Early (and happy) returns

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So the early returns are in on my poll to the right, and it looks like we have our first mini-upset of the season. According to our tabulations, more fans are interested in young Nikolai Zherdev than anyone else, although the usual interest in up-and-coming prospects remains strong as well.

I count this as a surprise, and yet Rangers fans are correct in recognizing Zherdev’s vital role on this roster. The Ukrainian wing is coming off a career-high 61 points, and is arguably the team’s top goal-scoring threat this season (although you should hope that Markus Naslund and others have something to say about that).

There were questions about Zherdev’s work ethic and attitude after some clashes with Ken Hitchock in Columbus. But his talent is unquestioned, and Tom Renney already has a proven track record in getting players with significant baggage to buy into the team concept (see Jagr, Jaromir or Avery, Sean for more).

I’ll be sure to check in with the former first-round draft choice when I pop by the Training Center this week, although I must admit, I have no clue how well he speaks English.  Stay tuned….

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On an unrelated note, I’m happy to fill my little corner of cyberspace with news about a competitor. In an era when newspapers are drastically cutting back coverage of just about everything, I commend the Bergen Record for actually bringing back the Rangers beat this year. But extra credit goes for “tabbing Andrew Gross for the job”:http://www.northjersey.com/sports/rangers/27965209.html.

Not that the choice could have been very difficult. Many of you will recall that Andrew was my predecessor covering the Rangers at The Journal News. He would have been a difficult guy to replace, if not for the fact that he served as an invaluable resource while I made the transition.

Even while immersed in his new gig covering the Jets, it was apparent fairly early when Andrew and I talked hockey that he missed the game, and I certainly didn’t blame him. But now he’s back, and while I should have concerns about competing against another experienced and insightful reporter, I’m more grateful to see a friend back doing what he loves.

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77 Comments

  1. kaspar – posting an Eklund link here is punishable by 30 lashings!

    dr house – I think I know what you’re referencing, although I will tell you that THAT ‘article’ was referencing the ny post article from a week and a half ago.

  2. “kaspar – posting an Eklund link here is punishable by 30 lashings!’

    I played in Hartford…….Bring it on man!!

  3. ok, so I’ve heard Eklund’s name on posts here, never read a post…. I just read the above one, and it was HORRIBLE. no wonder the dude gets bashed. At the end of the post, he basically says, “here’s my cell#, please be my friend”. I vomited in my mouth a little when I read that.

  4. Zherdev sure seems like the 2nd coming of Kovalev. Hopefully he matures at a faster rate than Kovalev did.

  5. Dr. House

    wehre did you read SHanny was supposed to be back? Have a link?

    I jsut saw the MSG show and Maloney and Gianone talking about the new team.
    Maloney said and I quote” With the four that left, JAgr Avery, Straka and Shanahan…”
    So I dont know if they know something we dont, but I didnt like the sound of it.

    I jsut hope Sather IS waiting for the old age releif the PA is deciding on or tweaking to offer him a deal.
    I’ve given my reasons before, but Shanny at 1 year 1.2 million iwth bonuses is too good to pass up. Especially if Sunind is really out of the picture (which he should have never been in anyway)

  6. Beer Me! – I’m disappointed that you have passed on the fantasy league this season. :(

    Anyway, finally a new post where I can advertise the league again (yes, I hate doing this, but it’s for a good cause). I’m trying to get the readers/posters on this blog to get together for a fantasy hockey league, but there hasn’t been much response so far. I want to make a good league, so I’m requiring people to email me first. Soon, I might have to just post the ID and password here. Anyway, it’s on Yahoo; email me at bmitchelf@yahoo.com if interested, please!

    Haha, lame-o Eklund has a phone number. It’s probably so he can collect more “sources.” I bet this will be a waste of time for him because more than half of the calls will bash him.

    Let me translate the first line of that article: “A source this morning confirmed to me what has long been known.” = “I have decided to write down something that’s been in my head for a while, and the phone rang while I was thinking about it today.”

