We’ve already covered some of the more intriguing players that will be available via free agency, but it doesn’t appear likely that the big-ticket guys like Zach Parise and Ryan Suter will end up in New York. The 2012 free agent class is extremely thin, but at the draft last weekend GM Glen Sather confidently stated the team would still be “fairly aggressive” in free agency. So who else could the organization pursue on July 1st?
Today we’ll look at the forwards.
Ray Whitney – Scares many off because of his age (40), but he actually seems to be getting more productive somehow. Wants to be paid, but doesn’t require a long-term commitment. Might make a lot of sense on a one- or two-year deal.
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As per Steve Zipay, Ryan Callahan is out tonight with his leg injury, being replaced in the lineup by the recently called up P.A. Parenteau. The other player called up, Anders Eriksson, will be in the lineup tonight, replacing Matt Gilroy. Gilroy only played 10:05 in the shootout win against New Jersey on Thursday night.
The other minor lineup change for tonight is that Aaron Voros will indeed return tonight, and Enver Lisin will be the additional healthy scratch.
The Rangers have called up P.A. Parenteau and Anders Eriksson from the AHL, for Saturday’s game against Toronto. The Parenteau call-up is presumably for Ryan Callahan, who re-injured his leg against the Devils.
As for Eriksson, there are a couple potential reasons for the call-up. The Rangers may want a seventh defenseman for the rest of the road trip (which would be odd, since they haven’t carried seven all year). Or, it may be to replace Matt Gilroy, who played only 10:05 in the shootout win against the Devils. Do the Rangers want a veteran presence for the last playoff push? We’ll see what happens.
As we try to digest yet another Rangers loss, I couldn’t help but think. So here are some random thoughts coming from my mind to yours.
-Chris Higgins can’t buy a goal. Honestly. He’s been playing so well. He’s been aggressive on the forecheck. He’s creating chances. He just can’t bury the puck. And I don’t know why. I don’t know why. But, I have a feeling that he’s going to get hot. He has to at some point. He’s playing to well.
-Lundqvist needs a break. Whether he’s been worked too hard, or whether is mind is elsewhere, having Valliquette start a couple more games cannot hurt. Hank needs to be Hank for this team to win. Right now, he’s struggling.
-Marian Gaborik is close to breaking last year’s high goal total. Markus Naslund had 24. Gabby has 21. He should break it this week. And it hasn’t even been 30 games!
-Gaborik is why this team is better than last year. Immediately, you have a better scoring presence. Power play is imporved, markedly. This team should make the playoffs. They are better than last year. This is probably just a rough stretch.
-I miss Wade Redden.
-Bobby Sanguinetti does nothing for me.
-Chris Drury looks like a different player, in a good way. Much faster, much better skating-wise. He’s doing a hell of job on the point.
-Ales Kotalik has found his way into the doghouse.
-P.A. Parenteau is pretty good. He should stay for awhile.
-Like I said, this is a playoff team. This is just a rough (very rough) stretch. All teams go through it. If the Rangers can come out of this and get some points, everything will be okay.
Considering last night’s abysmal performance, it is unsurprising that some roster moves were made. Dane Byers, who played just 5:47 last night for a shorthanded Rangers squad, was sent back to Hartford after the game, and P.A. Parenteau was called back up for the second time this season. These two will be riding the New York/Hartford bus all year. Neither have played enough games in the NHL that qualifies them for waivers, and both appear to be fringe players, at least for the time being.
According to Andrew Gross, the Rangers are re-assigning P.A. Parenteau back to Hartford, as Gaborik, Avery and Higgins are on the mend. Gross said that 2 out of those 3 will play, which means Dane Byers will get at least another game in the NHL. Not sure I feel about this move, as I was impressed with Parenteau. But Byers is more of a physical presence, and was one of the better Rangers against Minnestoa.
