Kessel A' Comin'...

Though Dany Heatley has been one of the "rumored Rangers" much of this offseason, there's only one guy that Glen Sather should be looking at... Boston's Phil Kessel. He is a young, dynamic, goal scoring right wing who can also play center. The 21-year-old led the Bruins last year with 36 goals in only 70 games. He's a restricted free agent but Boston is completely capped out and unlikely to make room for him before October 1st, when all teams must be under $56.8 million. Kessel would fit perfectly into John Tortorella's system with his speed and defensive responsibility finishing +23 last year.

Kessel will command $5 mil a year though he's coming back from shoulder surgery and won't play til November. Can Sather create the space? The answer is... he has to. Phil Kessel is the player the Rangers are missing. Put him on a line with Marian Gaborik and you could have a monkey center them... it wouldn't matter. The two would combine to be one of the more lethal 1-2 punches in the league... and the Rangers instantly become Stanley Cup contenders.

Move Michal Rozsival... move Brandon Dubinsky... Move whoever you have to to get Phil Kessel in a Rangers uniform.


Seidenberg Shopping?

Steve Zipay of Newsday is reporting that Dennis Seidenberg's agent is talking seriously with the Rangers and Florida. Seidenberg blocked 160 shots last year and was second on the Carolina Hurricanes defense with 146 hits. He made $1.2 million last year and is looking for a 3 year deal. Sather has done just a fantastic job with judging free agent defenseman and the correct amount to pay them (see Redden, Rozsival-- RIDICULOUS). Here's a thought... you could... theoretically... allow the stable full of young prospects the chance in camp to make the team before looking elsewhere. Oh and you might want to locate a Number 1 Center at some point.


Dubinsky's Worth...

Still quiet on the Brandon Dubinsky contract front and you can't help but wonder... what is the hold up? Though the Rangers only have a few million left under the cap, they should be able to get a deal done unless Dubinsky is asking for more than he deserves. After an impressive rookie season of 40 points he followed up with 41 last season. Ryan Callahan, recently rewarded with $2.3 million, only had 40 . Perhaps Dubinsky feels he should get the same type of deal... I'm going to tell you why he shouldn't.

Don't get me wrong, I love Dubinsky. He's a gritty player who plays with his heart on every shift. He's exactly the type of player the Rangers, their fans, and John Tortorella want as part of the core of this team. But how big is his upside? Are we expecting that he'll be a 100 point Center? I don't see it. Here's some comparable players to Brandon Dubinsky and what they're making:

RW Colby Armstrong, Atlanta-
22 G, 18 A, 40 PTS---- $1.2 a year (just signed)
C Steve Ott, Dallas-
19 G, 27 A, 46 PTS---- $1.4 a year
C Curtis Glencross, Calgary-
13 G, 27 A, 41 PTS---- $1.2 a year
C Eric Belanger, Minnesota-
13 G, 23 A, 36 PTS---- $1.75 a year

These players are of all of the same age group and potential of Dubinsky. The Rangers shouldn't offer more than a couple of years at no more than $1.3. He should take it as an opportunity to prove he's worth more
. Otherwise he can play this year for $698,500. At this point it's also possible the Blueshirts are waiting til the season starts to work on a long term deal that won't effect this year's cap... which is probably the best play.


Scotty Don't!!! We'll Miss you???

Much was expected when Scott Gomez signed his gigantic contract with the Rangers in 2007. He was viewed as a young leader who could explode given the freedom to play HIS style of game. A style many believed he was prevented from playing in New Jersey. Dominant on the puck with impressive speed, stick-handling ability and vision on the ice... the power play quarterback the Rangers had sought since the departure of Brian Leetch. Now with the opportunity to play with one of the best wingers in NHL history in Jaromir Jagr, the sky was the limit. No doubt the Rangers had found their number 1 Center for the foreseeable future...

Yeah... about that...

In Gomez' two seasons with the Blueshirts he did show flashes of all those things but could never put it all together. Nor did he click with Jagr, who quickly turned into everyone's reason why the Rangers were unsuccessful. Turning the team over to new leaders Chris Drury and Gomez was the answer right? Well that happened too... and the result? Not good. Gomez did lead the team with 58 points last year including 3 goals and 14 assists on the power play. Certainly not numbers worthy of his status as a number 1 or his $7+ million a year contract. Yes he could transport the puck but had an uncanny ability to make his teammates wait for him, eventually dragging them offsides with ill advised moves at the blue line. The most difficult and least likely to succeed pass on the ice would be the first one he would attempt. His turnovers just inside the opposition's blue line constantly hung his teammates out to dry.

Quite frankly, it's a mystery how GM Glen Sather was able to move him for more than a bag of pucks and maybe a stick or two. Sather has been under constant scrutiny more for his contracts than his trades but if you asked me if I'd move Scott Gomez for Marian Gaborik and Christopher Higgins, both with something to prove and I'd do that deal everyday and 9 times on Sunday. Throw in defensive prospects Ryan McDonagh and Pavel Valentenko and you've gotta be kidding me... 38 times on Sunday.