  7. The problem with the poll question is that it asks about training camp…

    I for one feel certain that any questions about Zherdev will NOT be answered in camp… only through the course of the season.

    There are plenty of questions about who he’ll play with and his work ethic, etc. but if last year proved anything to me it’s that Renney and Co. will try lots of stuff out (maybe more so this time around given the many new faces) and we won’t really know too much until a few weeks into the season… if even then.

    The only thing we’ll know after training camp is about some of the youngsters.

  8. pig – It is with regret that I decline. I’m spread pretty thin at this point though. Sorry. I hope you get it up and running.

    Finally I saw Malik’s name mentioned somewhere. He was mentioned as ‘an available left-handed defenseman’ for the kings.

  9. SOMERSET

    I knew you weren’t trying to be a jerk, i was just joking.

    RICHE

    He needs to play with Drury. We need to spread this offense. If Shanny isn’t re signed, Pruchs needs to friggin step it up. I don’t know how the lines will be. It will look something like this.

    Naslund – Gomez – Dawes
    Zherdev – Drury – Prucha
    Callahan – Dubinsky – Sjostrom
    Voros – Betts – Orr / Rismiller

    If Shanny signs then everyone on the right moves down, Pruchs to the 3rd, Freddy to the 4th, Pat to the box. Renney will try Nicky on the 1st line, but i think he needs to be on a line where he is gonna do what he wants to do, which is control the puck, he needs to be the one setting up Dru, and Pruchs, Cally, Dawes, who ever it is. It would be nice if he can get Dru back to 30 goals. I just cant see him and Gomer together when they both like controlling the puck. If Shanny doesn’t get re signed, besides Pruchs stepping it up, it would be nice to have Freddy have a career high in goals, even if its like 20. If Pruchs gets traded then most likely will see Korpedo or another prospect step in, which i wanted in the beginning, but its still tough to part with Pruchs, i hope he gets his sh*t together this season, with Nyr.

  10. “I think I saw Staal and Gomez at the ladies final lastnight on tv, anyone else see them there?”

    Comrade oldkid, thats an innocent mistake…it was the williams sisters playing not Scotty and Staaly

  11. Orr…

    I’m with you on trying those lines at first but just how everyone thought Gomer with Jags was a no brainer (except you if memory serves)… this one may not be either.

    I guess we’ll just have to see. I don’t know a great deal about Zherdev but from what I’ve seen he gets himself into good position without the puck as well… could work well with Gomer.

    I dunno… just spitballin’ until they actually lace ‘em up.

  12. Hockeymanrangers on

    As I stated in Sam’s last poll post, I don’t really want to hear about any one particular new Ranger. But how well they all gel with the new and old. And where the chemistry might be happening.
    Ok can someone explain this, I seen the list of players at training camp. And I swear it made a point to say that the entire list will be there. But the prospect that are in Travers are still going to be playing in the tournement. So how the heck is that going to work???
    I probably missed something somewhere but I dooubled check the dates. Wahts up???

  13. Comrade Kaspar

    that couldn’t be…

    Gomez is a much better looking female than Serena.

    Just a word of thanks to your country for providing us with Sharapova and Kournakova

  14. I went to a Blue Jackets game last year, and saw Zherdev play. the 1 thing I noticed BIG TIME is he’s a huge fan of the toe drag. so expect to see at least like 3 of those a game, if he gets 1st line minutes…

    Incidentally, they played Minnesota, and Voros had a fight and a goal in the game… hopefully good karma?

  15. Funny you say that-I have workmate who just returned from Lithuania (shadowy personal business trip) and he showed me a photo of 2 housemaids in his hotel to point out what the “average girl” looked like on his trip there. They were pretty hot and I wouldn’t even change their uniforms–wow! Violeta is probably what they turn into in a few years LOL.

    That’s right I am recalling Japanese-Olympics when you starred for Lithuania–talk about pretty housemaids-wow

  16. …and also assuming that Korpi, Moore, Anisimov, NEDVED (haha) don’t have a chance at making the squad.

    Camp is going to be VERY interesting….IF IT EVER FREAKIN STARTS!

  17. ORR !! What Is It Good FOR !! September 8th, 2008 at 12:34 pm

    He needs to play with Drury. We need to spread this offense. If Shanny isn’t re signed, Pruchs needs to friggin step it up. I don’t know how the lines will be. It will look something like this.

    Naslund – Gomez – Dawes
    Zherdev – Drury – Prucha
    Callahan – Dubinsky – Sjostrom
    Voros – Betts – Orr / Rismiller

    Orr, I think one of our best lines down the stretch was
    Dawes, Drury, Callahan. They provided a spark at times and at times were our best line. I’m not sure I’d change it…I do realize that Renney is going to try lots of combos…but if I were coach I’d keep that line together and try Zherdev with Gomez and Naslund
    Keep in mind Zherdev is listed as a right wing and Naslund as a left wing.
    I can’t wait for this to start…ARGGGG!!!

  18. Sorry to do this here. But I have to voice the absolute joy I am feeling knowing that karma has come back to finally bite the NE Patriots in the ass for cheating.

  19. In my book this Sundin thing is just pathetic…I don’t give a damn where he goes as long as its not NYR.

  20. On montreol radio, team990, PJ Stock hung up on two people the other day, within 20 minutes of each other, who wanted to talk about the Sundin Saga…”I’m sick of Sundin” he yelled, “I’ll talk hockey but not Mats frickin Sundin!!”

  21. The name Sundin should be placed in the same category as Cullen…we don’t mention such names here

  22. Ok so Im off today and caught up with all my MSG shows I tivoed.

    Is anyone else a little concerned that one of the players they interviewed heavily, at least a minute or two, was Nedved? I mean he cant possibly make the team? can he? please say no? someone? Sather? please, no!!

  23. Without question the success of the offense on this team lies in the hands of Zherdev and Naslund. Without Jagr, Shanny and Straka to lean on we need 25-30 goals out of each of those guys to make up for the goals we let go. Zherdev needs to fit in and fit in quickly. We cannot have an Alexei Kovalev type season out of him. He needs to continue to grow as a player and hopefully he will be lethal on the power play because God knows we need players who can shoot, shoot accurately and score goals!

  24. MikeyNJ

    “Is anyone else a little concerned…”

    I’m concerned, I go to rangers on demand yesterday and there were like 4 interviews…Renney-Redden-Naslund and….you guessed it ” Nedved the forgettable”

  25. If shanny resigns:

    Naslund- Gomez -Zherdev
    Shanahan- Dubinsky- Prucha
    Dawes- Drury – Callahan
    Voros-Betts/Fritsche-Sjostrom

  26. Kaspar

    exactly!
    Why even put ANY video of him up there.
    i jsut get that nervous feeling in my stomach every time I think about “him” making the team this year.

  27. Andrew – for scoring this year, the goals better be spread out or the team is in serious trouble. You must add Gomez, Drury, and others to carry the scoring…

    Rangers defense better also do more than “chip-in”

  28. Its unfortunate that the scoring expectations for Gomez and Drury were attached to salary figures….Gomez had his normal-average-every year season, and even including the two years he played for hi-powered Sabres and scored 30+ goals, Drury has averaged “less then 25″ goals a year….THESE GUYS PLAYED EXACTLY LIKE THEY ALWAYS DID!!!
    What killed the Rangers last year offensively, until the post season, was Jagr….he was the only skater ( with straka too I guess but he was injured) who fell “way off” and then admits he didnt give 100%!!!

  29. I don’t know about you guys/gals but I’ve felt for the better part of the last two years that Hank just needed some help in front of him (and for his own D-men to stop scoring on him) and this team would be competitive on that alone…

    I’m not saying that this year will be better overall but I feel in that category we’ve improved.

    The offense production is going to be a question mark and a big one at that.

