Laurie at Beyond the Blueshirts has an interview from Sportsdaily.ru with Artem Anisimov where he discusses playing for the Russian National team, his first full season with the Rangers and what went wrong. Here's an excerpt...
- How would you evaluate your season on the Rangers?
- Very average. Because there were sharp ups-and-downs. Good times alternated with bad. Everything went in waves. I need to gain some consistency.
...the most important thing about Anisimov's season is that it ended with a sharp up which should give him confidence going into the Worlds and then hopefully into next season.
...with the cap restraints on the Rangers, Anisimov is going to be counted on to step up next season.
In an interview with Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy, Brendan Shanahan says he'd prefer to go into the Hall of Fame as a Red Wing.
...seems very appropriate. Rangers would have to be at the bottom of the list. I'm sure he loved his time with the organization, but you have to figure the Devils, Blues and even Whalers have to be ahead of the Blueshirts.
Shanahan also talks coaching against Bowman; the game he'd most like to play again in his career; how his competition committee helped make the NHL fun again; the New Jersey Devils' collapse; and what his theories are about the end of ABC's sci-fi series "Lost".
Update, 4:17 p.m.: TSN reports that Team Canada GM Mark Messier has added Michael Del Zotto to the World Championship roster.
Del Zotto joins fellow Rangers defenseman Marc Staal on the team.
...when rumors originally circulated that Del Zotto may be on the team I was against it. But he's a young guy who could use the "Big Stage" experience. Looking forward to watching him play.
Original Post: Kevin Allen at USA Today reports that Rangers prospect Chris Kreider will join Brandon Dubinsky and Matt Gilroy on the US team that will play in next month's World Hockey Championship in Germany.
...wow. I didn't expect this.
...if the US team wins the gold then Kreider will have a National Championship, World Junior Championship and a World Championship in the same year. Would that mean Stanley Cup for the Rangers if Kreider is on the team next season?
The inaugural "Moore Watch" got off to a rousing start as Dominic Moore scored the clinching goal to help the #8 Canadiens knock off the #1 Capitals 2-1 last night giving them a 4-3 upset series win in the first round of the playoffs.
Montreal will now play the defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round.
In a feature on Brandon Prust at newyorkrangers.com, Jim Cerny has this quote from the hard working winger...
“It didn’t take long for me to feel comfortable here and to make New York my home,” said Prust. “Playing at Madison Square Garden for the Rangers, an Original Six team with a lot of history, it was fun. Coming here rejuvenated my passion for the game. It’s one of the best things that ever happened to me.”
...and obtaining Prust was one of the best things that happened to the Rangers this season.
...re-signing Prust has to be a priority this summer. Would like to see him get a 3-year deal in the $750,000 a year range.
Laurie at Beyond the Blueshirts reports that Avangard Omsk General Manager Anatoli Bardin confirmed in a press conference this morning that former NHL star Jaromir Jagr will remain with his club for another season...
“Jagr will be on our team next year,” Bardin explained. “That is absolutely accurate. The details will become known before the beginning of the season.”
The Detroit Red Wings ended Petr Prucha and the Phoenix Coyotes Cinderella season in Game 7 tonight by the score of 5-2.
Prucha was held scoreless and ended the playoffs with 1g, 2a and +1.
With everything surrounding the Coyotes at the beginning of the season you've got to give them credit for a remarkable season. I don't think even former Coyotes assistant coach Rick Tocchet, who was know to wager on sports, would have placed a bet on the Coyotes to make the playoffs before the year started.
As I've said, I won't be covering every game in the playoffs, but I'd still like to stay dialed in. So I'll be starting a new former Ranger "Watch."
This wasn't easy as the remaining former Rangers all have their downfalls.
Let's get the easy ones out of the way Ian Laperriere - PHI (injured), Tom Poti - WASH (obvious & injured) and Scott Gomez - MTL (obvious).
Now the difficult decisions. Blair Betts - PHI (love the guy, but I can't follow the Flyers), Jed Ortmeyer - SJ (again love the guy, but he only played in two games in round one), Mikael Samuelsson - VAN (he's great now, not so much with the Rangers), and Marc Savard - BOS (supposed to be back from concussion, but not sure of availability).
So who does that leave? Manny Malhotra - SJ and Dominic Moore - MTL. Between the two I've got to give the nod to Moore. He was great on that 4th line with Hollweg and Ortmeyer back in 2005-06. Plus he wasn't a first round bust. Sorry Manny.
