Monday, September 13, 2010

NYR Blogger Round Table

With the NHL season right around corner I decided it was time to bring in the big guns to hear what they had to say about the New York Rangers and the upcoming NHL season. I've been involved in Blogger Round Tables before and they can be both fun and informative, especially if the bloggers involved are good ones. So, I decided to bring in the bloggers who are in my opinion the best in the Rangers blogosphere:

The Blueshirt Banter represented by Joe Fortunato
The Rangers Tribune
The NYR Blog
Blue Seat Blogs
Scotty Hockey

I asked each of the guys if they were interested in taking part and they were all enthusiastic. I put together a series of questions and let them have their say.

Do you think that the Rangers will be a better team this season?

Scotty Hockey - Better than what? Last season's side? I certainly hope so. They didn't address a single one of the team's major problems but everyone is a year wiser and Wade Redden may be removed - addition from subtraction. And I know someone will say that 'well lack of scoring was a major problem and they signed Frolov' but I think he is just the insurance policy for when Gabby goes down with injury - no way our luck from last season runs ad infinitum.

Blue Seat Blogs
- I think they will finish 8th in the East, so I guess that means better.

The NYR Blog - Yes, the Rangers will be a better team this season. The Rangers biggest problem last year was scoring especially on the power play. With the acquisition of Alex Frolov and a seasoned Michael Del Zotto I don't see how the offense can't be better. The wildcard on offense will be MZA. If he can adapt to the North American game quickly the Rangers offense will not only be improved it could be one of the more potent in the league. And I didn't even mention Gaborik.

Another factor towards the Rangers being a better team is the signing of Martin Biron. Biron will allow Henrik Lundqvist to receive some much needed rest while providing solid goaltending. Something the Rangers sorely lacked from their backups last season.

Finally, while I've been overly critical of the size of Boogaard's contract having his toughness in the lineup will allow the Rangers skilled players to do their thing without any threat of an opponent being physical with them.

The Rangers Tribune -  I think that the Rangers have the potential to be a better team this season with improved secondary scoring and a somewhat reliable back-up goaltender. However, it all depends on how things come together and how the team meshes. The truth of the matter is that they need to win more games between November and March, because it seems like the only part of the season the come to play is the beginning and the end. If goal scoring is more abundant this year, then yes, they are a better team.

The Blueshirt Banter -  Yeah, I would have to say so. When you look at this year's team in comparison to last year's team, the only key differences are in players that the Rangers brought in, instead of allowing to leave (so long as Marc Staal is re-signed). I think that the addition of Alexander Frolov will help alleviate the scoring pressure on Marian Gaborik immensely, and I think he will do wonders for the power play as well. But the biggest addition through free agency was Martin Biron. If Biron can start in 15-20 games this year, and really take the load off of Henrik Lundqvist, not only will Lundqvist be more fresh for the playoffs but he will be even better in the regular season because he wont be so stressed. The other side of this coin is that if Lundqvist get's injured (knock on wood) the Rangers have a capable veteran at the back who can take over. So in the end, I really see this years New York Rangers team surprising people.

How many goals does Gaborik score this season? Any guesses on his points total?
Blue Seat Blogs
- It depends on lines, but I would say 38 goals, 80 points.  Frolov's presence takes a lot of the burden off him, but it will be tough to duplicate last season.

The NYR Blog - I think Gaborik's goal total increases to almost 50. He scored 42 last year with absolutely no help. Now he'll have a legit scoring threat in Frolov to run with hopefully opening up some more ice for him. An improved power play should help as well. I see him having a 90 point season (48g, 42a).

The Rangers Tribune -  Assuming Gaborik is not haunted by injury, I believe he should net anywhere from 40 to 50 goals this season. He will have some of the pressure taken off of him with Frolov being added to the team, so hopefully scoring will come a bit easier for the team’s shining offensive star. As for points, he will most likely hit between 80 and 90.

