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Archive for June, 2009

Highway Robbery

Posted by inferno272 on June 30th, 2009

In an absolutely shocking turn of events the Rangers were able to get rid of an albatross contract in Scott Gomez, along with a prospect who has a 4th line center ceiling, and a defensive prospect who will likely never play in the NHL for Chris Higgins, a strong 3rd line forward, and 2 very strong defensive prospects, the key one being McDonagh. How Glen Sather was able to pull this one off is anyones guess, but it bolsters what I have been saying for a very long time now. Glen Sather is one of the best “trading” GM’s in the business. He always seems to win more trades than he loses, and he never seems to give up important youth in the process.

Frankly I would have taken Higgins straight up for Gomez, and enjoy the likely 5+ million dollars in salary cap relief it brings us, but to also get a true bluechip prospect like McDonagh, well that is just jawdropping. The key here is that the Rangers now have one of, if not the deepest blueline prospect pool on all of hockey. You’re talking Gilroy, Del Zotto, Sanguinetti, McDonagh, Sauer, Potter, Kundratek…not to mention Staal and Girardi. What you have now is a strong pool of talent with which to make a bigger blockbuster acquisition with which to help our offensive problems.

I have 3 preferences in that regards. Number 1 would be trading for Vinny Lecavalier, however let’s be totally honest here…that is not happening. The Habs would be foolish to trade him, and I think they realize it. Number 2 though would be Phil Kessel, who was rumored to be involved in a potential deal to Toronto for Kaberle (and a disputed pick heading one way or the other). If you could somehow turn one of those defensive prospects, one of our regular defenseman (Girardi/Rozsival?) and a forward like Korpikoski into Phil Kessel, then you do it and and solidify your offensive corps around Kessel and Grachev. Similarly I would look to see if Steven Stamkos could be had. The Lightning have problems with defense, and we have problems with offense. A prospect swap would be interesting.

Regardless, I think the Rangers should make a big time trade tomorrow, getting rid of some salary in the process while adding some salary back for a net of 0 salary, and use the money gained from the Gomez trade to sign Gaborik.

Regarding Dany Heatley, I really am not interested anymore. Don’t get me wrong, if you can get him for a song, then I suppose I could live with it, but I don’t want any part of trading away assets to get a guy who has screwed over his team not once (car accident, killing Snyder), not twice (demanding trade in Atlanta), not three times (demanding trade in Ottawa), but four times now (rejecting trade to Edmonton). The guy is a prolific goal scorer, but he is not someone I want hanging around the future generation of Rangers. Me first players are not what we need to be all about.

Thoughts On The First Round..

Posted by inferno272 on June 27th, 2009

3AM here, just finished watching the draft after finishing up my own hockey game. I gotta say, while I didn’t get my wish of the Rangers drafting MPS (Oilers got themselves a helluva player), the Rangers did a superb job in drafting at the 19 slot. I didn’t really like many of the players available, but Kreider was one of hte more interesting choices. Hes big, he’s strong, and he can skate like the wind. For a John Tortorella team, that might be the most perfect combination of traits in a player. I think this is a superb pick. While I was upset with our pick last season, I am very happy with the player we got this season. I think Kreider may end up being a Phil Kessel type player, but with size and strength if everything goes just perfect.

Rangers Off Season Game Plan…

Posted by inferno272 on June 25th, 2009

Well, it’s taken a little longer than I had hoped to get this put up. You can blame my family for all deciding to come down here at the same time for some family get togethers. It’s been keeping me busy, but I did want to get something up here before the draft tomorrow.

So here is basically the conundrum the Rangers have. We have a lot of solid defensive prospects, but few of them are ready. We have very few offensive prospects, but we do have 1 gem who might challenge for a spot next year. Finally we have a team caught in cap hell that needs to be addressed.

So, let’s think about this logically. What you have to do is think about where the Rangers are drafting, and who is available at that spot. Frankly, I am not enamored at all with any of the players likely to be there at 19. Kreider, Palmeiri, Ashton, etc…none of these are even remotely going to become game breakers, even if everything works out in an ideal fashion. So what we need to do is think a little outside the box.

Here is what I do. As most of you know, Ilya Kovalchuk is going to be a free agent next offseason. However let’s not make any bones about it. The likelyhood of Ilya Kovalchuk becoming available at that time is highly unlikely. In all likelyhood Kovalchuk will re-sign here in Atlanta, and will do so for a massive contract, probably in the neighborhood of 10 years, 90 million dollars. The only think stopping that from happening right this minute, is Kovalchuk wanting to see what the Thrashers do to improve the team in the here and now. So, you have a Thrashers team which needs to improve today, a team that is a very undesirable location for free agents, and a team that will get almost no use out of their first round pick in terms of keeping their superstar happy. Whoever is available at #4 will not be NHL ready. So, my proposition is very simple. Trade Scott Gomez, and our #1 pick to the Thrashers for the #4 draft pick. It’s a trade that makes sense on a lot of levels. Gomez gives the Thrashers the center they desperately need to play with Kovalchuk, and they still have a #1 pick to draft with. The Rangers on the other hand gain cap flexibility, and most importantly have the opportunity to draft Magnus Pääjärvi-Svensson. MPS is the game breaker we so desperately need. He is more than likely the fastest skater in the draft, he plays both sides of the puck, has ridiculous hands, and has a great attitude. The only downfall is that he is (apparently) under contract in Sweden for another season, but we can wait for a talent of this magnitude. MPS has seen his stock drop a little during the combine, and many people liken his game to a Naslund, but I see a Toews or better in this kid. He does everything at an elite level, and most importantly has the speed and hands to play in the NHL today if need be.

So, once you trade away Gomez, you have opened up a spot for Artem Anisimov and have cleared away 7.5 million dollars in cap space. The Rangers should use that money wisely, and to me, the best move they can make is to sign Marian Gaborik to a 5 year, 32.5 million dollar deal, or Mike Cammelleri to a 6 year 36 million dollar deal. Either player would give us the goal scoring we so desperately need.

Next, continuing to address the big 3 contracts that we have, I fully explore trading Chris Drury to the San Jose Sharks for Patrick Marleau. Let’s say, hypothetically, it takes Drury and a B level prospect (IE, Potter, Kundratek, etc) to get it done. Pull the trigger on that deal. I know that Drury has a full no movement clause, however he does live on the west coast, and clearly things are not working out here. If you make it known to him that we do not want him, I think he would accept the deal.

Next what I do is waive Wade Redden, or trade him away for a bag of pucks. Waiving him is more than possible, and it should be done at all costs. So let’s simply assume Redden is waived and his salary is completely off the books. That is another 6.5 million dollars saved. With that money I would sign Mike Komisarek to a 5 year 25 million dollar deal and use the balance of the money we saved to pay for our RFA’s.

Finally I would play our kids. We have to use this as a transition year to prepare for next season and the season after that when we probably can actually go on a run when we have had time to gel, and to acclimate with our coach and the way he wants to play. We also will have gotten our kids’ teeth cut at the big level and they can adapt within a year or 2 to this style of hockey.

So, if I were running the Rangers, and I could make those things above us happen, I would have next years team look something like this:

Forwards:
Player Name (Cap Hit)
Player Name (Cap Hit)
Player Name (Cap Hit)
Combined Cap Hit
Marian Gabork (~6.5)
Brandon Dubinsky (~2)
Nikola Zherdev (~3.25)
11.75
Sean Avery (1.938)
Patrick Marleau (6.3)
Ryan Callahan (~2)
10.238
Evgeny Grachev ( .933)
Artem Anisimov (.822)
Lauri Korpikoski ( ~1)
2.755
Freddy Sjostrom ( .875)
Blair Betts (.750)
Dane Byers ( .750)
2.375
Aaron Voros (1)
1
Total Cap Hit For Forwards: 28.118 Million

 

Defenseman:
Player Name (Cap Hit)
Player Name (Cap Hit)
Combined Cap Hit
Marc Staal (.827)
Daniel Girardi (1.550)
2.377
Mike Komisarek ( 5)
Michal Rozsival ( 5)
10
Paul Mara (~2)
Michael Del Zotto ( 1.0875)
3.0875
Matt Gilroy (1.75)
1.75
Total Cap Hit For Defenseman: 17.2145 Million
Goalies:
Player Name (Cap Hit)
Combined Cap Hit
Henrik Lundqvist (6.875)
6.875
Stephen Valiquette (.725)
.725
Total Cap Hit For Goalies: 7.6 Million

With a combined cap hit of 52.9325 Million, leaving us with about 3 million dollars in cap space to make trades, or to give raises to any player who needs them. You also have MPS to plug into the roster in a year or 2 to give you your 2nd game breaker. I know it isn’t an ideal setup. However Marleau and Gaborik would probably give you about 20-40 more goals than Drury and Gomez assuming both are healthy.

