Sunday, July 06, 2008

Where's The Beef?

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...
HF Boards:
Next captain of the New York Rangers -- Chris Drury 90%
Larry Brooks /NY Post:
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...
Hockey Rodent:
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.
John Dellapina / NY Daily News:
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...

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  • jb said...

    Evaluating the team changes for the Rangers can't be done in a vacuum. All the teams in the East can't have improved themselves with their free agent signings. But reading the main stream media guys that's the impression you get.

    Is this new NHL like Lake Wobegon? Where "all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average," And now, of course, all the teams are better off.

    Very few are saying, hey our team's free agents are relatively weak. It's just the basic human tendency to overestimate one’s achievements and capabilities in relation to others.

    The harsh reality of the new season will dash some dreams. It sounds like the Rangers might be dreaming a bit.

  • Section 335 said...

    Here's The Beef!

    Jagr was a great playoff player this past year and a great player all year long the prior two seasons. He will be missed for that. There is no way he was a part of this team going forward unless we had a proper center for him.

    In the regular season, Naslund put up almost identical numbers to Jagr playing 17 instead of 20 minutes a game. I think this change of #1 forwards is a potentially significant net loss in the playoffs unless we use the money saved well.

    Stan Fischler is a horse's ass. To say we are well rid of Jagr is absurd. It is disrespectful of a truly great player. It is a turn of 180 degrees from what Stan said a few weeks ago. Stan should be forced into calling the Islander games until the second coming.

    Zherdev could be the real deal. He is a unique talent. Added to an all Russian line with Cherry and Artem Anisimov this may be our future.

    We may have the money to bring Shanny back. Would be insane to let him go if we can make a reasonable deal.

    I already miss Avery.

  • jb said...

    section 335,

    It looks like we're going from the "Czech experiment" to the "Russian experiment."

    With the addition of Näslund and the subtraction of Backman we're still net plus two Swede's (with Henrik). They must be like the special sauce in your NHL team bun.

    Fischler has truly lost his credibility. He's gone from maven to MSG lap dog. That's a great idea for Stan: "forced into calling the Islander games until the second coming."

  • blow-me-down said...

    I have a cautious optimism for this season. There are so many challenges and potential pitfalls in getting this significantly different Rangers team together this season, but the flip side of the coin for me is knowing (hopefully expecting?) what it 'won't' be. This off season, I have already been granted my wish for an injection of new parts, comprised of various combinations of youth/speed/grit/experience (albeit some of it unproven).

    I found the Rangers' offensive strategy and execution last year to be sub-par enough on a consistent basis to justify the player movement we have seen post-season. The departures of members of last years team are all good moves in my estimate, except I still think Straka would have been valuable for one more year (yes, call me nuts, but I don't subscribe to the notion that he is nothing without Jagr by his side, that's never been proven, has it?), and I think he went through a bad luck streak last playoffs that would not have continued forever. Oh well, that's just me, I'm vastly outnumbered.

    Shanahan I just like, and feel like giving him the benefit of the doubt that his disappearance in the playoffs (yes, it was that bad IMO) was due to a physical situation that can be remedied. I can't believe that Sather would tell Shanny what he did, and then turn his pockets inside out and say "Sorry, there's just nothing left. Good luck out there". But, if he is not physically up to it, which I hope he is, can he actually take up a roster spot based on his 'leadership'?

    I don't think of Naslund as replacement for Jagr. Markus should be a good addition, and I like to see it as a move toward more balance and spreading the scoring. The guy is not washed up at all IMO. And the powerplay is just too key to overlook. I don't think it is pie-in-the-sky, blind optimism to expect an improvement this season. The same mix of players from last year would surely yield the same major letdown as last year.

    Now, excuse me as I'm off to Lake Wobegon for a dip.

  • Section 335 said...

    Here's 52 million in Beef:

    Gomez 7,357,143
    Drury 7,050,000
    Naslund 4,000,000
    Zherdev 2,500,000
    Prucha 1,600,000
    Voros 1,000,000
    Dubinsky 633,333
    Betts 615,000
    Rissmiller 600,000
    Callahan 575,000

    Redden 6,500,000
    Rozsival 5,000,000
    Kalinin 2,100,000
    Mara 1,950,000
    Girardi 1,550,000
    Staal 826,667

    Lundqvist 6,875,000
    Valiquette 650,000

  • jb said...


    If you take that dip in Lake Wobegon you'll come out healthier and happier than you've ever been.

    I want to believe too that the Rangers have improved themselves and have a shot at making a deeper run to the Cup. But decisions, as Mike pointed out, like taking Wade Redden over Mark Streit for $2.5M more per year make you scratch your head.

    The MSG teams (Knicks, Rangers) seem to have caught this Dolan disease where they overpay for everything. For example, Dolan overpaid by $70 Million for the paper Newsday. He outbid two guys who know a bit more about publishing than he does. Rupert Murdock and Mort Zuckerman each bid $580M, while Dolan paid $650? Go figure?

    Monkey see, Monkey do at MSG.

  • Section 335 said...


    If you could, as a GM you would take Redden over Streit any day of the week. Montreal let him go for a reason. He is not much of a defenseman. He was -6 on a good team.

  • blow-me-down said...

