Rangers Extend Qualifying Offers + Prospect Camp Begins

One of the first deadlines of the offseason involves insuring teams keep the rights to their RFAs. The Rangers did that by sending out their qualifying offers to those players they wanted to keep:

No surprise that Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller, Kevin Hayes and Dylan McIlrath were given their qualifying offers. I don’t expect any of them to actually sign them but this allows the Rangers to retain their rights, which they were going to do whether they plan to re-sign or trade them. You don’t lose young players for nothing. All four players have arbitration rights so basically this is the start of the tug of war that will take place over the next two months. I expect all four to elect arbitration. I don’t expect a single one to ever step foot in a court room for the hearing.

As for Hartford players, there were no surprises either as the Rangers also qualified Tommy Hughes, Mat Bodie, Marek Hrvik and Niklas Jensen. Of that group, I’m a little surprised on Hughes as I hadn’t heard much about him over the past year but the other three were basically as much of a given as the first four. All four of those players will be fighting for a spot in camp this September.

That leaves Luke Adam, Michael St. Croix, Chris McCarthy, Josh Nichols, Mike Kantor and Sam Noreau as players to not receive a qualifying offer and therefore become UFAs on July 1st. I honestly thought a couple of those players were already UFAs so no losses here.

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The Rangers also officially started their annual prospect camp this morning. Unlike other organizations, this is not open to the public so all news comes from the beat writers who decide to show up rather than take their vacation time. Here is the roster of attendees:

Player Pos. Ht. Wt. Shoots/Catches DOB 15-16 Team Acquired
Calle Andersson D 6-2 217 Right 5/16/94 Hartford (AHL) 4th Rd, 2012
Nick Betz RW 6-5 226 Right 7/18/95 Erie (OHL) Invite
Pavel Buchnevich LW 6-2 175 Left 4/17/95 SKA (KHL) 3rd Rd, 2013
Dmitri Buinitsky RW 6-1 174 Left 3/1/97 Dinamo Minsk (KHL) Invite
Adam Chapie RW 6-1 185 Right 7/6/91 UMass-Lowell (NCAA) Free Agent
Sean Day D 6-2 231 Left 1/9/98 Mississauga (OHL) 3rd Rd, 2016
Troy Donnay D 6-7 205 Right 2/18/94 Greenville (ECHL) Free Agent
Reid Duke C 6-0 192 Right 1/28/96 Brandon (WHL) Invite
Steven Fogarty C 6-3 215 Right 4/19/93 Notre Dame (NCAA) 3rd Rd, 2011
Gabriel Fontaine C 6-1 179 Left 4/30/97 Rouyn-Noranda (QMJHL) 6th Rd, 2016
Tim Gettinger LW 6-6 202 Left 4/14/98 Sault Ste. Marie (OHL) 5th Rd, 2016
Ryan Graves D 6-5 226 Left 5/21/95 Hartford (AHL) 4th Rd, 2013
Ryan Gropp LW 6-2 187 Left 9/16/96 Seattle (WHL) 2nd Rd, 2015
Brandon Halverson G 6-4 200 Left 3/29/96 Sault Ste. Marie (OHL) 2nd Rd, 2014
Michael Joly RW 5-11 175 Left 5/5/95 Cape Breton (QMJHL) AHL Contract
Robin Kovacs RW 6-0 171 Left 11/16/96 AIK IF (Allsvenskan) 3rd Rd, 2015
Brad Morrison C 6-0 171 Left 1/4/97 Prince George (WHL) 4th Rd, 2015
Cristoval Nieves C 6-3 201 Left 1/23/94 Un. of Mich. (NCAA) 2nd Rd, 2012
Turner Ottenbreit D 6-3 192 Left 7/9/97 Seattle (WHL) Invite
Matthew Plesa RW 5-11 180 Right 9/7/84 SK Lejon (HockeyEttan) Invite
Nicholas Plesa C 6-2 190 Left 7/8/93 SK Lejon (HockeyEttan) Invite
Peter Plesa LW 6-0 185 Left 12/6/95 SK Lejon (HockeyEttan) Invite
Ty Ronning RW 5-9 167 Right 10/20/97 Vancouver (WHL) 7th Rd, 2016
Mackenzie Skapski G 6-3 191 Left 6/15/94 Greenville (ECHL) 6th Rd, 2013
C.J. Smith LW 5-11 183 Left 12/1/94 UMass-Lowell (NCAA) Invite
Malte Stromwall RW 6-0 185 Right 8/24/94 AIK IF (Allsvenskan) Free Agent
Adam Tambellini C 6-4 195 Left 11/1/94 Hartford (AHL) 3rd Rd, 2013
Tyler Wall G 6-3 202 Left 1/14/98 Leamington (GOJHL) 6th Rd, 2016
Rylan Yaremko D 6-3 200 Right 9/15/96 West Kelowna (BCHL) Invite
Zachary Zborosky RW 6-0 174 Right 10/15/96 Kootenay (WHL) Invite
Sergey Zborovskiy D 6-4 198 Right 2/21/97 Regina (WHL) 3rd Rd, 2015

 

If anything major happens, we will cover it. Otherwise, Blueshirts United is your go-to for all prospect camp news. (As I would just be repeating what they say, there is no point in not getting it straight from the source.)

