Guest blogger: Michael Aker … The case for an internal bottom six

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Nineteen years ago today, the parade in the Canyon of Heroes, and OJ’s slow-speed chase in the white Bronco.

As we wait for the official introduction of Alain Vigneault as the next Rangers coach — and I’m told that the delay is not because the NHL doesn’t want major news to break during the finals — here is a guest blog about the Rangers’ bottom six and how it might be re-constructed:

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With the Stanley Cup Finals underway, Rangers fans are looking ahead to not only the new coach, but offseason trades and signings which will begin in a few weeks shortly before the June 30 NHL Draft in Newark.

Names such as Nathan Horton, Stephen Weiss, resigning the banged up Ryan Clowe (which will cost a second-round pick in 2014), or looking to add Matt Hendricks (and his eight points) on a multiyear deal to complement Brian Boyle (and his five points) have been discussed in news articles ever since the Rangers were eliminated right before Memorial Day, but the solution to salary cap, depth, and scoring issues might be closer to home then any expensive unrestricted free agent.

Too many times under the tenure of John Tortorella, bottom six players specifically the fourth line were grinders, enforcers, and AHL journeymen (Donald Brashear, Kris Newbury, an aging Mike Rupp come to mind) who saw less than five minutes of ice time and were not used in the third period, overtime,  or special teams. This put a tremendous amount of pressure on the top nine to score, and would ultimately tire these players. It’s pretty simple math; a team with 12 forwards who can contribute has better odds of winning a game and especially a playoff series than a team with only nine forwards who can contribute.

The Rangers lost the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals partly because the Devils fourth line produced, while their fourth line did not. The same can be said for this year’s series against the Bruins as Gregory Campbell scored two game winning goals.

Just because a player or line is playing bottom six minutes, does not mean they have to possess limited hockey skill or be solely a grinder or enforcer. They also do not have to be veterans. It’s up to a coach to utilize a player’s strength and skill, while providing them enough minutes and opportunities to learn, contribute, and succeed. This will prepare them for playing more minutes in case of injuries, or in later years when they will have to replace departing top six players. Pierre Larouche, famous to Rangers fans later in his career, was a young fourth line power play specialist on Scotty Bowman’s 1979 Stanley Cup champion Montreal Canadians.  Rookie Tyler Seguin was bounced all around the lineup during the 2011 Boston Bruins Cup run. The fourth line of Brad Richardson, Colin Frasier, and Jordan Nolan, in addition to neophyte Dwight King, were sparkplugs that helped the Los Angeles Kings win last year’s Stanley Cup. To a lesser extent, remember how successfully and opportunistically Tom Renney employed his third line of youngsters Nigel Dawes, Ryan Callahan, and veteran Chris Drury against the Devils in the 2008 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals?

The argument can be made that a younger player should play 20-plus minutes in the American Hockey League in all situations. But if a younger player possesses a particular set of skills and can help a parent club on the penalty kill, win faceoffs, or be used on a power play, the benefits these players offer may outweigh any bumps or warts.  On a Rangers team that will be very close to the salary cap limit where two of its top six wingers (Callahan and Hagelin) may miss most of training camp and even the beginning of the season, and with the new playoff format and a greater chance of missing the postseason, more players will be needed to contribute and play important minutes.

So who are the candidates? Unless Chris Kreider spends the offseason on a McDonalds and Burger King diet, he will be on the roster, and most likely starting, but not limited to a top six role. J.T. Miller with his 26 games of NHL experience and full year as a pro, along with his ability to play center or wing, will surely get a crack out of training camp.  Other second-year pros such as Christian Thomas, Marek Hrivik, and Andrew Yogan could get a look and each offer their own unique attributes, but it will be Swedish Elite League imports Oscar Lindberg and Jesper Fast who could help the Rangers completely restructure their bottom six.

Lindberg, who has played against pros the last few years in Sweden, can use his ability on faceoffs, penalty killing, and passing to form a partnership with Boyle and Miller to co-center the third and fourth lines depending on who is playing the best, with the other helping out along the boards. Lindberg’s ability to win faceoffs and being a natural center, give him an inside track to make the Rangers out of training camp.

Fast is probably the biggest wild card in the Rangers system. He can skate, score, and has grit. He has a nose for the net, and can potentially help the Rangers power play. The biggest question is can he add enough muscle and avoid getting banged up as he did in his three years in Sweden, and as seen in his one-game AHL cameo where he scored a goal and re-sprained his knee, originally hurt in the SEL playoffs.  If he can stay healthy, he has the greatest chance to make the roster, and start on the lower lines preferably as a third line right winger. He’ll have to earn the new coach’s trust, but there’s no reason that he can’t eventually be given the opportunity to be Rick Nash’s sidekick, or ride shotgun to Derick Brassard. This can lead to the promotion of yet another youngster or push someone else further down the lineup creating more depth and competition for playing time on the wings.

While having two to four young players on the lower lines can be viewed as dangerous because of the lack of experience, it may be in the Rangers best interest to go this route based on the salary cap and injury issues this team faces to begin the 2013-14 campaign.  No one knows if Marc Staal will be ready for training camp and Anton Stralman’s facial and shoulder injuries may cause him to miss a large portion of offseason training.

If the organization chooses to allow youngsters to mostly fill the bottom two lines, it will allow them to sign depth free agents on defense, possibly another top six scorer, and work on trading some of the current bottom six players for additional late round draft picks to at least gain back some of the damage done in trading the first and second rounders for Nash and Clowe.

Sometimes experience is overrated, and in a salary cap era, it might be better to rent a veteran grinder at the deadline, than to sign him to a multiyear deal and be stuck with an immovable, underperforming player.

Photo by Getty Images.

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377 Comments

  1. Good stuff…staying away from a long term contract with players of questionable talent or ability left in the tank will be important. I still think keeping Richards will haunt us! Of course if you are talking bottom six….he may well be the highest paid player in that position this coming season!

