Here’s the question that a few have asked recently, and again yesterday and today with the signing of Mike Del Zotto:
Where does he stand in the organization?
And the feeling I’ve gotten from people inside is that he has a good chance to really be special, and to make the team right out of camp this year. Yes, ahead of all the others.
I wasn’t around for it, but apparently Del Zotto opened eyes last training camp, especially with the way he moved the puck on the power play — better, I’m told, than anybody else did it during the 2008-09 season in New York.
So he is probably the No. 1 defense prospect at this point, and he will get an opportunity to jump right in.
On a personal note, the blog lost a great friend. Long-time Rangers fan Frank Becerra Sr., one of the great newspaper artists in the country and one of the finest men in all the land — an Adam Graves type — has passed away.
His son, Frank Jr., is a photographer for The Journal News and LoHud.com and he was with me every step of the way during the ’94 playoffs, spending the wee hours with me in Vancouver, and plenty of days on airplanes, and he was on the ice during the Cup ceremony and at the parade.
Frank Sr. was the Rangers fan, though. He’d often see me and say, “So how’s the best hockey writer in New York today?”
And I’d say, “I have no idea how he is, but I’m fine.” And he’d laugh … not because it was funny, but because he always seemed happy. He was a legend around local sports, too. I will miss him dearly, as will all those who knew him.
AFTERNOON UPDATE, 2:36 P.M.: Just got this from NYR. Sounds like another minor signing:
RANGERS AGREE TO TERMS WITH FREE AGENT FORWARD ANDRES AMBÜHL
New York, May 27, 2009 – New York Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather announced today that the club has agreed to terms with free agent forward Andres Ambühl.
Ambühl, 25, skated in 50 games with HC Davos of the National League A in Switzerland (NLA) this past season, registering 17 goals and 24 assists for 41 points, along with 90 penalty minutes. He established career-highs in games played (50), goals (17), assists (24), points (41), and penalty minutes (90). Ambühl tied for the team lead in scoring and assists, while he finished fourth on the club in goals. In addition, he collected four goals and three assists for seven points in 21 postseason contests, including two goals in the NLA Finals series against the Kloten Flyers to help HC Davos win their fourth NLA championship in the last eight years.
The 5-10, 190-pounder has appeared in 358 career NLA games with HC Davos, recording 64 goals and 108 assists for 172 points, along with 425 penalty minutes. In 2006, he helped HC Davos capture the Spengler Cup, collecting the game-winning goal in the final game vs. Team Canada. Ambühl has also skated in 112 career postseason games, registering 19 goals and 14 assists for 33 points, including a career-high, five goals and eight points in 13 playoff contests during the 2008 playoffs. Internationally, Ambühl has represented Switzerland in several tournaments, including the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy.