Category Archives: Rangers

Predicting Protected Lists: New York Rangers 

The New York Rangers are in an interesting spot in terms of the expansion draft. They have a bunch of good forwards that they need to worry about, however it is the exact opposite on defense. 

It is almost certain that the Rangers will be protecting seven forward and three defensemen. 

For the forwards, Chris Kreider, Derek Stepan, Mats Zuccarello, JT Miller, Kevin Hayes, and Mika Zibanejad are all slated to earn protection slots.

That takes up six spots. The last spot can go to Rick Nash, who has a no-movement clause. 

There are definitely some other good players that you could argue deserve a spot on the protection list over Nash. Michael Grabner and Oscar Lindberg are two of them. 

All things considered, though, it is not worth it to ask Nash to waive his no-movement clause, try to trade him, or try to buy him out just to protect Lindberg or Grabner. In no disrespect to Grabner and Lindberg, they are not valuable enough pieces to do that for. 

The defense is where things get strange. Ryan McDonagh is a no-brainer to be protected, but after that there are no clear choices. Well, technically there are not anyways. 

Marc Staal and Dan Girardi both have no-movement clauses, which means both are required to be protected during the expansion draft. 

The thought floating around most hockey minds currently is that the Rangers will buyout one of them, Girardi being more likely. 

Is it worth it though? I know that sounds crazy to say, but the fact of the matter is that Vegas is not going to take a defenseman from the Rangers. 

Brady Skjei is exempt. Kevin Klein and Nick Holden are not good enough for George McPhee to waste his time on, especially given the crop of defensemen that will be available for him. 

At the end of the day, why not just bite the bullet and lose Jesper Fast, Michael Grabner, or Oscar Lindberg in expansion? A Girardi buyout can always come after. But there is no need to immediately rush into anything. 

The Rangers could bribe Vegas to take Girardi’s contract, though. But, it seems improbable. It would likely cost Jeff Gorton a solid prospect plus a first round pick, which would heavily hurt the Rangers already depleted prospect pipeline. 

Regardless, the moral of the story is that it should not be surprising if Dan Girardi is on the Rangers protection list. That does not mean that he will be back with the team next season. 

In all, the Rangers protection list could look like the this: 

Forwards: Chris Kreider, Derek Stepan, Mats Zuccarello, Kevin Hayes, JT Miller, Mika Zibanejad, Rick Nash

Defense: Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal, Dan Girardi

Goalie: Henrik Lundqvist 

The Rangers expansion draft plan, in the end, could go in a number of directions. Like the Islanders, only time will tell. 

Next team: Ottawa Senators 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

April showers bring May flowers: who has the best chance of coming back in Round 2?

As the hockey season moves from April to May, the playing field shrinks. Currently eight teams remain, but soon enough the group will whittle down to four.

As of now, Pittsburgh, Washington, Ottawa, New York (Rangers), St. Louis, Nashville, Edmonton, and Anaheim remain. For these series, Pittsburgh leads Washington 2-0, Ottawa leads New York 2-0, Nashville leads St. Louis 2-1, and Edmonton leads Anaheim 2-1. Each of these are far from over, however the odds have begun to shift to the favor of one team per series. But the questions that begs is who, of the teams currently down in a series, has the best chance of making a comeback and advancing to the Conference Finals?

For me, it’s the New York Rangers. Although their defense, with the likes of Holden, Staal, and Girardi, is shaky, their lightning quick offense and superstar goalie could be enough to propel them on a run past Ottawa.

The Rangers and Senators have been locked in a back-and-forth series through the first two games. In Game 1, Erik Karlsson scored the game winner from the goal line with 4:11 left in regulation. Game 2 was a barn burner that resulted in a 6-5 Senators win in double overtime. The games cannot be defined as anomalies by any means, but regardless the series is not over by any stretch of the imagination.

