Category Archives: News & Rumors

Alexei Bereglazov and the Rangers

nhl.com

Earlier this week, we published a story on Neal Pionk and his potential impact for the Rangers next season. Today we’re going to look at a different kind of defenseman. One who is bigger, more of a shutdown type player and has played professionally in Russia for the last three seasons. His name is Alexei Bereglazov and he already has a professional championship under his belt, winning the Gagarin Cup with Metallurg Magnitogorsk in 2016. Just who is he and what are his chances at a roster spot next season? Let’s get into it.

Bereglazov, 23, who stands 6’4” and weighs roughly 200 pounds, is no slouch. If we compare that to the Rangers current defensive corps, he’s the third largest in terms of size and weight behind Marc Staal and Nick Holden. Having a big body never hurt, especially on defense, even if the trend in the NHL is now to have a bit smaller of a defense that can skate and rush the puck.

What teams look for in a potential signee is if they see some form of progression in their play. Bereglazov increased his points totals year after year, and solidified his defensive play on the ice, evidenced by his plus/minus trending towards the plus side more and more each year. Bereglazov was signed this past season after showing immense growth from his first few seasons in the KHL. In his first three seasons playing for Metallurg Magnitogorsk, he registered only 14 combined points, but his breakout started during the 2016 Gagarin Cup playoffs. That year, when he won the Gagarin Cup, he scored two goals and six assists for eight points in 22 playoff games. He played 58 regular season games that season and only had eight points.

His breakout continued this past season when he scored 19 points with one goal and 18 assists in the regular season. If we look at his playoff stats as well, things begin to look even better, as Bereglazov earned six assists in 13 games during Magnitogorsk’s run to the Gagarin Cup Finals this past spring.

Contract wise, Bereglazov has a $925,000 cap hit with a European assignment clause in his contract; the same as Pavel Buchnevich. For those unfamiliar with that, it basically means that if Bereglazov is assigned to Hartford during the season, he has the option to return to the KHL at the end of the season. This is a good thing for the Rangers because if Bereglazov happens to not work out how they hope and he happens to spend a lot of time in Hartford he can leave.

So does Bereglazov have a legit shot to make the team? Just like Pionk, it depends on just how radically the Rangers defense changes this summer. It’s almost guaranteed that one of Dan Girardi, Marc Staal, Nick Holden, and Kevin Klein will be gone this summer with possibly another of them leaving or (unlikely but possible) three or four of them. If one spot is all that is open it is going to be a dogfight between Pionk, Bereglazov, