When the season ended in a series where the Rangers were manhandled by the much tougher Bruins of Boston, along with the lowering of the salary cap to $64.3 million; everyone knew there would be changes. Most of the experts expected the Rangers to buy out Brad Richards and bring in a big name player to take this team to the next step.
But within a few days, the BIG change came in the firing of John Tortorella, who changed places in Vancouver with new Rangers coach Alain Vigneault. Vigneault then chose his assistants Scott Arniel and Ulf Samuelsson, which took most of Rangerland by surprise. Tort's was the type of coach who seemed to always let the players know where they stood and he never seemed the type to blow smoke up a players ass to make them happy, he demanded hard work to achieve the team goal.
Some like this approach and some don't, but Rangers Grand Pubah Glen Sather felt it was time to move on from Tort's. In picking Vigneault as the new coach, it seems that he has made a seperation with Mark Messier from the Rangers organization for the time being since he chose Alain over the Messiah. Once Sather finally steps out of the Rangers picture(which seems long overdue), hopefully it will Mark the return for Messier and Brian Leetch into meaningful positions in the Rangers organization.
In my last blog, I was hoping that the last assistant coach spot would be filled by Leetch, but Vigneault went with Ulf Samuelsson who was coaching overseas last season. As far as the the signings of the Rangers RFA's, we are all still waiting for the bridge contract for Stepan. I am still sticking close to my last blog contract to be 3 years at $3.2 mil per which would fit perfectly in the Rangers cap. Carl Hagelin: I said 2 years at $2.55 mil per and he actually received 2 years at $2.25(Great deal). Ryan McDonagh: I said 4years at $4 mil per and he received 6years at $4.75(what a terrific signing). Mats Zuccarello I said 2years at $1.735 and he received 1year at $1.15(another steal).
The Rangers contracts are done by Jeff Gorton (who should be the real General Manager)! I said I would trade/waive Arron Asham, Darroll Powe, and Taylor Pyatt--two of the three have been put on waivers to date. I said the Rangers would keep Brad Richards and let go Hamerlik,Gilroy,Collins,Segal,Vernace,Pyett,Niemi,and Sauer which all happened.
If I am able to figure out Glen Sather, other General Managers should be able to also. But if so, how the hell did Sather steal Danny Kristo from Montreal for Christian Thomas, who is a very skilled player, but with the Rangers already having Zuccarello in the lineup, there was no future for him in New York.
The biggest projection I got wrong was that the Rangers would bring back Clowe at a reduced rate, but it was brilliant to not pay the overpriced and too many years the Newark Devils did for a player that suffered what possibly was 2 concussions in his short time with the Rangers last season.
The Rangers brought in a retread named Dominic Moore(1 year at $1 mil) who played well in his first go around with the Rangers as part of the HMO line(Hollweg,Moore,Ortmeyer). Also brought in is Benoit Pouliot, who is full of promise and hopefully will fulfill it on a 1 year $1.3 million contract.
The lines from last blog are almost the same except without Clowe and adding Moore and Pouliet, I would now say Nash-Brassard-Zuccarello/Hagelin-Stepan-Callahan/Pouliet-Richards-Kreider/Boyle-Moore-Dorsett. That would mean that Asham,Powe,Pyatt not on this years team. At the start of the season it seems that both Carl Hagelin and Captain Ryan Callahan will start on I.R.(to be LTI so their cap hit doesn't count it will have to be 10 games and 24 days). If the Rangers start the season with Danny Kristo and J.T. Miller taking their places while neither player being placed on LTI, the Rangers would still be $1.5 million UNDER the cap per Capgeek.com, including 7 defensemen that would be McDonagh-Girardi/Staal-Moore/Stralman-DelZotto and 7th dman Justin Falk.
There are still too many pieces to the Rangers puzzle right now. It seems that the Rangers will be trading a defenseman before the season starts as they keep signing more and more of them, just lately announcing 6'7" Troy Donnay(who will most likely sent back for 1 more year of JR's and his contract will not count against the NHL 50 allotted) and along with Marc Staal saying he is 100% healthy there are too many NHL ready defensemen.
Forwards that will make camp interesting besides Danny Kristo(on the same USA JR. team that won the GOLD medal with Derek Stepan, Chris Kreider, John Moore, and Rangers AHLer Ryan Bourque), J.T. Miller, Oscar Lindberg (MVP of Swedish League playoffs), Brandon Mashinter, Marek Hrivik, Michael Haley, and Josh Nicholls leading the way. On defense, look for Dylan McIlrath to literally fight for a spot, Aaron Johnson, Connor Allen, and Stu Bickel leading the way.
The Rangers showed they needed depth last season and it would seem that the goal is accomplished, but there will still be a move or two to make the Rangers a threat to go deeper into this coming seasons playoffs. With Staal saying he is 100%, do the Rangers make a move with him to Carolina, since everyone says that is where he will be when he is a free agent in 2 years to play with his brothers? Do the Rangers move DelZotto who will be over $3 million to qualify in his RFA next season?
I think the Rangers will stay in house to fill the spots by the injured Captain Cally and Hagelin to start the season, but once they come back healthy, I see trades like the Rangers did in the 1992-1994 seasons in which young players like Amonte,Weight, and Marchand left New York to bring in the final pieces to the Rangers Cup Puzzle. The only difference is, this time around the Rangers seem to have the depth to make those trades, and still have a future, and not only 1 run at the Cup. Let's Go Rangers!!
I would like to congratulate David Ramos on accepting and continuing his hockey career at Ohio University. He will take his talents to last seasons #4 nationally ranked Bobcats. Some of his past highlights were a 97 point SEASON in high school and an All-Star nomination while playing Juniors. Best of luck and GO BOBCATS!!!