Archive for the ‘New York Rangers’ Category

Dreaming of a Sather-free Rangers (Pick #20)

July 26, 2009


20. Miikka Kiprusoff goes to Scotty Hockey and the New York Rangers.

Cap Hit: $5,833,333

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Is the Atlantic now the best division in the NHL?

June 29, 2009

So, with the draft behind us and our free agency coverage ready to begin tomorrow, we don’t have much time for general NHL meandering. But with the mammoth Chris Pronger trade and John Tavares going to the New York Islanders, we couldn’t help but wonder:

Is the Atlantic Division now primed to become the best division in the entire league?

Let’s look at the “Pros” for such an argument.

1. Everything the Penguins bring to the table

It never hurts to have the reigning Stanley Cup champions in your division, especially since they’re obviously not a flash in the pan after going to two SCFs in a row. They might not always be great in the regular season, but it’s hard to deny their heart, hustle and talent.

2. All kinds of elite talent, most of it young

Pronger gives this division the one thing it truly lacked: an elite defenseman (with all due respect to Sergei Gonchar). Pittsburgh features two of the three best forwards in the league. New Jersey saw Zach Parise jump to an elite level and also employs a goalie with more wins than any in NHL history.

Along with Parise and Pittsburgh’s dynamic duo, the Flyers have Mike Richards and Jeff Carter while the Islanders even landed a blue chip in Tavares.

3. Four quality teams

In addition to the Penguins, the Atlantic produced half of the Eastern Conference’s playoff representatives with the Rangers, Flyers and Devils also making it to the postseason.

4. Enigmatic, but potentially outstanding goaltending

Every Atlantic division team has a goalie who could be somewhere between above average to outstanding. Obviously, one must assume that Brodeur is still an outstanding goalie but it goes beyond that.

Henrik Lundqvist consistently puts together borderline Vezina caliber seasons. Marc Andre Fleury was erratic at times in the postseason, but a lot of people will probably remember his save on Nicklas Lidstrom a long time after they forget about some of those awful goals he allowed against the Washington Capitals.

Even the question mark goalies have potential. Sure, Ray Emery is a head case who eats bugs and potentially consumes other harmful toxins in his free time, but let’s not forget that he was often excellent in the Senators’ run to a SCF berth. Say what you want about his lifetime contract, Rick Dipietro was once the future of American goaltending and might still have a chance to be a solid franchise goalie if he can get over his injury concerns.

***

Again, this is looking at the situation before what typically changes the league the most: July 1st. Still, it’s interesting to ask: at this moment in time, did the Atlantic division leapfrog the Pacific and Central as the class of the NHL?

We’d love to hear what you think about that.

Scotty Hockey shares NY Rangers draft thoughts

June 24, 2009
What’s a more dangerous combo: Glen Sather and a check book or John Tortorella and a mic?

You know a team is in good hands when you see that the author South Park-ized himself, which is the case with our New York Rangers blogging buddy Scotty Hockey.

As often as Scotty sings the praises of Henrik Lundqvist, he’ll also pump out poetic prose promoting the likes of Petr Prucha. (And like any good Rangers fan, he clearly has a soft spot for Sean Avery)

We’ve ripped the Rangers for having a buffoon of a GM and, subsequently, a team marred by horrific contracts but it would be a lie if we said there was nothing good about the Blueshirts. Scotty Hockey certainly puts a friendly face on the MSG gang, even if he’s kind of mean to Sidney Crosby.

Avery: Dubes, I told you to forward my Vogue subscription to Dallas! Oh well, see you soon …

1. What direction do you expect the Rangers to go in with this year’s draft? What’s your preference?

I think that Gordie Clark and the Rangers will continue to pick the best available talent while keeping an eye on character speedsters who can excel in John Tortorella’s system. Glen Sather didn’t bring Torts in to fill a suit, he is handing him the keys to the castle and will build a team that fits Torts’ style – just as he did with Renney. Unfortunately the signings for Renney backfired and the coach couldn’t adapt, leading to a ticket out of town. Tortorella came in and thought that last season’s team didn’t have the size or conditioning to compete in the playoffs so both will certainly be addressed. There will almost certainly be a goaltender added to the organization by the end of Saturday as ’97 second rounder Antoine Lafleur turned out to be bust.

