Sunday, June 27, 2010

Draft 2010

Now that we've all had a little bit of time to digest the happenings of Friday night and Saturday in Los Angeles, here is some info and some thoughts about the Rangers' draft.

First, the picks:
1st Round (10th overall): D Dylan McIlrath, Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
      Widely regarded as one of the toughest players in this draft class, the 6'5" 222-lb. McIlrath was the Warriors' captain this past season.  He had a career-high 24 points this past season, and is much more of the shut-down defender the Rangers have been missing than Fowler and Gormley.

2nd (40th): RW Christian Thomas, Oshawa Generals (OHL) 
      Son of Steve Thomas, who scored 933 points in 20 NHL seasons.  Christian is 5'9", but is said to have inherited a good bit of his father's scoring touch.  He netted 41 goals and 25 assists in 2009-10, up from 25 total points in 2008-09.

4th (100th): C Andrew Yogan, Erie Otters (OHL)
      Yogan is another big body (6'3", 202-lbs.), but he also fills a  major need in the Rangers' system at Center.  The Florida-born pivot racked up 55 points in 63 games last year, along with 97 PIMs.

5th (130th): LW Jason Wilson, Owen Sound Attack (OHL)
      Another big body at 6'2, 205-lbs, he's 20 years old and only played 46 games last season in the OHL.  He was able to put up a respectable 35 points and 101 PIMs in the action he saw.

6th (157th): LW Jesper Fasth, HV71 (Sweden Juniors)
      The 6' 175-lb. Swede currently plays for HV71's U20 team and put up 49 points in 37 games this past season.  He also appeared in 2 games for the HV71 Elite League team, but didn't hit the scoresheet. Has been regarded as a solid skater who lacks the physical edge to his game, but is still willing to fight though traffic.

7th ( 190th): RW Randy McNaught, Saskatoon Blades (WHL)
      6'5", 221-lb. is the 2nd 20-year-old taken by the Rangers in this draft.  Racked up 131 PIMs to go along with just 12 points in 59 games in 2009-10.

And the trades that effected this draft:
     Rangers get: 2011 2nd Round pick (Washington), 2010 6th round pick (157th overall - Fasth)
     Hurricanes get: D Bobby Sanguinetti

May 25:
     Rangers get: D Jyri Niemi
     Islanders get: 2010 6th round pick (160th overall)
June 29, 2009:

     Rangers get: C Brian Boyle
     Islanders get: 2010 3rd round pick (70th overall)

My take:
  • I was originally appalled/livid/puzzled/[insert additional adjectives here] that the Rangers selected a Defenseman with their first round pick, but left Cam Fowler AND Brandon Gormley on the board.  However, after some look into scouting reports on "The Undertaker"--McIlrath's nickname--this pick makes much more sense.  The Rangers are chock full of offensive D-men in their system (Del Zotto, Potter, McDonagh, Sauer amongst others) and have lacked a bruising blue-liner for years.  This pick could turn out looking great or looking terrible, but only time will tell...and more than 2 years' time.
  • It really seems like the Rangers shifted their focus for this year's draft.  For the past few years they've clearly been looking at solid skaters with skill.  This year it looked as if they were drafting for size, with 4 of their 6 picks already 6'2" or taller.
    • Also, the Rangers picked less than 2 international players for the first time since 2005 when they selected 8 Canadians and 1 American.
  • I don't really understand the choices of Wilson and more-so McNaught.  Both are 20 and grit guys.  Maybe I'm crazy, but those are the kind of guys you can pick up for the league minimum or close through free agency.  I would much rather have seem them take a chance on a low-ranked Center with at least one of those picks.
  • Thanks to, we have this video of McIlrath and McNaught fighting last season...

Information used in this post was obtained from and

Thursday, June 17, 2010

No more hockey?!? OH NO!

With no more games to watch, I figured I should chime in with some offseason thoughts.  Plus, today is a holiday in my ends in approximately 23 minutes.  That could also be 47 minutes, depending on how long the last 60 seconds of game time takes.

