Friday, March 29, 2013
A trade deadline in a shortened season could be gold for certain teams poised to make deep playoff runs. Games get tighter, every mistake is magnified to the highest degree, every little detail needs attention. Some of you may have read my blog last evening about The New York Rangers and their woes so far this season. I mentioned a few names I thought would be good players to target for the NY Rangers.
- Dan Boyle
- Jaromir Jagr
- Ryan Clowe
First lets look at what this team needs:
Desperately need to improve their Power play. It isn't as abysmal as it was in the beginning of the season but 25th in the league (14.6%) is not where this talented group should be. With that being said, this team just needs some scoring period. Tied with Columbus for last in the league with 75 goals. What hurts the most is that, this team is 4th in the league in Goals Against with a 2.36 GAA. You can see lately Henrik Lundqvist has been unhappy with the play in front of me, with the exception of a few players he's been the only one to show up on a night in, night out basis. Another reason I think they're struggling with scoring is because they are constantly playing from behind or coming out of the gate slow and sluggish. Maybe that's making them clench their sticks a little tighter. This team just doesn't look like its having fun on the ice. So the two main needs for this team is Scoring and an improvement to their Power Play. Dan Boyle & Jagr could help with both of those, Clowe would be a good addition come playoff time.
Another few players I see rumors about being dangled out there:
Bouwmeester is still a soid DMan, and at 29 years old he's in his prime years of hockey. He hasn't put up many big seasons for Calgary like he did in Florida but he's still pretty good at moving the puck. He has a year left on his contract & is set to make 6.6 mill which may be the only reason teams turn away.
Derek Roy still a very solid forward and good leader. Went to Dallas in the off-season & isn't having such an amazing year. Don't forget this is a guy who put up 81 points back in 07-08 & is a great defensive forward being a plus player for his career. I don't think he finds his scoring touch in the big apple though.
Mike Ribeiro, another off-season acquisition for the Caps is having a pretty darn good season in Washington registering 35 points in 33 games. He's 33 years old can bury the biscuit & brings that edgey play with his game when he needs it also. Not sure if Washington, who is trying to make a playoff run would be willing to give up an asset like him but you never know.
Brian Campbell, hasn't been as big of a name since leaving Chicago but did put up 50+ points last season in Florida. With Florida sinking this season and looking like they will rebuild Campbell may be a player that could catch some teams attention with back end offense struggles. But his 7.1 million dollar contract is a huge hit for a lot of teams, which would make them turn their backs.
Lastly Keith Yandle, a player The Rangers have been rumored to be interested in for well over a season now. Yandle says he'd like to stay with Phoenix but lets face it, he's still one of the most stable back end defenders in the NHL today. I dont know if Phoenix would be shopping him come a week from now but he'd be a great add.
The only question is what would you as a Rangers fan be willing to part with to acquire a valuable player? Marian Gaborik seems to be sinking in New York, Brad Richards is struggling but I don't think he goes anywhere. You also have some young talent in Kreider, Miller, Christian Thomas (AHL), Jasper Fasth (Sweden), Michael Del Zotto. I'm not sure you want to part with any of these players for someone who's going to be a "rental" player. The only player I can see being moved would be Gaborik, who today was demoted to the 4th line in practice but if Sather decides to make a move you cant just let a 40+ goal scorer leave for nothing. I guess we see in the next few days who's names come up, who moves & who stays.
Thursday, March 28, 2013
Your 2013 New York Rangers.
Where do we even begin with this team? Coming into the season I believe they had the bulls-eye on their chests being "The Team To Beat" coming out of the East. Off-Season acquisitions of Rick Nash and a few other "grinder"/depth players made this team heavy favorites to bring Lord Stanley back to New York City. But this team has been FAR from stellar.
Lets start with the basics, after a loss in Ottawa they are now 16-14-3 equating to 35 points & barely clinging to the 8th seed in the Easter Conference. The East is also tight although they are having a terrible season, the Florida Panthers are only 9 points behind. When you look at this team on paper, no stats just names you'd say to yourself "Wow this team is stacked!" right? Rick Nash, Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards, Henrik Lundqvist, Marc Staal, just to name a few. They almost have players to do everything but WHY is nothing clicking for them?