To win the series, the Rangers need Henrik Lundqvist to go into Conn Smythe form. His save percentage in the series so far is .888, but not all of that can be attributed to him. The defensive core in front of him is less than ideal, but that is the Rangers mantra. They need Lundqvist to bail them out, which is something he did not do in Game 2.

In terms of the other teams, this is not to say that they do not have a chance to come back in the series. Each team is in the second round for a reason.

Anaheim is a rigid, experienced team that needs to take advantage of that fact against Edmonton. But, Connor McDavid and Cam Talbot are unbelievable players capable of turning a series in an instant (which they have done already). 

St. Louis is in the same category as Anaheim to a sense, but Nashville is playing great right now. The series against the Blues has not come as easy as the series against Chicago did, but it is hard to bet against the Predators currently. They are using their fast paced tactics to their advantage perfectly. 

Lastly, Washington has fallen into a deep hole with Pittsburgh once again. It’s hard to go against the Penguins right now given Washington’s history in the second round and against Pittsburgh in general. If they can overcome this challenge, it’s hard to argue against the fact that they will win the Cup. But it’s one hurdle at a time for Alex Ovechkin at company. 

Of the teams down currently, who do you think has the best chance of moving on to the second round?

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles 

Trade Possibility: Martin Hanzal

Continuing to reform their team, the Arizona Coyotes may be moving on from another veteran. Martin Hanzal, drafted 17th overall in 2005, has played all 557 of his career games with the Coyotes and has 287 points in that time.
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Colorado’s Barrie generating tons of interest 

Recently, reports came out from Elliotte Friedman that Tyson Barrie is likely to be moved by the Colorado Avalanche this summer.  Read the rest of this entry

The Rangers have questions to answer this offseason 

The Rangers were eliminated in five games by Pittsburgh on Saturday afternoon, and the season brings upon a lot of questions to general manager Jeff Gorton and the entire Rangers organization. 

The Rangers made a big splash at the trade deadline by sending two second round picks and top center prospext Aleksi Saarela to Carolina for Eric Staal. In hindsight, the trade proved to be as disastrous as it looked on paper with Staal mustering only six points in 25 games in the Big Apple. 

Now comes the long and winding offseason for the Rangers. They face the possibility of having a completely new-looking roster next year with Eric Staal, Keith Yandle, Dominic Moore, and Dan Boyle all being unrestricted free agents. Boyle, a healthy scratch in the 6-3 loss, could possibly retire. Keith Yandle has long been a source of controversy and it is uncertain the route the Rangers will take with him. Dominic Moore has bounced from team to team but he and the organization seem to have a good relationship, so expect that to continue. 

The likes of Chris Kreider, Kevin Hayes, and JT Miller all need new contracts as well, although they are restricted free agents. Miller came into his own in the regular season but did not have a strong playoffs and did not score. That’s not to say Miller was bad, because almost every Rangers player did not have a strong playoffs. 

Chris Kreider and Kevin Hayes both struggled with inconsistency this year. The culmination of all that was Alain Vigneault healthy scratching Hayes in the last two games of the playoffs. 

The Rangers need to undergo a serious re-evaluation of their roster this offseason. Letting go of Eric Staal and doing all they can to re-sign Keith Yandle is a must. The Rangers cannot afford to mortgage any more of their future, but a re-tool is in order. 

Henrik Lundqvist doesn’t have much time left in the league, and if the Rangers want to see him win it all in their colors, serious actions have to be taken. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

Four potential suitors for Nail Yakupov

News came out yesterday that Nail Yakupov requested a trade from the Oilers prior to February’s trade deadline. The former first overall pick has seen his fair share of struggles in Edmonton, but has nonetheless proved to be a skilled player that can thrive in the correct situation. Many teams will be lining up to try to get Yakupov’s services for their team. 

Ottawa Senators 

The Senators have had a very disappointing year. Although they sit in the top-ten of goals for per game, they still are in need of another weapon up front. If they lose out on Jonathan Drouin, Yakupov would be a good option to fall back on. Ottawa may also be losing key offensive forward Mike Hoffman this offseason, so Yakupov would help fill that hole. 

Montreal Canadiens 

As yet another team up north struggling, Montreal needs to heavily re-evaluate their supporting cast around Carey Price this summer. Would coupling up Nail Yakupov with his half-Russian brethren Alex Galchenyuk, who was taken two picks after Yakupov in 2012, help spark their offense? They run the risk of another failed experiment, like Alex Semin, as there is no guarantee Yakupov will regain his mojo in a new city. 

Buffalo Sabres

The Sabres are loaded up front with young forwards such as Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart, and Evander Kane, but Yakupov would be a nice addition to the middle six. The Sabres have dealt with serious depth issues this year with little to no production being brought in by Tyler Ennis, Matt Moulson, and Brian Gionta among others. 

New York Rangers

The Rangers have a lot more scoring prowess and depth than the aforementioned teams, but Nail Yakupov still could be a fit in the big apple. Slotting him into a second line role would potentially bump down the likes of Kevin Hayes, Jesper Fast, and Oscar Lindberg, but it adds another threat to the Rangers lineup and makes them more dangerous on the wing. 

There will be plenty of suitors with interest in Yakupov, the question that remains is if the Oilers will be willing to sell him for lower than what his ceiling may be. Edmonton has placed themselves in a tough situation, but regardless of what they get in return, it is clear that Yakupov and them both need to move on from each other. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

Analysis: Eric Staal traded to the Rangers 

As the Hurrianes fell further and further out of playoff contention, it became more clear that Eric Staal would be traded by the February 29th deadline. That happened on Sunday, about 26 hours before the deadline hit. 

The Hurricanes did not receive star prospect Pavel Buchnevich in the trade with the Rangers, however they did get forward prospect Aleksi Saarela and two second round picks. Saarela is a good two way player with 31 points in 46 games in the SM-Liiga this year. He was formerly a third round pick (2015) by the Rangers. 

Staal was the third captain to be traded this year, with Andrew Ladd and Dion Phaneuf prior. Staal has struggled recently in Carolina, but he still has 33 points in 63 games and Stanley Cup experience. Eric will join his brother Marc in the Big Apple. 

Analysis: 

I like this trade for both teams, but I’ll give the edge to Carolina. The Eric Staal era was over. They got a good prospect in Saarela, as well as two picks in the top-60 that they can use to improve their team or improve their prospect pool. 

The Rangers window is closing, so this deal does make sense in part. Staal still has the ability, whether or not he can hone it is the question. If he can return to a .75 to 1.0 point-per-game pace, the Rangers will be set up nicely. They need to win within the next two years though, because their prospect pool is extremely weak. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

Trade Winds: one more month until the NHL trade deadline 

The trade deadline is rapidly approaching and is now about one month away. Teams are beginning to see whether or not they want to sell their players at the deadline meaning the speculation will continue to increase. 

The Buffalo Sabres are still shopping Tyler Ennis but to no avail yet. He has been disappointing this year and with a crowded top-six of young players in Buffalo, he may not have a spot. Due to his high salary, some will have to be retained. Jamie McGinn is also being looked at around the league, but Buffalo likes him. Could he pull a Matt Moulson and sign back with Buffalo in the summer after being traded? We’ll see. 

The Canucks have been looking around the league for potential suitors for Radim Vrbata and Dan Hamhuis. The latter has had injury problems this year, however Vrbata would be a nice pickup for a team in the playoff hunt. Someone like Florida, Nashville, or one of the New York teams could have interest in the forward. 

The Coyotes are very reluctant to move Mikkel Boedker although nothing is impossible. The Danish left winger is due for a big pay increase from his current 3.75 million.

You wonder what the deal is with Yevgeni Medvedev and the Flyers is. He is a good defenseman and would be great for a playoff run for any team but the Flyers are still in the thick of the playoff race themselves. The Flyers also have an influx of young defensemen coming up through the system which could make Medvedev expendable. 

