Since the end of the year, and actually during the year itself, the Rangers needs were quite well known. Get a big forward who could put the puck into the net. Get a power play quarterback. Get some big moose's on defense to keep the area in front of Lundqvist clear. And, oh yes, get the young kids into the lineup. So how did we do and how is it looking for 2008-09?
I think the forwards and the offense are improved, the power play is improved, the defense still looks soft, and it's a mixed bag on the young kids especially on defense where Bobby Sanguinetti will be trying to crack the squad. The young forwards will have to battle the five new additions for a lineup spot otherwise it's another year of waiting for the kids.
We picked up seven players. We have ourselves a power play quarterback, Wade Redden, overpriced and on the downside of his career. You think he missed Chara? My own personal feelings are that the Islanders got a better power play quarterback, Mark Streit, at a cheaper price. Redden, 6-32-38, got $6.5 Mil/year and Streit, 13-49-62, and ranked 11th in power play scoring in the league, got $4 Mil/year. In fact, Streit got as many points as the highly sought out Campbell at half the price Campbell was paid by the Hawks. But why quibble with the Stealth, at least we have a guy who can run the power play, play some defense, but I don't know if he has any crease clearing ability. But we do have someone to run the PP. We also picked up injury-prone, Dmitri Kalinin, 27 years old and he will probably be on the third pair on defense, and is not especially known for being a bruiser. No beef on defense.
The forwards are where the Rangers seemed to have 'beefed' up a bit in talent and prospects. Markus Naslund, 35 years old, 25-30-55, is a five time all star, who is also on the downside of his career. However, young Nikolai Zherdev, 23 years old, could be the find of the off-season. Zherden, 6'2" and 205 lbs, had a 26-35-61 record last year and the reports are that he hasn't hit his stride yet. So here we have the old vet and the young sniper both with as many or more goals as Jagr scored last year so we do have offensive threats, both young and old. Also picked up was Dan Fritsche, 22 years old. with a 10-12-22 performance last year. Fritsche looks like he would be a good replacement for Blair Betts, the hardworking penalty killer, who has a difficult time putting the puck in the net. The other two forwards are journey man, Patrick Rissmiller, 29 years old, who is a hitter, and wound up with 8-9-17. He could be a challenge to the Ranger hit man Ryan Hollweg. Finally, there is Aaron Voros, 26 years old who compiled a 7-7-14 record in his rookie year.
So there are five forwards added to the mix. Gomez, Drury, Dubinsky, Betts, Hollweg, Orr, Sjostrom, Dawes, Callahan, Prucha (you remember him), Korpikoski, Moore, maybe Cherepanov, and possibly Shanahan will be the returning Rangers. That's a lot of forwards. Hartford will be crowded or swing a big deal for a big tough defenseman.
The Stealth GM wants a high powered, high scoring, pressure type offense which will be a big change over the passive perimeter offense, defense-at-all-cost team. Has the Stealth talked to defense-at-all-cost's, coach clueless, who really knows next to nothing about putting together an offensive scheme? Where's the beef in the coaching staff?
John Dellapina / NY Daily News:
Tom Renney revved for Rangers, even with loss of veterans -- "It's an exciting time and I'm good with it," Renney told the Daily News. "Obviously, I'm disappointed about certain people. But I can't dwell on that.
"As a coach, you've got to consider both sides of the street. And when you give your input, you have to be fair. Certainly, it's an exciting time for the Rangers."
Don't get Renney wrong. As one of the most influential voices in the room when GM Glen Sather convened the organization's brain trust for its planning meetings in late May, Renney was among those pushing for the club to get faster and younger...
Bottom line: There is no money to sign Shanahan. Which means Renney will preside over a team with a new captain and two new alternate captains. This truly does become Gomez's and Drury's team...
Next captain of the New York Rangers -- Chris Drury 90%
WILD BLUESHIRT YONDER -- Renney, indeed, laid out his vision not more than 10 minutes after the Pittsburgh series had ended, saying, "We're going to have to play the type of hockey that suggests pressure, skating and physical energy if we want to go forward."
The execution is going to be the tough part. Ronald Reagan would ask, "Where is the rest of me?" if he were around to amble into the Rangers' room on the first day of training camp. The departures of Jaromir Jagr, Sean Avery, Martin Straka - and who knows about Brendan Shanahan? - will leave a huge void in the club's collective personality.
Without Jagr to both blame and lean on all at once, everyone will come under more scrutiny; the coaching staff and the players, alike...
Moving On - Part 3 -- My point of this entire rant is to demonstrate that under the best of conditions - as presently constituted - your Rangers project to end the season no better than 15th in team offense or thereabouts. That would be an improvement - though not by much. The club finished 2007-2008 tied with Vancouver for 23rd averaging 2.60 goals per game.
What this means is that success in the W-L columns will require (yet again) for Renney deploy defensive stratagems to ensure the goals against are among the best on the circuit. And that demands durability of Henrik Lundqvist.
Failing that, you'd better pray for the playoffs because it could be argued that every other team in the Eastern Conference has improved since last year if for no other reason than Sean Avery is now in Dallas.
Former Rangers star Jaromir Jagr signs three-yeal deal with Omsk -- Upon leaving the Siberian town when he finished the NHL-less 2004-05 season there, Jaromir Jagr vowed to one day return to Omsk. He just hoped that day wouldn't come as quickly as Friday.
However, having taken several hours to collect his thoughts after being informed by GM Glen Sather that there was no more room for him on the Rangers, Jagr early yesterday morning signed a letter of intent to accept the two-year, $25 million offer from Avangard-Omsk that had been awaiting his signature for weeks...