Rangers’ Chris Drury preparing for first encounter with UFA’s & RFA’s as GM

President and GM Chris Drury has been a factor in the decision-making process of signing free agents in the past.  This season is a bit different as he now is the man who makes the final decision for the New York Rangers.

The New York Rangers are going to have some tough decisions to make when the 2020-2021 season officially concludes in July.

Unrestricted free agents along with restricted free agents are the keys to improving a hockey team.  Every decision is crucial to the organization and involves research and some luck in order to make the right moves to be a successful team.

The Rangers go through this every season as do most NHL teams, but this time around they are lead by a rookie GM with plenty of risk on the line.

RFA’s and UFA’s

A quick review of the team’s status via CapFriendly.com shows the hard work Drury has ahead of him. The decisions of who and how much to offer a player are hard enough, added to the equation is the Seattle Expansion draft, the NHL Draft, and the beginning of the free-agent signing period.

UFA

The Blueshirts have three unrestricted free agents on their roster. UFA’s are free to shop for other teams or negotiate with their current clubs.  The Rangers have no rights for these players once their contracts expire.

Philip Di Giuseppe, Brendan Smith, and Jack Johnson qualify as UFA’s at the end of this season.

RFA’s

Restricted free agents are players who have their contract expire but the club still retains their rights to play. Filip Chytil, Julien Gauthier, Brett Howden, and Libr Hajek are RFA’s at the end of this season.

There are also Arbitration Eligible restricted free agents. Here a third-party arbitrator is used to determine a fair contract term and length for an expiring RFA player. Arbitration can be requested if a player meets the following conditions (CBA Reference 12.1 (b)):

  • The player qualifies as a Restricted Free Agent (RFA).
  • The player has not signed an offer sheet.
  • The player has met the required professional years of experience. (via CapFriendly.com)

The Rangers have two players who qualify for this section, Pavel Buchnevich, and Igor Shesterkin.

Buchnevich signed a two-year, $6.5 million deal in July of 2019.  His AAV was $3.25 million for each of the last two seasons.

Shesterkin signed a two-year, $7.75 million dollar entry-level contract that was loaded with bonuses in May of 2019.

Decisions, Decisions

Let’s start with the no-brainer, the team will absolutely re-sign Shesterkin.  He had the torch handed to him from the Henrik Lundqvist era and though he struggled at points this season he will be the man between the pipes for years to come.  The numbers will work themselves out one way or another.

Buchnvevich is a tough one, I’d anticipate this situation at least being scheduled for an arbitration hearing.  Buch is coming off a strong year that saw him score 20 goals with 48 points in 54 games.  He became a leader on the ice as was evident in the Tom Wilson fiasco where he was punched in the back of the head, the picked himself up to defend Artemi Panarin in the same play.

He will be looking for a long-term deal that will end with him being an unrestricted free agent. How much and for how many years will be the result of a long and most likely uncomfortable process.

Brendan Smith is the most compelling story to tell. A few seasons ago he was in the AHL with Hartford and ended the season injured after having a fight in practice with a teammate.  Fast forward to this season and he has become a player the kids look up to on and off the ice.

He played different positions with David Quinn as his coach while becoming a valuable and trusted player on the ice.

Now the problem changes from do they want to re-sign him to how can the club re-sign him now. Plenty of teams will be inquiring about his service offering more money and more years than the Rangers may be willing to offer.

His time with the club is most likely over. It would be hard to offer a big contract to a defenseman who will be a third-pair player.  He is probably ranked sixth out of the six defensive spots behind Adam Fox, Ryan Lindgren, Jacob Trouba, and K’Andre Miller.

Trades, signings, or re-signings are how teams succeed or fail in today’s NHL. Drury needs to have a solid game plan for his first go-around or the teams can find themselves out of the playoffs next April. A scenario this club would prefer to go through again.