Personally, I don’t really care who the Rangers get with their top pick, I just hope he has heart, character and is someone who will be capable of playing in the next year or two. It is sick to look at all of the top young talent around the league and remember that last season’s Blueshirts had just one rookie play more than five games (Lauri Korpikoski). That will change next season with Anisimov and a defenseman or two likely to make the opening night roster but it needs to be an annual occurrence – especially for the duration of the albatross contracts of Drury, Gomez and Redden.
2. Looking back, discuss some of the highest and lowest draft moments in Rangers history. What are some of the “steals” and groan-inducing moments that NYR fans will never forget?
The highest moment would be the ninth overall pick in 1986, a American defenseman out of high school named Brian Leetch who is now being inducted into the Hall of Fame. The 1989 draft gave up Steve Rice and Loui DeBrusk, who (along with Bernie Nichols) turned into Mark Messier. The lowest, well, probably that came after draft day but the death of Alexei Cherepanov. Cherry was billed as the next Jagr, who happened to be his favourite hero and then teammate. That kid had superstar potential, RIP. Personally I remember being at the 99 draft party talking to Dan Cloutier when he was pulled away by team personnell as he was traded. But more on that day in a bit.
For steals, well I think anyone that makes it to the NHL after being picked beyond the fourth round counts as a great revelation and the Rangers have had some success, especially in the sixth: Tony Granato, Kjell Samuelsson, Darren Turcotte, Mike York, Marek Zidlicky, Tom Laidlaw and Eddie Johnstone were all sixth rounders. As for the biggest late round grab, it was likely the Sarge, Sergei Nemchinov – picked in the 12th round in 1990 and engraved on the Stanley Cup in 1994.

Groan inducing? Where to start? First off, there was the Huge Mistake Hugh Jessiman – the only first rounder of 2003 (one of the best drafts everrrrr) to not make the NHL. Then there is the double disaster of Pavel Brendl and Jamie Lundmark – and they were the only two players we picked in the ’99 draft to even play a single game in the NHL. When they announced the Cloutier trade and those picks, I got up, yelled something obscene and walked out. Not a good day. And they weren’t the worse of the bunch: how about Lee Falardeau, Jeff Brown or Stefan Cherneski? Or go back a ways and see Al Blanchard, the only first rounder in ’72 never to play a NHL game. The Rangers believe they can’t rebuild in New York and they are probably right, what with the way they drafted prior to the lockout.

Soapbox time: take this opportunity to discuss the Rangers and/or NHL in general.

The rumour mill has been churning with Dany Heatley announcing his desire to leave Ottawa and he really would look quite nice in a Ranger uniform, until he got bored or annoyed with the boos and wanted to be traded again. The Rangers need something and rumour has it Sather has something big in the works. It will be an interesting (and likely infuriating) week ahead. After the team didn’t make it out of the first round and then had the nerve to increase season ticket prices, they have to do something to avoid a major fan revolt next season. If they thought my “Please Sens, Take Redden BACK” sign was bad, just wait until a raucous picket line forms outside, ‘Hey, hey, ho, ho, Glen Sather’s Got To Go!’

The hockey media’s curious love affair with Chris Drury

May 6, 2009

What, exactly, has Chris Drury done to cause so much of the hockey media elite to swoon like high school girls over their prom dates? Do we all love former Little League stars that much? Has the mainstream media’s obsession with “clutch” scoring bubbled over into insanity?

The funny thing is that Puck Daddy’s absurd Marleau for Drury fake trade proposal wasn’t even the original reason this post came to mind. Here’s what actually stuck in my craw (from John Buccigross’s mailbag last week):

Dear John,

Do you think the Buffalo Sabres will ever win a Stanley Cup? If so, what’s it going to take?

Scott
Virginia

Personally, I don’t like the mix of personalities on the Sabres’ roster right now. Perhaps some players will mature quickly into serious and committed professionals and give the rest of the team a lift. The Sabres give off the vibe of a boorish frat party at times. Buffalo gave a lot of money to Jason Pominville and Derek Roy. Pominville’s contract goes to $5.3 million next season! He had 20 goals in 2008-09. He has to score 35 to 45 at that cap number. These high-paid, young players have to be the most committed and mature players on the team along with Thomas Vanek and Ryan Miller. That’s how they will make the leap to an upper 90-point team.

What they lost in Daniel Briere and Chris Drury was so much leadership and direction. The young players have not stepped up to fill the void. They also are not tough enough. They need more tough players or they need to have their current players play tougher. Ryan Miller seems like a consummate professional and his injury really did hurt the Sabres. I’ve written in this space for much of the season that Buffalo would be a great market for Jay Bouwmeester; a small, passionate hockey market. Plus, the Sabres need help on the blue line.

So, by Bucci’s standards Pominville is an albatross. Then what does that make “hockey god” Drury?

It’s stunning that Buccigross (who I generally like, although his Mike Myers/music referencing/lazy Hakan Loob humor is getting repetitive enough to be its own drinking game) follows the Pominville bashing by mentioning Drury and Briere, aka the guys who signed the worst contracts of the post-lockout era.

C’mon, Bucci, that’s like deriding fake breasts and then making a segue to Pam Anderson‘s run on Baywatch.

With all this in mind, let’s take a look at what Drury (god) and Pominville (CANCER!!!111) have done since Drury signed his Rangers-killing contract:

Chris Drury

OK!! OK!! We GET it! He was in the Little League World Series! Uggggh.

