Sunday, May 31, 2009

SCF Game 2 Pregame

It was a truly gorgeous day in Detroit today and I spent a good amount of it outside at the riverwalk. Say what you want about how decrepit much of the city is, they invested good money to make that area look nice and it is.

I didn't make it to the Wings morning skate - 10:30a? Waaaay too early. Considering that these guys didn't get out of the building until 11:30 or so last night, its no wonder they take afternoon naps. I did make it over in time for the Pens, which wasn't fully attended. There were some (much needed) faceoff drills, suicides for the black aces and one really cool tic-tac-toe passing drill that originated at their blue line with several players swirling back before a long pass to the far blue with a player cutting down the wing. It was quite impressive but the players had issues getting good shots off.

Also with issues was Terminator: Salvation, which I went to after the skates. As a fan of the Terminator franchise, I have to say I was a bit disappointed, even after having lowered my expectations beforehand (McG? really?).

Expectations for tonight are high but with the cast of characters involved in Game 2, they should be met and perhaps even surpassed. Well, we shall see ...

Stanley Cup Final Game 1

Seeing as the Rangers weren't playing, and the game itself was covered by most everyone, I will limit this to some firsthand stuff I saw and experienced. I gotta say, it was one helluva game/night.

*For the first time in my life, I was outright star struck as Stevie Y walked past me after the game. Presidents, mayors, athletes, rock stars ... first time ever. He just has a presence, it was impressive. He had been perched in the press box but no fans were able to get autos or even speak to him before being ushered away. No, I wasn't one of them.

*On the Red Wing legends note, Gordie Howe and Ted Lindsay dropped the ceremonial puck. While I didn't see Gordie again until after the game, Terrible Ted was just sitting in the concourse signing copies of his book talking away and taking pictures. A very nice gentleman. I didn't approach Gordie as he was surrounded by people.

*While the fans did get into the game - and released a massive roar when that hometown Abdelkader kid scored - there is no place like the Garden. We were just as loud for our first round game and we chanted more throughout the game. There were many more "Let's Go Pens" chants through the first two periods than there were "Let's Go Red Wings."

*Then again, the in-house entertainment people didn't do all that well to help. And I thought the Garden was bad with the Chelsea club music! It was almost all techno all the time with the rare appearance of Kiss or Kid Rock. That was, until the end of the game when they busted out the 80s mix.

*As for the arena itself, Joe Louis isn't that impressive once you get past the banners. Inside the arena itself, it looks like a red Nassau Coliseum with the same layout and types of seats. Outside of the bowl proper it is like a warehouse. The concourse was dimly lit and the building looks like any of the other thousand of industrial buildings in the area, just with big steps and an octopus on one side.

*Evgeni Malkin's parents were rock stars. They weren't sitting too far from me and during the first intermission they were mobbed by Pens fans. And they entertained every one of them, which was impressive.

*Even more impressive was a jersey I saw - Joel Kwiatkowski. Dude played one game for Pittsburgh. One! I wish I got a pic, dammit.

*A quick game note, which I gotta mention, is that I now officially heart Darren Helm. He is just like Blair Betts, just with more offense. All he does is hustle and play rock solid defensively. And he is probably the fastest skater I've ever seen, even quicker than Rico Fata (remember him?).

*His teammates are just so smooth that it is sickening. Even with Pittbsurgh pestering them, the Wings never seemed to get flustered. They just moved the puck and moved the puck and were quite remarkable as they took Game 1 - and they didn't even play their best!!

*The icing on the cake that was the night was not the result (nyeh nyeh Cindy lost) but with eight minutes left in the game during a break they played the now iconic Stanley Cup commercial on the big board. Total awesomeness.

One down, three to go!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Early Observations From The Finals

Just some quick thoughts - pics and more tonight after the game.

*Barry Melrose is around wearing a spiffy blue suit. Walking along the waterfront, he was pointed out by two overly excited Wings fans who went to take a picture. As they repeated his name again and again, a homeless fellow heard it and just started yelling "Mel-Rose! MELLLLLLL-ROSE! MEL! ROSE! MELROSEEEEEE!" And no, it wasn't Kevin Schultz.