Jacob Trouba Takes on a Leadership role for the New York Rangers

During the second intermission of Tuesday night’s game against the New Jersey Devils, something interesting happened in the New York Rangers locker room. The Blueshirts had just come off a lackluster second period, holding a slim lead of 1-0. At that point, a voice outside of the regular leadership group spoke up and provided some “words of inspiration” that rallied the team. It was 27-year-old Jacob Trouba who provided that extra spark that led the Rangers to one of their better periods of the season and the 3-0 victory over the Devils.

Teammate Ryan Strome talked about Trouba’s role in his pre-game Zoom conference on Thursday.  “Usually the older guys speak up in the intermission anyway, and Trouba took that initiative,” Strome said, “but I think just for him to take the reins a little bit and have the players control the dressing room for a period, you know, sometimes you can get caught up a little bit in the X’s and O’s and I thought in the second period we were kind of just off our game. I was really proud of the guys who stepped up.”

While Trouba acknowledged his role, he was less forthcoming about what happened. “I thought we needed to play better in the third,” Trouba said Thursday in his Zoom conference. “What happens in the room kind of stays in the room.”

By following an old adage that has been adopted by a certain city in Nevada, we will just have to speculate as to what was said during that time.

Nevertheless, since that time, the Rangers have played quite well in shutting out the Devils on two consecutive nights.

Trouba taking on a senior leadership role for the New York Rangers

While not exactly eligible for an AARP card yet, Trouba is one of the senior members of the team and has started to embrace that role. Something that has not been lost on his head coach.

“He plays hard. He creates a mentality in our locker room and he means an awful lot to us on and off the ice, Quinn said in his pre-game Zoom conference. “People have touched on the leadership aspect that he’s kind of embraced here this year, but I certainly like what’s going on on the ice as well.”

On the ice, Trouba started things going on Thursday night by scoring the first goal inside of one minute into the game.

The deal that the Rangers made on June 17, 2019, is looking really good. On that date, Trouba was traded by the Winnepeg Jets to the Rangers in exchange for Neal Pionk and Winnipeg’s own first-round pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. That pick had been previously acquired by the Rangers in exchange for the Jets receiving Kevin Hayes.

The Rochester, Michigan native also finds himself in the role of mentor to rookie K’Andre Miller and now to the newly added Zac Jones.

Trouba will also continue to be a leader as the team looks to add some new faces on the blue line in the coming seasons.

 

 

 

New York Rangers pick up an Important Victory over the Islanders

After a difficult loss on Thursday night, the New York Rangers rebounded to defeat the New York Islanders by a score of 4-1. Alexandar Georgiev was outstanding in goal after not seeing action for the last 11 games.

The Rangers are the second NHL team that has earned a regulation win at Nassau Coliseum this season. The Islanders came into the game with a 17-1-2 home record on the season. They have won each of their last five games at Nassau Coliseum, dating back to Feb. 16, 2015.

Alexis Lafreniere opened the scoring for the Rangers by scoring at 6:05 of the first period.

Colin Blackwell scored the second goal for the Rangers, extending his goal streak to three games, which is a new career-high. He ranks third on the Rangers in even-strength goals this season with nine.

K’Andre Miller scored the third goal for the Rangers as Mika Zibanejad added an empty-net goal to finish up the Blueshirts scoring. Miller now leads all rookie defenders in scoring.

Artemi Panarin had two assists on the night. He has 93 career assists, passing Mark Messier for the most assists by a player within his first 100 games with the franchise.

Georgiev was a big factor in the New York Rangers win.

The young Russian made 31 saves on the game, only giving up an Andy Greene goal in the second period. Georgiev hadn’t started a game since March 19.

“I haven’t played for a while,” Georgiev said in his post-game Zoom conference. “But I felt comfortable coming into it. I just did my job, the same as I usually do. It felt like kind of like a playoff game and it was really fun to take part in it.”

Georgiev gave credit to Ranger’s goaltending coach Benoit Allaire for keeping him ready while he waited to get his turn in goal. “Every practice I would come out early and spend with Benny,” Georgiev said. “A lot was more mental, trying to be better every day. Tried to take it one day at a time to make my game better.”