 

(Photo: Melissa Andus)

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Rangers Add 6 at Draft + Make D Trade

Yesterday, the Rangers added seven players to the organization – six through the draft and one in a trade.

Let’s do the trade first. Just when everyone thought the Rangers were done for the day, they announced:

Okay, then.

First thought from most was who is Nick Holden? He is a 29-year old left defenseman who played all 82 games last season (21:53 per game) and registered 22 points (6 goals, 16 assists). He is signed for two more seasons at $1.65 million per season. While the points don’t jump out, the number of games/minutes do so this obviously wasn’t for the 7th D position.

Scouting report from a friend who watched him last season is that he’s big (6’4″, 210 lbs), throws a lot hits (217 in 2015-16), can be solid when he’s confident but gets a little “hot potato” when pinned in his own zone. That last part worries me. Not just because that obviously isn’t good but Rangers fans will turn on him very quickly if that happens too much early on. Second thought from most was this was the precursor of something else so guess we’ll wait and see how much playing time he will be getting.

Now onto the draft.

While many hoped the Rangers would find their way into the first or second round, that didn’t happen. GM Jeff Gorton did say afterwards that he tried but was unsuccessful. Being that every trade that involved first round draft picks this year was for another first round draft pick, I’m going to assume the issue was the Rangers not having one. Maybe next year.

What they did do is this:

Round 3, #81 – D Sean Day

First thing to note about Day is where he was born – Belgium. He is the first Belgian to ever be selected in the NHL draft. Granted he moved to America when he was very young, but he still holds that distinction. (The Blackhawks would pick a true Belgian just two picks later.)

Day sounds like another project pick, a Rangers specialty if you will. He was expected to go much higher (some even thinking his talent would put him in the first round) but fell due to a couple of on and off seasons. The reason for that? He’s been dealing with a few personal issues recently that you can read about here. Is it an excuse? No. But I can see why the Rangers took the gamble. If that’s all it is, he should be able to snap out of it (for lack of a better phrase) in time. The reviews seem to be good so hopefully this was another diamond the Rangers found. Although if they keep doing that in the third round or later, we might never see them pick in the first or second again.

You can see Days’ first interview as a Ranger here. It’s worth watching if you haven’t yet.

Round 4, #98 – D Tarmo Reunanen

The Rangers went with another left-handed defenseman when they selected 6’0″, 178-lb Finn Reunanen in the next round. He was injured last season so only played 11 games but had two goals, four assists in that span. The year before, he had 30 points (8 goals, 22 assists) in 42 games. We’ll see if those numbers translate when he moves to the other side of the Atlantic. It will definitely be a couple of years before Rangers fans see him but this could end up being another good pickup.

Round 5, #141 – LW Tim Gettinger

At 6’6″ and 202-lb, Gettinger is a big boy. He had 39 points in 60 games in the OHL last season. His draft profile has him as a mobile power forward. He probably needs to grow into his body so it will be a couple of years before we see him on the ice. He is teammates with another Rangers prospect, Brandon Halverson, so I’m guessing he was seen while the organization was watching him.

Round 6, #171 – C Gabriel Fontaine

Fontaine had 45 points in 63 games with Rouyn-Noranda of the QMJHL last season. He also had 5-11-16 in 20 postseason games as Rouyn-Noranda made a surprising run to the Memorial Cup final (losing to the London Knights in the final). At 19 years old, Fontaine was actually in his second year eligible for the draft. Because of that, there isn’t a lot out there about the 6’1″, 187-lb forward so we’ll have to wait and see on this one.

Round 6, #174 – G Tyler Wall

Let’s just get the obvious out of the way – yes, the Rangers selected a goalie named Wall. I feel bad for the kid and cringe for the headlines if he succeed at the NHL, or even AHL, level.

The Rangers have a bunch of goalies in the organization so picking another seemed a little odd. That said, they need to make sure they have Lundqvist’s predecessor. And once they find him, good goalies are something teams always trade for so the others should be able to bring back something in the future. Wall is planning to attend UMass-Lowell in the fall so expect to hear a lot about him in the coming years. Maybe we’ll even get to see him star in either the Beanpot or Frozen Four in a few years time.

Round 7, #201 – RW Ty Ronning

Another one to start with getting the obvious out of the way – yes, this is former NHLer Cliff Ronnings’ son. You will hear a lot about this if he makes the NHL.

At 5’9″, 167 lbs, Ronning is a little on the smaller size but that’s not always a bad thing. He had 31 goals, 28 assists in 67 games in the WHL last season. Late round picks are always a gamble but you never know with his family connections.

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And with that, another draft in the books. Tomorrow starts the annual prospect camp where all draft picks except Reunanen will be attendance. (Not sure if that is due to injury or the fact he is in Finland.) You can see the full list of attendees here. We’ll have a lot more on that and other news (qualifying offers are due in at 5pm tomorrow) throughout the week.

 

(Photo: Melissa Andus. I have no idea why I have a photo of Nick Holden but I do.)

NHL News + Notes for 6/23

The past week has been relatively quiet (minus yesterdays’ “big announcement” that everyone has known for months) in regards to NHL news. I expect things to pick up starting tomorrow so it will be the last quiet week till probably the middle of July. Hope everyone enjoyed it.

  • Let’s start with the biggest news – the NHL is officially expanding. Starting in 2017-18, the 31st team will be located in Las Vegas. I still think this is a dumb idea but what’s done is done so we’ll see how it works. It also means next June we will have an expansion draft. Each team can save 7 forwards, 3 defenseman and 1 goalie (or 8 skaters and 1 goalie) and will lose exactly one player. You can read all the rules here. For now (as in at the exact moment of this writing), the only players the Rangers are required to keep (unless they agree to waive their no-move clauses) are Henrik LundqvistDan Girardi and Marc Staal. The only players exempt? Brady Skjei and Pavel Buchnevich. Otherwise everyone is fair game. Predicting anything further right now would be foolish since we still don’t know who will even be on the team in 2016-17 so we’ll leave that for another day.
  • One person who won’t be on the Rangers but will need to be saved is Keith Yandle. Late last night he signed with the Florida Panthers – for 7 years at $6.35 million per year. The contract also includes a full no move clause for the first 6 years and a limited no trade clause for the 7th year (i.e. when he’s 37). Personally, I think it’s a bit much so am fine with the Rangers letting him go. I am surprised he signed with Florida but I would do that too if handed a contract like that. The good news is it means the Rangers get an additional 4th round pick in 2017 because he signed. Since I never wrote my predictions for him in a post when he was traded here, I’m going to write a new one now. That contract will be a compliance buyout in the next lockout. I would be shocked if it wasn’t.
  • Last night the NHL’s annual awards ceremony took place in Las Vegas. Only Ranger player who was a finalist was Mats Zuccarello (Masterton) and he didn’t win. I expected him to lose to Dupuis. Instead the writers decided the award is no longer the sob story award. We’ll see how long that lasts. Honestly, the only thing of note as a Rangers fan was this little tidbit:

    //platform.twitter.com/widgets.jsSeriously, who gave Ryan McDonagh a Norris trophy vote this year? And a third place one no less? Gave me a good laugh.

  • Guess we should get to some actual Rangers news. Once again, Rangers prospects will be heading to Traverse City in September for the annual prospect tournament run by the Detroit Red Wings. Maybe this year they will make a good showing.
  • In announcing the tournament, the Red Wings also announced their training camp will open on Friday, September 23rd so it’s probably safe to assume that’s when most camps will open. And yes, that is a week later than normal. You can thank the World Cup tournament for that. Also means tranining camp opens exactly three months from today. Expecting a lot to happen before that.

That’s all for now but with the draft tomorrow, I’m sure there will be other news very soon. And yes, I expect the Rangers to make a trade or two this weekend. And no, I won’t begin to guess with who or who goes. I just hope they don’t do anything they regret.

 

(Photo: Melissa Andus)

Thoughts On The Rangers 2016-17 Schedule

We learned yesterday that the Rangers would be opening at home for the first time in 10 seasons against the Islanders. That game will be part of six (out of nine) games played at MSG in October. As for the rest of the schedule, while there may be other dates added to fans “must see” lists in the coming weeks, here’s what we know for sure:

* Once again teams will play every team at least twice. For the Rangers, they will have a home and home with every team in the west, three games with every team in the Atlantic Division and at least four games against Metro Division opponents. This year, we get lucky enough to see Columbus and Pittsburgh five times. I knew the Penguins would be on that list.