*The Wings are selling merch with a great tag line - 'Shave The Best Last.' Brilliant. Even the giant octopus perched up on Joe Louis is adorned with a playoff beard. I miss mine. Damned Rangers.

*Joe Louis, by the way, is incredible. So much red, so many banners. I got chills.

*There were a half dozen Pens fans lurking about by the team bus as the players slowly trickled out from their morning skate. One guy even had a Matt Cooke shirt on. I don't get it.

*This city may be surrounded by decaying industry, with lines and lines of container trains lying idle on tracks lining the highways but the official NHL hotel, the Marriot, is gorgeous. Located in the same complex as GM's headquarters, this is a wonderful swirl of glass and concrete with stores, a movie theater and more.

*One last day left to vote on the poll on the right! Do it! Who is more loathsome? Cindy Crosby or Glen Sather? I didn't even bother to put Gary Bettman on the board, as that answer would be clear. He looks even more diabolical in person, I can ensure you.

More to come!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Must Read Material

Wysh over at Puck Daddy regularly provides good reading - some things by yours truly every once so rarely too, heh - but today he presented a piece by 'Duk that is just outstanding. Every hockey fan who lives and dies with their team can understand the sorrow the Blackhawks fan felt as he was forced to go under the razor and shave his playoff beard.

And on a side note, on Wednesday Jess did a nice wrap up of the progress made by Future Blue this season. Well worth checking out for us Ranger fans.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Quote Of The Night

While watching Versus' intermission show during the Detroit game where they were raving about how wonderful Cindy Crosby was:

"Why is it when Phil Esposito used to score like that they were garbage goals but when this kid does it he is wonderful?"

- My dad.

Bound For Hartford?

New York, May 27, 2009 – New York Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather announced today that the club has agreed to terms with free agent forward Andres Ambühl.

Ambühl, 25, skated in 50 games with HC Davos of the National League A in Switzerland (NLA) this past season, registering 17 goals and 24 assists for 41 points, along with 90 penalty minutes. He established career-highs in games played (50), goals (17), assists (24), points (41), and penalty minutes (90). Ambühl tied for the team lead in scoring and assists, while he finished fourth on the club in goals. In addition, he collected four goals and three assists for seven points in 21 postseason contests, including two goals in the NLA Finals series against the Kloten Flyers to help HC Davos win their fourth NLA championship in the last eight years.

The 5-10, 190-pounder has appeared in 358 career NLA games with HC Davos, recording 64 goals and 108 assists for 172 points, along with 425 penalty minutes. In 2006, he helped HC Davos capture the Spengler Cup, collecting the game-winning goal in the final game vs. Team Canada. Ambühl has also skated in 112 career postseason games, registering 19 goals and 14 assists for 33 points, including a career-high, five goals and eight points in 13 playoff contests during the 2008 playoffs. Internationally, Ambühl has represented Switzerland in several tournaments, including the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy.
After seeing Bern play firsthand during our preseason game, I have to guess that this guy will go straight to Hartford, as the level of Swiss play was woeful and Swiss fans said that they had never seen talent like the Rangers (haha). Most players had little physicality, were slow of foot but had plenty of skill. Then again, a Swiss Blackhawk fan was sold on him in this thread saying "He's fast, he can score, fight, check and he's a really good teamplayer."

So we'll just have to wait and see. At the least he should be the replacement for PA Parenteau as a skill winger on the Pack once PA gets himself a real (deserved) shot at the show ...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

DZ Gets Paid And Other Ranger Notes

It is good to see that there is some activity on Broadway even after John Tortorella sent the team to the golf course. Sather managed to spend more money, signing last year's top draft pick Mike Del Zotto to a contract today.

I can't say I'm all that excited or even pleased, but whatever. After grabbing Bobby Sanguinetti in '07, the Rangers picked this kid - another offensive defenseman - and then signed Wade Redden for six years. Apparently the team thinks Marc Staal can play defense on his own, I don't know. Del Zotto seems like another one dimensional defenseman who isn't a game breaker. Sure he averaged a point per game but, despite playing alongside future Islander bust John Tavares, he couldn't elevate his team into the Memorial Cup. He couldn't even make the Canadian World Junior team, something that is pretty much the benchmark of quality for kids nowadays.