  2. Stimulating article Michael, although a central discrepancy forces me to ask whether we can find a satisfactory fourth line of grinders who can score…if Boyle can overcome his sleep problems and whatever we haven’t heard about (I think it sounds sadly like PCS) he will be an important cog in the “new direction” Rangers. I don’t think we’ll know until at least a month or two into the season, and suspect we’ll rue the firing of John Tortorella.

  3. Czechthemout!!! on

    Great article Mike! Been arguing the same point for years. It is dangerous on this blog to suggest what you are suggesting. They love them some scrubs here. And if they enjoy even a small amount of success, they want Sather to pay them 3 mill a year (Prust). I would dump every bottom six forward on the team not named Dorsett and maybe Boyle. Although if they can get a second round pick for him, I might dump him too.

  4. Great article Michael. Agree totally, providing that the players have the necessary attributes and defensive awareness to play such a style.

  5. Any news on when this will be announced? Obvs Bettman is worried about it detracting from the Final but its the biggest media market in the U.S. and an Original Six team, nothing like reminding the viewing pubic there is a game on!!

    Any thoughts on his assistants? Will there be a former Ranger player on there like a Beuk (or Messier?)

  6. Good morning, boneheads!

    Good post, Michael. Thanks for contributing to the blog.
    Agree with everything. Having Dorsett allows NY to do what you said. You need to have some size and grit in your bottom 6. LA did have young kids playing that role last year, with Nolan and King contributing offensively, and being able to drop the gloves if needed to. It will all come down to what AV wants to do, and how much trust the kids you mentioned earn.

  7. Nice post Michael. Your breakdown gives me hope in upgrading the bottom of the roster “the right way”. It still leaves the question of defensive depth out there, perhaps another article?

  8. Apparently, the Devils are in financial trouble again. I just posted a link to NYP article, it’s awaiting moderation.

  9. Gift of GAB-orik-ohio-o-Clowe on

    Good morning heads!

    Nice article. We have a glut of centers on this roster. Assuming Richards stays, Richards, brassard, Stepan, Miller, Boyle, plus kids in the system.

  10. Did we trade del zaster yet. Nice article. Still don’t see the bottom
    Six changing a whole lot.

  11. Nice job Mike ! You brought up a host of very interesting ideas, with examples to back them up.
    Torts was quite obviously an experience and grit type coach with his use of Rupp, asham , etc. It would be great to shake some of the young guys and see what we have.

  12. Rangers Report ?@rangersreport 4s

    Rangers’ announcement of Alain Vigneault as coach not likely today. Maybe tomorrow?

  13. The Captain would never do anything like that …

    Wondering if it might have to do with the Canucks possibly hiring Tortorella, and the teams swapping the remainder of their contracts instead of the Rangers simply assuming the rest of Vigneault’s contract.

    or if the NYR want to do it on an off day during the SCF and didn’t want to do it on the weekend.

  14. Gravy, Just Gravy on

    Of course, this all goes by the wayside if Richards is somehow not bought out (which may actually be a possibility now according to LB).

  15. Its a gamble Gravy. They would need Richards to play until his contract expires (to avoid the re-capture penalty) and at a level acceptable to that cap hit. It would be no good if Vigneault re-ignited Richards this season but 2 years down the line he is back to being a liability.
    They could take the risk this season and buy him out next year but the injury risk is too great i think.

    I personally think the buy-out is a no-brainer given Stepan’s progression and the acquisition of Brassard plus Miller, Boyle and possibly Lindberg to fill the bottom 2 roles.

  16. Hagerstown Md Rangers fan on

    Mike this is a well thought out and excellently argued article. Great job. I agree with all that you have said.
    I would love to see how the draft picks fan out. Why draft them if you are only going to continue to sign past their prime underperformers? Let’s hope Vigs sees it that way and shows patience with the growing pains of the kids. It just might pay big dividends in the end.

  17. Exactamundo Carp. He is being bought out – has to be.

    I wonder who the Assistants will be? His #1 guy went to Tampa so presumably an opportunity there for someone like Beuk or, as mentioned with one of the beat writers: Ulf Samuelsson. Also a mention that Kevin Stevens could be a candidate for one role?
    As long as they can coach a powerplay!!

  18. Maybe that was me joking that Slats might hire Kevin Stevens thinking he was John Stevens (kinda like Fred Shero trading for Cam Connor thinking he was getting Colin Campbell). I doubt Kevin Stevens is being considered for anything.

  19. buyout window opens 48 hrs after the cup is won, which will give them anywhere from 7-11 days before the UFA market opens depending how long the final goes on.

    Presumably teams will want to cut guys free before the UFA market opens?

  20. czechthemout!!! on

    Ilb

    I would think he would have a lit of imput on Richards. That said, if they don’t buy him out, it will be the crowning blunder of several blunders by this team’s incompotant GM.

  21. The Rangers need to get some of that edge back and use their speed more.

    Would love to see Viktor Staalberg signed

  22. Hagerstown Md Rangers fan on

    Carp I do remember Cam Conner scoring the game winning goal against the Flyers in a 1981 playoff game. If memory serves the Rangers were down 3-0 after one. Tied it in the second and Conner scored with like 1:50 on the clock. Strange how I can remember this but I’m starting to call my kids by the dogs name.

  23. Cross Check Charlie on

    The buyout of Richards is more of a financial decision that a hockey one. So, I doubt if AV will have significant input on the situation.

  24. UK, not really feeling sorry for him are you? That buy out package is like hitting the lottery.

  25. Writer’s comments have merit to a point, and while it is important to get offensive contributions for bottom six lines as well as 3-4 defensive pairings.

    It is equally important during the regular season to have both grit and legitimate and deterrent toughness.

    Among the prospect forwards you note who fits this description with the size and occasional pugilistic ability to do this?

