Some (overdue) responses


And now some answers to your questions. Feel free to agree, disagree, discuss amongst yourselves, call me a genius, call me something much worse…

  • On Petr Prucha: He will never be confused with Mitch Fritz, and that, presumably, is a good thing. I can’t tell you that the kid looks any bigger, but what I can tell you is he looks great so far. Prucha had six goals in the first three days of scrimmages, and continues to be fearless in every corner of the ice. Which is great as long as his head doesn’t fall off one of these days…
  • On Nigel Dawes vs. Marcel Hossa: There were three of us debating the topic today, and I’m personally torn. I do believe that if the Rangers truly want to give Dawes a spot, they should give him a chance with Jagr and Gomez since it’s an area where he can flourish.

    I’ll credit Dave Maloney — speaking of knowing talent, he is sometimes scary good with insight — who made this point: as opposed to Michael Nylander, who often needed to create space for himself to make the right pass, Gomez is much quicker in identifying an open player. Hence, the thinking goes, you want a quicker player to get to open spots. That said, I’ll counter that if the Jagr line is mostly going to be about controlling the puck in the offensive zone, Hossa is the better player at working the boards and controlling the puck down low. In other words, it’s a wash…

  • On Hossa vs. Hugh Jessiman: There is no question that Hossa is the more refined player, and at both ends of the ice. If you think it’s even close then you’re still harboring the argument that Hossa is playing in the NHL because someone owes him a favor. That said, Jessiman could be on to something in his efforts to reinvent himself. It’s true, you would never expect a first round draft pick to have to turn into a mucker into an NHL job. But I do think the more Jessiman can prove he can handle the dirty work — playing a two-way game, digging pucks out of corners, even fighting — the better chance he has of securing an NHL job. The good news is even if he’s still a ways off, he’s actually shown he’s not done improving.
  • On Ryan Hollweg: I disagree with Chris F. that Hollweg doesn’t have NHL skills. If you watched him closely, you’d see differently. With that in mind, there is room for Hollweg to be more effective as an offensive player, and I do believe I’ve seen some strides in that regard already. And given his already established abilities as a forechecker and overall hitter, that makes him an asset worth investing in. What I will say, though, is that he likely has a ceiling that is lower than other players the Rangers have in the organization, whether it’s a Dane Byers or a Lauri Korpikoski or even Jessiman. But right now, this year, those players aren’t there.
  • Finally, to revisit an earlier topic, you are right in applying the same thinking to the backup goalie job that I used to talk about Jason Strudwick. In other words, just as it might be easier to have Strudwick as your seventh defenseman as opposed to Marc Staal, it’s probably easier to have Stephen Valiquette backing up Henrik Lundqvist instead of Al Montoya.

    Bear in mind I don’t completely agree with this because at some point there’s no substitute for playing in the NHL, and Montoya needs that experience. But at this still early stage in his career, it probably doesn’t do him any good to be sitting on the Garden bench wearing a baseball cap while Lundqvist is in net.

    That’s all for now. More later…

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    1. ORR Punch Survivor....Barely!!! on

      05 – 06……Hollweg was the man….Hitting players, punching guys, peeing on girls. He wasa semi classy guy on the ice.

      07 – 08…..Hollweg tried to be to offensive, and Renney told him he can be more offensive, and that threw him off his game, and he barely hit, and took beatings half the season.

      08 – 09…..Hollweg better go back to the way he was in 05 – 06, im still pissed that Ortmeyer isnt in his spot, which ive said so many other times, but still. Orr should take that spot away from him, there are alot f guys willing to hit, if Hollweg wont do it. Just look at Prucha destroy Adam mair in game 6 of the BUF series.

    2. hoof and mouth disease on

      SAM your answers are fine, but they will fall on the deaf ears of fans who will never be content unless they are complaining. Logic & reasoning gets scrambled all to often on your blog. Keep your answers coming, we all have more to learn.

    3. Reginald Dunlop on

      Hey Sam- notice how much better Colton Orr is skating…..Perry Pearn made Chris O’Neil the player he is in Ottawa……something to think about…..and Marcel Hossa is NOT Marian, so stop comparing him to his brother…watch him, he is technically sound and almost always makes the right play and is big, that’s why the coaching staff likes him so much

    4. Sam,

      In your opinion based on what you’ve seen, who should make the final roster come October, and who actually will?

      Based on your commentary so far it seems that Dawes is the only rookie to have a shot (not counting Girardi and Callahan).

    5. Hollweg….Guys, are you kidding? What is his utility as a hockey player? He hits some people, that is it! Compare his skills to someone like Tie Domi. It’s not even close. Tie could kick almost anyone’s butt. Tie scored more than 1 goal a season. You feared Tie on the ice. Other teams feared you because you had Tie. I just don’t see any of that with Hollweg. 8 pts in 130 career games….come on. (Domi 245 pts in 1020 games.) Last season Holly took a lot of silly penalties and has hands of stone. He is a 4th liner at best, if you have no other talent. But the Rangers have a plethora of guys. I just don’t see Holly being a real impact guy. Renney is probably loyal to him though, so he has a shot of making the team I guess. I love his energy but the reality is that I love any guy who is our “tough guy” because no one else does it. But that doesn’t mean I am going to confuse that with real hockey skills that are needed for a Cup run. Sorry.

      Hossa versus Dawes, it’s not even close. I agree with Dave Maloney on the Gomez versus Nylander analysis and perhaps Dawes fits better in that regard. But Gomez goes about 5’11” (that is generous if you ask me) and Dawes about 5’9″ so I think there is no size to contend with after Jagr on that line. I am guessing that Hossa, Jags, and Gomez is line 1 this year.

      Jessiman is a slug, according to people I know. I have not seen him play, so I cannot comment too confidently. But the guy who scouted him, I trust. I am very happy that he trained with a boxing coach and a core strength trainer. He should be in great shape and might have a little Youngblood in him. But he is an unproven quantity. How patient will everyone be with him is a huge question. He needs to season a little further in Hartford and put up 60-70 pts before I am ready to compare him to Hossa. Now if he kicks Colton Orr’s butt during a pre-season scrimmage or pounds Aaron Asham on Friday night, then he’s got a spot on the roster as far as I am concerned.

      Strudwick versus Staal as the 7th defenseman? Sam I know you like Strudwick because he is well spoken and is media friendly, but his skills on the ice are lacking. Can you honestly say his hockey skills alone are in the top 6 on the Rangers? Top 7?


    6. So listen, I’m hanging out with the Staal kid, trying to get him in as much trouble as possible- you know so he gets sent down for being too immature and a spot comes open for you know who.

      I say “Here shoot this puck at the bench, Renney is there- he likes that”

      Stupid kid shoots puck and hits Larry Brooks in back of big flat head!! Renney smiles and says to Sam “thats my boy… Eric Staal!”

      I tell you I can’t win with this do-gooder Staal. He goes to bed instead of drink and even when he trips he stops the puck. I guess I’m going to Hartford. Maybe I start picking on Malik?

    7. I don’t mind having Hossa/Dawes rotate and Hollweg is fine for now and against the bigger teams, but beyond this year i don’t know.

      Jessiman can go another year or two in Hartford; it took Martin St. Louis until he was 26 to start scoring goals, maybe it will take Jessiman until he’s 24/25 to become an NHL scraper.

    8. Newman – there is no way Staal will be the 7th dman – he will play somewhere. Strudwick on the other hand can sit in the Garden and not stifle his development. That’s all people are saying – they are not saying that Strudwick is better than Staal.

    9. My issue with Hollweg — and I am a fan of his — is that he seems too afraid to take a penalty. He plays the game on the edge, and he needs to do that in order to thrive. When he gets scared of taking penalties, his game deteriorates.

      On Montoya:
      I wouldn’t be surprised if he started in Hartford and was called up mid-season or something.

    10. czechthemout!!!!! on

      li joe-

      will you watch any of the games over the weekend?i would be curious to hear your opinion of some of the kids.specificaly
      the who seem like they have shot like sauer,staal,dawes,hugh,and dubinsky.

    11. hoof and mouth disease on

      they should give all of sauer,staal,dawes,hugh,and dubinsky. a spot on the roster and get rid of the deadwood. YEAAAH!

    12. Elk Attack Survivor on

      I also like Hossa and Dawes taking turns on the top line during the season, then we will finally see if they are worth keeping or not and if we decide to trade them, they will have some value.

      “Newman – there is no way Staal will be the 7th dman – he will play somewhere. Strudwick on the other hand can sit in the Garden and not stifle his development. That’s all people are saying – they are not saying that Strudwick is better than Staal.”

      7th defenseman should be Liffiton, he is not going to suffer much if he has to sit almost half a season.

    13. hoof and mouth disease on

      SAM good story today in your regular column. Too bad many here disagree with you. Guys like Strudwick & other role players are needed to get the prize. In 1994, they were called ‘the black aces’. “HEAVE HO”!

    14. ORR Punch Survivor....Barely!!! on

      Hollweg needs to hang out more with Avery. I mean, if Hollweg just gave up fighting then he might be able to draw some penalties for us. Whats not agitating about a guy who will hit you, curse at you, pee on your girlfriend, and make you wanna pull a Mcsorley on him.

