While waiting for the other shoe to drop (or not)


A number of you have contacted me asking when the Rangers’ next major move is, the thinking being there’s no way this is the roster they’re pushing forward with in September.

Well, you’re right in that the odds are decent something else will happen, especially when you consider that there are still some restricted free agents left to be signed, including Nigel Dawes, Fred Sjostrom, and Dan Fritsche (who is going to arbitration). Throw in the need for a seventh defenseman, which could involve another Jason Strudwick appearance or could be left open for the likes of Corey Potter or even Bobby Sanguinetti, and the Rangers might well be active straight through August.

But as for whether any of the coming moves qualify as major, I’m skeptical. I think the team now has the front-line wings it was looking for in Nikolai Zherdev and Markus Naslund, and I think the team envisions the likes of Ryan Callahan, Sjostrom, Dawes and maybe even Petr Prucha taking on more prominent roles next season.

If between now and then it becomes apparent that the team lacks some noticeable grit up front — which, given the above players might be a concern — then maybe the team looks to move someone like Prucha. Plus, if Fritsche is part of the team’s plans for next season, then the Rangers suddenly have a surplus of centers.

But cap space is limited,  so the team is somewhat limited on what it can do; and of most importance, I think most of the heavy lifting of the reconstruction is already in the past.


Some of you have also asked about when I might start up a live chat like the one Zipay “had going over at his place”:http://weblogs.newsday.com/sports/hockey/rangers/blog/. I’m actually headed into the office later today to explore the issue further, but so far the news is encouraging. I’ll keep you posted when I know more.

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  1. That would be great to have a live chat to bad I can’t go online at work.

    Guys if Fritsche does make the team (or a kid such as Anisimov impreses) and the RAnegr have a surplus of centers what do you all think about moving Drury to wing on the second line and having Dubinsky take the second line center position so that as it stands now:
    Naslund Gomez Z
    Drury Dubinsky Prucha/Dawes/Sjo
    Callahan Anismov/ Fritsche Dawes/Sjo
    Rissimller/ Voros Betts Orr

    I really like having Cally Aismov and Dawes together cause they are all young and quick. And I like having DUbinsky on the second line because I want him getting a good amount of time a game (not 6 minutes)

    Oh and Mike about Betts being a C. I think he shows up every day and does his job and he has been on the Rangers for a while. I also know he is a pretty cool guy I have seen him at the Garden stand outside for 15 minutes waiting for everyone to get autographs and pictures and everything they want. I never thought of him as the C though because he seems quiet. But maybe an A.

  2. Doodie Machetto on

    Jo, if you do that, then there isn’t enough room for Dawes, Callahan, Sjostrom, and Prucha.

    The easier solution is to dump Betts and put Fritsche there.

  3. Well yeah I had slashes because of multiple possibilities as to who would play where. Usually you have a 23 man roster right?
    2 goalies
    7 d-man
    That leaves room for 14 forwards I have 15 listed so only one doesn’t fit. I assume there will be more moves (small ones I guess).

  4. What do we think (not want) the chances to be that Shanny comes back?

    Yeah Pavel that would be nice. Are there even any good free agents left?

    Maybe Cally or Dawes or Prucha will turn into a top 6 winger and shock us. Maybe Prucha will score like he did in his rookie year (returning to right wing might help him)

  5. SeamusORiley on

    Ken Hitchcock just got a 3 year extension. The clincher for him to sign on was that they agreed to get rid of a certain primadonna 23 year old Russian kid who just may end up being quite a coup for the Rangers….

    stay tuned.

  6. To me, it seems that Drury is the team’s second best center or even him and Gomez are 1A and 1B. Moving Drury to a wing lessens his defensive responsibilities and ability to take faceoffs, two things he’s good at. I’d move one of the other, younger guys from center to wing.

  7. Assuming we keep Zherdev (avoids major offer sheet next year), our top wingers NEXT SEASON become Naslund, Zherdev, Cherapanov…with Hossa and Zetterberg both hitting the UFA market. Kovalchuk hits the following year.

    I’m not sure what the Rangers can do in terms of cap space and what’s available – I would think they’re hoping these guys can do the job so that they can take a run at someone in a year or two.

  8. SeamusORiley on

    is it me, or does it feel so strange to be a New York Ranger fan and be talking about having an abundance of promising youth?

  9. seamus – source? I’m not doubting it, at all. But at least we got him with 1yr left on his contract and a cap hit of 2.5m

  10. To me, it seems that Drury is the team’s second best center or even him and Gomez are 1A and 1B.
    This is the stuff Salty and I thrive on. Drury, a first liner? Hahaha! Gomez and Drury are in a different class when it comes to type of and quality (offensively) of center. Drury is a 2nd or 3rd line center, pending Dubi’s development.

  11. This is the stuff Salty and I thrive on. Drury, a first liner? Hahaha! Gomez and Drury are in a different class when it comes to type of and quality (offensively) of center. Drury is a 2nd or 3rd line center, pending Dubi’s development.


    Then once again you’re just being disagreeable for the sake of being disagreeable. Drury wasn’t brought here to be a $7mn third line center and you can’t just look at things in terms of 1st/2nd/3rd/4th lines – what about the PP and PK? Gomez’s 12pt advantage over Drury in the regular season isn’t exactly mind blowing, particularly when you consider that Drury is better on the defensive side and faceoffs.
    To me Gomez and Drury have very similar values to the team, albeit with different skill sets.

    I like Dubinsky, think he could legitmately be great center but lets see him play without Jagr. “Potential” is great but execution is what its all about – please see Peter Prucha example for lesson.

  12. True – True. (a little joke there). But that’s the way it is. They have about $4mil in space left accoring to nhlnumbers.com. But it looks like they may have some RFA’s to get signed, or a few small holes to fill.

  13. true do you let salty on top ever or does he bend you over the couch all the time..salt in your eyes? true certainly bleeds

  14. Drury is a 2nd or 3rd line center, pending Dubi’s development.

    True True, but I think DRury will definitely have another opportunity to play 2nd line Center for a while before being moved either to 2nd line wing or 3rd line center.

    I’m also starting to reconsider where Zherdev is really going to fit. The natural instinct would be to put him along Gomez… but it seems that they are both puck carriers. Zherdev might be better suited to skate the puck in and set Drury up in front. Gomez should be following a similar formula with Naslund… Zherdev and Gomez would be a deadly fast combo, but I’m starting to question the chemistry there. They could be too similar, and you dont need two puck movers on a line when your second line is centered by a guy who cant hold the puck for more than 2 seconds at a clip.

  15. donsausage, did your father ever get tired of wondering who the guy on the other side of the gloryhole was?

    …….I didn’t think so.

  16. true do you let salty on top ever
    Actually, I’m not sure if he likes the top, but I’ll ask your mom after I leave your place tonight. I bet she would know.

    JJP, excellent point. I agree about the powerplay and only a marginal difference in production this year. I just can’t imagine Zherdev playing with Drury though, it would be turnoveritis! I imagine Gomez and Zherdev playing together similar to Nylander and Jagr or Dubinsky and Jagr. Both can carry the puck, but one’s really the scorer. As far as Drury having a great season I think (HOPE!!) he will. But if Dubinsky can keep a semblance of himself (now sans-Jagr), then he should be the second offensive center and Drury the two-way line 3 center. My point was only to say the most offensively talented center is Gomez, the second might be Dubinsky. Drury’s role, although different, is also very important.

    Obviously, things change – especially when birdies get in Renney’s ear and it takes 50 games to solidify the lines anyway.

  17. SeamusORiley on

    Beer Me: no source; just tongue in cheek. The word out of Columbus was that he and Hitchock did not get along….Russians have a rep for being primadonnas, not being hard working, difficult to teach, bone heads, privileged, but extremely talented. Just my bit of humor to throw out there.

    I have to think of something to occupy my mind until Malik gets signed somewhere!

  18. Elimination of the second contract is going to kill GM’s, eventually these inflated prices will have to balance out…right?

    Malkin will go straight from making 980K to making 9.0million!

  19. Hitcock and offensive talent do not go hand in hand.

    Hitcock is a defensive coach more so than Renney.

    Zherdev is in a contract year, will have Gomez or Naslund feeding him the puck, either way, he will have offensive players surrounding him and I hope he has a heck of a year.

    He’s also a breakaway threat, which we have lacked in the past.

  20. dad and mom jokes? cmon now.. you can do better than that..u guys are about as much fun as a fork in the eye..i know it’s tough when your best friend is your computer.

  21. You know it’s the off-season when people are imagining lineups and pairings and subsequently dismissing them as ineffective, as if they ever actually existed or their failure to click was real…

  22. The difference between Jagr and Gomez playing together and Zherdev and Gomez playing together is that while the latter grouping are similar, they at least play the same type of game. The problem with Jagr-Gomez was not that both liked to carry the puck, but that Gomez plays the speed-puck-carrying game while Jagr plays the puck control game, trying to overpower his opponents to get in shooting position. Thats why Dubinsky – a similar type of puck control guy melded well with Jags. Since we’ve seen that Gomez likes to pass off the puck, if Zherdev likes finishing, it shouldn’t be a problem. (But one can never be certain when it comes to chemistry)

  23. Anyone know if there is any chance at all the Cherapanov finds a way to come to the NHL this year? I’m sure another year in Russia wouldn’t hurt him, but especially if Shanny does not return, it would seem like the perfect season to bring him in.

  24. a casual observer on

    “The easier solution is to dump Betts and put Fritsche there.”
    Aint gonna happen Doody. Maybe on your fantasy team but nowhere else.

  25. “dad and mom jokes?”


    I *love* how he says this as if he’s _suddenly_ above such things! The same guy that interrupted serious hockey chat with “gay jokes” 10 mins ago…


  26. Leetch, how’s retirement?

    (re: Cherapanov) the GM of Omsk is already bragging about how he “stole” Jagr this season and is “keeping” Cherri from the Rangers too. Doubtful he’ll make camp, exhibition, or see ANY time with Rags or Hartford this year. Dissapointing.

  27. Everything I’ve seen said about the same thing. ZERO chance Chery sees N.A. this year. Prospect Camp and/or tourney in Traverse City is a LONG LONG shot. But I’d say he won’t be in NYR camp.

  28. noonan, donsausage, and rmant are multiple personalities from the same person to me. They all get on and bash people but then criticize others when they get it in return. Hypocrites or just morons? I’ll let you be the judge.

  29. Let’s not forget the Blair Betts is probably the best 4th line center in the entire NHL. Some might consider that an oxymoron, but he really is one of a kind. He’s of the most responsible players in the league, is defensively perfect, makes smart plays and decisions, is great on the penalty kill, above average on faceoffs and is virtually irreplaceable. Take into consideration that he usually plays with a combination of two guys who are completely reckless and it makes him even more important.

    He’s not the kid of player you just go and trade.

    To me, he’s one of the players that makes the Rangers a solid team.

    Whoever said to trade him needs to take another look at what makes a great team, not a great line.

  30. I wouldn’t take it as a given that any of these drafted Russian kids like Cherapanov make it to the NHL. It would certainly seem like the spread in quality and money between the NHL and KHL is tightening.

  31. thanks for the italics and bold salty.. you truly are an english scholar…i agree betts should stay.. i think he is great as 4th liner and pk.. as for kalinin..at least he fights.. malik and backman coudn’t fight their way out of a paper bag

  32. Brandon, I agree. For some reason though, people thing Betts is expendable. His linemates, I would agree are replaceable but Betts was what, minus4?, playing agianst other top lines in the NHL? That might explain why his faceoff% was lower than usual (last year, 52.3%). Very responsble with occasional flashes of offensive talent (Shorthanded, coast-to-coast against the ducks). I doubt Betts is going anywhere.

  33. I’m guessing Zherdev will help out on the Shootout front as well – Certainly better than Jagr

  34. Betts is the best PK guy on the team. He is a great team guy. Dont Trade Betts. Trade Prucah or Hollweg!

  35. Betts as an individual, and part of the ’05-’08 rangers was a terrific addition, always contributing to the defense-first game plan…nearly to perfection some nights. But with a more rounded offensive core, that ALL understand that backchecking and ‘5-men in the picture’ is the gameplan, he becomes less of an asset. That line used to have to log so many minutes against opponents top lines b/c the rest of our offense couldn’t give 2 sh!ts about backchecking. Or leaving the 3rd man high(in the o-zone). But with 4 lines that understand and committed to the system in place, his value is dimished. Unless he can find the scoresheet a little more often.

    Granted, he was playing with guys that couldn’t find the net if their balls depended on it. I’ll COMPLETELY give him that. And I AM a big advocate of Betts’ contributions to the team. But there’s better 4th line players out there. I just breezed through some depth charts, and trust me, they’re out there. I feel confident, so far(as there’s sure to be changes) that we have a roster better suited to play the style that’s been implemented. Whether Betts is part of it, we’ll see that too.

    Either way I’m cool wit it. Didn’t mean to imply that he was “expendable”. Rather…replacable … GIVEN the new makeup of the roster. If that makes sense. Just my opinion.

  36. SeamusORiley on


    I am with you. Money can break contracts, especially in Russia.

    I would rather see him given a shot at camp or end up in Hartford than another year in russia.

    Let’s hope that Sather has something up his sleeve with Jimmy Jr’s money in his pocket, ready to exchange it for many, many rubles.

  37. “But there’s better 4th line players out there.”

    I shoulda said ‘4th line centers’ to be exact.

  38. Mike Peca signed with Jackets for only 1 year “because he was impressed with their committment to winning”?

    Thanks for the link Beer…

    Isn’t this the same guy who “sat out” a season after his Sabres went the cup finals and to eastern finals twice?

    Didnt he leave Oilers after they went to finals so he could sign with…..THE LEAFS!!!

    Then signed with the Jackets who had never made the playoffs?

    who is this guy kidding?

  39. real issue with cheraponov is that he is a guy who i doubt would even want to play in hartford. he is going to want to come right to the rangers and play not develop in hartford. so if the options were a year in hartford or a year in russia, id bet the farm he’d choose russia.

    also gomez and prucha would be great combo i think.

    also salty, i was saying the same thing about zherdev and gomez the other day. its gonna take one/both of them to be willing to share the responsibilities of rushing the puck up ice. i think zherdev would be a bettter fit for drury as zherdev can rush up and shoot and hopefully drury would be there for a rebound. then gomez could rush it up and dish to naslund and prucha

  40. real issue with cheraponov is that he is a guy who i doubt would even want to play in hartford.
    Pete, how do you know that? He has 1 contractual year left with Omsk, regardless of whether he plays in Hartford or in the NHL. He’s citing that as the reason why he won’t defect (although, Malkin had no problem bailing).

    Also, question to you and salty;
    Why can’t Zherdev and Gomez be like a mini/speedy-Nylander mini/speedy-Jagr pair? That pair, although much slower, had two puck control guys and knew how to use the puck, but also share it really well, affording the other time to get open.

  41. good question True.

    I know that Lindros lead us the year BEFORE that, I believe. But he got hurt in ’04 when he got ROCKED into the boards by…that dude…what was his name? On Washington right? It wasn’t Witt was it?

    Anyway, I want to say Messier. He was on fire through January. Then got old all of a sudden, but I know he still had some #’s.

    But my final answer is Bobby Holik.

    That is my answer assuming Jagr doesn’t count. Otherwise Jarda.

    Now I want to go look at that roster and laugh.

  42. Pete my thoughts exactly

    Hope Im not repeating but idiot Ecklund has some Nylander to Ottawa “tips”….he’d be great for Ottawa but what does Ottawa have that Caps would want???

  43. Holy crap!

    Who the F*ck is Josh Green? Chris McAllister?

    Did I freakin sleep through 1/2 that year?

    That roster was disgusting. Had we not traded for Jagr, the NHL woulda given US Crosby. I don’t know how I’d feel about that.

  44. Kaspar,

    Gomez, Naslund, Prucha may be the smallest first line in the NHL. Yikes! I like Zherdev on that top line in place of prucha — not that he’s bigger, but I think he’s better.


    Thanks for explaining your take on Betts, however, I still respectfully disagree. I can’t think of one guy that can replace him — either in our system or on another team.

    We don’t need the fourth line to score. Anytime you take a risk to make a play you’re giving up a bit of defense. While it’s necessary to win games, it isn’t necessary to have a fourth line that does as much. I think you always need one line that thinks Defense and Defense only. Betts, alone, plays enough D for one line.

    I’d even give him an “A” next year… why not, right?

  45. BEER MAN!
    It was Holik, with 25 goals (ahem, ahem…see Drury and Jagr). If Holik can lead a team with 25 goals, is it an achievement? Yikes.

    Leave Crosby for the birds. He’s a pussy and belongs in Pittsburgh or Montreal (with the panzy French Canadians who fought the Rangers 6 or 7 times this year WITH VISORS on!). That’s right, habs inside/out, *YOUR TEAM IS A BUNCH OF EFF’ing PANZIES,* except Mike Komisarek. Pens fans are just as bad because they don’t root for goals, they cheer for powerplays and penalty shots! haha

  46. Why can’t Zherdev and Gomez be like a mini/speedy-Nylander mini/speedy-Jagr pair? That pair, although much slower, had two puck control guys and knew how to use the puck, but also share it really well, affording the other time to get open.

    Could totally happen, and I’m not against it. Nylander had exceptional puck control skills though, after entering the zone. Gomez doesn’t have that… he’s a speed merchant and a good passer, but he doesn’t have “moves” and he can’t hold the puck that extra 2 seconds. I think things may be more evenly distributed with Gomez passing to Naslund and then Drury trying to put away Zherdev’s garbage. I’m sure we’ll see all the combos we can imagine, but I am starting to think we’ll be better off distributing the puck movement of Gomez/Zherdev beween the two top lines and maintain a legion of speed. Unless of course those guys click for something special or something. I can’t wait to watch Zherry.

  47. brandon – as far as the ‘A’ goes, I know that the guys in the lockerroom like him. He’s not outspoken, but it doesn’t seem to be part of the critiera anymore.

    You’re 4th line doesn’t have to score when you have a top line that includes crosby, ovechkin, iginla, thorton, jagr when he gives a shit, etc.

    But when you’re top line consists of a guys that are 3-5 seasons removed from his career highs, and a guy that is a question mark…followed by 3 lines of ‘average scoring’, you really need some scoring depth, ALL the way through the lineup.

    Again, I can’t discredit anything that Betts does, b/c hey, he’s great at what he does. But I would never think he’s not replacable.

    Ok, I’m done with Betts…there’s only so much there! lol

  48. I’d even give him an “A” next year… why not, right?


    Ehhh, Blair Betts? I LOVE the guy, but I don’t thikn you give him an A on a team with Gomez/Drury/Naslund/Redden, etc.

  49. “Gomez, Naslund, Prucha may be the smallest first line in the NHL. Yikes’

    Then we go 2 for 2! second line Dawes-Drury-Naslund, first line Zherdev-Gomez-who? Maybe smallest 1st and second lines-Yikes-Yikes!!

    We are still a small team up front heh, ( at least top two lines )Just realizing this now….Maybe you have to get Dubi up there after all…Drury on LW, Fritche 3rd line center and Betts 4th line….

  50. That was my other point to make salty, thanks.

    Note too, that I was completely behind the TOI that the HBO line got….for most of the season. It DID get stale. But it changed, real late when Sjo joined the group.

    And to add to my thought…never think anything is impossible when Slats is your GM!

  51. Ehhh, Blair Betts? I LOVE the guy, but I don’t thikn you give him an A on a team with Gomez/Drury/Naslund/Redden, etc.
    Gomez/Drury/Naslund/Redden/…and Rozsival and Hollweg!

  52. “Gomez, Naslund, Prucha may be the smallest first line in the NHL. Yikes’

    Then we go 2 for 2! second line Dawes-Drury-Naslund, first line Zherdev-Gomez-who? Maybe smallest 1st and second lines-Yikes-Yikes!!


    That’s why it’s pointless right now to make line combos. You HAVE to add a guy like rissmiller(if signed) or voros, or anyone that can at least ride the big rides, to the top 2 lines.

  53. Rozsival and Hollweg!


    Laugh now, but I would NOT be surprised to see Rozsi wearing an A down the line…. management obviously loves him

  54. The Heterodox Economist on

    Jason Doig, notched one assist in his Rangers career.

    And whoever suggested that Gomez is a speedster than a puck-handler is right, I recall on a few occasions last season when he’d patti-cake for that one extra second and cough the puck up, it used to drive me crazy.

    And I also recall an interview with Naslund way back when Vancouver was doing well after Messier came back to New York. He credited his leadership skills to Messier. Eerie?

  55. Anyone know how long the 3 who received qualifying offers (Dawes, Sjo and Jessiman) have to accept?

  56. Beer!

    Your answer to who hit Lindros into the boards in Washington is none other than past Ranger Jason Doig. Traded from Dallas for Todd “thumb/heartbeat” Harvey.

    Lindros did then get up and go right after Doig and beat his a$$.

    Blair Betts was a decent trade for Chris Simon if I am correct?

  57. Seamus – the Rangers are not allowed to pay to get the Russians over here. There is no transfer agreement so the Russian contract must be over or Bettman and company will lay down the law. and unfortunately i’m not kidding.

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