    Frankly most of the Ranger prospects are “smurfs” and while some may help there is no current outstanding forward or D who fits the label of “can’t miss”!

    Isn’t this the case you make(with disclaimers) for Fast?

  26. Hey UK Ranger…maybe Richards can land a position with the Nottingham Panthers…I have to Notts several times–just never when they were playing at home…would have loved to see a game there.

  27. iWicky "Frag Out!!!" on

    Michael
    Nice right up and I don’t necessarily agree with all of it, but thanks for doing it!

    I think Nolan from LA and lapierre are going to be free agents this summer. I would try like hell to sign them both!!

    Bam-Bam was viggy’s nickname when he played…love it!!

    PA announcer…the New York Rangers coaching staff, head coach Bam-Bam and his assistants the little ball of hate and the big nasty!!!

    That would be perfect

  28. Stranger Nation on

    So we need our bottom 6 to score so we have Miller, Boyle and Euro-rookie on line line.
    Please pass those brownies over here…
    Agree with spending $$ on Dmen, esp given Stahal and Strahahlmann status
    If Richards is not bought out this team has officially went bizarro world on us
    Agree with no old has been retread tough guys who get their buts kicked when wearing blue, but are ‘good’ in the room.
    Peace-out

  29. Nice guest blog, Michael.

    And, Holy Batman, Jeff @ 1:23, Sather’s house is twice mine in price and square footage with half the taxes!

  30. Brass, Moore and Dorsett are keepers. Too bad we didn’t get them for Richards instead of Gabby.

  31. czechthemout!!! on

    What about Max LaPierre and Mason Raymond with Dorsett on the fourth line? Both are Ufa’s and are still in their prime. Raymond can basically play on any line and while he is not big, he is not soft. He is a very goid puck possesion type of player who can fly.

  32. bull dog line on

    the 3rd and 4th lines need to be younger, and more versatile. like the idea of this post.
    I am torn on Richards. I have very little doubt that he is going to have a good season next year. he has a lot to prove, and those are guys you like to have on your team. but, is the risk bigger than the reward. tough call for me.

  33. Cross Check Charlie on

    I think the decision on what to do with Ryan Clowe will impact what else they do on the bottom six.

    If it was me, I would not resign Clowe. He may turn out to be healthy and worth the investment, but after two concussions the third and fourth ones are probably not too far behind.

  34. iWicky "Frag Out!!!" on

    Thanks mama and carp!!!

    Czech
    I absolutely would love lapierre on this team, good size, good speed, loves to hit, gets under the skin of the opposition, good on draws, decent skills for a bottom six guy.

    I’d rather have Nolan from the kings than Raymond, but Raymond has some wheels!

  35. Sioux-per-man on

    Happy Birthday Wicky. Make it a great day, and may all the cards come your way today!!!

  36. the 3rd and 4th lines need to be younger, and more versatile. like the idea of this post.
    I am torn on Richards. I have very little doubt that he is going to have a good season next year. he has a lot to prove, and those are guys you like to have on your team. but, is the risk bigger than the reward. tough call for me.

    ^ ^

    Thanks for saving me the energy i’d spend typing out all those same thoughts, bull.

  37. 26th. birthday,is that a misprint?

    I thought only Carp remained the Dorian Gray of this blog!

    Sans hair of course! ;)

  38. _I am torn on Richards. I have very little doubt that he is going to have a good season next year. he has a lot to prove, and those are guys you like to have on your team._

    Except for the fact that that exact same logic should have played out *this* year, when Richards was coming off a disappointing-relative-to-contract 66 points in 82 games. Cut bait.

  39. Great question, ilb. no wonder our overnight traffic numbers (not to mention g(j)ibberish quotient) are down.

  40. Even if Richards has a 100-point season this year they have to buy him out next spring or be doomed cap-wise until 2020. So if he’s hurt, they’re up a creek sans paddle.

  41. I’ll say this much- with a gun to my head I’d bank on him as come back Ranger of the Year over Clowe if he were to be resigned. Mainly because of health.

  42. Eddie Eddie Eddie!!!!!!!! Eddie Eddie Eddie!!! Perhaps the cheers will bring him back??

  43. Czechthemout!!! on

    I see the Flyers continue to rearange the deck chairs on the Titanic. After signing an ancient Pronger long term and getting burned, and Universe, how can they possibly pay that type of money to a 36 year old dman who towards the end of the season looked to really be slowing down?

  44. If Torts signs with the Canucks (eh?), they will have a better chance to win the Cup…

    After seeing what Torts did with limited skill here in NY and how he turned minor leaguers (i.e. Boyle) into legit NHL’ers….there is NO doubt in my mind, he will make that team’s mindset tougher and he will succeed with more offensive skill than he had here…

  45. Yeah Torts really turned Boyle into a superstar! Boyle would be a #1 center on any team….in the AHL :)

  46. I saw something late last night that looked a lot like Richie Rich eating my geraniums.

  47. Speaking of Slovaks down, let’s keep Central Europe in our thoughts. There’s been some terrible flooding over there.. the tigers in the Prague Zoo had to be tranquilized and evacuated. Poor kitties..

  48. No idea, Papa. That was the organizational plan. I imagine things might have changed with the new coach. To me it’s a terrible, reckless risk to keep him.

  49. Tough for Toews to score when he has a 6-9, 250lb shadow following him on every shift, now that Julien can get Marchand’s nose out there against him as the home team.

  50. ZzZz NYR ZzZz© on

    Happy b-day wickey!!!! Rangers getting a french coach ..what do ya think about that?

  51. Stranger Nation on

    Richards has emerged from the ‘Perfect Storm’ of MSG to retire as a lobster fisherman off the coast of Nova Scotia.

    If you have Clowe and Dorset, you have toughness that can skate and fight.

    The pace of this game tonight is insane – these boys are flying out there.

  52. Slatsko Folkyerself on

    Looks like Boston has a banner for everything but 6th place. That one would hang all the way to the ice.

  53. Come to think of it, maybe Slats thought he was signing Paille when he signed Pyatt…

  54. King with no Ring on

    The Bruins are too talented and forceful. The Blackhawks look terrible because the Bruins are imposing their will. Crawford is keeping his team in the series.

    Olga — —

    Are you still interested in a Lundqvist for Crawford trade? Would you throw in Sharp and a prospect?

  55. King with no Ring on

    Hossa and Handzsus are old. If you want Lundqvist and his exorbitant future salary, along with his playoff ineffectiveness, I must have a talented player in his late 20’s or early 30’s + a prospect.

  56. Olga Folkyerself on

    Sorry, LQ is already 30. Sather’s lack of support for him has sucked some of the life out of him…

  57. King with no Ring on

    I have disliked Jagr since his Pittsburgh days. However, his resurgence with the Bruins is admirable. He has consistently been one of the best players on the ice throughout these playoffs. He maintains possession, creates scoring chances, wins board battles, and plays excellent defense with backchecking.

  58. King with no Ring on

    Olga — —

    You are making the correct decision for the future of your franchise, if you want success in the playoffs.

  59. Olga Folkyerself on

    I’d still want LQ, but I’d have to lose Hossa to put LQ’s Salary under the Cap. Handzus would also make some room. Crawford would be superfluous, so would Emory, You want him too?

  60. Olga Folkyerself on

    Quennville- give ’em Hell. The Hawks need to come out smokin’ in period 3.

  61. Matty "HopeNashIsMonsterInYear2"Boy on

    Wow, this Hawks PP is looking like the Rangers PP vs. Boston……………………………….Hmmmmm……….

    FIRE TORTS!!!!

  62. Matty "HopeNashIsMonsterInYear2"Boy on

    Rask is no Henrique. He just has a great defensive team in front of him.

  63. Don’t give them too much credit, Seedubb. They got PLENTY of looks at the Rangers power play..

  64. Matty "HopeNashIsMonsterInYear2"Boy on

    PRESS RELEASE:

    New York, NY Glen Sather, General Manager of the New York Rangers has determined he will not publicly name a new coach of the New York team.

    “It is an organizational decision not to discuss who will be head coach. There will be no press conference or conference call.”

  65. For a nationally televised Stanley Cup Final game, ice quality was truly and sadly embarrassing.

    NHL should be ashamed

  66. According to Darren Dreger, Vigneault inked a five-year, $10-million deal with the Blue Shirts.

  67. >>…ice quality was truly and sadly embarrassing.

    Hey, it’s hockey in mid June! It won’t get any better.

  68. _Hey, it’s hockey in mid June! It won’t get any better_

    They play hockey in Florida and LA all year long and ice is pretty decent there.

  69. iWicky "Frag Out!!!" on

    Thanks to my Ukrainian friend, samsquatch, nyr, Latona, coos, papa bear, Olga (representing the whole clan I’m sure), and James G for the birthday wishes. I’d be celebrating with beer and hockey if I wasn’t working!!

    Greg l/zzzzzzzzz
    I’m pretty stoked to have a québécois coaching!! Thanks for asking.

  70. I think Tortorella in Italian translates as ‘the little turtle.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  71. Good morning, boneheads!

    This one is far from over. I hope it’s 7 games. Bruins’ defense is suffocating, their forwards provide an excellent puck support, and yet everyone remains on their feet and ready to counterattack. This team has played together for years, and they know each other’s tendencies. It’s a different kind of dump and chase, they know where their partner will be any moment. Stability helps.

  72. Just to reflect on Michael’s post- Bruins 3rd and 4th lines have been killing their opponents since round 1. And they consist of some older players, some “plumbers”, goons, and some young finesse players. But most of them have skill.

    Looks like some teams are locking up their important players ( Datsyuk, Couture). I hope mr. Sather is working on signing/extending of some of his important players.

  73. Matty "HopeNashIsMonsterInYear2"Boy on

    Ilb, that has NOT been his trademark, to lock up key players, that is. He loves the feeling of letting them dangle on FA, let them see what they can get, then returning on hand and knee begging for a job at a salary that is either reduced (which is always what he hopes and prays for) or higher (in the rare case they are a good player, higher) and he loses them.

    Either way, makes him feel good. He’s got the power, ya know.

  74. ilb – if we get a Hank extension in the next few weeks then that confirms Henrik was a key factor in sacking Torts and hiring Vigneault.

    I imagine priorities are: decide on Richards; sign RFA’s to long term deals; extend Hank; draft; kick the tires on UFA’s with whatever’s leftover

  75. Hey Carp

    can you make a new video for the site? I am so sick of looking at Torts’ face when i get on the blog! Just shoot something! Even yourself taking a bath! I’d rather look at that than Torts at this point.

    Thanks!

  76. Well, good morning, everyone! Where were you all this morning? I’ve been trying to keep this place alive for hours……

  77. Matty "HopeNashIsMonsterInYear2"Boy on

    If you look at this Boston team, it is their size, strength, jam, toughness, skill, speed, system, that wins these games. This is a complete team.

    How many guys, the size of Zucc’s or Hags do they have that can check you and you barely even know something happened?

    Sorry, the size and grit issue is real. Let’s bring in Fast(h), and all the other 175 pounders and THINK it will work. It won’t in the playoffs. Just ask gritless teams that bow out year in and year out. Regular season, yes. Playoffs, no.

    It’s not a matter of adding 2 guys that play tough. The lineup needs it in most positions.

    Dream on with the Smurfs…..or big players that have skill that don’t have toughness and grit. (I think Kreider can learn some of that). It doesn’t work.

    But, please, keep changing the coach. It must be the coach!!

    FIRE TORTS!!

    FIRE ALAIN!!!

    FIRE ATNS!!!! (Anyone that’s not Sather)

  78. Matty "HopeNashIsMonsterInYear2"Boy on

    If Richards is not bought out, it will be the worst decision in team history, and we have had many. Even if he is revived for a year or 2, the length of that contract is debilitating. Any GM hates to admit a mistake. This is a big one, and not just because of how he played last year. It’s because of the length.

    Cut him now, or you are the Calgary Flames for years.

  79. Matty "HopeNashIsMonsterInYear2"Boy on

    And, after what we saw last year, does anyone think this guy is a reliable first or second liner ever again??????

  80. I can only see one reason behind keeping Richards and that would be the dearth of good centers available this UFA season. One quick look on capgeek for 2014 and the names get a lot better (Thornton, Sedin, Pavelski, Bolland to name but a few). BUT, the risk he gets injured coupled with the cap recapture formula should be enough to want that contract off the books.

  81. By the way, as he was always a popular choice Zenon Konopka is available next July too.

  82. Richards not being bought out is an epic disaster. He will get injured in the very first game. Count on that. Also, he looks like an old, lazy 4th line Center who isn’t very good at faceoffs and has no grit. Real value there at $6.7M Cap Hit.

  83. Matty, excellent analysis this am.

    At the risk of sounding self serving, I have been posting the same formula for years here and elsewhere.

    Size not smurfs except as super fast and tough Marchand type players.

    Hockey is a grueling ,grinding enterprise and the plain fact is that larger people can take more physical abuse and keep on trucking.

    It’s one of the main reasons Jagr has played so long,and one need only look at how exhausted our defense is late in games.

    The organization simply needs more size and tough, not necessarily goons.

  84. Gravy, Just Gravy on

    _UKRanger_
    _Its a gamble Gravy. They would need Richards to play until his contract expires (to avoid the re-capture penalty) and at a level acceptable to that cap hit. It would be no good if Vigneault re-ignited Richards this season but 2 years down the line he is back to being a liability.
    They could take the risk this season and buy him out next year but the injury risk is too great i think._

    _I personally think the buy-out is a no-brainer given Stepan’s progression and the acquisition of Brassard plus Miller, Boyle and possibly Lindberg to fill the bottom 2 roles._

    _Carp
    could be an organizational disaster if Richards is retained and is injured late in the season._

    Completely agree with these sentiments…just as surprised to see Brooks make the comment that it’s more likely they keep him with AV than if Tort(s) was still here.

  85. LMGO C3. I hear ya on the Torts video every time you come to the site. I just use the Mystery Science Theater method.
    look at the stand still of him talking to the media and just do a voice over to enterain yourself.

    “I hate the media! and I hate all of you! Herbie doesn’t like to make toys! I’ll make this team whatever I want it to be and if any of the player or any of you or my boss don’t like it too ******* bad!!”

  86. Gravy, Just Gravy on

    I don’t think there’s any chance that Richards would make it past next season, but I think it’s a risk to even keep him next season…especially since he has a concussion history.

  87. Rob in Beantown on

    There just isn’t a scenario where it doesn’t make sense to buy Richards out. Even if he has a bounce back year, which wouldn’t surprise me, there’s no way he is worth his cap hit in 2020. Couple that with the risk of longterm injury which would obviously be a disaster for the franchise. The Rangers are lucky they have a compliance buyout to use. Since they only have one left there is literally no other option for how then can use it.

  88. Gravy, Just Gravy on

    I could see Richards and Briere both getting bought out and switching teams. Wonder what the market price will be for each of them, but I think it would be similar.

  89. Brooks is just speculating. It is far from obvious that Richards is playing next year. And even if he is, he’s gone after next season. Yes, there is always a risk of injury, but the risk was there this year too. They took the risk even though it was clear that Richards’ future was determined the moment they agreed on new CBA

  90. But Richards was coming off a career season headed into this season. Now he’s coming off the worst season of his career. That changes things.

  91. Rob in Beantown on

    TSN tweeted last night that the Flyers will buyout Bryzgalov along with Briere. Does anybody else think Bryz wins the Vezina next year?

  92. Then yes. If he goes to the Islanders then he’s definitely winning the Vezina. Maybe the Lightning make a play for him.

    I’m hoping that the Rangers brass understand that Briere = 10 Foot Pole.

    Kovalchuk on the other hand….

  93. Rob in Beantown on

    Yeah, the Devils apparently can’t even make their interest payments, let alone buy out Kovalchuk

  94. Gravy, Just Gravy on

    But, if Briere can be had for 2 years, $5M or 3 years, $6M, does he become 5 foot pole?

  95. Gravy, Just Gravy on

    They would then have to play two goalies…Bryzgalov would duck under shots, and Hank would head them.

  96. Buying out Bryz and signing 35+ old Streit is nothing short of brilliant by the Flys management. I think they can give Slats run for his money for major mismanagement f*** ups.

  97. I think Bryz played his way outta Philly by reading what the reporters say about him in the papers… that really screwed with his already “bigger than Universe” brains…

    shoulda just focused on playing.

  98. Richards for Wellwood straight up??

    Vibin’ in June Manny. Our team can’t do it so we might as well.

    I’d honestly rather take my chances for a year with Stepan #1 (by default?!) and more cap space. At least in that position, if things don’t work out you have some sort of maneuverability via trades to improve things. If you keep that contract and he fails or gets hurt we’re screwed.

    Even if he’s better I don’t know how much of a difference he’ll make overall. Depends on how many people around him he’s going to make that much better. We certainly aren’t losing any size down the middle if he goes.

  99. C3 the funny part is he’ll probably sign on somewhere away from the spot light and be solid in a back up role. That contract and HBO were the worst things for his career.

  100. And Holmgren’s on a roll. Wonder if he’s going to check the availability of Roenick and Amonte next.

  101. Best part about the game is that we are one day closer to a Richards buy out. It simply must happen. He’ll have a great year and we’ll look like fools but I think we would be even bigger fools to hold on and hope for that big year.

