“Some fans don’t like me? … Oh no!” </sarcasm>
There’ll be no Marc Staal defence’s today (kudos Suit), no long-winded rants, just lots of discussion. I’m feeling concise today so let’s get straight into the Le Musing (ooh, very French…)
Michael Del Zotto: The young and oft maligned blueliner is off to a great start to the year. He’ll never win over all his critics but he’s been the Rangers best blueliner at both ends so far. For a unit that struggled early on, and for a player with much to prove, he’s doing exactly that. Several big plays already this season.
Glen Sather deserves a ton of credit for Del Zotto’s start. Sather challenged Del Zotto to earn a bigger deal. He called him out while at the same time ensuring he publicly acknowledged the young defenseman’s worth to the franchise. He doesn’t speak in public much but Sather hit this one on the head. Sather dealt with the MDZ situation perfectly.
If I were to personally grade Marian Gaborik after 6 games, I’d probably be harsher than most people. I’d give him a B+ where some people would see the totals and assume excellence. I’m one of Gabby’s biggest fans, but he’s at times dominated and at times been found wanting. Of course, the times he’s impressed have outnumbered those he’s struggled in. The only thing missing from Gaborik’s season thus far is that elite level of consistency.
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Did you know that Staal has brothers? (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Over the past few days, we’ve covered the need for a bottom-pairing defenseman here, here, here, here, and here. Suffice it to say, we think it’s a glaring hole that none on the current roster can adequately fill for a Stanley Cup contending team. But yet, despite that glaring hole, many think that the Rangers should trade Marc Staal for reasons that we will get to below. It just boggles the mind. Here are a few of the reasons why people think the Rangers should trade Staal:
1. He hasn’t been the same since his concussion.
This was absolutely true last season. Staal was clearly off his game when he returned for last year’s Winter Classic, and his struggles followed him right through the playoffs. That said, he was still able to be a big minutes eater in the postseason, and there’s nothing to lead us to believe that he is still having issues from his concussion. We think he’s going to be a major difference maker this year. It’s been a year since his return. He’s had some obvious rust, but let’s give it at least five games before you say his brains are mush.
2. He has brothers in Carolina and obviously won’t re-sign with the Rangers.
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Is Richie the most important Ranger outside of Lundqvist?
The hockey world is back up to full speed, and it’s hard not to be excited. See you soon New York; my annual regular season trip is now in the planning phase. Cannot wait to be back at the Garden, something I’m sure we all are excited for. Musings Time!
Pat Leonard of the NY Daily News reported that the goalie starts for the Rangers will continue like last year’s split which would mean Hank getting ‘only’, (approximately) 36 starts, which is exactly what Suit predicted a couple of weeks ago. That’s bad news for you fantasy hawks that drafted the King in the first round of your drafts but good for Henrik in terms of staying fresh for the playoffs. The Rangers are blessed that they’re able to lean on a back up of Biron’s quality.
I’m going to predict the Rangers regular season: 35 wins.
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Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images
Some may laugh at that title, but there is a slim chance that Wade Redden may wind up back with the Rangers should the Blueshirts be unlucky on the injury front. The Rangers have six defensemen signed, not including Michael Del Zotto or Matt Gilroy (also not including Mike Sauer, who is done for the year). Down in Connecticut, the Rangers have three players that could be used as a call up: Sean Collins, Logan Pyett, and Redden.
Now let’s just be direct and say that this is a very slim possibility. The Rangers would have to suffer a large amount of injuries to their blue line before Redden even becomes a possibility. It’s safe to assume the Rangers would have to burn through their current NHL reserves in Gilroy, Steve Eminger, and Stu Bickel before they begin calling players up. It would take three injuries for the Rangers to require a call up.
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Does Kreider deserve to make the opening night roster?
I’m writing a musings article. That can only mean one thing: The lockout is over. Who else thought the Gary Bettman ‘apology’ fell on deaf ears? Show of hands? Thought so. On to the musings.
TSN had an article earlier this week titled: “Leafs stand to benefit from new CBA”. Of course, this is presumptive from TSN. When you’re a franchise that’s been mismanaged for more than a decade, it’s dangerous to assume anything. More on that later.
Should we expect quick movement on the Del Zotto contract front?
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Today is one of those days where I have way too many thoughts about the Rangers in my head, so you are getting them in bullet point form. It’s a musings, but more of a disjointed musings from a very tired Dave.
- It’s going to be really interesting to see how fans react if and when the season resumes. I, like many others, refuse to attend a game with my own money –I’ll go if someone buys me a ticket– because of the way the league and the players have ignored the fans. Yes, both sides have ignored the fans. While I largely believe the owners –mainly Jeremy Jacobs– are the main reason for the lockout, both sides have lied to the fans. Fans come first? Yea, right.