Much like the Yankees swinging and missing last night, the Rangers lost the game to the Islanders on a similar swing and miss play, and it came in the second period. After a beautiful save by Henrik Lundqvist on the Islander powerplay, a rebound came to the front of the net. Dan Girardi, again playing terribly, swung at the puck in the air, missed, and Kyle Okposo buried the rebound. The proper play there Dan, is to get your body in front of the play and tie up Okposo.
This is not to say that Girardi should be singled out, as Wade Redden and Matt Gilroy fell asleep and let Matt Moulson behind them for the game’s first tally. There’s also the powerplay that looked lost without Marian Gaborik, and the offense in general, that struggled to find consistency without Gaborik.
Not all of it was negative though, rookie (sort of) P.A. Parenteau, called up to replace Gaborik in the lineup, netted his first goal of his NHL career, and was generally the best Ranger on the ice for the game. He has a nose for the net, and was essentially the only Ranger that was consistently charging the net and looking for loose pucks.
The need for a seventh defenseman is really intensifying. The six defensemen either look gassed or just comfortable. Neither is a good thing.
In last night’s game thread, I mentioned that P.A. Parenteau should get a call up if some of the current Rangers keep struggling. Some mentioned Evgeny Grachev, but with Parenteau’s point-per-game pace, I argued he should be the one getting the call.
Apparently Glen Sather liked my idea, and called up Parenteau this afternoon. Parenteau, as mentioned, is having a monster start to the season in Hartford. It is still up for debate if he will play, and if he does, who he will replace. Chris Higgins had a better game last night, but if I were a betting man, I would bet on Higgins joining Aaron Voros in the press box should Parenteau play.
In rather unsurprising news, winger P.A. Parenteau was reassigned to Hartford this afternoon. Parenteau played will in his time with the Rangers, but unfortunately for him, there just isn’t a spot on this roster for him at the moment. This was not a financial decision either, as Parenteau is on a one-way contract, and will earn $500,000 regardless of where he plays.
Assuming he goes unclaimed through waivers, he will play top line minutes in Hartford, probably with Evgeny Grachev once the preseason ends, and await a call up in the event of an injury or someone’s game goes to hell. This is a bit of a risky decision, because if Parenteau puts up the same numbers in Hartford, he may be claimed on re-entry waivers should he be needed. He is a cheap player and could fulfill third line duties admirably on most teams. As for his status with the Rangers, he is just too far down on the depth chart to really be considered.
This cuts the roster to 24, 8 defensemen and 14 forwards. It’s safe to assume that two more players will be cut before the season begins. My guess is that Grachev and Michael Del Zotto will be what I’m going to call contract casualties. Del Zotto still has a year of eligibility left in the OHL, and Grachev will benefit from a year in the AHL. But you can guarantee that they will be on the roster for the last two preseason games to get as much experience as possible.
Hockey season is just nine days away, and it can’t come soon enough.
Some camp notes, courtesy of Andrew Gross:
- Coach John Tortorella thinks that the hold out situation with Brandon Dubinsky is “stupid, he needs to be here.” I couldn’t agree more, but it is a testament to Dubinsky’s agent, Kurt Overhardt, to not respond and leave everything out of the press. This is the way a negotiation should be handled.
- There’s not much else to say on the Dubinsky matter other than it will get done. Sooner or later, he will be “signed”. But I am surprised that he isn’t in camp as a “non-roster invitee”. I’m not sure if it’s against the CBA to have an unsigned RFA in camp though.
- The Rangers invited veteran defenseman Alexei Semenov as a non-roster invitee. He will compete for that 6th/7th defenseman role.
- In the overblown news department, Marian Gaborik did not skate at yesterday’s sprint session. Surely, everyone will panic, but this is just the Rangers organization taking the necessary precautions with their high priced, and fragile, winger. Relax.
- People are misreading the P.A. Parenteau contract status. Yes, he is signed to a one-way deal, but that does not necessarily mean he will have to pass through waiver to get called up (thus guaranteeing him a roster spot). For more information on one-way and two-way deals, please refer to this post.