Thursday, January 23, 2014

Del Zastrous Days Are Done

The seeds of Michael Del Zotto's demise as a Ranger were sown on August 31st, 1995, when he was just five years old.

On that date the Rangers traded Sergei Zubov to the Penguins along with Petr Nedved for Luc Robitaille and Ulf Samuelsson.

That disastrous deal helped lead to many del zastrous nights on Broadway. Zubov, for the youngsters out there, was a silky-smooth puck-moving defenseman drafted by the Blueshirts in 1990 that went on to lead the '93-94 Cup team in points.

Yes, it was Zubi and not Mark Messier who paced the team in points that illustrious season. Mind. Blown. I know. With Brian Leetch and Zubov controlling, moving and (often) shooting the puck, those Rangers owned the ice and, eventually, Stanley.

Why was Zubov the catalyst for DZ and not Leetch? Leetch was simply one of a kind, one of the best defensemen to ever step on the ice (and to slip on it … /rimshot). That being said, despite all of our fond memories, the American hero was heartbreakingly fading away in his old age and had become a shadow of himself by the time he was traded to Toronto. It's a hard truth to accept, but the injuries took their toll and he was no longer the dynamo that electrified the Garden.

We were weaned away from his greatness over years but the clean break of the Zubov trade left a vacuum on the blueline that was never properly filled by Neil Smith and Glen Sather. The two general managers plugged players in, but there were more pluggers than players in that most important of positions.

Bruce Driver, Alex Karpovtsev, Matt Schneider, Sylvain Lefebvre, Kim Johnsson, Vlad Malakhov, Bryan Berard, Tom Poti, Karel Rachuek, Thomas Pock, Max Kondratiev, Michal Rozsival, Wade Redden, Christian Backman, Dmitri Kalinin … are you crying yet? Because that list was typed through tears.

After 2006's top draft pick Bobby Sanguinetti began to bust, the Rangers attempted again in 2008 to select a dependable offensive defenseman. Overlooking John Carlson, Roman Josi and Justin Schultz (among others), Sather's crew selected Del Zotto with their first round pick, 20th overall.

During the next season DZ remained with Oshawa in the OHL and was traded midyear to London in a megadeal alongside some nobody named John Tavares. DZ then played 42 games for Dale Hunter's organization - 28 regular season and 14 playoff games. It would be far too few.

After that offseason DZ made a splash in Training Camp 2009 and the Rangers began their PR machine, publishing a piece detailing how DZ was the second-youngest defenseman in franchise history to ever play in a regular-season contest and the youngest ever to play on opening night. Younger than Brian Leetch! Just a little hype. No pressure.

Joining him in his debut was another over-hyped blueliner, Hobey Baker winner Matt Gilroy. Not only did the Rangers have one young 'star' starting the season, they had two! Leetch and Zubov all over again!!! Yeahhhh, not quite.

The season started and, aside from one sexy preseason goal, Gilroy quickly looked out of place. Had Hobey been a draft pick out of the O and not a collegiate free agent signing, he would have been sent to juniors after nine games. He had just one goal and one assist over that span and showed that, while he was a man among boys at BU, he was a boy among men in the NHL. And now, four and a half years later, he's on his fourth NHL organization and can't even make the floundering Florida Panthers.

DZ, however, had four goals and five assists in his first nine games. That kind of production made headlines and made it all but impossible for the Blueshirt brass to send him back to London. Big mistake. The braintrust should have realized that a full season under Dale Hunter would have been far more helpful in the long run than letting a 19 year old loose in New York City. A young, cocksure, rich ladies man with a taste for bad beer and inappropriate clothing in the center of the universe with temptation everywhere? What could go wrong?

Ah hindsight, you truly are 20/20.

But, at the time, the Ranger front office and many fans were blinded by the flash. Since then, however, it was made perfectly clear that there was little substance. Over the next 315 games (including playoffs), DZ accumulated 124 points. His defensive deficiencies never improved, his skating slowed, his decision making - particularly in his own end - became even more dubious and predictable (... to say the least). His play was marked by poor positioning, poor gap control, a penchant for chasing body contact, ill-advised rushes, ill-advised passes and, simply, illness-inducing idiocy.

And now, blissfully, delightfully, enjoyably, euphorically, FINALLY he is gone.

Could DZ eventually get his act together? Maybe, Barry Trotz is a helluva coach who has developed some stellar defensemen down south. Nashville's bench boss will just have to break a battery of bad habits to remold the kid into someone capable of contributing. He has quite a task ahead.

As for us, we get one of Trotz's many successes, Kevin Klein. Klein will not fill the Zubov void, he is not that kind of player. The search for the next Sergei continues (Brady Skjei?) but Klein can be the new Michael Sauer - a more recent loss to the Blueshirts' blueline that had not been properly filled.

The Predator product is a defensive defenseman who is capable of marking top players, clearing the crease and throwing down the gloves if need be. Sauer was a big missing piece in the 2012 run, so perhaps Klein can help come April. He comes with a cap-friendly contract and adds some insurance should Dan Girardi price himself off Broadway this summer with ridiculous demands. Hopefully this doesn't open the door for G's exit. Hopefully it balances and strengthens a defensive corps that was picked apart by the Islanders the other night. Hopefully it helps Henrik have room to make more saves. Hopefully it makes us forget about the blight on the blueline that was Del Zaster.

Hopefully.

=============================================

On a personal note, I love you guys. In the classic "Fever Pitch" (the book about Arsenal and not the lousy Red Sox flick), Nick Hornby wrote:
"And I love that, the fact that old girlfriends and other people you have lost touch with and will probably never see again are sitting in front of their TV sets and thinking, momentarily but all at the same time, Nick, just that, and are happy or sad for me. Nobody else gets that, only us."
Hornby was speaking about big moments for the Gunners, but I feel the same way with the Rangers. The second the trade news broke yesterday my phone, twitter and Facebook all erupted. Hilarious, wonderful and hugely appreciated. Thanks folks.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Apologies

For those arriving here looking to find a venom-filled diatribe on the season debut of the New York Rangers, you have my apologies. I have been forced to place this space on hiatus due to career concerns. The permanence of said hiatus has yet to be determined; keep an eye on @scottyhockey for updates.

Thank you for your readership over the years, it really has been appreciated.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

An Open Letter To Those At Camp 2013-14

Hello, and welcome to the New York Rangers,

There are some things you need to know before you get the 2013-2014 NHL season started as a member of the Broadway Blueshirts. I will attempt to lay them out for you to make your transition to New York easier. If you keep these in mind, your stay will be an enjoyable and, hopefully, productive one. Best of luck.

1- First and foremost, being a Ranger requires respect. Respect for your teammates. Respect for the jersey. Respect for the fans. Respect the Rangers. Everything else on this list falls under this dictum. Respect. It sounds simple, but it's not. It's a complete way of being that will require hard work but the payoff is virtually limitless - watch the tape of Eddie Giacomin's return with the Red Wings.

2 - Always, ALWAYS have your teammate's back, on the ice and off. Torts often refused retribution, instead preferring to turn his other obnoxious cheek. AV's Canuck squads didn't shy away from the rough stuff so be ready to use your size and protect your brothers - looking at you Boyle and Pyatt.

3 - Battle from whistle to whistle. No reprieve, no relenting, not for one second. Hockey is your job and we expect you to work while you are at the office. That is what is expected of you. Anything less - let up for just one moment of one shift - and the results will be disastrous. During that lapse a goal may be scored against the Rangers, or it may not. Either way, someone will notice - we Ranger fans pay attention and take this stuff quite seriously. The Blueshirts are the most scrutinized NHL team not in Canada, both by the media and by the fans. You do not want to let up in this town. At the same time, even if things aren't going your way - go without scoring for games at a time, whatever - if you are visibly working hard you will given a pass for quite a while ... just look at Boyle. You may look around at the "fans" down by the ice and see the nice clothes, the iPhones and the models, but don't be fooled: this is a blue collar fanbase that expects and appreciates hard work.

4 - Meet the fans, greet the fans. They are your best asset on the ice, better than any newfangled composite stick or heated skateblade. You may have played in the Garden in the past, you may have not. But you have never felt anything like it when you have 17,200 New Yorkers getting your back, helping you up, pushing you forward. Even the suits get into the action. But they get bored and the rest of us get ... merciless. This goes back to No. 3, if you don't show maximum effort, you will face the ire of the fans and trust me, you won't enjoy it. (I still hate you Poti!)

5 - Maximum effort is an understatement when the Islanders, Devils, Pens or Flyers are in town. Those are the times that you have to go above and beyond. There is no faster way to the hearts of the fans than through the franchise's biggest rivals. In this day and age of free agency (which may have brought you here), rivalries are harder to cling to for players - you may have friends and former teammates on the other side of the ice - but they are grossly important to the fans. Go out to dinner with your buds, go on vacation with them, whatever - from the second that puck drops, you had better be out for blood. Players come and go but that jersey that you pull on has been around for a long time and that means something. That Blueshirt comes with the baggage of hatred for wrongs past. It may sound petty, but it is a part of sporting life. And, if you use that hatred right - through the aforementioned hard work - then it is a very, very good thing.

6 - You know that quiet guy who is hanging around practice? The mild-mannered fellow with his name and number nine in the rafters. Listen to him. If he says something, it's for a reason. If he acts a certain way, it's for a reason. And that reason is always the betterment of the franchise and, frankly, the betterment of yourself as a person. Pay attention to Adam Graves. You will not find a better role model in your search for what it means to be a Ranger. There is a reason why he is beloved in this city, and what he did on the ice is only part of the explanation.

7 - Give not to temptation. New York never closes and there is fun to be had no matter what your vice may be. But if you give in to it, then you are breaking No. 1 on this list. There is a time and place for everything, and while you wear that jersey the time is not right for nefarious activities. Take a second to look up the sad case of Don Murdoch.

8 - While you are at it, spend some time reading up on the past. This season marks the 20th anniversary of 1993-94 - most of you guys were quite young so you could be forgiven for not quite grasping the magnitude of that championship. New York City WENT CRAZY. Make it lose its mind again. But do know, that '94 was one of four Cups collected here. Look it up. The more you read about the 87 year history of the franchise, the more you will understand just how important No. 1 on this list is. A lot of people have put their blood, sweat and tears into building the Rangers and the least you can do is know who they were.

9 - Don't be afraid to speak your mind because honesty is indeed the best policy. Silly, right? Not at all. When speaking to the media or to the press, one of the worse things you can do is speak in benign cliches - there is no such thing as 110%. You can only take things one game, or one day, at a time. And you don't always get the bounces. We know that; tell us how, tell us why. You can't be afraid to show your personality, because that is who you are and we want to know you. We want to root for you. We want to see you succeed.

10 - Don't believe the hype. There are a lot of people playing pundit, a lot of people shooting their (our) mouths off. Expectations have increased now that Tortorella's shackles have been taken off and those expectations will be difficult to meet. But that will come if you work hard, listen to the coaches and play your game to the best of your ability it is possible to reach the high bar that has been set.

This list may seem daunting, but you will be pulling on a Blueshirt and these are the things that come with the jersey.

Let's Go Rangers.

-Scotty Hockey

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Random Ranger Ruminations

With Traverse City starting tomorrow, I figured I'd throw up a quick post of some of the Ranger-related thoughts rattling around my head:

*On the prospect tournament, it will be quite intriguing to see how Lindberg and Fast handle the small ice. Fast handled it well the first time - scoring in his lone game with the Whale last spring - while Lindberg was simply outstanding in Sweden last season. Zip had a good look at the Ranger roster for the prospect tournament the other day. 

*Tickets in Traverse City are $10 a day. Just think about that ... damned shame Michigan is so far away. Sad that MSG is not broadcasting but not a surprise in the least, the Knicks have always been the favourite so the network spent their money going to Vegas instead.

*It is a shame the franchise is so fan-unfriendly. So many other teams are holding open camp dates and other events but the Blueshirts will be closed away in their Westchester country club facility. So the first chance we get to see them in NY is not until the home opener in months. Absence does not make the heart grow fonder, it makes New Yorkers more annoyed.

*However, if you are around and interested, Ryan McDonagh is doing a Steiner signing at Jack Doyle's on Saturday from 2-4 pm.

*Just how good can Danny Kristo be? And if he is as good as he has looked on the ice over the last season, will his off ice issues haunt him the way they did Don Murdoch 30-plus years ago? Kristo and the other kids have a real shot to make an impact with Hags and Cally out in the short term.

*But if they all disappoint, there are four seemingly capable vets to take the wing spots on the top two lines - Nash, Kreider, Zucc and Pouliot. Seeing as AV is a three-line coach, he could easily dress scrubs to get Stu Bickel minutes on the fourth line.

*This being the 20th anniversary of the famed 1994 Stanley Cup victory, what do you think the Rangers will do? Joey Kocur tweeted me a few months back that he expects to be back in NYC for a ceremony. However they decide to honor the lone Cup in the last 73 years, I just hope it happens on Saturday, November 30th. The Rangers' opponent that afternoon? Vancouver.

