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Posts tagged: Tim Erixon

Eminger Has Separated Shoulder, Defense In State Of Flux

What more can happen to the Rangers blue line? Marc Staal hasn’t played all year because of a concussion. Mike Sauer is out definitely because of a concussion. There was a makeshift bottom pairing that consisted of any combination of Steve Eminger, Jeff Woywitka, and Anton Stralman before the Sauer injury. Since the Sauer injury, Eminger was forced into top four duties, and played well. Now he is out, and the future of Woywitka is unknown since he is banged up.

Let’s assume Woywitka can go on Tuesday. After all, he is a hockey player. That leaves the Rangers in need of another defenseman. The smart money would be on Tim Erixon being called up, but he comes with a $1.75 million cap hit. With Mike Rupp activated, the Rangers don’t have room to carry that cap hit without making another roster move to clear some cap space. Since Sean Avery carries the biggest cap hit among those not playing regularly, it’s safe to assume that if Erixon is called up, then Avery will indeed be waived.

Another option is to call up Brendan Bell, who has NHL experience, but he would need to clear re-entry waivers prior to joining the club. It is unlikely someone would claim him, but the Rangers might not want to take that chance. If it is Bell that is called up, then placing Eminger on LTIR should clear enough cap space to make room for Bell.

The Rangers thin blue line just got a lot thinner. With the Christmas roster freeze a day away, the Rangers need to make their moves quickly.

Erixon Returned To Connecticut; Rangers Making The Right Decision

Tim Erixon’s second call up was short lived, as the Rangers returned the rookie defenseman to the CT Whale of the AHL last night. Erixon was called up as a precaution for the Rangers road trip to St. Louis and Phoenix. Although many –including us– assumed he would be playing during this call up, John Tortorella specifically stated that Erixon was an emergency call up, and would be returned as soon as the road trip was over.

Much to his word, Erixon did not play and was returned even before the road trip ended. Erixon had recently returned from injury before his call up, and it is assumed the organization does not want to rush him.

It is curious that the Rangers didn’t intend to play him. If they needed an emergency guy, they have Brendan Bell in the AHL as well. But I guess the Rangers needed to be sure they would have the body in St. Louis (Bell needs waivers), and maybe Erixon needed another day or two before getting back on the ice. Regardless, still a curious decision to call him up.

What isn’t a curious decision is the decision not to force Erixon into the lineup. It’s easy to see why the organization might be tempted to do so: Marc Staal and Mike Sauer are out indefinitely with concussions, forcing them to play the Steve Eminger/Jeff Woywitka/Anton Stralman trio for extended minutes. While they have been up to the task initially, it’s assumed they won’t be able to keep this up. Combine that with Dan Girardi playing 75 minutes a game, and the Rangers blue line is in dire straits.

Erixon has a bright future, and it will be with this organization. There’s no need to stunt his growth by playing him before he’s ready. That is the right call, and it’s a call the Rangers have been making with almost all of their prospects in recent years.

Tim Erixon Recalled

The Rangers have announced that they have recalled defenseman Tim Erixon from the CT Whale of the AHL. Erixon has split time with the Rangers and the Whale, starting the season with the big club until being sent down for development purposes after nine games. In those nine games with the Rangers, Erixon did not register a point and finished with a -2 rating. In 13 games with the Whale in the AHL, Erixon has a goal and 11 assists (12 points) and 10 PIMs. He has an even rating.

This recall is likely due to the fact that Mike Sauer will not be back for the west coast swing, and the Rangers never travel west without a spare body. My assumption is that he will dress for both games, and that Jeff Woywitka is likely to be the odd man out. Woywitka was pretty solid last night, but it’s a matter of him being out played by both Steve Eminger and Anton Stralman.

Last season, injuries forced the Rangers to call up Ryan McDonagh, and he stuck with the team. This year, the Rangers already have Carl Hagelin up –who appears to be around for the long haul– and now it’s Erixon’s turn. A solid two game performance can really ease the Rangers troubles on their thin blue line.

The press release is after the jump.

