Rangers Offseason: Weddings + Charity Events

While the fans continued to try and swallow the bitter pill of defeat, the Rangers themselves have been quite busy the last two weeks. Well the last two Fridays.

Last Friday, Carl Hagelin made his way to Norway to partake in a charity event for Right to Play hosted by his friend and teammate, Mats Zuccarello. (I honestly never realized the level of “bromance” between these two but check out Zuccarello’s instagram account. Almost every picture is of the two of them. Too adorable!) Hagelin posted this picture from during intermission:

I am dying to know the story behind that hashtag. I haven’t been able to find a final score for the game but it looks like they did make a lot of money for the organization which you can read more about here.

Over in the states, Brian Boyle was in Disney World that day…getting married.

So how do we know the wedding took place in Disney World? Turns out an ex-teammate was there:

There are usually rumors or pictures showing which players were around for the wedding but I haven’t seen anything so it’s possible Dubinsky was the only other player there. Either way, congrats to Brian and Lauren!

And while he is no longer with the team, I’m going to send congrats to Derek Dorsett as well, who married his longtime girlfriend Allison, this past Saturday (the day after he was traded to Vancouver; nice wedding present from Glen Sather).

As for this past Friday? Another charity event. This time in Madison, Wisconsin where Blake Geoffrion held his inaugural charity event at the University of Wisconsin. A hockey charity event involving the Badgers can only mean one thing – Ryan McDonagh and Derek Stepan were involved. And they were as they played for the victorious white team during the game. Full rosters can be found here.

The event was a huge success raising $40,000 for the UW Burn Center, one of 45 in the nation verified by the American Burn Association and the American College of Surgeons. Here are highlights from the game:

McDonagh and Stepan weren’t interviewed but you can see them a couple of time in those clips. I believe it was McDonagh who put home goalie Brian Elliot’s rebound. Yes, Elliot skated up the ice and tried to score. You have to love charity events.

Great job boys helping out others and congrats to the two who recently tied the knot!

 

(Photo: Mats Zuccarello official twitter account)

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Rangers Extend Qualifying Offers + Prospect Camp Begins

The deadline to submit qualifying offers to restricted free agents this year is Monday, June 30th at 5pm. Yes that would be this afternoon. Nothing like waiting until the last minute.

Over the weekend, the Rangers announced they had finally extended qualifying offers to their key restricted free agents. As expected, Chris Kreider, Mats Zuccarello, Derick Brassard and John Moore all received qualifying offers. Justin Falk, the other RFA who played with the Rangers, to no ones surprise was not expected to receive one making him an unrestricted free agent.

None of those four are expected to accept their qualifying offers (most players don’t) but by making the offer, the Rangers retain all of their rights. Kreider, Zuccarello and Brassard all have arbitration rights, if they choose to go that route, while Moore does not. (I know it has to do with the age they signed their entry level contracts but I still don’t understand how Kreider has arbitration rights after his first contract and Stepan didn’t, especially considering the vast difference in games played. But I gave up trying to fully understanding the CBA a long time ago.)

I am still waiting to see who received qualifying offer at the AHL level as the Rangers had even more decisions to make there. Danny Kristo, Ryan Bourque, Kyle Jean, Jason Wilson, Kyle Beach, Jason Missiaen, and Scott Stacjer are all restricted free agents. Of that group, I honestly only expect Kristo and Bourque to receive them. Missiaen might get one. I’ll update this as soon as I hear officially.

**UPDATE: I guess I know the team pretty well as I nailed who would be qualified in the AHL group:

That means that Kristo, Bourque and Missiaen did receive qualifying offers. As I said before, I’m not surprised on the others. Stacjer has been hurt and didn’t play well when he was healthy. Jean and Wilson have spent more time in the ECHL then AHL and Beach never turned out to be what the Rangers hoped when they traded for him. I am interested in the Rangers plans for Kristo though.

