Tag: new york rangers

Rangers Drop All Four Road Games…Great For Rebuild

The New York Rangers embarked on their four-game road rip starting Monday. They kicked off the four-game series in Alberta with the Edmonton Oilers. After Edmonton the Rangers traveled to Vancouver, Calgary and finished it off Saturday night with the Minnesota Wild.

Rangers last four-games

The Oilers, were the closest and most evenly matched opponent for the Rangers in the four-game series. A team very similar in talent compared to the Rangers and close in the league standings. The Rangers ended losing the first game of the four game road series 3-2 in overtime vs Edmonton. Alexander Georgiev stopped 30-33 shots, Brendan Lemieux scored and showed Rangers fans why they are going to love him after fighting Jujhar Khaira. Also Brett Howden got the monkey off his back scoring his first goal in 35 games.

The Rangers traveled to Vancouver to face an extremely young but talented Canucks team. A game in which the Rangers held off the Canucks in the first period, but managed to allow three 2nd period goals. That was the deal breaker in the Rangers 4-1 loss Wednesday night. In hindsight, Pavel Buchnevich found the back of the net for his 16th goal of the year and his 5th goal in eight games.

After a days rest it was off to Calgary for New York. The Rangers took on the top team in the Western Conference and one of the best/most consistent NHL teams this season the Flames. After leaving the first tied 1-1 off a Neal Pionk rocket from Ryan Strome. The Rangers allowed two second period goals as that would be the dagger in the game. Resulting in a 5-1 lose.

The Rangers went back to back, Friday and Saturday night. Traveling from Calgary to Minnesota to play a game within a 24-hour notice was not easy and it clearly showed Saturday for New York. The Rangers were out shot heavily 46-28 in the game and left Henrik Lundqvist out to dry. The Wild took advantage of a tired Rangers team as they controlled the pace of the game and used their speed to get on the Rangers early. The Wild scored two 1st period goals from Ryan Donato and two 3rd period goals from Jared Spurgeon and J.T. Brown for a 5-2 Wild win. On the bright side Buchnevich scored his 17th of the season for his sixth goal in 10 games.

Why is it good for the rebuild?

Well the Rangers are allowing these young guys like Filip Chytil, Lias Andersson, Brett Howden, Neal Pionk to play a little more freely, see how important it is to play consistent every night and what late season, playoff push hockey looks like. Although the Rangers have lost 10 of their last 11 games it really is not as big as some of us may be making it. The Rangers were playing .500 hockey all season and around the 22nd mark in the NHL, well they have dropped three spots and are getting closer to the bottom of the league. AND a better 2019 draft pick. The Rangers are in no shape to win.

The consistent losing is never easy to handle but the games have been close besides for 10-12 minutes of every game where the opposing team gets an advantage. The Rangers are competing, their young players are able to play more loosely, make mistakes and learn from them. Plus we are 10-games away from the end of the 2018-19 season, there is no need to win. Compete, yes but Rangers fans would rather a top-5 draft pick than number 12, 13 draft pick. There is no benefit in winning right now. Plenty of years to come when the Rangers will need to push for the playoffs but right now Rangers fans know that is not advantageous for the big picture.

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Rangers Alexander Georgiev Proving To Be A Possible #1 In New York

The Rangers recorded yet another loss in extended regulation play. Of the Rangers past 10 games they have lost in a shootout or overtime in five of them. The Rangers dropped a close 3-2 game to the Edmonton Oilers Monday night.

Aside from the Rangers 69th point and 13th overtime loss on the season, Alexander Georgiev the Rangers back up (or is he a backup?) goalie played another tremendous game in between the pipes. Georgiev turned away 30 of the 33 shots he faced in the Oilers game. Aside from the Oilers power play goal and extremely controversial goalie interference goal in the first period. Georgiev shut the door in the second and third period.

Georgiev pushed aside the Oilers 14 second period shots and 10 third period shots. These were not basic saves either, Georgiev was making desperation saves, keeping the Rangers in the game and a sole reason they even picked up a point Monday night.