Head coach David Quinn was very pleased with his goaltender’s performance. “I liked a lot about his game tonight. I thought Georgie was sharp, as he usually is against the Islanders. It is not easy to sit as long as he has and come out and play the way that he did.”

The New York Rangers will face their cross-town rival again on Sunday afternoon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The New York Rangers blank Boston in Artemi Panarin’s return

New York Rangers, Artemi Panarin

The New York Rangers finally got the total 60 minutes of complete play that head coach David Quinn wanted. The Rangers scored in each of the three periods in defeating the Bruins 4-0. The game also saw the return of Artemi Panarin, who had missed the past nine games for personal reasons.

The Rangers got goals from K’Andre Miller, Chris Kreider, Pavel Buchnevich, and Ryan Strome. Mika Zibanejad had two assists. Panarin got an assist on Strome’s goal, but it was obvious that his presence gave the Rangers a huge emotional boost after losing three straight games.

Kreider continues to be one of the main contributors to the Blueshirts. Per NYR Stats&Info, Kreider’s nine goals since Feb. 24 are the most in the NHL over the span. His 13 points over the span are the third-most in the NHL.

Keith Kinkaid made 18 saves for the shutout victory. He earned his first win since Oct. 31, 2019, and his first shutout since Nov. 15, 2018. Kinkaid was bolstered by a solid defense, led by Adam Fox and Miller. With over 23 minutes of ice time, Miller has logged 20 or more minutes of ice time in more games than any other NHL rookie thus far in the season.

While the veterans stepped up for the Rangers, so did many of their younger players. Over the last 10 games, at least one Ranger who is 23 years old or younger has tallied a point on 23 of the team’s 29 goals. In addition, at least one Ranger who is 23 years old or younger has tallied a point on nine of the team’s last 10 goals.

The New York Rangers got a huge boost from the return of Panarin

“It was definitely a huge boost getting him (Panarin) back,” Zibanejad said in his post-game interview. “Not only just for the game but for having him around all the guys again. I thought the whole team really came together today. A real team win, as we played really solid over the 60 minutes and I think he had something to do with that.”

Head coach David Quinn echoed those sentiments in his post-game Zoom conference. “Having back meant so many things. Not just on the ice but mentally.” Quinn said. Our guys certainly hold him in high esteem. He is a well-liked teammate. Our guys were dying for him to come back for a lot of reasons. We put him back in our lineup and all of a sudden we got a little more swagger. Having him in our lineup certainly gave us a jolt.”

Strome talked about the importance of this win during his post-game interview. “I thought we all came to play today,” Strome said. “Up and down the lineup, everyone contributed whether it was on the score sheet or not. Everyone was a part of the game and everyone was part of the win. We need to string them together and we need to be a little more consistent.”

The Rangers return home from this six-game road trip on Monday against the Philadelphia Flyers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More bad news for the New York Rangers: Jacob Trouba out 4-6 weeks

New York Rangers

The New York Rangers received some bad news when they found out that they will be without defenseman Jacob Trouba for the next four to six weeks because of a broken thumb.

“Unfortunately, we’re going to miss everything he brings from a physicality standpoint, from a competitive standpoint, from what he brings to us from a leadership standpoint,” coach David Quinn said Wednesday. “He’ll be missed. But the good news is it’s not as serious as we originally thought and he’s going to be back sooner than later.”

Trouba averaged over 22 minutes a game, so it will take a total team effort to be able to make up for his absence.

“Everybody on that D corps has just got to play a little bit better,” Quinn said. “That’s all. It can’t be one guy. It’s got to be everybody.”

The Rangers did receive some good news in that it was announced that Artemi Panarin is expected to return Thursday against Philadelphia after missing the past two games with a lower-body injury. Also, Quinn announced that defenseman K’Andre Miller will play after sitting out a loss Tuesday night to New Jersey with an upper-body injury.