    Holmgren is one a small handful of GMs who can give Sather a run for his money as far as bad free agent signings. I think Slats uses him as a yardstick, as in “well its still not as dumb as Holmgren”

  102. Rob in Beantown on

    Bryz will probably be pretty good somewhere for less money and fewer years. 2 years $6M maybe?

  103. Sioux-per-man on

    Vigneault for 5 years. How long until he has the Rangers in the Stanley Cup finals?

  104. At first I was confused about a 5 year contract but I think it had to do with the Rangers matching the offer from Dallas. The other part is, as we can see, coaches get fired all the time and without any relationship to their contract status.

  105. Whew. I’m back. First intermission last night, lightning hits tree across the street, knocks out power, electric wire flaming up in remnants of tree, firetrucks, power trucks, tree trucks and chainsaws all night. Finally got power back. Who won?

  106. @HeleneStJames

    Pavel Datsyuk new 3-year extension is for $7.5 million cap number, $22.5 million.

  107. Carp – only if Vinny’s looking for a 2-3 yr contract and not a massive cap hit.

  108. That is going to be one helluva expensive buyout, Carp. Tampa still owes him (gulp)$45M, so they’ll have to pay him $30M over 14 years.

  109. VL is still 33, I’d take a chance for a 3-4 year contract at reasonable number. Better than anything else out there. There will be no centers available this or next year. Don’t look at this imaginary FA list in 2014. Most of them will get extended, Malkin and Datsyuk already have been.

  110. Boston is doing a number on me and my 4 round predictions. I had Toronto in 7, they had a 3 goal lead with 7 minutes left and Boston did the unthinkable. I had the pens in 6 and Boston sweeps and I had Chicago winning the cup in 7 and that’s not looking good. By the way, rangers aren’t looking so bad now. Chicago’s power play is even worse than the rangers and the hawks are supposed to have a good power play.

  111. Rob in Beantown on

    Watch Boston goes on to win the Cup having only lost one game after beating the Rangers in the ECSF.

  112. Hey Manny, still no Redden sighting, no scratching his name on the cup just yet. (should they win).

  113. vinny would be good for 2-3 mil on a 3 yr deal at most. he wont need a lot from a team because of the buyout. just ask gomez and redden as they made not too much on new deals this past year. 700k. vinny could get 2-3 mil

  114. im hearing matt read to the kings in a package for bernier. pair bernier and mason together in goal in phil with no big cap hit in net which allows for streit deal and the buyout then of bryz and briere

  115. Keep hearing #Kings Bernier will b traded sooner than later. With poss’ Breeze buyout and Leiweke LA link, #Leafs #Flyers front-runners according to kypreos

  116. Sioux-per-man on

    I’m thinking the Krug kid is playing “good enough” to stay in the lineup. Someone on the Defense will have to get hurt for it to happen.

  117. Bobby Clarke, April 1976: “The Russians are the dirtiest players I’ve ever seen.”

  118. I think you’re right Sioux, Krug is going to play. Defensively not the greatest but what a threat offensively and gets tons of PP time. One bonehead called it and maybe it was you? They said Krug will not score again once they got through the Rangers series, so far so true.

  119. Edmonton Oiler’s forward on what got him an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty:
    “I just told him to drop the ?%^& puck. I didn’t suggest his mother had swum after troop ships or anything.”

    Messier, Jan. ’86

  120. The LA Kings’ coach on why he installed defenseman Sean O’Donnell in front of the opponent’s net during a recent power play :
    “I turned everyone around and looked for the biggest butt and said ‘Go stand in front’.”
    — Larry Robinson – December 1998

  121. iWicky "Frag Out!!!" on

    Still 10 ft pole on briere…like it was stated earlier, no to smallish players!

  122. Carp, glad you still have your sharp sense of humor after listening to chain saws all night. :)

  123. No idea what’s going on behind Slats’ curtain, Wick. But it would be a huge mistake to not buy him out.

  124. Here is an excerpt from Down Goes Brown, they posted a great spoof on the coaching questionnaire sent out by the Rangers. Hope its okay to cut and paste this snippet here, its pretty funny and thought youse might get a chuckle.

    What do you like best about the current New York Rangers organization?
    ( ) Notice you have decided to go with one and only one starting goalie; kind of wish my old boss had thought of that.
    ( ) Love Ryan McDonagh’s two-way game, and sure hope we have more guys like him being developed by our farm team in Montreal.
    ( ) Really like the way you always keep your “Days since we last employed Sean Avery” sign updated.

  125. Someone should throw a massive offer sheet at Henrique of NJD. Either they lose him or the team is put under further financial stress.. I’d love it either way.

  126. So we’re keeping Richards and signing Lecavalier? good trade bait for the Sedin’s straight up if Torts gets the job in Vancouver.

  127. Heard somewhere that Sully wasn’t retained and Shonnie, while still here, relinquished his Asst. Coach title. Guess it would be up to Vinegar to make that decision.

  128. How Tortorella could have been so down on Gabby and so blind with Richie boggles the mind.

  129. Good call, Carp. Brassard. God. Could this team get any softer?

    WHERE IS AVERY!?

    (S)

  130. If the Phlyers get Bernier….wow. He’s pretty good (so far as a backup in limited starts)

  131. So, *if* the Lightning pull a Rangers and buy out their Capt., why would Vinny LeCav sign for less than $5M? He’s not that old, his Point production is still very solid (50+) and he’s probably a top 30 Centre and he’s a big guy that will drop the gloves from time to time.

  132. “People try to put us d-down
    (Talkin’ ’bout my generator)
    Just because we get around
    (Talkin’ ’bout my generator)
    Things they do look awful c-c-cold
    (Talkin’ ’bout my generator)
    I hope I die before I get old
    (Talkin’ ’bout my generator)”

  133. You can take a rat out of the swamp but you can’t take the swamp out of a rat..

  134. Manny you’re correct, sir. Several teams would be able to give him more cash most notably Toronto and Montreal- two teams likely to covet him.

