Thursday, July 26, 2012

Rangers Re-Sign Stralman To Two-Year, $3.4 Million Deal

The Rangers and restricted free agent defenseman Anton Stralman avoided arbitration by agreeing to a new contract that is reportedly worth two years, $3.4 million, the team confirmed on Thursday. Stralman previously had an arbitration hearing with the Rangers scheduled for July 31, but it seemed like it was a given that both sides would reach a deal before then, which they did today.

You can read the Rangers' official press release here.

The initial thought amongst the media after the season ended was that Anton Stralman was leaning towards returning to Sweden to continue his playing career, but he ultimately decided he wanted to return to the Rangers when he filed for arbitration earlier this month.

Glad to see Stralman get rewarded with a fair deal for both sides after he put together a solid second half this past season once he became more familiar with the Rangers' system under John Tortorella. Stralman also seemed to get his offensive game going in the as the regular season went on and carried it into the postseason. Stralman's shot from the point proved to be a nice weapon last season, and I expect he'll see some more time on the power play once again this season.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

John Tortorella On The Michael Kay Show July 23 (Audio Inside)

John Tortorella was a guest on The Michael Kay Show yesterday evening on ESPN New York radio with Michael Kay and Don La Greca and offered his comments on a bunch of stuff, including his thoughts on the Rick Nash trade, losing Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov, why Chris Kreider was absolutely untouchable in trade talks, and how he felt to come within two games of reaching the Stanley Cup Finals this past season. It's definitely worth a listen for any Ranger fan.

You can listen to the interview by clicking here and clicking Torts' name under the "sound bytes" section if you scroll down a bit.

The most interesting part of the interview to me was Torts' thoughts on Tim Erixon, who was also sent to Columbus in the Rick Nash trade. Torts said about Erixon: "Erixon has potential, I haven’t seen it yet, to be a really good player." I thought that was a fair assessment of how the Rangers felt about him last season. He was up and down a few times over the course of the season, but unlike Ryan McDonagh the previous season, John Tortorella clearly did not feel like Erixon had matured enough yet to make that jump from Hartford to the NHL. Erixon is projected to develop into a fantastic two-way defenseman down the road, and I have no reason to believe he won't, but it appears as if he still needs some more seasoning in the AHL before being a regular mainstay in an NHL team's lineup.

Then again, the Columbus Blue Jackets may now have a completely different view on Erixon than the Rangers, and maybe they'll throw him right into the fire and let him take his bumps and bruises at the NHL level this season. He's still only 21 years old, though, and some kids just take longer than others to reach their potential. I do think, though, that if he was ready, he would've been playing in the NHL last season with all the injuries the Rangers had on defense last season.

Anyway, I'd definitely give the interview a listen, like I said.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Blockbuster: Rangers Acquire Rick Nash From Blue Jackets

It's safe to say nobody saw this coming when they woke up this morning. The New York Rangers have officially confirmed that they have acquired Rick Nash from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for forwards Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov, defenseman Tim Erixon, and the Rangers' first round draft pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Level Draft. The Rangers also got back 21-year-old AHL defenseman Steven Delisle and a conditional third-round draft pick. The Blue Jackets would reportedly only get that draft pick back if the Rangers make it to the Stanley Cup Finals this upcoming season.

Click below to read more on my thoughts on this blockbuster trade, as well as the official press release from the Rangers.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Flyers Sign Shea Weber To Massive 14-Year Offer Sheet; Rangers Tried To Sign Him

The Philadelphia Flyers signed restricted free agent Shea Weber to an offer sheet today that is reportedly for 14 years and worth over $100 million, with $52 million of the payout coming in the first four years of the contract, according to

Weber's current team, the Nashville Predators, have seven days to decide whether to match the Flyers' offer or to decline and let Shea Weber go to Philadelphia. If the Predators decline to match Weber's 14-year contract with Philly they would reportedly receive four future first-round draft picks from the Flyers as compensation.

The Predators have since confirmed Weber's signing with the Flyers and issued a statement earlier today on their website that read:

"We are in receipt of the offer sheet signed between the Philadelphia Flyers and Shea Weber. Under the rules pertaining to an offer sheet, the Predators have one week to decide whether to match or accept the compensation. We have stated previously that, should a team enter into an offer sheet with Shea, our intention would be to match and retain Shea. Our ownership has provided us with the necessary resources to build a Stanley Cup-winning team. Due to the complexity of the offer sheet, we will take the appropriate time to review and evaluate it and all of its ramifications in order to make the best decision for the Predators in both the short and long-term.
“We do not anticipate any further comments on this situation until we make our decision within the next seven days.”

Click below to read more on Weber's deal with the Flyers, as well as the Rangers jumping into talks to try and acquire the defenseman before the Flyers signed him.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Rangers Sign Jeff Halpern, AHLer Logan Pyett To One-Year Deals

The depth signings just keep on coming. News broke late last night that the Rangers have signed veteran center Jeff Halpern, who spent last season with the Washington Capitals, to a one-year, $700,000 deal. The team has since confirmed the deal. Halpern recorded 4 G, 12 A for 16 PTS to go along with 24 PIM in 69 games last season while playing primarily on the fourth line for the Caps, but more important than that was what he gave the Capitals on the faceoff circle. Halpern won 58.3 percent of his faceoffs last season, which was good for the fifth highest faceoff percentage in the league. As everyone knows, faceoffs were an area the Rangers struggled in greatly last season, so it's easy to see why they would bring in a guy like Halpern considering the cost is next to nothing.