      He can be a damn good agitator, and he’s a suck ass fighter.

      You can never have enough agitators on your team.

      I still wish we had Jordan Tootoo on NYR, imagine Tootoo and Avery. Mama mia, thats agitation up the yin yang.

    15. Agree with Elk – There is no way Staal is on the bubble w/ Strudwick. He is a #4 or maybe 5 this season who needs to get 12 to 15 minutes a night. The rangers have a lot invested in this guy and it serves no purpose to have him watching every other game in the press box. He was dominant on a bad OHL team last year and everything I have read suggests that he is NHL ready. I’m sure he will make some mistakes but I’d rather absorb that now rather than watch old #8 cough up a cross ice pass at the blue line w/ 3 minutes left. I think with Jessiman as well, Sather would love to pull a rabbit out of the hat. I just cant see how he fits in October. Hopefully he will be a contributor when an injury slot opens.

    16. ORR Punch Survivor....Barely!!! on


      You can read an E True Hollywood Story worth of stuff about Marc Staal, but we have to wait until pre season to see what he can do. Last pre season he wasnt noticable at all, and looked shaky, maybe this years different but who knows. He will play this season, even if he starts in Hartford. I definitely think somewhere down the line in 07 – 08 he’ll get called up due to injury or something, either way Staal cant expect to make it to the big leagues just cause his two bro’s are there. Hopefully he makes the team, and is as useful as Girardi was to us.


      Not that im complaining about the fantasy hockey thing, dont get me wrong i have no problem having Broduer or Parise, but does anyone want Langenbrunner, i cant stand his gremlin style looks, and i’d love to dump him. Anyone interested??

    17. Elk Attack Survivor on

      When developing star players, you often have to play them in NHL as early as possible to let them reach their high ceiling. Joe Thornton was pretty much innefective in his rooklie season, so was Eric Staal, Lecavalier, Bouwmeester, etc.

    18. Hey Sam,

      any word on the lineup for Friday night’s game? Is Gomez playing or are we awaiting a regular season matchup for him and the Devils?

    19. Doodie Machetto on

      Sam, to press you a little on the Hossa/Dawes issue, what if you were to think a little bit beyond this season with Gomez and Jagr? Do you think Dawes has more upside than Hossa?

    20. Sadly the real story is not whether Staal or Strudwick should be the #7 D. The real story is that the Blueshirts have too many defensemen who are about a 5 or 6 on a scale of 10 (Niedermeyer/Lidstrom are 10s, Souray is a 9, etc). Staal has the potential to be an 8 or 9. Pock is decent. Malik is decent. Mara is decent. None of those 3 will ever be more than decent (a 5 or 6). Strudwick is a 5 and I am being generous. (Toots and Roszival are closer to 7s, btw. Kaspar, used to be a 7.5 in his prime. Last year he was a 4. Who knows where he will be this year? But you know Vancouver is looking for a D-man.) Staal is a 5 right now. So regardless of potential, Staal should be ahead of Strudwick. I agree that he should not be riding the pine as #7 D. But it frustrates me that he is not in the top 6. Jordan Staal is 18-19 and look at his impact. Eric Staal has won a Cup. Is everyone so sure that Marc Staal shouldn’t be given a chance to play 15 mins a night at this level? Malik’s gaffes outweigh his passing skills. We need a stay-at-home D to shore up the blueline. Staal should make this team in the top 6 D. Get rid of the average guys.

    21. Newman, I agree with you, except for this:

      “Souray is a 9″

      Souray’s shot is a 9. Overall, he’s a 4. He should seriously switch to wing instead of wing because he is a lousy, LOUSY defenseman. He should be a PP specialist and play 3rd line wing.

    22. I would prefer them not playing some depth players who we know will be on the roster (Betts, Orrweg, Mara, Malik, etc.) and some 2nd line talent (Shanahan, Drury, and Straka) and loading the team up with prospects and spreading around the other big club talent (Roszi, Tyutin, Prucha, Hossa, Avery, etc.) with those prospects. For instance, pair Roszival with Staal, Tyutin with Sanguinetti, and make a line of Prucha-Anisimov-Jessiman. You get the idea.

      Although, I would keep the Dawes-Gomez-Jagr experiment running for the first half of the game, and then switch it to the Hossa-Gomez-Jagr for the 2nd half to see how they both function together.

    23. czech – I am going friday and if I can get a reasonably cheap ticket (ie decent amt lower than face value) for saturday I’ll try to go then too. I figure most guys will play one game or the other but not both.

      newman – I agree with the point above that Souray is no where near a 9.

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