Saturday, June 25, 2011

Video: Giovani Dos Santos Brilliant Chip Shot Goal Seal Gold Cup For Mexico

The United States got out to a 2-0 lead in the first half of the Gold Cup final against rival Mexico, but they could not hold it and lost 4-2.  In the 76th minute with Mexico up 3-2, absolute brilliance from Giovani Dos Santos sealed the title for Mexico.  Dos Santos ability to control the ball in tight spaces and then finish with an unbelievable chip was world class skill on display.


New York Rangers 2011 Draft: Recapping Day 2

Entering the day the Rangers looked like they were going to have a quiet early and late portion of the day since they were not scheduled to select until the fourth round and had no picks after the fifth.  Though many talked about weak this draft was, the New York Rangers obviously saw some things in it that they liked in the talent pool. 
The team moved into the third round by trading away Evgeny Grachev to St. Louis for the number 72 pick in the draft.  The Rangers would make a second trade on the day by swapping next year’s sixth round selection with Nashville for their 2011 sixth rounder at number 172.
I am going to go through each pick with a quick summary, while you can find more information on them by clicking the link to their selection article.
The pick the Rangers received in exchange for trading the unhappy Grachev went to taking a high school player that has good size, solid skill and tremendous work ethic.  Fogarty is a project and has not played much against higher level competition.  He will spend this year in the USHL before heading off to Notre Dame.  Upside is there, but it is likely to take a good amount of time until he is ready for the NHL.
After being seen as a potential second round pick, St. Croix slipped to the fourth round and gives the Rangers a chance at a steal in the draft.  Skating is his strength and he has the hands to go with it.  Struggles with the other side of the ice in his game and is undersized.
McColgan is another undersized winger who has excellent speed and tremendous hands.  Prior to the season he was season as possibly even cracking the top-10 in this draft, but a slow start and size concerns ended those thoughts quickly.  The upside on him is tremendous with little risk in round five.  Certainly a chance he never makes it to the NHL level as his numbers were relatively stagnant from year-to-year in Juniors, but you take these kind of chances in the later rounds to see if the skill pans out.
The Rangers have suddenly gone from a team with few if any big and mean defenseman to stockpiling them over recent years.  The development of Michael Sauer at the NHL level, drafting of Dylan McIlrath was a good start, and Noreau is another in that mold.  Coming in at 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds he plays a physical and rough game.  There is certainly need to work on his skating and little offensive skill, but there is always room for a player that defends his teammates and clears the crease in front of his net.
Speaking of stockpiling big defensive defenders, the Rangers trading a 2012 sixth round pick to be able to select Ceresnak.  Ceresnak also plays a defense first game and a simple game at that.  With skating issues, he does have a tendency to struggle with quicker players.  Seen as a sleeper talent by some thinking he could have gone in the third round earlier in the year, so certainly potential value here.  Rangers have had good success mining Europe in the late rounds in recent years as well.
Recap of the overall quality of the draft tomorrow.

All RFA's Qualified Except Gilroy; Rangers Could Delay Signings to Save Cap Space

Following the completion of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, GM Glen Sather met with the media to discuss the team’s future as well as the decision to trade Evgeny Grachev.  In terms of the current roster, Sather informed the media that Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan, Brian Boyle, Artem Anisimov and Michael Sauer were given their qualifying offers for next season. 
The only restricted free agent that was not qualified by the Rangers was defenseman Matt Gilroy who would have required a $2.1 million offer to retain his rights.  In not receiving a qualifying offer Matt Gilroy becomes an unrestricted free agent.  The Rangers did offer to bring Gilroy back at a reduced salary, but he apparently rejected the offer and is going to test the market on July 1.
The news on the restricted free agents is exactly what was expected both in who did and who did not get extended the necessary qualifying offers to retain them.
Per Jesse Spector Sather also told the media that the team could wait to sign the RFA’s to actual contracts in order to save room under the salary cap as they begin free agency.  This is a clear signal that Sather is fully intending on spending large money come next Friday and Brad Richards is the clear target to receive that money.
The updated Grachev news can be found here.