The Blueshirt Banter -   A ton of this depends on the kind of year that the team is having. He is easily a 100+ point talent, since he has gotten close to that figure on very offensively starved teams over the years. I think that the addition of Frolov, and the added experience and confidence of Michael Del Zotto should help him too (especially with his power play numbers). Since the Rangers brought in a scorer in Frolov who the Rangers can lean on for goals as well I see Gaborik getting more space during games and utilizing it. If you put a gun to my head I would say 45+ goals 90+ points this year.

Scotty Hockey - Last year was 86 points in 76 games ... I will say 65 in 50 this time around. Set the expectations low and you won't be too disappointed.

If you could have done one thing this season as Rangers GM, what would it have been? Anything at all, including not making a move that was made, something that was done at the draft, etc.
The NYR Blog - I would have liked Sather to open up some cap space this offseason. I'm not really sure how he would have done it with immovable contracts like Drury, Redden and Rozsival, but overpaying for Boogaard and Girardi didn't help. Heard nothing about Sather getting creative to move any of the big three by sweetening the deal with a prospect or Dubinsky. Still a great chance that Redden gets sent to Hartford so opening up some much needed cap space could still happen.

The Blueshirt Banter -  I would have to say sending Redden down to Hartford. I understand that it very well might still happen (and in the end you have to wait till the end of training camp for the cap hit to come off anyway) but I would get it done. The Rangers can do wonders with that 6.5 million dollars.

Blue Seat Blogs - I would have signed Mark Streit instead of Wade Redden. Streit was the guy I wanted on the Rangers since halfway through the previous year, and he turned out to be the best defenseman of that monster UFA class (Rozsival, Redden, Streit, Campbell).

Scotty Hockey -  One thing? Oh geez. Um, I would have held on to Jody Shelley. Sure it would have been a three year deal for an old guy but in the scheme of things it wasn't that much money for some actual leadership - something the Rangers have been without since Mess left with the lockout.

The Rangers Tribune -   First and foremost, if I was GM of the New York Rangers I highly doubt Derek Boogaard would have been signed. Also, I likely would have packaged (or at least attempted to) Brandon Dubinsky and Michal Rozsival in a trade for a cheap prospect or younger player. Sorry Dubi lovers, but if Rozy is being traded there must be an attractive piece in the package because no one will bite the bait for Rozsival straight up. I would have gone with Johan Hedberg over Martin Biron for Henrik Lundqvist’s back-up as well. I think Hedberg is steadier in net and would have been the wiser choice.

If this season takes a turn for the worse, who goes: Sather, Tortorella or both? 

The Rangers Tribune -  Glen Sather is not going anywhere. I do not care about the rallies, and quite honestly I feel like that whole thing was a waste of time. Slats is here to stay until he steps down himself. Tortorella, on the other hand, is walking a thin line. I think the Rangers will give him until January and if the club is looking as if it will again miss the playoffs, he will be gone. Especially if he has additional “run-ins” with the media.

Blue Seat Blogs - Neither. Sather has unprecedented job security, and I think Tortorella gets another full season.

The Blueshirt Banter - If this season goes sour John Tortorella will be the one handed his pink slip if at all. Glen Sather is the man at the helm, and will be until he decides to step down or unless the Rangers go through a few dreadful years. Either way I would have to assume that Tortorella is sitting in the hot seat, since he didn't live up to expectations last year.

Scotty Hockey - Torts. No way Sather takes the fall, especially, especially now that he has shown a plan for the future. Tortorella already gave the Rangers a black eye with his idiocy in Washington two years ago and
the team he led for a full season didn't make the playoffs - the first Ranger team not to do so since the lockout.

The NYR Blog -  Sorry Ranger fans, no matter how bad it gets Sather isn't going anywhere. Didn't you see Dolan try to bring back Isiah Thomas this offseason. I mean c'mon. Torts will take the fall if the season spirals out of control, but he'll get at least the All Star game to get things headed in the right direction.

