Tuesday, July 24, 2012

New York Rangers: Should I Stay or Should I Go? 2012

Catching you up after summer holiday.  The Rangers have done some free agent shopping, lost a few free agents, and made a couple of trades.  Here are the Rangers’ additions and subtractions.


M. Zuccarello, F  Signed with Mettalurg Magnitogorsk of the KHL for 1 year
C. Johnson, G      Signed with Phoenix Coyotes
B. Prust, F            Signed with Montreal
J. Mitchell, F       Signed with Colorado
J. Woywitka, D   Signed with St. Louis
R. Fedotenko, F  Signed with Philadelphia
A. Deveaux, F      Signed with Florida
J. Scott, D            Signed with Buffalo
C. Wellman, F     Traded to Florida
B. Dubinsky, F    Traded to Columbus
A. Anisimov, F    Traded to Columbus
T. Erixon, D        Traded to Columbus


A. Asham, F     From Pittsburgh
M. Haley, F      From NY Islanders
T. Pyatt, F        From Phoenix
J. Halpern, F   From Washington
B. Segal, F        From Tampa Bay
S. Collins, D     From Washinton
R. Nash, F        Traded from Columbus
S. Delisle, D     Traded from Columbus

2014 5th round for Casey Wellman from Florida

2013 1st round to Columbus, for Rick Nash and Steven Delisle

Returning to regular Should I Stay or Should I Go format tomorrow.  We'll look at the restricted free agent situations of defenseman Michael DelZotto and Anton Stralman. 

Monday, June 11, 2012


The tournament thus far:

Co-host Poland embarrassingly lost a 1:0 lead to the Greeks at Warsaw and settled for a 1:1 draw.  Each side had a man sent off.

Russia thrashed Czech Republic by a score of 4:1

The Dutch did everything right except score goals and the vikings of Denmark plundered a 1:0 win.

Germany played true to its old school style and ground out a 1:0 win over the crafty Portuguese.

Spain and Italy played to a lackluster 1:1 draw in which Spain didn’t start any strikers (4-6-0), and Italy had few answers for Spain’s skill.

Ireland were outclassed by Croatia 1:3, but it was classless of Croatia manager Bilic to mention they outclassed Ireland in the media.  The chances were there for the Irish, but Andrews was lacking in the finishing department.

France ground out a 1:1 draw with England.  England is hurting from injury woes, and the fact that Rooney is on suspension because he couldn’t hold his temper in a qualifier.

Sweden took the lead over co-host Ukraine in Kyiv today 1:0 through Ibrahimovic.  But Shevchenko found 2 goals left in his aging frame to spur Ukraine to a nationalist comeback winning 2:1.

Tomorrow’s Matches:

Greece v. Czech Republic


Poland v. Russia

Look for co-hosts Poland to pull out all the stops to defeat their political nemesis Russia.  Czech Republic, humbled by Russia, will be looking to re-establish their legitimacy against Greece.

New York Rangers: Should I Stay or Should I Go? 2012

This series discusses New York Rangers' players who are currently unrestricted or restricted free agents, examining their unique situations from the player’s point of view.  Today examine the situations of restricted free agents Francois Bouchard, and Andreas Thuresson.

Francois Bouchard, Forward

Reasons to Stay:
Thinks he has a shot to hunt Stanley Cups with the Rangers.

Reasons to Leave:
Makes $70K/year in the AHL with not a sniff of NHL ice-time.

Bouchard comes out of the successful AHL club of Washington Capitals, the Hershey Bears.  Although he didn’t play in the Calder Cup for the Whale this spring, Bouchard was good enough for 10 points and held his own defensively (-1 +/- rating).  Does a decent job of staying out of the box.  Scored a high of 21 goals at Hershey, and 45 for his junior team of

The talent level is there but does Bouchard want to enlist in John Tortorella’s army?  I predict that Rangers offer a one year extension of Bouchard’s current deal.

Andreas Thuresson, Forward

Reasons to Stay:
Thinks he can make the Rangers out of training camp this fall.

Reasons to Leave:
Thinks he can’t make the Rangers out of training camp this fall, and doesn’t want to stay at the Connecticut Whale.

Played 73 games for the Whale with decent numbers last season (13-8, 21).  Scored a goal and two assists in the Calder Cup.  Is big enough to rumble with the NHL’s cadre of agitators, but with hands that score lovely goals.