So, here are my thoughts on the Rangers and their offseason plans:

  • Playoffs
    • I was very happy to see the Chicago Blackhawks pull out the Stanley Cup victory over the Flyers.  Seeing the Flyers lose the Cup at home made it even more enjoyable, and the Philly fans displayed their ever-present class in booing the Stanley Cup.  (That karma bites, Philly, doesn't it?
    • Chris Pronger taking pucks and throwing them out shows just how ridiculous and childish he is.  It's just 1 more reason for me to dislike him and the Flyers.
  • Rangers RFAs - Rangers have right to match or receive compensation from signing team (only if they tender a qualifying offer to the player).
    • Marc Staal - Must be resigned, and will be.  $3.5-4m, 5 years. (might need to go higher)
    • Dan Girardi - Should be and will be back.  Has yet to miss a game since his call up to the big club in January of 2007.  That's 280 games, the longest current games played streak on the Rangers far.   $2.2-2.6m, 3 years.
    • Brandon Prust - His heart and compete level are much larger than his diminutive stature.  $600-850k, 2-3 years.
    • Enver Lisin - Likely will not return.  Has definite upside, but spent a good deal of time in Torts' dog house thanks to defensive lapses.
    • Erik Christensen - Should absolutely be resigned.  Christensen was the waiver pickup of the year around the league in my eyes.  $800k-$1.1m, 2 years.
    • Mike Sauer - Coming back from injury, and still has upside potential. $500-800k, 2 years.
    • Andres Ambuhl - Rumors have him returning to Europe after not cracking the Rangers lineup at all in 2009-10.
    • Ilkka Heikkinen - Has some definite upside, but has to be willing to play in Hartford extensively. UPDATE: Heading back to Europe.
  • Rangers UFAs - Rangers have exclusive negotiation rights until July 1.
    • Jody Shelley - should be resigned, no questions.  I'd give him $700-900k, 2 years.
    • P.A. Parenteau - should come back, showed he can play at the NHL level.  $600-800k, 1 year.
    • Vinny Prospal - should absolutely be resigned if the price is right.  $1.5-2.5m, 1 year.
    • Olli Jokinen - played his first and last game as a Ranger in 2010.
    • Steve Valiquette - good guy, but won't be back.
    • Alex Auld - would love to have him back, even if it's only for his mask.  Unfortunately it sounds like the Rangers don't share my opinion.  $700-900k, 1 year.
    • Anders Eriksson - proved valuable to the Rangers during their stretch run.  Provides veteran experience and a nice point shot.  $750k, 1 year, 2-way.
    • Corey Potter - I could go either way on Potter, but I think he needs a 2-way deal.  Still hasn't proven he belongs at the NHL level.  $500-700k, 1 year.
    • Corey Locke - Should be resigned, but likely will be a career AHLer.  $500-700k, 2 years.
    • Matt Zaba - Is he willing to keep playing in Hartford? $600k, 2 years.

