Hey folks, sorry this space has been quiet for a few days. While I was otherwise occupied (Faith No More is an incredible live band), several puck matters have come and passed so I figured I'd chime in on a few ...
Dan Girardi has elected to go to arbitration:
This one is quite interesting as Girardi is setting himself up for what is sure to be a ugly hearing, if Avery's detriment to the team hearing was any kind of indicator. Danny G is said to be asking for $12 million over four years, doubling his salary from last season. Let's take a quick look at what each side could present at the hearing...
Girardi's side: Danny brings consistency to a blue line that has been anything but. He can be counted on for at least 21 minutes a night, 20+ points a season and a pair of hits per game. On a team that was not nearly as successful as the season prior, Girardi's +/- improved to -2 (from -14) in this last year and he was +13 on home ice. Out of his 24 points, nine came in the last 16 games when the team made their futile push for the playoffs. After not seeing power play time for the majority of the year, three of those nine points came with the man advantage. After taking flak for not jumping in on the Carcillo/Gaborik tussle, Girardi learned and came to Arty's defense after Scott Hartnell hit him.
Sather's side: Girardi shouldn't have had to learn. You just don't let your star player fight someone like Dirtbag Dan. It is utterly inexcusable. Girardi had 10 games where he was -2 and one at -3. His shot total has decreased each of the last two seasons, a time where he should be gaining confidence in his skills, not hemorrhaging it. Even for a defensive guy, in Tortorella's system no blueliner should go a span of 54 games with just one goal. Unless you are Wade Redden, but that guy's excrement isn't malodorous, and neither is his contract. Please ignore the 800 pound gorilla in the room. No, not Marek Malik, Redden's contract. Nik Kronwall, Colin White, Fedor Tyutin, Jordan Leopold, Toni Lydman and Tim Gleason makes at or under $3 million a year, does Girardi really think he is as good as them? (Toots makes 2.8, Gleason 2.75; all salaries from Capgeek.) And, finally, who the hell does Girardi think he is? He wasn't drafted and everything he has in the NHL is thanks to the Rangers so what kind of thanks is it to play hardball? Especially - ESPECIALLY - when he couldn't score the game-winner against Philadelphia in the final game of the season? That is sure to be Sather's ace in the hole for everyone on last season's squad. 'Cause he is not pleasant like that.
Brandon Prust re-signed for two seasons:
If not for Sather's resolute refusal to give Shelley a three-year deal, the Rangers would be bringing back their best line from the stretch run. Oh well. Hopefully, unlike Anisimov, Prust can succeed without the big man around and doesn't get relegated to spot fourth line duty with Boogey and Boyle. Was that an unfair stab at Arty? We will find out this fall but after the kid admitted he needed the safety of the tough guys, I don't have high hopes. Add the loss of Shelley to a sophomore slump ... well we were talking about Prust. If the former Flame can continue his progression from dime-a-dozen tough guy to power forward then the Blueshirts will have quite the asset.
Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh both decided to leave college and come to the Rangers:
As someone who loved his time in college and would kill to be able to re-live those days, the thought that these kids are giving up at least a year of full-ride fun is horrifying to me. That being said, why risk injury playing against kids when you can start setting yourself up for life in the pros? Stepan leaves Wisconsin as a winner - having taken gold at World Juniors - while McDonagh, well, he just leaves Mike Eaves ... one of the top coaches in college puck (who seemed to have seen the decision coming). Both Stepan and McDonagh will get long looks this fall, which is fantastic for those of us hoping for a legit rebuilding season. It must be cautioned that, like Hobey Gilroy, they could find that Broadway is a far ways away from the comforts of campus. Perhaps this season there will be less hesitation for Torts/Sather to send them to Hartford to adjust to the pro game or to just ride out the rough spots (please, please, please). Who knows what damage was done to Hobey by last season? I guess we will find out ...
Ilya Kovalchuk still has not signed:
No link necessary on this one. The guy is an all-world scorer, there is no denying that. But he isn't a winner - World Championship aside - and he avoids playing in his own zone at all costs. Not to mention that he has a bad temper that the Rangers are quite good at igniting. As long he doesn't somehow end up being another salary albatross around our necks alongside Dru, Rozy and Wade, we should be alright.
And finally, Bob Probert passed away:
It is really hard to articulate the sadness that comes here. Probie was just 45. And he was one of my all-time favourite players; what kid growing up in the late '80s, early '90s didn't love catching a Red Wings game to see him and Joey Kocur ruining guys' lives? I own a copy of The Bruise Brothers book, signed by both guys ... one of my most treasured pieces of memorabilia. As I tweeted, the book was published by Immortal Investments Publishing. That was what Probert was, not a Hall of Famer but a hockey immortal. No matter his off-ice troubles, Probert will go down among the toughest s-o-bs to ever play the sport. Sincerest condolences to his family and may he rest in peace.