* Speaking of the Stanley Cup champs, the Rangers first match up with the Penguins comes on November 21st as part of a home and home that week with our division rivals. In the past few seasons, the first game against the team that eliminated the Rangers the previous year meant something. This year? Not so much. It’s just another annoying game against Pittsburgh, except this time with even more Penguins love than normal.

* In regards to back-to-backs, the Rangers are down to 15 after having 17 last year. The bad news? Four of those are consecutively in March. In a 15-day span, the Rangers will play 8 games and every one is part of a back-to-back. (They also have another back-to-back the week before that span.) I don’t even know where to start with that. As for the breakdown, none will be consecutive home games and only four will start at home before going on the road, same amount as ones that are completely on the road. That leaves seven games that start on the road and then have the boys returning home. I need to check the numbers but my memory seems to be the Rangers play poorly in the second half of those. I’m also sure most of those teams will be waiting in New York for the Rangers to return.

* Every team also has a mandatory Bye Week this year, where there are no games or practices. For the Rangers, that takes place in the beginning of January as the team has nothing between a road game vs Blue Jackets on January 7th and a home game vs Maple Leafs on January 13th.

* Another date to circle? February 28, 2017 as that is the Trade Deadline. Of course the Rangers are again home that evening. Wonder what “shiny new toy” will be making their debut against the Capitals that night.

* Looks like the Rangers will spend a lot of October and November at home with 14 out of 24 games at MSG (6 of 9 and 8 of 15, respectively) and a lot of March on the road with 10 out of 15 away from MSG, including the California roadtrip at the end of the month.

* As for the holidays, the Rangers are doing something a little different this year. The Rangers will once again be home the day before American Thanksgiving, this time hosting the Penguins. Day after? Once again part of the NBC Thanksgiving Showdown in Philadelphia that Friday. I guess instead of Florida they are surrounding themselves with Pennsylvania that week. As for New Years’ Eve, the team will actually be in Denver as part of a two game road trip leading into the new year.

* Speaking of road trips, the Rangers longest this year is only four games, which happens twice (once in November and once in March). Their longest homestand is also only four games which occurs in early February. At least they have a balanced schedule this year.

* Finally, the Rangers last game of the season is at home against the Penguins on April 9th. It is part of a back-to-back with the team in Ottawa the day before. Considering the rest of April sees them playing the Flyers and Capitals, I’m just going to say the Senators game is a must win and pray the other three mean nothing. I know I say this every year but seriously, can we make sure those games mean nothing, boys? Please?

 

You can see the full schedule here. And with that, let the countdown begin. Only 114 days until the craziness starts again!

 

(Photo: Melissa Andus)

Rangers Trade Yandle To Florida

The inevitable happened. The Rangers traded Keith Yandle. Okay, they didn’t technically trade “him” but his rights. That part wasn’t surprising. What was surprising was the location:

Okay then. It’s an interesting play by the Panthers as they are not one of the first teams I would think he would go to. But why not give it a try and see if you can sign him. If they can’t, it cost them a 6th round pick. If they can, it’s that plus a 4th round pick and they have Yandle. No lose situation there, if you ask me. Just not sure I see him signing there.

As for the fact the Rangers traded him rather than re-signing him?

Look, I fully admit I have no connections and I won’t even pretend that I know everything about the NHL or the Rangers but in this case, I have to do this:

TOLD YOU SO!

Okay, I had to get that off my chest since I have been telling people from the moment that trade happened that Yandle would only be a Ranger for a year and a half. He, like Marty St. Louis before him and Eric Staal after him, was supposed to be the missing piece. The plan was for the Rangers to win the Cup in 2015 or 2016. It didn’t happen.

Honestly, I didn’t like the trade from day one because I knew there was no way the Rangers would be able to re-sign him so I looked at it as giving up a lot for a rental. (Yes the rental was 18 months instead of 6 but it was still a rental.) Back in January, when everyone was wondering if the Rangers would trade Yandle at the trade deadline, I wrote:

Does this mean the Rangers plan to lose him for nothing this summer? Yes it does. But this has been the agenda all along. The Rangers knew there was no way they were going to be able to re-sign Yandle this summer from the moment they got him. They were in win-now mode and had planned to win either last year or this year (or both) and thought he was the missing piece. Then they would let him cash in somewhere else.

And now it’s time for him to cash in. Will that be with the Panthers or another team? We’ll find out in the next 10 days. But it won’t be with the Rangers because it was never meant to be with the Rangers.

I understand the frustration by some fans as Yandle should have been a good fit for Vigneault’s system. But someone had to go to make room for both Brady Skjei and Dylan McIlrath, and while some fans hoped that would be certain other players, the Rangers don’t agree. Do I agree with their thinking? I’m half and half. But the Rangers are all in so rather than lament on who is still here, I’m going to say replacing Boyle and Yandle with McIlrath and Skjei is not only a step in the right direction but a win for the Rangers.

The question now is what else does the team have planned? Now that the first domino has fallen, I expect we’ll found out soon enough.

 

(Photo: Melissa Andus)

The Rangers Open Their 90th Season…

At home! Against the New York Islanders.

Well one out of two isn’t bad. It’s been 10 years (2007-08) since the last time the Rangers season opener was their home opener. The Rangers actually won that game, and scored 37 seconds into the season, so maybe there’s hope. But the Islanders? Well at least it’s not the Penguins in Pittsburgh so they aren’t the opponent for banner raising again, although I might have preferred that. (Washington gets that honor this year.)

While the rest of the schedule won’t be released until tomorrow (because the NHL loves to tease it’s fans), we do know one more game thanks to other teams’ home openers being released as well. The Rangers will be in Carolina on October 28th. I have no idea why their home opener is so late but it is and the Rangers are their opponent.

We’ll find out the rest of the schedule, as well as when the Rangers mandatory “bye week” is, tomorrow afternoon. (For those who don’t remember, the players demanded a bye week this season that entails no games/practices in return for agreeing to the new overtime format 3-on-3 format for all-star game last season. I knew it was something 3-on-3 related. I believe that is only in place for one season and guessing they wanted it this year because of the World Cup tournament.)

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As for other news, there isn’t much other than rumors ramping up as free agency draws near. I won’t talk about rumors on here as I continue to stand by the belief the Rangers don’t let anyone know what they are doing until they do it, meaning anything you hear is either false or a leak by the team that is meant to be nothing more than a decoy. We’ll see if I’m right as the summer goes along.

I do want to note that one year ago when the schedule was released, fans were talking about the new rules that would be added for 2015-16. At that time, I said of the offsides rule:

And while I understand offside goals being an issue, with how infrequent that happens, there are other things in my mind that should’ve been on this list first.

So maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about after all…

 

(Photo: Melissa Andus)

NHL News + Notes for 6/15

Going to start a new feature on here. Basically expect a bunch of quick hits regarding things going on around the NHL that will in some way involve the Rangers.

  • Let’s start with actual Rangers news. It sounds like the Rangers have re-signed their first player of the offseason. And it is…Chris Summers. Okay, that isn’t exactly exciting news but you can never have too much defensive depth. Expect Summers to fight for the seventh defense spot in training camp and be on the short list of call ups if an injury hits. According to CapFriendly, the contract is one year, two-way deal at $600k in the NHL and $350k in the AHL. Due to number of pro games he’s played, he will need to clear waivers to be sent down but I still have no issues with this contract at all.
  • Obviously the Rangers have a lot more to do than this so a couple of dates to keep in mind:
    June 15th (i.e. today) – Buyout window opens. It will be open through June 30th.
    June 27th – Qualifying offers are due in for RFAs. The Rangers have a bunch of RFAs in Hartford but the four who will definitely be getting QOs are Chris Kreider, J.T. MillerKevin Hayes and Dylan McIlrath. And yes, they will still get qualifying offers even if the Rangers are thinking of trading them. If they don’t, they become UFAs on July 1st and the Rangers lose them for nothing. That’s not happening.
  • Surprisingly, the Rangers still do not have a new assistant coach to replace the since departed Ulf Samuelsson. There were some random rumors that Rick Bowness would be leaving Tampa. After signing an extension yesterday he said he had no idea where those rumors came from. (Personally I didn’t think they made sense since everything I heard said he was staying in Tampa.) I’m not sure what they are waiting for as most assume they will be promoting Jeff Beukeboom. Unless other changes are on the way as well and they want to announce new crew all at once. It’s possible they could be waiting for Scott Arniel to find something. This way they changed the staff without actually firing any of them.
  • Yesterday, hockey fans were abuzz with news that expansion would indeed be happening in the 2017-18 season. This wasn’t really a secret, nor was the fact it would only be to Las Vegas, but we basically got confirmation. So what does that mean? Well for starters, next June there will be an expansion draft and the Rangers will lose someone off their roster. I refuse to speculate who or anything else until the guidelines are set. Once they are, like everyone else, I will have plenty to say on this. For now I’ll just say I don’t understand how a league that is bleeding money thinks it’s a good idea to add teams. But that’s the NHL.

And with that, we’ll wait for some actual news which should be coming soon. I’ll blame the quietness on the fact that the playoffs were still going on. Otherwise I would be really worried it’s been so quiet.

 

(Photo: Melissa Andus)