Rangers Trade For Nashville Sixth-Round Pick, Select Defenseman Peter Ceresnak

The New York Rangers acquired the 172nd pick in this year’s draft from the Nashville Predators in exchange for a 2012 sixth-round pick.  The Rangers then used the pick to select Slovak defenseman Peter Ceresnak.  Ceresnak is listed at 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds and was the highest ranked Slovakian in the draft this year.  In Central Scoutings rankings he checked in at #35 among European skaters. 

In an interview with Copper and Blue, Kirk Luedeke summarized Ceresnak’s game this way…
"Big guy, good stick and uses his size effectively. Doesn't have a lot of foot speed, but is fairly agile and as long as he's not in the open ice, can do a pretty good job against opposing forwards. Physical defender who uses his size effectively along the wall and in front of his net. Plays a highly conservative style, but has shown an ability to make the quick breakouts and outlets. Not a lot of upside here, but could surprise as a long-term project guy later on. He started out the season with more promise as a top-three rounder, but has fallen off."
This seems like another good value risk for the Rangers and while they have plenty of defensive prospects in the system, taking gambles on talent is never a bad thing.  Prospects are assets and if you have an excess in one area there is always the ability to trade it out to help elsewhere.  You can never really have enough defenders that take pride in the defensive game, like to hit and are willing to clear their own crease. 

Last season the Oilers drafted Martin Marincin from the same team and brought him over to the CHL to play with better players because the quality of HK Orange is really bad.  Interesting to see if the Rangers do the same with Ceresnak this year.

Rangers Select Intimidating Defenseman Samuel Noreau at 136

At 136 the New York Rangers used the second of their two fifth round picks to select bruising defenseman Samuel Noreau, who currently plays for Baie-Comeau (QMJHL).  Noreau is listed at 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds and uses his size to play an intimidating game.  There is little there in terms of offensive skill, but his ability to be a shutdown defender down the line and physical presence makes him an intriguing addition to the Rangers system.  Last season he had 141 penalty minutes in 67 games last season.

This is yet another example of the Rangers, while looking for skill, also looking to add toughness to the organization and have more players capable of defending themselves and their teammates on the ice.

In talking with the media he told them that he tries to pattern his game after Chris Pronger.  If he can bring the nasty streak that Pronger does to a team, regardless of the offense or even the same quality defense, then he could have a spot in the NHL.

Scouts Take:
Noreau is a 6-5, 215-pound tough-as-nails punisher who doesn’t have much in the way of high-end skill, but has the size and nastiness to be a shutdown guy in time. He’s not a bad skater, though needs to work on his lateral movement and pivots/turns like many big players on D. This dude can really fight, too. With his size and strength, he ragdolls guys and stands in and throws them against the tougher comers/enforcers in the QMJHL.