  30. Dont worry wat Dave Maloney says on tv he is an idiot at heart. I realized that slats is a joke.

  31. Kaspar …

    I agree. Drury and Gomez had exactly their normal/average offensive numbers. 25 goals/ 50-60 points for Drury. 50 assists/ 65-75 points for Gomez. HOWEVER, these numbers were achieved while on the 2nd and 3rd lines. I think with 1st and 2nd line minutes, and another year added to “learning the Ranger system”, Drury and Gomez will be really good this year.

    Plus i think Rozsival’s numbers will go up. He had to be our best offensive AND defensive defenseman last year, and i think with Redden and Kalinin there now, he will be free to become more of an offensive threat.

    I think the line of Drury- Dawes – Callahan will be kept in tact as well

    Naslund – Gomez – Zherdev
    Dawes – Drury – Callahan
    Prucha – Dubinsky – Fritsche
    Orr/Voros – Betts – Rissmiller/Sjostrom

    With Shanahan:
    Naslund – Gomez – Zherdev
    Dawes – Drury – Prucha
    Shanahan – Dubinsky – Callahan
    Orr/Voros – Betts/Fritsche – Sjostrom/Rissmiller

  32. I’m trying to figure out why you guys keep saying things like this

    “The offense production is going to be a question mark and a big one at that.”

    Who did we loose this summer…Jagr, Straka, Shanny (maybe)Avery…are you trying to say that our current roster can’t produce at least like last seasons…I mean Jagr…sucked last season…is it that hard to replace a 25 goal scorer. I look at it this way…Dubinsky is going to be better, as are Gomez and Drury. Zherdev I have high hopes for and he alone had almost the same totals as Jagr. If anything the team should score as much as last season…but without Jagr and his antics I think this team is going to be better than last seasons…Yup there I go again…positive thinking…LGR

  33. does anybody believe that Pittsburgh insider site??, they said we are gonna give shanny 1.5 mill. and the Blues are gonna go to like 3 mill.

  34. from what i have heard zherdev is a little slack on defense and i think drury could help out with that as well as pick up some garbage goals off zhrerdev’s shots…

    naslund gomez dawes
    zherdev drury callahan
    prucha dubi sjostrom
    voros betts riss/orr/fritsh

    if shanny comes back put him on line 3, move sjostrom down to the final piece of that line… but who really knows how things work out all i know is LETS GO RANGERS!!!

    spiderpig-you’ve got mail

  35. I think we should get used to the fact that Prucha is not going to be a part of this team. That team is gone, with the exception of Rozival, Betts, Orr and Hank.

    Prucha will be packaged in a deal to free up salary to sign a defenseman.

    We are just too small up front with Prucha. Heck aren’t we tiny enough with Gomez, Drury, Naslund, Zherdev, Dawes and Callahan? Why do we need Prucha?

    We need a power forward. I hope Anisemov is ready to play.

  36. You would think Vancouver would be a good trade partner for NYR…..We with a glut of forwards…they with a glut of dee-men…..of course I’m probably over-rating the quality of the “glut” ( probably on the NYR end most)They do have a few big kids (Bieksa-Mitchell) over there along with a couple of vets (Ohland-Salo)….

    Just throwing it out there

  37. VOGS

    ?????? This team is NOT gonna sign a Dman, they got there 6 Dmen, unless they gave up on Kalinin already.

    I hope Artie blows everyone away at camp and makes the team, either Dubi, or Artie can move to wing, but not Dru. Not unless Sundin signs, which at this point is not gonna happen.

    NYRincident

    I like those lines, and maybe i just cant let go of Pruchs’ rookie year, but i think he should be on the 2nd line, and see how he plays with good players, instead of the likes of Rucchin, Ruchinsky, Betts, Orr, Hollweg, etc. He’s had his chance to play with good players, but didn’t do well, but hopefully the 3rd times the charm, not counting the rookie year.

  38. Orr:

    We are small up front. We need size. We are soft in the back, we need umph.

    Unless Sather and Co.’s goal is to just make the playoffs, we need a couple of impact players.

  39. Yes, we can let go of Prucha’s rookie year. His 2nd and 3rd year, he’s treated the puck like a hot potato, if he wasn’t getting creamed and miraculously getting back up. He can’t do that forever.