We saw him in the preseason and, as I said then, I was entirely unimpressed as he played a Rozsival/Redden-esque game with a bad penalty, a few turnovers and a goal against scored while he was out of position.

But, seeing as that was all I saw of him I will leave it to the experts to judge and Jess at Prospect Park seems pleased with his progress over the last year and thinks there is a future on Broadway for him. We'll just have to wait and see.

Some other random Ranger notes, while I am typin':

*First off, vote in the poll at the right. Who is the biggest villain for you as a Ranger fan? The results thus far have been quite amusing and no, I wasn't one of the ones who voted for Poti ... yet.

*If you haven't already heard, Pat Quinn went to Edmonton, where he will be assisted by Tom Renney. Quinn would have been nice to replace Renney behind the Ranger bench, instead of the megalomaniac we did get. Yes, I am still bitter we lost and yes, I still blame Torts for singlehandedly giving up a 3-1 series lead. But back to the Oilers, my question is will Jaromir Jagr come back to the NHL now? He already was interested in going from Siberia to the Canadian prairie last season and now that Renney is there?

*Heard from my ticket rep and she said that the biggest renovations to the Garden - the ones that will force most folks out of the locations they've loved for years - won't happen until next summer. *whew*

*Since Mikael Samuelsson is playing so damned good this postseason for Detroit, how much do you think Glen Sather will overpay for him on July 1st?

*Speaking of free agency, On Sunday Brooksie said in the Post the Rangers should go after another former Blueshirt, Mike Knuble. Like we need another over-priced old guy? Totally random - is it me or does Saku Koivu this summer look like Markus Naslund of last - a former captain making over $4 mill with diminishing numbers ...

*If the Rangers hadn't picked Del Zotto and already had all of the other defensive-deficient blueliners, it woulda been really cool if they had used their second rounder this coming draft on Jan Erixon's kid. While he is an offensive defenseman instead of a defensive offenseman like his old man, you'd have to think something from the old man had to wear off ...

*Another former Ranger, Tie Domi, was in the luxury box with Mario Lemieux as the Pens beat the Canes to get to the Cup tonight. He looked quite happy to be there, we need to get him back in the Garden, and we need to get this far in the playoffs too.

Now I'm depressed. I'll be back soon - quite soon possibly as there is a distinct possibility I will be able to report back from the Stanley Cup Finals so keep comin' back!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Bye Bye Bobby

With one of his relatives recently unearthed, Bobby Holik has decided to call it a career and head back to his cave. As Holik told the New York Post, "What I enjoyed was being a hockey player, more than anything. Being a professional hockey player is the best life anyone can have."

It also doesn't hurt that he was paid insane amounts of money to play, especially by the Rangers. Five years, $45 million for a defensive checking center is ridiculous. Ranger fans are debating if Blair Betts is worth keeping for a million bucks for next season and Holik was making eight a year. Then again, there is no way Betts will ever be thrust into the first line center position. Terribly overpaid, Holik was terribly misused by management (shocking) and had to be bought out to keep the team competitive in the new salary cap era.

In an odd coincidence, they actually had a few jersey pins of his remaining at the Garden sale the other day too. But while he was awful as a Ranger, he was one helluva Devil and skates into retirement with two Cups to his name. The best compliment I will give him was that he was an opponent we loved to hate - not just because of the Sather-given contract but because he was so good at his craft. Good luck in retirement Bobby, hope you can dodge the dinosaurs back home.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Once A Ranger, Always A Ranger

New York Ranger Clint Smith passed away earlier this week. The last surviving player from the 1940 Cup champs survives no more, and the franchise is poorer for having lost him.

Back in 1994, as the Rangers were making the run for the Cup, Smith gave Neil Smith his jersey and other old souvenirs. The NY Times' description of the occasion had this pearl:
Neil Smith said he would give the mementos a place of honor in Madison Square Garden. Clint Smith seemed to think that would be just fine. A slightly built man with white hair and bright eyes, Clint said he would continue to follow the fortunes of the team closely.