This was not the only game we have seen Georgiev play well and be the difference maker for the Rangers this season. In his last five starts Georgiev has allowed 12 goals on 118 shots. On the season Georgiev has a 10-11-3 record, 3.03 save percentage and .907 save percentage.

His most recent loss vs Dallas, Georgiev showed excellence yet again. Making 31 saves in a Rangers 1-0 loss. Or perhaps his 55 save performance vs Toronto when the Rangers won on February 10th. His 24 save performance vs the Islanders on January 12th. Or when he shutout the Islanders on November 21st making 29 saves leading the Rangers to their first win in eight games vs the Islanders.

Georgiev has strung together some unreal games this season. The only issue we have seen in his game. When he lets in 2-3 goals early he often continues down that road and blows up for 5+ goals against. It is not all his fault for allowing 5+ goals in five games this season and four goals against in four games this season. But aside from a few bad games, Georgiev has shown that in two or more years he has the potential to be a #1 goaltender for the Rangers.

With the Rangers splitting time between Lundqvist and Georgiev it has given him a major confidence booster. This is only a positive as it is something to look forward on a down year for fans. If Georgiev continues to play this way it will relieve a ton of stress and anxiety from fans when Lundqvist retires and the Rangers need a number one.

Readdressing The New York Rangers Rebuild

The Rangers are in the first full year technically of their rebuild. Although some could say that they were rebuilding last season in the months of November, they were not officially in a “rebuild” phase at that point. The Rangers went into the 2017-18 season with expectations to make the playoffs and around the 2018 NHL trade deadline is officially when the Rangers went into full rebuild mode.

It has been exactly a year since the start of the Rangers rebuild. Trading Ryan McDonagh, JT Miller, Rick Nash, Nick Holden, Michael Grabner began the rebuild. And now as everything has come full circle and the 2019 NHL trade deadline has come and gone the Rangers have traded two more long-time Ranger players for picks and prospects.

Since the 2018 NHL trade deadline we have seen a number of players leave the Rangers…

  • Ryan McDonagh
  • JT Miller
  • Nick Holden
  • Rick Nash
  • Kevin Hayes
  • Michael Grabner
  • Mats Zuccarello

Five of these seven names were all known as veterans or played a vital role in the success and make up of the Rangers franchise over the last 10 years.

As the Rangers have been a .500 team this season (to the surprise of many) they are still just getting started in this rebuild phase. The Rangers have two guaranteed 1st round picks this season. They also have two guaranteed second round picks.

*** Also have another second round pick but the contingency is if the Lighting win the Stanley Cup the 2nd rounder becomes a first this year if they do not win it sticks as a 2nd. 

Then the Rangers have a third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh. Bring the total to 10 picks this NHL 2019 draft and looking at another ten in the 2020 draft (1 first, 1 second, 2 thirds, 1 fourth, 1 fifth, 1 sixth, 3 sevenths). Therefore combined between the next two draft years the Rangers have twenty draft picks. And they are definitely not done trading, as next years deadline could feature depth forwards like Jesper Fast, Jimmy Vesey and Vladislav Namestikov to be traded that will potentially yield more draft picks.

Has a rebuild been different for many and most New York Rangers fans? Sure. Can we be upset with the direction the Rangers are going? Probably not, I have seen a lot of discredit and frustration towards Jeff Gorton regarding the Mats Zuccarello deal. But the Rangers received a 1st round pick, 2nd round pick, a 3rd round pick plus Brenden Lemieux for Hayes and Zuccarello. Could we possibly have got more for Zuccarello, perhaps but I doubt Gorton was sitting there denying better deals.

Looking at the Rangers prospects pool may also make some Rangers happier.

