Last night, Ryan McDonagh made his KHL debut for Barys Astana, notching some significant ice time and finishing the 5-1 victory with a +1 rating. Some names that you might notice that are playing with McDonagh on Barys: Nik Antropov, Brandon Bochenski, Dustin Boyes, Nigel Dawes, Victor Hedman, and Andrew Hutchinson. Not exactly a lineup lacking in NHL and/or North American players.
Carl Hagelin also continued his great play in Allsvenskan, notching a goal and an assist in Södertälje SK 5-1 win. That update comes courtesy of Bill Meltzer, who has been doing a great job of tweeting updates from all around Europe and Russia. Definitely give him a follow, as he gives updates on leagues, like Hagelin’s Allsvenskan, that we find it difficult to locate game stats.
As per Pat Leonard, Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh has signed with HC Barys of the KHL. Per Laurie Carr, McDonagh will join former Rangers Nigel Dawes and Nik Antropov with Barys, as well as former Connecticut Whale captain Andrew Hutchinson and Tampa Bay Lighting defenseman Victor Hedman.
McDonagh is the third Ranger to bolt overseas for hockey, joining Rick Nash (HC Davos – Switzerland) and Carl Hagelin (Sodertalje SK – Sweden).
One of the keys to remaining an elite franchise in the NHL – or any sports league for that matter – is the ability to continually evolve, integrate players, coaches and systems and build a solid foundation on which a club grows. In the NHL, the best example in recent times has been the Detroit Red Wings.
Despite never enjoying the benefit of lottery draft picks, the Wings found ways to win Stanley Cups and be a consistent contender thanks to routinely excellent decision making and timely roster management. They are in many ways the model NHL franchise.
The Rangers have begun to show the same traits as the Red Wings over the past few years and it is therefore no coincidence that the Rangers boast a quality prospect pipeline, have their most successful season in recent memory just behind them and a bright future ahead of them. The Rangers however, need to continue with their evolution to remain successful and it is this reason why the club should seriously consider moving Marc Staal.
There are many reasons Staal is a ‘keeper’. There may however be more reasons to trade him. No one foresaw the rapid development of Ryan McDonagh. The young Ranger is arguably already the best defenseman on the team; is a future perennial All Star and has a more rounded game than Staal. With Dan Girardi and Mike Del Zotto fixtures on the blueline going forward and the likes of Mike Sauer and Dylan McIlrath in the mix the Rangers can afford to move Staal if the return is favourable.
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Despite it being the dog days of the summer for the pros there has still been some important hockey played by some of the Rangers most prized prospects. Steve Fogarty, Brady Skjei and JT Miller have been attending the initial US world juniors’ evaluation camp over the last week and all three have performed well. Chris Peters of the excellent United States of Hockey website (a blog dedicated to US hockey) has been following the camp and has been kind enough to give us some updates on all three Rangers representatives.
Chris has been monitoring the US evaluation camp closely and what follows is some insight on each of the Rangers prospects, how they performed to date and offered some opinion as to their NHL futures.
This is what Chris had to say about college bound Steve Fogarty:
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With the Rick Nash acquisition and the changing faces among the Rangers bottom six forwards the Rangers roster has undergone considerable change. Glen Sather appears to have made most of his moves when factoring in the new contracts handed out to players such as Anton Stralman. Barring a Shane Doan arrival the last significant move the Rangers GM must make is re-signing Michael Del Zotto.
Del Zotto’s contract situation is a pretty key situation for all concerned. On the one hand the player himself would surely prefer a significant commitment from the Rangers before any possible CBA decisions can influence what he may receive. Del Zotto had a fine bounce back season and is comfortably the Rangers most offensively inclined blueliner making his position (and future) in the organisation a critical one.
Then there are the Rangers themselves. How do they address Del Zotto’s new deal? After Del Zotto was qualified for the 105% figure that was needed (after his rookie deal of $875k) Sather has been in – what appears to be – no rush in inking Del Zotto.
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The Atlantic division could have been about to change significantly for the Rangers and without them making a single move. The stark reality however is that the division’s order of power won’t change. The Philadelphia Flyers spectacularly went out and got All Star defenseman Shea Weber’s signature on a $110m, 14 year contract with a bold offer sheet. The Predators now has seven days to match the offer, something they are likely to do.
