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New York Rangers

Traverse City Is Not Meaningless

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Wow from the moment the New York Rangers fail to make the playoffs until say yesterday, all folks would talk about was the prospects, the prospects, and the prospects. But all of a sudden I start seeing people call Traverse City a meaningless event and that ticks me off. Why? Well because it is so far from the truth.

Ryan Dmowski (Hartford Wolf Pack)

Look I understand the people are excited for the start of training camp and the new season, I am too. But Traverse City should be seen as the beginning of training camp, not a distraction to kill time until camp opens.

Traverse City has become a very important part of the Ranger year that to dismiss it as “meaningless” shows how little a person understands the role of player development. For the Rangers, it starts with the Rookie and Prospect Camp held right after the NHL Entry Draft. It is at that camp where every prospect is given their off-season “homework” to start them on their off-season work.

Each prospect is given a program designed for them individually from a workout program, suggested changes to their diet and areas to improve their overall hockey game. So when Traverse City comes, it is a chance for the coaching staff as well as the player development staff to see how well the prospects followed their “homework”.

Traverse City is also an opportunity for the staff to show the prospects the “who, what, when and why” of their programs. From giving tomorrow’s Rangers a chance to bond and form friendships to the on-ice measurement of how well these prospects have improved. Just watching the setup that Kaapo Kakko did for Vitali Kravtsov against the Minnesota Wild prospects hopefully is that start of chemistry the two first-round picks will develop.

Come Thursday there will be as many as 60 players invited to the training camp and it will be next to impossible for the coaching staff or player development team to offer the kind of individual coaching that they can do at Traverse City.

It isn’t meaningless or a distraction from training camp, it is the start of tomorrow for the Rangers.

Three Wins Plus

Karl Henriksson(Hockeydb.com)

By defeating the St. Louis Blues prospects for the fifth-place trophy, the Ranger prospects finished with a 3-1 record at this year’s tournament. Considering that the difference from playing in the championship game to the fifth-place one was a weak opening game then call this year a success. For a team that had all of two players returning from last year’s team as well as the youngest and most inexperienced then to win three games was outstanding.

Against the Blues, the Rangers choose to sit out Kaapo Kakko, Vitali Kravtsov, Adam Fox, and Yegor Rykov but it mattered little. Adam Huska stopped 34 out of 37 shots to earn his second win of the tournament. Ryan Dmowski recorded his team-best third goal while Karl Henriksson added his team-leading fourth assist in the win.

Adam Huska finished with the third-best save percentage (0.892), fifth-best goals against (3.50) and tied with several others for second in wins (2). Ryan Dmowski was seventh in goals (4), Karl Henriksson tied for third in assists (4), and Adam Fox, Vitali Kravtsov, and Karl Henriksson tied for sixth in points (5).

The Rangers who have traditionally struggled to find offense at Traverse City got points from 16 out of the 20 skaters and goals from 12. As a team, they finished fourth on the power play (4 for 15, 26.67%) and first on the penalty kill (1 for 13 92.31%). With three straight wins after dropping their opening game, the Rangers tied for longest win streak (3) with Detroit.

Want to keep going with the stats? Then try third best for shot percentage (17.8%) and fifth in save percentage (0.860), third in goals scored (18), fifth in goals allowed (16) and third in shots stopped (98).

Overall when you take everything into consideration then this year’s Traverse City squad was a winner and showed a lot of promise.

Now we can move on to training camp.

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Now That’s A First Impression

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Seriously what more can someone add after watching 2019 first-round pick Kaapo Kakko carry the Baby Rangers on his shoulders to an impressive 4-3 overtime win over the Minnesota Wild prospects? As much as I am a fan of Vitali Kravtsov, watching Kakko with a 1-3 effort was pretty jaw-dropping. Kakko led a third-period comeback as the Baby Rangers had to rally from being down 0-2 and 2-3 to earn the win.

The Rangers entered the third period trailing 2-0 but working on a five-minute power play after the Wild’s Drake Pilon bloodied the Rangers Lewis Zerter-Gossage with a cheap shot to the head. Vitali Kravtsov got the Rangers going with his first goal at 1:06 with assists going to Karl Henriksson and Kakko. Henriksson got to be the center between Kravtsov and Kakko showed that he could hang with the very talented first-round picks so file that piece of news for the future.

If the Rangers were hoping that Kakko and Kravtsov would start developing some kind of chemistry then they did not have to wait long. Kakko set up Kravtsov for his second goal of the game with a very nice cross-ice pass that Kravtsov “one-timed” past the Stars Hunter Jones at 2:44 of the period. Forget which line these two will play on but rather ask which center will get the luxury of playing between them.

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The Wild were able to regain their lead but after the Rangers pulled goalie Igor Shesterkin for the extra attacker. Kaapo Kakko made it a three-assist game for him when he got the puck to Patrick Newell who scored his first goal of the tournament tying the game at 3-3 and forcing overtime. Kakko, as you saw in the first clip, did the rest to help the Rangers win.

So for the first time since the 2016 tournament, the Rangers have 2 wins and will play for the fifth-place trophy. They will face the St. Louis Blues prospects starting at 12:30 PM/9:30 AM and for those outside the MSG viewing area, the game will be streamed on Fox Sports GO.

Thoughts:

Forgive me if I am confused but it seems silly that a prospect’s tournament would be subject to the same blackout rules as an NHL game. I hope those of you who got to watch the Rangers stream go someone to do the play-by-play. If not then I strongly suggest that the Rangers copy what the Minnesota Wild did and send their AHL broadcasters or even better John Giannone.

The Wild guys to their credit treated the broadcast as professionals and it made the game a lot easier to follow. Stick taps to them and the Wild for giving their fans a solid broadcast.

Igor Shesterkin (Russian Hockey Federation)

Igor Shesterkin played much better against the Wild stopping 20 of 23 shots including some very good saves keeping the Rangers in the game during the first two periods. That said I would give him the start against St. Louis as a test to see how he handles back to back games. Adam Huska also knows how to play in the smaller North American rinks so he doesn’t need the work.

Pretty sure the Rangers backup job will start with Alexander Georgiev while Shesterkin gets the lion’s share of starts in Hartford. If Traverse City is any indication then Shesterkin needs as much playing time as possible to adapt to North American hockey something he won’t get backing up Henrik Lundqvist.

It is hard to see anyone other than Kakko, Kravtsov, and Fox making the Rangers in training camp. Yegor Rykov hopefully is not injured seriously but missing any time will hurt his cause to make the Rangers. It would be better if Rykov started in Hartford so he can get major minutes there instead of being a 6-7 on the Rangers.

Other than that Tarmo Reunanen needs to step up more if he wants to show he belongs in North America. He looks like he has a skillset but considering the glut of young defensive talent he needs to stand out or will get lost in the number’s game. Nico Gross is playing for a contract this year but I think he needs a monster season (including adding more offense) to earn that contract.

Right now I can’t see the Rangers offering Gross an NHL deal when you look at how many defenders they already have in the prospect pool. And that is not including K’Andre Miller, Zac Jones, and Simon Kjellberg who aren’t at Traverse City since they play NCAA hockey.

Ryan Dmowski (Hartford Wolf Pack)

In the time I have been doing this, the Rangers have signed several players to AHL deals hoping to see them become late bloomers which none ever have. Of this year’s group, I think Ryan Dmowski might break the glass ceiling. Been following him for the last couple of years because of goalie Tyler Wall and Dmowski has found ways to play better than expected. His former school UMass-Lowell tends to play a more defensive style of hockey so Dmowski I think has a shot at being a shutdown defensive forward.

Dmowski was 1-3-4 in 10 games with Hartford so if he can add some offense to being a potential blue-collar player then even better.

Adam Fox’s Five Point Game Leads Prospect Win

Adam Fox (Robert Sabo)

It may have been just one game but boy did Adam Fox make it look like Jeff Gorton got a steal from the Carolina Hurricanes.  Fox had a five-point game (2-3-5) with the game-winning goal as the Baby Rangers earned a 7-4 win over the Baby Dallas Stars.