*It is interesting how many correlations there are between the defensemen AV handled in Vancouver and the ones on the Blueshirt blueline in terms of style. Willie Mitchell/Dan Girardi, Kevin Bieksa/Ryan McDonagh, Sami Salo/Marc Staal - ok, in their inability to stay healthy, not their games - Christian Ehrhoff/Del Zaster. It will be interesting to see if John Moore can turn into Alex Edler …

*If Dylan McIlrath doesn't make the big club - I hope he does but I highly doubt it - who the hell is going to provide the toughness for the team? Haley doesn't belong in the NHL, Asham was waived (I'll really miss him), Boyle can't fight and Pyatt loses his gloves just once a season. That leaves Derek Dorsett, who is a lightweight that has gotten housed by other tough guys. Love, love his heart, but many of his fights are just painful to watch (like this one).

*How painful will it be to watch Del Zaster? He should be even more exposed than he was in the past as his partner and the forwards on the ice with him won't be collapsing as quickly under AV's system.

*Why the hell is Boyle still on the roster? If Sather is to be believed, there was interestfrom other teams in the oversized waste of space - so why not trade him? Dominic Moore, if he has his head back in the game, is 10 times the player Boyle is. So why keep Boyle around?

*That is, unless Sather is keeping him around as an insurance policy should Step hold out and not play this fall or somehow end up elsewhere … I'm sure plenty of other teams would love to have him. It isn't terribly farfetched to see Minnesota putting out an offer sheet for the hometown kid. And they could then move some money out of town to fit him in: Heatley is in the last season of a massive deal and Pominville is in the last year of his contract - I bet a terrible franchise like the Islanders could use either/both of them. Let's just pray the kid capitulates and takes the bridge deal.

*Getting more and more nervous about how much the new bridges will obstruct the view inside MSG for folks like myself in the nosebleeds. Ranger staff have tried to reassure me that the view of the ice will be fine but others who have been inside have warned me to prepare for an opening night rant to my rep.

*That being said, she was quite accommodating for the Yankee Stadium games so a big thanks and a hat tip to her for that. Speaking of the Stadium Series matches, how soon until the Rangers unveil the sweaters they will wear? You have to figure they will be out in time for Christmas, right?

*MSG broadcasts could look quite different this fall. The staff on camera should be the same (dammit, Joe is due back), but the guys behind the scenes have changed. Longtime producer Joe Whelan left before last season (thus the poorly timed promotions during the spring) and this campaign will be without director Bobby Lewis. Lewis worked at MSG for 40 years and called the shots for Ranger games for 30 of them. And, I must say, he did a helluva job and definitely will be missed.

*Finally, on the retirement topic, yet again I'm wavering as to keeping this blog thing alive - at least in its usual form. While the schedule not being so compressed will help, last season was such a burnout that I currently have zero interest in doing nightly recaps. Of course, I felt the same the last few seasons and, when the puck hit ice, my blood started boiling and I had to rant somewhere. So we'll just have to see, stay tuned!

Friday, July 19, 2013

New In Blue 2013


The opening of free agency is in the rear view mirror and Glen Sather largely kept his wallet in his pants. Sure the lowering salary cap had a lot to do with that, as did the need to re-sign several main cogs in the machine, but it was still uncharacteristic of the cigar smoker. It was even stranger as Sather so recently replaced his bench boss with someone who has a significantly different philosophy than the last one.

So what did Glen do for Vigneault? He waived Darroll Powe and Arron Asham and replaced them with Dominic Moore and Benoit Pouliot. He let Steve Eminger and Matt Gilroy walk and traded for Justin Falk and signed Aaron Johnson. Not exactly major changes to a team that burned out too fast two years ago and flunked so badly last season that they got their coach canned. But they were changes nonetheless, so here's a (late) look at the new boys who'll wear blue:

Dominic Moore (@mooredom): Dom is pulling a Kovalev by coming back to the team that drafted him after a few seasons astray. Everyone remembers this commercial, and in the days since Moore dressed for eight other franchises before coming back to Broadway. He's been in such demand because he hustles and plays an honest game. The Hah-vad grad won't rack up the points - although he has it in him to do so - but he brings consistency to one of the two bottom six center positions. Vignault hasn't been big on rolling four lines but with Step, Brass and Richard$ all ahead of him on the depth chart, it's lookin' like Dom will battle Boyle to be the fourth line pivot. He hasn't played since his wife passed away after a battle with cancer so it will be interesting to see how fast he can find his form and if he still has it in him to skate at the breakneck NHL pace. Hopefully the Rangers do something with him/in his wife's memory for Hockey Fights Cancer - a charity that usually is featured in October, when the Rangers will be on the road.

Benoit Pouliot: Pouliot is a bottom six guy with great hands and a big body he rarely uses, he's like an older, North American version of Arty Anisimov. Inconsistent and prone to facepalm turnovers, the former teammate of Marc Staal in juniors is also capable of breathtaking goals. It is interesting to read post-season reviews of his for the last three seasons - 2010-11, '11-12 and '13 - and we're left to wonder what kind of player will show up this fall. Could he click with Brass and Nash and put up 25 goals? Could he end up waived to the Wolf Pack? Not even gonna wager a guess at this point.

Justin Falk (@juicerfalk): First off, there is another guy with virtually the same name - Justin Faulk - and this guy isn't him. Faulk is a possible franchise defenseman for Carolina, Falk is a quiet giant. The 24 year old is a big boy at 6-foot-5 and is capable in his own end but, frustratingly, is not especially physical. If/when the organization decides McIlrath is not ready for the show, Falk could be a decent No. 6 defender who will cover for Del Zaster's del zasters - Stralman certainly couldn't do it and you don't want John Moore to be ruined that way.

Aaron Johnson: Because the Blueshirts don't have enough former Blue Jackets on the roster, they brought in Johnson. The 30-year-old journeyman is also a former ISLANDER and a junior teammate of Richard$ in Rimouski. Hard to see if he was brought in to help re-ignite Richie, to be a good room guy as the No. 7 defender or just to bolster the blue line in Hartford. Maybe all three; we'll see.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Photo of the Day: What a Babe ...

I know more than a few girls that would love to play some puck with the Rangers and tonight I came across a photo of one who actually did: Babe Didrikson Zaharias. A multi-sport star during the golden age of sports (20s, 30s), the Babe is one of the all-time greatest female athletes. Below is a cool shot of her at a Blueshirts' practice about to take a shot at Andy Aitkenhead.


Original source is here.  

Friday, July 5, 2013

Not-So-Free Agents 2013

The opening of free agency is a virtual holiday in Canada but here in New York, Glen Sather has turned it into a day to be dreaded like the arrival of inlaws. There is simply no way of telling what the cigar smoker will do today but I figured I would break down 60 impending UFAs in simple terms - guys I'd want, guys I wouldn't mind and guys I wouldn't want. All of the names are from Capgeek's Free Agent list. Sorry for the clutter, don't have the time to make it too pretty.

There are no goalies listed, as Sather seems convinced Biron's ability in the room outweighs his incompetence on the ice. Speaking of incompetence, I immediately ruled out former Islanders and a number of former Blueshirts - no Redden, Gomez, Dvorak, Woywitka, Halpern, Cullen, Jagr, Antropov, Prospal, Stanley Cup Champion Rozsival or Pooooooootttttttiiiiiii. None of the current Ranger UFAs are worth re-signing either - Clowe, Hamrlik, Eminger, or Gilroy. Clowe has some upside but a well-paid power forward who plays tough that has a concussion history? That's a dangerous wager.

Some guys that are older or have been bought out are included on the list, obviously with the hope that they'll take pay cuts ...

Guys I Want On The Rangers

Name Position/Age/2011-12 Salary - Cause

Iginla, Jarome R PIT 36 $7,000,000 - Iggy didn't mesh with Pittsburgh but that doesn't change the fact that he is everything you want in a hockey player.
Scuderi, Rob D LAK 34 $3,400,000 - The New York native is a solid soldier at the back end and a Cup winner.
Cleary, Danny L DET 34 $2,800,000 - Hard hat guy with a Cup on his resume who is willing to go to the net.
Ference, Andrew D BOS 34 $2,250,000 - Solid soldier at the back end and a Cup winner.
Brunner, Damien R DET 27 $1,350,000 - Virtually no idea of what defense is but so skilled at the offensive end of the ice.