The potential of Scott Gomez was that of a go to guy. His desire and work ethic limited him to be a decent number 2 or 3 center man, only one time eclipsing the 80 point mark
in 9 seasons. That's what Scott Gomez is... what he has been... and what he will be. The Rangers and their fans will miss him dearly until Marian Gaborik pumps in his first goal against the Penguins on October 2nd.


The Captain Returns... Prospal Arrives... Dubinsky moving?

Mark Messier is returning to the Rangers as a special assistant to Glen Sather. Messier has been pretty open about his desire to work for the Blueshirts and this could be the perfect situation for him. Obviously he will not be under the pressure to perform as he would if he landed a head coaching job. He is without question one of the greatest leaders in sports and it will be great to have him back in the organization. Though it's unclear what his day-to-day duties will be he has said he'll be attending the prospects tournament in Michigan before arriving at camp. Messier now gets a chance to learn from the first man to coach him in the NHL.

Larry Brooks of the New York Post is reporting that the Rangers have signed Vaclav Prospal to a one year $1.1 million dollar contract. He adds some depth and scoring at a steal of a price. Prospal had 19 goals and 26 assists last year. He's definitely a "Tortorella guy" having his best year under him with 25 goals and 55 assists in 2005-2006. Prospal could be an option at center for Marian Gaborik if Brandon Dubinsky isn't up to the challenge... or even playing here.

Speaking of which, Brooks also reported that talks with Dubinsky on a long-term deal have cooled. Unless he gets an offer sheet elsewhere he'll be playing for the $698,500 qualifier this year. Might not be a bad move for cap purposes and they can always sign him during the season to a multi-year deal. But don't be surprised if he's included in a deal for Dany Heatley.


Zherdev Bolts...

TSN recently reported that Nikolai Zherdev was set to sign in the KHL but can you really blame Glen Sather for walking away? Zherdev tied for the club league in points last year with 58 in 82 games. His career stats are on the same type of pace with 239 points in 365 NHL contests. Not exactly staggering stats for a supposed first line winger. It could be argued that the players he played with weren't of his caliber however that is not the issue with Nikolai. He has been widely regarded as an enigma and deservedly so. He has every tool to be an amazing hockey player including skating, stick handling, a great shot and the ability to score... The catch is he excels at these things when he feels like it. A catch that Head Coach John Tortorella picked up on almost immediately upon taking over for Tom Renney at the end of last year.

Zherdev played 21 games for Tortorella scoring 7 goals and 6 assists and ultimately wound up getting benched. The playoffs got no better for Zherdev as he played in all 7 games and didn't record a single point. It wasn't even the scoring that was the problem so much as his unwillingness to grind it out and make plays. He played that way all season but it was magnified in the playoffs when you HAVE to play with desire and heart. He was all but invisible in the series against the Capitals.

This offseason Zherdev felt he was worth $4.75 million as opposed to the $3 million the Rangers qualified him at. It's been speculated that his number was purposely high to free him to go to the KHL, and not belong to the Rangers if he returns. Through arbitration Zherdev was awarded $3.9 million which the Blueshirts walked away from. I can't imagine a team silly enough in the NHL to give those kinds of numbers for a second to third line caliber player who shows up when he want to. Zherdev's skills are undeniable to the point teams find themselves saying 'If I can only get this guy with the right players...' This may have been what Glen Sather did when he traded Fedor Tyutin and Cristian Backman for Zherdev and Dan Fritsche.

Critics of Sather now complain that the Rangers have nothing to show for this trade and gave up a promising young defenseman. To that I say easy on the Fedor Tyutin-Bobby Orr comparisons. Tyutin is a solid number 4-6 defenseman. He is not a game changer nor will he ever be. Not to mention Sather has more than replaced him compiling a stable full of young defenseman ready to step in and challenge for the two spots presumably available this year. (See Matt Gilroy, Bobby Sanguinetti, Michael Del Zotto, Sean McDonagh etc.)

The Blueshirts took a chance on Zherdev and everyone knew that going into it. Players can be taught a lot of things but heart, passion and desire are not among them. The Rangers needed scoring. He provided some. He didn't provide enough. He just never gave enough.



Hello all,
My name is Timmy Cassese and I was born and raised in New York. I have been a Ranger fan all my life and finally have decided to cover the team during the coming 2009-2010 season and beyond. It's an exciting opportunity to be able to cover the team I grew up watching and continue to love. I will do everything I can to bring every issue of this team to light and break them down. My posts will deal with everything including coaching decisions, personnel decisions, playing time, power play and whatever else this team deals with on a day-to-day basis this year. Look for my first post in the coming days as we look forward to this coming season...

Thank you,