"Once a Ranger," he explained, "always a Ranger."
If only the current crop of Blueshirts could understand that, and take pride in it. For a glance at who Smith was, check out his Ranger page for stats, and his Legends of Hockey spotlight for stories. I just hope that - as his passing comes at this time of year - the team still remembers and recognizes him at the season opener. That they didn't hold a moment of silence for Alf Pike still makes me ill, as does the way they handled Cherry's passing online.

RIP Clint.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Päivää Ilkka

As you may have read, the Rangers followed up the Hobey Baker signing of Matt Gilroy by adding a defenseman to possibly work with him in Ilkka Heikkinen.
"The 6-2, 200-pounder has appeared in 283 career SM-liiga games with Lukko Rauma and HIFK Helsinki, collecting 31 goals and 82 assists for 113 points, along with 255 penalty minutes." - official NYR release
This is a move that actually broke earlier over on Hfboards, where some of the loyal lions offered a breakdown, along with the news. As far as I can tell, Heikkinen is a little bit of a tougher version of Christian Backman - some offensive potential with a deficient willingness to put it all on the line ... ok, maybe Backman, maybe Nik Zherdev. But unlike Zherdev, there is no real pressure on this kid to perform, no highlight reels of drool-inducing moves. There are some Youtube clips where it is hard to see him, and where it is very hard to compare the level of play considering the Finnish league is far from the NHL.

So we really don't know exactly what we have here and just have to rely on the skill of head Euro scout Christer Rockstrom to say he will be worth the jersey. The last Scandic import, the Avery-replacement wanna-be/never-was Andreas Jamtin didn't last too long on this side of the pond. Two good things - both of which are quite unrelated and are significant stretches - that work in Heikkinen's favour is that another Ilkka (Sinisalo) had himself a nice career in the NHL and the last Finnish defenseman that I can think of who came to Broadway was Reijo Ruotsalainen, a player Glen Sather lusted after and cherished back in his former, actually successful life on Edmonton.

Now we know that Sather's recent signings have been ... lacking ... and he seems to be building up a stable of blueliners on a team in desperate need of scorers but perhaps there is a master plan and Illka will be part of it. This time of year, we are forced to wait and see and hope and pray and fret and second guess and look at the teams still playing with jealous eyes.

Man, I hate the offseason.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Hockey Monkey Live!!

The AWESOME folks at Hockey In Harlem and Barnine present a night with The Zambonis. Band starts at 9pm. Event starts at 6:30. DRINK SPECIALS, SILENT AUCTIONS ON SOME VERY COOL HOCKEY STUFF, SPECIAL GUEST, 50/50 RAFFLE, BUFFET and much more. THIS IS FOR A GREAT CAUSE and you get to see us in NYC. WE NEED TO PULL SOME PEOPLE TO THIS EVENT SO BRING A FRIEND OR TWO PLEASE!!!! SEE YA THERE !!! ICEHOCKEYINHARLEM.ORG.

807 9th Ave (Between 53rd & 54th), Manhattan, New York 10019
• $10 Cover (all proceeds go to IHIH)
• Free Buffet
• Drink Special
• Band starts at 9 p.m.
• Cash bar

Monday, May 18, 2009

Such A Deal!

I go to this pretty much every year and there are usually some great deals on good stuff ...

Friday, May 15, 2009

Do Pobachennya Nikolai

I said during the playoffs that Nik Zherdev was playing himself out of the NHL and Steve Zipay has an unconfirmed report that it may very well come to pass.

Many of you rallied to Zherdev's defense when I failed him but the fact remains that Zherdev - no matter how many points he scored - didn't have the passion to play for the New York Rangers. Or if he did, he never showed it.

By sheer amount of talent, Zherdev ranks in the top 10 in the league - there is no denying that. He has the best combination of speed and hands that the Rangers have seen at least since Pavel Bure, if not ever. Z also showed good vision of the ice and even defensive awareness.

