Musings

Thoughts during the dog days

Raanta
Raanta

Happy Friday, BSB faithful. I hope your summer is treating you well. Personally, I’m happy that summer is the busiest time for me at work, because those dog days between the start of free agency and the beginning of training camp are just brutal from a sports perspective. All the interesting moves have mostly been completed and we count down the days until hockey returns. One cannot live on baseball alone. Here are some thoughts as we slog through the summer….

 

  • This may seem like something of an obvious point, but I’m hoping that the organization can find a spot for some of the prospects who could step into support roles on the cheap. The more or less seamless integration of prospects over the past few years; Derek Stepan, Chris Krieder, Carl Hagelin, et al, has given me a tremendous amount of confidence that Oscar Lindberg, Brady Skjei and Ryan Bourque could help ease the cap squeeze a little with low-cost depth.
  • My plan is to do an in-depth analysis of Antti Raanta prior to the season starting, so we can get to know our new backup goaltender. However, he only has played 39 career NHL games. I haven’t watched a ton of Chicago games over the past two years, so I have been unable to see Raanta live. I googled video and I can’t find much other than “Raanta makes great save on breakway” video, so if anyone knows where I could find some scouting material on the guy, it would be greatly appreciated.
  • Not necessarily Rangers related, but a few weeks back, it was announced that Reebok was going to defer to CCM when it came to Adidas’ hockey line. All of the Reebok Premier goalie equipment will be re-branded CCM Premier for the 2015-2016 season. Cam Talbot was even part of their launch campaign. All of the equipment is designed by Michel Lefevbre anyway, so nothing is really changing. I just thought it was a little strange after spending all the time and resources to establish Reebok as a hockey brand, just to relegate it ten years later seems like kind of a waste to me.
  • Considering the current team construction; the retirement of Marty St. Louis and the Carl Hagelin trade, do you think Pavel Buchnevich may have jumped the gun on staying in Europe this season? He would have probably at least started in the AHL, but considering the in-flux state of the middle six forwards, an opportunity may have presented itself.
  • Speaking of the Hagelin trade, I know my gut reaction was an emotional one, because I really enjoy Hagelin as a person and a player. I understand why the move was made and I am happy that at least upside was given in return in the form of Emerson Etem. I still don’t like this trade. I think the downgrade in overall usefulness doesn’t really mesh with where the Rangers window is currently. If they wanted to move Hags for a true “prospect” or draft picks, I get it. But Etem, to me at least, is too much of a project.
  • It could be that I don’t trust his roller hockey background, or that we have seen too many “all the skill in the world, but hasn’t put it together yet” players in New York (*cough Nik Zherdev cough*) who fail spectacularly. At this point, I don’t feel confident Etem will be an impact guy. I hope he proves me wrong.
  • It makes too much sense to trade Kevin Klein for it not to happen, right? The Rangers have one and a half defensive prospects knocking at the door and Klein is their most moveable defensive asset. As much as I don’t really believe in McIlrath’s long-term NHL viability, losing him for nothing in deference to a $3 million dollar #6 is bad asset management.
  • To the point of asset management, what a start for Jeff Gorton as General Manager. Those contracts he got the organization’s RFA’s to sign are highway robbery. Derek Stepan will be a whole different test, though. Let’s hope that gets done soon.
  • I’m hoping to bring the chat back in the fall. As I mentioned, the summer a circus at the office and there isn’t a whole lot to talk about once the frenzy has passed, anyway. I’ll keep everyone posted because a lot of requests have come in for its return.
  • Well, that’s all for me. I hope every one continues to have a great summer, and congrats once again to Hatrick Swayze for a tremendous off-season plan. You can look for a guest post from him very soon.
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36 Comments

  1. Justin

    Unlike you, I think the Etem trade can work to our advantage. He can do what Hags did, less speed, but has more upside with his offensive abilities. That stated, I still agree with you, Hags should not have been the man traded, just loved the kid……….

    Today’s #24 Ryan Callahan, even though he wanted out, when he was here he gave 100% every shift, and for that I respect him.

    I came home on leave and went to see the Rangers in 66, got to see Red Berenson, class act, wonderful player, just thought of him today because of his number!!!!!!!

  2. I agree on the Hags trade. I would have rather received a 2nd round pick (or a late first rounder) instead of Etem.

    I think Derek Stepan will get his money because Gorton has not had to show anyone the door in a difficult negotiation yet. Slats (as we and the Agents know) had no problem showing greedy players the door. This will be his first test.

    As for Klein, his market movement is based on the Organizations belief that guys like Skjel and McIlgrath are truly NHL material. If he doesn’t get moved, we all know that the kids are not ready.

  3. I cant wait for when Buchnevich comes over. Could he have come over this year and earned a spot? Absolutely. But hey it is what it is.

    All of us were hurting when haggy left, it is a void that cannot be filled emotionally, but I believe Etem will almost replicate the offense lost by hagelin. Put him on a line with Stepan and Kreider and he will flourish.

    Looks like the rangers are going to wait with klein until at least the deadline unless stepan contract kills us. but i think they are going to keep him till the end of his contract and let skjei take the spot of either Boyle or yandle. I hope the rangers resign yandle if the contract isn’t too much because the rangers gave up a lot for him and he is a great weapon to have on the powerplay.

    I’d also just like to say i am very optimistic about stalberg. I think he will fit in nicely and have a pouliot kind of year on the rangers 3rd line with Hayes and Miller.

    Stanley Cup Rangers Roster… I think we are close

    Nash Brassard Zuccarello
    Kreider Stepan Buchnevich
    Hayes Miller Etem
    McDonagh Girardi
    Yandle Staal
    Skjei Klein

  4. I’d rather vote for Ryan Malone as my favorite #24 than Callahan. I’m still just that disappointed in Cally uncaptainlike behavior to give him any credit.

  5. Thanks J. We’re on opposite sides of the coin as far as summer schedules. I work for a company which sells various fuels…. so naturally work flow goes down as temperatures go up.

    The jury is certainly still out, but I am optimistic about Etem’s development. Obviously, he is not nearly as established as Hagelin, but he will be part of the puzzle next year. A prospect/ draft pick would not be. To me, a player at this point in his career is better than the other two extremes: draft pick / MSL type acquisition.

    I think Klein get’s traded during the season……I mean he has to, right? He might not and really does solidify the blueline, but something has got to give with McIlrath/ Skjei both potentially knocking.

    If after signing Stepan, if we are still comfortably below the cap, would it be better to keep Klein for one more run and then unload him next summer to make room? To me, the depth insurance (since we could afford it) would be more important than maxing out Klein’s trade value after his monster year. I’m not necessarily advocating not to trade him….. but I can understand why the organization might prefer not to at this juncture.

    1. Forgot to say….. solid point on Buch! Our biggest need is probably another top 6 scoring threat. It seems like he fits the billing quite well for that need.

      1. I’m excited about the prospect of Buchnevich, however I think he still would be better served with a year of AHL under his belt. I have a slight issue with players not wanting to come over because they will not automatically be thrown onto the NHL roster. The sense of entitlement is hopefully not a glimpse of things to come as far as his attitude goes. Both Kreider and Miller were bounced back and forth from the NHL to the AHL their first couple of seasons. It’s all part of the process

        1. Chris, good point. I did read somewhere that a player can make more money playing in the KHL then he could in the AHL. So, if that’s true, you can’t really blame him.

          Hopefully he has a productive season in Russia, and he’s ready to help the Rangers on the NHL level next year.

  6. Another theory (and a very worthwhile one, at that) is that a Klein and – dare I say Glass- trade might be on hold until after the Stepan negotiations are done. Obviously, the less room the Rangers have, the lower the cap-hit might become. In this environment, even an AAV of 250-500k is a very big deal. If waiting until after negotiations are done to trade either player helps in any way, then it makes a ton of sense.

  7. We all loved Hags & wish he didn’t have to go but with Step about to be overpaid there was no room in the ark. I think Etem is one of those boom or bust prospects so we’ll see which it is but even if he busts Buch is going to be very very good. As far as Skjei he’s not going to make the team out of camp, esp. since he was not the best D for the Pack in the playoffs even. He’ll get his turn but it won’t be at the beginning of next season. As for Klein he gets traded if McIlrath sticks, if not they’ll keep him around. In any case, I’m not a big fan of Diaz & hope he’s the guy who goes to the AHL.

      1. Diaz is a cheap insurance policy. He can always be waived and sent to Hartford without creating any dead cap space. It’s important to keep in mind that roughly the first $925,000 of salary of any player in the minors is exempt from the NHL cap charge.

        Diaz is only making $700,000, Jayson Megna is only making $600,000, Stalberg is here for only $1.1M. Much like Stempniak, Mueller, Lombardi, Kostka and Hunwick from last year, these veteran players are purposefully signed to such small contracts to give the organization maximum flexibility when it’s time to make roster decisions. The only risk involved with these vets is if another team decides to claim them on waivers when they are ultimately sent down. Of course, each player, whether they are in NY or Hartford, still counts towards the maximum 50 total contracts that a team is allowed, but that’s a relatively small matter at this time of year.

  8. Etem is going to be great for this team. It wasn’t easy losing Hagelin but Etem has more upside and will be cheaper.

    Not to mention hasn’t seen top 9 minutes ever in his career. He’ll get a chance to play with some skill and get more chances. If he ends up playing either with Stepan or Miller/Hayes as his center he’s going to have more skill around him then he ever did on his line in Anaheim. Not to mention gets him out of the hometown arena. If he has a breakout year this could be a great move.

    I think this guy is going to go to some dirty areas and create some goals for the Rangers when it counts in the playoffs. They spent an awful lot of time on the perimeter in the playoffs and not going to the net. Etem can help there and get to the net.

  9. I don’t really see Etem as Hagelin’s replacement, I look at Stalberg as taking Hagelin’s spot. Stalberg is lightening fast and scored 22 goals for the Hawks, a few years back. He could be a real bargain. I see Etem as a very nice 4th line guy. Stalberg (6’3″, 209 lbs) and Etem (6’1″, 212 lbs) also bring much needed size to the Rangers lineup.

    I don’t see any point in trading Klein until you know you have a viable replacement. I don’t see anything being done there until training camp at the earliest. Why weaken the team, when you don’t have to? I haven’t seen anything yet from McIrath (other than he’s big and can fight) that suggests he can play at the NHL level.

    I’m hoping the Rangers go to arbitration with Stepan and give him a two year deal. Why tie up $7M per year for six years for a guy who’s high in points is 57 and doesn’t win faceoffs? If he improves over the next two years, then pay him. Why get stuck with a long-term contract for a guy who may only be a 55 point guy? For years, the Rangers biggest weakness has been at center and they still need an upgrade at that position. They need guys that win faceoffs and, unfortunately, neither Stepan or Brassard do that. Hayes looks really good, he could be the # 1 center soon.

    1. Hayes is a winger. He did an admirable job faking it at center, but his skill set is best suited for the wing. Hayes should be leading the rush not filling the lanes as a late arriving trail forward. In the Rangers D system the C is usually the third man in on the rush.

      Hayes is a N. American version of Jagr. Not super fast, but can skate well and uses his big body and long reach to keep possession of the puck while making creative plays and taking dangerous shots. Those skills are best used out wide away from the congested center lanes that a center is required to travel. Hayes is an offensive weapon that shouldn’t be bogged down with the extra defensive responsibilities that a center has to tend to.

      1. Chris, by that logic, you would never have your best playmakers playing center, as you’re trying to keep them away from congestion. Would you suggest then that we play a weaker player at center? That makes no sense, whatsoever.

        1. Yes, you should always play your most responsible players at center. The center has to be the first man back or the high forward in the O zone and he can’t take risks with the puck.

