Could Derek Stepan be eyeing up big money in the summer?
Ryan O’Reilly was touted in various circles as a potential trade target for the Rangers during the team’s recent poor stretch of form. That was until he signed back with the Avalanche via an offer sheet from the Calgary Flames. In the process, O’Reilly may have just caused a headache for the Rangers.
O’Reilly signed a two year, $10 million offer sheet from the Flames which the Avalanche were quick to match. In a nutshell, the talented fourth year Avs center is now making five million per year (cap hit) the next two years. Here’s where the problems start. O’Reilly; statistics, position, style and age is very similar and thus a comparable to the Rangers’ Derek Stepan. Stepan is about to become a restricted free agent this summer.
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When Gaborik shoots, he collects pucks. Just don’t ask Lundqvist…
Welcome to this week’s edition of musings. This week’s version is entitled Start-To-Worry-But-Please-Don’t-Panic. With a dose of positivity in my veins, let’s get into it.
Let me immediately address the Zuccarello, Fasth and Lindberg news. I do not think any of the three can have a major impact on the Rangers this year. All three are talented but Zuke can’t cope physically in the NHL (from the evidence thus far) and Fasth and Lindberg would require time to settle in to North American hockey. If they come in as depth then sure; utilise their speed, their confidence from productive seasons. However, if they’re coming in to be difference makers then I am not sure. They’re still young.
The Rangers offense has dried up more than the Sahara desert so the three goal ‘explosion’ against the Jets was a welcome sight. What did they do right to get three goals? Traffic around the net and simply shooting. If only they’d have been willing to shoot more in that game… but it’s amazing how these simple aspects of hockey still lead to offense. This game we love isn’t rocket science.
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Ooh, look… Ranger playing tough! More please
Every hockey fan can see that the Rangers aren’t playing hard enough. It’s perhaps not surprising then that the Rangers are struggling around the eighth spot in the East after around one third of the season. On the other side, injuries have begun to decimate a squad most considered top heavy and the result is a lack of true identity, a lack of production, and subsequent panic among the masses.
The problem is the Rangers are not tough enough to play against no matter what the line up looks like, regardless of prolonged health. Changes, whether minor or significant, probably need to be made. Look at the Toronto Maple Leafs. Whether it’s a hot streak or the start of something promising; the Leafs are sporting a 12-8 record, scoring more goals, being difficult to play against, and in the midst of a 7-3 streak. They have gained an identity as being a tough club. All this ironically enough after the truculent preaching Brian Burke left town.
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Time for McIlrath to put the sweater on? (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
With the injuries mounting in New York and the likes of Stu Bickel and Steve Eminger clearly not enjoying the trust of John Tortorella, could we see first round pick and great white hope, Dylan McIlrath rushed to New York? With a nickname like the Undertaker and a (listed) 6-5, 220 lb frame, McIlrath has the potential to be an imposing defenseman.
As seen by the recent inclusion of Christian Thomas, and to a lesser extent Chris Kreider and JT Miller, readiness may not be the priority but rather the necessity of numbers and positional relevance. If you’re going to have to fill the roster you may as well fill it with players with upside. Clearly the Rangers hope Dylan McIlrath will fulfill his talent and draft status in upcoming seasons. He may get a chance sooner rather than later.
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Bad PP? Wonder who could fix it?
I’m assuming the Rangers don’t have an issue with their former legend Brian Leetch and I’m assuming Leetch doesn’t hate Glen Sather for moving him out of New York to the Leafs all those years ago. So, why not get him on board and help right the wrongs of the current roster?
This is just food for thought on a lazy Sunday afternoon but other clubs have brought in specialist coaches such as the Sharks with Larry Robinson and Jim Johnson to directly deal with previous issues. The Sharks had a woeful PK (amid other things) and the new coaches helped right away. They dealt with their issues proactively.
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Former All Star Alfredsson would be a nice fit in NY – depending on cost
The Rangers need to get more offense and Chris Kreider needs serious minutes; not just as an injury fill-in. Those two issues, the inconsistent play of J.T. Miller, and the underwhelming performances of Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik are why the Rangers may want to consider speaking to Ottawa about veteran winger Daniel Alfredsson. After all, we all know the Rangers like a Swedish element to their team.
