Thursday, June 2, 2011

Dallas Not Making Another Contract Offer To Brad Richards

All season long it has been reported that the biggest hesitation on Brad Richards part to committing long term to the Dallas Stars has been their uncertainty in ownership.  Today that came to the forefront as according to TSN, the Dallas Stars are not going to offer Brad Richards another contract proposal before the July 1 free agency period begins.  Bob McKenzie said that the Stars will explore dealing the rights to Richards before the deadline, but that would have to be approved by Richards as he would have to waive his no-movement clause in order to be traded.

Pierre Lebrun of ESPN delves further into the reasoning behind the decision of the Stars to not tender another offer to Richards before the deadline.
"I think it's just common knowledge that clearly we're not going to have an owner in place by July 1," Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk told Thursday. "So, we know that Brad won't sign with us without a new owner. It's nothing we don't already know." 
"We made Brad an offer prior to the trade deadline on a long-term deal, and it was turned down," Nieuwendyk said. 
This news is bound to restart the discussion about trading for the rights to Richards this month, but with the recent trade for Tim Erixon taking away both 2011 second round picks, that might take the Rangers out of being a serious contender to go that route.  With Dallas out, the Rangers best course of action might just be to wait until July 1 and sign him that way.  There will undoubtedly be more of a frenzy going that route as opposed to dealing for his rights, but if Richards truly wants to be here for the next stage of his career then it will happen as he ultimately holds the cards both before and after the July 1 free agency period begins.  If this is the desired destination for Richards there is no reason for the Rangers to sacrifice assets to trade for his rights in advance.

Rangers To Sign Max Campbell To Minor-League Contract

Per Leslie Treff of Hockey’s Future, the Rangers will sign 2007 5th round pick Max Campbell to an AHL deal.  Coming into this season Campbell (6’0″, 170 lbs) was considered on the outside looking in when it comes to getting a contract, but after a significantly improved senior season in which Campbell showed significantly more consistency than prior seasons.  In 42 games for the Westen Michigan Broncos, Campbell scored 18 goals and added 17 assists.   Campbell is still not a huge talent, but his work ethic earned him a contract that he was unlikely to get before the year, and those are the kinds of players that you want to keep an eye on because they will not stop working just because they got a professional deal.

Rangers Sign Blake Parlett To Entry-Level Contract

As per Renaud Lavoie of RDS, the Rangers have signed defenseman Blake Parlett to an entry level contract.  Parlett began the 2010-11 season with the Greenville Road Warriors, the Rangers’ ECHL affiliate before joining the Connecticut Whale late in the season.  Parlett made the ECHL All-Star team this season and recorded seven goals and 25 assists in his 46 games with the Road Warriors before having two goals and 10 assists in 24 games for the Whale.  

Parlett is an offensive minded defender, but this move is likely a depth move for the Whale more than a move for the Rangers, at least for now.  Players like Dan Girardi have shown that if they stick with it they can rise through the ranks and exceed expectations that are had within the organization for them and hopefully Parlett will become another such player. 

