Saturday, June 18, 2011

Christian Thomas Invited To Canadian Camp

Yesterday the New York Rangers announced that 2010 second-round pick Christian Thomas was one of 46 players invited to the Canadian Junior Team Development camp later this summer in Edmonton.  Some had thought that Thomas, who was not invited last summer, had a shot to make the World Junior camp last fall due to his hot start in the OHL, but he was not selected.  Following his omission from the WJC team Thomas continued his stellar play and has now earned his shot to make the club.

Chances are Thomas will either be playing for Canada in the WJC this coming December/January or be on Broadway with the Blueshirts.  Not bad for a player who slipped to #40 in the draft just one year ago.  Regardless of the outcome, being invited to this camp shows that the appreciation for his game is growing around the league and being around the top Canadian Junior players will be a great experience for his game. 

Despite Drury Rangers Summer Cap Numbers Show Tight But Doable Scenario

With the announcement yesterday that Chris Drury could not be bought out of his contract this month as was anticipated there was some consternation over what it meant to the Rangers offseason plan.  The biggest question was whether the Rangers had to make other moves in order to sign Brad Richards and keep all the restricted free agents in the fold under the summer cap.  The answer is that they can, but the money will be tight.

Using the rumored $62.2 million cap number and the 10% overage allowance as a base to fit all the players under the summer limit of $68.42 million on the Cap Geek Cap Calculator  the following roster emerged...
As you can see the wiggle room in this scenario is very minimal (445K) and the projections on the salaries for the restricted free agents and Brad Richards could obviously vary in either direction, but the estimation gives an idea of what could play out.  Once camp hits however the Rangers would come remove $13.55 million in dead cap space with Redden being moved down, and Drury being moved to LTIR.  There is salary to be brought up in the form of players like Tim Erixon and/or another defender (s) that could be added to the roster.  The potential LTIR relief from Drury would allow the Rangers to go as high as $7.05 million over the cap number, but that cannot happen until September.

One key to this working for the Rangers would be either the belief that players in the minors can fill the remaining couple roster spots they would be unable to sign players for or the ability to get players to take professional tryouts in coming to camp without a contract until the Rangers can have the flexibility to sign them at that point.

Photo: Chara Takes Stanley Cup to Fans That Line Streets In Boston

The Boston Bruins held their Stanley Cup championship parade today in Boston and reportedly over 1 million people lined the streets.  As a sign of appreciation for the support and to prove that this victory was as much for the fans as it was for the team, captain Zdeno Chara got off the duck boat he was riding in and brought the Stanley Cup to the fans who lined the streets.

RFA Market: Could Andrew Ladd's Complete Game Complete Rangers Top Six?

Al Bello/Getty Images
The New York Rangers, like all teams, are looking to add talent to their roster this summer.  The unrestricted free agent market appears to begin and end with Brad Richards in terms of adding potential top line talent.  With the rumors circulating that Richards is seeking $7 million per season for upwards of seven or eight years, and the potential lost flexibility being unable to buy out Chris Drury brings, other options have to be taken into account.  Having already looked at potential trade targets in Stephen Weiss, Patrick Sharp and even Jeff Carter, there is another avenue to consider; restricted free agency.

Before you go getting too excited, this is not going to be a fantasy move for Steven Stamkos, but rather a look at a player who has to decide if he really wants to go with his team on their move to Winnipeg.  Andrew Ladd, 25, is a talented two-way winger who had a breakout season during his first year with Atlanta scoring 29 goals while adding 30 assists in 81 games while captaining the team.  His combination of offense, defense and leadership is very similar to the Rangers own Ryan Callahan.  There is no question that Ladd could immediately step into the system this team forged last season and be successful.  What Ladd brings that the Rangers do not have currently is someone to finish in the garbage areas around the net as he is an excellent net presence.  Ladd can play in all situations with his two-way play shining most on the penalty kill.  Also cannot discount what his experience as a two time Stanley Cup champion would bring to the Rangers roster.

There is a lot of talk about the Rangers need for a top line center and it is always something to consider, but with another year for Derek Stepan, Artem Anisimov and Brian Boyle, why not surround them with more talent on the wings instead?  The Rangers have talented prospects in Chris Kreider and Evgeny Grachev in the pipeline for left wing positions, but there is still somewhat of a hole there for the coming season.  Wojtek Wolski has the talent to fill that void for the coming season, but a player like Ladd is brings more of an all-around game to the table than Wolski and leaves the team knowing more what they will get on a nightly basis even if less skilled.  Having a top six of Gaborik, Ladd, Dubinsky, Callahan, Stepan and Anisimov might not be as sexy as the move for a Brad Richards, but could be extremely effective.

The cost for Ladd would likely be around $4 million per season which could seem steep for a player who has only had one big offensive season.  Beyond just the dollars per season, as a restricted free agent the Winnipeg franchise would have the ability to match the contract and if they chose not to do so, which is unlikely, compensation at that level would be a first and a third round pick.  I think the price in terms of salary and compensation could be worth it to the Rangers now and in the future as the team has a deep prospect system and is adding a player heading into the prime of his career.