(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Two summers ago (2011), we started writing posts titled “Reasonable Expectations.” The idea behind these posts was to outline what we should expect from some of our core youth on the Rangers. It’s natural to expect every player to turn into a first liner, but that’s not reality.
When we wrote these expectation posts two summers ago, they were obviously for last season (2011-2012). Now that the season has come to an end, Suit brought up a good idea to track how we did with our predictions. Since it was my idea to start with the Reasonable Expectation posts, it only makes sense that I go first.
Beginning in February of the 2010-2011 season, I wrote three Reasonable Expectation posts: one for Michael Del Zotto, one for the Brandon Dubinsky/Artem Anisimov/Ryan Callahan line, and one for Tim Erixon. Considering the players I wrote about, it looks like I have a kiss of death. Apparently if I write a Reasonable Expectations post about a player, he has a 60% chance of being traded for Rick Nash.
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We know Ryan McDonagh is back in the US and we know Carl Hagelin has terminated his deal with his hometown team back in Sweden. We also know Rick Nash has had his own injury issues despite scoring at an impressive rate in Switzerland. It goes without saying that the NHL is the best league in the world when they’re actually playing hockey. So why then are so many Rangers players struggling to adapt to playing in inferior leagues with inferior players?
Rick Nash aside, and perhaps Hagelin – although in Sweden’s second tier, don’t forget – no Ranger has exactly set the world alight in Europe thus far. In one way it’s hard to be overly critical. After all with little practice time, familiarisation to their clubs, their leagues’ playing style and teammates and a lack of long term perspective (given the short term deals struck with clubs) there isn’t a great basis for success for players heading to Europe.
Again, to be fair it’s not just Rangers players that have failed to make a significant impact. For example Ilya Bryzgalov hasn’t exactly got his game back on track in the KHL, Evander Kane suffered a torrid time in Russia while Max Paciorettey had a miserable time in Europe and came back at the first opportunity following a somewhat bitter divorce with his Euro employers.
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Is Del Zotto ready to cash in?
Most players head to Europe during the lockout to keep in game shape. Clearly this is also a concern for Michael Del Zotto who, without an NHL contract, is taking more risk than most as he headed to Switzerland. However, there is another side to this, and that is Del Zotto making the Rangers management team realise how much the young defenseman is worth as the NHL tries to get back on the ice.
Make no mistake, the Ranger need Del Zotto on the ice when (if) the league resumes. He’s their best offensive blueliner (depending on your opinion of Ryan McDonagh’s current offensive level) who playes 21 minutes per game at a young age. Throw in the fact that the Rangers are without significant organisational depth at the position and that Del Zotto still has significant upside, and he becomes an important part of the Rangers present and future. Both the Rangers and Del Zotto know his core role going forward. What hasn’t been agreed yet is how much each side is willing to value that role with the organisation in terms of dollars.
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MDZ is the newest Ranger headed overseas.
As you probably will have heard by now, Michael Del Zotto is the next Ranger to head over to Europe to get some game time. As Del Zotto laces up for Rapperswil-Jona of the Swiss league he’ll be going to a league that is better than advertised (despite not having the reputation of the Swedish league or the media power of the KHL), and will be joining a league that has evidenced plenty of financial clout to entice NHL stars to the league during the lockout. Of course, he’ll be lacing up against Rick Nash and Joe Thornton. Monitoring how Del Zotto handles Nash in particular could be both entertaining and interesting.
The lockout has been disastrous timing for Del Zotto for multiple reasons. After an up and down first two years as a pro, Del Zotto really came on last year in leaps and bounds and will have been hoping to continue his solid development and establish himself as a premiere young defenseman in the NHL. Those hopes, for now, have been put on hold, the lockout’s timing has been poor for Del Zotto.
Secondly is Del Zotto’s contractual stalemate. Without a CBA agreement in place Del Zotto finds himself without a contract and playing at greater risk than the ‘average’ NHL player heading overseas. Of course, Del Zotto needs hockey to aid his development so the risk is worth it for the young Ranger but it’s still significant risk.
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Adam Rotter of SNYRB has the translated tweets from Sweden, but it looks like Michael Del Zotto and Dan Girardi may be joining teammate Carl Hagelin in the HockeyAllsvenskan with Södertälje. This is just another blow to the fans who believe a season will begin sooner rather than later, as more players flock to Europe to find ice time.
It’s interesting to see Del Zotto heading overseas, as he doesn’t have a contract with the Rangers. It makes him cheaper to sign, but it’s a much bigger risk for MDZ. If he gets hurt, he doesn’t have the NHL contract to slide back on and still get paid (via insurance) if/when the lockout ends. As for Girardi, he will need to go through the normal steps of insuring his contract before signing.
This isn’t confirmed yet, as contract details need to be ironed out, but at least it’s good to see that three core Rangers will be playing with each other overseas.
As we approach the lockout deadline – faster than most people would wish – lets jump straight into another episode of Musings and talk about non – CBA, Rangers orientated stuff.
Personally I’m somewhat underwhelmed with the Steve Eminger re-signing. Yes, he fits in well with the club and has had partial success with the Rangers however the Eminger and most, if not all, veteran defenseman available would have limited offers at this stage. My preference would have been to invite Eminger and a couple of other veterans to camp (if there is one) and have an open competition. Everything seems pretty safe and secure now, heading into camp.
NHL.com recently started discussing fantasy options (getting ahead of themselves?) and they talked about Chris Kreider as a strong sleeper candidate. Kreider is exactly that. He can’t be a sure fire draft pick and his actual (non fantasy) production can’t be projected too closely, despite his playoff exposure. But Kreider has tremendous potential next season; for fantasy owners and the Rangers.
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The last thing that the Rangers as an organization need to do is to get RFA Michael Del Zotto under contract. When we last wrote about this, Larry Brooks was on record saying that the Rangers offered MDZ a multi-year deal in the $2.5 million range. Del Zotto was rumored to be looking for more, but no concrete numbers were provided. The logical assumption is that Del Zotto’s number is far enough off the Rangers offer to create a stalemate in negotiations. Obviously, this is just rumor and there is no concrete evidence to support this.
Basing analysis off this assumption, let’s say that the Del Zotto camp wants $3.5 million on a multi-year deal. It’s not that unheard of, nor is he that far off market value. After all, Del Zotto was in the top-20 in defensive scoring, top-15 in plus/minus (I know…), and top-10 in GVT. That makes MDZ one of the top offensive defensemen in the league. And although he does have some shortcomings (inconsistent defensive play), his stats make him a premier RFA.
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The Rangers will have the Greenville Road Warriors as their ECHL affiliate for at least one more season. The Greenville website posted that they have renewed their agreement with the Rangers for the 2012-2013 season, which will be their third season with the Rangers. The Rangers initially agreed to have the Greenville club as their ECHL affiliate when the Charlotte Checkers left to be the Carolina Hurricanes’ AHL affiliate.
Aaron Portzline, who did a fantastic job covering the Rick Nash trade, has an inside scoop that as many as eight owners might be willing to accept the NHLPA’s proposal as is. While this is not the unanimous approval that many are hoping for, it’s at least hope that the owners are divided. We don’t know the exact details of the NHLPA proposal, but we do know that it had some sort of revenue sharing system in place, and it kept the salary cap in place. My guess is that some of the lower-funded teams would readily accept more revenue sharing, as they are the ones that need the money to stay afloat.
The Connecticut Whale released their schedule this week as well. It would be really cool if MSG airs the Whale games if there’s an NHL lockout.
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It’s a musings day folks. With little Ranger specific news let’s just get into it and talk about anything and everything, ok?
What side of the CBA war do you side with? It’s hard to link arms with the owners and the league, a league that has come across as incredibly greedy through the media. Are they greedy? Was the last CBA that bad that they had to resort to extreme measures?
Is there a public figure or leader – in sports or entertainment – with as negative a public reputation as Gary Bettman? He’s actually done a solid job over the years. Despite stretching it too far, expansion has been a relative (and necessary) success for the league; he has grown the sport immeasurably and has proven a strong leader in the face of challenges such as the KHL and on matters such as the Olympics. That said, if his reign ended tomorrow he’d be considered greedy, too stubborn and arrogant.
Do you think the public appearance of players such as Crosby, Ovechkin or Lundqvist influences the NHLPA’s position or media and fan bias in the CBA talks?
We discussed how the Flyers may be a competitor for the Rangers for blueliners going forward. Right now the Canadiens cannot get PK Subban to ink a new deal. Well, is there anyone more suited to the Flyers mould than? Cocky yet talented, considered a pretty dirty player but an offensive threat Subban may be more of a target for Flyers than Michael Del Zotto would be.
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Despite enduring a wretched summer, the Philadelphia Flyers manage to inconvenience the Rangers. On top of all their bad news the Flyers have had this off season came the recent announcement that veteran defenseman Andreas Lilja would miss at least the start of the next season, assuming it starts on time.
How does this affect the Rangers? Now, more than ever the Flyers will be looking to add defensive help to their roster. Ideally the Flyers are looking for an impact player, something that the Rangers aren’t desperate for, but the Flyers – given the scarcity of talent available – might have to be content with adding depth and a veteran to plug a whole, short term. In short, the Flyers are likely to compete with the Rangers for any and every viable blueliner over the next few weeks and months.
The Rangers top four is set, and ideally Mike Sauer and Anton Stralman will round out the blueline giving the Rangers enviable depth. However, with Mike Del Zotto’s contract situation, Sauer’s ongoing health concerns, injuries to kids like Dylan McIlrath and the lack of trust John Tortorella appears to have with Stu Bickel, competition promises to be minimal right now on the blueline come camp time.
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