**********

Speaking of prospects, the Rangers are starting their annual prospect camp today at the MSG Training Center. No real surprises on the roster but here are the players attending:

  • Calle Anderson — D
  • Justin Baker — D
  • Travis Brown — D
  • Mat Bodie — D
  • Pavel Buchnevich — RW
  • Luke Curadi — D
  • Troy Donnay — D
  • Kevin Duane — RW
  • Anthony Duclair — LW
  • Steven Fogarty — C/ RW
  • Spiro Goulakis — D
  • Ryan Haggerty — RW
  • Brandon Halverson — G
  • Keegan Iverson — RW
  • Michael Kantor — RW
  • Nickolas Latta — C
  • Vinni Lettieri — C
  • Ryan Mantha — D
  • Chris McCarthy — LW
  • Bryan Moore — LW
  • Vojtech Mozik — D
  • Tyler Nanne — D
  • Matt Neal — C/RW
  • Eric Neiley — F
  • Richard Nejezchleb — LW
  • Logan Nelson — RW
  • Josh Nicholls — RW
  • Sam Noreau — D
  • Matt O’Connor – G
  • Kevin Rooney — C
  • Mackenzie Skapski — G
  • Brady Skjei — D
  • Michael St. Croix — C
  • Colin Stevens — G
  • Adam Tambellini — C
  • Daniel Walcott — D
  • Petr Zamorksy – D

A few people noticed that last years’ second round draft pick, Boo Nieves, is not on the list. I’m not sure if this is why but according to Adam Herman of The NYR Blog, NCAA players need to pay their own way for camps like this. Fogarty and Skjei chose to. I’m guessing Nieves was invited but declined due to that. I can’t blame him if that is the case. Nevermind, turns out he’s taking classes at the moment so can’t attend.

It will be interesting to hear who stands out this week. I’m just hoping not to hear one player hurt another as happened two years ago when Kyle Jean ran into Dylan McIlrath. Should be a fun week where we get actual hockey videos! I’ll try to post as many updates as possible on here but those who want to stay in the loop should keep an eye on Blueshirts United this week.

 

(Photo: Melissa Andus)

Rangers Turn Five Picks Into Seven New Players

No the Rangers didn’t trade any other players after sending Derek Dorsett to Vancouver, something Glen Sather admitted was a cap move. (Side note: Probably not a good sign that the Rangers felt they couldn’t keep a guy making $1.6 million.) But they did draft seven kids who they hope one day will become household names to Rangers fans.

I’m not going to pretend to be knowledgeable on any of these kids because I’m not. (Although I can say I personally know a kid drafted by the Sharks in the 6th round which is really cool.) I wish I had the time to sit and watch junior leagues but unfortunately there aren’t enough hours in the day. So instead I’ll give my impressions from what I’ve read elsewhere (and will link to good articles on each player).

Brandon Halverson, 2nd round (59th overall)

Halverson is a goaltender out of the OHL who is 6’3″ and 176 lbs. Was I surprised the Rangers picked a goaltender during the draft? No, I wasn’t. Anyone who knows the goalie prospects in the organization right now just cringes as there is Talbot, Skapski and… that’s about it. So picking a goalie was inevitable. I was a little surprised to see they picked one with their first pick of the draft but that only means the scouts think very highly of him. The last time the scouts thought very highly of a goaltender? Some guy named Henrik Lundqvist. That turned out okay. (Yes I know, Al Montoya. Not every pick is perfect so we’ll just pretend that one didn’t happen.)

Apparently Halverson is a puck handling goaltender. If that translates to the pro levels, that will be a huge asset as we all know how Lundqvist is in that area. (I would call it his one weakness; although I do admit it appears he worked on it as I didn’t cringe as much each time he did it as the year went on.) He does need to work on his positioning but at 18 years old, he has plenty of time to do that before he makes it to the NHL.

Adam Herman over at The New York Rangers Blog does follow the junior leagues and did some great write ups of each of the Rangers picks yesterday. Here are his thoughts, as well as some outside reports, on Halverson.

