There is nothing more dangerous in sports than a superstar in his early 30’s coming up for free agency. At age 31 or 32, he still shows all the skills that made him a star in his prime and makes GM’s salivate at the thought of that “one final piece”. But we know those skills are fading. If we are really honest with ourselves, we know the fall will come within the first three or four years of that mega-deal. The Yankees are currently paying for it with Alex Rodriguez, and are considering it with Robinson Cano. The Rangers, of course, took the plunge in July 2011, to the tune of nine years, $60 million for Brad Richards. Read more »
The Sandy relief event, organized by ex-Flyer Todd Fedoruk, featured nine members of the New York Rangers: Henrik Lundqvist, Brad Richards, Brian Boyle, Taylor Pyatt, Arron Asham, Jeff Halpern, Dan Girardi, Marc Staal and Steve Eminger.
They were joined by several of the sport’s biggest stars including Steven Stamkos, Martin Brodeur, Bobby Ryan and Corey Perry.
The game had a similar feel to a traditional All-Star game, but instead of being hijacked by offense, this game was dominated by Lundqvist.
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Along with Lindberg and Fast, the Rangers have a number of potential NHL players one rung away from the big show in Hartford including J.T. Miller, Kyle Jean, Marek Hrivik, Andrew Yogan, Christian Thomas and Ryan Bourque. Not far behind them is Michael St. Croix.
It’s not that the Blueshirts have a ton of veteran forwards inked to long-term deals; only Rick Nash and Brad Richards are signed beyond next season.
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How will the lockout affect the game’s future?
The other night on Twitter I posed this 3-point question:
- How betrayed/disrespect do you feel by the NHL and NHLPA?
- How much does that really matter to your interest?
- Bottom line: will it really stop you from spending money on tickets?
Plenty of Rangers fans are outraged and insist this latest work stoppage is an unforgivable foul. I suspect that some of the fan base has really been turned off, but not a big enough part to make any difference; the Garden will still fill up.
Think back to the 2011 trade deadline. The New York Rangers were not yet regarded as an elite team; in fact, they were fighting for a playoff berth, a fight that lasted until the final day of the regular season.
Glen Sather had engaged in trade talks with Dallas GM Joe Nieuwendyk regarding soon-to-be free agent Brad Richards. Sather could have had the coveted center, provided he was willing to part with Marc Staal, Derek Stepan and Brandon Dubinsky, the ransom demanded by Nieuwendyk according to Larry Brooks.*
Sather showed restraint, kept his young pieces and watched as the Blueshirts were dispatched by the Washington Capitals in five games. Richards quickly signed with the Blueshirts on July 2nd.
The lockout is now real and some New York Rangers have begun to make commitments to other teams for the 2012 season.
Already Rick Nash has inked a deal with HC Davos to reunite with Ranger hater Joe Thornton, where they both played in the last lockout.
The Fourth Period also reports that Carl Hagelin is in talks with Sodertalje SK of the Swedish Div II League.
By now you’ve read a million of these, but here’s another post lamenting the looming lockout.
“That just got me ridiculously excited for a hockey season that may not happen. But that was a great video.”
Although the lockout is imminent, it is not stopping several Rangers players from getting together today for an informal skate. Per Andrew Gross, 14 players were on the ice for a skate today:
14 players including newcomers Rick Nash, Taylor Pyatt and Jeff Halpern along with veterans Henrik Lundqvist, Brad Richards, Marc Staal, Dan Girardi and Anton Stralman as well as younger veterans Ryan McDonagh, Derek Stepan, Stu Bickel, Carl Hagelin and Chris Kreider.
Gross also notes that Michael Del Zotto, despite not having a contract, was also on the ice today.
The Rangers leaped from the ranks of the “status quo” to being one of the most improved teams in the league with the acquisition of Rick Nash, but how have their Eastern Conference competitors fared this offseason?
Here’s a look at which teams have improved, which teams appear weaker and which seem about the same as they were in 2011-2012.
Carolina – The Hurricanes made perhaps the two biggest “name” additions of the offseason, bringing in Jordan Staal and Alex Semin to compliment Eric Staal and Jeff Skinner on what should be a much-improved offensive attack. Giving up Brandon Sutter and letting Bryan Allen go could make for a tough time on the other side of the rink, where Carolina has struggled recently. Still, this team is undoubtedly trending upwards.
Buffalo – The Sabres sent inconsistent center Derek Roy to Dallas for the underrated Steve Ott and defenseman Adam Pardy. Buffalo’s real success this offseason came in June, when the team drafted Mikhail Grigorenko and Zemgus Grigensons in the first round. Grigorenko could make an impact right away and the Sabres suddenly have a few near NHL ready prospects worth talking about.
On the draft…
My excitement over the selection of Cristoval “Boo” Nieves in the second round of the June draft has been growing steadily. Nieves has always been a great passer and skater; the reports that he was fully engaged and very physical at prospect development camp have only boosted his stock. Nieves is going to the perfect place for his development, the University of Michigan.
Here’s why you can’t really trust what you hear about European prospects. Calle Andersson, the Rangers’ fourth-round selection, has been called both a sublime skater and an awful skater by multiple credible scouting outlets. So which is it? I can’t say, I don’t get to watch much Swedish Elite League hockey, and neither do most scouting services. We’ll just have to wait and see.