Zherdev outright dominated five, six games this season with his skill. But, alas, the season was 89 games long and when Z was needed most, he was nowhere to be found. The Rangers were hurting for offense against the Caps and Zherdev pulled his all-too-familiar disappearing routine. Having him vanish from Broadway wouldn't be a bad thing as it would open up some more salary to re-sign the other Nik, Antropov, and help keep the kids (Cally and Dubi). As for testing the free agent market, well, let's just hope that Cycle like the Sedins will be proved wrong ...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Letter To The Editor

... it's not like Ottawa GM Bryan Murray is going to trade the highly skilled [Jason] Spezza for Colton Orr, the Rangers enforcer who might actually have been the worst full-time NHLer in the league this year. Orr managed just one goal and five points despite appearing in all 82 regular season games. And while he didn't see a lot of ice time (6:29 per game), he still had one of the worst plus-minus ratings in the league (minus-15). --Sam McCaig, "Anti-Awards Full Of Stars", page 14 of The Hockey News, May 11, 09/Vol. 62 No. 24.
That was actually published in the bible of hockey, which I was reading on the way home from work just now. It made me a bit ... frustrated so I decided to submit a letter to the editor in response when I got home and figured I would share in here as well:
I understand that The Hockey News doesn't hold much regard for fighting in hockey (in it's current state at least) but for the top hockey publication to summarily dismiss the contributions of one of the top pugilists - even in a column - is irresponsible.
In the Anti-Awards piece of the May 11th issue, Sam McCaig said that New York Ranger Colton Orr "might actually have been the worst full-time NHLer in the league this year." He followed up the claim with some statistics, all of the offensive variety (points, ice time and +/-).
Mr. McCaig neglected to point out that New York was among the league leaders in fewest games lost to injury, something that has a lot to do with luck and a lot to do with Colton Orr's presence. Having one of the top enforcers in the game helped dissuade opposing teams from borderline or outright illicit actions against its players. Case in point: Orr was taken out of the lineup for two playoff games and one of the opposition players felt he had the license to take out a Ranger. Would Orr's presence have stopped Donald Brashear from breaking Blair Betts' face? Not necessarily. But would Brashear have had other things to concern himself with while out on the ice had Orr been there? Certainly.
Just because a player couldn't positively contribute to Mr. McCaig's fantasy hockey team shouldn't give him the right to slur one of the unsung heroes of the game.
Thank you for your time.
So, what are your opinions? Was Colton Orr the worst player in hockey? As many of you are Ranger fans I can guess your answer so feel free to express who you think was the worst player in the game was. And no, you can't use DP as an answer as the Islander goalie really wasn't in the game at all. Five games, franchise goaltender, 12 more years to go. Ha ha!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Awwwa, I Almost Feel Bad

Somewhere, Ulf Nilsson is smiling.
Sunrise Sports & Entertainment and the Florida Panthers announced today the restructuring of the hockey club’s broadcast teams on FOX Sports Florida and Sports Talk 790 the Ticket for the 2009-10 NHL season. Steve Goldstein, Billy Lindsay and Randy Moller will return to the broadcast booth in 09-10, while Denis Potvin will not be retained.

You kinda feel bad that somebody lost their job, then you remember who he is and it becomes muuuuuuuuch easier. (h/t to Puck Daddy)

Now I pose this question to you all: what would be worse, who would you rather have on MSG - Denis Potvin or Joe Micheletti? Potvin, a four Cup winner and former Islander who was with the Panthers from the start, or Micheletti, a scrub defenseman for the Blues who used to cover the Islanders and is showing that his lack of skill on the ice translates to a lack of skill off of it as well? Considering Sather and Dolan loathe the Ranger fans (suckers that we are), perhaps he would consider replacing Joe with Denis ... ?? I don't think the broadcasts could get any more difficult to listen to, so why not? At the least, Potvin would be a good replacement for the incoherent Butch Goring on Hockey Night Live, don'tcha think? Nahhhhhhhhh.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Did anyone see the end of the Detroit game last night? If so, what the hell was that? The Red Wings had a clear goal waived off - one that went into the net after the whistle. The excuse was the relatively-new allowance that the ref 'intended' to blow the play dead before the puck went in. Are you kidding me?