So, for tomorrow's Capitals/Canadiens Game 7 it will be the "Moore Watch". If Montreal wins the "Moore Watch" moves on. However, if the Capitals win it's the "Malhotra Watch" for the Conference semis.
So I've got to ask you guys and gals, if the Rangers would have won that shootout against the Flyers would they be playing a Game 7 in Washington tomorrow?
I'd say no. While Lundqvist has the ability to match Halak's amazing goaltending (Habs would have been out in five without him) the Rangers offense, as it was all season, would have been their undoing.
No poll, just leave your response in comments section.
Jim Cerny at newyorkrangers.com has a feature on the Ranger players who will be competing in the World Championship of Hockey in Germany in 10 days...
"Thus, the return of the World Championships to Germany in another non-playoff year for the Blueshirts could be a very good omen for next season. The Worlds, of course, don't always lead players to the Stanley Cup, but they remain one of the best postseason alternative for youngsters like Gilroy, Dubinsky, Staal and Anisimov to develop their skills and build confidence heading into the following season."
...the Worlds will definitely give the young guys a taste of pressure hockey that will hopefully pay-off next season.
For the second time in a week goalie prospect Jack Campbell, who led Team USA to a World Junior Championship title, has been mentioned as a possible target for the Rangers with their #10 pick in June's NHL draft according to Kevin Allen at USA Today...
"Maybe Atlanta at No. 8 might consider him, or possibly the New York Rangers at No. 10, but that is only speculation based on looking at their prospect list."
...with reports of Lundqvist's knee hurting and only Chad Johnson as a legitamate goaltending prospect maybe Campbell does make sense. Nah, the Rangers have way too many holes (play-making center, scoring winger, physical defenseman) to focus on a goalie of the future with the #10 pick.
NHL.com announced that the three finalists for the 2009-10 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy are Kurtis Foster of Tampa Bay, former Ranger Jed Ortmeyer of San Jose, and Jose Theodore of Washington.
Ortmeyer "...not only has to work hard each shift to ensure he has a place in the NHL, but also battles a challenging health condition that requires daily attention. At some point each day, Ortmeyer must use a needle to inject a blood thinner directly into his stomach to combat a hereditary blood-clotting disorder that has threatened not only his hockey career, but also his life."
Originally signed as a free agent by the Rangers in 2003, Ortmeyer has posted 51 points (21 goals, 30 assists) in 306 regular-season games with the Rangers, Predators and Sharks.
The Masterton Trophy is presented annually to "the National Hockey League player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey."
...an all heart player that I would love to still have on the Rangers.
Leslie Treff at Hockey's Future takes a look at the 2009-2010 Rangers junior prospects including Ryan Bourque and Tomas Kundratek...
Ryan Bourque, C, Quebec Remparts Acquired: Third Round (80th overall), 2009 NHL Entry Draft Age: 19
One of the most exciting offensive playmakers the Rangers have drafted in the last five years, Bourque decided to forego college and join the Remparts for the 2009-10 season. Despite missing several weeks in the spring with both a head injury and a neck injury, Bourque finished the season 10th overall in QMJHL rookie scoring (43 points in 44 games) and sixth in scoring on the Remparts. Bourque is a highly talented playmaker who is learning the two-way game. Despite the late-season injuries, after his return from winning gold as a member of the US U-20 WJCs team, Bourque's confidence improved. This led to a more than a goal-a-game pace for the last two months of the regular season and into the playoffs. Expect Bourque to return for at least one more season to the Remparts.
...i say this all the time, despite the bad outcome to the season, Rangers fans have to be excited for the future of this franchise. For once they have REAL prospects. No Brendls and Lundmarks.
Earlier today, Petr Prucha helped the Phoenix Coyotes stave off elimination with an assist in the Coyotes 5-2 win over Detroit to force a game seven in Phoenix (or wherever the Coyotes play their home games).
Prucha now has 1g, 2a and is a +1 in the series.
Another former Ranger Lauri Korpikoski scored his first goal (shorthanded) of the playoffs giving Phoenix a 1-0 lead.
Neil Best at Newsday reports that the Rangers TV ratings were down 18.3 percent to an average of 0.89.
...so let me get this straight, the Dolans lose money by not making the playoffs now they'll probably lose advertising dollars with lower ratings and Sather still has a job? The product is a loser and now it's costing the Dolans money. What exactly can they point to that Sather is doing right?
In a feature on which prospects are thriving and which are not, the Hockey's Future says despite Evgeni Grachev's struggles in Hartford this season he is expected to compete for a roster spot on the Rangers next season...
