via Blueshirts United
With the first round of cuts made, the attention now turns to trimming the roster down even further from those who will either serve as AHL call ups or rookies who might get their first cuppas this season. With news that Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin might miss the season opener, the Rangers are going to be looking for two extra forwards to break camp. There is a chance that these forwards might be Arron Asham and Darroll Powe, but there is also a chance that the coaching staff will want to take a longer look at some of the kids who impress at camp.
1. Oscar Lindberg
Lindberg is one prospect who we have talked about extensively at this blog since the Rangers acquired him from Phoenix for Ethan Werek. Lindberg was top-ten in the SHL in scoring last season. Upon arrival in the US, he promptly dismantled the competition at the Traverse City Tournament scoring five goals and seven points in the four game tournament. Lindberg has already had a strong camp, which just adds to the intrigue for the young Swede. Throw in his ability to win face offs and his play without the puck (the SHL is a notoriously defensive league), and he is someone who could force his way on to the roster.
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Kreider is likely the only rookie to break camp this season.
As we get deeper into the dog days of August, we see really bad trade rumors and people like me killing time with a theoretical expansion draft. However, with only Derek Stepan left to be signed, many have started penciling in their starting lineup for puck drop in October, something I’m guilty of as well. It ranges from realistic to mildly amusing, as I’ve received some emails that have about five rookies as starting for the Rangers, three of which haven’t even played the North American professional game.
We learned last season what can happen if you hand a spot to a kid, especially if the kid is not ready for the NHL. Chris Kreider’s AHL play from October-January last season did not warrant a call up, but he got one anyway. What we got was inconsistency, lack of ice time, games as a healthy scratch, and eventually a demotion back to the AHL. It was a stain on the season. But the Rangers had their hands tied, as they needed a forward to start the season and they had already handed that spot to Kreider without seeing if his playoff performance –the one where he shot 20%– was a blip on the radar or the real thing. Turned out it was a blip.
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J.T. Miller says his wrist injury hasn’t disrupted his offseason, but….
With 12 NHL forwards already under contract and Derek Stepan and Mats Zuccarello still to re-sign, it’s been difficult to figure out where youngsters like Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller, Danny Kristo, Oscar Lindberg and Jesper Fast might fit in next season. Injuries to Carl Hagelin and Ryan Callahan could loosen the rotation for the first few weeks of the season, but there will still be a glut of forwards fighting for playing time.
Miller and Kreider are presumed to be the two prospects most likely to secure top-12 roles given that both already have some NHL experience and have had at least a little success. However, recent comments by both players could indicate that this might not really be the case. Read more »
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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The 2013 draft is now in the books and the Rangers have added five more youngsters to their prospect system. Let’s take a look at where all the prospects stand heading into the offseason.
On the cusp
After bursting onto the scene during the 2012 playoffs, Kreider struggled out of the gate with the CT Whale to start the 2013 season. He joined the Rangers following the lockout, but never earned major minutes under coach John Tortorella and was frequently sent back and forth from New York to Connecticut. Still the crown jewel of the Rangers’ system, Kreider should be handed a much bigger offensive role next season under Alain Vigneault.
Miller’s quick climb up the ladder to New York was extremely impressive and though his 2012-2013 season was cut short by a wrist injury, he should also have a job to lose in September under Vigneault. Miller’s game is very much a work in progress – he was guilty of some horrible defensive mistakes and didn’t contribute much offensively, but Miller looked like he belonged in the NHL. He’s proven to be a very quick study all along and will be expected to continue his growth as a Ranger next season. Read more »
With free agency approaching and current New Jersey Devil Dave Clarkson announcing he intends to test free agency, the media will naturally associate the Rangers as a player in the race for Clarkson’s services. However, the Rangers would be wise to avoid the physical Clarkson in all but the most buyer friendly of circumstances.
Even disregarding the minimal success – to put it politely – the Rangers have had with former Devils (think Gomez, Scott and Holik, Bobby) Clarkson doesn’t make sense for the Rangers. At 29, and in a free agency pool regarded as weak, Clarkson is in a position to absolutely cash in, despite not producing overly impressive numbers one season withstanding.
Clarkson’s one season where he scored heavily in 2011-12 was a product of a shooting percentage well above his career average (13.16% as opposed to a career 9.39%) so it’s reasonable to assume Clarkson cannot continue that trend, especially when he has to contend with other top six wingers such as Ryan Callahan, Rick Nash, and the presence of Chris Kreider and Carl Hagelin. That’s without mentioning the demands players such as Mats Zuccarello and Derick Brassard will have on top six minutes.
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Is Ryane Clowe less likely to re-up with the Rangers because of AV?
As we approach the draft weekend and the Stanley Cup playoffs are over, the Rangers get ready to enter the offseason with a new leader at the helm. We’ve beaten the Alain Vigneault-analysis angle to death so let’s just jump into another musings instead.
Artem Anisimov has turned his move from the Rangers into an almost $10m, 3 year contract. Good for him but it’s another example of a struggling franchise overpaying to keep players happy. Based on production, Anisimov is not worth 3.25m per year. That said, maybe he earns it during the deal.
If Kris Letang goes to the Leafs it would be a huge mistake by the Penguins. Yes, his demands may be out of whack but that club needs balance and he’s arguably the best offensive defenseman in the league after Karlsson.
People shouldn’t assume Ryane Clowe will be back with the Rangers because he’s been medically cleared. He has had ‘history’ with the Canucks, had an almost public feud with the club up North. Remember who last coached the Canucks?….
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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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