Now granted, this is all in an ideal world, but it’s what I would hope we would do if it were possible. But what I am really looking for is for the Rangers to pick up some goal scorers, to trade away those terrible contracts, and to move up in the draft into a top slot to grab Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson. Not much to ask for, right?

Examining Heatley VS Zherdev

Posted by inferno272 on June 24th, 2009

As you know by now, there is a rumor going around that the Rangers are looking to swap some combination of Zherdev, Rozsival, and some draft picks and some prospects for Ottawa sniper Dany Heatley. I’ve been trying to think about this deal with a more logical eye than what my gut is telling me. Inside my gut says, this is a friggin steal, a ripoff of epic proportions. Heatley is definitely a superstar sniper, he can put the puck in the net. And Zherdev certainly hasn’t fulfilled his limitless potential. With that said if you examine the players with a little bit of a cold eye, it’s not exactly a steal for the Rangers.

Let’s look at this logically.

1)Cap hit. When looking at it in terms of forward vs forward and not counting in the fact that were trading away one of, if not our best 2-way defenseman, Zherdev will likely make about 4 million dollars less per year than Heatley.

2)Production. Dany Heatley has averaged 45 goals a season for the past 4 years, clearly he knows how to put the puck in the net, however his production has steadily tailed off over the past 3 years as well. 105 points, to 82 points to 72 points. Meanwhile Zherdevs offensive numbers seem to be holding steady over the past 2 seasons with 61 and 58 points respectively.

3)Speed. Dany Heatley is not a fast player, he’s nowhere near as fast as Zherdev. He is a sniper, and yes, he is a floater. He doesnt play well in his own zone, he doesn’t do shit away from the puck. He sees the puck he shoots the puck, and if he scores, he’s effective, otherwise he does nothing out there. He is Nigel Dawes with the ability to actually consistently score. Zherdev is also kind of a floater, however he is also a very effective passer, with some of his most memorable plays this year being superb passes to set up his teammates for goals.

4)Age. There is a 4.5 year age difference here between the players, and while 29 isn’t exactly Shanahan in terms of age, it is still significantly older than Zherdev.

5)Coach. Heatley has run out of town twice now when the going got tough. In Atlanta after he had his car accident, he couldnt handle it and left. In Ottawa he is having differences with his coach, and he wants to leave. Look who our coach is…you think he is going to coddle Heatley and let him do his thing? No, when he plays like shit, hes going to hear about it. Zherdev on the other hand has been benched by Renney, by Torts, by Hitchcock, and still hasn’t cut tail and run. If anything he’s made it known that he wants to work harder and play up to the standards that Torts has set for him.

6)Teammates. I don’t like to hold it against a player when they play with great players. I don’t think that is fair at all. With that said you still have to acknowledge, that Heatley has played with guys like Spezza and Alfredsson for the most of the last 4 years. Zherdev however has played with guys like Peca, Voros, an aging Naslund, etc. What kind of numbers does Zherdev put up playing with Spezza and Alfredsson? What kind of numbers does Heatley put up with Voros, Peca, etc? It’s tough to tell.

So here is what it all comes down to for us.

Which Dany Heatley are we getting? Are we getting the Heatley who scored 50 goals and 55 assists? or are we getting the Heatley who scored 72 points last season. If you’re getting the former Heatley, then it’s a slam dunk, you do that trade without a seconds hesitation. If however you are getting the 72 point Heatley, I think I pass. The combination of having too many gigantic contracts on this team, with his attitude and alarming inability to adjust to any kind of adversity makes me very wary of having him play in front of our fans who don’t put up with floaters. Zherdev is still a 60 point player, and you know what, the 12 points you add from Zherdev to Heatley does not warrant the 4 million dollar price difference.

