Money or success?
We knew this time was coming. Rangers’ fans knew that as the team’s window of contention began to open so would the period come where multiple essential Rangers would approach contract negotiation time. It leaves the Rangers in a sort of crossroads over the next twelve months.
With Derek Stepan still unsigned, Henrik Lundqvist, Dan Girardi and Ryan Callahan all approaching free agency, the absolute core of this team – Rick Nash aside – is in need of new deals. Whether the Rangers can afford to pay the going rate for all these players is questionable. Brad Richards’ uncertain future, the impending free agency of Anton Stralman, and a potential career year –in a contract year– for Derick Brassard also play roles in the questionable financial future for the Rangers.
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What line Carl Hagelin resumes his Rangers career on is out of his hands
Despite being an increasingly integral piece of the Rangers puzzle, Carl Hagelin is facing a nervous few months as a Ranger. Despite being blessed with skating ability and able to play up and down the roster Hagelin’s role when he returns from injury will depend less on his own ability (and track record with the Rangers) than it will on those that take up spots on the opening night roster.
Hagelin has teased the Rangers and their fans with offense but he has been a streaky scorer and at times frustrating offensively. Despite this he has impressed with his ability to get to the puck and unnerve opposing defenders with his speed but opening night will see players such as Danny Kristo, Chris Kreider, Jesper Fast, JT Miller and veterans such as Benoit Pouliot try and make the top six for the opening road trip. With Hagelin and Ryan Callahan not expected to be ready until the season is underway, multiple players have an opportunity to stake a claim for significant roles.
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JT Miller is one of the prospects who will play a huge role next year.
A lot of credit has to be given to the Rangers franchise for the way they have opened up space at all levels of the franchise for prospects. Room has been made so that prospects can get the maximum amount of ice time to aid their development. The caveat in all of this is that they still need to earn it, and should they not there needs to be alternatives at hand, but no prospect should feel buried on any Ranger depth chart.
The Hartford Wolf Pack have seen key AHL contributors such as Chad Kolarik or Kris Newbury depart in recent times, and players such as Kelsey Tessier or Benn Ferriero – solid AHL players but with no real chance at NHL careers – have also moved on. Even players still considered solid prospects (such as Christian Thomas) have been moved once their development appears to have stalled, replaced by more likely potential such as is assumed with Danny Kristo.
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People who know prospects like Kristo’s potential.
I’m intrigued with the Danny Kristo trade. I’m intrigued at the possibility of Glen Sather ripping off the Canadiens again and I’m intrigued at the timing of it all. A prospect – apparently pro ready – coming to a team with cup aspirations, at a time where there’s positions up for grabs. What to make of it all?
We thought we’d ask a couple of people who have great insight with prospects and the US national program for their takes on Kristo. Does he have the talent to make an immediate NHL impact? It’s always worth gauging opinion. Chris Peters of United States of Hockey and Jess Rubenstein from Prospect Park both have must read blogs and are great follows for prospect information. They both took time out to provide an insight into Kristo and the whole deal that no one really saw coming.
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Yet another American for NYR: Danny Kristo.
Whether Christian Thomas makes it as a Montreal Canadien is of little concern to Rangers fans, although his smallish frame should fit right in with the Canadian club. Ranger fans, however, should be excited at the prospect of Glen Sather once again acquiring a potential NHL regular from Montreal. In Danny Kristo, the Rangers have acquired a player who has dominated at the college level and who appears to be joining the club at the right time.
With Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin injured, there is a position in the top six up for grabs to begin the year. While there are a few options with NHL experience ahead of Kristo (Zuccarello, Kreider, Pouliot come to mind), none of the options have a top six spot nailed on by any means, and all of the options mentioned can play elsewhere in the line-up. If Kristo has a strong training camp he could easily earn himself a look.
Kristo is a man who has earned accolades. In April, College Hockey named Kristo their player of the year and with 26 goals and 52 points for North Dakota it was an award much deserved. He was a Hobey Baker finalist, WCHA rookie of the year in 2010 and this season – to go with his Hobey nomination and CHN win – he was an all WCHA first team player.
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The NHL has a long history, it should have used it.
Throughout the summer (a brief one, thanks to the abbreviated 2012-13 season) we’ll discuss aspects of the league that invoke discussion as well as continue to discuss everything New York Rangers. First up, missed opportunities.
