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Posts tagged: Nik Antropov

Non-Draft Roundup

I’ll get to the draft round up tomorrow. I want to get some specifics on the players before I post about them.

As for the rest of the Ranger news:

  • Sather made qualifying offers to most RFAs, but Fred Sjostrom was not included in that list. The notables included: Nikolai Zherdev, Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan, and Lauri Korpikoski. You can breathe a sigh of relief.
    • It’s safe to assume that Jordan Owens will be given the opportunity to take Sjostrom’s place. It’s just all business with that decision.
  • The Rangers traded a 3rd round pick in 2010 (supposed to be a thin draft) for C Brian Boyle. That pretty much spells the end for the Blair Betts era in New York. With both Sjostrom and Betts gone, there goes the best PK unit in the league.
    • Boyle, 24, is an RFA, is 6’7 250 lbs (he’s a freaking beast), and you have to assume he has been qualified. He’s a tough guy, and if he plays a full season, can give you maybe 10-10-20 at his peak. He was solid defensively in the AHL last season.
  • Paul Mara and Derek Morris won’t be back, Glen Sather is quoted saying that he has five defensemen knocking on the door (Sauer, Sangs, DZ, Potter, Gilroy). Expect one or two of them to make the team, and maybe a stay-at-home bruiser type signing.
  • Nik Antropov won’t be back, his asking price is too much. This shouldn’t shock anyone.
  • Colton Orr isn’t going to be resigned, so the entire 4th line will be different next year. This is old news, but I neglected to mention it until now.
  • We should start hearing about accepted/rejected qualifying offers before July 1. It will be a fun few days before free agency begins.

Over the next few days, I’m going to research each of the picks and write little blurbs about them. Keep checking back.

Poll: Which Nik?

With the offseason upon us, the Rangers, and GM Glen Sather, have a very difficult choice ahead of them. Do they go with Nik Antropov, or Nik Zherdev? Let’s analyze this a bit:

Zherdev
Pros: Younger, has the ability to be a superstar, great hands, more on the faster side, should come relatively cheap and probably for two years max.
Cons: Sometimes looks apathetic, work-ethic always in question, enigmatic, disappeared in the playoffs.

Antropov
Pros: Entering his prime, huge body, mroe devloped offensive upside, more consistent.
Cons: Definitely more expensive and will require more years, never really met his potential in Toronto or NY, not as fast as one might want a top winger to be.

It’s a tough choice, and you know the Rangers will only have the ability to sign one of them. Considering the cap room, or lack thereof, I would go Zherdev. This should spark a nice debate. The poll is on the right. Fire away.

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.

The Importance of Momentum

The Rangers played, from a standings and seedings point of view, a meaningless game yesterday. Arguments can me made that the Rangers should have rested Nik Antropov, who is still less than 100% with his knee injury. Arguments can be made that the Rangers should have rested Henrik Lundqvist, who has been slightly overworked this season.

But the Rangers didn’t do either. And they came away with a more important victory than meets the eye. Our beloved Blueshirts built a three game win streak to end the season, all three against playoff teams, and all three were hard fought victories.

More importantly, yesterday the Rangers showed an ability to come from behind several times against a solid, if at times porous, Flyers team. They also showed that they can out score a very offensive opponent in the third, which will come a long way in the playoffs. This game, although “meaningless”, can be seen as a little ray of hope as the Rangers travel to Washington for the opener on Wednesday.

Antropov OK

Andrew Gross is reporting that there was no structural damage on Lurch’s Antropov’s knee following the knee-to-knee collision with Milan Lucic. This is great news, as the Rangers will need to be 100% in the final three games to make the playoffs. I cringed at the thought of Voros playing again.

Update 4:20pm: Baseball has begun. The Yankees are on this afternoon, taking on Baltimore. Go watch.

A Winning Streak

“Yesterday, we won a game, if we win today, that’s called two in a row. If we win tomorrow, that’s called a winning streak. It has happened before.” – Lou Brown.

I know I quoted this already, but it holds true to the Rangers. They are currently on a three game winning streak, and have scored 14 goals in that 3 game span.

I’ll let that one sink in, hell, I’ll even spell it out. Fourteen.

When was the last time the Rangers scored 14 goals in a 3 game span? It definitely wasn’t this season. I remember a span where the Rangers gave up 14 goals in 3 games this year, but that’s it. Torts’ system is starting to take hold.

Say what you want about the win last night. Say that they had a lapse in the 3rd period (all teams have lapses), say that Manny Fernandez was awful (he was), but the fact is that the Rangers put forth an effort and a forecheck that we didn’t see under Tom Renney. Torts isn’t handcuffing his skill players, and it is starting to show up on the scoreboard. Anyway, two points is two points, and any points they can get will help. In what could have been a first round preview, they played the best team in the Eastern Conference and matched them blow for blow and came out on top. Do I think they can beat Boston in a seven game series? Gut instinct, not yet, but this game, and the previous two, are making me reconsider.

As for the new guys, Antropov has been great, with a goal and two assists in two games. He has been parking his 6’6 self in front of the net, which led to a post in the Islander game, and ran a sweet give and go yesterday with Drury. Avery has been Avery, and notched an assist on the Fernandez drop kick goal. He’s been beating everyone and their mother to loose pucks, and playing with a new found determination. Morris had an assist yesterday too, and hasn’t been as bad as I thought he would be. So far, the moves have been working.

Tonight is a HUGE HUGE HUGE game in Carolina. More on that later.

Game 65: Rangers at Islanders

Antropov, Avery and Morris are making their Ranger debuts tonight. Zipay is reporting that Antro will be playing on the right side on one of the top two lines tonight. My guess is that Antro will replace Cally on the 2nd line, and Avery and Cally will flank the Korpedo on the 3rd line.

