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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
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

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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.

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