Five different goal scorers and ten total players with points as the team bounced back from Friday’s 6-2 loss.  Adam Huska stopped 24 of 28 shots as the team evened their record at 1-1.  Hartford-bound left-wing Ryan Dmowski added two goals while 2018 first-round pick Vitali Kravtsov had two assists.

The Baby Rangers also got goals from Yegor Rykov, Matthew Robertson and Karl Henriksson as the compete level was better overall from the team. No Kaapo Kakko for this game as he recovers from the flu.

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Not a perfect game as there remains a need for serious improvement among the team defense, giving up way too many odd-man rushes. Still, the improvement was there and so was the stepping up from the Rangers top prospects. This game should go a long way in silencing the critics of these prospects but seriously why anyone doesn’t like the quality of this squad remains mindboggling.

Got to show this goal from Karl Henriksson as he tips in an Adam Fox point shot in the first period.

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This has been a huge missing element from the Rangers offense from both the point shot that was dead on to Henriksson’s setting up in the slot and tip-in. And to think Henriksson is all of 5’9 176 so I would keep this and show it to the returning veterans when training camp opens. Really wish Henriksson was willing to stay in North America and play in the CHL this season as it would help speed up his development.

Off day on Sunday before the team returns to play on Monday against the Baby Minnesota Wild.

Are You Excited Yet?

Vitali Kravtsov (Bildbyrån)

It only seems like it has been forever since a team wearing New York Rangers uniforms played a hockey game but it has only been 152 days. On Friday at 3:30 PM EDT the 2019 Baby New York Rangers will open the Traverse City Prospect’s Tournament against the Baby Columbus Blue Jackets and hopefully begin a new chapter in the history of the Rangers franchise.

The Rangers are sending a 24 man squad that will most likely the most talented team they have sent but it will also be the most inexperienced. If it is like previous years then it will be sloppy, mostly ugly hockey and honestly, I for one don’t care. It is Rangers hockey and while it sounds like Kaapo Kakko might not play (reportedly under the weather), there will several others that one should be excited to watch.

Matthew Robertson (Edmonton Oil Kings)

Whether it is goalie Igor Shesterkin, defensemen Adam Fox, Matthew Robertson or Igor Rykov or the prospect who I really want to see in forward Vitali Kravtsov. The only way this team could be more talented would be if K’Andre Miller and Morgan Barron were also on the team.

But it is more than the prospects to be excited that I want to watch, I want to see the Hartford coaching staff led by Kris Knoblach work. They along with the additions to the player development staff will finally bring to the Rangers some actual teachers to the coaching staff.

Hopefully, that will translate in the prospects being better prepared and developed as they become Rangers.

The last word about how to watch the tournament that I have is that the Fox Sports Go app will live stream the tournament. Pointstreak.com  will be the place to find the stats as well as lineups for the tournaments.

Enjoy the tournament, I know I will.

Why No Television For Traverse City?

New York Rangers (New York Rangers/NHL.com)

With less than five days before the prospect Rangers hit the ice for their first game at the 2019 Traverse City Prospect Tournament, there begs a question: Why aren’t the games at the Traverse City Tournament televised either by MSG Networks or on the NHL Network itself?

This is becoming an annual question especially for a rebuilding team like the New York Rangers. Why not spend the money and show the same fans who you are trying to sell tickets and merchandise what the Rangers future looks like?

It isn’t as if MSG Network has anything more pressing to show on their schedule that they can’t put aside a couple of hours a night to televise the games the Rangers play in. Heck, I seriously doubt that the fans would care if the games are tape-delayed and shown at night.

Nobody is asking for full-fledged TV production with Sam, Joe, and John between the benches.  Nor would you need to do a pre or postgame show but showing the games along with some interviews with the players, coaching staff and the player development staff would do more to excite the fans about the upcoming season.

If they are worried that fans would not watch the prospects in action then the Rangers (and Dolans) have not been paying attention this summer. Rangers fans are very excited about getting to see the prospects whether it is Kakko, Kravtsov, Shestyerkin or Rykov.

But someone at MSG whether it is the network or the team management doesn’t seem to think that showing the fans what they themselves have been pitching is a good idea. Dumb just flat out dumb as if there will not be a better advertisement than a Kakko highlight-reel goal against fellow NHL prospects.