Evgeny Grachev, LW – Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL) Drafted by the New York Rangers 2nd round, 75th overall, 2008
Although he started his rookie season strong with five goals and eight assists in his first 15 games, Grachev faded fast, posting only seven goals and eight assists over his next 65. Much of the inconsistent production can be attributed to the typical types of growing pains players go through in turning pro. As a 6’4 220-pound goal-scoring forward, Grachev was used to being able to dictate the play with his size and skill. Against bigger, stronger, and more experienced competition, the winger failed to adapt.
Grachev is expected to compete for a spot on the Rangers NHL roster next season but it may be more realistic to expect him just to get called up for a few games. Still, with an organization that has a need for goal-scoring forwards, the 20-year-old Russian could be in demand.
...while he did struggle, this season in Hartford gave the Rangers top prospect an outstanding opportunity to learn the pro game and he is now a much better player than if the Blueshirts top brass decided to leave him in juniors for another season.
In a recent sit down with Larry Brook at the New York Post John Tortorella spoke about the team sticking up for each other and the obstacles of playing in New York...
"We have a lot of young guys here on the team. When I talk about New York, I just want to make sure that we all understand what comes first, because if we do, there is no place greater to take advantage of the opportunities that follow."
...Torts is right this city can take down even the best player if they're not careful. Way too many distractions.
Torts also said he was happy with Brandon Dubinsky's retaliation on Toronto's Jeff Finger after he crushed Marian Gaborik into the boards in a late season game...
"Our players are going to look after each other. That's the kind of team I want and that's the type of team we'll have. We're going to protect one another. We will not allow our top players to be targets."
...this was a problem at the beginning of the season when Lundqvist was being run almost every game and no one came to his aid. But after the Girardi non-response to the Gaborik/Carcillo incident I felt the team finally got the message that they needed to stick up for each other. And we saw that in Dubinsky's retaliation on Finger and then Girardi on Hartnell.
Steve Zipay at Blue Notes reports Commissioner Gary Bettman said today that the Wilpon family, which owns the Mets, "has been extremely interested and aggressive" in bringing the annual Winter Classic to Citifield and NHL officials have toured the stadium to assess the prospects.
NHL COO John Collins, who toured Citifield recently, said "it's a great ballpark and in many respects, as the commissioner said, the 100-year-old ballparks have charm, but there are challenges. Citifield's got great sightlines, very vertical as opposed to some of the other baseball stadiums and ballparks we've looked at, so it's a great venue."
"We haven’t made a decision for next year. Nobody's been ruled in or out," said Bettman. "Without tipping my hand, some candidates seem to be at the head of the pack."
Zipay speculates that the Rangers or Islanders or both would play in the Jan. 1 game at Citifield.
...awesome stuff. Something actually exciting at Citifield.
Citing “reliable sources” the article claims “Czech forward Jaromir Jagr has decided to remain with Avangard Omsk for two more seasons. The sum of the agreement was not disclosed, but it will most likely be less than under the previous contract.”
Laurie adds that the source is not very reliable and to caution until it’s confirmed by another source.
...if this report is true, it's too bad. As I said the other day I would have liked to have seen Jagr back in the NHL.
Joe DeLessio at New York Magazine takes a look at the ten things (there where only 10?) that went wrong with the Rangers this season...
2. "Safe is Death" never really happened. In theory, John Tortorella should have been in a better position to run his system this year than when he took over as coach last year, but it never really happened. Not a lot of guys on this team can forecheck like, say, Ryan Callahan, and none of the defensemen carried the puck themselves with any consistency.
The other reasons include no secondary scoring, young players not improving, Chris Drury underachieving, Avery not being Avery, bad off-season, young defense not ready, couldn't win at home, couldn't win in OT or shootout and couldn't win the big game.
...can't disagree with any of this. Who knew New York Magazine had such an informed Rangers beat writer? ...h/t to reader Nick for the link.
Eric over at 5-Hole breaks news no Ranger fan wants to hear regarding Henrik Lundqvist's knee...
Lundqvist talking to Swedish tabloid, Aftonbladet on why he will not be joining team Sweden at the I.I.H.F. World Championship in Germany next month
“I’ve been doing physical therapy for a week but the knee doesn’t get any better, so I have to say no. It doesn’t feel OK to go. It’s both physically and mentally demanding to play in the Worlds when you are not 100%.”
"Newsday has a new policy for its sports page. The paper’s editors have told their writers there has to be a new, softer tone. They don’t want loaded words. They don’t want name-calling. They don’t want stories to be unnecessarily harsh."
This new policy has been initiated less than two years into the ownership of Newsday by James and Charles Dolan, the Cablevision execs who also own the Knicks and Rangers.
...the Dolans are worse than Isiah Thomas at destroying things. I guess that's why they liked the former Knicks coach so much.
In a feature on Ryan Callahan and Chris Drury at newyorkrangers.com, Jim Cerny has this quote from the Rangers alternate captain...
“The biggest thing for me was to go out there every night and put it on the line and work hard and set an example that way,” explained Callahan. “I just tried to play consistently, and have the guys follow in that way. I felt that I did that the best I could this year. Now I want to grow and be an even better leader.”
...if everyone on the Rangers played with the same hard work and dedication as Callahan the Blueshirts would have clinched a playoff spot in March. I look forward to him growing as a leader next season.
Hockey's Future lists their final Calder Trophy (Rookie of the Year) poll of the season with Michael Del Zotto at #7...
7. Michael Del Zotto, D - New York Rangers 6'1, 195 lbs. DOB: June 24, 1990 Drafted 20th overall (1st Round) in 2008
A bit of a surprise to crack the final roster in the Big Apple, Del Zotto quickly proved that he belonged at the NHL level. With a hot start that saw him put up four goals and 12 points in his first 14 games, Del Zotto launched himself to the top of the rookie scoring charts and the Rangers to the top of the NHL standings. Opposing teams were quick to adjust to the Blueshirts new power play weapon and soon both the 19-year-old and the Rangers returned to Earth. Struggling a bit through the middle of the season, the Ontario native came back strong after the Olympic break to tally three goals and 11 points in his final 19 games, but the Rangers fell just short of the postseason to finish ninth in the Eastern Conference. In total, Del Zotto's nine goals and 37 points in 80 games placed him seventh among all rookies and second among rookie defensemen. Meanwhile, his 22 power-play points placed him second among his Ranger teammates.
...sky's the limit for Del Zotto. Now we just have to keep him away from those BC parties and get him in the film room to work on lowering that -20.
One of the biggest stats proving Sean Avery's positive impact on the Rangers two years ago was the Blueshirts win/loss record of 33-14-10 with him in the line-up as opposed to 9-13-3 without him.
According to TSN, that has flipped recently. As the Rangers went 29-30-10 with Avery in the line-up and 8-3 without this season.
...this all comes back to Torts putting the reigns on Avery this season. The real Avery only appeared once every few weeks. And I don't need to tell you guys that if Avery can't be Avery there's really no reason to have him out there. We talk about roster changes this off-season, but one of the biggest changes that needs to be made is Torts deciding to let Avery play his game.
On the flip side the Rangers were 33-25-9 with Brandon Dubinsky in the line-up and 4-8-1 without him.
Fox Sports names their top 10 "Tough Guys" and Brandon Prust makes the list...
8. Brandon Prust - It didn't matter what sweater Brandon Prust was wearing during the regular season, he always played the game the same way –- hard. The former Calgary winger took part in 25 fights during the year -– 18 for the Flames and seven for the Rangers –- going 10-7-8 in those clashes.
...Prust proved to everyone towards the end of the season that he is more than just a tough guy. Looking forward to the Rangers re-signing him this off-season and continuing his improved play which will hopefully lead to more wins.
Scott Cullen at TSN ranks the top 100 NHL rookies and includes three Rangers...
16. Michael Del Zotto, D, N.Y. Rangers Age: 19 Stats: 9-28-37, minus-20, 32 PIM in 80 GP TSN.ca Rating: 69.16 Comment: Has to tighten up defensively, but there aren't many teen defencemen who have put up more than 35 points as a rookie. Aside from Myers, the last one to do so was Bryan Berard with 48 in 1996-1997.
35. Artem Anisimov, C, N.Y. Rangers Age: 21 Stats: 12-16-28, minus-2, 32 PIM in 82 GP TSN.ca Rating: 65.38 Comment: Not a huge offensive year, but solid enough for lanky pivot who can still get faster and stronger.
39. Matt Gilroy, D, N.Y. Rangers Age: 25 Stats: 4-11-5, even, 23 PIM in 69 GP TSN.ca Rating: 63.72 Comment: Hobey Baker winner saw ice time decrease as season progressed and didn't play at all in April.
...figured with the way Gilroy ended the season he'd be a lot higher. But still great stuff for the Rangers to have three rookies in the top 40.
Jim Matheson at the Edmonton Journal responds to a reader's e-mail on the Oilers interest in Jaromir Jagr...
