Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Video: Alex Burrows Bites Patrice Bergeron

On the same day the NHL announced that Colin Campbell was stepping down as the head of supplemental discipline for the league, the end of the first period left something for the league to review.  Given the conflict of interest during the Stanley Cup Finals, NHL VP Mike Murphy was already handling supplemental discipline and Alex Burrows gave him something to review.

During a scrum to end the first period is certainly appears that Alex Burrows of the Canucks at least attempts to bite the finger of Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron.  Bergeron is clearly telling the officials he was bitten as he attempts to show the referees his bare finger before heading to the locker room.

In the past the NHL has suspended for such acts and should do so again if they deem that Burrows did bite, or even attempt to bite Bergeron even though this is the Stanley Cup Finals.

Video via Puck Daddy:

Rangers Acquire Tim Erixon From Calgary As They Continue To Stock Defense

The New York Rangers have acquired and signed defenseman Tim Erixon, son of former Rangers forward Jan Erixon, from the Calgary Flames.  Erixon, 20, was the 2009 first round selection of the Flames (23rd overall), but was not going to sign with Calgary prior to the 5 pm deadline today and would re-enter the draft.  There is speculation that had Erixon re-entered the draft he could have gone as high as the top-10 this year.  With Calgary only going to receive the 54th pick in the 2011 draft, the Flames moved Erixon along with a fifth round pick before the deadline to the Rangers for forward Roman Horak and both 2011 second round picks.  The initial reaction is that the price is steep considering the situation Calgary was in having to move him, but considering the talent they are acquiring it is worth it.

In Erixon the Rangers are getting a highly skilled two-way defender who has played the last three seasons in the Swedish Elite League.  He is known for his hockey IQ, being solid in both ends of the ice and his ability to chip in on the offensive side.  He is projected to be a top-four defender because of how solid he is in all aspects of the game and has experience quarterbacking the power play.  This past season he had five goals and 19 assists while playing nearly 20 minutes a night in his 48 games.  His 24 points were enough to rank him an impressive second in the league among defenders, trailing only David Runblad.

Erixon is ready to come over to North America this year and will definitely be able to challenge for a roster spot during the 2011-12 season.  If he does not make the club out of camp, then he could follow a Ryan McDonagh type timeline where he spends half the year in the AHL and comes up to the NHL level around midseason.

While defense is certainly not a pressing need for the Rangers, this is a brilliant move by GM Glen Sather to take advantage of the situation and acquire a first round talent at this price. While Calgary is has a very weak prospect pool right now, to acquire the number one prospect of any team is a good thing.  Erixon gives the Rangers yet another young defender in the arsenal and creates tremendous flexibility for the organization in the coming years when it comes to moving some of the surplus defensive players/prospects for more help in the forward core.

Free Agent Preview: Gagne Another Cheap Offseason Gamble For Rangers?

Over the past two summers the New York Rangers have had luck with players coming to New York having something to prove with Vinny Prospal and Ruslan Fedotenko respectively.  Both players came to New York on cheap one year deals and outperformed their salaries in various ways.  Can the Rangers strike gold for a third straight season and find another player that is looking to prove there is still more in the tank than many might think at this stage of their career.  One such player to consider would Simon Gagne of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Gagne is someone that Rangers fans are very familiar with from his years with the rival Philadelphia Flyers and has the skill to be a top six winger on the left side and provide the Rangers secondary scoring.  In his first season in Tampa, Gagne recorded 17 goals and 23 assists in 63 games.  Over an 82 game season that is a very solid 52 point pace, but that is precisely issue with Gagne who cannot seem to stay healthy enough to play an 82 game year. 

Over the past four seasons Gagne has missed a total of 103 games and only played more than 63 games once.  The most serious of those injuries going forward is the concussion history of Gagne.  Gagne has had significant concussion and recently had another during this year’s postseason so counting on him for production could be detrimental to the team over the course of the season if he cannot stay healthy.  It is that injury history though that should make Gagne a reasonably cheap option for the Rangers to take the gamble on this summer, if they so choose.

Personally I would avoid Gagne this summer, but if the deal is for one year at $2 million or less, then the Rangers could certainly do worse than gambling on the potential upside of Gagne and the secondary scoring he could bring.

Should New York Rangers Trade Up In Draft For Game-Changing Forward?

For the past several years the New York Rangers have been a youth/homegrown talent movement that has seen them rebuild a depleted prospect core and have those players emerge into key roles on the NHL level.  In their forward core the team has Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov and Derek Stepan playing key roles at young ages.  On defense the team is highlighted by Marc Staal, Michael Sauer and Michael Del Zotto from the drafted core while Dan Girardi, an undrafted free agent, and Ryan McDonagh, acquired in a trade, also play key roles for the Blueshirts.

The once depleted prospect core has much more on the way with the potential of Chris Kreider, Dylan McIlrath, Christian Thomas and Carl Hagelin among many others with NHL possibilities.  The one thing the Rangers are really lacking however is that game changing talent in their young group of forwards.  This is partially because the Rangers have not picked higher than 10 in the past six years and have only selected one forward in the top 12 since 1999.  While the Rangers NHL and prospect forward rankings boast significant depth, other than potentially Derek Stepan, there is not much hope for a true game changer in the group.

There are likely to be many fine options to select at number 15 if the Rangers stay put there, but the question is whether now is the time to take a chance and move up looking for a player that could become a consistent producer.  Without that game changer the Rangers are bound to be in many ways similar to what they are now, which is an honest, hard-working team that is comprised of mainly second line talent.  With the depth in the ranks and young talent coming up on the roster now might be the time to look for the splash and a move up in the draft to select a player more likely to develop into a first line player.  The cost of trading up into the top 3 of the draft to select a Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Jonathan Huberdeau is likely to be too expensive for the Rangers to consider, but a move into the 6-8 range is something that might be more doable. 

One player that the Rangers could target in that range would be Ryan Strome of the Niagara Ice Dogs in the Ontario Hockey League.  In 65 games this season Strome put up an impressive 33 goal, 73 assist, 106 point campaign.  The 6’1” 183 pound center is considered a tremendously talented offensive player that has strength as his biggest flaw and continuing to develop his defensive game, but there is no questions about his offensive skills.  While there are questions about his strength for the NHL level at this point there is nothing that suggests he plays a soft game as he goes to the dirty areas to make plays and initiates a lot of contact.  He has plenty of time to put mass on his frame as he will not even turn 18-years-old until after the draft on July 11.

The New York Rangers have done an excellent job of rebuilding their prospect core and having it produce more and more at the NHL level over the past few years.  Now is the time for the team to take a chance on moving up and getting that missing potential star player to go with all the quality two-way players they already have within the organizational ranks.  Obviously cost would play a factor in whether they actually make the move or not, but Strome is among those worth paying a price to move up for this year.

Highlight Video:
Some scouting reports: