Nothing is more fun than to read the Ranger beat reporters falling all over themselves with words of praise for the New York Ranger prospects. Maybe if they took the time to come here and read what we have been saying about the kids then they would not be so surprised.
Start with Evgeny Grachev who everyone keeps harping on his 40 goal, 80 point season with Brampton last season but what is being overlooked is a couple of other numbers that beg to be shown. The first is Grachev's +48 which was the 4th best in the OHL but people are also forgeting that this was his first year playing the North American style.
We bring it up because people are forgetting that while offense wins games, it is defense that will win you a championship and Grachev is not a one way player. Grachev played on all special teams for the Brampton Battalion as Brampton coach Stan Butler did a great job in preparing Grachev for pros.
Still we have to wonder if Grachev's game is that close to being NHL ready given his just being 19 (Grachev will not turn 20 until next February). We really do like Grachev's future but Grachev's talent is one that badly needs to be fully developed at both ends of the ice.
Michael Del Zotto may not have been invited to the Canadian World Junior camp but after his own performance at the Ranger prospect camp does Larry Brooks still think his selection was a mistake?
Del Zotto also opened eyes at the camp but unless Del Zotto totally outplays every Ranger defender at the main training camp at both ends of the ice the safe bet will be Del Zotto returning to London of the OHL. It as we have been preaching the fastest way to ensure Del Zotto's NHL development.
Del Zotto still needs work on his defense and despite his being one very talented offensive weapon under the Tortorella system defenders need to be able to handle odd man rushes. Del Zotto's defense is not ready for the NHL level attack so let him return for one more year of the OHL.
Doing that same tactic with Marc Staal greatly sped up his development and if it works why change?
Brandon Dubinsky is a favorite of ours; it is something that we have never tried to hide and never will because we owe a lot to Brandon but also his family over the years. However friendship, personal bias or anything else aside we wonder if the Rangers are serious about keeping Dubinsky.
When we heard whispers that Dubinsky was only qualified at the required 10% then we realized that the Rangers were going fishing using Dubinsky as the bait. The prize is a first line center and even we would have to acknowledge that it would be a very smart move.
Dubinsky is sought after by other teams who do see a future for him; the "Dubinsky could be a number 1 center" remark by Sather was a nice touch to try to raise Dubinsky's trade value. Toss in the ability to play in a pressure cooker like New York as well as showing that he can play with any combination of players and you get a nice dealmaker.
Once the NHL teams see how much they have spent during free agency then the trade markets will heat up. Dangling a Dubinsky as the centerpiece of any trade offer will help the Ranger keep the total cost down.
The other reason why a Dubinsky is serious tradebait is because one has no idea which Nikolai Zherdev is going show up next season. Nobody is even sure that Zherdev is going to resign with the Rangers so that puts Dubinsky on the trading block.
Even if Zherdev does resign can anyone say that they feel confident that Zherdev will give the Rangers what he didn't give last season? The Rangers are going to want to start next season with a real first line not one that worries if Dubinsky can handle the role or if Zherdev will give 100% all the time.
That in our eyes is what puts Dubinsky on the trading block and boy do we hope we are wrong.
Nobody asked us but while people are trashing Blair Betts for not signing with the Edmonton Oilers can we stop with it already? It was Glen Sather who suggested that Betts might sign with the Oilers not anyone else.
Just because Betts has not been signed should not be viewed as nobody wants his services. Betts is a solid penalty killer who also brought a good work ethic and no Ranger fan can say that Betts did not give them his best every night.
Once the smoke clears we see Betts getting signed and here is an idea that might not fit well with Ranger fans. How about Blair Betts as a New Jersey Devil?
The Devils have been hit hard by free agents leaving but still play a solid system game. However like the Rangers of last season what they will lack in offense they will need to make up by a strong defense and better penalty kill.
That is where a Betts will come in and we can see him as a Devil filling that role. It might also be a role that comes back to haunt the Rangers.
(Grachev/Aaron Bell, Dubinsky, Del Zotto and Betts/New York Rangers)
3 hours ago