Thursday, September 30, 2010

Nine Guys...Six Spots

As the Rangers head into Friday's matchup with the Ottawa Senators and the last two preseason games for them the biggest question is on the blueline. After Wade Redden was sent down to Hartford (and will report) these are the names that are left for John Tortorella to construct a defense:

Michal Rozsival
Michael Del Zotto
Dan Girardi
Marc Staal

Steve Eminger

Matt Gilroy
Mike Sauer
Ryan McDonagh
Pavel Valentenko

I've separated the nine players out. The first four names listed are basic locks for the big club. Barring some unforeseen event these four guys will be the foundation of the defense with the coaching staff and management looking for improved play over last season.

Steve Eminger is an interesting case. The Rangers traded for him in July and the general consensus is that he is here to be a veteran seventh defenseman. Unfortunately, at least from the little that I have been able to watch of him, he has not done a great job and is sort of on the bubble. I expect him to the the seventh defenseman the entire season but he needs to be careful that he doesn't lose his spot to a younger players somewhere down the line.

The last group is the most interesting. Assuming the first four players and Steve Eminger make the team, that means two spots are open for these four players. All four of them have shown very good things this preseason and camp which is making it very difficult for the coaches to decide who stays and who goes. I myself am having trouble deciding who I want patrolling in front of Henrik Lundqvist. However, there are two more games left in the preseason to decide these things.

If I could pick one of these players to definitely make it, it would be Pavel Valentenko. Acquired in the Scott Gomez trade, "Tank" has lived up to his nickname. I cannot remember the last time the Rangers had a defenseman whose first thought was to plaster someone against the boards (Tomas Kloucek?) Sure he will make mistakes but what rookie doesn't? Tank has been playing in a very good league in the KHL with very skilled players. As noted on the Rangers broadcast last night, Tank said that he enjoys the smaller ice surface of North America because it suits his game more.

Out of the other three, it really is a tossup. Gilroy has played in the NHL and has looked much better after adding 10 lbs. of muscle in the offseason. Mike Sauer has been a stalwart down in Hartford the last few year and is the last hold over from the Brian Leetch trade with Toronto way back when.

I like what I have seen with McDonagh but I think sending him down to Hartford for awhile would not be a negative. There is no doubt he is a smart player but the transition from college or juniors to the NHL for a defenseman is much more difficult for a defenseman than it is for a forward. I think he will be a solid defenseman in the NHL someday but some seasoning in an important role will do him some good.

How does it all play out? We'll find out after this weekend's contests but it will be a battle and I am sure that John Tortorella will lose some sleep over the decision...if he hasn't already.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Wade Redden is Out

Redden is on his way out
As confirmed by the beat writers of the Rangers Wade Redden will be waived at noon today.

This really comes to no surprise to anybody considering the NYR cap situation and Redden's play during his short tenure here. Don't be surprised to see some other big names on the waiver wire this afternoon as there are a few teams looking to shed some serious cap space in the hopes of getting some breathing room and having a chance at helping out in areas where the team is short.

What are Redden's options now? He could play the contract out in Hartford and be a nice veteran presence in the AHL...He could work out a deal with a team in Europe and head over there...or he could flat out retire which would terminate his contract with the Rangers. I highly doubt he will do the last one because I am sure there is some hockey team around the world who will take him.

For more cool stuff on this check out the beat writers. They have the low down on what is going on.

The Rangers do have another preseason game tonight against the Devils and the lineup will not be as offensive as the other night. Here is the projected lineup:

Fedotenko-White-Callahan,
Avery-Kennedy-Williams,
Grachev-Anisimov-Byers,
Boogaard-Newbury-Weise

Del Zotto-Eminger,
Semenov-Valentenko,
Exelby-Gilroy.

Lundqvist in net.

Thanks to Andrew Gross and Jesse Spector for the information. As I said, not as offensive as the other night but certainly capable of holding off the Devils. How it plays out tonight will be interesting as the Rangers will gear up for another preseason on Sunday when they head to Detroit.

Phoenix had a split squad matchup with Los Angeles the other night and ended up winning both of those games which is a good sign considering LA will be one of those teams the Yotes will be butting heads with all season. Tonight however they have split squad games with the Sharks. Click here to head to the Yotes website where Dave Vest has projected lineups for each of the teams.

Follow me on Twitter if you would like more up to date thoughts on what is going on in the hockey world. You can do that by going here and following me. I'll be tweeting information about waivers and the NYR game, at least, later.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Back in the Saddle

Well people...I'm back. After a very long hiatus I am back for another season of hockey. It was a great summer and school is now in full swing (almost too much swing).

For those who know me personally knew I had an internship in the Public Relations department of the New York Rangers during the summer. Just a quick word on this: The next time you pick up a media guide for your team take a second and read the names of the editors and the staff who worked on it because without them the guide doesn't happen.

So the next time you happen to run into anyone in any public relations job just know they work their tails off, especially those in the NYR PR department. Public relations is tough anywhere, but in a market like NYC, it is unlike any other place in the world. Hats off to the people in the NYR PR department...you know who you are.

Getting to this season...how exciting things are going to be. The Coyotes are looking to improve on their surprise (not to me) season which ended with a tough Game 7 loss in the first round to Detroit...which is still sour. The Rangers are looking to get back in the playoff scene after missing out on the postseason dance for the first time since the lockout. NYR showed that, as corny as it sounds, every point really does count.

Both teams gained and lost a few faces but training camps are showing that everyone there is trying to grab a spot. The competition is high around the NHL and the Stanley Cup is pretty much up for grabs after the Chicago Blackhawks had a bit of a dismantling losing players like Kris Versteeg, Dustin Byfuglien, John Madden, and Antii Niemi due to salary cap constraints (How those Hossa, Campbell, and Huet deals looking now?).

Between school work and anything else I will do my best to keep this going all year. I will be using my Twitter account much more so you can follow me by going to my profile here and clicking the follow button. I will be posting any articles I write plus just random thoughts...Don't you want to know my random thoughts???