So my guess at the lines tonight:

Naslund-Gomez-Zherdev
Dubi-Drury-Antropov
Avery-Korpikoski-Callahan
Sjostrom-Betts-Orr

Rozsival-Redden
Staal-Girardi
Morris-Mara

That’s my guess on the lines tonight. It’s really not that far fetched, and the forward combinations are much improved from the beginning of the season. I really like that 2nd line. It is a solid line, it’s amazing what the addition of Antro does to the lineup. Avery on the 3rd line with Cally and Korpo makes it a small, fiesty, very quick line.

As for the PP, Antropov will definitely be on the powerplay tonight (as per Zipay’s live chat). I really, really hope that Rozsival winds up on the left point on the PP tonight. He has a great shot (see: Game 3, Rangers vs. Buffalo), and he should get much better shots/opportunities shooting from the left. It looks like Morris will get PP time too. I hope that he makes me eat my words.

The Rangers very quickly bought into Tortorella’s offensive system, and it is really showing in the play of Rozsival and Redden. Both are shooting more often and getting better at putting pucks in the net, and it finally started to click on Saturday. Let’s hope they can keep it up against the Islanders tonight, who have been playing fairly well as of late. Kyle Okposo is going to be a star.

This, much like every other game for the remainder of the year, is a must win. The Rangers will need to win at least 10 of their remaining 18 games to have a solid shot of making the playoffs.

I think I’m going to hold a “contest”. Basically, if Morris makes me eat my words…..something. Suggestions? Keep in mind I work, so shaving my head is not an option.

More on Antropov/Morris

Let’s start with Antropov. Sather did a good job getting Antropov from Toronto, it didn’t cost him much at all, and it filled a huge void. Antropov will definitely help the anemic powerplay, placing a big body in front of the net, one with a scoring touch. He will probably play on a 2nd line with Avery and Drury, which should make for an interesting combination.

Antropov never really lived up to his billing, but as a guy who is on pace for 50+ points this year, that puts him in the top 3 in scoring for the Rangers this year. If that’s not an upgrade, I don’t know what is. I’m looking forward to watching him play tonight.

As for Morris, well, my loathing of him is well known. And apparently I’m not alone on this matter either. I haven’t spoken to Mike or Stas about this yet, but I don’t see an upgrade from Kalinin in Morris. I see the exact same player. The only difference is that Morris cost us Dawes and Pru.

Now, if Dawes and Pru were traded for, say Jordan Leopold, I would be all for it. Leopold is a puck moving defensemen who plays solidly in his own end. Morris is none of the above. Morris is cashing in on his one great season in 2001-2002, where he scored 11 G, 37 A and a +18. He is a -8 on this season, which is actually worse than Kalinin (-7). Kalinin was actually playing better as of late, so much so that it prompted me to take down the Kalinin Count in January. Was Kalinin a $2 million defensemen? Hell no. But is Morris a $3.7 million defensemen? Not a chance.

You can argue that Dawes and Pru were essentially worthless on this team now with Avery and Antropov here. Personally, if they didn’t have a spot, more could have been had for them, at least a draft pick or two.

Sather, again, got caught up in the name of the player and not the results the player produces (see: Redden, Wade). This game has passed him by.

Update 2:30pm: I’m aware that I’m a little unclear in this post. My main point is that Sather gets caught up in the name of the player available more often than not. It sometimes works out in his favor, and sometimes doesn’t. This is what happens when the GM doesn’t travel with the team to do scouting of opposing teams.

Nik Antropov and Derek Morris

The Rangers got at least one need for a relatively low price this deadline: Nik Antropov for a 2nd rounder and a conditional pick (I’ll try to fish out the details of the pick).

My initial reaction to this pickup: Great job by Sather on this deal. Waiving Voros and Reitz and assigning Bell to Hartford cleared room for this deal. We have been calling for Antropov for a while, he adds size and scoring up front.

Now that was the good news.

The price for Derek Morris: Dmitri Kalinin (cap purposes), Nigel Dawes, and Petr Prucha. I am absolutely livid. Words cannot express how fucking pissed I am at this deal. Derek Morris is the last thing the Rangers needed. I covered this already, I don’t want to repeat myself, but WHY?!?!?! He serves no purpose other than to be the 2nd coming of Dmitri Kalinin.

Overall reaction: Can I get a Fire Sather?

The depth chart has been updated to reflect these deals. A poll will be added shortly to gather your feelings.

Update 3:40pm I’m aware that Prucha and Dawes would have seen less playing time with Avery here. But remember, I did not want Avery back (unlike Stas and Mike, I think), so that’s of small comfort.

And Prucha was a RFA, not a UFA.

Notable Scratches Tonight

I’m flipping between the Devils game (MSG+) and the Penguins game (Vs), and I should note that Dominic Moore and Nik Antropov were both healthy scratches for Toronto, as was Mark Recchi for TB. GM Brian Burke said that they had deals on the table for both players.

Some more irresponsible rumor mongering from me, but with Zipay quoting Torts that the Rangers are looking for size, I can’t help but think Antropov is the big bodied scorer the Rangers made an offer for.

I personally don’t think the Rangers should be mortgaging future picks or prospects for this season. They simply aren’t built to compete with Boston or Washington in s 7 game series. That said, if they can dump some long term salary and resign Antropov, I’m all for it. I think I’m giving Sather too much credit there though.

A notable non-scratch was Miro Satan, who is in the lineup for Pittsburgh tonight despite being placed on waivers earlier today.

Also, a side note. I’ll be live blogging the trade deadline tomorrow. So check back often tomorrow.