  • Free Agency
    • Ilya KovalchukPatrick MarleauAnton Volchenkov - The Rangers should kick the tires on all of them, but don't realistically have the cap space to make a move on any of these top UFAs.
    • Pavol Demitra - is eligible for a low base salary with bonuses and played exceptionally well with Gaborik in the Olympics.  $1-1.5m plus performance bonuses, 1-2 years.
    • Zbynek Michalek and Matthew Lombardi - They have both become big names on the next level list.  Michalek is a D-man in his prime at 28, with a great skill set and still more upside potential.  He'll likely command more money than the Rangers are willing, or should be willing, to spend.  Lombardi is also 28 and posted a career-high 53 points last season (19 goals).  He's scored 20 goals before (2006-07 with Calgary) and is a 16-18 minute a night center.  I would make a play on him, especially with the Rangers' struggles at center.  Problem is, he made $2.35m last year and will likely be looking for a raise.  $2.5m, 2 years.
    • Hugh Jessiman - They should sign him away from the Predators and try to prove that they didn't really mess up THAT much when they drafted "huge specimen". JUST KIDDING.  3 years, he pays the Rangers $500k.
  • Prospects
    • Pavel Valentenko - Beyond the Blueshirts is reporting that Valentenko, who came over in the Scott Gomez deal, will be returning to North America from the KHL this year.  He has 1 year left at $850k on his entry level deal before becoming a RFA.
    • Bobby Sanguinetti - This might finally be the year that Sanguinetti makes it full time in the NHL.  He'll be in the last year of his entry level contract, earning $855k.
    • Dane Byers - Byers just resigned a 1 year deal worth $500k.  Common thought is that Byers is going to get a shot to prove himself at the NHL level this season as a 3rd or 4th liner.  Here's to hoping that's the case.
    • Evgeny Grachev - He had a pretty dreadful rookie year as a pro, considering the expectations he had.  If he wants to be on the opening day roster, he's going to need a MONSTER training camp.  Otherwise, it's back to Hartford and more development time.
    • Mats Zuccarello Aasen - MZA, or "The Hobbit" as some have referred to him, scored 104 points in 90 career Swedish Elite League games.  He also had a strong showing with Team Norway at the Olympics and also at the World Championships by all accounts.  Look for him to jump right in as a 2nd or 3rd line winger this season.
  • Current Roster
    • Wade Redden should start looking for a new apartment. He's going to need a place to stay in Hartford for the 2010-11 season.  I expect that the Rangers will ship him to the AHL to allow them to sign more top 6 forward talent.
    • Glen Sather is trying his best black magic to find this summer's Bob Gainey.  That's because he desperately need to find someone to take Donald Brashear and his $1.4m salary off the Rangers' books.
    • I wouldn't be surprised to see Aaron Voros traded or sent to Hartford at some point.  He cleared waivers twice this past year, so Hartford is more likely.
    • It also would not surprise me to see Matt Gilroy sporting a Wolfpack sweater this season.  I think the Rangers will either send him to Hartford or trade him for a prospect or a pick.  His play was decent last season, but certainly not strong enough to warrant the $1.75m they're paying him.
    • The Rangers currently have $10.5m in cap room, but only 15 players under contract.  Once Redden is dispatched to Hartford, the $17m is cap space becomes a bit easier to live with.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Weekend Update (UPDATED)

Here's some Olympic news and Rangers news:
  • In case you've been hiding under a rock, Team USA made its way into the gold medal game by defeating Switzerland and Finland.  They will take on the favored Canadian team, who they earlier upset 5-3 in round robin play.  The game takes place at 3pm ET tomorrow (Sunday), and will be broadcast live on NBC.
    • In case you need something else to do while watching the game, my friend north of the border has provided this wonderful mini-game.
  • Canada beat Slovakia in last night's semifinal game.  It was a tight 3-2 finish after Canada took a 3-0 lead in the third period.  Frankly, Canada was lucky to get out of this one; Pavol Demitra missed a wide open net in the waning seconds.
    • More important news out of this game (for Rangers fans) is that Marian Gaborik did not play in the third period.  There has been no official word on what ailed him, but most speculation has been centered around a groin issue.  This would be bad new for the Rangers' hopes this season, but might be just what Glen Sather needs to become a seller and get some young talent or draft picks to build around at the trade deadline.
  • The Dallas Stars placed backup netminder Alex Auld on re-entry waivers yesterday, almost immediately after he cleared waivers and was assigned to their AHL affiliate.  Auld became expendable for the Stars when they acquired Kari Lehtonen to split time with Marty Turco.  I would be very surprised if the Rangers didn't make a waiver claim on Auld.  He has a $1 million contract that ends this season and, if they claimed him on re-entry waivers, the Rangers would only be responsible for $500k of that pro-rated.  According to, that means the Rangers would be on the hook for a whopping cap hit of $114,000 through the end of the season.
  • Steve Zipay is reporting that the Rangers have indeed claimed Alex Auld on re-entry waivers.  This likely means the end for Chad Johnson and Matt Zaba with the big club this season.
  • Multiple reports out of Vancouver are now saying that Marian Gaborik still may play tonight in the bronze medal game between Slovakia and Finland.  That game is at 10pm ET on MSNBC.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Best Names in the NHL