Season Review – Part 3

Posted by inferno272 on June 16th, 2009

Before we get into the review, take a few minutes to read this article, it is well worth your time. Why is it worth your time? Because the only reason we aren’t talking about the Rangers drafting in the top 5 next Friday is because of Henrik Lundqvist. Somehow idiots out there, time and again, call Henrik overrated, or soft, or what have you. But I stand by my assertion that no NHL goalie today faces the barrage that Henrik has to deal with on a nightly basis. You watch our game and see our team, if they are having a great night, get 2 high quality odd man rush opportunities in a game. You routinely see the opposition get 5, 10, even 15 such opportunities per game basically without fail. You see the opposing teams have all the time in the world to pick corners on our goalie, and people wonder why he can’t stop those shots. Any goalie, if you have the opportunity to pick a corner and hit it, is going to get scored on, I don’t care if he is Patrick Roy or Vladislav Tretiak. When you constantly face the kind of pressure that Lundqvist has to face, eventually you are going to show cracks in your superhuman armor. And you know what? Sometimes this season, Henrik did look merely mortal. Pardon me for excusing 5 or 6 human performances when a guy has to put up about 65 other ridiculous performances for this team to barely squeak through into the playoffs.

And that’s what this season really was all about. A Rangers team, riding the coattails of their goalie, barely squeezing through to make it to the playoffs, only to have a collapse once Henrik could no longer stand up to the barrage the opposition gave him. Now, I am probably getting a bit ahead of myself starting at the end of the season, but I am doing it for a very specific reason. So that you guys keep in mind that despite all that I am going to go into, through all the B.S. that went on this season, we still were able to get into the playoffs thanks to a herculean effort by 1 man, and 1 man alone.

So where did this season start? Well, to be totally honest it started with an absolute bang. The Rangers had a dramatic comeback against Metallurg Magnitogorsk to win the Victoria cup (which looked like something you find in one of the junk aisles at Walmart by the way) and started playing like a team that might just make some noise this season. However as the wins continued to mount, and the Rangers getting off to their best start in franchise history, it quickly became glaringly obvious that this team was doing it with smoke and mirrors. There really was no sane way that this team would keep winning games despite not scoring at a decent rate, and giving up a ridiculous amount of quality chances against. And yet they did, they had a superb start to their schedule.
They even had a few memorable games as the season wore on, including one last second goal by Nikolai Zherdev (then a messiah, now a pariah) which sent Madison Square Garden into bedlam as the Rangers pulled off a miraculous win against the eventual Stanley Cup Champions (does that phrase bother anyone else?)

However, the season began to wear on, and the smoke and mirrors began to disappear, and the Rangers showed themselves for who they truly were, a completely mediocre team riding the shoulders of one of the greatest goaltenders on this planet. They also started to tire of their coaches stupidity as he continually dressed guys like Patrick Rissmiller and Aaron Voros, 2 fools incapable of playing the NHL game, while continually scratching Petr Prucha, a former 30 and 20 goal scorer. Tom Renney showed a complete lack of understanding on what the correct way to manage his team was, often showing a soft hand when a stern hand was needed, and vice versa. Renney admitted to choosing this team, and felt that this team was one that could win. The team was an absolute joke on the powerplay nearly shattering the record for short handed goals allowed, while being dead last in terms of power play percentage. However they were able to produce a tremendous penalty kill, which I personally feel is far more of a result of the man between the pipes (notice a trend here?) than the coach, the coaching style, or the players in front of him.

However, the team turned its back on its coach as they unceremoniously plummeted down the standings to being on the brink of being out of the playoffs despite leading the conference when the season started.

Eventually Glen Sather wised up and fired the defensive minded coach who was unable to get his team to actually play defensive, or offensive hockey, and miraculously hired exactly the right man for the job. With the hiring of John Tortorella, one of the leagues most brilliant hockey minds who understands the way to manufacture offense and how to win with up tempo hockey, Glen Sather sent a clear message, this is how we need to play hockey. He also augmented bringing in this perfect coach by bringing in near perfect players to compliment the coach, bringing back Sean Avery to the home he never should have left, bringing in Derek Morris, a significant upgrade to Dimitri Kalinin, and bringing in Nik Antropov, a gigantic (literally) improvement over both Nigel Dawes and Petr Prucha.

It was remarkable to watch as the team eventually learned how to play John Tortorella hockey, as they started to score some goals. While the offense remained quite poor, it started to score at least at a tolerable level. However the Rangers were eventually undone by the thing that will likely haunt them for a very long time.

Talent.

In signing Wade Redden, Chris Drury, and Scott Gomez to ludicrous contracts unbefitting players of their level of talent, Sather has hamstrung this organization for years to come. The Rangers were ridiculously outplayed by the likes of Ovechkin, Backstrom, Semin, Green, etc while Henrik Lundqvist single handedly nearly won the series for his team.