Guys I Wouldn't Mind On The Rangers

Name Position/Age/2011-12 Salary - Cause

Alfredsson, Daniel RW OTT 40 $4,875,000 - Veteran Swede has won with Hank before ...
Morrow, Brenden L PIT 34 $4,100,000 - Like Iggy, didn't fit with Pittsburgh but still one gritty guy.
Roy, Derek C VAN 30 $4,000,000 - Former PPG guy has a lot to prove to AV after stumbling with Vancouver.
Lydman, Toni D ANA 35 $3,000,000 - Fine Finn knows how to play his position.
Schultz, Jeff D WAS 27 $2,750,000 - Cut that salary down a bit and Schultz is a capable big bodied defenseman.
Sullivan, Steve L NJD 38 $2,600,000 - Veteran might be willing to empty the tank for one last run.
Raymond, Mason L VAN 27 $2,275,000 - Speedy forward who has underwhelmed to date but AV knows him well.
Gill, Hal D NASH 38 $2,000,000 - Have you seen his twitter account? And he knows how to use his huge frame to clear the crease.
Larose, Chad R CAR 31 $1,700,000 - Coming off an awful year, could be primed for a rebound.
Bozak, Tyler C TOR 27 $1,500,000 - Not a first line center but wins faceoffs and has some offensive ability.
Nystrom, Eric L DAL 30 $1,400,000 - Consistent bottom-six performer, worth it despite his diabolic dad.
Stalberg, Viktor L CHI 27 $875,000 - Speedy and coming off a Cup.
Hendricks, Matt L WAS 32 $825,000 - Heart and grit.
Blum, Jonathon D NAS 24 $650,000 - Former first rounder can carry the puck and needs a change of scenery.
Kostka, Mike D TOR 27 $600,000 - Certainly not the top pairing defenseman Toronto had him as at times, but a good 5-6 ...

Guys I Don't Want On The Rangers

Name Position/Age/2011-12 Salary - Cause

Grabovski, Mikhail C TOR 29 $5,500,000 - Bad attitude.
Ribeiro, Mike C WAS 33 $5,000,000 - Overrated.
Connolly, Tim C TOR 32 $4,750,000 - Concussed.
Hainsey, Ron D WPG 32 $4,500,000 - Underwhelming.
Komisarek, Mike D TOR 31 $4,500,000 - Slow.
Kaberle, Tomas D MTL 35 $4,250,000 - Haha.
Bouchard, Pierre-Marc R MIN 29 $4,080,000 - Injury case.
Whitney, Ryan D EDM 30 $4,000,000 - One dimensional.
Horton, Nathan R BOS 28 $4,000,000 - Concussed.
Gilbert, Tom D MIN 30 $4,000,000 - Soured real fast in Minnesota.
Kuba, Filip D FLA 36 $4,000,000 - Hamrlik 2.
Zidlicky, Marek D NJD 36 $4,000,000 - Old.
Gagne, Simon L PHI 33 $3,500,000 - Concussed.
Lombardi, Matthew C ANA 31 $3,500,000 - Meh.
Ryder, Michael R MTL 33 $3,500,000 - Will want a raise.
MacArthur, Clarke L TOR 28 $3,250,000 - Inconsistent.
Penner, Dustin L LAK 30 $3,250,000 - Cup winner will cost too much.
Weiss, Stephen C FLA 30 $3,100,000 - Underwhelming.
Filppula, Valtteri L DET 29 $3,000,000 - Insanely wants a raise.
White, Ian D DET 29 $2,875,000 - No Lidstrom, no results.
Clarkson, David R NJD 29 $2,666,667 - Boneheaded minor leaguer.
Murray, Douglas D PIT 33 $2,500,000 - Sadly proved too slow.
Colaiacovo, Carlo D DET 30 $2,500,000 - Don't want to try to type that often.
Handzus, Michal C CHI 36 $2,500,000 - Got his Cup, time to call it a career.
Aucoin, Adrian D CLB 39 $2,250,000 - Thought he had retired.
Zanon, Greg D COL 33 $2,250,000 - Nothing left but the beard.
Corvo, Joe D CAR 36 $2,000,000 - Uh oh.
Latendresse, Guillaume L OTT 26 $2,000,000 - Inconsistent.
Pardy, Adam D BUF 29 $2,000,000 - He made $2,000,000??
Cooke, Matt L PIT 34 $1,800,000 - Criminal.
Ponikarovsky, Alexei L NJD 33 $1,800,000 - Worse than Frolov.
O'Byrne, Ryan D TOR 28 $1,800,000 - Just, no.
Mueller, Peter R FLA 25 $1,725,000 - Great flow, nothing else.
Dupuis, Pascal R PIT 34 $1,500,000 - Fluke season will garner an insane raise.
Fistric, Mark D EDM 27 $1,475,000 - Physical, but not physical enough.
Gerbe, Nathan L BUF 25 $1,450,000 - Midget.
Comeau, Blake L CLB 27 $1,250,000 - Former Islander.
Steckel, David C ANA 31 $1,100,000 - Credit forever for injury Crosby, but nothing else.
Lapierre, Maxim C VAN 28 $1,000,000 - Fourth line penalty risk.
Hannan, Scott D SJS 34 $1,000,000 - Old, slow.