Keegan Iverson, 3rd round (85th overall)

Iverson is listed as a center/right wing from Minnesota (which automatically makes me like him). He wears the number 13 for his close friend Jack Jablonski, who you may have heard about when he was paralyzed during a high school hockey game a few years ago. At 6 feet and 219 pounds, he is known as a power forward who is not easily pushed off the puck. It sounds like he took a step back after joining the WHL two years ago but did play better last year. My guess is he a “project pick”. The Rangers love those so no surprise they went with him.

Here’s Adam thoughts on him.

Ryan Mantha, 4th round (104th overall)

Mantha is what we call a big defenseman. At 18 years old, he is already 6′ 4″ and 225 lbs. That is ridiculous. Unfortunately it sounds like he has a long way to go before getting to the NHL. I guess Iverson is the project forward and Mantha is the project defenseman. If he learns to use that size, Rangers fans will love this kid.

Rangers fans will also love to hear him say he rooted for the Rangers in the Final as a fan of Marty St. Louis. Listening to him talk in this video, he sounds like a bigger version of Dan Girardi, minus the fact he started as a forward.

Adam didn’t have much to say on him but did do some research so I’ll still attach the link.

Igor Shestyorkin, 4th round (118th overall)

Remember how I mentioned the Rangers had no goalie prospects? (You should since I mentioned it only a couple of paragraphs ago.) Well now they hope to have at least two more as Shestyorkin is a 6′ 1″ goalie who played in the Russian junior league last year. Future Considerations, a site which covers prospects around the world, was actually very high on him and ranked him above Halverson.

There isn’t a lot out there on Shestyorkin but he is expected to be in the KHL next season which should help his game. Here is a little more on him.

Richard Nejezchleb, 5th round (122nd overall)

If there was any pick that can be considered off the board for the Rangers it would be Nejezchleb, a 20-year old left wing from the Czech Republic. He was passed over in the last two drafts, with injuries being the reason last year. (I’m not sure why he was passed over during his first draft eligible year or how he was still eligible this year as I thought prospects were only able to go through twice, unless the injury season gave him another opportunity.)

The 6′ 2″, 203 lbs winger played in the WHL last season and had a solid season leading many to believe he is closer to being NHL ready than most kids during their draft year. His age might help that as well. I wouldn’t be surprised if he turns out to be a steal that Rangers fans are talking about sooner rather than later.

Some more scouting on him can be found here.

Daniel Walcott, 5th round (140th overall)

Walcott was the second defenseman picked by the Rangers. He is one of those guys who if does make it, you will be hearing about his story to get the big leagues. He entered the QMJHL as a 19-year old rookie and caught the eyes of everyone with his style of play. When asked who he likes to model his game around, he put himself on every Rangers fans radar by saying “Ryan McDonagh”. While I wonder if that would’ve been his answer had he been drafted by another organization, I am perfectly fine with a guy who wants to be like the Rangers current number one defenseman. (It’s also crazy to me that McDonagh is at the point that guys can look up to him as I still consider him a kid.)

You can read about his journey here (I recommend this link as his journey would be one of the best stories if he does make the NHL) and see some scouting here.

Tyler Nanne, 5th round (142nd overall)

Finally, we have Nanne, another defenseman from the state of Minnesota. He was a finalist for the Minnesota Mr. Hockey Award last year, an award McDonagh won during his senior high school year. At only 5′ 10″, he is a smaller player but if he reaches his potential Rangers fans won’t care about his size as scouts believe he can be a power play quarter back in the NHL one day. Too bad he isn’t ready now as the Rangers could use one of those.

Unfortunately he has a long way to go but there aren’t a lot of prospects with his skill set in the pipeline so here’s to hoping he takes advantage of the opportunities given to him. Adam’s take on Nanne can be found here.

 

So there you have it. Will any of these seven players make it to the NHL? No idea, that’s the fun of the draft. But the Rangers definitely tried to fill holes in the organization with the few picks they had. I’m also impressed they turned four picks (before the Dorsett trade) into seven.

All of these kids except Shestyorkin will be at the Rangers rookie camp being held this week. Nothing like jumping right into the fire! Hopefully we’ll get more videos and quotes from them during their time at the Rangers training facility. Until then, welcome to the Blueshirts boys!

 

(Photo: screenshot from interview on BlueShirts United)

Derek Dorsett Traded To Vancouver

We all knew there would be changes to the Rangers 4th line come next season. We just didn’t expect one of those changes to be Derek Dorsett not being included since he was the only one signed past next week. Then this happened:

Guess the team decided they really did have too many Derek/Derick’s on the team.

I don’t really know what to think right now. Dorsett never grew into the fan favorite he was in Columbus but he did his job and frankly, did it well. He was a big part of that line and while he wasn’t the best fighter, he never backed down from anyone. I honestly wonder if this trade would’ve happened if he had been healthy all season. That time on IR really hurt his spot in the lineup.

While another pick in the draft this weekend is great, I believe Dorsett meant more to the team than a third round pick (especially since the odds that Brian Boyle or Dan Carcillo will be returning are slim; unless this move means the Rangers picked Carcillo over Dorsett.) Guess this means the team thinks a couple of kids are ready. I’m okay with that if the team doesn’t take a step back by making this switch. Then again this trade could very well have to do with the fact the cap was set at $69 million for next year, which is lower than anyone expected.

Either way, what’s done is done and I wish Dorsett good luck in Vancouver next year. I’ll miss watching his warmup routine each night (his stretches were interesting, to say the least). It’s also a good thing he decided to get married on a Saturday rather than a Friday. Otherwise he would’ve gotten this news at his wedding. Wonder how many Rangers will be there tomorrow

 

(Photo: Melissa Andus)

Rangers Make Appearances In Awards Voting

As I said yesterday when writing about Dominic Moore taking home the Masterton Trophy, the winners of these awards is never a surprise. I think one winner last night caught me offguard but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. (I fully expected Varlamov to take the Vezina but Rask deserved it just as much.)

The fun is when the full voting list is released so we can see where everyone else landed – who was higher than expected, who was lower than expected, how close the votes really were and my favorite “how the heck did that guy get a vote for that award?”. Personally I look at the lists to see if any Rangers appear. This year, a few did.

Obviously we know Dominic Moore won the Masterton. While the vote totals weren’t released for this one, I think it’s safe to assume he won by a landslide.

Also winning by a landslide? Ryan O’Reilly of the Colorado Avalanche in getting the Lady Byng:

1. Ryan O’Reilly, COL 1181 (110-5-8-1-3)
2. Martin St. Louis, NYR 358 (4-20-27-11-10)
3. Patrick Marleau, SJ 323 (3-15-23-21-10)

I don’t think you will see any other vote with that big of a gap between first and second place. That said, Greg Wyshynski put it best in the article those numbers came from when he said:

No idea how a guy who bolted from his team in-season gets nominated for a sportsmanship award.

I have wondered the same thing since the nomination was announced. You probably noticed I never mentioned it. Showing the vote totals is as close as I will come to discussing it because I have no idea how he received any nominations for that award this year, nonetheless enough to come in second place.

As for Rangers not finishing in the top three, Henrik Lundqvist once again made an appearance in the Vezina voting:

1. Tuukka Rask, BOS 103 (16-6-5)
2. Semyon Varlamov, COL 90 (9-13-6)
3. Ben Bishop, TB 32 (1-6-9)
4. Carey Price, MTL 26 (2-3-7)
5. Jonathan Quick, LA 9 (1-1-1)
6. Henrik Lundqvist, NYR 5 (1-0-0)
7. Steve Mason, PHI 3 (0-1-0)
8. Sergei Bobrovsky, CBJ 1 (0-0-1)
Kari Lehtonen, DAL 1 (0-0-1)

I really want to know who gave him that one vote. As much as I think he’s a phenomenal goalie, that’s probably accurate for the season he had. Next year he’ll be back towards the top.

Ryan McDonagh landed around where we all expected him to in Norris voting:

1. Duncan Keith, CHI 1033 (68-35-17-7-2)
2. Zdeno Chara, BOS 667 (21-39-22-19-17)
3. Shea Weber, NSH 638 (26-23-29-19-15)
4. Ryan Suter, MIN 351 (9-12-20-22-11)
5. Alex Pietrangelo, STL 304 (3-13-18-25-18)
6. Drew Doughty, LA 284 (8-6-17-18-23)
7. Erik Karlsson, OTT 70 (0-5-3-4-8)
8. Ryan McDonagh, NYR 53 (0-1-4-5-11)
9. Victor Hedman, TB 42 (1-1-0-5-10)
10. Mark Giordano, CGY 36 (1-0-2-3-7)

Sure I wanted him to get a nomination or be higher on the list but those are some pretty big names above him. Being in the top ten is huge and I fully expect him to move up that list next season.

For the Calder, Chris Kreider managed to get himself a few votes:

1. Nathan MacKinnon, COL 1347 (130-6-1-0-0)
2. Ondrej Palat, TB 791 (5-78-29-15-5)
3. Tyler Johnson, TB 352 (0-13-29-30-26)
4. Torey Krug, BOS 287 (1-9-23-25-24)
5. Olli Maatta, PIT 225 (0-11-18-16-10)
6. Jacob Trouba, WPG 213 (1-11-17-9-14)
7. Hampus Lindholm, ANA 208 (0-7-15-22-18)
8. Sean Monahan, CGY 38 (0-2-2-3-5)
9. Frederik Andersen, ANA 25 (0-0-0-4-13)
10. Chris Kreider, NYR 20 (0-0-1-3-6)
11. Seth Jones, NSH 15 (0-0-0-4-3)
12. Valeri Nichushkin, DAL 14 (0-0-0-3-5)

Honestly I’m disappointed in this one. Not because I think he should be higher. He shouldn’t. But he had such an edge coming into the season and he blew it. Oh well. I would rather him have an average rookie year and become a star later on than vice versa. And as disappointed as I am, I’m sure Nashville and Dallas fans are even more so.

Lastly, we have the non-player awards. Glen Sather came in 11th for GM of the year. Actually wouldn’t have been surprised to see him higher on that list.

But the biggest surprise? Alain Vigneault didn’t get a single vote for the Jack Adams award. I’m not saying he should have won but not a single vote? I guess it could be worse as somehow Darryl Sutter didn’t get one either. Those two coaches were just the last two standing at the end of the year. Obviously they had nothing to do with their teams getting so far.

And with that we can finally close the book on the 2013-14 season. While I’m not sure much will change in the number of Rangers attending the awards next year, let’s hope at least some have to go to be honored for a trophy they won a week or two before.

 

(Photo: Melissa Andus)

Dominic Moore Wins Masterton Trophy

The NHL awards are supposed to be the league’s shining moment after a long season. I personally see them as something no one really cares about but that doesn’t mean they aren’t necessary. The problem I find with them is that almost every award is a virtual lock before the show even begins so the only reason to watch is to see which winners screw up their speeches.

For instance, take the Masterton Trophy, the award dedicated to the “player who best exemplifies the characteristics of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey”. There is not a single person who didn’t know Dominic Moore was winning it this year. Sure, Manny Malhotra had a case by coming back from an eye injury and might have won any other year but no one was beating Moore’s story. (I’m not rehashing it again. Everyone knows it unless you’ve been living under a rock the past year.)

But to make it worth watching, the league had the Stars’ Rich Peverley present the award. For those who don’t know Peverley’s story, he had a heart attack and collapsed on the bench during a game back in March and basically is extremely lucky to be alive right now. While he still hopes to continue his career, I don’t think it will happen. I’m guessing neither does the NHL which is why they had him present the award this year since he won’t ever get the chance to be nominated for it.