I know they are making new rules in terms of penalties because the players are bigger, stronger and faster, but now they are making one because the refs are oversized? 'I was going to blow the whistle but my damned arm is too long and I couldn't get it to my mouth fast enough.' This is ridiculous! If you really want to open a can of worms with this one, this intent crap can easily be used by the refs to help fix matches. I'm not saying that they do or that Brad Watson did in this case, but this certainly should open the avenue of discussion.

And what the hell were those post-final buzzer muggings that were going on? Several Wings were jumped with clear body blows thrown in an attempt to send a message - something this league has decided is verboden this postseason. But let me guess, there will be no supplemental discipline because Colin Campbell 'intended' to go to bed before the game ended ...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Fourth Line Forecast

In recent years it seems like the fourth line guys are the ones who are quickest to endear themselves to the fans here in New York. From the HMO line (Hollweg, Moore and Ortmeyer) to the SOBs that started this season (Sjostrom, Orr and Betts), these guys work the hardest and battle in the trenches - exactly the qualities that the Garden Faithful appreciate.

Well, it appears that we may have a whole new unit to embrace this fall. The SOBs are all unrestricted free agents and Glen Sather and John Tortorella certainly don't watch the same games we do. Sather is easily star struck and will do anything to fit more ridiculous contracts under the cap. And, of course, he would move into a slightly-better position to do that with NHL minimum contracts filling the fourth line. Every penny counts in this day and age and why not cut off something that isn't going to be used much, given Tortorella's preference in rolling three lines instead of four.

The bad news for us SOB lovers is that first piece to make the changeover is now in place as Jordan Owens was signed today. The good news is that Mitch Beck of Howlings was really impressed with this guy in Hartford this season. As Mitch wrote, Owens is "less expensive alternative and is likely to get a hard look for [Sjostrom's] job in next season's training camp." Seeing as the current top three centers aren't headed anywhere, Artem Anisimov should get a good look for the fourth line center position and the off wing can easily be filled by Voros, who Torts seemed to prefer over someone who could actually skate and fight and positively contribute to the team.

It is sad to see but just a simple fact of life as one of the Faithful: the Garden will do their damnedest to make us miserable. They trade away our heroes (Graves, Leetch) and raise prices (even though they pay around $13 million less in salary now than they did pre-lockout). And yet we keep coming back.


Stalk Or Let Him Walk?

The Rangers have a slew of free agents-to-be come July 1st. Puck Central did his look at them last week and I figured I would throw my $.02 in on which players Glen Sather should Stalk and which he needs to decide to Let Him Walk.

First off, Valley has already apparently signed an extension for next season already to remain as the backup goaltender. As he will make the same salary - $725k - this isn't a bad deal. He went 5-5-2 with four bad games - early season losses to Toronto (the five goal blitzkrieg), Ottawa and the 10-2 Dallas disaster and the shootout loss/Ilya Kovalchuk show in Atlanta. They say he is good in the room and he clearly shows up to work so I guess it is a good thing. Still, you have to wonder a little about the future as this shows that Benoit Allaire didn't feel either Miika Wiikman and Matt Zaba were ready despite both putting up solid seasons in the AHL (.920 save percentage for Zaba in 41 games? Wow.).

Taking the goaltender out of the equation, NHLNumbers still has 14 players heading to free agency, half of which are restricted. NHLSCAP has even more but seeing as they have a deal with Hockey Buzz, I don't trust them. So let's take a quick alphabetical gander at the guys we know are out - there aren't a whole lotta surprises:

Nik Antropov: He's big, he can score and he seems to care. At the same time, he doesn't hit and he has been hurt in the past. If the price tag is $4 mil or less a year (he made $2.15 this year), I say Stalk.

Joe Barnes: Forget about him? He is one of the guys we got back for sending Matt Cullen back to Carolina. He suffered a major knee injury last season and a major concussion this season but beyond his inclusion on Charlotte's IR, I can't find any news on him. His cap hit was all of $17,000; he won't be missed - Let Him Walk.