Is Redden in the lineup on opening night? Predict the opening night 20 man roster.
The Blueshirt Banter -   No, I can't see Redden in the lineup opening night. The Rangers need his 6.5 million dollars for wiggle room on the season, and his play had been atrocious for the past two years. My opening night roster (I'll do it in line combination form, although I didn't put any thought into the combinations just the players that will be there):

Boogaard-White- (hard to predict this last spot)

Del Zotto-Rozsival

Blue Seat Blogs - No.  Even if he has a tremendous camp, the player cost of keeping him on the roster (Gilroy, White, MZA have to go to Hartford to make room for him) is too much.  Sending those guys down affects the number of 'professionals' playing as well.  I'm going to give you one better and predict a 22 man roster (13 forwards, 7 defensemen, 2 goalies):

Gaborik, Dubinsky, Prospal, Frolov, Anisimov, Callahan, Boogaard, Prust, Drury, Christensen, Avery, Weise, Kennedy. Staal, Girardi, MDZ, Rozsival, Gilroy, Eminger, McDonagh.
Lundqvist, Biron.

Scotty Hockey - Redden no. Frolov-Christy-Gabby, Prospal-Arty-Dubi, Avery-Dru-Cally, Boogy-Kennedy-Prust. Staal-Girardi, MDZ-Rozy, Hobey-Eminger. Hank.

The NYR Blog - I think my above one change comes true and Redden is waived. From everything I've read it's not a matter of if, but when. Plus, Redden hasn't exactly been lighting it up at the informal practices. Unless he has a spectacular preseason I don't see him in the opening night lineup.
My opening night roster is Gaborik, Prospal, Frolov, Anisimov, Avery, Boogaard, Callahan, Christensen, Drury, Dubinsky, Prust, Kennedy, Staal, Girardi, Rozsival, Del Zotto, Gilroy, McDonagh, Lundqvist and Biron.

The Rangers Tribune -  Wade Redden will be in the starting lineup for the Hartford Wolf Pack, not the Rangers thankfully. My prediction for the 20-man roster: Christensen, Prospal, Gaborik, Frolov, Dubinsky, Callahan,  Avery, Drury, Anisimov, Kennedy, Boogaard, Prust, Staal, Girardi, Rozsival, Del Zotto, Gilroy, McDonagh, Lundqvist, Biron

Do the Rangers make the playoffs this season?

Scotty Hockey -  I've said a few times this summer that the Rangers are likely to pull another tease this coming year but I am beginning to think they sneak in with the eight spot.

The Rangers Tribune -  The Rangers will again be fighting for a playoff spot come April, but I have a feeling they will fall short once again. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to see them make it, but I just have a bad feeling. I guess we just have to wait and see.

The NYR Blog - The Rangers will once again be fighting for one of the final 3-4 playoff spots. However, I think they use last year as motivation and sneak back into the playoffs.

The Blueshirt Banter - Yes, I really think this team is going to surprise some people this year. In my opinion Glen Sather has had a marvelous off season (so long as he re-signs Staal) and it will only get better if Redden is demoted to Hartford. I think that this team is a vast improvement on last year and last year the Rangers only missed the playoffs by a point.

Blue Seat Blogs - Yes, but injuries can really put a damper in any teams playoff dreams.

Take off your Rangers' glasses for one minute now. If you had to pick the Stanley Cup Finalists, who are they and who comes out on top?

Blue Seat Blogs
- Pittsburgh, Vancouver, with Vancouver winning it all.

The NYR Blog - Capitals vs. Kings with the Capitals winning it all.

Scotty Hockey -   Boston and Detroit, with the Wings taking the Cup.

The Rangers Tribune - I am going to go out on a limb here and make my prediction for the Cup an original one: Tampa Bay Lightning against the Los Angeles Kings with the Kings coming out on top. 

The Blueshirt Banter - San Jose stayed the same from last year, and Chicago got worse, so I would have to say that San Jose comes out from the West. As for the East? I don't see Washington getting over the playoff hump and I can't see the Flyers catching lighting in a bottle a second year in a row. I might see Pittsburgh coming out of the East. I guess for now I would say Pittsburgh - San Jose.

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