Rangers defensive prospects

  • Ryan Lindgren: From the looks of it Lindgren is a physical defenseman, not a lot of offensive upside but is very good and responsible in the d-zone. Has potential to be a four/five defenseman.
  • Rob O’Gara: Another defensive minded defenseman with not a lot of offensive upside that will be a fifth defenseman
  • Libor Hajek: One of the more highly sought out Rangers prospects. Hajek was very successful in the WHL but has not transitioned well to the AHL only collecting 5 points this season. He does have potential to be a number four defenseman.
  • Julius Bergman: Another physical defenseman who has been traded a few times and his stock has taken a toll, although he was a second rounder. Bergman could be a solid NHL defenseman if he stays disciplined.
  • John Gilmour: A defenseman that is one of the Rangers more underrated prospects, a very good skater, strong and has offensive upside. Can play power play and has potential to be a number four defenseman)
  • K’Andre Miller: Rangers first rounder last season and looking to be the Rangers next best defenseman. Miller is a very good two-way defenseman, when he cleans up his play on the defensive side of the puck will be a very good NHL defenseman)
  • Nils Lundkvist: Much like Miller has a lot of upside on the offensive side of the puck, a great skater (probably better than Miller) but needs work on the defensive side of the puck and upside to be a top four defenseman.
  • Nico Gross: Too early to tell as he still playing in the OHL but putting up very solid numbers for a defenseman.

The Rangers have some solid upside on their back end as long as they do not rush the process of Miller, Lundkvist and Lindgren the Rangers just in those three guys have a bright future on the blue line. Gilmour and Hajek are one of the more underrated Rangers prospects that could came out and provide some solid sturdiness to that blue line in a few years.

(My underrated defenseman that will pan out for the Rangers)

Rangers forward prospects:

  • Vinnie Lettieri: If used correctly he can be a great third line forward. We have seen Lettieri at the NHL level and he is not a flashy player, very simple, gets to the dirty areas and plays like a Ryan Strome almost.
  • Ryan Gropp: We have not seen him yet but reports say he has potential to be a top-six forward.
  • Ty Ronning: He has consistently performed better year by year and could be a top-six forward depending on adjustment to NHL game.
  • Vitali Kravstov: Rangers former first round pick, many are hoping to be a solid goal scorer at the NHL level. He is playing in the KHL and the Rangers planned to bring him up this season if he did not get injured.
  • Gabriel Fontaine: Having a better year already in the AHL compared to last season. In 2-3 years he could be a third line forward.
  • Filip Chytil: As we have seen this year Chytil can be a very good forward at the NHL level, consistency may be an issue but it is still very early.
  • Lias Andersson: He’s bounced around a bit and has not been all that successful at the AHL level, my guess is Andersson is at best a third line center at the NHL level.
  • Brendan Lemieux: Newly acquired forward from Winnipeg. He has played 44 games with the Jets this season collecting 9 points. A former 2nd rounder and potential to be a top-six winger.

Kravstov, Chytil will be the focal point of this offense come a few years. Ronning and Gropp if they make it before being traded will be (depending on this years draft) possible second line/more so third line guys. Andersson and Lemieux I could see paired together in two years and Lettieri a fourth line center.

Rangers goalie prospects: 

  • Brandon Halverson: He’s bounced around the ECHL and AHL a bit but at 22-years-old it is still early. A probably fringe starter at best)
  • Igor Shestyorkin: The Rangers 2014 4th round pick has spent his last five years in the KHL for the best team in the league. He has been the best goalie in the KHL for quite sometime, but who knows when the Rangers will see him. Potential to be a number one.
  • Alexander Georgiev: We have seen Georgiev play completely fine at the NHL level the last two years now. A definite potential for number one but a Shestyorkin and Georgiev sounds nice.

I think the upside to this all is that the Rangers prospects are not all off in foreign countries playing professional hockey there or all off at the major junior level. Of there 16 forward/defenseman prospect eight of them are playing together in the AHL right now. It may not mean a lot but the guys are building some chemistry and it is good to see players go through to the system and progress that way instead of potentially throwing them into NHL action too soon.

The Rangers are 27-26-9 this season with 63 points, a lot better than what I thought they were going to be. The Rangers have a lot of upside to their situation right now and they come into the NHL 2019 draft with 10 picks, six coming in the first three rounds. The Rangers will not be a playoff team for another three years I’d have to assume so get used to looking forward to prospects, drafts and the term rebuilding. Plus don’t buy any jerseys because who knows what Jeff Gorton will do.

