(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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Note: This was written before Anton Stralman re-signed.
Tim Erixon was never going to be a deal breaker in the Rick Nash negotiations and as it turned out the talented young Swede was indeed sent to Columbus. With Erixon gone, the Rangers now have an even more pressing need to fill the bottom pair ahead of the new season. Something that was already an issue.
It was widely assumed Erixon would grab one of the last spots on the blue line in New York this coming season. What’s more, Erixon was supposed to assist Michael Del Zotto in terms of generating offense from the blue line. Having flashed his talent in Connecticut, Erixon was going to provide something that was lacking somewhat in New York.
Without Erixon, with Anton Stralman a free agent and unsigned and with Dylan McIlrath injured for several months there is a clear need for the Rangers to go out and find alternatives. Of course, there still remains a chance Stralman returns. It makes sense for the player and the team to find an agreement assuming dollars can be agreed. Both sides are familiar with each other, there is a clear role for Stralman and with his previous experience playing with Rick Nash there is the added benefit of familiarity there too.
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There have been several reports that some variation of the package the Rangers sent to Columbus for Rick Nash on Monday was on the negotiating table for months before the deal was finally consummated. But Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch, who is one of the more clued in reporters in the business, tweeted that defensive prospect Tim Erixon was in fact only added to the deal last week. Portzline added that there was “no question” that Shea Weber’s offer sheet with Philadelphia pushed the Rangers to sweeten their offer and include Erixon.
That nugget drew little attention in light of all the other subplots surrounding the blockbuster trade, but if Portzline’s report is correct, then that tells us even more about GM Glen Sather’s negotiating tactics over the last few months.
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On top of avoiding surrendering prized young players like Derek Stepan and Michael Del Zotto in yesterday’s blockbuster trade, GM Glen Sather also did an effective job of keeping the Rangers in good shape with the salary cap.
The Rangers are now on the hook for the remaining six-years, $46.8 million of the eight-year, $62.4 million contract Rick Nash inked with Columbus in 2009, but they still have plenty of room to operate.
Some thoughts on the financial impact of the deal:
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It should come as no surprise, but Glen Sather fleeced a rival general manager yet again.
After months of speculation and negotiations, Sather’s patience finally paid off this afternoon as the Rangers completed a trade for Rick Nash. Derek Stepan wasn’t involved in the deal, neither were Michael Del Zotto, Chris Kreider or Ryan McDonagh.
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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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Before Friday’s draft it’s a good idea to take stock of what the Rangers already have in the system. If New York follows suit, then the Blueshirts will pick the best player available regardless of position. However, it’s worth evaluating where the team’s strengths lie. Kevin evaluated the forwards, so let’s look at the defense.
Erixon has been met with a lot of hype since the Rangers stole him (along with what turned out to be Shane McColgan) from Calgary for two second round picks and Roman Horak last year. After two successful seasons with Skelleftea HC in the SEL, Erixon came over to the NHL and was expected to make the club without any time in the AHL, which is exactly what happened. That said, Erixon struggled during his first NHL stint in October, finishing with no points and a -3 rating in nine games before being sent to the Connecticut Whale. Those nine games would be Erixon’s longest stint with the big club, but all was not lost. Erixon dominated the AHL, finishing with 33 points (3-30-33) in 42 games). The Swede is as NHL ready as you can get. Barring a major setback, he should be a Ranger next fall.
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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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When I get bored, I like to research how specific players came to the Rangers organization. One of the first ones I researched was how Matthew Barnaby’s acquisition led to Brandon Dubinsky becoming a Ranger. Another I did was how Vladamir Malakhov’s signing led to Marc Staal becoming a Ranger. Now in some more research, feast your eyes on how Tim Erixon became a Ranger:
- 2004: New York Rangers draft Al Montoya with the sixth overall pick.
- 2/26/2008: Rangers trade Montoya and Marcel Hossa to the Phoenix Coyotes for Frederick Sjostrom, John Gratton, David LeNeveu, and a conditional fifth round pick. The conditions of the pick were that LeNeveu did not re-sign with the Rangers (he did not) and that Montoya played at least 15 games with the Coyotes (he did).
- As a result of these conditions being met, the Rangers were award the fifth round pick in 2009, which they used on Roman Horak.
- 6/1/11: Rangers deal Roman Horak, and two second round picks to the Calgary Flames for Tim Erixon and a fifth round pick (Shane McColgan).
Your mind has been blown. Stop hating on drafting Montoya already.