Nashville has what appears to be a straight forward decision to make. Weber is the face of their franchise (despite the presence of elite goaltender Pekka Rinne), an absolute game changing defenseman and a player who may not even have hit his absolute prime yet. Nashville has a large amount of cap space and still need to make the cap floor, something that matching the Flyers offer will help them hit.
In the end, Nashville will likely have to match. However, as Suit noted on Twitter, it’s not just the offer in totality that will be difficult for them to swallow. The front loading is the real issue. Despite their recent success, they are still a small market team and not yet producing the revenue it takes to hand out deals of this nature.
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When trade rumors begin to surface, many begin to panic. It’s not unexpected to see this panicking, as the Rangers were so close last season to playing for the Stanley Cup, it makes you wonder what management will do to make that next step. Per Larry Brooks, the organization has dubbed seven key players as “untouchable” in their search for scoring:
The Rangers, who are believed to have quarantined Chris Kreider, Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal and Derek Stepan (in addition to Ryan Callahan, Dan Girardi and Henrik Lundqvist)…
Mentioning Cally, Girardi, and Lundqvist is just a formality, as these are guys in or entering their prime who are core pieces for the Rangers. As for the first four mentioned by Brooks, those names are expected to be deemed as “untouchable.” If the Rangers were open to moving any of them, the return would have to be monstrous.
McDonagh was a given for the status of untouchable because of the impact he’s made on the roster. McDonagh emerged as a top pairing defender when Marc Staal went down with his concussion, and stayed there even when Staal returned. The pairing of McDonagh and Girardi is one of the best shutdown pairs in the game today. Throw in the fact that McDonagh has yet to tap into his offensive potential, and we could be looking at a Norris winner in the future.
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In a season full of surprises, none was bigger than 22-year-old defenseman Ryan McDonagh.
The former Wisconsin Badger was stolen from Montreal in the laughable Scott Gomez salary dump, arguably Glen Sather’s greatest transaction as general manager of the New York Rangers.
McDonagh spent the first half of the 2010-2011 season quietly honing his game in Connecticut before being called up on January 3, 2011.
He immediately clicked with Michael Sauer, bolstering New York’s second defensive pair just in time for the playoff push.
But even McDonagh’s stellar rookie season couldn’t prepare us for his monster 2011-2012 campaign.
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Justin Schultz is a very good prospect. There’s a distinct chance that should he indeed enter free agency, then the Anaheim Ducks will have lost a good player for the future. That said, it simply doesn’t make sense for the Rangers to be linked with him for various reasons. Yes, it’s rumoured and yes, plenty of Blueshirt fans would like him on the Rangers, but read on to find out why Schultz to the Rangers isn’t a realistic option for either party.
The Rangers are pretty damn stacked at the defense position. They are stacked at the NHL level and last time most people checked, they have some pretty high end prospects en route to the NHL level soon as well (hello Erixon, Tim and McIlrath, Dylan). Justin Schultz and his agent will know all this. The Rangers may not be the 1975 Canadiens with Lapointe, Savard and Robinson, but the Rangers blueline is young, talented and one of the main reasons this team went so far this year. Where does a talent (and he’s still just a talent folks) like Schultz project in the immediate future?
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Before we get to the report card for the Rangers blueline, let’s remember this: the Rangers enjoyed a spectacular season bested by only two teams in the entire league. A huge part of this success was because of the Rangers blueline. With that said, let’s look at the grades for the Rangers defensemen.
(p.s. if you missed it, here’s the Suit’s take on the top six scoring forwards this season – enjoy.)
For a significant part of the season Dan Girardi played like a Norris Trophy candidate. He was that good. Girardi enjoyed his finest season for the Rangers. With 29 points, a plus 13 rating, being an absolute work horse like few other in the entire league not to mention all the shot blocking, Dan Girardi literally does it all for the Rangers.
Aside from a very occasional stumble in the latter half of the season the only things that perhaps stop Girardi from being the perfect all round defenseman are his shooting percentage and lack of presence on the power play (1 goal). I really had to nitpick when trying to criticise Dan Girardi for this post. He is a richly deserved 2012 NHL All Star. Mid-season: A+/Full Season: A+/Playoffs: A+
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