"Jagr, as we've said over and over, has two big boosters in former New York Rangers coach Tom Renney and Jagr's former Omsk coach, Wayne Fleming. I'd say the odds are 60-40 that they sign Jagr."
Matheson adds that the Oilers are torn on Jagr because they are in a rebuilding stage and not sure they want to spend $4 million on a 38-year-old player who certainly isn't the offensive threat he used to be.
...i enjoyed watching Jagr during the Olympics and really hope he gets another chance in the NHL, whether it's with the Oilers or someone else.
...having said that I'd like to see the Rangers pass on Jagr. While the team could use the offense, I agree with Tortorella that the team needs to get younger.
Former Ranger Petr Prucha followed up his game winning goal in Game 3 with a clunker in Games 4 as the diminutive winger was held pointless and was on the ice for a Red Wing goal during Detroit's 3-0 win over the Coyotes to even the series at 2-2.
Steve Zipay at Blue Notes reports that the Rangers must offer Swedish league scoring leader Mats Zuccarello-Aasen, 22, a two-way contract due to transfer agreements only providing one-way deals for free agents over 27.
...this is great insurance in case Zuccarello-Aasen is a bust.
In a feature on Henrik Lundqvist for newyorkrangers.com, Jim Cerny has this quote from the Rangers netminder on what the players should expect next season...
“Whoever is going to be here in September has to realize that we have to do much better because this is not where we want to be,” declared Lundqvist. “We expect more of ourselves. We want to be a good playoff team. That’s our goal.”
...this guy wants to see the Rangers organization succeed as much if not more than anyone on this team and I'd love to see him get a letter ala Roberto Luongo next season.
Damian Cristodero at the St. Petersburg Times reports that Rangers current scout/consultant Doug Risebrough is very interested in the vacant GM position with the Tampa Bay Lightning and the feeling from Lightning brass is mutual...
"Tampa Bay apparently has asked for permission to speak to Risebrough, the former Wild general manager who is a scout/consultant for the Rangers.
Risebrough would not confirm contact with the Lightning, and the Rangers declined comment. But given Risebrough's close relationship with Jac Sperling, a former Wild alternate governor who is spearheading Tampa Bay's general manager and CEO searches, it is not unreasonable to believe there might already have been preliminary talks."
...i've read in a few spots that Risebrough might be Sather's successor if he decided to step down. Not sure if Risebrough looking elsewhere is a sign that Sather is staying on as GM for the immediate future.
Evan Weiner at NHL.com reports that former Rangers goaltender Gilles Villemure was the last NHL player to participate in two sports as he was also harness racehorse driver...
Villemure, who played for the Rangers in 1970s, on how he made it work...
"I did that in the summertime and played hockey in the wintertime. It was fun," Villemure said. "I raced all over the place, Montreal, Roosevelt, Yonkers, the Meadowlands. You need timing, you need quickness because when you live at the gate in harness racing, you have to time the gate, when you leave from behind the gate, if you have reflexes then you can get out of the gate quick. If you don't have the reflexes, then you lose a couple of steps and as a goaltender you need reflexes, of course. You have to make the right move at the right time."
Villemure adds that Rangers head coach and general manager Emile Francis had no idea that he was a two-sport athlete until "The Cat" decided to attend a night of racing on Long Island.
...Bo Jackson and Dion Sanders have nothing on Villemure.
While the season may have been a disappointment for the Rangers, it was the most successful in the three-year history of The New York Rangers Blog.
There were over 375,000 hits from September thru the beginning of April (Double the amount I had the previous two seasons combined!!!) and I've been really excited about the great dialogue in the comments section. Good stuff. Keep it coming.
So now that the off-season has started a month and a half earlier than we all hoped, I wanted to give you an idea of what I'll be doing here at the blog.
In the immediate, I'll be posting as many team report cards as I can. I won't be doing my own (How many times do you need to read that Gaborik gets an A and Redden gets an F?).
I'm assuming there won't be much Ranger news as the playoffs roll on so it will most likely be pretty quite around here in May as I'm not going to be posting updates on the playoffs (Except for the "Prucha Watch"). This is a Rangers blog, if you want to read how the Sabres are doing go to a Sabres blog.
The 2010 Draft is scheduled for June 25-26 at the Staples Center in LA, so in the weeks leading up to that I will get you all the mock drafts and prospect news relating to the Rangers.
Finally, the July 1st opening of free agency (My second favorite day after the trading deadline) will have me posting every Ranger rumor (99% which will probably be false) on the net as well as the news that the Rangers were somehow able to trade Wade Redden. Hey, I can dream.
