Sunday, January 9, 2011

Jamie Benn Shows Cam Baker School's In On Sunday (Video)

If you thought school was closed on Sunday's you would not be alone, but someone forgot to tell Jamie Benn that as he taught Cam Barker a lesson by dragging the puck through his legs on the rush and then finished the play with a beautiful wrist shot past Jose Theodore for the goal. 

Frolov Out For Year; Kris Newbury Gets the Call, But Is He The Right Choice?

Once again the New York Rangers are dealing with an injury, this time to Alex Frolov who hurt his knee in the third period of last night’s game.  There has been no official diagnosis or timetable released on the injury, but per Larry Brooks, the injury is likely out for a while with the knee and that another recall will be necessary.  Frolov looked to be severely injured on the play and was helped off the ice, but then miraculously came back out for another shift in which he was true to the Rangers team identity in attempting to block shots even while injured.  The focus today though is not on Frolov but which Connecticut Whale players are on the list as the next call.  For me it does depend on the role they expect out of the newest callup as they could go with someone who is more physical or those who are more offensively skilled.
Update: The Rangers have decided to go with veteran Kris Newbury. Newbury, 28, has 5 goals and 30 assists in his 41 games this season and can mix some skill with a more grinding game so he is a very good choice for a fourth line type role.   Newbury's offensive totals in Hartford are somewhat inflated by a tremendous December in which he had a line of 3-13-16 in just 12 games while in January he has cooled to register just one point in five games.

Newbury also has some NHL experience which saw him play 48 games which saw him score four goals and have three assists.  I was under the impression he was subject to waivers, which might be incorrect, or it might be that the Rangers see no issue in his getting through by making this move.

Update 2 (7:08 PM): Andrew Gross is reporting that Frolov is done for the season with a Torn ACL, sprained MCL and medial meniscus tear.  Having that report only furthers my praise for Frolov's attempt to come back and play on the knee during the game last night.  More on the fallout tomorrow.

With Frolov being out for the year it makes me like the move to bring up Newbury over a Dupont even more because as Smurf said in the comments there is very little upside to Newbury and now you have a potential roster spot open for the rest of the season.  Also you are putting a burden on Sean Avery to be a consistent source of good play, which is a gamble all on its own.

Below is the way I would have gone about choosing a replacement if you are still interested.

I understand the immediate fan fascination is with whether it will Evgeny Grachev as he is the most recognizable name for many in the fan base that is still down with the Whale.  Grachev has certainly played better of late and is producing more with two goals and two assists in the five games this month.  On the season his numbers are still paltry with a line of 6-5-11 in 35 games and he did not really show anything in his previous appearance in New York that makes me clamor for him to come back right now.  With Zuccarello and Weise up here Grachev is getting a chance to rise up the depth chart in Hartford and that should remain for the rest of the season to let him be more consistent and build a higher production level before seriously thinking about bringing him back.
Jeremy Williams has been excellent for the Whale this season and is currently tied for first in the AHL with 20 goals scored.  His overall line is 20-12-32 in 41 games.  Williams has not had the same impact this month, but he did score the game winner last night after being held scoreless the prior three games.  Williams also has some NHL experience in another huge hockey market of Toronto so the stage should not intimidate him.  He would be among the finalists for me, but not the choice.
Brodie Dupont is a guy who a month ago I would not have even considered for this move, and if you go by his full season numbers you would think it is crazy as his line is only 7-12-19 in 37 games.  If you scale those numbers back following being held scoreless in his first 12 games of the season he has 19 points in the following 25, 19 in his last 17 games.  Another thing that works in Dupont’s favor is he is a natural left wing, has a bigger body than some of the others and could play the fourth line role while chipping offensively if necessary.  It would also be nice to see Dupont get his first taste of the NHL
The final guy I would throw in the mix is Chad Kolarik who the organization picked up in mid-November in a deal for then captain Dane Byers.  In his time with the Whale Kolarik has shown tremendous offensive skill both as a scorer and passer.  Kolarik possesses more speed than any of the other candidates and is not afraid to stick his nose in there, but is not the best defensively. 
Other options that would be considered but wont be because of waiver issues include bringing back Tim Kennedy, Kris Newbury, Jason Williams.
As I said this really boils down to the role they want the call up to play for the big club.  If it is to fill in on the second line then you have to go with a skill guy like Kolarik, but if you want him to slot in as the fourth liner who could have some offensive upside then Dupont should be the choice.  I know Grachev is the known name and intriguing choice, but leave him down and go with one of the other two instead.