So there you have it, a summation of what more or less happened this season with a little bit of my thoughts in there. This offseason will likely be the defining moment of this franchise for the foreseeable future. Here is a cold hard fact folks. Henrik Lundqvist has, at most 10 superstar years left in him. If the Rangers are going to be tied to Scott Gomez, Wade Redden and Chris Drury for the next 3 season, and Gomez and Redden for the 3 seasons after that, then you can guarantee…GUARANTEE that we will not win a Stanley Cup during those 6 years. You can not win with these fools at the helm. They simply aren’t good enough, and do not have the leadership to bring this team to the promise land. If the Rangers can find a way to get out of 1 of these contracts, and bring in a substantial player, like Gaborik, Heatley, Kovalchuk or Marian Hossa, then they may have a small chance, because of the guy between the pipes. However, if they are able to get rid of 2 of these players and bring in 2 substantial players, then all bets are off. And if by some miracle of all miracles they are able to get all 3 and replace all 3 with legit superstars, then you can probably start engraving the cup with Lundqvists name right now.

This is do or die time for Glen Sather. Mid next week I will do my off season game plan post where I spell out what I feel needs to be done in the draft, and beyond to get this team from joke of the NHL, to legitimate powerhouse. I think it can be done in 1 season, but it will take a lot of work, and a little bit of luck.

Birthday Present

Posted by inferno272 on June 11th, 2009

Dear Mr. Sather,
Today is my birthday, and as a lifelong Ranger fan, I have only one request:

Kindest Regards,
Inferno

Season Review – Part 2

Posted by inferno272 on June 7th, 2009

Originally I wanted to write up both part 2 and 3 together, but it took me forever to write part 2, so instead I will do part 3 later in the week, probably Thursday. If you get bored give this a whirl…

#24 Ryan Callahan
A-
Ryan Callahan had a very strange, albeit extremely gratifying season. Ryan started off the season extremely slowly recording just 2 goals and 1 assist in his first 11 games. However one thing you can say about Ryan Callahan though is that he never is invisible out there. Regardless of whether or not he gets on the score sheet, Callahan does something, every single game that makes you smile in appreciation for the effort and will to win this kid has. He goes out there and throws a big hit on a guy three times his size, he goes out there and he causes a turnover by being relentless and never giving up on a play, he goes out there and dives in front of a huge blast, or he just goes out there and aggravates the crap out of the opposition. Whenever he is out there, you know it. Callahan was rewarded for this effort by getting a coach that is picture perfect for his style of play. Once Tortorella took over the team, Callahan had a miraculous transformation to his offensive game. During the 22 games in the regular season under Tortorella Callahan scored 9 goals and 9 assists for 18 points. Extrapolate that to 82 games and you’re talking about a 34 goal, 34 assist, 68 point season. I sure as hell could live with that when combined with his all around hustle, hitting, and hockey smarts. Even if Callahan didn’t have the offensive outbreak this season, you would be hard pressed to give him anything below a B+. Heart guys like this don’t grown on trees, especially ones who have a knack for scoring big goals.
#25 Petr Prucha
INC

It is impossible to grade Petr this season, and it is not because of the fact that he was traded at the deadline. Simply put Prucha was grossly mishandled by Tom Renney in what may have been the single worse example of Renneys incompetence. In Phoenix Prucha hd more points in 1/3rd fewer games for the ‘Yotes. Under Renney the kid saw no consistent playing time, he would literally have to score a point to stand a chance of playing the next game. It seemed to me that 90% of the time Petr was out there he was one of the few players who was actually noticeable away from the puck making things happen. He drew power plays that led to big goals, but yet he never played on those power plays. He would cause turnovers for golden scoring chances, and yet it seemed his linemates would never bury the chances.

Now, let’s not make it seem like Petr was completely blameless in all this. It did seem that he could do with a break once a week or something because his game did seem to sag a bit as his ice time piled up. But no player, no matter how much of a great teammate he is, no matter how much he loves the team, is going to be able to play at a high level when he is constantly in 1 game, and out for 7. I can’t grade Petr this season, but there is no former Ranger out there I want to succeed more than this kid. He busts his ass, he has a coaches dream of an attitude, and he wants desperately to succeed. Heres hoping to a renaissance for Petr Prucha.