Mark Bell: The big Bell came over late and did well in Hartford at the end of the regular season - collecting 14 points in 18 games. Then he managed just one goal in five playoff games (missing one with injury). He made $2.5 mil on his last deal which is way more then he will get this time. Unless he was 18 ways of wonderful with the Pack kids, Let Him Walk no matter how little he will take to return.

Blair Betts: My opinion of Bettsy is well known - he is my favourite player. The best penalty killer, the calm and composed Betts rarely takes penalties and is one of the best in the biz in killing them off. He made 615k this season and deserves a raise - at least above Voros money (a cool mil). While I don't think Sather will give it to him and will let him go (just because that's my luck), I definitely think he should be Stalked into staying.

Ryan Callahan: The winner of the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award, Cally was the best player on the team from wire to wire. He made $600k and is a RFA so a three, four year deal at $3 million wouldn't be terrible - especially considering his durability and upside. Stalk.

Brandon Dubinsky: Now, Dubi has an even bigger upside but struggled through a rollercoaster of a sophomore season. He may just be capable of being a Ranger captain down the line, but if he wants a long term deal for stupid money, you have to see if anyone will sign him to an offer sheet. As he hasn't played four NHL seasons, he can't go to arbitration and he was a WHL Tom Renney favourite. Should Renney get installed as Edmonton's coach, perhaps they will try to poach him. Still, if he will accept a reasonable deal, I say Stalk.

Lauri Korpikoski: The Korpedo had some good moments this season. He also had some bad ones as he was plagued with rookie mistakes and a coach who couldn't decide where or how to use him (Renney). As an RFA, he is entitled to a qualifying offer of 105% of his $984k and getting another season to see how he progresses may be worth the extra bucks. Stalk.

Paul Mara: The lumberjack has professed his love for NY and made just under $2 million. Seeing as he was the steadiest defenseman this season, he is certainly worth bring back but not for much more than what he was making. Considering he saw second unit power play time and we know how the special team fared, he might not be a big target for other teams so getting him for a discount may be possible. Stalk, with an eye on letting him walk if he doesn't flourish in NHL season No. 2.

Derek Morris: Seeing as Mike Sauer and Corey Potter proved jut as capable as playing as Morris did, the overpriced veteran can be shown the door. Had he come in and scored a dozen power play goals with that shot that they claimed he still had and hit everything that moved, I would say try to get him at a half price from his $3.95 mil salary but he didn't so see ya ... Let Him Walk.

Colton Orr: While us fans loved having one of the best bruisers in the business, the head coach clearly didn't trust him and benched him in the playoffs. Seeing what happened without him, you have to hope that even the obstinate Tortorella was able to learn a lesson and will insist Sather bring him back. Stalk.

Corey Potter: Tom Renney didn't trust him but Renney was a fool. Poised with the puck, Potter did well with his limited time and, as an RFA, certainly should be qualified to give him a chance to challenge for a spot on the Blueshirt blueline this fall. Stalk.

Pat Rissmiller: The former Shark didn't do anything for the Rangers but was a regular top line player on the farm. If he can find another team to give him one more kick at the NHL can, you have to say Let Him Walk.

Freddie Sjostrom: Just 25 years old, Sjoey hasn't found his scoring touch but his relentlessness and defensive acumen are certainly there. A restricted free agent who has been in the league for a while, he can go to arbitration. That should be avoided but knowing Sather it won't and the curmudgeon of a GM will point out his dearth of offense. Still, the affable Swede was solid on the ice and tight with Hank off of it so you gotta say Stalk.

Nik Zherdev: Another candidate for arbitration, if the Rangers don't take Zherdev there I would be shocked. Making $2.5 million now and ending up one of the leading scorers on a team that could hardly put the puck in the net, Z's agent could make a good case for a raise. While many of you guys appear to be entranced with his talent and youth (as seen in the comments of my report card), I have no patience for players with no heart and no fortitude. Let Him Walk.