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Options In Case of Sauer

Mike Sauer remains day to day but with a concussion the Rangers are likely to be very careful with the ever improving defenseman. That brings in to focus the current defensive corps and the (lack of) depth the Rangers currently have on the big club. Your bottom three defenseman should not be named Steve Eminger, Jeff Woywitka and Anton Stralman. Especially when you have Mike Del Zotto in the top six improving but still developing. The Rangers need to look at other options in case Sauer misses extended time.

Sauer out brings us to the Rangers options on the farm. It’s highly unlikely (barring an extended losing streak) that the Rangers will go outside of the organisation. If that was an option at this stage, they may already have added another player. However, depending on the style the Rangers want to play there are two options in Connecticut; Pavel Valentenko and Tim Erixon.

While Erixon has already accumulated some NHL time with the Rangers (and certainly didn’t embarrass himself), this may be the perfect opportunity to see whether Valentenko really has what it takes to make the Rangers in the near future. Questionable skating ability seems to have held back Valentenko so far but with the greatest respect to Jeff Woywitka – and especially Steve Eminger – at least short term, trying out Valentenko can’t be any worse than the aforementioned two options.

If the Russian fails you can plan without him beyond the season. If he adds stability or physicality and holds his own in the line-up you know you have another asset to work with even if/when he would be demoted upon Sauer and (or) Staal’s returns.

Tim Erixon will be a future staple on the blue line in the future and his play (particularly offensively) appears to be improving with the Whale as we speak – much like McDonagh’s game got better throughout last year in the AHL. However, the Rangers should think carefully about taking a look at their rugged Russian blue liner while they still have a chance to do so. With the Rangers defense getting it done by committee this season it can’t do too much harm to throw another name in to the mix.

Tim Erixon Sent To AHL

In what is the third and likely final roster move today, the New York Rangers sent defenseman Tim Erixon back to the CT Whale of the AHL. Erixon was supposed to start the season in the AHL, but was called up after the injuries to Marc Staal and Mike Sauer. Erixon started strong, and has shown that he is a very capable defenseman, but he needs to play 20 minutes a game to hone his craft at the North American level. In nine games, Erixon did not register a point, and finished with six PIMs and a -2 rating.

There were no defensive call ups to replace Erixon, which means Jeff Woywitka will be in the lineup on Monday night.

A Look At The Defense’s Quality Of Competition

When the Rangers lost Marc Staal and Mike Sauer, they lost more than two of their top four defensemen. They lost two of their most physical defensemen and two guys that have been relied upon for many games to neutralize the opposition’s top lines. They are out, and others are looked at to fill those gaping holes on defense. Although it is very tough to quantify how the Rangers will look when Staal and Sauer come back, we can look at who the workhorses are, and who is lining up against top quality –or bottom of the barrel– opponents.

Let’s state the obvious: Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh are the workhorses, and they are facing off against the opposition’s top lines night in and night out. They will be doing so for the foreseeable future too, as there does not appear to be any timetable for Staal and Sauer’s return. Using the eye test, it’s easy to say that Michael Del Zotto has been one of the Rangers better defenders as well, and to an extent he has been. But that’s why we have stats like QUALCOMP that measure the quality of competition that each player is facing.

A brief description of QUALCOMP, it is a positive or negative number, and the higher it is, the better competition a player is facing. Let’s look at the table below through the Rangers first three games:

Player GP QUALCOMP
Ryan McDonagh

3

0.635

Dan Girardi

3

0.475

Tim Erixon

3

0.144

Steve Eminger

3

-0.104

Jeff Woywitka

1

-0.494

Michael Del Zotto

3

-1.115

To sum up the table, the players facing the top quality competition are the ones you’d expect in McDonagh and Girardi. After that, it’s interesting to see that Tim Erixon is the player that coach John Tortorella seems to rely on the most when it comes to difficult opponents. The fact that they are the only three with positive QUALCOMP shows how much trust the coach has in them, and how his trust wavers with some of his other options.

Yes, Michael Del Zotto has been pretty good on defense this year, but he is way at the bottom of the QUALCOMP rankings. In fact, Del Zotto is at the very bottom in QUALCOMP for the entire league (excluding Sauer, who is injured). This is, of course, a very small sample size (just three games), and these numbers are likely to change dramatically as there is more of a regression to the mean (or progression to the mean for those slow out of the gate).