As always, if you have any ideas on how to make the blog better or links I may have missed please don't hesitate to e-mail me at email@example.com.
Of course you always want more, but it was my first season, so it’s not terrible. Everything was new, everything was much faster, the goalkeepers are different, much stronger than in the AHL, where I played last season. By the way, there are a lot of young, talented guys in Hartford now and they are constantly breathing down your back.
...looking forward to Anisimov having a bigger role on the Rangers next season.
With the season over, it's time to focus on how to make the Rangers better. So my newest poll asks what is the Rangers biggest off-season need? Scoring winger, play-making center, physical defenseman or backup goaltender?
Today, the NHL announced the three finalists for the Vezina Trophy today and they include Martin Brodeur (NJ), Ilya Bryzgalov (Phx) and Ryan Miller (Buff).
Brodeur led all NHL goalies in games played (77), starts (76), wins (45) and shutouts (9), was third in goals-against average (2.24), and seventh in shots against (2,004) and saves (1,836). Brodeur's win total was three behind his NHL record of 48 (2006-07).
Bryzgalov was second in the League in shutouts (8), third in wins (42), sixth in goals-against average (2.29), seventh in starts (69), eighth in shots faced (1,961) and saves (1,805), and tied for ninth in save percentage (.920).
Miller was second in goals-against average (2.22) and save percentage (.929), third in saves (1,948), fourth in wins and shots faced (2,098), tied for seventh in games (69) and shutouts (5), and eighth in starts (68).
Henrik Lundqvist ended the season with 35 wins, .921 sv. %, 2.38 gaa and 4 shutouts.
...as great as Lundqvist is no way he deserved to be in the top three.
...i thought Miller would be the runaway winner, but after looking at the stats don't be surprised if Brodeur takes home another Vezina.
Hockey's Future continues their NHL organizational rankings in terms of prospects by ranking the Rangers #12...
12. Rangers Strengths: The Rangers have excellent depth at both center and on defense. New York has been very successful in drafting top talent players in the middle of the first round, and Chris Kreider, who was drafted out of prep school in 2009, looks to be another of those gems. Weaknesses: The Blueshirts biggest organizational weakness is on right wing. There are only two wingers on the right side in the entire organization, and one, David Kveton, may never again play in North America. There is also uncertainty between the pipes. Chad Johnson has played well in his first professional season, but his upside is still uncertain. University of Alabama-Huntsville netminder Cameron Talbot was signed recently. However, it is unclear whether there is a true NHL backup to Henrik Lundqvist within the system, let alone a starter. Top 5 Prospects: 1. Evgeny Grachev, C; 2. Derek Stepan, C; 3. Chris Kreider, LW; 4. Bobby Sanguinetti, D; 5. Ilkka Heikkinen, D. Lost to graduation: Artem Anisimov, Michael Del Zotto.
...second time in less than a week an article talks about the Rangers lack of goaltending prospects. Who cares? The Rangers won't have to worry about this position for at least five more years. And as far as a backup goes, I'd much rather a veteran than a youngster learning on the job. ...got to be excited about the rest of the prospects though. This ranking doesn't even mention Bourque, Stepan or McDonough among others.
The Rangers loss to the Flyers on the last day of the season meant that former Ranger Blair Betts was headed to the playoffs for the fifth straight season. Andrew Gross at Ranger Rants was able to sit down with the former fourth line center to discuss why things didn't workout with him in the Rangers last off-season...
“Just after the year-end meetings, not that they went badly or they said anything whether I’d be back or not, I just kind of felt like my run there was coming to an end,” Betts said. “I think, at the time, I was a little bit interested in free agency and seeing how things would play out that way. We didn’t really contact the Rangers and we just kind of waited to see if they’d contact us and they didn’t. So we were prepared for it. It’s obviously part of the business. There’s always a little, I wouldn’t call it hurt, I don’t know what you’d call it..."
...it's hard to say how much of a difference Betts would have made this season as he is known more for his defense than where the Rangers lacked which was on offense. But I still feel that the Rangers made a mistake by not bringing him back. In other former Ranger news, did you guys see the Scott Gomez/Tom Poti fight last night? If not here you go...
...they must have been fighting about which one of them Ranger fans hate more.
...i've got to assume that Capitals fans were cheering after the fight because they knew Poti wasn't going to be on the ice for the next five minutes.
Eric Duhatschek at Globe and Mail says Olli Jokinen may end up in the KHL next season...