2007-08 season: (82 GP: 25 goals, 33 assists for 58 points, -3 rating, 7 GWG)
2007-08 playoffs (10 GP: 3 goals, 3 assists for 6 points, +3 rating, 1 GWG)
2008-09 season: (81 GP: 22 goals, 34 assists for 56 points, -8 rating, 2 GWG)
2008-09 playoffs (6 GP: 1 goal, 0 assists for 1 point, -5 rating, 1 GWG)
Overall: 51 goals, 70 assists for 121 points in 179 games or about $117,000 per point ($14.2 million cap hit for two seasons).

Stereotypical Mainstream … “Expert” response: B-B-BUT HE’S GOT A FUCKTON OF INTANGIBLES!!!

Jason Pominville

2007-08 season: (82 GP: 27 goals, 53 assists for 80 points, +16 rating, 1 GWG)
No playoffs
2008-09 season: (82 GP: 20 goals, 46 assists for 66 points, -4 rating, 2 GWG)
No playoffs

Overall: 47 goals, 99 assists for 146 points in 164 games. Even though he hasn’t started his supposedly misguided next contract yet, he would be receiving a little more than $36,000 per point if he scored at that two-season pace under his next contract.

Stereotypical Mainstream … “Expert” response: B-B-BUT HE NEVER STOMPS AROUND THE LOCKER ROOM AFTER A LOSS!!! No “Any Given Sunday” speeches. You can’t put a price on that (spits while screaming)!

They both signed ludicrous deals, but only Briere is PhotoShopped as a pregnant woman.

OK, there’s no doubt that Bucci likes Drury personally. Maybe at some point, Bucci was doing post-champagne interviews when the Colorado Avalanche won a Cup and they simultaneously made a tired Mike Myers joke … locked eyes … and it was hockey love forever. But, c’mon Bucci, Pominville is producing more points in less games for less money than Drury. Derek Roy also produced 151 points in the last two seasons, so you cannot really get much wiggle room there either.

The funny thing about the Sabres is that they are damned by the correct decision they made to allow Daniel Briere and Chris Drury to go. Both players have been roundly panned for having contracts that were very optimistic regarding the two of them continuing to be successful into their mid-to-late 30’s.

No one hesitates to butcher Briere and it’s easy to see why. But it boggles my mind that hockey media members aren’t comparing Drury’s contract to the all-time worst ones.

Sorry, everyone, but Drury’s contract might just be “Yashin bad.”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that Drury is a bad player. No doubt, the guy has an uncanny knack for scoring pivotal goals, he’s a very good faceoff guy and plays with plenty of heart. It just seems amazing that a nice complimentary player can get this sort of obscene praise.

He started off as an over-qualified depth player who had great success because opposing teams had to worry about Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg, then he floundered in Calgary. His best run might have been in Buffalo, but that team worked so well because they had a seemingly un-ending group of forwards who could score by committee. He didn’t have to be “the man” so he thrived.

Now he’s in New York, a team rendered completely dependent on Henrik Lundqvist since they put their superstar money in solid/second line/awful players like Wade Redden, Scott Gomez and Michal Rosival. This team will have a second round ceiling for the rest of Drury’s stay, barring miraculous goaltending from Lundqvist.

Let’s cut the crap. Drury is the second coming of Bobby Holik – a nice enough player who can fill a role but somehow became worthy of a GIGANTIC contract in MSG land. (To be fair, though, he at least doesn’t look like a neanderthal.)

So, I give up. You tell me. What makes Drury so good? How far can intangibles and likeability take one person? Maybe there’s something I’m missing … something only an “expert” can see.

Five Questions: New York vs. Washington

April 15, 2009

Scotty Hockey and Rob Yunich were cool enough to take part in our Five Questions series.

You can read both missives at our Rangers/Capitals mini-blog.

Go ahead and click won’t ya? You wont be any smarter after reading it but we promise you wont be any dumber either*

*offer void if post is read off of a computer screen

Hockey Orphan: Scotty Hockey on the New York Rangers

April 13, 2009
Click on the logo for all the Hockey Orphan entries

(The Rangers are an odd combination of the despicable [Glen Sather, the specter of Mark Messier, Sean Avery] and the lovable [Henrik Lundqvist, Brian Leetch, Sean Avery]. However, in the process of putting these specials together, it has become obvious that everyone should take this approach: hate the team, not the blogger. Scotty Hockey is one of the best New York Rangers bloggers out there – and he’s been doing it since at least 2007. Besides, how can you NOT like a guy that South Park-ified himself? Can’t do it.)

It is a hard task to sway fans to a team that I can’t stand. I am a diehard Ranger fan, but I dislike the majority of the team. Through continual mismanagement, the roster has a terrible top end of mediocre talent that is overpriced, underachieving and tremendously infuriating. That being said, there are some diamonds in the rough that make watching the Blueshirts tolerable.

