Rangers Roundup: Grabner’s play, Skjei’s rise, Gorton GM of the year, and more
Happy Friday everybody! It’s gameday, as our New York Rangers make way into Columbus in a battle of the blue outerwear. It’s been a while since I shared some of my thoughts so I figured I’ll come with a few quick takes from the last week or so:
Case Of The Spasms
I’ve made this comment a few times on twitter, as well as the blog. In hockey, and particularly with the New York Rangers, the medical staff tends to be extremely vague when describing the exact nature of player injuries. This season the Rangers have had multiple players (Girardi, Kreider 2x, Buchnevich 2x) sit out games due to what they are labeling as back and neck spasms. Seems to me like it’s just another way of not disclosing any real information, but if it persists could longtime fan favorite Jim Ramsay have some explaining to do? Luckily enough, it looks like Kreider will be back tonight against the Blue Jackets.
Jeff Gorton: GM of the Year?
I know there’s a lot of season left, and being in a market like Broadway does nothing to help his cause, but boy does GM Jeff Gorton look like a genius. We all know the Vesey signing stole the spotlight of the offseason, however, locking up homegrown stars Chris Kreider, JT Miller, and Kevin Hayes ALL to team friendly contracts is really going to allow him the wiggle room to make the moves necessary down the stretch. The trade front may be seeming quiet right now, but I won’t be surprised if and when Gorton pulls off one of the bigger splashes of the deadline, probably in the form a top-4 RHD.
Grabner Has No Quit
Shouldn’t the goals have dried up by now?! I’ve been holding off on commenting about Michael Grabner‘s team leading 10 goals because I assumed the moment I brought it up he’d go cold (fingers crossed), but now he’s playing on the top line. His speed is perfect for this team and pretty much any other team looking to make the playoffs. He’s done a great job of finally giving the Rangers a (better?) replacement to Carl Hagelin, and even when he does cool off his two way game will continue to make him an asset on the bottom-6.
Perhaps the only move of this past offseason that Rangers fans can be unhappy with Jeff Gorton for was his inability to move around assets and/or contracts in order to retain Keith Yandle. Luckily for us Brady Skjei has done his best to ease our pain and prove that management was correct in prematurely naming him as a candidate to pick up the slack left behind by Yandle’s departure. Although he does not have a goal yet on the season, young Skjei is second on the defense to just captain Ryan McDonagh with 10 assists (2 on the power play). Skjei has taken on a larger role in the defensive end as well, pairing on the right side when asked, and logging tough top-4 minutes. Meanwhile, Florida continues to shuffle around Keith Yandle (0G, 8A, 3PPP), refusing to pair him with kid phenom Aaron Ekblad.
One last thought, it was great to see Sam “The Nose” Rosen get honored with a plaque in the hockey hall of fame. His place in New York Rangers and hockey history, along with his patented “It’s a power play goal!” will be remembered for years to come. Be on the lookout for my guest appearance on the Point to Point, a Florida Panthers podcast, as we discuss the New York Rangers weekends matchup in South Florida!
Tonight’s score projection: Rangers 4, Blue Jackets 1