The conversations this summer have mainly focused on the Rangers forwards. With three forwards departing, three (four if you include the AHL-bound Michael Haley) coming on board, and the never-ending discussions about Rick Nash, Bobby Ryan, Alex Semin, and Shane Doan, it’s easy to see why the focus is on scoring and depth.
However some of the biggest concerns during the postseason were about the depth on defense. Stu Bickel was barely playing, and the five other defensemen were struggling to keep their legs under them while playing shorthanded throughout the playoffs. The Rangers need depth or growth. With Michael Sauer out, and no major signings pending, the answers appear to have to come from within.
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The musings are a day late today, but that’s only because all of the big news happened yesterday. Don’t blame us, blame everyone else for not making all this stuff happen before Thursday. I swear, everyone else is to blame, not us!
So Sidney Crosby gets $104.4 million over 12 years. From a hockey standpoint, that is a very risky contract. Crosby has had significant concussion issues, and could be one poorly placed hit away from early retirement. From a business standpoint, it’s a savvy investment in the face of the franchise. For an average of $8.7 million per season, the Pens get to keep their boy in Pittsburgh and reap the marketing benefits of having him there. They make more off him than he does off them, that’s for sure.
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When trade rumors begin to surface, many begin to panic. It’s not unexpected to see this panicking, as the Rangers were so close last season to playing for the Stanley Cup, it makes you wonder what management will do to make that next step. Per Larry Brooks, the organization has dubbed seven key players as “untouchable” in their search for scoring:
The Rangers, who are believed to have quarantined Chris Kreider, Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal and Derek Stepan (in addition to Ryan Callahan, Dan Girardi and Henrik Lundqvist)…
Mentioning Cally, Girardi, and Lundqvist is just a formality, as these are guys in or entering their prime who are core pieces for the Rangers. As for the first four mentioned by Brooks, those names are expected to be deemed as “untouchable.” If the Rangers were open to moving any of them, the return would have to be monstrous.
McDonagh was a given for the status of untouchable because of the impact he’s made on the roster. McDonagh emerged as a top pairing defender when Marc Staal went down with his concussion, and stayed there even when Staal returned. The pairing of McDonagh and Girardi is one of the best shutdown pairs in the game today. Throw in the fact that McDonagh has yet to tap into his offensive potential, and we could be looking at a Norris winner in the future.
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In keeping up with the offseason trend of articles here at BSB, we wanted to take some time to discuss locking up perhaps the most important free agents on the market, our own. Michael Del Zotto finished up his entry-level deal this season, which was a three year deal at just under $1.1M per season. This summer the 21 year old is a restricted free agent with no arbitration rights.
Obviously MDZ rebounded to have a great third season in the pros, scoring 10 goals and 41 points after a subpar sophomore outing. Clearly he still needs to improve defensively, but even that aspect of his game took a step forward this past season. This season Torts gave Michael a lot of rope and used him in all game situations.
So what will Del Zotto’s next deal look like?
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The RFA paperwork has been submitted. And after the smoke cleared, the Rangers made qualifying offers to Anton Stralman, Michael Del Zotto, and Mats Zuccarello. Stralman, MDZ, and Zuccarello were the only three RFAs at the NHL level.
NHL qualifying offer rules dictate that players earning under $660,000 in base salary be qualified at a 10% increase in base salary, players earning between $660,000 and $1 million (where all three Rangers RFAs fall) in base salary be qualified at a 5% increase, and players earning greater than $1 million be qualified at their original salary.
With that said, the final qualifying offers for the RFAs stands at the following (assuming my math is correct):
- Stralman – $945,000
- Del Zotto –
- Zuccarello –
By qualifying these players, the Rangers guarantee themselves draft pick compensation if one signs an offer sheet with another club.
In regards to Zuccarello, yes he signed a deal with the KHL. But the deal has an out clause for the NHL should he receive what he wants. None of the remaining RFAs in the Rangers organization (all with Connecticut) were qualified.
Justin Schultz is a very good prospect. There’s a distinct chance that should he indeed enter free agency, then the Anaheim Ducks will have lost a good player for the future. That said, it simply doesn’t make sense for the Rangers to be linked with him for various reasons. Yes, it’s rumoured and yes, plenty of Blueshirt fans would like him on the Rangers, but read on to find out why Schultz to the Rangers isn’t a realistic option for either party.
The Rangers are pretty damn stacked at the defense position. They are stacked at the NHL level and last time most people checked, they have some pretty high end prospects en route to the NHL level soon as well (hello Erixon, Tim and McIlrath, Dylan). Justin Schultz and his agent will know all this. The Rangers may not be the 1975 Canadiens with Lapointe, Savard and Robinson, but the Rangers blueline is young, talented and one of the main reasons this team went so far this year. Where does a talent (and he’s still just a talent folks) like Schultz project in the immediate future?
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Before we get to the report card for the Rangers blueline, let’s remember this: the Rangers enjoyed a spectacular season bested by only two teams in the entire league. A huge part of this success was because of the Rangers blueline. With that said, let’s look at the grades for the Rangers defensemen.
