issue of pissing off the union, which will definitely happen if the Rangers waive Rozsival. It’s minor, but it could have a lasting effect if free agents don’t sign because of the fear of being waived if they don’t perform. Job security counts for something.

But hey, you have to bet big to win big, right? Maybe Sanguinetti received his wakeup call in September, and can contribute to the level that Michael Del Zotto has contributed so far this year. Personally, I don’t think Rozsival is going anywhere. MAYBE a buyout next year. Maybe.

Accountability, Thy Name is Rozsival

The one thing John Tortorella brings to the table is making his veterans accountable for their actions on the ice. The first player reprimanded was Nikolai Zherdev. In what is sure to become an on-going occurrence, Tortorella made his second veteran accountable for his actions. This time, it was struggling defenseman Michal Rozsival.

Did any of you notice that Michal Rozsival did not see the ice in the third period? I didn’t watch the game, but it was brought to my attention. Also brought to my attention was that Rozsival had a chance to lay out Ovechkin in the first, passed up on it, and got saved by the buzzer as Ovechkin broke in alone on Hank. That is just one incident that probably sticks out in fans’ heads, but it is just one of several bonehead plays by Rozsival since preseason that has made him the new whipping boy ’round these parts.

Tortorella, who I guess had grown tired of seeing Rozsival mess up all the time, benched him in the third period. This move takes guts, as Rozsival is one of two veteran defensemen charged with helping the rookies adjust to the rigors of the NHL game. But, this move also needed to be made. Rozsival has been atrocious since the preseason began. He has not played a physical game, playing more like a pussy(cat) than a hockey player. He has been horrible at the point on the PP, to the point that a 19 year old has taken his spot. He turns the puck over, and is often out of position in the defensive zone.

Even Wade Redden, who was horrible last year, has been pretty solid defensively so far this year. But Rozsival doesn’t appear to be able to adjust to John Tortorella’s system. It just makes you wonder what will happen if Rozsival doesn’t find his game. Will we be seeing Corey Potter or Bobby Sanguinetti sooner than expected? Will that quest for a 7th defenseman be a little more rushed? There are still some intriguing names out there. Rozsival needs to find his game, and quick.