Ryan Callahan’s injury woes are concerning, but New York will still likely do everything it can to keep its captain
Quick note: Dave was at the game last night, so the goal breakdown will be done for the afternoon post.
The Rangers’ season is quickly spiraling out of control and it’s probably a matter of time before GM Glen Sather steps in and makes a major shakeup. But with so many pending free agents and so many players underperforming, it’s a certainty that the 2014-2015 version of the Blueshirts will look drastically different than the edition that stunk up the joint last night against Nashville. So let’s take a look at New York’s upcoming free agents and see who might still be around next year, and who could be gone.
Ryan Callahan - Yet another injury has clouded this situation. A few months ago it would have been unthinkable to imagine life without Callahan, but his health is becoming increasingly concerning. New York’s doctors will have to evaluate Callahan’s physical condition, but assuming he’s in one piece, I still expect the Rangers to do everything they can to lock up their captain long-term. Some of the beat writers think Callahan would be very tempted to join the Sabres next summer to move closer to home, but though I’m sure Callahan loves Rochester, New York City isn’t all that far away and I can’t imagine Callahan joining a rebuilding team. If things really fall apart for the Blueshirts and there’s not much progress in negotiations, I could see Callahan being tempted by a contender. But it’s still most likely the Rangers will retain their captain, albeit at a very steep price. Remember, the Rangers paid RFAs Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Brian Boyle and Michael Sauer over Callahan in 2011 and gave him a lesser deal due to the resulting cap crunch. No. 24 swallowed that bitter pill then, but it’s unlikely New York will be getting a hometown discount this time around.
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In a relatively unsurprising move, considering the discussions today about a need for some grit, the Rangers recalled winger Arron Asham from the Hartford Wolf Pack today, and returned rookie J.T. Miller back to Hartford. Asham is someone who can be a viable replacement while Derek Dorsett nurses his wrist injury, bringing some necessary grit and anti-vanilla to the lineup that this team desperately needs. He will make this team tougher to play against.
As for Miller, his time will come. He still needs work, as his game away from the puck leaves much to be desired.
Per Pierre LeBrun, both Arron Asham and Martin Biron have cleared waivers. Both will be (have not at the moment) assigned to the Hartford Wolfpack of the AHL. However, Biron has hinted he might retire instead. Can’t blame him, he’s got a family to think about.
Per Ryan Rishaug, the Rangers have placed forward Arron Asham and goalie Martin Biron on waivers. Asham, who had a strong camp and preseason, has struggled a bit out of the gate, but then again so has pretty much everyone. Biron was solid in the first period in St. Louis, but let in a pair of softies in the second that eventually saw him yanked from the game.
Waiving Biron creates a need for a backup goaltender, so expect Cam Talbot to be recalled relatively soon. As for Asham,
the Rangers already have 13 forwards on the roster, so a replacement is not needed. (Forgot about Nash’s injury) if Rick Nash is ready to go, then the club does not need to call up another player forward. If he is not, then they will either call up a forward or go with seen defensemen, like they did in St. Louis.
Of course, the Rangers could just see if there are any takers for them to shed some salary. They waived Todd White and Aaron Voros a lot while they were with the club a few years ago, but they were never sent to the AHL.
Per Steve Zipay, Arron Asham will dress for the first time this season when the Rangers are in Los Angeles tomorrow to take on the Kings. He will be taking Jesper Fast’s spot in the lineup. Asham will skate on the fourth line.
While the initial reaction will likely be outrage (How dare this team sit a kid? He should be in the AHL then. Insert complaint here), it’s worth noting that the Rangers need to carry an extra forward since they are out west for a few weeks. When they return east, they will be able to slide with 12 forwards. Hence, Fast in the press box instead of the AHL.
A bounce-back season from Brad Richards would be a huge boost for the Rangers
Best case: Asham continues to provide comedic relief on Twitter and plays in a handful of games with the Blueshirts.
Worst case: New York is unable to find a taker for Asham on waivers and he spends the final year of his contract in Hartford.
Best case: The former fourth-overall pick puts it all together as a Blueshirt and records a 20-goal season.
Worst case: The Rangers learn why Pouliot has already played for four teams in his young career and the big forward is invisible most nights. Read more »
Aaron Asham and Darroll Powe’s time as New York Rangers’ may be over. Both bottom six forwards have been placed on regular waivers (not buyout waivers) and could be snapped up by other clubs or sent down to the AHL, eventually. These moves may be to clear cap space as the Rangers look to enter free agency with more cap room but regardless, both almost certainly signal that Alain Vigneault doesn’t plan with either player.
While Arron Asham was at times under utilized by John Tortorella and suffered injuries that hindered his time as a Ranger, Powe was a particular disappointment. Powe failed to provide any offense whatsoever and couldn’t help solidify a so-so penalty kill. Neither player has made an impact as a Ranger and wouldn’t be missed.
A lack of depth up front was New York’s Achilles’ heels this season
As former coach John Tortorella repeatedly mentioned, New York’s depth up front was gutted during the summer of 2012 following the trade of Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov and the free agent departures of Brandon Prust, John Mitchell and Ruslan Fedotenko. The Rangers struggled mightily to replace that depth all season, but had a difficult time doing so in part due to injuries and inexperience. As a result, Tortorella was left with very few reliable forwards and it showed throughout the 2013 campaign.
It was a very disappointing regular season for Boyle, who was an occasional healthy scratch and never regained coach John Totorella’s trust. However, in the playoffs Boyle was one of the best, most consistent Rangers, scoring three goals and finally using his big body along the boards and in front. Boyle admitted to being extremely frustrated by his performance this year, which he blamed partially on his decision not to play during the lockout. He wasn’t the only Blueshirt that was negatively affected by that decision, but it may offer hope for a return to form next year.
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Per Dan Rosen, Ryane Clowe left the optional skate early this morning, while Arron Asham stayed on the ice a bit longer. This generally suggests that Asham will be a scratch, and Clowe will make his return to the lineup. Rosen also noted that Marc Staal is physically ready (reading between the lines of his tweet), but it’s more of a mental thing with Staal. He has to be able to play without feeling like his decision-making will burden the team.
Naturally, Torts isn’t revealing any of his lineup decisions until the warmups, so don’t expect any updates until just before puck drop.
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer
In case you missed it, the Rangers re-signed Mats Zuccarello, who will likely join the club within the week. Zuccarello will bring some stability and scoring to the bottom-six, something that is desperately needed. The addition of Zuccarello will lead to some lineup changes. When all the pieces fall into place, the odd-man out is not who you might think it is.
It’s been very clear that the organization wants offensive talent to play alongside J.T. Miller on the third line, so it’s a logical assumption that these two will see some ice time together. Since Zuccarello is rather flexible and can play either wing, that opens up a few options for the Rangers. If Torts wants to try Miller at center, then the Rangers can try either Marian Gaborik (RW) or Chris Kreider (LW). Each line will have a lot of skill and speed, but the downside is that the trio will be defensively inept. The rest of the top-six remains the same.
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