Rangerland is starting get busy. With a combination of the Traverse City tournament, Staal negotiations (or lack of them?), Camp almost upon us and the Tortorella interview on the MSG network there’s a lot to talk about. Now I’m back from an amazing weekend in Paris I thought I’d look at some of the most interesting news affecting the Rangers.
A few things have been happening in the league affecting the Rangers. I for one have no problem with inviting veterans to camp on try outs. After all they do not have jobs just a chance to earn them. So while I have no issue of Fedotenko being at camp why didn’t the Rangers jump ahead of the Flyers and get Billy Guerin on a try out? He has more to offer than Fedotenko and would be worth more of a shot than the Ex Pen. It’s also means another solid scorer potentially facing the Rangers six times a season.
The Kovalchuk saga is officially the story of the 2010 NHL summer. News broke of the massive punishment the league have levied at the Devils including 3m in fines, stripping the club a first round pick and a third. All in all Kovalchuk has become very expensive for the Devils. Reports suggest the Devils could appeal but apparently would not receive much support from the board of governors. This is a massive hit to the Devils future and they best hope Kovalchuk becomes the reincarnation of Gretzky over the next few years especially given the fact they still need to shed salary to make cap.
Back on the Rangers; the Blueshirts play their final group game at Traverse City today at 3.30 eastern. The Rangers need to win and have results go their way if they wish to play in the final. Given the talent at their disposal they’ll expect to beat the Minnesota Wild. Check back here at Blueseatblogs for a round up of the game.
The Hartford Wolfpack yesterday announced the signing of college free agent forward Brandon Wong. Wong, a 5-10 23 year old lead Quinnipiac University in points and goals (19 goals, 41 points) last season and had a 3 game try out with the AHL Grand Rapid Griffins in which he tallied an assist. The contract was an AHL one so Wong may be either Wolfpack or ECHL bound.
Thought I would weigh in with my opinion on Chris Drury following Nick’s article at Blueshirt Banter. I have said a few times over the past few months that Drury could be a critical part of the Rangers this season. Any kind of offensive resurgence from Drury could be massive and it still remains that way. Neither Todd White or any other addition could mean as much to the Rangers as the captain earning his salary. 20 goals from Drury this year would take the team a long way, certainly to the playoffs. News that he will get a chance to show his offense could mean a top 6 role and its in the Rangers best interest that he earns it.
Finally, a little Garnet Exelby discussion. Would the Rangers be more inclined to sign him if he was willing to start the year in Hartford? Then, would he block a legitimate prospect down there? (depends what you think of the Lee Baldwin’s of this world) Would he become a serious option if the Rangers needed to add physicality mid season? Personally, I don’t want Exelby starting the year ahead of a good prospect in NY if a prospect earns his stay but I wouldn’t mind seeing the Rangers retain Exelby (providing he has a solid camp) and having another option going forward.
Via my pal Jesse Spector, defenseman Garnet Exelby is in camp with the Rangers on a tryout, and was skating with the team this morning. Exelby was included in Jeremy’s offseason Scouting The Market series, where his abilities as a fearless hitter and punishing crease-clearer were noted. The Blueshirts, of course, completely lack a defenseman with that skill set.
Dave previewed the defense corps earlier this week, and there appears to be too many bodies for too few spots. However, it’s entirely possible that Ryan McDonagh, Michael Sauer, and some of the other youngsters start the season in Hartford, and we can’t turn a blind eye to the doomsday scenario that has Marc Staal unsigned when the season begins. Exelby’s a decent piece of insurance, and if nothing else, he provides a little competition in camp. That’s never a bad thing.
Update by Dave: Allan Walsh is tweeting that the Rangers have also invited Alexei Semenov to camp on a tryout basis. Semenov made the team last year, where he was also invited to camp on a tryout, before declining a contract for the season. There is going to be some very healthy competition for defense this preseason, with both Exelby and Semenov in camp.
Next up in Scouting The Market: Garnet Exelby. Read the other Scouting The Markets here.
Garnet Exelby is a 28 year old defenseman who played last season with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He has no offensive game, and is not great in his own end, but the guy blocks shots, and is a punishing hitter.
If we know anything about the Rangers, is that they don’t have a crease-clearing presence. The 6-1, 215 Exelby could be that guy. He’s physical, and could provide energy to the team.
Is he a first pair defenseman? No. But, he’s a solid 6th defenseman who will lay out hits and block shots. And he’s cheap. He made $1.725 million last year, but the Rangers could probably get him for $1.5
What do you think of Exelby? Worth giving a shot? Let us know in the comments.
The Rangers are in desperate need of help on the blue line. The news from TSN is that Garnet Exelby is available for the taking from Toronto, and Brendan Witt has been waived by the Islanders. Both would provide a veteran presence on a struggling Rangers defense. Both come with their positives. Both come with their negatives.
The positive about Brendan Witt, yes there’s a positive, is that he would be free. The 34 year old defenseman is simply a waiver claim away. Another positive is that he would provide a physical presence on the blue line. Unfortunately with Witt, his negatives outweigh his positives. He is a -18 this year, and while +/- isn’t always the best barometer of defensive value, something that extreme can’t be ignored. He is also signed through next year, to the tune of a $3 million cap hit. Ouch. I think I would pass on this one. He really isn’t an upgrade.
Then there’s the curious case of Garnet Exelby. Exelby is a solid veteran presence, with a low(er) cap number, and a UFA at the end of the year. That’s three instant positives right there, and we haven’t even touched on his play yet. Exelby has a reputation as a solid stay at home defenseman. He isn’t a bruiser like Witt, but he does the job well, and is only a -5 on a terrible Toronto team. The negative with Exelby is that he would cost something, probably a draft pick and/or a lower prospect (think Corey Locke or P.A. Parenteau, Toronto needs forwards), to obtain. You have to give something to get something.
There are going to be plenty of other options available come March 3, but with the Rangers struggling, help needs to arrive sooner, rather than later, and not at the cost of top-tier prospects. It’s a tough challenge.