 

 

Henrik Lundqvist Gets Emotional When Reporters Ask About Mats Zuccarello

It has not been easy for Rangers fans let alone Rangers players to really accept this trade and move on from the fact that Mats Zuccarello may never and probably will never again be a New York Ranger.

Zuccarello spent nine years with the Rangers, an undrafted free agent who played his first game as a Blueshirt in 2010. Five years earlier the Rangers chose Henrik Lundqvist with their 7th round pick in 2005. Lundqvist has been with the Rangers ever since. Along the way he has seen many defenseman in front of him, been around a lot of different coaches and has played with a ton of players up until this point. A 14-year professional and someone most fans know to be a very competitive and serious guy. Lundqvist is the back bone of this Rangers franchise and has been for quite sometime now. But one other player that is essentially the 1A when it comes to favorite Rangers since 2005 is Mats Zuccarello.

Zuccarello played 509 games with the Rangers and 509 games alongside Henrik Lundqvist. The two host a charity game together and have been known to be best friends for the better of Zuccarello’s nine year career. When the trade speculation surfaced Lundqvist spoke on the issue about how difficult it would be to see his long-time teammate but more importantly friend leave him. As the days went on and the news simmered down, it seemed like things were looking like the two would stay together, at least they hoped.

It is obviously a lot easier to cope with the fact of Zuccarello leaving when it does not actually happen but it is difficult to put into words what it is like with Zuccarello really gone now. And clearly Lundqvist struggled as he choked up during a post game interview and could not finish the reporters question.

This is difficult for any fan to watch and especially Rangers fans. The only time, I could recall Lundqvist showing emotion like this is during a tough Stanley Cup final loss or Eastern Conference final loss but nothing to this extent.

Zuccarello and Lundqvist shared many great moments together from the seven straight playoff appearances, President Trophy in 2014-15, the Eastern Conference finals back to back years and a Stanley Cup loss in 2014. The two have shared the good, the bad and everything in between. But more importantly they were known for their bond off the ice and in the locker room that many fans would not understand nor see.

It is tough for Rangers to see their favorite player walk away after 9.5 years but it is even tougher for Lundqvist to see his best friend walk away after all the memories and times together. Whatever Lundqvist is feeling is something not many fans or players can probably relate too.

Henrik Lundqvist Makes 43 Saves In Rangers 2-1 Win Over Carolina

The New York Rangers picked up another down to the wire type of win. Not a pretty one by any means but a win is a win. Some Rangers may disagree with the way the Rangers season has went thus far as they are 20th in NHL one game above .500 with 60 points in 59 games played.

The Rangers picked up an ugly 2-1 win Tuesday night vs the Hurricanes. The first goal came just as many it seems like have come from the Rangers this season off a body crashing the net and in. What hockey analysts would call puck luck. The Rangers went down 1-0 early in the second period until a flying Filip Chytil came down the right side throwing a puck on net hoping for the best as streaking Connor Brickley came crashing towards the net and the Hurricanes defenseman happen to push Brickley into the crease area making the puck bounce off Brickley’s chest and in to tie it 1-1.

As the game ensued after, nothing else was scored in the second period. The Hurricanes did head into the third period outshooting the Rangers 26-16. The Hurricanes have been one of the most shot heavy teams in the NHL this season but that was no match for 36-year-old netminder Henrik Lundqvist. Who was playing in his first game since February 12th. Lundqvist has not seen the crease for the Rangers last two games with a day rest in between each game it was odd not to see Lundqvist in net for Pittsburgh or Buffalo. Still without seeing game action since February 12th in which he lost 4-3 to Winnipeg. Lundqvist made 18 saves in the third period and 43 in the game. The Rangers went onto win 2-1 off a power play goal by Vladislav Namestikov (7). Another ugly, “grinder” type goal for the Rangers as the chaos ensued in front Namestikov managed to find the loose puck among four other bodies and slam it home for the game-winning goal.