The biggest gem of them all is Henrik Lundqvist. A fan just coming to the sport of hockey may see the overdressed guy at the end of the ice as a curiosity. The extra pads, the big stick, the painted helmet that completely covers his face – all help set the goaltender apart from the other players. And when you look at goaltenders around the league, King Hank is one of the best of the bunch. Cool under fire, Hank won an Olympic gold medal for Sweden (oooo shiny), regularly makes stunning saves and is one of People’s sexiest athletes.

Also on that superficial tabloid list is Sean Avery. Even most nonhockey fans know who he is. Wildly entertaining, Avery is worth the (exorbitant) price of admission alone. Any given shift he is up to good or no good – hustling to make scoring chances or driving opponents crazy. He is the guy who said the now two most infamous words in hockey history – “sloppy seconds” and the guy who waved his stick around in front of the fat guy, forcing the league (which has been around for over a hundred years) to come up with an entirely new rule. He brings in his share of fine looking fans himself and why not join them? There is worse company to be in than that of the Olsen twins, Elisha Cuthbert (the aforementioned sloppy seconds) and the model of the month.

Beneath the glamour, there are hard working folks for the fans of blue collar workers. Freddie Sjostrom and Blair Betts are tireless in their penalty killing, bravely throwing their bodies in front of shot after shot – and that hard rubber puck hurts when it hits you at 90 mph. Ryan Callahan won this year’s extra effort award for his continual hustle and the kid can score too. Defensemen like the lumberjack-looking Paul Mara, baby-faced Dan Girardi and Marc Staal (of THE Staal family) perpetually battle on the blueline with little publicity.

Ignore the substance-lacking flash of Nik Zherdev, ignore the disgrace to defense that is Wade Redden, ignore the smirk of former Devil Scott Gomez. Look at the wonder that is the World’s Most Famous Arena. Madison Square Garden is a mecca of sport and the atmosphere is something to behold. If you want to experience the speed and energy of hockey first hand in a nice quiet environment, spend your yearly salary to sit close to the ice. If you want to experience the awesomeness that is the passion of the dedicated, then move upstairs and get a true hockey education.

The Blueshirt bandwagon is one that is easy to jump on – the one year in the last 69 that the Rangers won the Stanley Cup coincided with the peak of popularity for the entire sport. While it would be nice to have less fans so we could truly protest the bad moves by the bosses, that isn’t about to happen in the city in the center of the universe so come along for the ride and let’s go Rangers!

Salary Cap Outlook: New York Rangers

March 20, 2009

A few months ago, a column regarding “the scariest contracts in the NHL” prompted an in-depth post on the Pacific division teams for Battle of California. That division is full of great contracts, with absolute bargains for guys like Ryan Getzlaf and Dustin Brown. Since we’re salary cap nerds at CLS, we decided to take a look at the future of each team in the NHL, starting with the New York Rangers.

Please note that the “contract” amount listed beside each player takes into account cap hit, not salary. Naturally, many teams will call up minor league players to fill out their rosters.

New York Rangers
Current cap for 2009-10: $46 million
Current starters under contract: 6 forwards, 4 defensemen and 1 goalie (11 players)
Best contracts: Marc Staal (sub-million through 09-10); Sean Avery ($1.9 million through 11-12)
Worst contracts: Scott Gomez ($7.35 million through 13-14); Chris Drury ($7 million through 11-12); Wade Redden ($6.5 million through 13-14); Michal Rosival ($5 million through 11-12)
Superstar contract: Henrik Lundqvist ($6.88 million through 13-14)

How different will the world be in the year 2014?

NYR fans might wonder that when they look at their team’s future. At that point, the Rangers may finally be out of the wilderness of horrifying contracts. Or at least, let’s hope so, because it might get a little miserable to be a fan of the Blueshirts during the next few years.

Honestly, though, we should not ridicule Glen Sather for his work. He’s an artist. He is the Jackson Pollock of bad contracts.

(It’s pretty mind blowing that Sather and Isiah Thomas probably passed each other in the halls of Madison Square Garden many times. Truly, those two are brothers.)

The toughest question might be: which contract is the worst of them all? Is it Drury, getting near-Crosby money to top out at 60 points per season? Or maybe Scott Gomez, a guy with more offensive potential but also a longer albatross contract. Then again, there’s Michal Rosival, a depth D making $5 million per year. (Should we even mention Redden? That might be cruel.)

The best semi-long term contract is only a steal because the Dallas Stars are paying half of Sean Avery‘s salary. It would be sad, but slightly funny, if the Rangers were unable to keep their best young player Marc Staal simply because of the cap mistakes they keep making. Just an abomination of a cap situation.

Isn’t it amazing that Sather was able to do it again? And with record speed, too. Sports just wouldn’t be fun anymore without the Sathers of the world.

Except when he is constructing your team, of course.

Living GM vs. Blogging GM: Atlantic division

March 12, 2009

To wrap up our Trade Deadline coverage, we’ll take a look at the big moves (and non-moves) in each division one-by-one. Did our contributors and their respective GMs see eye-to-eye? Would those guest posts provide a better reality than what really came about? Let’s take a look at the Atlantic division.

Real Life: Pittsburgh Penguins traded a bag of pucks for Bill Guerin

Tony Ferrante from The Confluence (Kukla’s Korner) said:

“If I were GMRS (GM Ray Shero), I’d trade Ryan Whitney for Chris Kunitz and Eric Tangradi (just kidding, but a good move). Then I’d trade Hal Gill and a mid-round draft pick for either another winger or an agitator (Neil). I would also not rule out some kind of move for another defenseman …

Boy, a lot of Pens bloggers wanted to get rid of Hal Gill but it didn’t happen. I wasn’t crazy about the Guerin pickup, but at least they gave up next to nothing for him.

Real Life: New York Rangers make typical crazy Glen Sather moves: they acquired Derek Morris and Nik Antropov for a second round pick, a conditional pick, Dimitri Kalinin, Nigel Dawes and Petr Prucha.

Patrick Hoffman from Goal Line Report (Kuklas Korner) said:

“However, the only thing that will probably happen this week is that the club will claim Sean Avery off re-entry waivers and dump a salary or two. A lot of Blueshirt fans will wish it will be someone like Wade Redden or may be even someone like Drury but believe me when I say that those two aren’t going anywhere.

To sum it all up, this team is stuck with the roster that Sather built during these past two off-seasons, for better or worse.”

Well, the Rangers are stuck … more stuck. OK, so the guys they added are UFAs but they lost two draft picks and some borderliners for not much. Sather’s always a good source of laughter.

Real Life: The Islanders get next to nothing for Bill Guerin. Fail to dump salary. Fail fail fail.
Dominik from Light House Hockey said:

“Oh wait, this was about trades? Well, in that case, sell, SELL, SELL! UFA Andy Hilbert is a useful defensive forward and penalty killer who’s having a “career” year (shhhhh: 10 G = career year). Take best offer. Same with Guerin (in the works) and even the injured Doug Weight, due back from IR by the playoffs. Parlay Dean McAmmond — who looks alive since coming over for Comrie — for scraps. If someone somehow asked me for Jeff Tambellini — who can’t score outside of the shootout or the AHL — I’d pay his airfare and meal tab.”

Nope, sadly, just Guerin. Oh well.

Real Life: The Devils decide to settle for their embarrassment of riches.

John Fischer from In Lou We Trust said:

“If I were the GM of the Devils, I would be hanging up the phone and saying the phrase “Sorry, but we’re not interested” over and over again over the next few days. Especially if the call begins with “We would like to know the availability of Travis Zajac or Johnny Oduya.” Basically, I’d ignore the trade deadline unless a team really, really wants Scott Clemmensen or Kevin Weekes and is offering an offensive defenseman.”

Bingo.

Real Life: Flyers trade Scottie Upshall, 2011 second round pick and a 6th round draft pick for Kyle McLaren and Daniel Carcillo

Flyers Goal Scored By said:

“We then would put everyones’ names around a dartboard, chug out 3 beers, and then fire 4 darts to see who is going. Then really hot souf philly girls would come into our office and tell us how awesome we were at “GM’ing” and then totally make out with each other, and then us, and then back to each other until 3pm. Then we’d high-five and crush a cheesesteak before falling asleep to old Rick Tocchet highlights. Being a GM rules … “

(OK, they also said that they should go after Jay Bouwmeester.)

Instead of going after Bouwmeester, the Flyers made a move for an immobile defenseman and one of the most undisciplined players in the NHL. In other words, they did the same thing they’ve been doing for …. 30 years?

If you were the GM (Atlantic division)

March 4, 2009

(With the trade deadline upon us, Cycle like the Sedins decided to ask about 30 or so friends in the blogosphere to represent his or her team and answer the question: “What would you do if you were the GM during the trade deadline?

Since things change in a heartbeat, the date of each person’s submission is listed next to each entry. So before you start screaming “BUT THEY TRADED HIM!” while food spills out of your mouth, we’re showing what they thought at the time.

Don’t like it? Psh.)

Pittsburgh Penguins
(March 2)
Denson from Bangin’ Panger

Well, the Pens are on a roll lately…getting themselves back into the playoff picture. What, you may ask, has attributed to such a turn around? Obviously it is the arrival of this Jordan Staal character that must have come over with the Chris Kunitz/Ryan Whitney trade. Don’t know too much about this Staal guy, according to every game ever against the Hurricanes and Rangers … he has brothers that play in the NHL as well. Who knew?

So if I’m Ray Shero what are my next moves? Well for one, Shitan is traded for one of Jerome Iginlas extra mucles in-between his Tibialis anterior and Peroneus longus (the muscle that makes black people go real real fast)…and it is implanted in Hal Gill. Mario Lemieux comes out of retirement to replace Shitan to stand on the opposing team’s blueline all game…only Mario will score. Phillepe Bouche is traded for acid to fill Crosby’s tear ducts…so when Ovechkin bullies him, Crosby’s tears will melt Ovechkin. And a 2nd and 3rd round draft pick is able to fetch Malkin some Hooked On Phonics lessons and Crosby some Shit Talking Lessons with Joey Porter. This all would obviously make the Pittsburgh Penguins the favorite for the Stanley Cup.