- One more lockout note: For the fans that do attend games, if there isn’t a “Fire Bettman” chant in every single arena on opening night, then I will be incredibly disappointed. There comes a time when someone needs to go, and now is that time.
- Ok, I lied, one more lockout quip. If the NHL thinks they can lure fans back with a stupid image on the ice that says “Thank You Fans!” like they did in 2005, then they are sorely mistaken. They will need to give us something. Free NHL Center Ice for this season –and maybe next season– is a start.
- Now on to the Rangers. It’s going to be interesting to see how the Rangers piece together their bottom defense pairing. Stu Bickel is a lock for a spot. Steve Eminger and Anton Stralman are as well. Add in the usual players (MDZ, Staal, Girardi, McDonagh), and that’s already seven guys. Matt Gilroy is in Connecticut on an AHL contract. Will he sign an NHL deal? Will he play for the Whale, knowing he’s #8 on the depth chart? What if someone like Logan Pyett or Sean Collins gets a call up first? It’s going to be very interesting to see how Slats and Torts play this out.
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It’s been a while since we’ve done a musings around here. Musings are much more fun to write when there’s stuff, you know, to write about. For the past two months, we’ve had precious few bits to write about. But, little bits here and there are popping up, so let’s go for it.
- We’ve stopped writing about the lockout and the status of the negotiations for the most part. Honestly, there are only so many posts we can write with the same topic. We aren’t going to regurgitate the same thing over and over again. And I get the impression you all don’t want us to write “Update: No further updates” either.
- Speaking about the lockout (getting it out of the way), it’s mind-boggling how a group of six or seven owners, which is less than one-third of all owners, can hold the league hostage like this. Jeremy Jacobs and his cohorts who are holding this up should be ashamed of themselves. It’s not our fault you guys can’t run a business. Maybe if you didn’t sign off on an ill-advised 35+ contract for Tim Thomas, or a long-term deal for a concussion prone Marc Savard, you’d be making more than $7 million a year off one of the more successful teams.
- That’s it about the lockout. If you want unbiased analysis, read James Mirtle’s articles. He’s the only one presenting the facts with none of his personal feelings thrown in. Unless some big news breaks, we won’t be writing about it.
As we approach the lockout deadline – faster than most people would wish – lets jump straight into another episode of Musings and talk about non – CBA, Rangers orientated stuff.
Personally I’m somewhat underwhelmed with the Steve Eminger re-signing. Yes, he fits in well with the club and has had partial success with the Rangers however the Eminger and most, if not all, veteran defenseman available would have limited offers at this stage. My preference would have been to invite Eminger and a couple of other veterans to camp (if there is one) and have an open competition. Everything seems pretty safe and secure now, heading into camp.
NHL.com recently started discussing fantasy options (getting ahead of themselves?) and they talked about Chris Kreider as a strong sleeper candidate. Kreider is exactly that. He can’t be a sure fire draft pick and his actual (non fantasy) production can’t be projected too closely, despite his playoff exposure. But Kreider has tremendous potential next season; for fantasy owners and the Rangers.
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Are we really still in August? Hands up who thinks the season starts on time. Anyone? No one? Ok, let’s just muse a little.
I read this about the CBA discussions on Wednesday: “The league’s Tuesday proposal didn’t address team revenue sharing”. I can’t imagine which owners must be the drivers behind this area; *cough* Ed Snider *cough*…
A reason for optimism regarding the Rangers future is the recent, sustained ability to find unwanted players around the league and make them useful roster parts. No one will miss John Mitchell or Steve Eminger and certainly no one will miss Erik Christensen going forward. Perhaps no one will notice next season when Stu Bickel mows through the press box buffet offerings but the Rangers continue to find players for almost little cost that contribute to the team. It’s not always about high draft picks or spectacular trades it’s about the hidden gems and unheralded players a team uncovers. Ask Dan Girardi.
Paging Michael Del Zotto…..
Just a thought: Is there a direct highway/passage/tunnel from Wisconsin University to Madison Square Garden?
If Carl Hagelin manages to work his way on to the top six next season is it because he’s stepped up in the face of the competition or because someone has underperformed? There appears to be brutal competition for elusive top six ice time, but I’m an optimist – if he gets legitimate ice time with the big boys it’s because he’s earned it.
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Don’t get too caught up in various CBA proposals that show the Rangers as being way below a projected new salary cap or way above it. These are all hypothetical situations and the truth is that New York’s position really could go either way. Regardless, the new cap will surely be grandfathered in, giving the Rangers and every other team ample time to figure out a plan of attack.
Preliminary player ratings for EA Sports’ incredibly addicting NHL13 have leaked and as usual, there have been complaints from fans of every team, including Rangers fans who are aghast that Chris Kreider is rated just a 68 overall. Speed alone should be enough to bump Kreider significantly higher, but it’s long been abundantly clear that EA Sports just does not devote enough energy to compiling accurate measurements of every NHL player.
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