Best case: Johnson is an adequate depth defender and is significantly better than Stu Bickel in spot duty.
Worst case: Johnson is no better than Bickel and the Rangers are back where they were last year if top-six blueliners get hurt.
Best case: Stralman continues to be an unsung hero for the Blueshirts and finally earns the attention he deserves with a standout campaign, including some gaudy power play numbers.
Worst case: Stralman’s hold on the #6 job loosens and Justin Falk pushes him for playing time. Read more »
Per Andrew Gross, defenseman Stu Bickel and forward J.T. Miller were sent home from the Rangers taxi squad for wrist injuries. This doesn’t have much of an effect on the Rangers, but neither Bickel nor Miller will be available as injury replacements.
As expected, Stu Bickel cleared waivers and will be sent to the Connecticut Whale in the AHL for tonight’s game. Bickel was not happy with the way he was treated, as Andrew Gross has some interesting quotes:
“It is what it is,” Bickel said. “It’s been tough for me to get an opportunity to play any minutes on the backend to develop some confidence.”
“I came up last year and I performed and was able to play some minutes and play well,” Bickel said. “I did everything I could with the opportunity. Getting less minutes, it’s more difficult to do what I want with it. (Now), it’s wait and see.”
It’s unfortunate that Bickel did not see much ice time, but when he did, he wasn’t too effective. Hopefully he can rebuild that confidence in Connecticut and make an impact.
Paul Bereswill/Getty Images
The Rangers were busy this weekend, waiving both Jeff Halpern and Stu Bickel and recalling Kris Newbury from Connecticut. The three moves are, for all intents and purposes, minor moves. But these moves triggered a wide variety of questioning, celebrating, and rumormongering. It was actually very interesting to read all of the speculation Twitter, which included the now famous “Gaborik for Boyle and Clowe” rumor, which is just outright ridiculous*.
*-If this happens, I’ll eat my words. I will also build a Glen Sather statue of him holding 29 “pictures.” These “pictures” will be symbolic of the 29 naked photos he must have of all other GMs, because no GM has this ability to turn spare parts into something substantial as often as he does.
But without speculating, let’s look at the three moves themselves, as each was made for a reason. The easiest one is the Newbury call up. Although we discussed how Newbury would be a replacement for Halpern and Bickel, the call up is most likely due to the recent J.T. Miller injury. I doubt he would have been recalled if not for this injury.
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A microcosm of Bickel’s last year in blue.
When Stu Bickel came to the Rangers as a midseason call up last season, he made a lasting impression on the team, the coaching staff, and the fans. He played with that edge that the Rangers lacked since Michael Sauer went down with his concussion. But, we started seeing some questionable aspects about his game, and it started affecting his ice time last season, specifically in the playoffs.
On the ice, Bickel has been nothing short of a disaster. His skating isn’t what Torts needs it to be (he looks like a pylon), he misses assignments (both on forward and on defense), and he contributes nothing offensively. A physical presence only gets you so much, and all this is evidenced in Bickel’s ice time. Bickel is lucky to get five minutes per game when playing defense, and luckier to get eight minutes per game while playing forward. Torts simply appears to have lost trust in Bickel. That is not a recipe for success.
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Photo by Elsa/Getty Images
Depth has been a discussion point around here since before the lockout, to the point where we have too many posts to link to when we bring it up again. Despite an injury to Arron Asham, the Rangers have more useful depth this year than they have had in years past. They have a fourth line capable of eating 10-12 minutes of ice time per game when healthy, with some of that coming on the penalty kill. Depth is critical for a team like the Rangers, who will need all four lines to make a deep Cup run.
Despite all this, the Rangers fourth line barely saw seven minutes of ice time each. Eliminating Stu Bickel from the equation, as he’s only in because Asham is out, it makes you wonder why there is no trust from the coaching staff. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a post bashing anyone –as you all know, we love Torts here and aren’t afraid to show it– but it’s still worth asking why these guys don’t get ice time.
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Do you own a pair of skates? Give Glen a call, you could be of help!
Yesterday we discussed how the Rangers may eventually look outside of the organisation for help on the blueline. Unless you think Stu Bickel, Matt Gilroy or Steve Eminger are the answer then it’s perhaps inevitable that the Rangers are on the lookout. Of course, this is assuming team brass do not want Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh on the ice every other shift. So, with other teams such as the Red Wings signing viable alternatives such as Kent Huskins already, who’s still out there that could help?
The Rangers decision to bring in another defenseman will depend on what the Rangers want from their last pair. The options from either a free agent or trade perspective are limited, but there are some intriguing options, both defensive and offensively.
From the unemployed pool, Campoli would likely be the most expensive, but at this stage of an abbreviated season, anyone looking for work isn’t likely to make dollars a major stumbling block. The former Islander has likely plenty of gas left in the tank, but has been injury plagued in recent times. What makes him appealing for the Rangers is that he only costs dollars. Given the issues with moving the puck out of the zone, Campoli could help given that he’s a solid puck mover. If it’s offense and mobility the Rangers are after, then Campoli is the best of the rest at this stage.
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(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
The irony of the Rangers unimpressive start is that this team could really benefit from Wade Redden on the bottom pair. His passing ability and experience would have been a boost to the bottom pair. Clearly though, that was never going to happen. All jokes aside, two bad losses doesn’t mean a general manager should blow up his roster and beg for help elsewhere.
However, maybe the two losses have reinforced (or exposed) a need in the eyes of Glen Sather. Countless twitter fans, media types and pre-season’ predictors expressed varying levels of concern at the bottom end of the Rangers blueline depth. Basically the concern was – is there any?
Stu Bickel has been horrible thus far, Matt Gilroy is surely just an emergency measure (based on his at best mediocre play with the Whale), and Steve Eminger would have the same problem shaking off the rust that the current defense corps is encountering. So will Sather be tempted to look for an upgrade outside of the organisation and is it needed?
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Is Richie the most important Ranger outside of Lundqvist?
The hockey world is back up to full speed, and it’s hard not to be excited. See you soon New York; my annual regular season trip is now in the planning phase. Cannot wait to be back at the Garden, something I’m sure we all are excited for. Musings Time!
Pat Leonard of the NY Daily News reported that the goalie starts for the Rangers will continue like last year’s split which would mean Hank getting ‘only’, (approximately) 36 starts, which is exactly what Suit predicted a couple of weeks ago. That’s bad news for you fantasy hawks that drafted the King in the first round of your drafts but good for Henrik in terms of staying fresh for the playoffs. The Rangers are blessed that they’re able to lean on a back up of Biron’s quality.
I’m going to predict the Rangers regular season: 35 wins.
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The conversations this summer have mainly focused on the Rangers forwards. With three forwards departing, three (four if you include the AHL-bound Michael Haley) coming on board, and the never-ending discussions about Rick Nash, Bobby Ryan, Alex Semin, and Shane Doan, it’s easy to see why the focus is on scoring and depth.
However some of the biggest concerns during the postseason were about the depth on defense. Stu Bickel was barely playing, and the five other defensemen were struggling to keep their legs under them while playing shorthanded throughout the playoffs. The Rangers need depth or growth. With Michael Sauer out, and no major signings pending, the answers appear to have to come from within.
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