NHLSCAP has five other free agents (all down on the farm) in Vlad Denisov, Dane Byers, Greg Moore, Matt Zaba and Pierre Parenteau with PA being the only UFA. If another team will give Moore a chance to make their NHL roster, let him go. I believe Denisov got a three year entry level contract before last season but could be wrong; he is a mediocre AHL guy so I would Let Him Walk if not. Byers, Zaba and Parenteau all should be Stalked - Byers has a huge upside and could become a Torts favourite, Zaba broke out when Wiikman was hurt and Parenteau can score. The Rangers need to make sure that if they are going to re-sign him they need to make sure he won't have to go through waivers to be called up (duh) - he would have been a nice addition to spark the Ranger offense during the midwinter doldrums.

Coming soon: a look at some free agents to be who might be worth checking out.

Link Of The Night

You would think that a Vancouver fan would do a nice tribute to Markus Naslund retiring. Yeah, you would think that. Instead, James at Cycle Like The Sedins decided to take a look at what Glen Sather will do with the cap space. It really is priceless, hilarious and sadly, quite possibly going to pass.

For a look at someone who actually celebrated Nazzy's accomplishments, check here, to see other Vancouver fans pay tribute head over to SBN and to look at Naslund's place in history, there is no one better to turn to than Joe Pelletier.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Ha det så bra Markus

Brooksie reported - but could not confirm - that Markus Naslund is calling it a career.

As I said when we signed him last summer, Naslund should have retired with the lockout. He truly was a game-breaker who was wonderful to watch back when the Canucks put him out there with Morrison and Bertuzzi but time goes by and the force faded with age. There were moments this season when you could see some evidence of his former superstardom but they were few and far between. Nazzy looked completely lost and a step behind come playoff time, which was when he was needed most. Perhaps he will completely step away from the game or will have a farewell tour in Sweden with Modo ... either way, his time in New York is through.

Inferno at Rangers Review sees this as the first domino to fall in a massive restructuring. While I am not so sure that is possible, I agree with another point that he made in that the money saved will help re-sign some of the team's free agents. Seeing as they made up most of the top performers - Callahan, Dubinsky, Betts, Sjostrom and Antropov - any little bit will help.

As for who will replace Naslund on the roster, I think that it is the perfect chance to promote from within - not only is it cheaper but this team needs to get away from the mercenary mentality and actually build a winner.

The pieces are there and Dane Byers might be the man to step up. Byers, who was hurt most of the season in Hartford, had seven points in nine games before his injury and returned for the playoffs where he had four points (three goals and an assist) in the six postseason games. He is a big, strong winger who could look fantastic across from Ryan Callahan - giving the Blueshirts a more talented, but just as relentless version of the Ben Eager/Adam Burish combination who looked so good for Chicago last night in Game 2 of their series against Vancouver.

Speaking of such, I am watching most every playoff game (gotta get my fix somehow!) and have decided to just root for a Original Six final. Of the eight teams still playing, there is no way I could ever pledge my allegiance to Cindy so the Pens are out. It would be nice to see the team that beat the Rangers go all the way, giving a little vindication, but Tom Poti keeps me from jumping on the Cap bandwagon. Ray Whitney is a personal fav but not seeing Pucky anywhere on their jerseys keeps me away from the Canes. The Ducks, well, are the Ducks: even though the Mighty is gone, they are still a product of the evil empire that is Disney. As for the Canucks, I'm sorry but those twins are creepy - astoundingly good, but creepy. That leaves Boston, Detroit and Chicago and you just can't go wrong there. Keep your silly baseball rivalry out of the hockey equation and root for former Ranger Marc Savard. I will go on the record and say that I feel that Nick Lidstrom is one of the top five defensemen of all time and it is easy to Commit To The Indian when they are so exciting to watch.

So what about you guys? Who are you throwing your support behind?

Oh, and one last thing - as you can see programming here at the blog has slowed but I can promise that it won't go away. There is always stuff to talk about, but it is nice to be able to catch up a little on life away from the rink. I am sure that Ranger season subscription packages (with their inevitable price increases) are coming, as is the Stanley Cup and the ensuing offseason. So stay tuned!