Anyway after Peverley got a standing ovation, Moore took to the stage. I wasn’t sure if I would make it through his speech but he kept it quick, probably because he wouldn’t have made it through otherwise. As honored as he said he was to win the award, I think he would give it up in a second to have his wife back. Hopefully she is looking down on him and is proud of him right now.

Congrats Dom! Hopefully next year, after you re-sign with the Rangers, the award you are holding you can raise above your head.

 

(Photo: Melissa Andus)

Thoughts On The Rangers 2014-15 Schedule

A lot of people have been saying it seems early for the NHL to release next years’ schedule. That’s because it is – last year the schedule was released on July 19th. Actually impressed they not only got it out at a reasonable time this year but a month earlier than last year. The only bad news is we have to wait for July 1st to circle certain dates as we don’t know where certain players are going yet (i.e. when will last years captains, yes that is plural for a reason, be returning to MSG).

As we mentioned yesterday, the season opens on the road in St. Louis with the home opener four nights later against the Maple Leafs. Here’s what else we know:

* This year the Rangers once again have 13 back-to-backs. The strange part is none of those see both games at home and only once is the first game of a back-to-back in MSG (and it’s the last one of the year on April 6-7). Eight times the Rangers start on the road and come home for the second night and four times they are both on the road. Two of the road-home games are home-and-homes with the Carolina Hurricanes (December 20-21) and Philadelphia Flyers (November 28-29).

* Looks like the Rangers will spend most of November and February at home and a lot of December and January on the road:

* Tampa Bay Lightning fans will get their fill of Marty St. Louis during a two week span at the end of November when the Bolts and Rangers play three times, twice in New York (November 17th and December 1st) and once in Tampa (November 26th). The good news for Bolts fans is they won’t have to see him again until the playoffs as those are the only three games the teams play against each other. Question is will those games be the return of the Rangers’ captain as well?

* The Rangers get out of New York in early January as they make a trip to California the first week of the month. Speaking of which, what are the odds the Rangers game on January 8th goes to overtime? That’s when the 2014 Stanley Cup finalists first meet out in LA. The Kings then come to New York on March 24th.

* After last years’ record nine game home stand in December, the longest home stand of the season this year is only four games (happens four times). While some teams might be complaining about that, I’m pretty sure the Rangers aren’t after what happened last year. Then again, the Rangers do have either three or four game home stands broken up by one or two games so those are like having long home stands.

* The boys also don’t spend a lot of time at once on the road as their longest road trip is only five games March 4th through March 14th. They do have two four game road trips plus two three game trips broken up by a home game against the Islanders.

* As for the holidays, take a guess where the Rangers will be the day before American Thanksgiving and New Years’ Eve? If you guessed the state of Florida, you would be correct. I’m impressed they were able to get there again for both holidays since we don’t play the Lightning and Panthers as much as usual. (The day before Thanksgiving will be our only trip to Tampa and New Years Eve is the only trip to Sunrise.)

* The Rangers last game of the season is in Washington. Odds that game is a playoff preview? I’d say it’s almost a guarantee it will feel like an eight game series for the first round with that game included. The boys also have two huge games against the Devils in April. Here’s to hoping, yet again, they clinch early. Or maybe one of those games will help to officially eliminate our rival.

I’m sure a couple more dates will be circled on calendars after the craziness of July 1st comes and goes. Until then, you can see the full schedule above or you can find an easier to read version here.

We also know two more preseason games as apparently the Rangers will be playing the Blackhawks in Chicago on Friday, September 26th and in New York on Friday, October 3rd. Unless they have another preseason game on the road, that should be the full schedule but we will know for sure tomorrow.

The best news of the day? Training camp opens on September 18th. That’s less than three months away! Who’s already ready for Rangers hockey? It will be here before we know it!

 

(Photo: New York Rangers official twitter account)