While those numbers themselves may change dramatically, the place where each defenseman resides on the list is likely to remain unchanged. It is widely known that with Staal and Sauer out, McDonagh and Girardi will be the top dogs on the blue line. What is troubling is that the Rangers have one defenseman that they are “breaking in” (Del Zotto), and another veteran –one that they relied on heavily last year– that are in the negatives with their QUALCOMP.

We do fall victim to small sample sizes here, as Jeff Woywitka has only played one game, and Steve Eminger took about 10-15 games last year to hit his stride and become that reliable defenseman that helped the Rangers through their injuries last season.  That said, trends will likely continue though, so expect to see Del Zotto facing off against lesser quality opponents, and expect the bulk of the heavy duty work to go to McDonagh and Girardi.

The positive to take out of this is that Tim Erixon has been facing some decent competition, better than both Eminger and Woywitka. He has been up to the task thus far. Although the number may change, he will still be considered to be a “second pairing” guy when it comes to the quality he is facing.

Hallå Musings Day!

This may be my favourite edition of Musings, even more so than Becky’s fine effort. Why you ask? Because as you read this I am sipping the first vodka and coke on my flight to Stockholm! Hallå!!! That’s hello in Swedish, though I’m sure you could have guessed. Anyway, following a busy few days and an even busier few to come, let’s get to it.

Sean Avery I. I couldn’t start this without mentioning the former Ranger. Waived, gone but not forgotten. Assuming he never plays a game in red white and blue again I’ll think of Avery for what could have been. He could have been a great agitator who made an impact every game but that simply wasn’t the fact.

Sean Avery II: A good impact (a la Wade Redden) or a bad impact (a la Patrick Rissmiller) down on the farm?

Quiet preseason? Doesn’t matter. Have any of you got any concerns about Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky, Dan Girardi and Brian Boyle? Thought not. Core players that only poor health could stop productive years.

Kings Watch: Player I’m most excited to watch? Dustin Brown. Not Anze Kopitar, not Drew Doughty. I want to see how physical he really is or whether a lot of his big rep is media talk.

Ducks Watch: I am ridiculously excited to see Teemu Selanne in person. Along with Jaromir Jagr (RIP) he is the greatest scorer Europe ever produced, to this point.

From the limited exposure I had to the pre-season, I thought Brendan Bell looked good enough that he didn’t warrant being waived, especially under the circumstances (injuries).

Dale Weise won’t be missed. I was a fan of the guy but there are plenty of players that can play in the bottom six still in the organisation, and he didn’t stand out in the few chances he got so good luck to him in riot land Vancouver.

Me, all me! To some of you this isn’t much but I’m pretty chuffed (you have that word in the US?) that I get to watch the Rangers 4 times in person in the next 6 weeks. For a Brit-Ranger-fan, that’s pretty damn cool.

I’m delighted Tim Erixon is getting a chance on opening night. I’m distraught the Rangers are apparently looking at Paul Mara though. That ship has sailed folks. He can come back to grow a beard in April though.

Sweden is an expensive place to drink. I am currently not feeling well (doctor actually advised me to stay home)…. but you can be rest assured that I will be doing my damndest to have a damn fine weekend. My wallet is shaking with fear.

Brandon Dubinsky on the top line is the right call. On the current roster he’s the best option with his style. It’s a shame the Dubi-Artie-Cally line get’s split up but if Artem Anisimov carries his form on and Callahan well, plays like he usually does, then whoever ends up on the left (Feds?) won’t struggle. The beauty of this roster is that there is a lot of flexibility.

I’m going to provide some pictures over the next few days of the globe and of Stockholm and any Ranger stuff that’s interesting; if I can get past my technophobia.

  • Prediction one: Erik Christensen will not finish the season with the Rangers.
  • Prediction two: Ryan Bourque will finish the season with the Rangers.
  • Game one prediction: Rangers 4 Kings 3 (calling Gabby for the GWG)
  • Game two prediction: Rangers 3 Ducks 2 (OT) (Wolski with the GWG – don’t laugh)

See you soon peeps; and wish me safe travels. GO RANGERS!!!!