 

 

 

 

Rangers D Anthony DeAngelo’s talent being wasted as he sits in Blueshirt jail

It has been almost two weeks since the New York Rangers removed defenseman Anthony DeAngelo from the team’s roster. A physical altercation with goaltender Alexandar Georgiev was the finals straw in a turbulent career in New York for Tony D.

DeAngelo has been in and out of the team’s dog house since his arrival in 2017. Despite his ongoing feuds on social media, which much of the time were more related to his political view than his play on the ice, he has shown he can be a valued asset to this team.

Last season DeAngelo had a career year. He was ranked fourth in defenseman in scoring, recording 15 goals, 38 assists for 53 points while appearing in 68 games.

What Went Wrong

How things turned so incredibly bad can not be answered in one simple statement. It looked like for every one step forward the defenseman took, he then took two steps backward. It appeared that the Rangers were happy with how things were going with their relationship with DeAngelo when the team signed him to a two-year, $9.6 million contract in October 2020.

During the offseason, DeAngelo started a lot of dialogue on his Twitter account which led to a lot of banter between him and his fans. A Donald Trump supporter, DeAngelo never held back what he felt, which tended to get him into some trouble.

The organization wanted him to back down a little bit with regards to what he had to say on Twitter, but holding back an opinion was not DeAngelo’s style.

He spoke to Larry Brooks of the New York Post about his time on Twitter and views of the MAGA stance saying,

“I’m definitely misportrayed in my opinion,People have different opinions and I respect everyone’s opinion. I never attack anyone for their opinion. I have mine that obviously I shared, but I never thought that I crossed the line with anything. I understand people not liking it, the way things went, but I’m definitely not an extremist, that I can tell you. I thought I gave my opinion, I respect other people’s opinions, and that’s all I thought I was doing.”

More cause for concern was the unproven and false story that DeAngelo took the first goal puck of rookie defenseman K’Andre Miller.

DeAngelo was the center of another drama prior to the Georgiev altercation that incorrectly stated he would not return the puck to Miller.

Miller’s agent Ian Pulver told the Post,

“K’Andre Miller was never part of any part of the Tony DeAngelo story at all, there were no issues between them of any kind. There is no reason he should be part of this.“As far as the first-goal puck being an issue, K’Andre never even knew it to be an issue. It was always his understanding that the puck was with the training staff. It’s not right that he has become part of this story.”

The altercation with Georgiev was all general manager Jeff Gorton was willing to take. DeAngelo was placed and cleared waivers days later.

Is Isolating Tony D The Right Move?

In the five games DeAngelo has missed, the club has a record of 2-2-1. They have been shutout in two out of their last three games and have managed to score just nine goals in the five-game span.

The power-play has been invisible during this stretch. In the last 5 games, the Blueshirts have had 18 man-advantage opportunities but have managed just one power-play goal. The club is currently ranked 28th in the league with the man-advantage this season (11.5%).

Last season the club finished the abbreviated shorten season ranked seventh in the NHL at 22.9% effective. DeAngelo had 19 power-play points last season (3G, 16A).

After two weeks of isolation, with the teams struggling to find goal scoring and wins, suffering game after game of one-goal losses the question must be asked, are the Rangers causing their own demise by not re-activating Tony D back into the lineup?

 

The team has been unable to trade him currently which was no surprise. Though there has been a little chatter about a potential trade, nothing has panned out so far. Rumors and unsubstantial reports have circulated that the team will sit the 25-year-old until the end of the season where they will then -lace him on the unprotected expansion draft list, then buy him out if he is not claimed.

That’s is a huge waste of salary cap and talent to prove a point. DeAngelo is scheduled to make $4.8 million this season to sit at home and wait.

Pride Needs To Be Placed Aside

Let’s forget about his political views and his antics on and off the ice. The kid can play hockey when he is focused.