    I can understand the opinion that Redden was paid too much, but in light of Campbell's 7.1/8 year whopper, I don't see it as all that extravagent this UFA year. I'd hate to think what the Rangers boards would be saying if we lost out on him by not paying his market value or slightly higher, and right now be without a skilled defenceman who has proven he can quarterback a powerplay. I would have preferred a 4 year contract for 6 per, but oh well.
    Streit's a very decent player, but I think he is not as good as Redden defensively, and by a fair margin IMO. He also plays more physically than Streit. Yes, I am not unaware of the take on Wade's last couple of seasons, and I am expecting him to return to form. So yes, I guess that is a gamble. But so is Streit, he's really only had one good season, not saying he won't have many more, but I like Redden's ability and think he is a better fit for the system. I like him more than Campbell too, just making the comparison to him as I see him also slotting into that PP QB role.

    I like the fact that fiscal restraint was shown with Avery, who I did want back, and also with Jagr, so buying high on someone if it is seen to move the team in the right direction (which I think it does)is okay with me.
    Redden's contract is front end loaded, and there is always the ability to trade him should it be desired or necessary (no No Move or No Trade clause that I heard mentioned, correct me if I am wrong). I don't see the Redden contract as terrible decision considering the circumstances this year, and when seen as as part of the whole

    I hope I'm right.

  • jb said...

    I don't think Redden is $2.5M/year for six years superior to Streit. Maybe Redden can have a re-birth in NY, but I believe he is on the slippery slope downside of his career. I really hope I have to eat those words. But then again we'll be able to compare Streit and Redden pretty much side-by-side this next season.

    Here are some Ottawa blogger's thoughts about Redden:

    Scarlett Ice blog [Ottawa]
    I'm still astounded that not only Redden, with his mediocrity lately has managed to command that salary, but the Rangers yet again, have chosen to blow their brains out on the prettiest pony available at the auction (or some other similar metaphor). Seriously, where are they getting all of this money from?

    Battle of Ontario:
    I hope he [Redden] regains the form he used to have. Six years seems a long time. He seemed to age about 10 in the past two years in Ottawa...

    Five for Smiting:
    Yes, I know. The numbers are ridiculous, even obscene...Then of course, there's our own favourite (former) whipping boy, Wade Redden, who gets to underachieve in Manhattan for the identical number of Bahamian pesos he sucked out of Emperor Eugene's wallet last year, and if everything holds true to form this coming season, he'll actually deserve roughly half of it. And even I'm having trouble coming to grips with living in a world where Sean Avery can make four million a year for being, well, Sean Avery. But seriously folks, everybody needs to calm down...

  • blow-me-down said...

    I've read similar stuff, though I think there were a few more under-achievers on the Sens too. That entire team was having issues, regardless of the lightning start to their season, hence the ensuing train wreck. Yes, it's a gamble with him, but I'm not going to call the 'extra' money spent on him irresponsible yet, that's all. I'm just not sure that it is, but I respect your opinion.

  • jb said...


    Regarding Redden, you're right we can't label his salary "irresponsible yet." However since Sandis Ozolinsh, Sather's moves on defenseman over 30 years of age have seemed to backfire.

    But if the Rangers were truly seeking a powerplay QB Streit was certainly more of that guy than Redden. And Streit's defensive skills seem like they had some more upside.

    This observation regarding Streit from All Habs:

    Streit is nominally a defenceman but the Canadiens have created a new role for him, that of a power-play specialist. He's more than an adequate forward and his play on the point helped make the Canadiens' power play No. 1 in the league. He was fourth in team scoring last season with 62 points.
    $4 million/yr. for a special teams player? Well, that's something we can debate this season. But, given the grwoing significance of the PP it might make sense. A reliable field goal kicker is money in the bank in the NFL.

  • mike said...

    jb-The Cup is what dreams are made of. Sjostrom gives us three Swedes. Senior Dolan has too much money to burn and his idiot son can't spend it fast enough. Redden seems to have gotten out of 'Dodge" just in time.

    section 335-I love it. Fischler doing the Islanders.You forgot Fritsche who gets about a mil and is going to arbitration. Your beef is not all choice. Don't get carried away with plus/minus stats. Remember Marek Malik? And yes I definiteley miss Avery.

    blow-me-down-Good move Straka going. Who is this IMO guy? Money restraint with Avery and money extravegance with Rozsival and Redden. Enjoy the dip in Wobegon and I hope that you are right and I am wrong.

    Thanks to all for a lively post. Where's the beef?

  • jb said...

    Thanks Mike,

    For helping me get my Swedes straight. I wasn't Swede enough.

    We can all go skating on frozen lake Wobegone (I think it will be still be iced over) if the "Playoffs-be-gone".

  • blow-me-down said...

    jb and section - I think of Streit as a forward who plays defence. Seen a number of Canadiens games this past year, and though I wasn't focussing on him, he does a decent job bringing the puck up ice and manning the point, but he isn't as good defensively as I would like to see. The Habs are insanely good at a fast skating assault but not so great defensively, so it was an optimum place for Streit to put up big numbers.

    Also, I think another defenceman is going to be brought in via a trade, I don't think Slats is finished this summer.
    Whatever his worth, Redden is going to have a lot of eyes on him as soon as training camp opens.

    Mike: I see your point about the beef, at least on defence. I kind of hoped we would have have gained one bruiser and one more finesse type dman who can still hit, maybe something along those lines is still coming(?)

  • mike said...

    blow-me-down-In the past the Stealth and Clueless have always favored the puck mover over the basher. So we get the Maliks, Wards and Backman while the Charas, Witts and Salvadors go elsewhere.