Rangers Select Center Michael St. Croix in Fourth Round

With the 106th pick in the 2011 draft the New York Rangers selected Michael St. Croix out of Edmonton (WHL).  He scored 27 goals and had 48 assists in 68 games this past season.  The reason that St. Croix, ranked 59 in the final rankings, fell to the fourth round has to be about size concerns.  Coming in at 5-foot-11 and 179 pounds which is adequate size, but more difficult at the center position.
St. Croix is seen as a tremendous skater with speed and elusiveness that is mainly a play-maker but can score when necessary.  Has to work on the rest of his game and hope that his offensive skills can maintain as he deals with bigger competition. 
Good value getting a player who most would have accepted in the second round with a mid-fourth rounder.
Scouts Take:
Like McNeill, St. Croix is to be commended for picking up his game and making a statement to scouts as the season went on. Coming into it, the season, the Winnipeg native had high offensive expectations given the flashes he showed as a rookie with the Oil Kings last year. He got off to a slow start, and compounded with some indifferent defensive play, was headed down in some NHL teams' eyes until he turned things around at mid-season and finished the year strong. A very good skater who can dangle with the best of them, he's got a lightning release and just seems to have that sixth sense around the net when it comes to scoring goals or setting them up. He tallied 27 markers and 75 points in 68 games, finishing just three points off the scoring lead to Dylan Wruck. His willingness to get his nose dirty and play more responsible in all zones is precisely why his stock is up these days. Will it be enough to get him into the first round? That remains to be seen, but even if he doesn't crack the Friday night lineup, he won't be around long on Saturday, as he has some of the best natural upside of any in this class. His average size (5-11, 165) hurts him- he needs to get a lot stronger, but that should come in time.
“Michael St. Croix had a solid, though not spectacular season in the WHL this year. The skilled center built on his rookie campaign by becoming a leader with the young Oil Kings, scoring 75 points and improving his plus/minus rating by an impressive 49 points in his second year. St. Croix is a competitive player who likes to set up his teammates, but can also finish when he gets the chance. Next season will go a long way in determining what kind of player St. Croix will be. If he can produce at the level he’s capable of, he could quickly establish himself as one of the potential steals in the 2011 draft.” 

Rangers Select Shane Undersized, Skilled Winger Shane McColgan at 134

With the 134th pick in the 2011 draft the New York Rangers selected winger Shane McColgan out of Kelowna (WHL).  The 5-foot-8 McColgan was seen as a potential first round pick heading into the year, but illness and a bad start never let him recover.  The undersized winger had 21 goals and 45 assists in 67 games for the Rockets this season.  Skill is not the question with McColgan as he possesses excellent hands, and skating ability while being willing to go to the tough areas of the ice despite his size.
There is a chance that McColgan’s size never allows him to be anywhere near what they thought he might to start the year, but when you take him in the fifth round there is no risk.  To get a player with his hands at 134 is a tremendous thing for the Rangers.

Undersized winger (5-8, 168- don't believe his listed 5-11 height on Hockey DB) from SoCal was seen as a potential top-10 coming into the season, but got off to a terrible start and never recovered in the court of public opinion. Will NHL scouts view him differently. One such talent evaluator expressed concern at McColgan's small frame and the fact that the kid likely has little to no room to grow. Tremendous skating and hands; erupts into overdrive in just a few strides and carves the ice with his edges like a maestro. Plays bigger than his size and has an edge to him even if often physically overmatched. The bad news for McColgan is that his production didn't take off after posting 25 goals and 69 points last year as a rookie. Illness started him slowly and though he recovered and heated up down the stretch with fellow mighty mite Zach Franko, it may not be enough for him to recoup a top-60 selection.
The diminutive McColgan has been very effective in two Western Hockey League seasons, scoring at nearly a point per game pace. McColgan sees the ice well, has great hands, and definitely isn’t afraid to go to the dirty areas. The big question on everyone’s mind is whether or not he will be able to play his style at the pro level. The 5-9 McColgan hasn’t let his size hold him back yet, as he has proven a willingness to battle with any player in the WHL while generally staying healthy. If he can get his game to the next level, he could be a big draft day steal.

More on Rangers Third Rounder Steven Fogarty (w/video)

