Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Just A Silly Little Dreamer

So here is the challenge I was given; build the Ranger team using only draft picks and prospect free agents. It sounded like an easy enough task but then the catch was tossed my way.

Go back only 5 draft years and no further to set up this team but players who played in Hartford as well as Charlotte can be used. That is going to make it hard to build a team since some of the draft picks have already been let go or traded.

No using Henrik, Dubi, Cally, Staal or Girardi as they did not make the cut off date but for sure in a real world would be on the roster.

This is a roster that is being built upon skill and how best to use their talents. Yes the defensemen are mostly left handed as of the top 6 that I see only 1 is a right handed shot.

Given a choice of using the best possible players or having lefty/righty; I went with the best possible players who will give me the best chance of winning. If you want to have perfect balance then you will sacrifice skill and that I will not do.

Not to mention that most European players are taught to play all the positions so 2 lefty players is no big thing for them.

So 3 years from now here is our Ranger lineup:

The First Unit

Artem Anisimov (2006 2nd) is your first line center with Chris Kreider (2009 1st) on the left wing and we are going to put Dale Weise on the right side. Already we can hear people just arguing over the choice of Weise but let us make our case.

Nobody will complain about Anisimov or Kreider but Weise we can understand but here is our logic. Weise is going to be the guy who does the dirty work and also protects his 2 linemates. Think Adam Graves with more size setting up in the crease opening up the ice for the other 4 members of the unit.

With Michael Del Zotto (2008 1st) and Ryan McDonagh (trade 2009) on the blueline then you have some serious firepower on the blueline. McDonagh's is the defensive stopper who allows the forwards to go deep but unleashes Del Zotto to go on the attack.

The key to this entire unit is Del Zotto as just like Brian Leetch; Del Zotto needs to be unleashed and allowed to use his skating skill to attack. A Del Zotto who is pressuring the defense opens space for the skills of Kreider and Anismov.

Second Unit

This Unit has the ability to out score the first unit as 2 very good playmakers feeding a man-child of a goal scorer. Ethan Werek (2009 2nd) is your center, Derek Stepan (2008 2nd) on the left and Evgeny Grachev (2008 3rd) on the right. Werek and Stepan are interchangeable at center depending on the situation but we want Stepan on the left side boards as the quarterback.

Werek with his size and skill can work with Grachev to attack from any spot on the offensive zone. Grachev is the goal scorer who has multiple ways to shoot the puck and score with. This is going to be a very hard unit to defense against.

Tomas Kundratek (2008 3rd) and Dylan McIlrath (2010 1st) are on the blueline as the second unit is going to need the better defensive minded defenders. Kundratek has the ideal passing skills to play with Werek and Stepan while also the defensive smarts to cover his forwards.

McIlrath is going to be the shutdown defender but also the protector of this unit as once word spreads of McIlrath as an enforcer then few teams will want to mess with his teammates. McIlrath we think could develop some offense and surprise people thanks to the playmakers he has on this unit.

Third Unit

Call these guys the "Who Dat?" line as nobody knew who they were when they were drafted but hard work and determination made their names known in a hurry.

Carl Hagelin (2007th 6th) on the left side, Roman Horak (2009 5th) and Jesper Fasth (2010 6th) on the right, While this is a smallish unit what they are is the best of the Ranger's 2 way players and I use them on the power play or if need be plug them in as needed on the first 2 lines.

Hagelin has gone from a "Who is this guy?" to a very legit Hobey Baker possibility as the captain of the Wolverines. Horak has gone from the "Who is this Guy?" to the face off center the Rangers have and Fasth is a smooth skating prospect who as he grows will bring the typical hard work ethic and excellent fundamentals to the team.

On the blueline keeping this as a "All-European" unit; Pavel Valentenko (Trade 2009) and Mikhail Pashnin (2008 7th). 2 pure defenders who will greatly help on the special teams but strong enough that if needed could be used in the Top 4. Both like to hit and both can play with a chip on their shoulder.

Fourth Unit

This is your cross your fingers unit as the talent is there but the questions out number their skill set. You want to see these guys make it but you will not be 100% sure they will unless they clearly answer questions about their game.

Ryan Bourque (2009 3rd) is first as we like how he is tired of people questioning his height and family name. We hope it makes him angry to show the world that he is his own man,

Andrew Yogan (2010 4th) had huge size at 6'3 but he has never recovered in our eyes from a dirty hit he suffered in the 2009 OHL playoffs. If he can regain his old form then he is not a 4th unit player but rather a Top 6 forward.

Matt Gilroy (UFA) is someone we want to use as a combo forward/defender to give the roster some flexibility. Gilroy was a forward for most of his career but while his defense is OK; having a guy in the cap era who can play 2 positions is a major advantage to the team.

Sam Klassen (UFA 2009) is one defender and despite just being 6 ft; Klassen is the best pure open ice hitter the Rangers have anywhere. If he had some more offense then he would be rated higher but for now we have him as depth).

Jyri Niemi (Trade 2010) Niemi has to shake being the most inconsistent defender on the Saskatoon Blades or he will be back to Europe before he learns how to ride the subway to MSG. If he does then the Rangers get a kid with size and skill who can put some points up.


Life without Henrik in goal does sound scary as Ranger fans have gotten royally spoiled having a world class goalie on the roster. But here we do not since his 2000 draft date takes him out of the lineup but we are confident in his replacements.

Chad Johnson (UFA 2009) has already shown that he can play at the NHL level. That in his almost invisible time with the Rangers that CJ wound up with one of the top saves in the NHL last season says so.

Sorry we disagree with giving Biron a 2 year deal as we think CJ needs just a half season before he can stake a claim to the back up goalie position with the Rangers. If Henrik goes down for a serious injury we would not even blink to put CJ in net as we are confident that he can be a NHL starter.

Last season when people will try to save the hockey program at the University of Alabama-Huntsville; we watched a sophomore goalie step up and make the starting job his own. We watched as that same goalie steal the CHA Tournament (while winning the MVP) and give "The Brotherhood" AKA the Miami of Ohio hockey team one of the biggest scares in the NCAAs.

So Cam Talbot is in a position to once again shock those who do not know his game and watch him become an NHL goalie. He has size, all the tools and a set of nerves that never rattles. This is a goalie who in our eyes has only himself to stop him from becoming an NHL goalie.

So there is 22 players not one outsider and a totally homegrown team. A dream or fantasy oh yes it is but this is our way of showing it can be done.


Website Update

Finally we have a host and as of last night our domain name has been transferred over so now the serious work on the new home will begin. It is going to be very nice to move from here as no more lame attempts to spam us in Chinese (yes an almost daily occurence) among other childish and immature behaviors that we deal with.

Thanks to a lot of cooperation and requests, we are going to include now the Ranger's farm teams in Hartford and Greenville as well as the Islander teams in Bridgeport and Kalamazoo. If you attend games then and you either want to file a report or take images let us know because some of our best images come from our fellow fans.

2 of the 4 images used today came from fans just like yourselves and we bet if we did not ID the pics you would not be able to tell the difference. 

(Kreider: Dennis Pause, Stepan: Melody Hasse, Hagelin: Scott Galvin/Michigan Photo, Talbot: New York Rangers)

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