Rangers should offer a one year two-way contract.  Thuresson is developing, and maybe has a place in Manhattan.


Tomorrow’s segment will feature New York Rangers’ restricted free agents Michael Del Zotto, and Anton Stralman.

Friday, June 8, 2012


predictions made at 06.03 PDT


1    Czech Republic
2    Poland
3    Russia
4    Greece

Buoyed by a wave of nationalistic pride, Poland will qualify along with the Czechs, over a faltering Russia and a Greek side distracted over political and economic woes.


1    Netherlands
2    Germany
3    Portugal
4    Denmark

The Oranje will dominate follwed by Germany, with Portugal and Denmark just missing out.  Expect this group to be extremely close.  Easily the most competitive group in the tournament.


1    Spain
2    Ireland
3    Croatia
4    Italy

La Furia Roja to dominate, and Ireland (hopefully not a sentimental pick) to surprise under par Croatian and Italian sides.


1    France
2    England
3    Ukraine
4    Sweden

France continue their impressive string of international results and top the group.  England qualify by the skin of the three lion’s teeth.  Nationalism can’t make up for an average Ukrainian side, and the Swedes will find themselves wanting for points.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

New York Rangers: Should I Stay or Should I Go? 2012

This series discusses New York Rangers' players who are currently unrestricted or restricted free agents, examining their unique situations from the player’s point of view.  Today we examine the situations of restricted free agents Brandon Prust and Casey Wellman.

Brandon Prust, Forward

Reasons to Stay:
A vital part of the Rangers’ first team.

Reasons to Leave:
None that I can think of.

Brandon Prust has the heart of a lion.  He works tirelessly, and takes on anyone who threatens his teammates.  In addition to this he skates hard, hits, goes to the net, scores and sets up goals (5 goals, 17 points, and 1 goal, 2 points in the Stanley Cup).  He is worth every penny the club pays him.

The Rangers will tender a qualifying offer to Prust.  He would be foolish not to accept.  It would be silly to drag out negotiations as restricted free agents have limited bargaining power, with their only leverage being to hold out.  This would be disruptive, and accomplish nothing.  Prust’s worth is clear.  The Rangers will eventually reward him.

Casey Wellman, Forward

Reasons to Stay:
At 24 years old, the Rangers’ organization is a good place to land for Wellman.

Reasons to Leave:
It is unlikely Wellman will move to another club, or that he should want to.

Analysis:   Successful season with the Connecticut Whale (Rangers’ AHL affiliate), scoring 9 goals, 22 points in 31 games, and starring in the Calder Cup scoring 4 goals, 9 points in 9 games.  Has some size, skates well.

Wellman had a good year for the Whale.  Rangers will tender a qualifying offer for a forward that scores and stays out of the penalty box.

Tomorrow’s segment will feature New York Rangers’ restricted free agents Francois Bouchard and Andreas Thuresson.

Announcement - Rangers’ restricted free agent Mats Zuccarello-Aasen has signed with Metalurg Magnitogorsk of the KHL  on a 1 year contract.  I am annoyed that he did so before I could predict his departure.  I felt that he had been given limited chances with the Rangers this season (10 matches), after having played 42 matches with the big club the year before.  The arrival of Kreider and Hagelin has made Zuccarello expendable.

Monday, June 4, 2012

New York Rangers: Should I Stay or Should I Go? 2012

This series discusses New York Rangers' players who are currently unrestricted or restricted free agents, examining their unique situations from the player’s point of view.  Today we examine the situation of unrestricted free agent Chad Johnson.

Chad Johnson, Goaltender

Reasons to Stay:
Wants to earn himself a shot at backing up Henrik Lundqvist, and maybe get his name on the Stanley Cup.

Reasons to Leave:
Is tired of spending most of his time earning $62,500 playing for the Connecticut Whale in the AHL.  At 25, there is still the chance to start for another NHL team.  Was benched in the Whale’s Calder Cup run, in favor of Cameron Talbot who played all 9 matches in the cup.