#27 Paul Mara
B-
I never understood the serious man crushes so many people have on Mara. I really don’t get it. What exactly does this guy do that is so spectacular? I mean, don’t get me wrong, I think Paul is a solid 3rd pairing defenseman. I think he plays very hard, I think he has the perfect attitude that you want on your team, I think he oozes leadership, but as a player I don’t find him to be nearly as good as our real top 3 defenseman, Staal, Girardi or Rozsival. Mara brings a lot of positives to the team, some much needed physicality, a mentor to our younger defenseman, a great lockerroom personality. I just don’t see him as being a vital cog to keep on the team at all costs. He’ll be 30 by the time the season starts, and probably will demand a substantial pay raise, probably in the 3.5 million dollar range. Unfortunately it is a price tag that we simply can not afford this season, not with so many RFA kids that need to be signed. The last thing I want to have happen is to lose a kid like Zherdev with limitless potential to keep a guy like Mara, particularly with the ridiculous defensive depth this organization has. If Paul will come back for the same contract as last year, 1 year at 1.95 million (or like say 2.1 million for a modest raise), then I would keep him, if not, I’ll give Gilroy, Potter, Sauer, Sanguinetti, or Del Zotto a shot at 1/2 the price, or less.
#28 Colton Orr
C-
When you consider the Rangers complete and utter lack of intimidation through physicality you would think that Colton Orr, the Rangers lone tough guy, would get a higher score than a C-. But honestly for most of this season I was very annoyed with Orrs play. Tom Renney incessently put the guy out there, as if he was some sort of actual hockey player and not just a guy you want out there to beat the piss out of the opposition. And despite all the ridiculous amount of minutes this guy got, he was only 8th in the NHL in major penalties. Major Penalties are what this guy gets paid for. He gets paid to break peoples faces, but far too often last season, when the momentum was swinging in the wrong direction, Colton Orrs fists of fury were nowhere to be found. I think Orr actually thought of himself as a valuable hockey player who we wouldn’t afford to have out of the lineup for 5 minutes, or possibly Tom Renneys wimpification of this club had started to infest this guy as well. Whatever it was, I personally think Colton Orr has played his last game as a Ranger. I don’t see the need for having him out there night in and night out, even with a coach who hates having to play his 4th line with anything other than token minutes I think that role would be better suited with one of our kids *coughDANEBYERScough* who can actually play the NHL game and contribute more than the right hand of doom. I’m all in favor of having a goon in your lineup, but I don’t think Orr fought near enough, and I don’t think he fought at times when he should have fought. He was superb at not dropping the gloves when goaded into it in games where we had the lead. But in games where a 2 goal lead evaporated and a deathly silent MSG crowd one would hope this guy would do something to wake us up, and far too often he was nowhere to be found.
#29 Lauri Korpikoski
D
How highly do I think of Lauri Korpikoski? Well, try going to www.laurikorpikoski.com. I’ve owned that domain since we drafted the kid. To me I have always seen a Marian Hossa in this kid waiting to come out. He plays an amazing defensive game, has superb wheels, a really strong shot, some great moves at top speed, a never say die attitude, and is a coaches dream. However he still has not put it together yet. Korpedo had a pretty disappointing season last year, only getting 6 goals and 8 assists in 68 games, but he only managed 3 assists in the regular season when Torts took over, and netted another 2 assists in the playoffs. He has not been close to Marian Hossa, right now he is closer to Marcel Hossa than Marian, however Lauri still, on his worst day is an NHL 4th liner that can kill you penalties, can play the boards, can generate some offense. Even if everything goes wrong you still have that, but what you want is a 35 goal 45 assist guy who still manages to do all that. At this point you’d have to think the possibilites of Lauri doing that are slim to none. But I wouldn’t count out the kid netting 15 goals and another 20-25 assists next season either.
#30 Henrik Lundqvist
A+
Here’s all you have to know about Henrik Lundqvist. Without him, unequivocally, this team is battling for a top 5 overall draft pick. It’s not even a question. Here’s how our entire season went. If Henrik Lundqvist played like a God. We won. If Henrik Lundqvist played like one of the 5 best goalies in the league, we won like 50-75% of those games. When he played like a normal goalie, we lost like 95% of those games. When he had an off game, we lost 100% of those games. Want to talk about an MVP? Henrik Lundqvist is the very definition of an MVP. When the Pens lose Crosby for a few games they keep on rolling, if the Rangers lost Lundqvist for a few games, their season is over. The playoffs were the perfect example. We only won the game Henrik played Godlike, in the games he was merely average, we got destroyed. Henrik has what, 5 years left on his contract? If we don’t win a cup in those 5 years, it will be the single worst example of wasting an elite talent that I have ever seen. The Rangers haven’t had a player like this since Brian Leetch, and even Brian had some help around him. Henrik is a one man show right now, and that is just the biggest shame I have ever seen. You put Henrik on a team like the Red Wings, and they probably don’t lose a game all year.