With the 72nd pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft the New York Rangers selected center Steven Fogarty. The 6-foot-2 195-pound Fogarty, 18, had 23 goals and 17 assists in 24 games for Edina and was ranked 90th among North American skaters by the NHL Central Scouting Bureau.  He is scheduled to play for the Chicago Steel of the United States Hockey League, then move on to Notre Dame in a year.
As most high school players, Fogarty is raw, but there appears to be the basis of skill there and the development will show if he can make it or not.  Once again the Rangers took another rink rat who is willing to work hard every day to get better.
Scouts Take:
10. Steven Fogarty, C Edina H.S. (Minnesota)- Underrated and skilled centerman with size makes his B2011DW debut on this post and has some real interesting long-term potential. The proverbial rink rat who eats, sleeps, breathes hockey- Fogarty finished his HS career at Edina and then jumped to the Chicago Steel of the USHL, where he's been drinking from the fire hose of late. You have to credit the kid for risking his draft stock a little, which was pretty high given how well he played as a senior, by going to the USHL where his lack of strength and defensive awareness is being exposed a bit on a weak team and against older, stronger players. Still, there is a lot to like about this playmaking pivot who has a long stride and gets up the ice quickly. He has soft hands and superb vision for finding teammates in open ice. His work ethic is laudable- he wants to play and loves to compete; goes above and beyond to make himself better and put himself into situations that will put him in position to improve. He's raw and needs significant work, but will spend the entire 2011-12 season in the USHL. At 6-1, 195, he's got the physical tools to be a solid NHL prospect and watch for him to go relatively high (3rd-4th rounds) in the draft.
Plays a physical brand of hockey, grinding it out on the boards and getting dirty in front of the net. Bullies his way around the ice, excelling at playing a power game. Has the ability to finish in tight and pick up his fair share of garbage goals. Has pretty good hands for a big guy and can stick handle with the best of them. passing could use a bit more touch but this is not a glaring weakness. Does not have elite speed but is a mule on his skates.
Fogarty is a balanced two-way player that is willing to play blue-color hockey. Should get more attention as the draft nears.

Rangers Trade Evgeny Grachev For Third Round Pick, Select Steve Fogarty

The New York Rangers have traded 2008 third round pick Evgeny Grachev to the St. Louis Blues for a third round pick (No. 72).  With the pick the Rangers selected high schooler Steve Fogarty. 

Updated Reaction: The initial reaction to move was one of disappointment for the Rangers having given up on the talented 21-year-old Grachev and only gotten a third round pick in return.  After the draft completed Glen Sather informed the media that Grachev had requested a trade last year to get a fresh start and that after a year of shopping the young player, only the St. Louis Blues were interested in acquiring him.

J.T. Miller Fits System/Mold Of What Rangers Want To Be

Once again the New York rangers and Gordie Clark went off the board to take the player they wanted with their first round selection.  Just because J.T. Miller was not connected to the Rangers by the experts does not mean it was a bad pick.  The act that players that were connected or said to be of better quality were still on the board does not make it a bad selection either.  Gordie Clark has shown enough in his year’s running the New York Rangers drafts that when he selects a guy that he wants, that fits our system, you trust his judgment.
J.T. Miller checks in at 6-foot-1, 200-pounds but can still add more to his frame.  He uses that size to play an energetic and physical game, though reports to say he will have to add strength, as most draftees do.   Miller will be yet another player thast fits the tough, physical, hard-working style the team has been taking on over the past few years.  He is willing to go to the dirty areas and has the ability to play all three forward positions, which will give the Rangers excellent flexibility with him down the line.  The Rangers are showing over and over again that the makeup of the individual is just as important to them as the talent level.  They want smart hockey players, who work hard and will play on both ends of the ice.  Miller is certainly that..
Per Steve Zipay of Newsday, Gordie Clark had the following to say about why they chose Miller at 15.
"...there was no one (on the board) that had all the qualities that JT had. There could be someone who will score more goals, there could be somebody that's going to be a faster skater, but if you want to put size with skating with character with grit with work ethic with playmaking ability and scoring ability, no one had all those qualities in their game. He had them all."
"he's like a Dubi (Brandon Dubinsky), Mike Richards. Every shift he expends everything he's got...He started coming up in a lot of the rankings from April because he was really one of the best players in the tournament in April. ...He validated what we had seen all year."
The mistake many of us, including myself, make in looking at who the Rangers might select in the draft is looking through video or scouting reports and looking for the most skilled players that might be on the board in that spot.  The Rangers certainly value skill, but the value complete players even more than pure skill and they want players that are willing to work.  If J.T. Miller turns into Brandon Dubinsky or Mike Richards, then we will have another time where the fans were uneasy on draft night, but when time went by Gordie Clark was once again proven right.