(p.s. if you missed it, here’s the Suit’s take on the top six scoring forwards this season – enjoy.)
For a significant part of the season Dan Girardi played like a Norris Trophy candidate. He was that good. Girardi enjoyed his finest season for the Rangers. With 29 points, a plus 13 rating, being an absolute work horse like few other in the entire league not to mention all the shot blocking, Dan Girardi literally does it all for the Rangers.
Aside from a very occasional stumble in the latter half of the season the only things that perhaps stop Girardi from being the perfect all round defenseman are his shooting percentage and lack of presence on the power play (1 goal). I really had to nitpick when trying to criticise Dan Girardi for this post. He is a richly deserved 2012 NHL All Star. Mid-season: A+/Full Season: A+/Playoffs: A+
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It’s a depressing musing day. It’s the day between games and we’re potentially a day away from the end of the season. If you’re negative that is. Anyway, let’s get on to the musings.
Marian Gaborik scored. Ryan Callahan scored. The offense wasn’t the issue in the game five defeat. The defense was subpar and above all the Rangers couldn’t keep the Devils top players in check. Kovalchuk, Parise and Zajac combined for 5 points. The Rangers have yet to play a game this series (arguably all playoffs) where every facet of their game – defense, goaltending, offense, special teams – has clicked at the same time.
I read a few things today where people have begun to criticise Lundqvist, because of game five. If I meet any of these people in person I may very well attack them. I loves me a good beat down. I cannot tolerate mindless fools and/or drama queens. Step away from the ledge.
Whether it was injury or not; Ryan Callahan, despite being impressive in game five, hasn’t been the offensive force in these playoffs that he needs to be. That says a lot. Why? The Rangers have one heck of a leader and all rounder hockey player in Cally. However, on offensively strong teams Callahan would be an offensive compliment not a go-to-guy.
I think tiredness is present in the Rangers but it’s maybe overstated. I think sometimes the media create stories and players and teams can often buy into them, believe them. Is that going on here?
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Well, that was awesome, huh? The Rangers are going to the Conference Finals for the first time since 1997 with a 2-1 win over the Washington Capitals in Game 7 of the Conference Semi-Finals. Brad Richards and Henrik Lundqvist were the story in this one, as well as tremendous team defense from the Blueshirts. Let’s break down the goals…
- Michael Del Zotto started this play by getting the puck deep. Carl Hagelin used his speed on the forecheck to gain possession and began to move the puck around the net. The forecheck caught 4 Capitals in the slot or below, which opened up the top of the offensive zone.
- Hagelin slipped a pass to a trailing Richards, which caught Niklas Backstrom too low in coverage, and Richie blasted a slapshot under Braden Holtby’s left arm. It was just the quick strike the Rangers needed. First goal, got the crowd into it, just 1:32 in.
- The Rangers’ second goal originated in their own zone. Michael Del Zotto made a great hit on Alex Ovechkin, causing a turnover at the Ranger blue line. Carl Hagelin quickly picked the puck up and led Marian Gaborik.
- Gabby turned on the jets realizing the Caps were in the midst of a change and carried the puck into the Caps’ zone. The defenders converged on Gabby’s shot from the high slot, blocking the wrister. Unfortunately for them, they lost track of the puck in the slot and lined up a perfect screen for Michael Del Zotto. DZ grabbed the puck in the slot and fired a nice little snap shot to the low stick side of Holtby. Read more »
So the Rangers lost another heartbreaker last night in overtime. It’s their second loss to the Senators in the series, both coming in overtime. The fan base is on edge, and for good reason. The Senators are a good team, and a team that the Rangers do not match up well against. It’s going to be a stressful series, that’s for sure. But enough of that, let’s get to the musings for the day.
I’m in the process of reading a book called “Losing the Edge: The Rise and Fall of the Stanley Cup Champion New York Rangers”, and there was a great quote in the book, from none other than Mark Messier:
“Leadership isn’t about the win, it’s about how you rebound after the loss.”
This statement is more true now, in this series, than ever before. The Rangers have more leaders on this team with Cup experience than the Senators. It’s time for the leaders to take charge. In fact, one of the leaders –Mike Rupp– almost won the game for the Rangers in overtime with his forecheck in the Senators zone. People still rip on Rupp for no reason whatsoever. Maybe it’s the contract, but I get the sense that it’s a feeling of “he doesn’t do anything for this club.” That is so false, it pains me every time I see it. Hockey is more than goals and assists. It’s about dirty work, especially playoff hockey.
Speaking of playoff hockey, is last night’s game what we are reduced to? There were a toal of 12 penalties last night totaling 24 PIMs. Some were legitimate calls, but I can point to two penalties, one per team, that were questionable at best. Ryan McDonagh’s “trip” on Zenon Kenopka in the first period and Zach Smith’s “interference” on Ruslan Fedotenko in the second period were very iffy calls. But such is the life after a dirty first two games. The refs aren’t going to allow this stuff to fly. This is now a special teams series, and that makes most people nervous.
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