The Blueshirts were not a strong team defensively prior to the start of the season, and now due to injuries to Brendan Smith and Jack Johnson are relying on Libor Hajek and Anthony Bitetto.

DeAngelo may not appear to be the savior the club is missing, but he is an offensive threat when he is on the ice, something the team has been lacking with the struggles are Mika Zibanejad and Ryan Strome among the many on this team.

At the end of the day, it is all bout getting wins which this team has done only four times this season (4-6-3).

A distraction or a needed addition is what the organization needs to answer. Two weeks is a long time to take a look at what the pros and cons would be for bringing DeAngelo back to the team.

What the team can ill afford to do is let him sit at his home in New Jersey and watch the team struggle to find a way to win one-goal contests.

New York Rangers face toughest test to date as Washington comes to town

New York Rangers

With respect to the other teams that the New York Rangers have faced so far this season, the biggest challenge is coming to town on Thursday night in the form of the Washington Capitals.

Heading into Wednesday night, the Capitals were currently tied for first place in the revamped East Division. Their 5-3 loss to the Boston Bruins on Monday was their first in regulation through 10 games and was actually a game they should have won as they blew a three-goal lead for the second straight game.

The Capitals have had some struggles to work through as well, as they had a coronavirus controversy that cost them their captain and a top player in Alexander Ovechkin for four games, along with a $100,000 fine. Their No. 1 goaltender, Ilya Samsonov, and top center in Evgeny Kuznetsov are still in covid-19 protocols with uncertain returns. They have a career right-wing playing center.

In spite of this, the loss against Boston was the first in regulation this season.

As some of in Blueshirt nation are somewhat puzzled by the NHL not naming K’Andre Miller as the Rookie of the Month for January, the winner of that award will probably be in net for the Capitals on Thursday night.

Washington goaltender Vitek Vanecek was recently named the NHL’s rookie of the month. Vanecek went all of January without a regulation loss, going 5-0-2 with a .918 save percentage. But most importantly, he’s been there for the Capitals when they’ve needed him the most as Samsonov sits in the COVID protocol. He also became the 11th goaltender in NHL history to begin his career with a point streak of at least seven games and was the first to accomplish the feat since Mike Condon in 2015.

As highly-touted as Samsonov is, he’s still a young goaltender playing in the best league in the world and the assumption in the off-season was that former Ranger Henrik Lundqvist would be a safety blanket and mentor for Samsonov.

As most already know, that did not happen as Lundqvist had to sit out the season due to a health concern.

The Rangers have their work cut out for them but will get a quick test of whether or not they are ready to consistently compete with the best in the division.

The puck drop is set for 7 P.M. and the game will be telecast on MSG.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The New York Rangers overcome a turbulent weekend to defeat the Pens

New York Rangers, Chris Kreider

You could have understood if the New York Rangers were distracted by the previous 48 hours. But instead, they set the distractions aside and defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins by the score of 3-1.

The win came after a tough weekend following the altercation between Tony DeAngelo and Alexandar Georgiev after the Ranger’s overtime loss last Saturday night.

Before the game, general manager Jeff Gorton told the media via a Zoom Conference that DeAngelo has played his final game for the New York Rangers despite going unclaimed on waivers. The decision came after a warning from the organization about his behavior and the “incident” he was involved in.

In addition to not having DeAngelo, the Rangers were also without Colin Blackwell, who will miss 7-10 days, as well as Kaapo Kakko, who was placed on the league’s COVID protocol list.

Igor Shesterkin started in net and made 25 saves in the victory.

However, the save of the night may have made by K’Andre Miller, who sacrificed his body to block a Pierre-Olivier Joseph shot that seemed destined for the back of the net.

Artemi Panarin had a goal and two assists but it was Chris Kreider’s power-play goal at 11:10 of the third period that proved to be the game-winner. Kevin Rooney’s goal opened the scoring for the Rangers.

It was Kreider’s 161st goal with the Rangers, the second-most by an American-born player in team history behind Hall of Fame defenseman Brian Leetch.