With this win Lundqvist now moves to 448 wins in his career, six shy of Curtis Joseph for 5th all-time and 35 behind Roberto Luongo the only other active goaltender ahead of Lundqvist at the moment. Lundqvist is 36-years-old with two-years left on his contract. Judging off the health of Lundqvist, Luongo’s ability to play at 39-years-old we would have to assume Lundqvist is capable to do so as well.

Now, if Lundqvist does play out his last two-years and play until he is 39-years-old we can probably make the assumption that he will surpass Luongo. Personally I believe Lundqvist has another 20-25 win seasons in him. He has 17 at the moment and will more than likely finish with 25 wins this season and another 25 win season in the next two years. Either way Lundqvist Stanley Cup or not, Lundqvist is a future hall of fame candidate.

Top Sellers And Their Current Needs Heading Into The Trade Deadline

The trade deadline seems like it is so far away but in the blink of an eye it will be February 25th, therefore around this time, within the next two weeks we could see a flurry of moves. Always at the deadline there are three types of teams, sellers, buyers and teams staying put. Here are my top five sellers at the deadline and their current needs.

1. New York Rangers:

Clear as day this team is selling, they are probably performing a little above expectations but the team knows they have no intentions on winning right now nor in the next year or two. Therefore most of their roster/players that are ending or nearing the end of their contracts are on the move. For example, Mats Zuccarello is one of the many names on the list that will/is probably going to be moved. Adam McQuaid is on that list, Kevin Hayes, Vladislav Namestikov, and I believe Pavel Buchnevich should but have not heard much about him. The Rangers are going to be selling Zuccarello for sure, McQuaid more than likely, Hayes is 50/50 and same with Namestikov.

What could they use in return? The Rangers want prospects, high-end, projected top-three to six forward players. They could also use some draft picks, maybe another first rounder down the road, a first round this year, and definitely a second round pick. Essentially they want a top-three draft pick.

2. Carolina Hurricanes:

This comes of shock to me as well but the Hurricanes seem like they are in the boat to sell. They are in the market for some young prospects right now and I would say the Hurricanes want to sell because they usually are a team that comes in under the cap space and right now they have to worry about Dougie Hamilton, Justin Faulk and signing Sebastian Aho to a long term contract. Therefore they are looking to sell to do so. The Hurricanes are currently looking to trade Michael Ferland, Dougie Hamilton, Justin Faulk.

What could they use in return? The Hurricanes like forwards, young forwards, players like a Brock McGinn seems to be the Carolina fit. They said they do not want much defenseman actually and they would rather lose 5-4 then lose 2-1. Therefore the Hurricanes want top-two draft picks and high end forward prospects.

3. Detroit Red Wings:

Not big sellers but they are trying to get rid of, should not say get rid of but trade Gustav Nyquist and Jimmy Howard. The Red Wings know they cannot win right now nor next year they have full intentions and sights set on the future and with their current roster make up being a bunch of young up and coming players, it only makes sense to go after draft picks.

What could they use in return? The Red Wings do a helluva a job drafting, give this team two first round picks and they will find some gems. They got a steal in Filip Zadina last draft and would like to have some more draft picks this year. They have said the asking price for Howard and Nyquist are first round picks.

4. Florida Panthers:

The Panthers actually just made three call ups and placed Jamie McGinn on their non-roster. The Panthers are not what we expected this year they have got the goaltending, some inconsistent play and a slow start hurt this team.  Even with Mike Hoffman projected for 40 goals, Yandle having a Norris season and Barkov playing well they still are not in the playoff hunt. The Panthers wanted to be a playoff team this year but like we said things did not go their way and they are essentially just one piece away from being a playoff contending team. That piece is a goaltender. The Panthers could look to sell Mark Pysyk and Nick Bjugstad.

What could they use in return? A legitimate starting goaltender, top-six winger and second or third round draft pick. Could be a Jimmy Howard, Casey DeSmith situation for them but we have not heard much from the Panthers, just speculations.