Quick Roster Notes

There has been a flurry of activity the past 24 hours, so let’s quickly summarize everything in one post:

  • Sean Avery was placed on waivers yesterday and cleared. He has been assigned to the CT Whale. There is no known timetable for him to report or for him to seek other options.
  • Stu Bickel and Brendan Bell were placed on waivers yesterday as well.  Both cleared, but will remain with the roster until further notice. This is similar to what the Rangers did with Todd White last season.
  • Tim Erixon has been recalled. He will be at practice tomorrow and will play this weekend.
  • To make room for Erixon, Marc Staal has been placed on IR. This is also a move to save a little bit of cap space while he deals with his post concussion symptoms. There is no timetable for his return.

Also, the forward lines for Friday appear to be set:

Brandon Dubinsky-Brad Richards-Marian Gaborik
Ruslan Fedotenko-Artem Anisimov-Ryan Callahan
Wojtek Wolski-Derek Stepan-Mats Zuccarello
Mike Rupp-Brian Boyle-Brandon Prust

The defense pairings are still relatively unknown, as Erixon has not arrived in Sweden yet.

Tim Erixon Recalled, Will Play Friday

The New York Rangers have announced that they will recall defenseman Tim Erixon from the CT Whale, and fly him out to Sweden for the regular season opener in Stockholm on Friday.  Erixon was part of the third round of Ranger cuts that occurred over the weekend.  Although Erixon was cut, he had a good camp and preseason.  He does have some holes he needs to work on, but that is to be expected from any rookie defenseman.

With Erixon being recalled, it is likely that Brendan Bell and Stu Bickel, who were waived yesterday, will not be on the opening day roster.  It appears that they will be sent to the Whale once (if) they clear waivers this afternoon.  For the time being, Erixon will be the injury replacement for Marc Staal, who is out indefinitely with post concussion symptoms.

The Many Effects of Mike Sauer

With the multiple injuries occurring on defense recently it goes without saying the Rangers will have been relieved that Mike Sauer didn’t sustain a serious knock in the Flyers game. It also points out the meteoric rise that Sauer has undergone in less than twelve months. It’s not a surprise – he always had impressive talent – but it is meteoric when you consider Sauer’s career looked to have stalled until last season given all the injuries that stopped him from rising through the organisation quicker.

Mike Sauer is giving the Rangers a healthy problem while at the same time allowing the Rangers to develop other prospects more patiently. Sauer basically has become a win-win scenario for the Rangers. Sauer will never wow you with offensive skill or blistering mobility. He doesn’t need to. He makes solid decisions, is physically impressive and is as good a teammate as you’ll ever need. In short, Sauer is a model pro.

Marc Staal’s lingering physical issues may allow Sauer to take another step in his burgeoning career. Sauer became a good NHL, top four defenseman last season. Should Staal miss any kind of stretch of regular season games, Sauer could have the chance to show he can be a top pair defenseman. This is worth noting because it affects so many players in different ways. Sauer stepping up potentially affects Dan Girardi’s long term position with the organisation. A reliable two way guy, Girardi may find himself moved out for business/financial reasons down the line if prospects become NHL ready and Sauer (or another) can replace him on the top pair.

Sauer playing bigger minutes long-term allows the likes of Tim Erixon, Mike Del Zotto, Pavel Valentenko and Dylan McIlrath all to be brought along on more appropriate time-frames – once the rash of injuries begin to calm down. However, then there is the other side to all of this. If players like Sauer make themselves irreplaceable then guys such as Tomas Kundratek and Pavel ‘I have waiver issues’ Valentenko find themselves in murky water as far as their own futures go. Does one player’s progress also diminish any trade value they may have as well? This is a problem Sauer’s progression can pose.

There are so many ripple effects to consider because of a player’s development and Mike Sauer’s past year and his immediate future highlight it so well. The player is affected, the organisation’s depth is affected, the cap is a concern and business decisions may outrank sporting ones because of things such as contractual issues (i.e. ‘do we trade Girardi to free up cap to pay X, Y or Z?’). It isn’t just about a player simply moving up through an organisation any more. It’s so much more.