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Take a look at the Rangers projected roster for 2008-2009.  The top 3 lines and the defense are pretty much set, but there seem to be too many forwards.

Zherdev-Gomez-Naslund
Prucha-Drury-Dawes
Callahan-Dubinsky-Sjostrom
Voros-Fritsche/Rissmiller-[Anisimov?]
Hollweg/[Byers?]-Betts-Orr/[Moore?]

Redden-Staal
Rozsival-Girardi
Mara-Kalinin-[Sanguinetti?]

By my calculations the Rangers have an excess of 3 NHL forwards plus 3 more NHL-caliber forwards currently in Hartford.  Because of this, it might be a good idea to make a salary-clearing trade for draft picks.   It’s safe to say that the Rangers still have interest in signing a proven goal-scorer either during the off-season or before the trade deadline next year.  If the Rangers can add some cap space to the $3.3 million they currently have, they would be in the running to make a play for a top-quality winger.

 

Update: Forgot about Kalinin. Thanks to the commenter “Jagr”.

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The Jagr deal with Avangard Omsk is believed to be for two years plus an option for a third, and will pay Jagr about $7 million tax-free, which is the equivalent of about $11 million a season in the NHL.

Jagr had plenty to say, mentioning that playing in New York was an “extraordinary experience.”  He also noted his regrets for not reaching the 84-point plateau that would have automatically extended his contract with the Rangers.

Jagr’s parting shot:

“And I also want to say to the people like Mike Milbury who made their living by criticizing me all the time, that they can kiss my ass.”

As for NHL players going to play overseas, Vladmir Ruzicka, the coach of the Czech Republic national team had this to say about players going to Russia: “The NHL should be afraid and very afraid because the Continental League in Russia is filthy rich and I can guarantee you that they will lure a lot of players, especially those who are about 30, who have done their time in the NHL and made some money there and they will offer them pretty good conditions and a lot of them will go to Russia.”

The man has a point.  The money doesn’t go as far in the U.S. as it does overseas.  And if Russian teams are going to pay players in before-tax dollars, there will be a lot of incentive to play there.

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Let’s go through a projection of how the Rangers roster might shape up:

Zherdev-Gomez-[Jagr or some UFA]
Dawes-Drury-Callahan
Sjostrom-Dubinsky-Prucha
Hollweg-Betts-Orr
Fritsche-Rissmiller-Voros
Shanahan?

Rozsival-Staal
Redden-Girardi
Pock?-Strudwick?-Sanguinetti?

The Rangers have $14.5 million in cap space but that number does not include Dawes, Sjostrom, Fritsche, Rissmiller, Voros, or Strudwick.

Assuming the Rangers will spend roughly $4 or $5 million between those players, they will have about $9 or $10 million to spend on Jagr, Shanahan, and any UFA’s the Rangers might desire.

That doesn’t leave much wiggle room.  Decision time for Slats.

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The Rangers traded defensemen Fedor Tyutin and Christian Backman to the Columbus Blue Jackets for forwards Nikolai Zherdev and Dan Fritsche.

In addition to adding some size and depth up front, the move will clear up some cap space for the Rangers to potentially make some moves (i.e. re-sign Jagr, acquire either Naslund or Huselius).

In my opinion, moving Backman and his $3.4 million off the roster and off the salary cap is a great move, but the loss of Tyutin is significant.  Tyutin has been a solid defenseman for the Rangers.  However, the acquisition of Redden gave the Rangers 4 top-notch defenseman (Redden plus Staal, Rozsival, and Girardi).  Therefore, Tyutin became non-essential.  This trade is good news for Bobby Sanguinetti.

Zherdev is young and seems to have a knack for putting the puck in the net.  The 6’2″ right wing is just 23 years old and scored 26 goals to go along with 35 assists in 2007-2008.  He is set to make $3.25 million in 2008-09, with only $2.5 million charged against the cap.

Fritsche is a 6’1″ center who is also 23 years old.  He had 10 goals and 12 assists last season.

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The Sean Avery era in New York is officially at an end. 