I was inspired by one of John Buccigross' posts on earlier in the season to look at great names around the league.  He looked at the top 5 names in the league, so I'm going to do it a little differently.  I went down the roster for each of the league's 30 teams and have picked the best name on each team.  Here goes nothing:

Anaheim Ducks - Kyle Chipchura.  I seriously considered giving the nod to Saku Koivu, but I've always liked Chipchura's name (even when he was a Canadien).

Atlanta Thrashers - Evander Kane.  He should be a great world leader with a name like that.  Vyacheslav (Slava) Kozlov nearly got the nod for having the best first name in the history of hockey, and Johnny Oduya also received some consideration.

Boston Bruins - Tuuka Rask.  Easiest choice in the league.  No one else on the roster comes close.

Buffalo Sabres - Jochen Hecht.  From the easiest to one of the hardest, and not for good reasons.  There is a real lack of name talent on this roster.  Jason Pominville is the only one who comes close.

Calgary Flames - Eric Nystrom.  Jewish kid from Long Island with a Swedish name.  Miikka Kiprusoff was an overwhelming favorite, but Nystrom came out of nowhere for the win.

Carolina Hurricanes - Tuomo Ruutu.  The NY Yankees of names, and Ruutu bats cleanup. (You thought I could pick against a guy named Tuomo? COME ON!)  Also receiving votes: Rod Brind'Amour, Jussi Jokinen, Joni Pitkanen, Tom Kostopoulos, and Stephane Yelle.

Chicago Blackhawks - Dustin Byfuglien.  Nicklas Hjalmarsson was edged out in a photo finish.  Hard to ignore him with a name lack that and the hits he delivers on the Chicago blue line.

Colorado Avalanche - Brandon Yip.  His name is an accurate description of his play, which is why he ended up on my fantasy team.  Wojtek Wolski also received consideration.

Columbus Blue Jackets - Fedor Tyutin.  Great name and a great guy.  Wish he was still on the Rangers...for his world class name and his staunch defense.

Dallas Stars - Kari Lehtonen and Jere Lehtinen.  Have to agree with Bucci that Brunnstrom is a top name, but it's hard to ignore teammates whose names are both great hockey names and are homonyms.

Detroit Red Wings - Valtteri Filppula.  Niklas Kronwall is an outstanding name for a blue liner with heavy hits, but Filppula is an outstanding name.  Period.

Edmonton Oilers - Nikolai Khabibulin.  Few nicknames have been better than the Bulin Wall, and that helped eek out the victory over Lubomir Visnovsky.

Florida Panthers - Kamil Kreps.  I think he should have a cafe somewhere.  Nothing else.

Los Angeles Kings - Jonathan Quick.  Simple yet deadly.  Cat-like.  Andrei Loktionov was little competition for Quick and his glove hand.

Minnesota Wild - Cal Clutterbuck.  Clutterbuck ran away from the field on this one.  Also rans were Antti Miettinen and Guillaume Latendresse.

Montreal Canadiens - Roman Hamrlik.  He hits like a hammer...or at least used to before he got old.

Nashville Predators - Jordin Tootoo.  Best name for a tough guy in the league right now.  It was VERY hard to leave Pekka Rinne off, but Tootoo had more determination.

New Jersey Devils - Pierre-Luc Latourneau Leblond.  PL3 beat out Edmonton's Jeff Drouin-Deslauries in the longest name competition, and Jamie Langenbrunner was no competition on the home front.

New York Islanders - Matt Moulson.  A hockey player named after Canadian beer?  Match made in heaven.  Sad for Kyle Okposo, Jeff Tambellini, and Jesse Joenssu that they had no shot.

New York Rangers - Enver Lisin.  It's easy for me to envision John Tortorella yelling at the young Russian winger, "Don't you Enver Lisin?!?!"  Olli Jokinen (for being Finnish) and Vaclav Prospal (for having a name that sounds like Vaclav Havel) finished on the podium as well.