    IMO, Prucha hasn’t been the same since he took that puck to the face in 05/06.

  40. I agree, it was the knee injury, he has better players to play with this season though, so you never know. Even if its just 20 goals, id take it. After Cally, and Pruchs scored in th home opener, i thought for sure they would put up 20 each, its a damn shame they couldn’t.

    Anyway, it was nice to see Hank on MSGNY, stupid Gianone had to bring up the Hossa OT goal, just let it die in death, as Paulie once said. The guy bounced around from New York, to Florida, to Sweden, trying to have a good summer forgetting aboot that damn goal. But i wonder how Danny is dealing with it, the play wasn’t entirely his fault, but the puck did go off him, and he definitely feels like shit, and of course not to mention Staal who passed on a shot in that OT, i hope the two of them take that and put it behind them, and have a great sophomore season, and beyond.

  41. if prucha doesnt produce right away this year (we cant wait around forever), hopefully one of the young kids will step up big, anisimov would be nice so we can gain some more size up front.

  42. I still think we are short 1 top 6 forward. Gomez, Drury, Naslund, Zherdev are locks, i expect Dawes or Cally to step up but really we need another top 6 forward with some size. Apart from Voros, Dubi, Sjo and Orr we’re pretty small and the aforementioned will more likely be on 3rd and 4th lines or in the stands (Orr).

    I don’t think we need another D-man, we don’t have any cap space so the #7 D slot will likely go to Potter or Pock, or maybe even Kondratiev.

    I also don’t see the point of Fritsche and Rissmiller, are they another Cullen and Hall? Is the brain trust expecting them to fill 2nd/3rd line roles? I would rather see us spend $1m on someone who has more of a proven record rather than hope the 29 yr old Rissmiller can be something he is not. At least Fritsche is young and could be moved to wing.

    Are the management padding out the roster due to our busy pre-season schedule?

  43. Post 2:
    I also think we will sign Shanny, once the NHLPA and NHL reach a deal with regards to player bonuses. The date for this is 15th Sept, so expect a Shanny signing around then. I also think this could be the delay on wherever Sundin is going.

    If we do sign Shanny again we will need to move a couple of forwards (Prucha plus one more I would think)

  44. “What killed the Rangers last year offensively, until the post season, was Jagr….he was the only skater ( with straka too I guess but he was injured) who fell “way off” and then admits he didnt give 100%!!!”

    This has been said before and should be beat into everyone’s head by now. There’s the reason that the RANGERS underacheived last season. Because their captain let them. Everyone else was on their usual pace.

    UK – I agree that we’re 1 fwd short for our top 6. And to be quite honest, the 5 that we do have, could be 2nd line wingers on some teams. It will be completely up to guys like Dawes, cally, prucha to make a statement and step up. If Dawes has/can improve his 2-way play, he could be the guy. The size of those 6 really scare me as well.

  45. I can’t see why Tampa would try to go for Sundin… other than Oren Koules being an attention addict. They have Lecav and the #1 pick Stamkos. They’d rather stick him in the minors and bring in an aging, past-his-prime guy??? DUMB.

  46. WHY in the world would we (or anyone else for that matter) want to sign a guy who can’t even summon up the emotion to play or to make a frickin decision!?!? The hockey world has gone mad…..

  47. Beer me

    I agree, I think this team is solid and can definately compete, but before they can be considered legitimate contenders they need one more top 6 forward who can make a serious impact. I just don’t think either Cally or Dawes (as much as I like them) has what it takes to change the dynamics. I too, have serious concerns about the size of this team. None of their top players have any size at all. It really is a necessity.

  48. The Sundin thing is a nightmare and really needs to go away. As i said i nmy last post, NYR needs a top 6 forward, true but why in the world would Sather want Sundin to fill that void? He isn’t that great of a player anymore, he’d be expensive, he’s short term and for all the work Renney has done to create a team chemistry and enthusiasm it will all come crashing down with the addition of a half hearted past his prime prima donna. Just sign Shanny and get the team enthusiasm back and keep your eyes out for a passionate top 6 forward.

