Author Archives: Zak Chiger

Breaking: Dan Girardi Will be Bought Out

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The Rangers announced that they will buy out the remainder of defenseman Dan Girardi’s contract. The rugged 33-year-old had been a staple on the Rangers blue line for each of the last ten seasons, after being undrafted in the 2005 NHL draft. As was previously reported on FullTilt, the Rangers will be saving just under $3 million next season but will have a cap hit of $3.61 million in the 2019 and 2020 seasons.

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The move was one that had been floating around on the Rangers blogs for a good part of this past season. Girardi was one of the most well-liked players in recent Rangers history. He was a hard working and dedicated teammate, who always did the dirty work as a tireless shot blocker. Girardi was named an alternate captain for most of his final six seasons on Broadway and was an NHL All-Star back in 2012.

Now what?

What does this mean for the Rangers moving forward? In the immediate future, it leaves an extra spot on defense for Jeff Gorton to protect. Perhaps the Rangers can re-sign Brendan Smith before the expansion draft. Perhaps they will sign Kevin Shattenkirk with the additional cap room. One thing is for sure; the Rangers are losing one of their more dependable players this offseason.

Rangers Making Moves

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The Rangers announced today that they have re-signed forward Matt Puempel to a one-year deal, worth $725,000. The signing appears to be Jeff Gorton trying to add another player to the expansion draft, with the Blueshirts now being compliant for next week’s draft. With Jesper Fast, Oscar Lindberg, Antti Raanta and Michael Grabner all top candidates to be selected by Vegas, this gives George McPhee another player to look at from his former team. Should Puempel “survive” the expansion draft, he will be able to compete for a roster spot out of training camp.

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Is Kevin Klein Leaving the Rangers?

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According to Larry Brooks of the New York Post, Rangers defenseman Kevin Klein may be retiring during this offseason. The veteran Rangers defenseman was a bit of a disappointment this season, with his play dropping significantly. Klein only made it into 60 regular season games and was a healthy scratch for eleven of the team’s twelve postseason matches. After being expected to be in the Rangers “top four” entering the 2016-17 campaign, Klein looked lost from his first time on the ice back in October.

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The Wolf Pack Have Their Man

Winnipeg Free Press

The Rangers announced today that Keith McCambridge, who joined the Wolf Pack as an assistant coach last season, has been named the sixth head coach in Wolf Pack history. McCambridge joined the Pack last year as an assistant after having coached the Winnipeg Jets’ AHL affiliates in St. John’s and Manitoba. While with St. John’s McCambridge led the IceCaps to an Eastern Conference Finals and a Calder Cup finals.

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Wolfpack Signs Defenseman Brenden Kotyk

Duluth News Tribune

The Hartford Wolfpack announced on Thursday the signing of Minnesota-Duluth defenseman Brenden Kotyk. Kotyk, who stands at a whopping 6’6″, 240 pounds, has a lot of work left to do if he wants to make his way into an NHL roster. He put up 13 points (3G, 10A) this year for UMD, and held a plus-minus rating of+20, all career bests. He was one of the team’s assistant captains and won the Goldie Wolfe Award, given to the most inspirational player at UMD.

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Why Kevin Shattenkirk Is NOT The Answer

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Around the trade deadline, all of the conversation amongst Rangers fans was about acquiring then St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. He certainly has value to the Blueshirts being a right-handed shot who is good both offensively and defensively. And while he would certainly improve the blue line, the cost at which it would come might not be so worth it.

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Goaltenders and Coaches Season Recap and Grades

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With Henrik Lundqvist and Antti Raanta between the pipes for Alain Vigneault’s club, there was not much to worry about entering the 2016-17 season. But unfortunately for all involved, that was not the case. Henrik had an off year, to say the least, and Raanta did an admirable job in keeping the team on track. With Raanta a viable candidate for the Golden Knights in the Expansion Draft, and Henrik Lundqvist starting to show his age a bit, the Rangers find themselves at a crossroads with their goalies. Should Vegas select Raanta, the Rangers don’t have much in the way of an NHL-caliber backup within the organization.

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Defense Season Recap and Grades

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Entering the 2016-17 season, the biggest concern for the Rangers was their defensive corps. Aside from team captain Ryan McDonagh, the entire back end was a giant question mark. Would Kevin Klein be able to sustain his successful play from 2015? Could Dan Girardi and Marc Staal bounce back from very sub-par campaigns? How would Nick Holden and Adam Clendening fit into the Rangers defense? And finally, how would Brady Skjei develop in his first full season on Broadway?

And then you have the moves Jeff Gorton made during the season. Was trading Dylan Mcilrath the right move? How would Brendan Smith adjust to the Rangers system after being brought in during the trade deadline? All of these questions left the pundits to question how well the Blueshirts would do this season. Now that the dust has settled a bit, let’s look back on how the Rangers blueliners fared this season.

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Fourth Line and “Black Aces” Season Recap and Grades

USA Today

The Rangers fourth line was unique this season for the Blueshirts. The line had constants in Jesper Fast and Oscar Lindberg, but the third spot saw a constant rotation. The spot was occupied by Russian rookie Pavel Buchnevich, journeymen Brandon Pirri, Tanner Glass and Matt Puempel, and Hartford Wolfpack call-up Nicklas Jensen. No matter who was on the line, the unit played with grit and an unwavering work ethic that was always much appreciated by the coaches and the Blueshirt faithful.
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