For Rangers, 2015-16 season has already begun
It is still hard to believe the Rangers season is really over. They played their butts off but were hit with bad luck injuries to key players and mostly to the team’s biggest strength, the defense. Not all was bad this season on Broadway, as young players took on prominent roles on the NHL roster this season.The Rangers got big contributions from young players
Jesper Fast won a roster spot after a very impressive training camp last fall. Rangers Head Coach, Alain Vigneault could not stop talking about how quick he was. However, an adjustment to the North American ice surface was really needed, and slowly his role was increased. Alain Vigneault moved Fast from a productive third line and onto the second line with Chris Kreider and Derek Stepan during the playoffs. That line was one of the Rangers more productive line combos and many of the plays were created by Fast himself.
J.T. Miller was moved around a lot during the Eastern Conference Finals and the playoffs in general. He did not have a very good series against the Washington Capitals and had some mental lapses that led to some grade A scoring chances against and AV’s confidence in Miller fluctuated. Miller hung in there as did Alain Vigneault and he was given his chance to play with stronger linemates. He was the bet replacement I saw for Mats Zuccrello since he went down with injury.
Kevin Hayes took a spot on the Rangers in a position he never played and was slow coming along. When it he finally adjusted he led the Rangers in points for the second half of the season. So obviously these are things to be proud of and look forward to.
The Rangers season is over but for management it’s business as usual!
The Rangers management team led by Glen Sather will shift gears, looking at ways they can improve. For this Rangers squad that had such a promising year, the next season begins now. On Monday management pulled the trigger on a deal with the very team that sent them home for the summer sending defenseman Daniel Walcott to TB for a seventh round pick.
The move signals a belief that Brady Skjei is close to taking his next steps as a pro. It also show the Rangers are trying to get a head start on this year’s draft which many feel is the best in over a decade. Names Like McDavid and Eichel lead the headlines but there’s many other high end prospects both North American and European. Some that could’ve been top 5 picks in prior draft years.
A rare 19-year-old rookie in the QMJHL, Walcott stepped in to fill a big role in his first year of junior hockey. Despite his inexperience, he played a mature game with poise befitting his age. Contributing at both ends of the ice with a physical edge to his game, Walcott’s puck-moving skills are top notch. (Hockeys Future)
The Rangers will need to resign their RFA’s to contracts with little money to work with.
For the Rangers there are free agent issues that will eventually need attention. Such as pending RFA’s Derek Stepan and Carl Hagelin who are both due hefty raises. If the upper limit of the salary cap is the $71.5M many predict, then the Rangers will have around $12M give or take.
J.T. Miller and Jesper Fast are also RFA’s but should be fairly cost controlled for the next couple seasons at the least. These four players are the Rangers primary business in free agency. That likely makes Martin St. Louis a casualty of the new CBA and the slow rising salary cap. The truth is that the Rangers are going to be hard pressed this summer.
Will the Rangers be able to keep role players like Sheppard and Hunwick?
Other notable although unrestricted free agents are James Sheppard and Matt Hunwick who both played well in their roles. Especially Matt Hunwick who filled in admiirably whenever needed during the season and even played well in the game 7 loss to the Bolts.
I think the Rangers make an attempt to keep Hunwick to another 1 year contract but he may want to get a top 6 job elsewhere and in my opinion, he’s earned it. James Sheppard came with a $1.3 million cap hit which is reasonable but given the limited space the Rangers have to work with, they may not be able to afford either player.
Prospects on the rise.
The Rangers have some prospects in Hartford that played extremely well in the Calder Cup Finals for the Rangers AHL affiliate, the Wolf Pack. Oscar Lindberg is chomping at the bit to get to the NHL and I’m sure he’ll have his best chance at camp next fall. Brady Skjei and Marek Hrivick had a great Calder playoffs as well and will likely attend Rangers camp in September!
The player the Rangers will be mulling over for the next few weeks until the draft on June 26th and 27th is Cam Talbot. He was set to become an UFA this summer but the Rangers felt a team in need of a goaltender, like Edmonton may go hard after him as a free agent.
Sather offered Talbot a multi year contract to stay in NY to which he turned down. He wants a shot at being a number one somewhere and he has shown he has the ability to do it. So this past December, the Rangers and Talbot agreed to a one year extension. This gave Talbot more financial security and the Rangers a chance to turn a real asset into at the very least a draft pick this summer.
With the Rangers holding no first round picks this year or next, it would be nice to score a mid to late first round pick for Cam Talbot. Talbot (27) played in 36 games this season posting a GAA of 2.21 and a Sv% of .926. For his NHL career in 57 games played he holds a very respectable .931 Save percentage and a GAA of 2.00. Since he’s in his prime with a good amount of NHL games under his belt, their should be a few teams in the mix for netminders services. He is definitely a goalie a team like Buffalo or Edmonton would want to begin building a contender around. Both teams have (2) first round picks in this month’s draft.
Edmonton owns the first overall pick as well as the 16th pick from the Pittsburgh Penguins in the trade they made for David Perron. If Edmonton wants Talbot that badly it should be feasable for Glen Sather to come up with a package of Talbot and a pick or prospect for that 16th pick. A player in this draft that would fit well right into the Rangers style of play would be Timo Meier. He’s a gritty 2-way right-wing that can play on any line. He’s ranked tenth among North American Skaters but at 6’1″ 210lbs he’s a big kid with a ton of skill and plays a responsible defensive game.
A physically dominant winger with the ability to play in a skill or character role. In the offensive end, Meier is very aware and gets himself into spaces where he can easily make seeing eye passes or snap hard, accurate shots. Can impact the game in a number of different ways, and is very consistent in his efforts. All-in-all, the kind of versatile player that you can put on a skill line, and trust to create dangerous chances, or on a shutdown line, and trust to help stop pucks from going into your net.
(Curtis Joe, EP 2014 TIMO MEIER)
There is a lot of talent in this draft and getting a first round pick for Cam Talbot should be Glen Sather’s top priority before free agency officially begins. Now many fans and pundits may feel Talbot is worth no more than a second or third round pick. If that’s the case then maybe Sather can swing a trade involving a good young right-winger. The Rangers are too heavily left handed as I’ve noted ad nauseum. I
The Rangers $12M in cap room should be enough to keep their young core players on Broadway. Will there be enough space to fill out the roster with bottom six players to replace whoever is not retained? Will their be trades that change the dynamic of this team after another playoff failure? These answers will be coming very soon.