Avery signed a 4-year deal worth $15.5-million with the Dallas Stars.  If you’re keeping score at home, the Rangers let Avery go over a difference of a few hundred grand per year.  For a team that has no problem throwing ridiculous money around (e.g. “making it rain”), they seemed to be awfully blasé about re-signing one of their top wingers.

If you’re feeling upset, take a minute and put yourself in the position of the Mens Vogue editors or the Olson twins.  Imagine how they must feel!

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Grading Day 1 of Free Agency: Rangers get a B+

Scott Burnside of espn.com assigns grades for the signings from day 1 of free agency.  Definitely worth a read.

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Check out this article from abovethelaw.com for an interesting legal perspective on MSG’s battle with the NHL.

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The Rangers opted for defense in the first round (for the 3rd time in the last 4 years) and took Michael Del Zotto with the 20th pick.  Check out this article from Blueshirt Bulletin for the details on Del Zotto.

In the 2nd round, the Rangers took Minnesota HS forward Derek Stepan.

Most likely, neither of these guys will play in the league in the next 3 years, but they’ve both got “tremendous upside potential.

For a full recap of the Rangers draft, click here.

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Remember way back in September 2007 when the Rangers sued the NHL over the website?

At the time, the Rangers were outraged when the NHL insisted that MSG transfer control over the Rangers independently produced website, “newyorkrangers.com”, so that the league could convert it into one of 30 “cookie-cutter” club websites at “rangers.nhl.com.” 

Well, a judge ruled in favor of the NHL, and the Rangers website is now one of those dreaded cookie-cutter sites.

Now, Gary Bettman (current commissioner of the NHL——former lowly associate at a NY Big Law shop), has filed a letter in court threatening to kick the owners of the Rangers out of the league.

Yup, you read that right.  Bettman’s letter threatened to suspend or terminate MSG’s ownership as punishment for accusing league officials of violating antitrust laws.  (see ESPN article)

Now, I’m not a lawyer or anything (just 2/3 of a lawyer).  But, just to get this straight, here’s a summary:

  • The private owners of a business (the Rangers) involved in a joint venture (the NHL) sue to preserve their rights to an independent website.
  • They lose, and give in to the joint venture’s demands.
  • Now, the joint venture threatens to kick them out solely because they had the gall to say, “we want to run our own website.”

Seems a little excessive to me.  You be the judge.

Tell Gary Bettman what you think of his letter:  gbettman@nhl.com

 

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The Philadelphia Flyers showed they were still very much alive last night when they beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2 to stave off elimination. The Penguins now lead the series 3-1. The Flyers scored three goals in the first period to jump out to a 3-0 lead heading into the first intermission. Things got pretty interesting in the last few minutes thought. The Flyers were out to prove that they aren’t going away easy. After Hatcher basically beat the crap out of Malone (the refs stopped the fight before the overmatched Malone got seriously injured), the Flyers’ best player (Mike Richards) told Sidney Crosby to shut up. With his fists.

For any fellow Rangers fans that aren’t sure who Mike Richards is, just think of Brandon Dubinsky in about 1-2 seasons. Also throw in the ability to fight well.

I wonder if the Flyers have possibly gotten into the Penguins heads. Don’t forget, this is the same exact thing that happened in the second round to the Rangers. They were down 3-0 and kicked some ass in game 4. The game ended with a couple slewfoots and a few scrums too. Maybe the Rangers were getting into the Penguins’ heads! The series headed back to Pittsburgh and we all know how it ended up.

I think the Flyers have a better chance to bring this series back to Philly than the Rangers had to bring it back to the Garden one round ago. Throw in the fact that the Flyers are getting back their two top defensemen (Kimmo Timonen and Braydon Coburn) for game 5 and things are looking pretty good for the Flyers.

***

I think Marc and I are gonna hold off on wrapping up the Rangers’ season and playoffs until after the Stanley Cup has been won. We aren’t sure how we want to do it (team as a whole or player by player by coach). Regardless, we will be posting news and opinion throughout the offseason so keep checking the site for updates.

Also, if you have any thoughts, comments, suggestions, criticism, or work for the Rangers (or the NHL) and want to help us out with an interview please don’t hesitate to email us at 5holeblog@gmail.com.

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