As being reported from various media outlets, the Rangers have acquired Columbus Blue Jacket RW Chad Kolarik in exchange for LW Dane Byers. Originally drafted #48 overall by the Rangers in 2004, Byers played in only 6 games for the Rangers, tallying a single point, that being a goal against the Minnesota Wild. Kolarik was drafted 199th overall by the Phoenix Coyotes in the same 2004 draft and subsequently went to fulfill 4 years of eligibility at the University of Michigan. Kolarik has appeared twice for the Jackets this season, and never got his name on the scoresheet.
As an avid fan of the University of Michigan, its always nice to see one of their former players finding their way into the Blueshirts organization (still trying to get over Al Montoya). Kolarik captained the Wolverines his senior year and was a leading candidate for the Hobey Baker (along with teammate and eventual winner Kevin Porter) until an injury sidelined him for a key part of the stretch run. He averaged nearly 20 goals per season in college, which is solid considering most teams only play 40 games. Kolarik has had some success in the AHL, averaging roughly 50 points in 2 seasons. He is a very skilled skater with speed and quickness who can play with some grit and create chances for his own, which is just the type of player Tortorella enjoys. I don’t see him being anything more than minor league player this season, with the potential to be called up to fill a roster spot in the event that someone gets injure.
As for Byers, it seems that the Rangers are content with the oversized players they currently have on the roster. The 6’3” winger wasn’t able to make a consistent impact at the big league level. The Rangers probably see more potential for Kolarik in Tortella’s system, and Byers will have to try and find his niche in the Columbus organization.
With Gaborik out for a minimum of 2 weeks, Drury done for at least 5 and Erik Christensen still hurting the Rangers will very likely need to recall a player from Hartford. The apparent depth the organization has is about to be tested early on in the season. Lets look at a few of the candidates.
Forget Tim Kennedy. If he is brought up, back a club can grab him for a mere 275k and a player at his age with minimum 25 point potential wont clear so Kennedy is likely in Hartford for the year. Will we see Todd White make his Rangers debut any time soon? His chances have certainly improved due to the injuries but if Christensen is ready to return the Rangers need is on the wing not at center so the chances the Rangers turn to Hartford increase.
Friday night, while the Rangers were struggling to deal with the Leafs, Mats Zucarrello-Aasen scored his first goal for Hartford. If the Rangers opt to bring a player up and go for skill, over merit they may fast-track MZA to the NHL. One goal in 3 games is nothing to scream about but in terms of pure skill he is the best option in Hartford out of the prospects. Other options may include Dale Weise and/or Dane Byers. Both have started the AHL season reasonably well – Byers has 3 points in 3 games, Weise 2 in 3 – and both were considered close to the roster in pre-season.
A player that should be left well alone (to find his game) in Hartford is Evgeny Grachev. With a goal in his first 3 games Grachev has made an impact but hasn’t yet taken over offensively. He should be allowed to get lots of ice time in the AHL and mature without having the burden of trying to make up for Gaborik’s loss.
If anyone is called up the smart money may be on Weise. Last year the Rangers wanted to get him in the line up at seasons end and Tortorella admitted he likes him as a player. If the Rangers go down the Weise/Byers route we may see Ryan Callahan bumped up a line. Whoever inserted into the line up will cause a rippling effect on the roster because its unlikely the Rangers would insert a guy like Weise straight onto the top line just to avoid breaking up the Stepan and Anisimov lines.
Less than a month to go before Camp. Who is in danger of missing out? Which players need a strong camp to make the club and fight their way up the depth charts? For the first time in several seasons the Rangers go into training camp with a lot of competition for places. How many places are really up for grabs remains to be seen but there are a few spots seemingly up for grabs. On Tuesday we considered the Sean Avery scenario however Avery is not alone in needing a good camp. For varying reasons, here are a few more guys under pressure.
Brian Boyle; Boyle may be one of the more frustrating Rangers of recent times. A massive body that was very good at the AHL level for Manchester and who had a good college career, Boyle simply hasn’t done it at the NHL level. Doesn’t play physical given his size and hasn’t finished well when the opportunities have been there. He’ll start the camp without a spot and needing to win one back. It’s hard to see how he fits into the equation at present. His NHL career is in jeopardy so it’d be nice to see some desire and passion in camp.
Dane Byers; The talented Byers could be a useful player for the Rangers if only he could stick and stay healthy. Having been repeatedly overlooked it’s hard to imagine he’ll get another chance if he doesn’t make the team this time around. Good size, aggression and decent scoring ability are all facets of Byers’ game and in theory he’d make an ideal bottom six player. With the signings of Prust and Boogaard, the presence of Boyle and the threat of Weise it’s looking cluttered in the bottom 6. If another year in the AHL beckons, surely it’s either a trade or a change of scenery after his current 1 year deal expires.