  135. If the only casualty of the lockout is the New Jersey Devils then I might have to admit that the lockout was worth it.

  136. Oh and while we’re talking UFAs- let it be known that I would rather be locked in a dark room with a rabid mountain lion that’s high on crystal meth after rolling around in brown gravy for an hour rather than see this team sign Briere

  137. If you’re in that closet with that rabid lion and Briere and have a pistol with only two bullets, shoot Briere twice.

  138. Briere is a single father of three. No way he moves to NYC. That has disaster written all over it.

  139. Just found out that my new Apartment’s cable provider is OPTIMUM. More money for Dolan.

  140. well, at least it helps keep ticket prices down … or maybe not …

    or look at it another way. you’re helping to fund Richards’ golden parachute.

  141. When all is said and done, our team, our NEW YORK CITY RANGERS, are gonna be nothing more than a bunch of sissy-accented, mime dressing, war surrendering, monkey organ grinding, calf’s brain eating, chain smoking, Americain hating, NYC girl shtupping, no powerplay scoring, French Canadian millionaires secretly yearning to get traded to Montreal

  142. Baseball has a “luxury tax” supposedly to keep a competitive balance, yet money collected ironically does not go to small market teams, but rather to the “Industry Growth Fund” to “promote the game around the world.” While I rarely give Dolan credit for anything, I think he would pay that tax if he could deliver a Cup to NY.

  143. Kanye West should be our new coach and power play point man, if we all want dopeness

  144. HABS FANS: “Dupuis was signed for 4 years 24 million..he’s still going to be able to score 30g without Crosby right?….right?”

  145. We need a big Slovak 50 goal winger whose only words in English are “Feed Me!”

  146. Just to set the record straight

    Boston squad over 200lbs

    Milan Lucic 6’4″ 220
    Nathan Horton 6’2″ 229
    Zdeno Chara 6’9″ 255
    Daniel Paille 6′ 200
    Dennis Seidenberg 6’1″ 210
    Jaromir Jagr 6’3″ 240
    Shawn Thornton 6’2″ 217
    Johnny Boychuk 6’2″ 225

    3 top 6 forwards
    2 bottom 6 forwards
    3 defensemen

    that faced Rangers squad over 200lbs

    Rick Nash 6’4″ 216
    Ryan McDonagh 6’1″ 213
    Dan Girardi 6’2″ 215
    Taylor Pyatt 6’3″ 232
    Derek Brassard 6’1″ 202
    John Moore 6’3″ 202
    Bryan Boyle 6’7″ 244
    Chris Kreider 6’3″ 230
    Steve Eminger 6’2″ 203
    Aaron Asham 5’11” 205
    Darroll Powe 5’11” 212

    3 top 6 forwards (including the occasional Kreider)
    4 bottom 6 forwards
    4 defensemen

    From Hockeydb and this does not include Staal
    Myth Busted
    Without any explosions, I might add.

    http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/leagues/seasons/nhl19272013.html

  147. iWicky "Frag Out!!!" on

    Aneirin
    That was nice work, however I disagree about attitude and temperament of the over 200 club. They are basically smurfs in 200+ lb packages!

  148. iWicky "Frag Out!!!" on

    If you don’t have the malice and attitude to go with 200+ lbs, you might as well weigh 175lbs.

  149. I seriously question those physical stats on Girardi, Brass, Kreider, Asham and Powe, for starters.

  150. Hey, someone actually expressed a novel idea.

    Let’s play with no goalies………………then we’ll see just how important that back stabbing Swedish meatball is! ;)

  151. Coos, Krieder is supposed to be 6’3″ and 220 but watching him he plays like a Nash. That would be the hockey player not the car!

    We want someone from the Lucic family,doesn’t he have any brothers who play?

  152. Carp, but how about Milan’s 240 with attendant muscle and mean?

    As they say in the boxing ring , the good big man always beats the good little man.

    Better if we had both.

  153. Wait a minute Carp that’s a 684lb. hockey player.

    He would have to be a goalie!

  154. Czechthemout!!! on

    Carp

    Agree on Cally!

    The Rangers are not a small team, they are a somewhat soft team. We have guys who are small but play a lot tougher than their size.

    Hags for instance, wins most of the battles along the boards that he is involved in, Boyle does not. Pyatt does to a degree. Powe stinks! Not worth more than two words.

    That is why I talk about a guy like Fast as playing bigger than his size. I watched the WJC whe both he and Lindberg played for them. Lindberg also plays with an edge. And he has decent size too.

    As for Kreider, his physical game is coming around real well. Recall the sequence in game five in Boston when on one shift he hit Horton,Seidenberg,and Boychuck six times! In one shift!

  155. Check out the 19 Sept dog walk pictures. Bickel, listed at 6’4, 210 dwarfs the Kreider, who’s listed as 6’3, 230. Matter of fact, he’s not too much larger than Stepan, 6’0 190.

  156. Czechthemout!!! on

    You guys want to see Lindberg’s physical ability? Go to youtube, type in his name and look at the second video.

    iWicki

    You will especially like it.

  157. Agree on Callahan over Powe, Pyett & Boyle but having a light frame you wear down much quicker than the bigger players. He’s 150 per cent heart. Just playing the time he played with a injured shoulder is remarkable. I remember the night when an opposing player almost pulled Callahan arm from it’s socket. All heart

  158. I believe “Zuccarello” translates to “baby pumpkin”. Pound for pound, that pumpkin packs more toughness than most of the guys that are 200+ lbs…

  159. Czechthemout!!! on

    I agree with the sentiment on Zucc. Might be the toughest guy on the team pound for pound.

  160. Agree that Rangers have too many “mushy” players. Need more snarl to win in this league. Look at the Bruins. Actually, NYR learned that lesson with Prust and Co.