          You want your best playmakers to have more freedom so when they make a risky play at the opponent’s blue line and it doesn’t work out you don’t all of a sudden have an odd man rush going the other way..

          1. I agree, your centers should play responsibly, but your best playmakers should be your setup guys, your centers. Hayes can be an impact player at center. According to your logic, you wouldn’t play Crosby at center, or Stamkos, or Tavares, Seguin, Giroux, Sedin, Malkin, Getzlaf, Thornton, and a dozen other elite centers. Not that Hayes in in that class yet, but all those guys take risks to develop plays. Again, the Rangers are weak at center, but have plenty of wingers. They need quality NHL-ready centers, not more wingers.

  10. Just read that Alex Semin just signed with Montreal for $1.1 mil, for one year……….

  11. #25 John Ogrodnick probably the best to wear that number, had a 40 goal season if I’m not mistaken???????? Played for us for about five years, good scorer, not very hard nosed.

    Honorable mention to me was Orland Kurtrnbach, played for us in the mid to late 60’s, hard nosed as they come. Wasn’t the most skilled player, but was a hell of a scraper!!!!!!!!!!!!1

    1. How about the late, almost great “Potsie”, Alexander Karpovtsev? After all, he is one of the first Soviet players to have his name immortalized on the Stanley Cup.

      1. Disagree on Hayes. He was the best playmaker on the team in the second half and one of the best point producers on the team. His only question mark is whether he can win faceoffs. If he can, and with the Rangers continuing weakness at the center position, why would you not play him there? The Rangers have plenty of wingers. I compare him more to Joe Thornton, who does just fine at center. The guy could be a stud for years to come.

  12. Disagree on Hayes. He was the best playmaker on the team in the second half and one of the best point producers on the team. His only question mark is whether he can win faceoffs. If he can, and with the Rangers continuing weakness at the center position, why would you not play him there? The Rangers have plenty of wingers. I compare him more to Joe Thornton, who does just fine at center. The guy could be a stud for years to come.

    1. I would prefer to give Hayes more freedom to concentrate on offense instead of bogging him down (and inhibiting his point production) with defensive assignments.

      Why is it so important that Hayes becomes a full fledged NHL center? I’m not picking on you Zamboni, I know lots of Rangers fans look at Hayes as a center long term. Traditionally, the best offensive players on a team play the wing. I never understand why so many Rangers fans obsess and fetishize the center position. Center is a defense first position, especially in AV’s man on man D system. Most teams assign the crease and crease help to the weak side D, in AV’s system the center is responsible for the crease in the D zone. That added responsibility means the center is always late on the breakout, and therefore less involved in the offense.

      As for Hayes’ production last season, you have to keep in mind that Hayes’ usage leaned heavily towards shifts starting in the O-zone. That usage makes me think that if he was paired with a center that is more defensively adept, like Derek Stepan, Hayes could get more starts in the D zone which would lead to more ice time and even more points. Keep in mind that Hayes was 8th in even strength ice time among Rangers forwards last year.

      I will say that as far as this coming season, Hayes might have to remain at 3C simply because it makes more sense to have Hayes center the 3rd scoring line than Lindberg or D. Moore. Long term, Hayes should move to the wing, and that means he wouldn’t pass Stepan or Brassard on the depth chart, which was the whole point of this long ramble in the first place.

      1. The best snipers play on the wing, not the best playmakers. They play center. It’s important for Hayes to play center because the Rangers don’t have strength down the middle, that’s no secret. Our centers are small and don’t win faceoffs, that’s not a winning combination. If we had stud centers, then sure, play him on the wing.

        You get the most scoring opportunities when your shifts start in the offensive zone, not the defensive zone. That’s why AV would put him out there and would have D Moore out there for the defensive zone faceoffs. AV did the same thing in Vancouver, he would put the Sedin’s on the ice all the time for offensive zone faceoffs. Not sure why you would think that spending more time in the defensive zone would lead to more scoring.

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