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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Per Andrew Gross, defenseman Stu Bickel and forward J.T. Miller were sent home from the Rangers taxi squad for wrist injuries. This doesn’t have much of an effect on the Rangers, but neither Bickel nor Miller will be available as injury replacements.
In case you missed it, J.T. Miller was returned to the Connecticut Whale of the AHL this afternoon. Miller was actually sent down on the trade deadline –he had to be sent down to be eligible for the AHL playoffs– and immediately recalled by the Rangers. The organization wanted his wrist to be examined by team doctors and not the AHL doctors. It appears that his wrist has healed, so he’s off to the Whale for quality minutes.
J.T. Miller has been recalled for tonight’s game against the Penguins. He was initially returned to Connecticut with Chris Kreider earlier in the day, but the trade of Marian Gaborik necessitated a recall for the game. Kreider was not recalled. Miller was sent down initially so that he would be eligible for the AHL playoffs.
The Rangers stated that they called him up on an emergency basis, in case the newly acquired players could not arrive in time. Since then, news has broke that John Moore and Derek Brassard will arrive in time for the game. Ryane Clowe was already in New York.
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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The time has come where the Rangers need to make a decision on rookie J.T. Miller. Miller played his fifth game last night, and once he plays his sixth game, the first year of his entry-level deal will count. If the Rangers send him back to the AHL, and do not use him for a single NHL game for the rest of the year, including the playoffs, then his deal will slide once more. If his deal slides, then his initial ELC won’t expire until after the 2015-2016 season. If he plays one more game, it expires a year early.
With the new CBA, the salary cap is going to drop to $64.3 million next season, and likely drop again the season following. This puts additional strain on the Rangers, who have three key RFAs (Carl Hagelin, Derek Stepan, Ryan McDonagh) this season. The added cost certainty of Miller’s ELC will go a long way to keeping the core pieces in blue.
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Rob Carr/Getty Images
Today we are going to take a deeper look at the Rangers recent moves. Though the team played better in Tampa the other night, the bottom six hasn’t been very consistent and clearly Torts and Sather thought a change was needed. Below we’ve put together a qualitative analysis, or as Dave likes to call it – the eye test. If there’s an interest in the quantitative/advanced stats-type stuff. Let us know. Dave can whip that together.
Rangers trade C/LW Mike Rupp for C/LW Darroll Powe & RW Nick Palmieri
What the Rangers lose – Size, fights, veteran leadership
I was one of the few advocates of having a guy like Mike Rupp in the lineup. Most people who didn’t play organized hockey growing up have a hard time evaluating 4th line guys, so I get the disconnect some fans had with his presence in the lineup. For me, Rupp was exactly what you need from a 4th line role player.
Rupper was a leader in the locker room, as evidenced by Torts constantly seeking Rupp’s input at key times (shown in 24/7). He stood up for his teammates (remember Tomas Kopecky sucker punching MDZ last year? Rupp was the first guy in). He also played well in a limited role during the playoffs, bringing a good forecheck and puck management.
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