Alfredsson isn’t the same player he was but is still an effective complimentary player, has an expiring contract, and with Ottawa beset with injury – should the Rangers be able to mount some consistency toward a Cup run – there seem many reasons why Alfredsson makes sense for the Rangers. This of course is assuming the Sens will be sellers at the deadline, which may not be the case.
He doesn’t need to worry about tarnishing his career with Ottawa. This could be a pure rental and he could go back to Ottawa and finish his career there next year. Alfredsson, as the Senators greatest player, will get to decide his fate. He may want a cup run and with New York he could have one. With Karlsson and Spezza off-ice long term the Senators captain knows there’s little to no chance a cup run is happening in the Canadian capital.
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Gaborik needs to step up, the Rangers need him.
I almost didn’t want to write this post out of protest at losing valuable sleep having to watch the Montreal game Tuesday night. That said, it probably should have sent me to sleep. Anyway, it’s another musings on another game day. Let’s get at it.
Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik need to be much, much better. Inconsistent at best, invisible at worst these guys should be difference makers in turgid affairs like the one on Tuesday.
Gaborik: I’m a huge fan, one of my favourite Rangers. That said, he’s started to play more on the perimeter again and is getting away from what makes him successful when he’s been scoring as a Ranger. We need to see him in open ice, yes. However, we also need to see him around the net, looking for rebounds, looking to sneak behind defensemen. Gaborik needs to step up.
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No, Girardi and Staal are not brothers. They are elite defensemen.
The Rangers may have leaked goals in bunches at times this year and may have been, at best ‘rusty and inconsistent’, to begin the year. That said, the Rangers blueline – at least the top end – has been at the very heart of why the Rangers are back on the winning trail. With Dan Girardi and Marc Staal leading the way (and Ryan McDonagh getting back to previous form) do the Rangers have a Norris trophy candidate?
In a shortened season points surely can’t be the sole measuring stick of a Norris candidate, and if the best defenseman award goes to, well, the best defenseman then the Rangers could be in the mix for the award. With Erik Karlsson unfortunately out for the season due to a nasty injury and Nicklas Lidstrom working on his golf handicap, two of the main front runners are no longer in the running. With Shea Weber playing beneath the level of hockey we have been accustomed to – missing Ryan Suter by any chance? – there’s certainly an opening for a new winner.
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I am Nash. HEAR ME ROAR
It’s Musings day. I’m in Germany as you read this on a game day, so enjoy. Unfortunately the Islanders game is the first game I’ll not have caught live this year to any extent but I’m sure you’ll all cope without me.
The Rangers win in Boston; if that finishes 3-0 then half of Ranger nation will be booking time off to attend the Cup parade. It didn’t, and it was almost a shambolic collapse, but lets stay away from the ledge. For most part the Rangers played a great game and at times controlled the Bruins in their own barn. That’s tough to do.
There are goal scorers and then there are truly elite offensive, superstars. Marian Gaborik is a great goal scorer for the most part. Rick Nash is a superstar. He can dangle and create offense out of nothing that maybe 5% of the league (if that) can do. Going on a small sample size, Nash is going to be in New York for a long time and successfully too.
Marc Staal (for the most part) is truly back. Carrying the puck, playing physically, decision making, offense, sound positioning… he’s doing everything he needs to do at an All Star level again.
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Will Miller be back in another jersey this season or not?
JT Miller has been a pleasant surprise in his brief stay with the Rangers this season. His call up has coincided with (perhaps even caused) the re-emergence of the Rangers much anticipated offensive depth, and has caused players such as Brian Boyle to find themselves in the press box or with less prominent roles.
Whether we see Miller much longer in New York however, remains to be seen. Last season Carl Hagelin’s introduction to the Rangers also created a spark and the young speedy Swede forced the Rangers to keep him on the roster. Miller could conceivably do the same thing, albeit with slightly different circumstances. However, the Rangers could choose to use Miller as a spark for the rest of the roster and that’s it.
They may choose to place Miller back in the AHL and see if he can elevate his game there following his fine Broadway introduction. This move would preserve that first year of his entry contract. Miller could be used as the ‘threat’ to the roster. Every coach wants options and Miller offers John Tortorella a viable threat to established roster players who aren’t performing. They’ve seen how Miller has coped with the transition to the NHL seamlessly and will not want to sit.
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