  161. Ryan Callahan is the toughest guy on the team, pound for pound or whole for whole or anything for anything.. not to take anything away from Zucc..

  162. Not sure if by tough we’re talking about guys who can play hurt and be ballsy or guys that can deal out some punishment while still playing really well.

    We have plenty of the first group- McD Girardi Cally Zucc…Not so much of the latter group. Would like to see some physically over powering dmen brought in rather than more Ashams or Rupps

  163. Rich Winter, Ilya Bryzgalov’s agent has been informed by Paul Holmgren that Bryzgalov will NOT be bought out after Cup Final! #flyers
    Retweeted by Nick Kypreos

  164. On buyouts, gut feel right is #Rangers do not use it on Richards and give him another yr. Both NY and #Flyers can use amnesty B.O next yr… kypreos

  165. According to two NHL sources not associated with the Flyers, CSNPhilly.com is hearing that Anaheim is listening to offers for Bobby Ryan and Philadelphia is interested.
    One source said that there’s still “a lot to be worked out,” but one scenario could see Braydon Coburn and the 11th overall pick in the 2013 draft going to Anaheim for Ryan. It’s not uncommon for the Flyers to be mentioned in several trade rumors, but this off-season could be busy for them since they failed to make the playoffs and they have a difficult cap situation.
    Related: Flyers
    Source: CSN Philadelphia
    Jun 18 – 8:09 PM

  166. The Philadelphia Flyers and Los Angeles Kings have discussed a Jonathan Bernier trade, a league source confirmed to the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Sam Carchidi.
    The Kings drafted Bernier in the first round in 2006 with the intention of making him their franchise goalie, but the development of Jonathan Quick has made Bernier, a pending RFA, expendable. The Flyers have been linked to Bernier before and are currently in the midst of another goalie crisis. As of now, the team plans to have Ilya Bryzgalov and Steve Mason battle for the job, but Bryzgalov appears destined for a buyout. In that scenario, acquiring Bernier and having him battle Mason would make a lot of sense. The Kings have reportedly mentioned young forwards Sean Couturier and Matt Read in talks with the Flyers, which could be a hefty price for Philly to pay.
    Related: Sean Couturier, Matt Read, Flyers
    Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
    Jun 18 – 6:47 PM

  167. This was an avantage numerique……7 of 11 in a playoff series vs devils sans Marty of course

  168. Daniel Briere has reportedly been told by the Philadelphia Flyers that he will be bought out, according to team sources.
    He will be given a compliance buyout 48 hours after the Stanley Cup Finals is over, which is when those transactions can start occurring. If the Washington Capitals can’t retain the services of Mike Ribeiro, who might be heading for unrestricted free agency, then Briere could be an option there.
    Source: CSN Philadelphia
    Jun 18 – 8:39 PM

    flyers moving on things. somehow they will mess things up

  169. God evening all! I’m willing to give Viggy a chance….do we have choice?

    Ulfie! I would love to see back…

    Will the Hawks please step up!!!! Olga!!!!

  170. When is Lundqvist allowed to sign an extension? Seems like other teams and players are getting this done…what’s the hold up?

    Does he want to see if he made the right choice in having Tortorella terminated from his job before signing?

    I want to know what the hold up is.

  171. Insider Trading on TSN

    How challenging will it be to get the New York Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist extended, and what kind of money will it cost?

    McKenzie: It’s going to be big money. Lundqvist is a franchise player and the Rangers rely heavily on him. Negotiations for a new contract have not started. He has a year left on his existing deal, but the Rangers want to get that locked up. It is expected that general manager Glen Sather and the agent for Lundqvist, Don Meehan, are likely to meet some time in or around the draft in Newark at the end of the month. What kind of money are we talking about? Well, Malkin just signed for $9.5 million per year extension and I think Lundqvist views himself as the same sort of franchise player with the Rangers. Now, the highest paid goaltender in the NHL is Nashville’s Pekka Rinne at $7 million a year. I’m sure the Rangers are going to say any dollar figure over $7 million means you’re going to have a tougher time having Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi and Staal in front of you. Whatever money we spend on you is money we don’t have for other people. But by the same token, I think they understand his value so it’s going to be an interesting and fascinating dynamic to see how high the metre goes.

  172. What’s the latest on the potential contract buyout for Rangers’ Brad Richards?

    McKenzie: No decision has been made on the buyout but right now if I had to guess, I would suggest that the Rangers perhaps are going to wait a year on the potential buyout and see if Alain Vigneault can push the buttons to get his game back at a high level.

  173. Not really enjoying all the buyout Richards next summer chatter. This is the summer it should happen

    The summer of George!

  174. i think i should pay a visit to the Richards la casa… you know… bring my check coat with me…knock some sense into the guy… ask him “politely” to retire.

  175. Lundquist allows too many goals off deflections and screens. Dump him. We can continue to not win the Stanly Cup without him.

  176. Jimmy Dolan’s 19 year old son: “Dad, can I coach the hockey team?”

    “Wait until Sather goes, we’ll see what we can do.”

  177. Matty "HopeNashIsMonsterInYear2"Boy on

    MacKenzie is surrounded by guys that think Torts was wrong for benching him the last 2 PO games. He has no idea how bad Richards was.

  178. Matty "HopeNashIsMonsterInYear2"Boy on

    ONLY reason Sather doesn’t buy out Richards in a week or so is that he’s afraid he is going to make another stupid move!!!!!

    OK, perhaps he should wait on the whole Richards buyout thing.

  179. While this is a GREAT idea in theory, the team’s roster and cap space don’t seem to give us the ability to do so.

    We likely will Have Nash, Cally, Step, Hags, Zucs, Brassard, Dorsett, Boyle, Kreider, Miller with guaranteed spots. That leaves two open spots, to play 4th line minutes with Boyle or Miller.

    Asham is making 1 mil for each of next two years, and this assumes that we buy out richie too. Just not enough cap space or roster space.

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