Once again the National Hockey League has missed a trick. When the league pushed through realignment they had an ideal opportunity to bring the league’s storied past into play. Just like how the league renamed the Lester Pearson trophy after Ted Lindsay, the league should have renamed the newly formed divisions after former great players and legendary hockey league innovators.
Hockey had an opportunity to respect its tradition and pay homage to those that made the game what it is. It had an opportunity to move beyond mere geographical titles, and the commercial priorities of individual clubs with their TD Gardens and HP Pavilions. The league had an opportunity to use history as a selling point to the national hockey league and to provide some meaning to divisions.
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MSG: something Rangers players won’t see much of in October
With the release of the 2013-2014 schedules, it was confirmed that the Rangers would kick off the year with a lengthy nine game road trip as Madison Square Garden’s renovation is finally completed. With teams such as the Penguins still very much a league heavyweight, the Islanders ever improving, and the Blue Jackets new to the party, a solid start is critical to the Rangers.
The first month of the season is simply survival mode for the Rangers. A nine game road trip is tough regardless of opponents; but when analysing who the Rangers actually face in the month of October – 12 games in total – the Rangers have a brutal stretch to begin the year. The new season begins with tough games against the Coyotes, Kings, Sharks, Ducks, and Blues, all on the road. Losing to any of those teams on the road would not be a shock for any club, so the possibility of starting out 0-5 is by no means unrealistic. There’s no ‘gimmie’ amongst that quintet for sure.
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Oscar Lindberg, fast becoming a top prospect for the Rangers.
We have already discussed the expectations that may surround Jesper Fast as he looks to make the Rangers next season. When it comes to dealing with ‘reasonable expectations’ however, Oscar Lindberg may be on a hiding to nothing. When you’re an MVP, a league winner, and an elite scorer in your domestic league, people take notice and many people – media and fans alike – now eagerly anticipate Lindberg’s arrival in North American hockey.
With 42 points in 55 games in the defense first SHL (only three players scored over a point/game in 12-13), Lindberg exploded offensively compared to previous seasons. The Rangers may have anticipated a defensively sound, faceoff specialist (a team need). What they didn’t expect was a prospect arriving in North America as a potential NHL scoring forward.
Make no mistake, in the NHL Lindberg will still be judged primarily on his two way ability and his face off skills, but the Swedish center has developed such an all round game that people have already speculated how high he can go in the franchise, and whether he can be a legitimate offensive producer as an NHLer. It appears people are of the opinion that it’s when not if Lindberg becomes a Ranger. Ethan Werek who?
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(Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
The Rangers stand to have a number of prospects vying for NHL spots in the upcoming preseason, but worst case scenario they will have a number of younger players playing prominent roles in the AHL in Hartford. One of the harder players to gauge is Jesper Fast. Exceptionally quick, and fresh off a strong SEL campaign, Fast has been playing hockey against men for a couple of seasons and is likely better prepared than many prospects trying to crack the New York roster.
On the flip side, Jesper Fast has all of one game in North America on his resumé, and despite scoring – and generally impressing – in that one appearance, it is still just that; one appearance. Fast’s speed and shot should translate well to the NHL, but given his skill set and the apparent depth on the big club, it would be reasonable to expect Fast to start in the AHL next year. Or would it?
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AP Photo/Kathy Willens
Despite coming in at 17th and 19th respectively on various prospect website rankings, the Rangers need not worry when it comes to the talent pipeline just now. Everyone assumes cap mathematics will be the driver behind letting Brad Richards go in twelve months time, and this is indeed true, but the Rangers are especially blessed with promising centers making their way up the system.
With Cristobal ‘Boo’ Nieves, the Rangers have a highly thought of prospect that had an exceptional first year in college in Michigan. They have the Swedish playoff MVP on his way in Oscar Lindberg, and they have a player in Michael St Croix that has been a dominant scorer in the WHL.
Without considering the obvious merits of a JT Miller, the promise (albeit perhaps a little further down the line) of Steven Fogarty, or a talented yet underachieving prospect such as Andrew Yogan, the Rangers don’t need to panic about letting Richards go, nor should they worry about filling his eventual departure through free agency.
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