Our final hockey-less month

Remember hockey? I miss it too.

As a hockey fan, August is by far the worst month of the year.  Free agency, the major trades, the Draft, they have all long passed by and the dog days of summer have set in.  Traverse City is still a few weeks away.  The major headlines are the remaining few contract situations (Stepan and to some extent, Lundqvist), but the season still seems worlds away.

In the life of a hockey blogger, August represents dredging the deepest recesses of your brain for something to write about.  Everything with AV, re-signing McDonagh, Hagelin and Zuccarello, speculating on Stepan and Hank’s extensions, assessing the cap situation, etc. have been beaten to death over the past two months.  Nothing really left to do but wait (and read the final installment of the Top 30, of course).

In deference to our final hockey-less month, I thought I would just muse a little on some hockey related topics.

  • I’m really interested to see what styles and strategies AV chooses to open up the year.  His emphasis on advanced statistics and his willingness to innovate from a systems perspective have me convinced he won’t just default to the 1-2-2 he employed in Vancouver.  This Rangers team is constructed to be a puck possession monster, with tremendous skaters up and down the lineup.  I could easily see some forechecking hybrid that maximizes the personnel on the roster.
  • Can you remember a time when the Rangers have had this diverse and interesting a farm system?  The team has been incredibly successful in the past few seasons in developing quality NHL talent through trades and the draft, but this is another level.  Not only is the NHL team a solid pick for Lord Stanley this year, but the quality and quantity down on the farm is the best I can remember.  There is a varied mix of players on the cusp of NHL contribution (Lindberg, Miller, Fast, McIlrath, etc.) and longer-term projects with huge upside (Skjei, Duclair, Neives, etc.).  With the cap seemingly on the rise, the Rangers are entering Red Wings organizational territory.
  • Stupid NHL and their new goalie pad rules.  I’m not going to get into a rant about all the bad policy reasons behind it.  I’m just pissed because I bought new pads this past weekend and had to get them an inch smaller than I wanted to because of the rules.  If you have to do it the Pro guys, fine.  But, don’t trickle down to us men’s leaguers that could use that little extra.
  • I’m planning on keeping an eye on Jeff Malcolm’s development this year.  I was a big fan of his game the past few years at Yale, and I think he could end up being a sleeper prospect in the system.  He has a solid foundational game, with good athleticism and instincts.  He and Skapski have me much more optimistic about the future in goal than Talbot and Stajcer ever did.
  • I just wanted to take a minute to thank everyone who participated in the Off-Season Plan Contest.  We had some truly wonderful submissions and we really do wish we could have picked more than 3.  If you guys enjoyed it, maybe we will go to 5 next year.
  • Oh, and our weekly live chat will return once we get into the pre-season.

Feel free to discuss any of my musings above in the comments, or anything else for that matter.  Hockey is almost back, just a few more weeks…

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