Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Season Opener

The actual games are still months away but for New York Ranger fans the 2009-2010 season is going to start on Friday when the 2009 NHL Draft begins. The draft starts what should be the first real look at the direction that the Rangers will be taking over the next couple of seasons.

It is the real start of the John Tortorella era as the players selected will represent the transition to the Tortorella system. What remains to be seen is exactly how much of any input that Tortorella is going to have on the selections or on the eventual makeup of the roster.

If the Rangers use their first round pick on yet another puck moving defenseman it is pretty safe that the Ranger Universe is not going to react very kindly. Size, scoring as well as speed are going to be the top needs for the Rangers at the draft.

Forget the stuff you have been reading anywhere (even here) but watch rather the kinds of players the Rangers select. How well they are as skaters will help give an idea as to whether or not Tortorella had a lot to say about which prospects got selected.

The Rangers own picks at 19 (1st rd) 47 (2nd), 80 (3rd), 127, 140, 151 (5th), 170 (6th), and 200 (7th). The typical expectations are the picks in the first 3 rounds but the real work of the scouts are the ones they find in the later rounds (5th to 7th).

We expect the Rangers to make a couple of deals during the draft trying to get a pick into the 4th round as this draft is in our eyes a strong 3 rounds deep. If the Rangers can grab 3 forwards in the top half of the draft then they can concentrate on a goalie and then some depth in the later rounds.

With all due respect to Gordie Clark, we do not agree that the quality of goalies in this year's draft is weak but quite the opposite. If it was us at the draft table then we would seriously consider taking one goalie from the CHL and another playing in the NCAAs.

A strong goalie is a major must under the Tortorella system and we will repeat our belief that if anything happens to Henrik the Rangers will be in serious trouble. Just remember what happened when Mike Richter had his career ended for him.

Once the draft ends then on Monday we get to start the free agent season as that is the day that Restricted Free Agents must be tendered qualifying offers. Those who are not tendered offers will become unrestricted free agents.

The easy guesses are that Brandon Dubinsky, Dane Byers, Ryan Callahan and Lauri Korpikoski will get their qualifying offers. Those not expected to be tendered offers are Fredrik Sjostrom, Corey Potter and Greg Moore as there remains doubts as to whether the Rangers see them as viable options for the future.

The question mark becomes the decision on whether to tender Nikolai Zherdev at 3.25 million dollars or not. Despite being the Ranger's second leading scorer Zherdev did not always come across as a hard working player and that is not going to cut it with Tortorella.

The one factor that will play into whether Zherdev gets tendered an offer or not is whether the Rangers think they can resign Unrestricted Free Agent Nik Antropov. We think the Rangers will tender Zherdev at least until they know which direction they see Nik Antropov heading.

If they can make a deal with Antropov then expect the screws to tighten on Zherdev.

On the other hand, it is almost a given that neither Colton Orr or Blair Betts will be back next season. Both saw their playing time diminish during both the end of the regular season as well as the playoffs but losing them just might come back to haunt the Rangers.

Orr is the only real enforcer the Rangers have and Betts is one of the top penalty killers in the entire NHL. Dane Byers if he makes the Rangers will try to replace Orr but how the Rangers can replace Betts is a serious question.

Do the Rangers try to resign Nik Antropov, Paul Mara and Derek Morris? The Rangers may say they are interested but they simply do not have the money to afford them. Antropov needs to sign for the same amount as Zherdev not anything more.

Mara for reasons that escape us does not seem to mesh with Tortorella but if Orr leaves the Rangers are going to need as much team toughness as possible. We would sign Mara to buy time to insure that Sauer is ready for the NHL or play if he is not.l

Derek Morris simply loses out because the Rangers do not have the money to pay his salary and if the Rangers can not move either Rozsival or Redden then it makes no sense to re-sign him. We also believe that spots need to be opened for Matt Gilroy or Bobby Sanguinetti who will be more cost effective options.

In any case between the draft and free agency Ranger fans should get to see some early fireworks.

The only question is whether or not they will be happy fireworks or will the explosions be backlash from angry Ranger fans.

Buckle up folks and get ready for a ride.

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Draft Day Chats

Our Friday evening is going to busy but if you want to find places to chat about the draft here is where Prospect Park is going to be.

Our new friend thegoalieguild.com will be hosting a chat that we will be joining in on during the draft.

Another spot to check out will be the Program as we will be calling in to talk to them during the night.

And right here in case anyone is interested we will try to host a live chat here for anyone interested via the Cover It Live software.



1 comment:

Ryan McFadden - The Manic Ranger said...

since i missed the last one, ill stop by the goalie guild and join the chat