5. Ottawa Senators:

The Senators have such a difficult off-season ahead of them in terms of contract renewals, they need to sign back Matt Duchene, Mark Stone, Cody Ceci and Ryan Dzingel probably only 2/4 or 3/4 players can come back therefore they are going to be selling one or two of these four names. If I had to guess after what has come out about Duchene and his agent, he could be gone and due to Ceci’s value he could be gone as well.

What could they use in return? Endless top draft picks never hurts, top-three/six forward and top-three/four defenseman prospects. You can easily get a first round, second and top-six prospect forward for Duchene and a 2nd round, bottom-six forward prospect for Ceci.

New York Rangers Should Trade Pavel Buchnevich, Adam McQuaid & Mats Zuccarello And Keep Kevin Hayes

The Rangers have about three weeks and 28 days to figure out what they are going to do with Adam McQuaid, Kevin Hayes, Mats Zuccarello and Pavel Buchnevich. The news has told us that the Rangers are going to trade Kevin Hayes, Mats Zuccarello and probably Adam McQuaid. Which really hurts most if not all long-time Rangers fan Zuccarello has been a fan favorite for so many years in New York and Kevin Hayes is becoming a fan favorite as he continues to be a more integral part of this team.

The headline may show that I would like to see Buchnevich and Zuccarello traded over Hayes but in all honesty I would like to see Zuccarello stay but I do understand this is a business and decisions need to be made. I am all in favor of getting rid of Buchnevich though. He is an RFA at the end of his entry-level contract he would cost very little to re-sign for most teams and the Rangers really do not need him.

Mats Zuccarello is 31-years-old yes he is definitely nearing his mid-thirties and we are all aware of that, he is valuable to any top contending playoff team so it makes sense to get rid of him, it sucks to see but it makes sense. The Rangers can probably receive a decent amount for Zuccarello, probably a first rounder and mid-level prospect.

Now, my case to get rid of Buchnevich and keep Hayes. Hayes is 26-years-old he has already gone through his years of “adjusting” to the NHL speed, level, style of play and has solidified himself as a top-six forward in the NHL. If the Rangers are looking to the future why would they not want to keep Hayes? He is the perfect age, in his prime, and for young players that are going to be coming into the Rangers organization by the time they develop and get adjusted to the NHL game Hayes will probably be 29-30 years old, which is again a great age to help teach these young players, be a play-maker for these young guys, and if Hayes re-signs his contract will probably end by the age of 31-32 so we get his best years out if him then he moves on.

Let’s be honest Buchnevich has not panned out to be anything the Rangers imagined, he has been a healthy scratch this year, and previous years and has not quite adjusted to the NHL level yet, therefore why would they continue to give this guy a shot, sign him back and get nothing out of him when they can probably trade him get a 2nd or 3rd round pick and move on from that situation. Buchnevich has played one full season with the Rangers and aside from his 43 point season last year he has been extremely inconsistent when he is in the line up. I know I am not the only one who believes this about Buchnevich but the 23-year-old has not been what the Rangers expected him to be, he may still be developing but I’d rather not take a shot on Buchnevich when the Rangers already have a solidified solid 45-50+ point guy in Kevin Hayes. Trading Hayes may be “best” for the re-build but the Rangers have already chosen five first rounders in the last two years, they have another one this year, two second rounders (maybe a 1st this year if Tampa wins the Cup) so really how much can the Rangers bank on draft picks to make them a legitimate playoff team again.

Call me crazy but I’d rather have a guaranteed top-six winger/center, someone who can be effective with whoever he plays, is a leader, veteran and a good player for young players to play alongside then a player who is 23-years-ole, someone we have a 147 game report on that shows some major flaws and inconsistency in his game, can only play with top guys to be effective and is a question mark as to what he can be int he future.

Say the Rangers trade Zuccarello, Buchnevich, McQuaid, don’t re-sign Cody McLeod or Fredrik Claesson that will leave 9.62 million to re-sign Hayes, Pionk and Deangelo.