This is, of course, just my opinion so take it as it may. Last year I wanted Taylor Pyatt and didn't want Arron Asham. And look how both failed ... 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Guest Post: A Red, White & Blue Blueshirt

The Pundit was kind enough to pen this for me last summer for a project since abandoned and I felt it would be good to go up today: he remembers a New York Ranger who has faded into the past, one who happens to be a U.S. Hockey Hall of Famer. USA! USA! USA! -Scotty

by Mike Savino, aka the Ranger Pundit

Bill Moe came back on my radar in a rather strange way. My Grandson, Nicholas, had just secured a spot on his High School freshman team and was issued a jersey with a number 21 on it. Dad and Nicholas then did a search of Ranger jerseys, past and present to find a #21 to relate to a Ranger. Naturally, Gramps, the Ranger Pundit, came up with the perfect #21. Since Nicholas is a defenseman it was a natural that the #21 would be one of my favorites, the hard checking Bill Moe.

Moe played with the Rangers from 1944-45 to 1948-49. He played with Don Raleigh for two years. He was one of three American players in the NHL. One was Frankie Brimsek, the Bruin goalie also known as Mr. Zero. The other was John Manucci.

Moe was a hard luck player in his five years with the Rangers. He played in only one playoff game and suffered a fractured vertebrae on a check to Detroits Bill Quackenbush. In 1948-49 Moe was involved in an auto accident with four other players prior to the season opener. He suffered a concussion but still managed to play in 60 games. After the season the Rangers traded him to the Bruins who assigned Moe to their AFL affiliate. That ended Moe’s NHL career. In 1974 Bill Moe was installed in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.

Moe had a unique style of checking. He lined up a player and went low to the ice and clipped him below the knees. The crowd roared at t he sight of players doing cartwheels and landing on the ice on their backs. That kind of check is now outlawed. Its amazing, slewfooting, elbows to the head, sticks across the face are all minor type penalties but the artistic checks of a Bill Moe are outlawed.

I’ll never see another Bill Moe again just as I will never see another “Bones” Raleigh again. I guess I’m an old fogey and a traditionalist as I’m starting to look back more than I am looking ahead. But I look at the Rangers now and we are run by a GM who is in hiding and will start his 14th year without a reasonable run for the Cup. I see a disagreeable coach who wont be happy til one of his players gets disfigured by a shot. The hockey today is boring and well, I digress.

Boy, do I miss Bill Moe, who passed away in 1996 at the age of 80. But he is in hockey heaven where he skates to meet “Bones” Raleigh and his other team mates from the 40’s. God Bless Guys!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Guest Post: The New York Rangers 2013 Draft Recap

by Matt Lavanco

The 2013 NHL Draft came and went this past weekend and it was relatively uninteresting in Rangers-land. No draft picks were moved in or out, Glen Sather stood fast and left Gordie Clark to select the players he thought would best help this organization.
Left to his own devices Gordie used his five selections on five projects, none of whom project to compete for a roster spot in fall camp. Fans will have to patient for this current crop of prospects to develop and hopefully we’ll see some offensive output from this class several years down the road. It is interesting to note that the Rangers drafted two players from the QMJHL – the same amount of players selected from the Q since 2007 (in which they also took two).

Here's a look at each of the five:

Clark opened the third round by selecting University of North Dakota commit, Adam Tambellini. Tambellini absolutely dominated his BCHL competition this past season. Tambellini used his size, speed and great shot release to give teams a headache. He’ll have to continue to develop his defensive game and turn into an all-around effective two-way player. He will more than likely spend all four years at NoDak to grow into his body and grow his game.

Pavel Buchnevich, the second of the third round picks, is a wild card. Buchnevich is a highly skilled offensive dynamo. He stood out this year in at the Under-18 tournament in his home country showing off his skill and playmaking abilities. It feels like well-worn territory, but with every Russian draft pick the big question of whether he will actually come to the USA is asked. Buchnevich has two years remaining on his KHL contract so there isn’t much to get excited over just yet. If he does come though, he will hopefully be stronger and physically more mature than he is now.