The NHL Network is equally guilty as the Network that likes to bill itself as the home of hockey would rather show repeated content instead of getting hockey fans ready for the upcoming season. Not only is there the Traverse City Tournament but this year the Nashville Predators are hosting three other teams in a tournament of their own (and will televise their games on Nashvillepredators.com).

But nobody else seems to mention if Ranger fans (or NHL fans) will get to see their prospects play. And everyone loses there because someone is being shortsighted.

Prospect Action

Nico Gross (Oshawa Generals)

2018 fourth-round pick defenseman Nico Gross was scoreless as his Oshawa Generals lost 7-2 to the Mississauga Steelheads in OHL exhibition action. Gross was a -2 on one shot with a minor for roughing.  The loss evens the Generals preseason record at 1-1.

Gross was also scoreless on one shot and a +1 on Friday as his Generals earned a 5-4 shootout win over the Kingston Frontenacs. Gross is in his second year with the Generals as an “import player”.

Hunter Skinner (Lincoln Stars)

2019 fourth-round pick Hunter Skinner scored his first OHL goal on Friday evening as his London Knights defeated the Sarnia Sting 5-2. The Knights are excited to have Skinner as they talked about his point shot (he has three shots).

The Knights talked about Skinner in their post-game report:

“Hunter Skinner made is OHL pre-season debut a memorable one with a glimpse of his booming shot from the point and then an empty-netter that traveled about as close to 200 feet as possible on a hockey rink. Skinner shot the puck from deep in the left corner of his own zone and hit the Sting net almost dead centre.”

And this is a reason why MSG should be televising the Traverse City games as I want to check out this 6’2 righthanded defender.

 

JD Brings In His People

John Davidson (Columbus Bluejackets)

John Davidson started to bring in his own people as the New York Rangers announced several hirings for both the team and the Hartford Wolfpack. I have to laugh though at some of the grumblings I read online ranging from “cronyism” to “nepotism” because JD hired several folks that he worked with at the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Cmon people stop it, JD is entitled to bring in the people who he has worked with in the past and helped him build the Blue Jackets as well as the St. Louis Blues. If you want to complain about “cronyism” or “nepotism” then boy you will discover that it happens on all the other NHL teams.

Nobody said anything when either of Glen Sather’s sons came to work for the Rangers as scouts. Same for Gordie Clark’s son who is also a scout.  In fact, if you look at the list of Ranger scouts, coaches and consultants you will discover that every single one of them has either worked with, played for, or is a longtime friend of Glen Sather, Gordie Clark and Jeff Gorton.

You hire folks who you are comfortable with and know what you want to accomplish. It allows you and your team to hit the ground running so enough already, these are excellent hires and will over the long term improve the Ranger franchise.

The Hires

If you read the press release you will already know the who and what about the hires. If not then let’s talk about them.

Chris Morehouse Director of North American Scouting: Morehouse joins the Rangers organization after spending the previous seven seasons in the Columbus Blue Jackets organization (2012-13 – 2018-19). He spent the past three seasons as the Blue Jackets’ Assistant Director of Amateur Scouting (2016-17 – 2018-19). Morehouse joined Columbus as an Amateur Scout in 2012, and he served as both an Amateur Scout and a Professional Scout over four seasons before being named the team’s Assistant Director of Amateur Scouting on July 6, 2016.

Marshall Davidson Amateur Scout: Davidson joins the Rangers organization after spending the previous six seasons in the Columbus Blue Jackets organization as an Amateur Scout (2013-14 – 2018-19). He also served five seasons in the St. Louis Blues organization as an Amateur Scout (2008-09 – 2012-13).

Derek Ginnell Amateur Scout: Ginnell joins the Rangers organization after spending the last five seasons as an Amateur Scout with the Columbus Blue Jackets (2014-15 – 2018-19). 

David Cunniff Assistant Coach Hartford Wolfpack: Cunniff joins the Rangers organization with 17 years of coaching experience in the American Hockey League (2002-03 – 2018-19). Most recently, he was a member of the Iowa Wild’s coaching staff for four seasons (2015-16 – 2018-19). Cunniff served as an Associate Coach with Iowa, as well as the team’s Interim Head Coach for part of the 2015-16 season. In addition, he spent 12 seasons as either the Associate Coach or Assistant Coach with the San Jose Sharks’ AHL affiliate, as well as one season with the Albany Devils.