"Jokinen was a $5-million player; after wearing out his welcome in the four corners of North America (Florida, Phoenix, Calgary, New York), it is hard to imagine anyone signing him for any amount of money."
...not only did Jokinen help get Kotalik and his $3 million per year contract out of New York he brought Brandon Prust with him from Calgary. I'd say his stay in New York was very successful. You know, minus that whole keeping the Rangers out of the playoffs by choking in the shootout thing.
In a column at the Bergen Record on which current Rangers could be gone this off-season, Andrew Gross says there may be a rift in Rangers management regarding Sean Avery...
"Tortorella and Sather also may be at odds over agitator Sean Avery, who admitted he took too long this season to find a comfort level in his play.."
...i'm assuming Sather is in the Avery camp, while Torts is against. Not sure what Torts' deal is with the Rangers pest. If Avery was able to play his game the entire season I can guarentee you the Rangers are in the playoffs. Hoping Torts takes the leash off Avery next season.
Damien Cox at the Toronto Star says that Mats Zuccarello-Aasen, the diminutive winger who played for Norway at the Vancouver Olympics, has apparently decided to sign as an unrestricted free agent with the New York Rangers after several clubs were interested in bringing the Swedish league scoring champ to North America next season.
Steve Zipay at Blue Notes says the 5' 7", 160 pound winger is smaller than Brian Gionta, but is an incredibly speedy playmaker, not a huge shot but can play the point on the power play.
Zipay adds that nothing has been confirmed by the Rangers.
...great an under-sized European who probably plays no defense. He should be in Torts dog house after the first week of training camp.
...having said that if he can become another Brian Gionta, I'm in.
10. NY Rangers – Jack Campbell, G, US NTDP (USHL): How’s that for a curveball? But think about it: The Blueshirts have some great young defenders (Matt Gilroy, Michael Del Zotto, Ryan McDonagh) and very promising forwards (Derek Stepan, Evgeny Grachev, Chris Kreider, Ryan Bourque). What they don’t have are many candidates to take the mantle from Henrik Lundqvist one day. Campbell already has a world junior gold medal to his credit and will get a shot at the Memorial Cup next year with Windsor, so Broadway pressure won’t be a problem.
...the last two times the Rangers were in the top 10 they went goalie (Blackburn and Montoya) so don't bet on them going there again.
...and obviously Kennedy hasn't done his homework on Ranger goaltending prospects. Ryan get yourself familiar with Chad Johnson.
In a feature on Marian Gaborik, Jim Cerny at newyorkrangers.com has this quote from the Rangers sniper...
“It’s disappointing to be out and not playing right now,” said Gaborik, who has 22 points in 29 career post-season matches. “Now I want to have a good summer in terms of working out and get even better and make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
...i've seen some comments on the blog lately about Gaborik's lack of emotion and not stepping up in big games. To me that's completely unfair. The guy was a one-man offensive force all season, played through injury and scored the game winner in the Philly game at MSG to extend the Rangers chances of getting into the playoffs. What else do you want? Would you rather he not be on the team?
Jim Cerny at newyorkrangers.com has a feature on the importance of Michael Del Zotto and Artem Anisimov to the Rangers future...
John Tortorella on Del Zotto...
“He has a nice strut about him,” Tortorella said of Del Zotto. “But he has to know that he has a long way to go as far as being a pro National Hockey Leaguer. He’s a great kid. He’s got a lot of jam. We just want to make sure he stays down the right path.”
...couldn't ask for anything more from a 19-year-old in his first NHL season. Stayed healthy, major offensive upside and seemed to learn defensively as the season went on. Now obviously, the minus 20 needs to change, but overall I'm excited about this kid's future.
Torts on Anisimov...
“The reason why we kept playing him even when he wasn’t scoring is because Artie was so reliable defensively and so smart with the puck, making smart decisions,” explained Tortorella.
...it was nice to see Anisimov find himself after being put on a line with Prust and Shelley at the end of the season. He seemed to find his comfort zone, which will hopefully give him a shot of confidence going into the off-season.
Ray Slover at the Sporting News has decided to start a rumor that would send the Oiler's Sheldon Souray to the Rangers for Wade Redden...
"Redden threatens to suck another $6.5 million away from the Rangers' cap space next season, and Souray would save them $2 million. Plus, Souray has two years left on his deal, while Redden is due at least $5 million through 2014."
...straight up, I make this move in a second if I'm Sather. Less money, less years and at least a potential for some offense. This would be a bigger coup than the Gomez to Montreal and Kotalik to Flames moves combined. If other's need to be involved (Dubinsky or Callahan) not sure I make the deal.