The selection of Anthony Duclair closed out the third round for the Rangers. The Quebec Remparts winger burst on the scene as a rookie with 31 goals and 66 points in 63 games. Expectations for Duclair went sky high and there were musings that he might be go in the first round this year. However, injuries and inconsistency led to Duclair’s stock dropping sharply. If he can find a groove and add some strength Duclair could be a terrific prospect. The slick winger is an absolute stud in the offensive zone. He has elite speed that allows him to retrieve loose pucks and generate scoring chances. He also has great puck protection skills. Duclair has to improve his defensive game and show better positioning in his own zone. He will be an exciting prospect to follow over the next few years.

There’s not much to say about the Rangers fourth round selection, P.E.I. Rockets’ Ryan Graves. Graves is a work in progress. He attempts to play a physical, intimidating game in a league that is not overtly physical. Graves needs to improve is skating and footwork in order to play the shutdown role he is sized for.

With the Rangers final pick of the 2013 NHL Draft, they chose goalie Mackenzie Skapski of the Kootenay Ice. Now in my preview I had stated that I did not thing where the Rangers were selecting a goalie would be a wise choice. I stand by that opinion. Skapski posted a 34-25 record with an unremarkable 2.78 GAA and .910 Save % for the Ice. He lead his team to the eighth and final playoff spot in the WHL’s Eastern Conference – to which Kootenay got railroaded by top seed Edmonton. Skapski did have a fantastic February and recorded four shutouts with a 1.27 GAA and .956 Save %.

Skapski is a big body in the net. He uses his size to cut down angles well, but he needs to work on his recovery. In limited viewings, Skapski seemed slow on rebounds and therefore exposed on second and third shots.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Post-Draft Monday Musings

All sortsa random stuff rattling around my head after spending Sunday in Newark:

*That was the fastest seven hours I've experienced - what a terrific experience. The NHL should stick to the one-day draft extravaganza rather than trying for tv ratings with a two-day affair.

*Oh, New Jersey, you stink. Funny that their fan fest was sponsored by "Stronger Than The Storm" as it was a mess - a ferris wheel that never was completed, an unorganized mini golf 'course' and loads of sand where it didn't belong.

*Really nice to see the prospects celebrating their selection by hugging their families. Really sad to see the prospects who weren't picked hugging their families at the end of the night.

*One reason why the draft was so great was the accessibility of everyone. Saw one kid walking around handing out resumes, which I thought was a brilliant move.

*Alain Vigneault showed his fan-friendliness by stopping and taking pictures with everyone who wanted one. And even Glen Sather was in a good mood, he actually didn't ignore everyone and answered my quick question - Hey Glen, good draft or bad draft? He replied, "Great draft." Not sure he was awake for it and totally aware as to what was going on, but at least he had as good a time as us fans did.

*My draft guy Matt Lavanco should have a pick-by-pick review done in the next few days but personally I was a bit disappointed. No trades for picks, so just five selections - none of whom appear to be NHL-ready for at least two, three seasons. Minimum. My take, in order: NHL legacy Tambellini, Russian Brendl Buchnevich, injury case Duclair, project defenseman not-related-to-that Graves and some goalie Skapski.

*Buchnevich, by the way, is the first Russian selected by the Rangers since I took a look at all of the players from that country/the USSR back in 2010. It is not a good track record.

*Not one of the kids selected Sunday was alive when Messier raised the Cup, with Skapski being born the day after. Feel old? I do.

*Interesting that the Rangers trade for a big defenseman seemingly on the cusp of success (according to the Wilderness guys) on the same day they are rumoured to add Ulf Samuelsson to the coaching staff.

*Hopefully that is the first of many good moves this offseason as our metro rivals improved themselves with trades. The Devils acquired a franchise goaltender in Schneider to replace Fatso for a pittance, their No. 9 pick. And the Isles added some very-needed grit and ability in Clutterbuck for the Swiss problem child.

*Interesting that Brodeur showed up to draft his own son, and the Flyers had Chris Pronger handy when they selected the next Chris Pronger.

*Former Ranger Jeff Ulmer spent six games with Tappara this season and I asked him back then if Barkov was the real deal. He thought that the kid should be first overall, so seeing him go second was not a shock.

*Colorado continued to drive down the road to irrelevance, passing on the defenseman they desperately needed for a flashy center they didn't. But it certainly worked out for Nashville as they add yet another stud defender.

*Darnell Nurse to the Oilers is pretty much unfair. Once that franchise gets a goaltender, they're winning some Cups. Jump on the bandwagon now ...