Tim Erixon Brings Rangers Excellent Talent And Organizational Flexibility

This morning there was an examination of the cost the New York Rangers paid to acquire Tim Erixon from the Calgary Flames yesterday.  Now we will go beyond the cost of Erixon in terms of the trade and look at both what the Rangers are getting on the ice to add to their already stacked young defensive corps and what it means for the organization overall.
The National Hockey League is driven by talent and when you have the ability to acquire high end talent, especially without costing anything on your current roster, you have to make the move.  You make the deal both for what it can do for the team on the ice, as well as the freedom and flexibility it gives the organization to make other transactions.  The New York Rangers exercised that thinking yesterday when they traded for yet another highly regarded young defense prospect despite the immense depth their defensive corps already possessed.
Having Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh, Michael Sauer and Michael Del Zotto here already gave the New York Rangers one of the best young defensive corps in the league.  The work of Glen Sather to not let that stand in the way deserves to be praised and creates options for him to help solve the Rangers scoring issues.  Having Kundratek, Valentenko, Pashnin and McIlrath, to name a few, also in the prospect pipeline it is very likely that the Rangers will move either someone from the NHL ranks or a prospect to gain forward help.  Now they can do that from an even greater position of strength with an increased level of trade chips at their disposal.
Now let us take a deeper look at what the Rangers are getting on the ice with Tim Erixon in the fold.
It's amazing when you can go through the many scouting reports that we have on him and see that there are not a whole lot of mistakes by a young defenseman.
In regards to Tim Erixon, he is an NHL-ready prospect and one who projects to be a significant contributor in the NHL. Erixon is a pro-level skater, maybe even a tad above with a fluid stride and overall mobility that projects well. He's decent with the puck, not much of a handler but can move and rush the puck up and is an effective distributor on the power play. I've never really been a fan of his shot, although it has taken notable strides since his draft year. He measures in at over 6 feet and 200 pounds, but still has a twig-like figure and needs one of those summers to really bulk up before he comes to the NHL. He has added more of a physical edge to his game since his U-18 days, but the strength isn't there enough for him to be completely effective in that regard. Erixon derives his value from his game-processing and hockey sense, which I grade as plus and that's not something I do often. His defensive game is extremely sound, he's very aware with and without the puck, and quick and effective decision-making help him contribute in all situations. He's the kind of player who I project in a few seasons could be playing against the opposition's top players, playing a fair amount of defensive zone minutes while putting up good possession numbers and chipping in decent counting numbers offensively. It's very realistic to say that Tim Erixon could be a steady first pairing defenseman in the NHL. If he had re-entered the draft, I would have easily had him in the 10-12 range in my current rankings and arguably in the top 10.
The Hockey Writers (from his draft year):
Son of former NHLer, Jan, Erixon is a two-way blueliner, with a greater propensity for the offensive side of the game. Having said that, he might have a better defensive acumen than fellow Swedish defenseman prospects Rundblad and OEL. He does possess very good on-ice vision and hockey sense. He is a mature player and the main thing he has to work on to ensure what will appear to be a smooth transition to the big leagues will be his skating and acceleration.
You read those scouting reports about a guy who is a very good skater, solid size, excellent defensive positioning, plays the body and has a high hockey sense.  Those traits make me think of the Rangers own Ryan McDonagh though with more offensive upside.  Even without the offensive upside, if the Rangers could get yet another Ryan McDonagh in the organization with the promise that he showed during his rookie season they would be ecstatic.  Luckily for the Rangers they have the ability to get both in Erixon.
This past season he had five goals and 19 assists while playing nearly 20 minutes a night in his 48 games.  Given the lack of scoring in the Swedish Elite League his offensive numbers are that much more impressive.  His 24 points were enough to rank him second in the league among defenders, trailing only David Runblad.  He has experience playing the point on the power play, though let us not put the pressure of him being the power play quarterback/savior just yet.
The combination of the talent Erixon brings to the Rangers defensive corps and the flexibility he gives to the front office to make complimentary moves to secure more offense only strengthens and quickens the organization in the short and long term.  This move only continues the movement to younger players as the foundation of this team and the more talent you can add, at any position, the better you will be for it. 
Also, do not discount the impact that number of young players/rookies getting their chance to show what they can do at the NHL level with Erixon wanting to come here when he was concerned with that fact in Calgary.

Breaking Down Erixon Price Tag For Those Concerned Rangers Overpaid

The morning after the New York Rangers swapped Roman Horak and two 2011 second round picks to Calgary for top prospect Tim Erixon and a 2011 fifth round selection, there are those who seem unsure of just how well the Rangers did on the deal. 

Update: Thoughts on talent Erixon brings to the ice and the flexibility he gives the front office to make other moves.
For those who are concerned about what the Rangers gave up, mainly citing the vulnerable position that the Flames were in, there is an ignoring of some facts going on.  Just because Calgary had to deal him or lose him for a single second round pick does not mean the Rangers giving up what they did means they overpaid for him in the slightest.  There was nothing that said he had to come to the Rangers and if he went in the draft he was likely going to be a top-10 selection and never on the board when New York came to the podium at #15.  If the question is take the elite prospect when you can guarantee you get him and keep your #15 pick or keep Horak, 45 and 57 while hoping to use the #15 on Erixon, you take the deal without question.  The deal boils down to 45th and 57th for essentially a number 10 overall pick and the Rangers get to use their number 15 pick on some much needed offense.
It is true that the Rangers have had significant success in the second round over the past number of year, even more than the first round, but this is not an 17/18-year old who they are hoping develops, this is a 20-year-old who has proven himself against men in one of the best leagues in the world that is ready to step in immediately.  To assume that in what is widely regarded as a weaker draft that the two second round picks will turn out to be of the same value Tim Erixon will is an assumption I am not willing to make.  It is certainly possible that Erixon will fail to reach his potential and those picks could become valuable down the road, but in the immediate aftermath of the deal there is no way to describe this other than a win for the Rangers.  
Give Glen Sather credit for being in the right place at the right time, and having the assets to pull this deal off.  Erixon is someone the Rangers considered taking instead of Chris Kreider in 2009 and now they get him essentially for a 2011 second rounder, Roman Horak and the mystical trade of Bobby Sanguinetti for a second rounder at last year's draft.  If this was not sports, then Sather might be facing charges for theft.

Video: Torres Strikes Late On Beautiful Passing Play To Give Canucks Game 1; Kesler Onside

Via KuklasKorner

The Boston Bruins played the kind of physical, low scoring Game 1 they want these 2011 Stanley Cup Finals to be and were 18.5 seconds away from a scoreless regulation when the Vancouver Canucks finally broke through on a goal from Raffi Torres.

The goal itself was a tap-in to an empty net after a beautiful effort from both Ryan Kesler and Jannik Hansen.  Kesler, after barely staying onside, collected the puck along the wall and found a streaking Hansen down the middle who found Torres for the finish. 

There was a question on the broadcast as to whether Kesler was offside on the play, but as the picture (via Kukla’s Korner) and video clearly show, the linesman made the right call on the ice and it was a good goal.