For three years, Chad Johnson has toiled for the Rangers’ AHL affiliate.  He has posted good if not overwhelming numbers (62 victories, 55 losses, 11 drawn, 6 shutouts, 2.57 goals against average, and a .911 save percentage).  In that time he has made 6 appearances for the New York Rangers, earning a win, 2 losses, and a draw.  He posted NHL numbers in goals against average and save percentage nearly identical to his AHL stats, 2.59 and .911.

The closest thing Chad Johson has had to a real audition for the New York Rangers was his run of 5 games in 2009-10, backing up Henrik Lundqvist after regular backup Steve Valiquette had been waived.  In the next off-season, Martin Biron was signed by the Rangers as a free agent for the purposes of backing up Lundqvist.  In last season’s Calder Cup run, Johnson was shown the bench in favor of Cameron Talbot, despite Johnson playing 49 matches in the regular season for the Whale to Talbot’s 33.  All indicators point to the fact that the club has lost faith in their ability to develop Johnson into an NHL goaltender.  With young goaltending prospect Scott Stajcer waiting in the wings, it is likely that Johnson will be thanked for his service to the club, and wished the best of luck in his future endeavors.  The Rangers won’t offer a contract to Johnson, allowing him to pursue free agency.  Should current NHL backup Martin Biron not re-sign, the situation changes greatly.  The Rangers would then have to decide to go with Johnson as the NHL backup, sign a free agent to back up Lundqvist, or come up with a third alternative (Talbot? Stajcer?).

Tomorrow’s segment begins our look at the New York Rangers’ restricted free agents.  Featured: Brandon Prust and Casey Wellman.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

New York Rangers: Should I Stay or Should I Go? 2012

This series discusses New York Rangers' players who are currently unrestricted or restricted free agents, examining their unique situations from the player’s point of view.  Today we examine the situations of unrestricted free agents Brendan Bell and Martin Biron.

Brendan Bell, Defense

Reasons to Stay:
Likes playing with the Connecticut Whale in the AHL, and wants to help them win a Calder Cup.

Reasons to Leave:
Bell only played one game for the Rangers last season.  This is not likely to inspire confidence that the Rangers are serious about getting him major NHL ice time.  At the age of 29, Bell doesn’t have a lot of career left to waste with teams that aren’t serious about playing him at the NHL level.

Performed admirably at the AHL level with the Connecticut Whale.  Bell played 65 matches scoring 7 goals and 33 points.  Bell averages slightly over a penalty minute a game, thus demonstrating his ability to avoid the penalty box.  Has 102 matches of NHL experience, scoring 7 goals and 28 points in his career.

Rangers will offer a contract to Bell, but only with the understanding that he is unlikely to play in the NHL.  I doubt this will suit Bell, and he and his agent may reject the Rangers’ offer.  I predict that Bell will leave the organization if an NHL club needing experience and depth offers him a one-way contract.  If there are no free agent nibbles, there are worse things than to play AHL hockey for $200,000/year.  Bell has played in Europe for two different teams.  I doubt he and his agent would decline a reasonable offer from a european club.

Martin Biron, Goaltender

Reasons to Stay:
Made $800,000 dollars last season backing up one of the best goaltenders in professional hockey, on a club that nearly won the league, and made the semi-finals of the Stanley Cup.

Reasons to Leave:
Wants to play more than 20 or so games a season.  Has developed an ego.  May be looking for a different challenge at this stage in his career.

Analysis:  Biron has done an excellent job of playing well, when first choice goaltender Henrik Lundqvist needs a rest.  Over the last two seasons, Biron has posted 20 victories and 12 losses in 38 starts, maintaining a save percentage of over 90%.  Biron has more than proved that he can stop the puck well, and would be a good first choice for most NHL teams.  There is not so much depth at goaltender behind Biron in the Rangers organization.  Neither Chad Johnson, nor Cameron Talbot have been given an extended NHL audition with the Rangers. Biron has 500 matches of NHL experience in goal.

The lack of an extended audition in goal for Johnson and Talbot, is a pretty clear indicator that the Rangers don’t think either goaltending prospect is ready to take on the role of Lundqvist’s backup.  The Rangers need Biron, or someone of comparable skill and experience.  Rangers will offer Biron another 2 year one-way deal.  12-6 record and 2.46 goals against average, could see Biron earn a small pay bump, as he was exceptional as a backup last season.

Tomorrow’s segment will feature New York Rangers’ unrestricted free agent Chad Johnson.