  49. I hope Dubinski comes up big this season as well. He played very well last season and I hope this season he really makes another jump…there were times last season he skated and handled the puck with great confidence for a rookie, maybe Dubi should be paired with Zherdev

  50. Rmant

    Amen to that.

    I don’t see anyone mentioning Korpikoski in their lines. I though he looked pretty good. I also thought it a promising sign that Renney liked him enough to bring him up for that playoff game. Anybody think he’s got a shot this season?

  51. I hope Korpi comes up this season… Renney did the same thing with Dawes the year before. gave him a show in the playoffs, he played 1 game, scored, and was a regular the next year. Except they went out and signed about 50 forwards over the off-season, so I have no idea how they’re gonna fit ALL them into the team now. that’s why I can’t even TRY to predict line combos, there’s just WAY too many bodies to even come close…

  52. Size is a necessity. In my opinion anyway. There are times when toughness/grittiness can take its place though. There’s nothing to speak of on our backend either. There’s a TON of grit, SOME size, and lots of toughness to rounding out the fwds. But the lack of all that in the top 6 will force the lines to be adjusted accordingly. There’s not much toughness on our backend either.

    Just to think ‘out loud’ here… You could accomplish this a few ways. Drury to wing opens the 2nd center spot for Dubi. Dawes, prucha, cally fight for the other spot on the wing there. (Of course this is assuming that #1 line is gomer, Z, Nas.) That solidifies the top 6. It would also make room for Betts to remain as the 4th line cntr. Possibly making room for Fritsche (dare I say Nedved? maybe Anisimov) to center the 3rd line.

    OR…you can move sjostrom up to the 2nd line, balance the attack a little more, and utilize his 6’1″ 215lb frame. Dru at cntr, and take your pick for the other sides winger.

    OR…If shanny is resigned, it completely changes things.

    OR…Make a deal before camp to bring someone in.

    OR…take a page out of a cup-champ coach’s (Lemaire) book, and move Voros up a few lines to compensate for lack of size, grit, toughness. Which he has tons of.

    Gonna be interesting. I forsee some type of roster move before camp starts. Something.

  53. Korpi has as good a shot as anyone really.

    Somethings GOTTA give with this roster.

    Either that, or The Wolfpack are going to be SIIIIIICK this season! haha

  54. Still think Shanny would help in the grit department, and a little scoring too. I agree it would be great to bring in another Jagr sized (with a bit more grit) top 6, but don’t see it happening. We are frighteningly young and small in my opinion. Like to see Anisimov in there too. I’m sorry in a way we didn’t keep Struds for some of this. He was slow, but would stand up and generally knew his limitations and got his job done. We need more than just Orr on the 4th line – and who knows if they’ll even suit him up with the glut of “scoring” forwards we have now.

  55. Girl Friday — You’ve gotta be kidding – lol. It would have to be a comedy wouldn’t it – who would believe? I wanted him to stay, this kind of makes me a little sick. Glad to be shut of all this nonsense.

  56. When a friend, a Pens fan no less, sent me that link this morning…I though he was joking. You know how those Pens fans can be. Anyway, romantic comedy about Avery? Really?? What with himself??

  57. Beer –

    #1 – i don’t think Shanahan is a viable option. I love the guy, but I think his days of “dropping em” and being a physical presence are over. I think he has become much more of a perimeter player and his days of being the power forward are gone. Maybe I am wrong. Maybe he was hurt last seaosn and couldn’t play that role, but I don’t think so.

    #2 – Even if Dubinksy is the #2 center, I don’t think he strikes fear in the opposition.

    #3 – Regardless of Callahan or Prucha and their “grit”, they are both small and neither strike fear in the heart of opposing players.

    to conclude, we might be able to score goals and play defense, but in the playoffs, there are intangibles that are necessary, so hopefully we can acquire them during the season to beef up for the post-season.

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