(2/28)
Frank D from Pensburgh

Chris Kunitz picked up the same amount of points in the first period of the first game he played in Pittsburgh (1G, 1A) as Ryan Whitney did over his last seven games as a Penguin. If I were the GM I’d look to make that upgrade another 15 to 20 times.

(2/28)
Tony Ferrante from The Confluence (Kukla’s Korner)

If I were GMRS (GM Ray Shero), I’d trade Ryan Whitney for Chris Kunitz and Eric Tangradi (just kidding, but a good move). Then I’d trade Hal Gill and a mid-round draft pick for either another winger or an agitator (Neil). I would also not rule out some kind of move for another defenseman …

(3/01)
Stefanie from Steel City Sports

If I was Ray Shero, I’d be giving my “Big Guns” a rest right now and sleep through March 4th!!

Seeing as how Shero already pulled the trigger twice for big moves prior to the trade deadline, I’m hoping he’s not going to do much more.

He’s honestly coming out of this smelling like a rose right now anyway (seeing as how Bylsma looks like a Savior even though it’s more like his system that’s saving the Pens for now), but I still think his decision to fire Therrien sucks and the bottom line is that the Pens began their downward spiral in the off-season thanks to his “wise” decisions when he tried too hard to sign Hossa. That screw job was two-fold: 1) Hossa waited absolutely too long before he “told” us he wasn’t coming back which led to our losing alot of important / key players such as Malone and Ruutu among others (my readers know all too well my thoughts on this though as I’m still lamenting); b) Shero was crazy to wait so long to hear back from Hossa — these two things were the beginning of the demise of the Pens this season and it’s been too much to recover from — all at the hands of their own GM being too enamoured by one Marian Hossa (who I cannot stand at this point, but never really could)!


I’ve gone from thinking Shero was a genius to coming to my senses right now realizing that his most recent decisions make him nothing more than a screw-up. So here’s to hoping that Shero will be quiet leading up to the upcoming trade deadline as I believe Kunitz has been the spark we need to make it into the playoffs by the skin of our teeth!!!

Chris Kontos: Shitan is one of the funniest reverse-nicknames I’ve heard in a long while. The Penguins made a great pickup in Chris Kunitz, a decent offensive player who will pick it up even more with Crosby. The Penguins are going to struggle to make the playoffs but I don’t know if another move is really going to help this team.

James O’Brien: For hockey newbies, the spelling of Satan’s last name is high comedy. Once you get to know him more, you realize Shitan really is the better connection. Have to agree that the Kunitz move is paying dividends and all it cost the Penguins was a guy who wore out his welcome. No more moves needed until the summer.

***

New York Rangers

(2/28)

Patrick Hoffman from Goal Line Report (Kuklas Korner)

If I was New York Rangers General Manager Glen Sather, I’d probably be in hiding since most of my team’s fans are calling for my head on a nightly basis at Madison Square Garden.

In all seriousness, if I am Glen Sather, I would look into getting a finisher. Could that be a guy like Bill Guerin? Could it be someone like Illya Kovalchuk? If it’s guys like that they’re after, the team will have to shed some salary as well as a top player from either their current roster or their farm system.

However, the only thing that will probably happen this week is that the club will claim Sean Avery off re-entry waivers and dump a salary or two. A lot of Blueshirt fans will wish it will be someone like Wade Redden or may be even someone like Drury but believe me when I say that those two aren’t going anywhere.

To sum it all up, this team is stuck with the roster that Sather built during these past two off-seasons, for better or worse.

Chris Kontos: The Drury and Gomez tag team signing is going to haunt this team for a long time. Even after they eventually waive Redden. Getting the Dallas Stars sloppy seconds (too soon?) off of waivers is going to help this team a lot. Avery is at his best when he feels like he has a lot to prove.

James O’Brien: Jeez, it didn’t take long for the lockout intelligence to wear off in New York, did it? People are going to blast the Wade Redden signing (and they did overpay for a guy whose stock went down), but say what you want Redden at least at some point seemed talented. Michal Rosival and Chris Drury are the two signings that were the worst (although giving Scott Gomez a Brad Richards-type contract is pretty bad too) because these players never showed ANY evidence to live up to those contracts.

Drury, in my book, is one of the most over-loved players in the NHL. Sure, he’s a nice guy and has intangibles out the wazoo. But for a guy with a 60 point skill set, he sure gets deified a lot.

Anyone the Rangers can unload would be great. Aside from Henrik Lundqvist, the one player Sather somehow lucked into. Don’t you get the feeling that Lundqvist’s name was found on a napkin thrown out by a Detroit Red Wings scout or something? The Rangers are just such an terribly run franchise. It’s stunning.

***

New York Islanders
(2/28)
Dominik from Light House Hockey

If I were Garth Snow, I would:

Permanently change the uniform scheme back to the original royal blue version as with this season’s thirds, and never speak of any other Islanders uniform again. (Editor’s note: Amen, Dominik. You’re a wise man.)

Oh wait, this was about trades? Well, in that case, sell, SELL, SELL! UFA Andy Hilbert is a useful defensive forward and penalty killer who’s having a “career” year (shhhhh: 10 G = career year). Take best offer. Same with Guerin (in the works) and even the injured Doug Weight, due back from IR by the playoffs. Parlay Dean McAmmond — who looks alive since coming over for Comrie — for scraps. If someone somehow asked me for Jeff Tambellini — who can’t score outside of the shootout or the AHL — I’d pay his airfare and meal tab.

Obviously, the Islanders don’t have much left to sell. But there is one outstanding issue: Brendan Witt, who was capable last season yet awful this one. He doesn’t seem to fit Scott Gordon’s system, yet he has two years left on his contract. While it’s tempting to take the first offer that’s not a prank, on this I’d play the psychology game and wait for that one vulnerable GM with the happy trigger finger. The GM whose team just got pushed around in a conference battle this week and has him (and his fans) second-guessing whether his otherwise loaded team is the proverbial “tough enough for the playoffs.” Find that GM, demand a ransom (like a 1st-round pick and/or real prospect) for this battle-tested warrior [cue “Braveheart” soundtrack during GM call], and let him know I’d be just as happy waiting to deal Witt in the offseason for the scraps he’s currently offering me. If he bites, genius! If not, meh, try to unload or reprogram Witt in the summer.

It goes without saying that, for any and all of the returns for these players, I would persuade Charles Wang to wait until the picks become actual stars before offering them decade-plus contracts. But that’s just me.

Chris Kontos: Get rid of Witt before he starts taking cheap shots on his own players. And definitely keep losing to get Tavares. Then hire Mike Milbury again so that he’ll trade Tavares for Rico Fata and Radek Bonk.

James O’Brien: Haha, hard to top Chris on that one. As I’ve said, Ilya Kovalchuk + Jon Tavares = possible salvation. Or at least the first few steps. Trade everyone. EVERRRRYYYYOOONNNNNEEEE.

***

New Jersey Devils

3/01

John Fischer fromIn Lou We Trust

If I were the GM of the Devils, I would be hanging up the phone and saying the phrase “Sorry, but we’re not interested” over and over again over the next few days. Especially if the call begins with “We would like to know the availability of Travis Zajac or Johnny Oduya.” Basically, I’d ignore the trade deadline unless a team really, really wants Scott Clemmensen or Kevin Weekes and is offering an offensive defenseman.

2/27

Daniel Owens from Frozen Fiend

If I were Loophole Lou …

I’d pluck Avery off waivers just to make sure the Rangers didn’t get him. Then I would fire Sutter and take over the coaching reins myself. And last but not least, I would play Weekes on the last day of the season to make sure Toronto doesn’t make the playoffs.

Seriously though, I’m not sure that there is anything to do. It’s not like a Rupp/Clemmer/draft pick/prospect package is going to be enough to get any player of significance in return. And I don’t think that anything more than that would be worth giving up.
“Hey, David Poile, we’re trying to get the band back together. I’ll trade you this bag of pucks for Arnott. Come on, whattaya say?”

The current Devils lineup is the one that took over first place in the Atlantic. Why change a thing?

Chris Kontos: Much like the Predators are amazing to James, the Devils’ success continue to boggle my mind. And since Brodeur is having such a hard time (/sarcasm) adjusting to being back… I’d say the Devils are in fantastic shape. I think getting rid of Weekes for a draft pick or so would be a great move.

James O’Brien: Ugh, Loophole Lou is getting old. Scott Clemmensen puts up great numbers and … is sent to the AHL? It’s not as bad as banishing Alexander Mogilny, but it’s pretty obnoxious.

***

Philadelphia Flyers (EDIT: WE HAVE A GUEST POST WOOOO!)

Submitted by: Flyers Goal Scored By (March 4)If We were GMS,
Well first off, we’d sneak into Ed Snider’s office, skim a little off the top of his massive piggybank, and get to the store for the trade-deadline-day specials: 2 cases of Sierra Nevada, a pack of smokes, some condoms, and massive amounts of beef jerky.

We then would put everyones’ names around a dartboard, chug out 3 beers, and then fire 4 darts to see who is going. Then really hot souf philly girls would come into our office and tell us how awesome we were at “GM’ing” and then totally make out with each other, and then us, and then back to each other until 3pm. Then we’d high-five and crush a cheesesteak before falling asleep to old Rick Tocchet highlights. Being a GM rules…..

In reality, we’d be stressed as shit if we were the Flyers GM. They are getting constant pressure from the media and fans about “making a move”. So one just has to ask, “What’s worth making a move for?”. If we were GMs, we’d be targeting two players, J-Bo and Nikky Backstrom. Since the Wild secured their #1 goalie, that leaves the Flyers with some run-of-the-mill talent to look at. No one can convince me that Bryzgolov or Lehtonen are better than Biron or Nitty. Our goalies are decent enough, and they will stop pucks. What they won’t be able to stop is 40+ shots a game. Enter in JBo. Everyone knows the Flyers need a big defenseman, and no one is sexier right now than Mr. Meester. But what to give up for the guy? Do we toss Florida our junior-college star in James VanRiemsdyk or our blossoming sniper Claude Giroux? There answer is no. Those guys are the future, and will be studly forr years to come. We give up guys who we don’t really want anymore. Guys who in college were cool Freshman year, but then as you got to know them and see how they act when they’re drunk, you’re like “Why am I friends with this guy? He peed on my couch!” There are 4 names out there that look expendable: Randy Jones, Matt Carle, Joffrey Lupul and Scottie Upshall. those guys are talented and are everyday players. Is that enough for JBo? Well, we’ll have to wait and see.

Bottom line: If it’s not JBo, we’re not buying into it.

James O’Brien: Agreed: J-Bow or nothing.

Dance partners: Boston (plus a quick note)

February 18, 2009

Before delving into this fun little diversion, a quick announcement: the individual posts for the All-Decade team will sprout up starting tomorrow. So far, there are three contributors, plus myself and two possible late additions. Send me an e-mail if you’re a blogger and want to send your picks (OK … OK … if you only comment but happen to harness a hidden mine of snark gold, then maybe we’ll make an exception). Please do not get huffy if your e-mail doesn’t make it.

(E-mail: jamestobrien@hotmail.com)

***

The playoffs are reaching the “can almost smell it” level of close-ness now. Here’s a fun new running feature, then: Best Dance Partners. It’s better than it sounds (so stash that White Man’s Underbite in your closet of shame along with your Snuggie, Creed CDs and mistress). Basically, the feature boils down to the three teams that would make the most entertaining matchups for the NHL team in question.

This week’s installment is the Boston Bruins:

1. Montreal Canadiens (the fifth seed with 66 points, but tied with four other Eastern teams so this isn’t as improbable as it sounds)

Last year’s Montreal – Boston seven-game series brought enough intensity to start a Montreal riot (as Rocket Richard shook his head in shame from Hockey Mount Olympus).
Interestingly enough, this hypothetical series would be quite the role reversal (Boston and Montreal switching no. 1 and no. 8 seeds along with traditional favorite-underdog positions). Plus, the Bruins’ breakout season would crash head-on with what currently is a free-falling centennial edition of the Habs.

Oh yeah, also, both teams can bring plenty of speed, depth and a traditional hatred marinated in decades of bad blood to yet another playoff series. Surely, the journey to shake that Montreal monkey off the Bruins’ back would cause blood pressures to rise in both Original Six markets.

2. Pittsburgh Penguins (currently in 10th place, would need considerable good fortune to make it to the playoffs)
NBC would rank this potential series WAY ahead of a series with Montreal. But a Pens-B’s match brings a lot to the table for more than just casual hockey fans.

It would really allow the Boston Bruins “brand” to grow as bigger audiences would finally get to see the best team in the Eastern Conference take on Pittsburgh, the team with the highest hype-per-win-capita in the NHL. Either that, or the Bruins would be upset by the Penguins leading Gary Bettman, Versus and NBC to jump for joy (while wishing the Penguins knocked off a Canadian team instead of the big market Bruins).

The more likely Bruins-crush-Pens scenario is oddly similar to that time Andre the Giant “put over” Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania III. If, you know, Andre the Giant really sucked that year.

3. Buffalo (currently the seventh seed with 66 points)

Buffalo vs. Boston would be a battle between a small market obsessed enough with hockey to produce huge local ratings and a huge market with other sports on the brain. Even though the Bruins aren’t a perpetual Goliath like Detroit, Buffalo’s underdog factor would be pretty appealing in this one.
Plus, the hockey would probably be very good and Buffalo brings some similar strengths (deep scoring, good goaltending) so the series could even generate a few nail biters.

One bland pairing that would make fans yawn and TV execs drool

Boston vs. New York Rangers

Are we the only people with a slight urge to see the Rangers miss the playoffs? They’re such a mess of a roster, with four HORRIBLE contracts (Chris Drury, Scott Gomez, Wade Redden and Michal Rosival) and a limp lifelessness to their recent play.

Sure, they are two big markets. Sure, the networks would probably show Boston Red Sox/Yankees montages. And, sure, Sean Avery would bring lowbrow attention to the series (predicted Avery quip, spoken in typical monotone: “Zdeno Chara is a tall glass of ugly.”)

But what’s in it for, you know … hockey fans? Not as much as those three other matches, to be sure.