Chris Hoeler Video Coach Hartford Wolfpack:  (Disclaimer I have known Chris since his days with the Danbury (CT) Titans of the Federal Hockey League.) Hoeler joins the Rangers organization after spending last season as the Director of Hockey Operations for the Chicago Steel of the United States Hockey League (USHL). Prior to working with the Steel, he worked one season with Harvard University’s women’s hockey team as the team’s Video & Analytics Coordinator. Hoeler has also worked with the Danbury Titans in the Federal Hockey League in his career.

In addition, the Rangers made it official the hiring(s) of Tanner Glass and Tuomo Ruutu as Assistant Director(s) Of Player Development. Glass who will be based out of Seattle Washington will work with the Rangers North American prospects. Ruutu will work out of Europe covering, of course, the European prospects.  These are hirings that are long overdue as in the past the Rangers did not have a full-time person who would work with the prospects and help improve their development.

Steve Konowalchuk will move from Amateur scout and work as a professional scout (most likely covering the NHL’s western teams).

 

 

What Will Be The New York Rangers Opening Night Lineup?

Artemi Panarin (Columbus BlueJackets)

Oh well since everyone else is getting to play armchair New York Rangers general manager, I thought why not play myself. Everyone seems to have their own idea as to who is going to be on the opening night lineup, I needed to point out where the holes were. And to make this clear this is just the opening night lineup as David Quinn changes his line combos more often than Cher changes her hairstyles.

Look anyone can throw names out there and think that they know how best to use the talent that the Rangers have but really it is not that easy. Are you going to build a lineup that offers you the best chance of beating other teams or are you thinking that you are building your lineup for others to try and beat you?

What has bothered me the most this off-season isn’t that folks are just handing jobs to the rookies but rather not realizing that you need players who are willing to do the dirty work (IE puck battles in corners or sideboards). Some are also forgetting that there are some rather dirty players in the NHL and you are going to need more than just one Brendan Lemieux to protect the talented players.

First Line

Jesper Fast (NHL.com)

The easy part is sliding Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad onto the first line but who plays right wing for them? Too many are giving the right wing spot to Pavel Buchnevich but I can’t. I have to have someone who will (A) protect Panarin and Zibanejad physically while (B) sacrificing their own game to go into the corners, set screens, pick up the rebounds. The said player also needs to be strong defensively to allow Panarin and Zibanejad the freedom to attack.

Having said that I went with Jesper Fast who does everything I just listed and does it unselfishly. There isn’t anyone else on the roster who will do everything for the team at the expense of his own personal game than Fast. Fast also has enough offense that he won’t hurt the production of his linemates. Second choice RW: Ryan Strome

Second Line

Brett Howden (NHL.com)

Here is where the insanity begins as people are so sure that Kaapo Kakko is just going to walk right in and be at least the second line right wing. Maybe by mid-season but not at the beginning of the season. I don’t expect Chris Kreider to be a Ranger by the time the season starts so this line is going to be a problem. Brett Howden is the center for this line and he gets the job because he offers more offense than Lias Andersson and more defense than Filip Chytil.

Pavel Buchnevich gets the nod for the right wing on this line while Filip Chytil goes on the left side. Howden is used to doing the dirty work so that allows scorer Buchnevich and playmaker Chytil to do their own thing. It is a suspect line defensively and seriously doubt it will be together long.

Third Line

Kaapo Kakko (Turun Sanomat)

The Detroit Red Wings liked to use a veteran forward as a mentor for their youth. They would rotate players from their AHL team to get them used to play at the NHL level. It helped extend the life of their veteran while developing their youth. Having said that I put Ryan Strome here with Kaapo Kakko and Vitali Kravtsov to wean them into life as an NHLer.

Ryan Strome knows firsthand the pressures of being a top first round draft pick so he is ideal to help Kakko and Kravtsov adapt and adjust. This line takes the pressure off Kakko and Kravtsov to produce from day one. Strome found new life playing for the Rangers and with these two very talented young players will benefit from their talent as well.