Lock In The Core: Time For Dubinsky, Callahan Extensions to Be Done

Photo by avigerver
There have been numerous discussions around the web about the New York Rangers summer plans and who they should keep, go get and get rid of and at the top of everyone’s priority list from the current squad is locking up Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan.  What we are seeing around the league is a concerted effort by teams to lock in their players long before they hit either the RFA or UFA markets as was seen again just last night with LA locking up Johnson.  The Rangers need to follow this trend and get the Dubinsky and Callahan deals done now to lock in two of the most important pieces to the core of this franchise.  I know the urgency for some is not dire, but what the Rangers should be looking to do is make a statement on the importance of these guys to the team’s future and also ensuring that we do not end up with any more protracted summers with contract discussions.
With the season that Brandon Dubinsky is having the price is certainly going to be more than one would have anticipated coming into the year, but then again if he continues at the pace he is on right now it is only going to continue to increase as he has been the clear cut MVP of the Rangers in their surprising team performance through 43 games.  On the year Dubinsky now has a line of 16-20-36 which ranks him tied for 22nd in goals and tied for 26th in points across the league.  Combine the improvements in his offensive production, consistency, and increased leadership within with his ever present work on the boards, and killing penalties and what you have is an indispensible part of the fabric of your organization.  If I had to take a guess at some numbers I would look for 5-6 years with somewhere between 3.7-4.3 mil per season.
In Ryan Callahan you have a guy who for years has been a fan favorite for his relentless play on the ice and his willingness to hit literally anything that moves.  It is that kind of attitude with Callahan that had him rewarded with the assistant captain position.  The point of contention between Rangers fans was about what the offensive upside of Callahan would end up being and if based on what his previous production had been how much the defense, penalty killing, hitting and leadership were worth financially.  Over the course of the past few seasons Callahan had shown himself to be a consistent 20 goal 40 point type player who skill wise was probably best suited for a third line role but was forced higher in the Rangers lineup due to a lack of overall skill.  Before breaking his hand blocking a shot against the Pens Cally was showing those beliefs about his upside offensively were in need of a change.  Before breaking his hand on December 15, 2010 the 25-year-old winger had a line of 10-13-23 in 32 games this season.  If you project that over an 82 game season that is a very respectable 59 point season which combined with everything else he does makes him invaluable to a hockey club.  In terms of numbers for Callahan since the top end skill is still less than Dubinsky I expect the contract to be as well with numbers around 5/16 feeling right.
What the Rangers have here are two young forwards who are the fabric of their young core offensively who are proving to be tremendous leaders and two way hockey players and need to be locked up as a part of this organization accordingly.  The organization talks about the young core and here you have two huge pieces of it who are set to have contracts expire this summer, make the statement you believe in what they have shown in the team’s remarkable first half and lock them down now so you can sit back and reap the rewards later.  
I doubt anyone will disagree with bringing them back so tell me if you think it can wait until the summer and/or what money you think they will/should get.

Daily Recap: Biron Leads Win; Zuccarello-Aasen Adds Magic; Torts-Boyle; Prucha KHL?

The New York Rangers continued their hot play this evening when behind Martin Biron they scored a 2-1 win that took them out of St. Louis with the home team feeling blue.  The game marked the team’s third straight victory and saw the Rangers grind out another win in come from behind fashion.  The full game recap goes through the game as always in terms of scoring plays, key moments and how different players fared in the course of the action.  Tonight there are also a series of very interesting stats on the Rangers season that speak volumes to why after just 43 games the Rangers have collected a very impressive 53 points.  Could not have asked for a better weekend for the team, though certainly still some players the Rangers would love to kick into gear.
Before the game the decision to start Biron was announced along with a little bit of further clarification on the Boyle, Tortorella incident from Dallas.  If you are unaware the incident was late in the third period and the camera caught coach Tortorella berating Brian Boyle multiple times in a short sequence while Boyle took the lashing in a very professional manner.  Today Andrew Gross was able to give a little bit more background on what exactly went on, so check inside to see what he had to say along with why I believe Torts turned to Biron tonight instead of riding a red-hot Henrik Lundqvist

Video: Adam McQuaid Fights Travis Moen

Jimmy Howard's Glove Shows No Love For Henrik or Daniel Sedin; Save of Year? (Video)

Detroit Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard is a goaltender that does not get enough credit around the league because of the team that he plays on. Tonight Jimmy and his glove hand sought to steal some of that respect he deserves against not only the hottest team in the NHL, but their two best players as he would stone not just one Sedin twin, but both in the game.

Early in the first period Daniel Sedin would break in all alone off a set play where Henrik Sedin fired the puck all the way down the ice and had it come back out for Daniel as he drove the net and after Howard went down early Sedin pulled the puck to the backhand and appeared to have the goaltender dead to rights, but Howard dove back and snatched the puck with his glove as it was about to cross the goal line for potentially the save of the year.

If one brilliant save nor only stealing a goal from one Sedin twin was not enough for Howard he would make sure to get the other as in the third period it was Henrik Sedin's turn to have the Red Wing goaltender's glove rip away what should have been a sure goal.  In a 1-1 hockey game early in the third Daniel and Henrik Sedin would work a beautiful give and go where Daniel would be below the left faceoff dot and fire a pass across to an awaiting Henrik at the right faceoff dot for a one-timer.  Unbelievably Jimmy Howard found a way to go from playing shot at one post on Daniel to get across in time to flash the leather on the other Sedin twin.  What a night for the Red Wings netminder.