Ottawa Senators - Anton Volchenkov.  He just sounds like a monster...and he beat out Tuomo Ruutu's big brother, Jarkko.

Philadelphia Flyers - Kimmo Timonen.  A real lack of name talent here.  Only Ian Laperriere even made it onto the ballot with Timmonen.

Pittsburgh Penguins - Ruslan Fedotenko.  A Canadian friend of mine fought for Marc-Andre Fleury here, but there was no way I could pick a goalie who's called 'Flowers'.

San Jose Sharks - Marc-Edouard Vlasic.  His teammates call him Pickles.  That's reason enough for him to get the win over Niclas Wallin and Devin Setoguchi.

St. Louis Blues - Keith Tkachuk.  1st Round KO...over the entire team.

Tampa Bay Lightning - Zenon Konopka.  Late bloomer, but quickly becoming a fan favorite.

Toronto Maple Leafs - Dion Phaneuf.  Strong defensive corp with Francois Beauchemin and Garnet Exelby, but Phaneuf is the winner.

Vancouver Canucks - Darcy Hordichuk.  There's just something about names that end in -chuk.  they're made for hockey.  Pesky fighter Rick Rypien finished a close 2nd in voting.

Washington Capitals - Mike Knuble.  For a team so deep with talent, they really lack any semblance of name talent.  They actually have more name failures, like Alex Semin, than worthy competitors.

Olympic Updates and some other news

First things first:  I plan to write a few blogs during the next week and a half, some on the Rangers and some on hockey in general.  Look for the first one later tonight.

Olympic News and Notes
  • Team USA is now 2-0 after their 6-1 win over Norway this afternoon.  Chris Drury scored the eventual game winner in the first period, jamming home a Ryan Callahan rebound.  Drury has been one of the most consistent players for the American squad over its first 2 games, and the goal was the first of his Olympic career.  Their next game is at 7:45pm ET Sunday against Team Canada (MSNBC).
  • Team Slovakia is 0-1 after losing to 3-1 to the Czechs late last night.  Some guy named Jagr scored the game-winner for the Czech side.  Marian Gaborik scored the lone goal for his team despite the expectation that he wouldn't be able to play.  They take the ice again later tonight against the Russian team.  That game can be seen on 12am ET tonight (CNBC).
  • Team Finland is 1-0 after beating Belarus 5-1 yesterday afternoon.  Olli Jokinen scored the first goal for the Finns...on the power play.  They return to action against Germany at 9pm ET tomorrow (MSNBC).
  • Team Sweden is 1-0, with Henrik Lundqvist posting a 21 save shutout over the Germans yesterday. they take the ice again tomorrow at noon ET against Belarus (MSNBC). 
  • To see the full preliminary schedule, with times and TV listings, check here.
Rangers News and Notes
  • Steven Valiquette did indeed clear waivers, allowing the Rangers to play both Chad Johnson and Matt Zaba in Hartford during the Olympic break.
  • Steve Zipay has 4 different posts on individual players today.  
    • PA Parenteau is close to returning from his concussion, but all signs point to him signing elsewhere in the offseason.  That's unfortunate...I like him and think he can help the Rangers if given the chance.
    • Bobby Sanguinetti is skating, but still not ready to return from his high ankle sprain. 
    • Evgeny Grachev is frustrated with his results so far this season, but thinks it's probably just a bump in the road.  Let's hope that's the case, but he's at least saying the right things.
    • Ilkka Heikkinen doesn't think he'll get a one-way contract in the NHL, so he sees himself back in Europe next year.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Postgame Reactions - Rangers vs. Lightning 2/14

Rangers 5, Lightning 2
  • This game had an entirely different feel than the last time the Bolts were in town, when the Rangers dominated for 60 minutes and won 8-2.  In this one, the first period may have been the most boring period of hockey I’ve seen all season.  10 minutes into the game (if I’m remembering correctly), shots were 3-2 in favor of Tampa.  Both teams looked like they were still hitting the snooze button, and the Lightning managed to put 2 pucks past Lundqvist for a 2-0 lead.
  • The second period was entirely different, as the Rangers woke up and dominated play for most of the frame.  In particular, the first line of Vinny Prospal, Erik Christensen, and Ryan Callahan was buzzing.
    • Christensen, the game’s 1st star, finished with 2 goals (and nearly a 3rd as he rang one off the post) on 2 shots, an assist, and a +3 rating.
    • Prospal, the game’s 3rd star, finished with a goal and an assist, as well as a +3 rating.
    • Callahan, though he didn’t factor onto the scoresheet, was able to use his body and awareness to create space and energy for his linemates.
  • Marc Staal was also +3 and got the primary assist on Prospal’s tally by kicking the puck out of a scramble in front of Mike Smith and right onto Prospal’s stick.
  • Sean Avery made the most of his penalty shot opportunity, getting Smith to go down before going all the way to his left and roofing it for the Rangers’ first tally.
  • Chris Drury used his instincts to intercept an outlet pass and fire the puck into the empty net to cap off the scoring.
  • Corey Potter looked much better today than he did against the Predators on Wednesday night.  He played over 15 minutes and didn’t look out of place, even getting physically involved.
  • Although Jody Shelley--wearing #45--only played 2:51 in his Rangers debut, you have to like what you saw from him in making sure Zenon Konopka knew it was not ok that he hit Lundqvist’s glove after the whistle.
  • There have been a lot of rumors out there surrounding Brandon Dubinsky and the possibility of a trade, and I wouldn’t mind seeing him go for a decent return.  Today, as is often the case, Dubinsky tried making one too many moves or held the puck one second too long throughout the game.
  • Michal Rozsival played another very good game, and kept Marty St. Louis off the board by using his body against the small winger.
  • Dan Girardi and Staal play so well together, especially on the penalty kill.  They just seem to know where each other are and they do a good job of helping each other clear the puck.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Morning News and Notes

  • Donald Brashear has been assigned to Hartford, where he'll likely spend the Olympic break earning some of his salary.  I still expect the Rangers to either find a transfer deal that will send him to Europe or pass him through re-entry waivers at some point after the Olympic roster freeze.  As reported by Andrew Gross yesterday, Brashear's cap hit will come off the books for as long as he's in Hartford, but will stay on next year unless he's traded or transferred overseas.
  • Corey Potter has been recalled from Hartford once again.  This time it's obviously due to the injury to Michael Del Zotto.  Based on what I saw on the postgame show last night, I have to think Del Zotto will miss tomorrow afternoon's game at MSG against the Lightning.  Thankfully, he'll have 2 weeks to recover.
  • Newest Ranger Jody Shelley is expected to be on the ice at practice today and will likely play tomorrow.
  • My guess on tomorrow's lineup:  
    • Potter in, Del Zotto out
    • Lisin in, Gaborik out
    • Shelley in, Voros out
  • Ex-Ranger (this is becoming a theme this week) Jaromir Jagr carried the flag for the Czech Republic at last night's Vancouver Opening Ceremony.
  • Ex-Ranger (see) Jamie Lundmark was claimed by the Maple Leafs on waivers from the Flames.
  • The Rangers placed Steven Valiquette on re-entry waivers today.  This move is VERY puzzling.  If another team claims him, the Rangers will be on the hook for half of his remaining salary, further handcuffing them to the cap ceiling.  Also, he hasn't played in a game since allowing 2 goals on 9 shots in under 10 minutes on January 29th.  He .also reportedly broke a finger in that game and has not dressed for another game since.  The only possible explanation for this is that the Rangers want Matt Zaba and Chad Johnson to both play in Hartford during the Olympic break, but are required to have 2 goalies on their active NHL roster.
  • Andrew Gross is reporting that Tortorella has ruled both Del Zotto and Gaborik out for tomorrow afternoon's game.  It will be interesting to see how much Gaborik plays in the Olympics now.