#33 Michal Rozsival
C
Rozsival had an up and down season as well, which is pretty much the same as every other Ranger player, though you probably could attribute it moreso to his offseason hip surgery than anything else. As the season wore on Rozsival played better and better, by the time the playoffs started I thought he was playing as well as any of our defenseman. Rozsival is still overpaid, though not as grossly overpaid as Redden. with 3 years left at 5 mil per (4.333 mil per in actual salary) Rozsival is probably the easiest contract to move, though he may or may not have a limited NTC similar to Reddens, which I have not as of yet been able to find out about with 100% accuracy.
#34 Aaron Voros
F-
I hated this signing before the season, and now it’s actually looking worse and worse. At first I thought Aaron Voros was just going to be a more expensive version of Dane Byers. Boy how little did I know. Byers is a better skater, has better balance, is a better fighter, has better hands, better vision, and hits 10 times harder than Voros. Voros should be traded away for a bag of pucks, there is no way this guy isn’t waived at least once this season. If you can move him at the draft for a 7th rounder, do so and be thankful. He brings nothing to the table besides being a diehard Ranger fan. Congrats Aaron, I’m a diehard Ranger fan too, but if you suck, you shouldn’t be on the team.
#40 Stephen Valiquette
B+
Big Vally gives you everything you want in a backup goalie. Competent play, a team first attitude, willingness to sit long periods of time, the ability to come in at a moments notice, when ice cold, and stop the flood gates when Henrik does have his occasional clunker. I’m a fan of Vallys, and like that he is coming back, but he is far from irreplaceable, and regardless of what other people have said, I definitely do NOT think this guy is capable of being a starter elsewhere. Vally is still prone to slow starts to games, is a rebound machine, and is extremely slow post to post. Just like Henrik has his weakness up high, Vally has his own weaknesses. Unlike most starting goalies though, Vally has multiple weaknesses, this is why he isn’t a starter in this league. When the book comes out on him to get him moving side to side or to shoot low and gobble up those big juicy rebounds, he is going to get torched, much like the Stars did in that forgettable massacre in Dallas.
#45 Dimitri Kalinin
D+
I don’t think Kalinin was as bad as everyone made him out to be. People seemed to think we were getting a #4 defenseman or something when clearly Kalinin is a competent #6. The problem here is that Renney plays all 3 pairs equally in all situations and doesn’t line match. Kalinin is the kind of defenseman who should be playing 13-14 minutes a night, not the 17-18 minutes he was averaging as a Ranger. Regardless, he was traded and an upgrade was brought in. It wouldn’t surprise me if Kalinin goes and plays in the KHL next season.
#80 Nik Antropov
A-
I have always been a big Nik Antropov fan. The big man has great hands, and the ability to get goals from in front of the net. But it can’t be understated that in his 9 year in the NHL he has only scored over 20 goals twice. He is a 29 year old forward who hasn’t really done all that much in the NHL. His contract as is, is pretty affordable, but he probably will be looking for 4-5 million bucks as this is likely going to be his only payday season he will have. I expect him to move on, which is a shame because he would have been a great fit here at about 2.5 million bucks.
#91 Markus Naslund
C-
The problem with Markus Naslund is that he was in essence brought in to replace Jaromir Jagr. Which is impossible for anyone to do. Naslund is a great support player at this point in his career. He can pretty reliably net you 20-25 goals on a team with other legitimate threats, over here though he was one of the few people who could put the puck in the net with any degree of consistency. It is a shame because I wouldn’t have minded keeping him at all with his salary if we had some elite offensive weapons to use around him. If we had a guy like Gaborik or Kovalchuk, and didn’t have 20 million dollars tied up in Blowmez, Captain Cardboard and Deadden, I would most certainly have liked to see Naslund come back. But instead he did the honorable thing and chose retirement to help us out. And I truly believe this is what it all came down to. I don’t think this is the case of a player who thinks he can’t play anymore and wants to go out with a good taste in his mouth, I think this is a case where he knows the team wanted him gone at any cost because of his salary cap hit, and instead he decided to do the right thing and just retire. Love the guy for his class, hope he enjoys retirement in Sweeden.