Keith Yandle continues to be shopped but nothing as of yet. It might be in best interest for the Rangers, given their closing window, to get this playoff run out of him. 

Columbus is expected to be very aggressive at the trade deadline. Although they have no big unrestricted free agents, certain names could be moved out such as Kerby Rychel. The David Clarkson contract has been thrown out there but to no takers. 

The Islanders seem to be at a gridlock with Travis Hamonic and Kyle Okposo. Hamonic’s trade won’t come until the offseason and the Islanders don’t want to give up Okposo for futures so they may end up keeping him and risk losing him to free agency. 

The Jets have equally looked around for Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien. Nothing is out of the question for the deadline for either player. Ladd is the more feasible option for the team, however. 

Don’t be surprised if the Anaheim Ducks make another move prior to February 29th. Likely a defense for offense move. 

More to come as the trade deadline draws nearer. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

Marleau has Backed the Sharks into a Terrible Situation

The San Jose Sharks season took an unexpected turn over the past 48 hours, with news leaking that Patrick Marleau could be seeking a trade. With a no trade clause in place, Marleau has all the control and the three teams on his list currently are Anaheim, Los Angeles, and the New York Rangers. The list is rumored to possibly expand to Nashville and Chicago per TSN, but regardless it Doug Wilson into a spot he does not want to be in. 

Trading a player who has been on your team for over 1300 games played is difficult enough to go through, but it is especially difficult when two-thirds of his trade list is rival teams. Shipping Marleau to Anaheim or Los Angeles might be too tough of a pill to swallow for the organization. 

This leaves Doug Wilson at the moment with one option if a trade were to happen – the New York Rangers. As previously stated, the list could expand as Wilson fishes around the league, but Marleau’s no trade clause will be a tough cookie to crack. Marleau’s contract has one more year on it after this year at 6.66 million salary and cap hit, which would be difficult for the Rangers or even the Blackhawks to take on without giving a bad contract back to San Jose. 

Outside of that issue, the Sharks also face the fact that they traded their first round pick this year to get Martin Jones. Losing Marleau certainly would not help with that situation. The pick is not lottery protected. 

The San Jose Sharks and Doug Wilson are stuck between a rock and a hard place. They need to decide between keeping Marleau and trying to be a playoff team this year or tearing it down, trading Marleau (and company) while their value is still high, and dealing with the pain of losing a good draft pick. The value of Maleau is still up in the air, but age and production put into play it is unlikely that he is worth a first round pick.

 
As the season progresses, we will get a clearer picture of what is going to happen. The Sharks started out hot under the stellar play of Martin Jones but have since faltered and fallen to 10th in the West and four points out of a wild card spot. As a streaky team, one stretch in the upcoming weeks could reveal the fate of their roster. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

The Five Best Contracts in the NHL

In the recent history of the NHL, there have been a lot of bad contracts, mainly in free agency. Dave Bolland makes 5.5 million per year and David Clarkson got a contract that had him at a 5.25 million cap hit for seven years. But, amidst all that, there have been some great contracts, but they mostly come from re-signings. It seems like the general managers have learned from their mistakes this summer however, because all contracts given out have been very modest. Either way, these five players should probably find new agents.
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Trades Highlight Day Two of 2015 NHL Draft

Although nothing will out-do the hours leading up to the draft yesterday, day two was no bust on the trade front. The GMs worked tirelessly to improve their teams whilst trying to find gems in the later round of the draft. Day two saw the trade of Cam Talbot finally, but still no Patrick Sharp or Phil Kessel. 
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Martin St. Louis’ Future

Martin St. Louis’ first full year in New York has come to a bitter end, leaving many fans desiring more out of the aging winger. He had an above average regular season with 21 goals and 52 points in 74 games, but failed to produce when it really mattered, the playoffs. After being a catalyst to the playoff run to the Finals last season, St. Louis only had one goal and 7 points in 19 playoff games this year. 
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