Erik Christensen; Yes, EC has a new 2 year deal in his pocket. However, a deal that pays less than 1m annually is easy to move (or rid) and Christensen has by no means secured anything at this stage. Flashed his tantalizing skill set enough last year to equally impress and frustrate the coaching staff (‘why couldn’t he do it more’…) but his spot will be under threat if Anisimov wins a top 6 spot and Prospal, Dubinsky and Todd White battle for the other centre spot. That’s without mentioning X factors such as Ethan Werek and Derek Stepan who come to camp with little pressure. It’s hard to imagine Christensen thriving enough lower down the order, to stick. Top 6 or bust?
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Capgeek has the details on Dane Byers contract extension with the Rangers. Byers signed a one year, two-way contract. His AHL salary will be $90,000 (a $10,000 increase on last year), and his NHL salary will be $500,000, which is consistent with his salary last year. Byers will be a restricted free agent when the contract expires.
This deal surprises me a little, as I thought Byers would have pushed for a one-way deal to guarantee himself more money. As a RFA, he had very little negotiating power though.
The Rangers have agreed to terms with restricted free agent Dane Byers. Byers, 24, captained the Hartford Wolfpack last season, and played five games with the Rangers, netting a goal and 31 PIMs. In 74 games in Hartford, Byers put up a line of 25-26-51 with 100 PIMS.
Byers previous contract was a one year, two-way deal which paid him $500,000 in the NHL (the league minimum), and $80,000 in the AHL.
Terms of the new deal have not been disclosed.
The Rangers, as they approach the 2010 offseason, will have a few difficult choices to make. One of those choices includes the curious case of Dale Weise, Brandon Prust, and Dane Byers. Each player brings a similar game to the table, but only one has seen significant NHL time to prove he belongs. With third/fourth line players Brian Boyle, Aaron Voros, and Donald Brashear already under contract for next season, and Chris Drury very quickly becoming a role player, the Rangers are looking at a few extra forwards. Unfortunately, none of these forwards belong on a team’s top-six. It appears there are only two spots available on these two lines. Those two spots are going to go to two of Weise, Prust and Byers. (For arguments sake, let’s assume that if Brashear isn’t back, that Jody Shelley will be, leaving the same number of open spots.)
Starting with Dale Weise, the only player of the trio under contract for next season, has never played an NHL game in his career. Still on his entry level contract at a $700k cap hit, Weise was called up briefly at the end of last season, only to sit in the press box watching the Rangers miss the playoffs. The 2008 fourth round pick put up 50 points (28-22) in 73 games with Hartford this past season, adding 114 PIMs to his point total. He is a prototypical power forward in the AHL. Those who watch him on a daily basis say that the winger is ready for the NHL. He may not put up 28 goals, but he would be able to skate with the pros and hold his own as a grinder. Weise, to the Rangers, represents a cheap, somewhat versatile bottom-six forward who may or may not succeed at the NHL level. What Weise has working for him is the fact that he is signed, a RW (which the Rangers severely lack), and that coach John Tortorella is on the record saying he wishes he could have found a spot for him to play. What he does not have going for him is that he does not have to pass through waivers, and he is unproven at the NHL level.
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Considering last night’s abysmal performance, it is unsurprising that some roster moves were made. Dane Byers, who played just 5:47 last night for a shorthanded Rangers squad, was sent back to Hartford after the game, and P.A. Parenteau was called back up for the second time this season. These two will be riding the New York/Hartford bus all year. Neither have played enough games in the NHL that qualifies them for waivers, and both appear to be fringe players, at least for the time being.
As per Andrew Gross, Ranger winger Dane Byers was suspended one game by the NHL for instigating the brawl at the end of last night’s game against Vancouver. Coach John Tortorella has also been fined $10,000. This is an automatic suspension / brawl for getting an instigator penalty.
As per SNY Rangers blog, citing Steve Zipay, whom I can’t access anymore thanks to Newsday charging for online content (really?), winger Enver Lisin is doubtful for tonight’s game against Vancouver after taking a shot off the foot against Boston on Sunday. Replacing him on the top line alongside Vinny Prospal and Marian Gaborik is the struggling Chris Higgins.
This is probably a move that has two meanings: 1) although he didn’t score, Higgins played a solid game against Boston. This is could be some sort of recognition of that, in an attempt to 2) get him on the scoreboard. It is no surprise that fans’ patience has been a little thin with Higgins. We all penciled him in for 20 goals, and 15 games into the season, he is one of four goalless Rangers. When the other three are Aaron Voros, Donald Brashear, and Michal Rozsival, it’s a little bit disturbing to put Higgins in that company. But, there’s a solid chance that this will work, as he’s playing with the two Rangers that average more than a point per game.
Also making the trip out west was Dane Byers, who will likely be filling in for the injured Donald Brashear. The rumor is that he injured his hand fighting Colton Orr way back when. If he produces, both on offense and in overall toughness, something the Rangers have lacked, we may be seeing a lot more than initially anticipated.