Fourth Line

Lias Andersson (NHLPA.com)

This one is going to be a combination of players depending on need. For starters, Vladislav Namestnikov can bounce anywhere in the lineup should someone get hurt. He may start on the fourth line but it is doubtful he will remain there long. Brendan Lemieux is your “enforcer”, Lias Andersson hopefully gets the wake-up call that he is in danger of being pushed aside but it would help if the Rangers would define his role. I will as I want him as the lead penalty-killer and defensive spark plug.

“Boo” Nieves will be the first spare forward as he can fill in at both center and wing. Nieves will have to fight off Vinnie Letteri, Clark McKegg, and Tim Gettinger for a roster spot.

Defense

The defense improves not only by the addition of Jacob Trouba but the subtractions of Kevin Shattenkirk and Brendan Smith.

First Pair

Jacob Trouba (Winnipeg Jets)

Jacob Trouba is the easy part, finding him a reliable and dependable partner is the hard part. By rights, you are praying whatever was wrong with Brady Skjei’s game has fixed itself or you will be forced to use Marc Staal or a rookie. I have more faith in Ryan Lindgren being the right partner than I do Staal whose better days are behind him. Lindgren thinks defense first which will free Trouba to be more on the attack and not having to worried about covering for a partner.

Lindgren’s offense has improved enough to be worthy of a first pair spot.

Second Pair

Do whatever you have to do in order to help Brady Skjei find his game or else maybe the Rangers need to seriously consider moving him. If Skjei has his act together then he gets to partner with Adam Fox. Fox the smallish offensive weapon means Skjei has to be much stronger on defense. Fox is going to improve the Rangers power-play but if Skjei can bounce back to the player he was as a rookie then the Rangers will have two “first pair” defensemen on the team.

Third Pair

Marc Staal with his “no movement clause” and at age 32 pretty much forces the Rangers to use him here. Staal’s better days are behind him but if you can keep him at 14-16 minutes a night then you can find an effective defender. Tony Deangelo should be the partner here but he had best look over his shoulder as there are players looking to push past him. Deangelo has shown glimpses of being a solid player but the lack of consistency has held him back. Call this is best last chance and he gets it mainly because the Rangers are lacking in righthanded defenders.

Spare

Given a choice of Libor Hajek or Yegor Rykov then I would take Rykov sight unseen because he has a rep of being a solid defender. Sadly the same can’t be said about Hajek who lives, breathes, and sleeps offense. It is a shame too because Hajek has the skillset to be an excellent defenseman but it is his weakness on defense that will hurt his chances at making the Rangers. Rykov hopefully will have picked up on his offense to push either Deangelo or Staal for playing time by midseason.

Goalies

Henrik Lundqvist is starting on the sunset of his career so the key is hoping either Alexandar Georgiev or Igor Shestyorkin can give the Rangers no less than 35 quality starts. Actually more importantly one of the two backups has to convince David Quinn to play them enough to make sure Lundqvist is not stuck playing multiple back-to-back games. Personally, I think Georgiev is more advanced than Shestyorkin so he gets my nod as the first backup.

For The Rangers How Much Will Be Too Much?

Jacob Trouba (Winnipeg Jets)

So both Jacob Trouba and Pavel Buchnevich filed for salary arbitration late last week and the question to ask is: At what point would the Rangers walk away for an arbitrator’s award? At the time of this being written, the Rangers projected salary cap space was $8,018,534 (according to CapFriendly.com). Of that 8 million, the Rangers will also need to sign Brendan Lemieux and Tony Deangelo who are also restricted free agents as well as add at least two more players to fill out the roster.

Look I am not going to pretend to play salary cap expert and figure out ways to pay for everyone. Nor will I try to figure out the roster at this point in time. This is about at what point would the Rangers walk away from any salary award. The smartest thing for the Rangers would be to avoid having to go into an arbitration hearing period. Realistically the worst thing the Rangers could do is be forced to make such a decision.

If I was Jacob Trouba I would be asking for as much money as possible. Why not because how exactly can the Rangers argue a lower salary at any hearing? When the arbitrator asks Trouba to defend what he is asking for, the first answer is going to be “Because they traded for me.” Trouba can say the Rangers gave up a first-round pick and Neil Pionk knowing that he was a restricted free agent.

What will the Rangers say? Well, he is injury prone (why did you trade for him then?), that his 50 points were a first (why did you trade for him then?), or that he is just 25 (see first two). Trouba knows that just by being traded to the Rangers that he became their best defenseman upon arrival. What do the Rangers say if Trouba is awarded more than 7 million dollars by the arbitrator? If you think for a second the Rangers will say “we think that is too much and will walk away from the award” then you are kidding yourself.

As for Buchnevich, in his case, there is no way Buchnevich deserves more than 2 million in any award. Sorry, the Rangers will have plenty of arguments to win an arbitration case against him. Start with how inconsistent Buchnevich can be, work your way down to how many times Buchnevich found himself in David Quinn’s doghouse and that despite a career high in goals he wound up with fewer points than in 2017-2018.

Buchnevich needs the Rangers more than they need him at this point in time. There are players lining up behind him who over the next year or two can and very likely pass him on the depth chart. How much Buchnevich counts against the salary cap could be the deciding factor as to whether he stays or goes.

Let’s Talk The Draft (Rd’s 3-7)

The easy part of the 2019 NHL Entry is over and one can say that the Rangers are already having a winning draft. But the Rangers still need to find depth as well as talent with their remaining five picks so here goes.

68— If Shane Pinto RW (6’2 195) of the Lincoln Stars (USHL) is here then grab him. Pinto who is headed to North Dakota is big RW who can also play center. He is a work in progress which is why you are looking at him here.

Strong passer who can read the ice well is also a good skater. Despite his size he needs work on in play in traffic as well as his shot selection. Worthy gamble if available but if not then would rather see the Rangers trade down to add more picks.

112— Rangers have to wait 42 picks due to trades before selecting in the 4th round and I am headed back to the WHL. I really like Reece Newkirk of the Portland Winterhawks here mainly because when I watch him play I see Ryan Callahan (also a fourth round pick).

The 5’11 170 center/left wing Newkirk had 59 points in 68 games and his size is why he is here in the fourth. Like Callahan, Newkirk plays with no fear at any end of the ice and is a human wrecking ball. Ranger fans will fall in love with this kid because of his heart and fight.

130— In the fifth I like a kid I got to watch when following Riley Hughes in Massimo Rizzo of the Penticton Vees (BCHL). The name alone says he is made to be playing at Madison Square Garden but seriously the 5’10 170 center/left wing is super fast and an excellent stickhandler.

Also heading to North Dakota, Rizzo plays bigger than his size and is rock solid in all three zones. Really love the way Rizzo’s on-ice vision works as he reads plays before they develop. Will be a serious threat on the power play the way he controls the puck.

161— Right Wing Aaron Huglen of Roseau Jr. Sr. High School in Minnesota. One of the more dominate high players in Minnesota, Huglen is a hard working forward who plays much bigger than his 5’11 size. A smart player who wins puck battles in the paint and will take a hit if it makes a play.

Huglen is heading to the Minnesota Golden Gophers where he will continue to grow and improve.

205— With their last pick, the Rangers are going to repeat their seventh round idea from 2018 and select another Boston high school player. Defenseman Braden Doyle of Lawrence Academy a Boston University recruit follows the path that last year’s seventh rounder Riley Hughes did by taking an extra year before heading off to college.

This one could be one of the better kept secrets as Doyle was selected by the Boston Bruins as the winner of the John Carlton Memorial Trophy. The award is given annually to the high school “who combine exceptional hockey skills with academic excellence.”

Doyle will play next season for Dubuque Fighting Saints of the USHL. He is an offensive-minded defender who can take the puck from his end and lead the rush. An excellent puck-handler, Doyle is also impossible to take the puck from once he gets going.

Fits David Quinns system because he can either skate or pass the puck up the ice in a hurry. Needs work on his defensive side which is why he lasts to the seventh round but that is OK the Rangers will be happy to have him.