At the beginning of the season, many fans of the game had figured most teams would be a little sloppy coming out of the gate without any real training camp or time to gel together (The Blackhawks made everyone feel stupid, eh?). I personally gave this team a 10 game maximum to find their stride but it just never happened. Many said "They didn't get Tortorella's brutal mini camp, that's why they're not playing well!", amongst other reasons. I just didn't buy into it. No team had a training camp why should this team get a free pass?
Now lets move on to production. Besides Rick Nash, Henrik Lundqvist, and Derek Stepan there hasn't been many bright spots for many of this teams bigger names. Marian Gaborik: 9 goals, 10 assists for 19 points & a -7 in 33 games. Brad Richards: 5 goals, 13 assists +/- 0 in 33 games. Ryan Callahan: 9-6-15 -2 in 30 games. Lastly one of my favorites (sarcasm included) Brian Boyle: 1 goal, 1 assists, 2 points and a -8. Gaboriks numbers aren't terrible on paper but watching him in games hurts. He has 2 goals in his last 20 games, UNACCEPTABLE. With the injury bug going around the team is he afraid to get hurt? Or is he just being lazy? Brad Richards, "Big Money Brad" has been a ghost almost all season, I honestly am not sure how he gets points on the board. Ryan Callahan, "Captain Cally" I love this man with every ounce I can but I feel like he hasn't been the Captain we all fell in love with when he originally donned the 'A' under Chris Drury. I know he isnt going to go out and score you 40 goals a season and add 40 helpers but he was the player the team relied on for the little things, the grind it out shift after another team gained some momentum or going out and hitting anything that moved with the puck. I just haven't seen enough of that all season. I see it in spurts here and there but in times when your team is struggling you have to step up for them in some form. Lastly, Brian Boyle. The big guy, the guy who when Marian Gaborik got hurt a few seasons back helped carry this team with 20+ goals and a great year offensively & defensively. Hello, Brian where did you go? There's also a ton of young talent on this team who will prosper in given years if they are played correctly. IE: JT Miller, Chris Kreider, Jasper Fasth(hopefully), ect. What do I think has become the problem in the Big Apple? Coaching.
Yes, John Tortorella & Mike Sullivan. I understand Torts has a cup under his belt & his "grind it out and wait for our chances" system won it for him in 2004 with Tampa but I think we can all agree that this isn't 2004 and the game has changed, DRASTICALLY. I'm not the biggest John Tortorella fan but I can admit the guy is a phenomenal coach, 400 wins and counting? Not bad. I think the problem has become that this team has tuned him out and doesn't want to buy into his antics and his system. Which happens constantly in Professional Sports. Its only so long you can go with a bad PP and blame it on players, eventually it has to be put on coaching. With that being said I'm sorry but the Torts era in New York needs to come to an end. Hopefully sooner rather than later so this team can still have a shot if they make the playoffs. A coaching change can definitely give this team a spark and putting in the back of their minds a "oh crap I may be next to go also". For those who don't know, I believe Lindy Ruff is still available? That'd be a helluva snatch and a pretty darn good replacement if you ask me.
What Lies Ahead:
With 15 games remaining, the trade deadline April 3rd, and 9 points away from the cellar in the East what does this team do? Pittsburgh has made bold moves snatching Douglas Murray (San Jose), Brendan Morrow (Dallas), & Jarome Iginla (Calgary), so who's left? A few names still linger that may or may not be available come a week from now, a few of which will sound very familiar. First, Dan Boyle of San Jose. Although he is old, he can quarterback a Powerplay with the best of em and provides some veteran leadership for a very young core of defenseman. Second, Blueshirts fans Remember Jaromir Jagr? Rumor has it he may be available, but also may be willing to sign an extension in Dallas. He'd be a nice fit to add scoring on the second line and second PP unit take pressure off Gaborik, Richards and even Rick Nash. Lastly, Ryan Clowe of San Jose. Maybe you try to acquire him in a package with Boyle. He adds grit & toughness and can fill the shoes of the departed Brandon Prust pretty well. The only problem, he doesn't have a goal yet this season but has put up some decent numbers in the past few seasons that make him valuable. Only problem is him and Boyle both have contracts ending this season making it tough to give up something valuable for someone who may retire or walk at the end of the season. NYR GM Glen Sather has done much better in recent years not making completely absurd signings and trading away good youth for past-prime players. So do you make a move Slats? If you do at what cost? I guess we will find out soon enough if any moves are made at all, while many of us sit here and pray that the Hockey Gods send this team some luck.