Rangers Start to Re-Sign RFAs as Arbitration Looms

Four days after the frenzy of July 1st signals another deadline, of sorts – filing for arbitration.

Players had until 5 pm today to file for arbitration while teams have until 5 pm tomorrow to do the same. Of the Rangers restricted free agents, the following players are arbitration eligible:

  • Chris Kreider
  • J.T. Miller
  • Kevin Hayes
  • Dylan McIlrath
  • Marek Hrivik
  • Mat Bodie
  • Tommy Hughes

Of the names on that list, Mat Bodie didn’t need to worry about filing as he re-signed earlier in the day. Shortly after the Rangers announced that, they also announced RFA Nicklas Jensen was also re-signed. Jensen didn’t have arbitration rights but is expected to fight for a roster spot in training camp so this was an important one to get done. Per Larry Brooks, both contracts are one year, two-way at $600k.

That left six others who could possibly elect arbitration. To the surprise of no one, four of them did as Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller, Kevin Hayes and Dylan McIlrath filed before the 5 pm deadline. Does this mean they are headed to arbitration? No it doesn’t, and I stand by my belief that none of them will get there. It just means we have a deadline of when they will sign by and won’t have to worry about them not being around in training camp. The other positive? No offer sheets for any of these players. Not that anyone really expected one anyway.

As for Marek Hrivik and Tommy Hughes, the fact they didn’t file leads me to expect their contracts to be done shortly.  (I don’t expect there to be any issues with either re-signing.)


And now we wait for more news. Something is going to happen. Everyone knows it. Just no one knows what, which is exactly how the Rangers like to do business.


(Photo: Melissa Andus)


Rangers Find New Asst Coach (+ Go Bargain Hunting)

July 1st always makes me laugh. Teams cry they don’t have money and then they spend an exorbitant amount on players they probably don’t need. The good news is the Rangers decided to sit on the sidelines of the frenzy today. In fact, their biggest news came before free agency officially opened when they (finally) announced who their new assistant coach would be:

Honestly, I would’ve been happy if that was the only thing the Rangers did all day. No it wasn’t a surprise, but it was what everyone wanted and expected from the moment Ulf Samuelsson left. Jeff Beukeboom is a fan favorite in New York and has been working with the organizations’ defense for the past four years in Hartford. If he manages to make the Rangers defense look competent next year, he will reach Messier status with this fan base.

An hour later, free agency opened and Rangers fans watched as mediocre teams threw loads of money at players they hoped would get them over the hump. We also watched as Eric Staal signed with Minnesota and Viktor Stalberg headed to Carolina. (Side note: I expected Stalberg to get a lot more than he did.)

It looked like the Rangers were going to stay out of the day completely when the bargain deals started rolling in. First, defenseman Adam Clendening.

Clendening bounced around a little bit last year but originally was drafted by the Blackhawks in 2011. I honestly don’t know much about him other than he went to Boston University, is 23-years old and will be a depth defenseman for the Rangers. (He’s either #7 or starting the year in Hartford.) He comes in at a very reasonable one year, two way deal at $600k/$300k.

He was joined a couple hours later by another ex-Blackhawk depth defenseman in Michael Paloitta. To be honest, all I know about him is he helped Lake Erie win the Calder Cup this past season. He is also on a one year, two way deal at $600k/$70k but expect him to be headed straight for Hartford.

Then came the “names”, if you will, as Michael Grabner and Nathan Gerbe joined the organization. What do they have in common besides both being forwards? Their resumes include speed and penalty killing. At least the Rangers realized a weakness last year and focused on fixing it.

Born in Austria, Grabner was a first round draft pick (14th overall) in 2006. (This is why the Rangers don’t keep their first round picks. They would rather go acquire ones from other teams.) The right winger, who will be 29 when the season begins, joins the team for two years at a very reasonable $1.6 million per year. (Considering his actual salary was $5 million last year, it’s safe to say he will be looking to redeem himself.) He spent 2015-16 with Maple Leafs but Rangers fans know him more for his years with the Islanders. During those five seasons, the Rangers watched as he put up 90 goals and 54 assists for 144 points. He currently is tied for fourth in the league in shorthanded goals (12) since 2010-11 and won the fastest skater competition at the All-Star game in 2011. (Carl Hagelin won it the next season.)

Gerbe is known for one thing – his size. At 5’5″, he is actually smaller than Mats Zuccarello. (I’ve seen them stand next to each other, it’s close.) Born in Michigan, Gerbe will also be 29 when the season begins. He has amassed 138 points (58-80) in almost 400 NHL games with the Sabres and Hurricanes. Unlike Grabner, who may be pegged for a more offensive role, Gerbe was definitely brought in to fill out the bottom six. Personally, I expect him to be the left wing on the fourth line unless the team is hit by a ton of injuries.


So far, that’s all the team has done. To be honest, that’s probably more than anyone expected them to do as the Rangers weren’t expected to be big players today. Now the fun begins as teams who missed out on free agents are more willing to make trades. Someone who still has a contract for next year won’t be here in September. The question is who? My guess is we’ll find out sometime this month.


(Photo: Melissa Andus. Yes that is Kevin Hayes talking with Adam Clendening. This was taken at the Comm Ave Classic (BU vs BC charity game) last July.)

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.


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)

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.


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:


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)