Head coach David Quinn was very pleased with the effort, especially under the trying situation. “I can’t tell you how proud I am of our group.” Quinn said in his post-game Zoom conference “It has been a very difficult 24 to 36 hours. The way we kind of came together, with the first period being shaky, we were kind of feeling our way through, I thought we were fortunate to get out being down only 1-0, but other than that we got back to doing some of the things that we were doing well in the early part of the season. It is amazing what you can accomplish if you play as one.”

The Rangers may be down another defenseman as Brendan Smith left the game in the first period after a collision with Penguins forward Brandon Tanev. Smith did not return with what was reported as an upper-body injury.

Both the Rangers and the Penguins will have games postponed against the New Jersey Devils, who have had multiple players placed on the COVID-19 protocol list.

The Ranger’s next game will be against the Washington Capitals on Thursday night at MSG.

 

 

 

 

Rangers rookie defenseman K’Andre Miller broke up altercation (Report)

Larry Brooks of the New York Post is reporting that New York Rangers defenseman K’Andre Miller was the player who broke up the physical altercation between Anthony DeAngelo and Alexandar Georgiev following Saturday nights 5-4 OT loss to the Penguins.

DeAngelo was placed on waivers on Sunday and has until noon Monday to be claimed.

Per Brooks “The Post learned Monday morning, K’Andre Miller broke up the altercation that was precipitated by a remark from DeAngelo to the goaltender just as the team left the ice.”

The altercation appears to be a result of a miscommunication between DeAngelo and Georgiev which led to the OT game-winning goal scored by Penguins Sidney Crosby.

Should DeAngelo clear waivers it is unclear what the club will do with the defenseman. He could be placed on the taxi squad or sent to the AHL and play for the Hartford Wolf Pack. He just signed a two-year, $9.6 million contract that has an AAV of $4.8 million.

The physical altercation was the straw that broke the Rangers back regarding the Sewell, New Jersey native. His antics on social media over this past summer did not go well with the organization.

Head coach David Quinn told Dan Rosen of NHL.com that DeAngelo being placed on waiver was not just from one bad game.

 

Defenseman Anthony Bitetto will be in the lineup on Monday night when the Rangers hist the Penguins at MSG.

 

 

The New York Rangers fail once again to hold on to a third period lead

It will not go down as a defensive masterpiece as the New York Rangers let a third-period lead slip by as Sydney Crosby slammed a shot past Alexandar Georgiev to give the Pittsburgh Penguins a 5-4 victory in overtime.

In the three-on-three overtime, the Penguins took advantage of the fact that the Rangers could not clear their own defensive zone, allowing the Penguins to bring fresh players on the ice three consecutive times before Crosby’s goal ended the game.

While the Rangers did take a little bit of advantage of the depleted Penguins defense, their own defensive efforts were equally lacking in the Saturday night game.

Artemi Panarin, Chris Kreider, Kevin Rooney, and Brendan Lemieux scored for the Blueshirts. K’Andre Miller had two assists, and Georgiev made 33 saves in the loss.

The Rangers are now 1-5 in their last six games decided by a goal.

A very frustrated Kreider said in his post-game news conference said that “Yeah, this is a reoccurring thing at this point. We’ve shown what we can do in spurts what we need to do to be successful by cranking up the intensity in the third period but then we get away from it and we start going east-west and not advancing it in the zone. You don’t win at the NHL level doing that.”

Head coach David Quinn addressed the lack of holding leads in the third period during his post-game Zoom Conference. “We’ve had a bad of a period as we had all year. They beat us to every loose puck, they beat us in every battle. They (the Penguins) were smarter and looked like a little hungrier team than we were in the third period.”

Quinn also addressed that lack of solid defense by the Rangers in this game. “We were very soft around our net. We haven’t said that a lot throughout the season. They upped the ante in the third period and we were not able to match it.”

The two teams face off again on Monday night.