...Souray demanded to be traded from the Oiler's last week so who knows GM Steve Tambellini may be stupid enough to do this just to get rid of this headache.
Andrew Gross at Ranger Rants wonders if the Rangers will be looking to re-sign Vinny Prospal this off-season...
"The 35-year-old finished second on the team with 20 goals and 38 assists, his fifth 20-goal season. His playmaking ability made him a good match with leading scorer Marian Gaborik for much of the season and he has a solid relationship with John Tortorella, also his coach with the Lightning. But Prospal struggled at times in the second half after arthroscopic knee surgery in December to repair a torn meniscus. It was only the last few games of the season where Prospal admitted he felt completely healthy again.
Admittedly reading the tea leaves here, but I found it odd when Tortorella did not mention Prospal when talking about the Rangers’ leadership group, saying instead his belief the Rangers did not have a strong dressing room was not an indictment of Chris Drury or Ryan Callahan or the leadership group."
...while I loved what Prospal brought to the team this year, I'm actually leaning against wanting the Rangers to re-sign him. He is a great team guy, but he is on the downside of his career and would be holding back some Ranger prospects.
...not to mention he'd probably be looking for a raise on his $1.15 million contract from this season. And I think that money could be better spent on a playmaking center, another scoring winger or a bruising defenseman.
Newyorkrangers.com reports that the Rangers will receive the #10 pick in this year's NHL draft as a result of last night's annual Draft Drawing.
For the Blueshirts, this will be the first top-10 pick in six years. The last time they selected in the top 10 was in 2004, when the Rangers chose Al Montoya No. 6 overall. The last time the team picked in the top 10 before that was in 2001, when they chose goalie Dan Blackburn with the No. 10 overall.
Edmonton will be picking at No. 1 overall.
...hopefully the Rangers don't go goalie again. That doesn't seem to be working out for them.
Update, 4:06 p.m.: Larry Brooks at the New York Post has this quote from Torts on why he chose Jokinen over Gaborik in the shootout against the Flyers on Sunday...
"Looking [at their career records], I chose the players who needed to take the shots," Tortorella said after conducting exit meetings with the players at the rink on breakup day. "I'm a big believer that your top guys should be involved in everything, and I would have loved to have been able to lead off with Gabby, but he's what, 2-for-18, so there's no way I would change that.
“If it were tomorrow I would go with the same three."
...while I still disagree with the decision (got to go with your best player no matter what the numbers with the season on the line), I appreciate Torts finally explaining himself. Would have liked to have seen him do it Sunday night.
Update, 4:03 p.m.: Rick Carpiniello at the Rangers Report has a full transcript of Torts presser.
Update, 3:57 p.m.: Andrew Gross at Ranger Rants sums up John Tortorella's media address...
"The main bullet points are that John Tortorella is disappointed with how his big players, Marian Gaborik by name, as well as Olli Jokinen, played in Sunday’s 2-1 shootout loss at Philadelphia. Said that’s what makes his stomach turn and called it “despicable” that the Rangers could play such a gutsy game in beating the Flyers, 4-3, on Friday, then come back with that kind of effort. He’s also worried about some of the character in the dressing room. He said it was a bad room at the start of the season but got better as the season went on, namely because of the acquisition of Jody Shelley and, to some extent, Brandon Prust. He says Chris Drury grew as a leader this season."
...it's hard for a team with as much turnover as the Rangers to have a good locker room. Too many new faces makes it impossible to generate any chemistry. Surprised that it took the acquisition of Shelley to turn it around. Would love to hear his thoughts on what the problem was. ...not sure I'm a fan of Torts calling out Gaborik who was the Rangers only consistent offensive presence in the line-up this season.
Newyorkrangers.com reports that depending on the results of tonight's NHL Draft Drawing (lottery), the Blueshirts' pick could go as high as No. 6.
The Rangers currently own the No. 10 pick and are guaranteed to pick no lower than 11th overall at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft on June 25 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Tonight's Draft Drawing will air nationally on Versus at 8 p.m. ET. Versus will be taking its feed from Canadian broadcaster TSN's live coverage of the event. The drawing can also be viewed live online at NHL.com.
TSN has NHL Central Scouting Bureau's final prospect rankings here.
...going to be honest, I don't know much about this year's crop of prospects. What I do know is that the Rangers will get a significantly better prospect at #6 than #10. So let's hope the ping pong balls go the Rangers way tonight.