I don't mind the Halpern signing, and I understand why the Rangers did it. I would've personally preferred them to sign Zenon Konopka when he was available since the Rangers really needed help on faceoffs, in addition to that grittiness that they lost when Brandon Prust signed with Montreal, but this is still a decent depth move by Glen Sather. It's a cheap signing that could wind up paying big dividends if Halpern can give the Rangers a steady presence in the faceoff circle. The biggest knock on Halpern is that at he's 36 years old now and is a pretty slow skater, but you don't have to be the fastest of skaters to have a role in John Tortorella's system.

In addition to the signing of Halpern, the Rangers also inked AHL defenseman Logan Pyett to a one-year contract this morning worth $600,000 (hat tip to TheNYRBlog). Terms of the deal haven't been announced, but it's a decent depth move. Pyett, 24, was drafted in the 7th round of the 2006 NHL Entry Level Draft (212th overall) by the Detroit Red Wings and has spent his entire career in their system. Pyett has not appeared in an NHL game yet in his career. He's a right-handed shot - an area the Rangers needed to add depth in - and recorded 9 G, 13 A for 22 PTS in 74 games with the Grand Rapids Griffins last season. He has a little bit of offense to his game and is still pretty young, but this is really just a depth move to stash away in Hartford.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Anton Stralman Files For Arbitration

Some good news to pass along (at least to me it is): Anton Stralman officially filed for arbitration today, meaning that the 25-year-old defenseman who the Rangers signed last November likely plans on playing in the NHL next season. The Rangers submitted a qualifying offer of 105-percent of Stralman's salary from last season, which was $900,000, and the arbitration hearing will take place somewhere between July 20 and August 4, according to Andrew Gross. Gross speculates that Stralman and the Rangers will likely hash out a long-term deal before going to arbitration, perhaps settling on a two-year, $2.6 million deal or a three-year, $3.9 million deal. Not sure I would commit to Stralman for three years, but I've got no problem giving him a two-year contract at that price. Sign me up.

Stralman became a regular in the Rangers' lineup back in December after injuries to Michael Sauer (concussion) and Steve Eminger (separated shoulder) gave the Rangers a pressing need for a right-handed defenseman. After starting out slowly, Stralman really put together a very good season and became a very dependable defenseman down the stretch for the Rangers. It seemed like once he got in better shape and familiar with the Rangers' system he really excelled from that point forward and was able to play a steady game while also chipping in with some offense (2 G, 16 A in 53 regular season games and 3 G, 3 A in 20 playoff games). John Tortorella also showed a lot of trust in Stralman as the season went along, often times playing him between 15 to 25 minutes a game. On breakup day, Stralman indicated to the media that he would talk things over with his family on what he would do next season and seemed to be leaning towards going back home to play in Sweden at the time, but I guess he had a change of heart and wants back in.

I like Stralman and think bringing him back fills a big hole for the Rangers. Stralman is a solid and reliable right-handed defenseman who can do a nice job on the second pairing. The Rangers could look to add one more veteran defenseman at some point this offseason, but that really all depends on how comfortable they are with Stu Bickel and possibly Tim Erixon holding down the fort at that sixth d-man spot. John Tortorella, if you recall, said back on breakup day that the Rangers cannot count on Michael Sauer to return to the lineup this season, which is just another reason why bringing back Stralman was important, in my opinion.

Recapping Free Agency For The Rangers So Far

Apologies for being away the past few weeks, but I was away on vacation and really didn't have time to sit down and post news on the blog. Anyway, I'm back now and will be on top of things going forward.

To recap, here are all the Rangers' moves so far in free agency:

- Re-signed goalie Marty Biron to a two-year deal.
- Re-signed defenseman Stu Bickel to a two-year deal.
- Re-signed forward Kris Newbury to a one-year deal.
- Retained the rights to forward Mats Zuccarello and defenseman Anton Stralman, meaning they will be Rangers property if either decides to play in the NHL this upcoming season.
- Signed forward Aaron Asham to a two-year deal.
- Signed forward Micheal Bailey to a one-year deal.
- Signed forward Taylor Pyatt to a two-year deal.
- Signed forward Kyle Jean, who participated in the Rangers' prospect camp last week after spending the last two seasons playing for Lake Superior State. The terms are undisclosed, but he's a kid just coming out of college who's just 22 years old, so it's a good depth move for Harford.
- Lost forwards John Mitchell to Colorado Avalanche, Brandon Prust to Montreal Canadiens, and Ruslan Fedotenko to Philadelphia Flyers.
- Lost defensemen Jeff Woywitka to St. Louis Blues and John Scott to Buffalo Sabres.
- Lost the following players, who were on the Connecticut Whale last season: goalie Chad Johnson to Phoenix Coyotes and forward Jonathan Audy-Marchessault to Columbus Blue Jackets.