Friday, July 2, 2010

Thinking Out Loud

You know things are scary in the NHL when Glen Sather has a most quiet first day of free agency and others out Sather Sather. Whether it was the salary cap that forced this behavior or not; the Rangers really only one highly questionable move but still left some room for head scratching on others.

The good was getting Marty Biron as the backup goalie, resigning Vinnie Prospal, Brandon Prust and Erik Christensen; all at reasonable prices. It is hard to be upset with Sather at those moves.

The other good is so far Sather has not joined the madness that appears to have invaded the NHL and gave players contracts they do not deserve. When the NHL locks out the players again after the current CBA then remember moves like those made so far.

But for Sather it would not be a free agency period if he did not have at least one bad contract signing. This year is it giving Derek Boogaard a 4 year contract after refusing to give Jody Shelley a 3 year deal.

At least Shelley did more than fight for the Rangers but Boogaard is going to prove himself even less effective than Donald Brashear was. Giving or in this case wasting a roster spot on a guy who's best days as an enforcer are behind him as why bother with a guy who is going to give you only 6 minutes a game?

If the idea is to provide the Rangers with protection for their top players then they would have been better served getting someone like Raitis Ivanans who cost only 600K but will do the same job that Boogaard would have.

1 million may not seem like a lot of money but the Rangers have about 7.9 million to spend on Dan Girardli, Marc Staal, a couple of extra players and then have something for a rainy day. Even if the Rangers were to waive Wade Redden (and I am still not convinced the Rangers will do that) then the Rangers will have to spend some of the savings on a replacement defenseman.


Derek Stepan signed his entry level contact this week as he gives up his final 2 years at Wisconsin to turn pro. One has to wonder just how much getting hurt in the NCAA championship game influenced his choice here.

We have always liked Stepan since the first time he played for the Wisconsin Badgers after being drafted by the Rangers in the 2nd round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. We know that in time he will become a solid pro and a major contributor to the Rangers.

But we think his decision to turn pro now was incorrect as we believe that Stepan would have been better served with another year at Wisconsin. Another season under Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves would have polished Stepan into a complete player something we do not think he can do at Hartford.

Under Eaves, Stepan was getting the kind of coaching which helped turn Stepan from an offensive machine into a strong 2 way player but his game still has some holes in it. For one thing his face off skills are the weakest part of his game and if he is going to be a playmaking center getting Top 6 minutes then being good on face offs is a must.

The other is his consistency as at times Stepan forgets that he has to play with an edge to get his offensive game going. If he does not play physical then he tends to not get into the flow of the offensive side of the game.

Because Stepan still has junior eligibility remaining, the Rangers have the option to send Stepan to Calgary of the WHL instead of Hartford in the AHL. The surprise for us will be is if Stepan does in fact play in Hartford this season as if the Rangers do send him to Calgary then they (the Rangers) save a year on his contract.

He is not even close to NHL ready so we hope he spends a year in Calgary (since he has a signing bonus then it is not like he will starve) where under Mike Williamson, Stepan can make the adjustment to playing a 70-80 game season schedule.

Willaimson led Calgary to the WHL championship last season and is well know to us from his days as the coach of the Portland Winterhawks where he coached Brandon Dubinsky and a couple of other now current NHL players. Stepan would be able to work on the weak areas of his game away from the glare and expectations of Ranger fans.

As for Ryan McDonagh; the more we see the more we believe that he will return to Wisconsin for his senior season. Stepan's decision to turn pro will have no bearing on McDonagh's decision but what will is whether or not McDonagh can make the jump directly to the Rangers.

The answer is yes on the defensive end;  as McDonagh would be vast improvement over current Rangers Redden, Rozsival, Del Zotto and Gilroy. The answer is no on the offensive side as McDonagh needs work on getting his shot on net as well as taking it more often.

We picture McDonagh as a "3" on defense as he will be strong enough on the defensive side but with enough offense to earn time on the power play. The Rangers though need McDonagh to turn pro now as if the season was to start tomorrow then Rangers would be short defensemen if you look at a combined Hartford/Ranger roster.

Staal, Girardi, Del Zotto, Gilroy, Redden and Rozsival make up the current depth chart at the NHL level. Sauer, Baldwin. Dowzak, Kundratek and Klassen are currently what the Rangers have to offer for Hartford with Trevor Glass coming off a lost season last year.

With Sanguinetti traded, Hekkinen signing in Russia and Cory Potter expected to also leave for a better chance elsewhere then the Rangers need McDonagh more than he needs them.

We think McDonagh is going to return to Wisconsin for his senior year but while it will anger some Ranger fans; it will do more to make McDonagh a more complete player.


Remember on break out day how John Torterella said this about P.A. Parenteau on break up day? (courtesy of Andrew Gross's Ranger Rants)

Tortorella did sound impressed with P.A. Parenteau, who will be an unrestricted free agent. Tortorella said down the stretch Parenteau was the team’s third most talented player behind Gaborik and Christensen and that he’d like Parenteau to continue improving with his skating speed. 

Which is why Parenteau had so much faith in his chances of making the Rangers that he choose to sign with the Islanders on a 1 year one-way contract. Parenteau was a good serviceable role player for the Rangers who deserved a better fate than he got from the Ranagers.

(Sather courtesy of the NY Rangers)

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