The Rangers should be keeping a seat warm for Oscar Lindberg.
Every year as free agency approaches Ranger fans spend most of their time talking about the big fish, the top five or so guys available. We’ve kind of been trained to do that thanks to the free-spending ways of GM Glen Sather, but it’s also only natural to think about the impact that recognizable players might be able to make on New York’s lineup.
Though we’re exercising the same behavior this June, it probably makes more sense –for a couple of reasons– for us to discuss stopgap third and fourth liners that could be inked for just a year or two. First, this just isn’t a great free agent class and there aren’t many players that are worthy of long-term financial commitments. Secondly, the Rangers will need to spend most of their available cash to re-sign their own free agents. Even if New York does buy out Brad Richards, management must still keep an eye on the bevy of significant players up for new deals next summer.
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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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JT Miller and Chris Kreider could have a huge opportunity next season
It is never good news when a player as crucial (and popular) as Ryan Callahan goes down with a serious injury, even if the timing couldn’t be much better from a recovery stand point. The same goes for Carl Hagelin who despite consistency issues has proven to be a good find for the Rangers and who is a core piece moving forward. That all said, where this is a hole to be filled there is an opportunity. Step forward Chris Kreider and JT Miller.
The appearance of the New York Rangers roster next season depends on so many factors; the coaching decision, the draft and free agency to name a few but the Rangers already have viable candidates to step up with Kreider and Miller being the obvious choices.
Sometimes a club needs to be forced into a situation and a decision taken out of their hands (aka can no longer afford to mishandle a prospect like Kreider) or a player needs to step up without fear of fourth line minutes or demotion and the opportunity is there for Kreider and/or Miller to grab a spot and run with it. This could benefit the Rangers enormously.
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Mike Sullivan won’t be behind the bench next year either
As the feeling of shock lifts from the Ranger fan community, we’ve begun to examine some possible replacements for coach John Tortorella. The new man behind the bench will be the story of the offseason, but the departure of Tortorella could also have an impact on many other important decisions the franchise will make.
Henrik Lundqvist will sign a contract extension
I still believe that The King’s comments on Monday were harmless, but many Rangers fans panicked over Lundqvist’s hesitation to commit to New York long term. To me, Lundqvist was only being smart before negotiating what should be his final NHL contract, one that will put a massive dent in New York’s payroll going forward. Nevertheless, there have been some clues that Lundqvist was less than thrilled with Tortorella. With the ornery general out of the way, no amount of money or years should be an obstacle in locking up Hank for the next eight years. Firing Tortorella was a strong message to Lundqvist and others that New York recognizes its window won’t be open indefinitely and that there’s a sense of urgency every year to bring home the Cup. Expect Lundqvist to ink a new pact this summer. Read more »
Rick Nash needs to be better tonight.
Well, it’s another ‘biggest game of the season’. The Rangers need to win today in my humble opinion because the Devils would like nothing more than to play the role of spoiler on the weekend, so the Rangers don’t want to go into that game having to win. Anyway, on to the musings
I absolutely loved Kevin’s article about Chris Kreider the other day. It’s the wart on the face of the Rangers this year, for sure. I think Kreider absolutely has the ability to turn it around but at the same time I don’t think he’s untouchable any more – there’s just too much disappointment and doubt around his long term future. If the Rangers could add a major piece in a trade and Kreider had to be included I think they’d consider it now, whereas as recently as pre-season he was untouchable.
John Moore I: I’ve liked him as a prospect, was pleased he was grabbed from Columbus and he’s justified my excitement since being a Ranger. There’s so much to like about his game. While it’s early I think a full training camp and a lot of teaching and he could play up to his draft status. Columbus will regret this one.
Moore II: I think Moore’s play will also have had a huge influence on the Rangers draft day thinking. I think they may have looked to a defenseman first (and still might) but his play may allow the Rangers to go for a skilled forward or a physically imposing player instead of a blueliner.
Just a thought: If the Rangers win out to get in, has Brian Boyle played his last game as a Ranger?
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This is not how the Rangers have successfully developed prospects in recent years
The Rangers’ recent success has made Chris Kreider a forgotten man, but the handling of Kreider has been the most disappointing aspect of the 2013 season.
You can’t blame the 21-year-old for hitting a bump in the road, but the organization’s treatment of its prized winger has been a mess since the season-opener. Kreider got off to a miserable start with the
Connecticut Whale Hartford Wolf Pack, where Kreider was asked to begin learning the Rangers’ system at the sacrifice of his offense. He posted just five goals and seven assists in 34 games and was struggling on both ends of the ice.
But Kreider was still handed a job out of training camp because the Rangers were very short on forwards and because, in case you forgot, he scored five goals right out of college for the Blueshirts in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs. This raised so many eyebrows that Chad Kolarik was rumored to have requested a trade due to this decision.
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Reasons for optimism up front in New York
The quality of opposition hasn’t been the toughest in the past few games but deadline day acquisitions, the return to form of several players and recently found consistency among the forward ranks has seen the Rangers production up front really take off in recent games. All this bodes well for a trip to the playoffs and, perhaps most promisingly, beyond this season.
Whether the Rangers retain a Ryane Clowe, re-sign Mats Zuccarello or push through a JT Miller or Chris Kreider remains to be seen but the way some of the younger forwards have developed this season means the forward group’s well documented struggles this year may have been overblown. Kids such as Stepan and Hagelin have, for the most part produced while the team has changed on the fly.
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The Rangers recalled Chris Kreider from the AHL today, presumably to replace Brian Boyle in the lineup. Boyle limped off the ice in the first period of the game last night and did not return to the game. Boyle also did not skate yesterday, so it’s a safe assumption that Kreider will play in tomorrow’s game against the Florida Panthers.
In six games since his return to the Whale (his third stint this season), Kreider has a goal and three assists. In 48 games, Kreider has a line of 12-11-23 with a -11 rating and 73 PIMs.
According to the AHL website, the Rangers have sent J.T. Miller and Chris Kreider to the CT Whale. Coach John Tortorella expressed concern that the magnitude of the virtual playoff games the Blueshirts are playing right now might be too much for the two, so these transactions aren’t a surprise.
The moves clear over $2 million in cap space and ensure that both Miller and Kreider will be eligible for the AHL playoffs. It is possible that New York is looking to acquire another forward today.
Kreider and Miller. The future, but maybe not the present.
Chris Kreider and J.T. Miller have seen diminishing ice time over the past few games, getting to a point where neither received a shift after the mid-point of the second period in last night’s win. Coach John Tortorella has stated that he is worried about the kids, especially at this time of the year:
“Quite honestly, I am worried about the two kids. I am not upset with them, I just think that the stakes are high and I just have to watch how they go through the game.”
This shouldn’t surprise many, but it has been the cause of some very heated debates. Some have even gone as far as calling for Tortorella’s head because he refuses to play the kids. Some have said that he is hurting their development. Before we go blindly bashing the coach, there are a few points to consider.
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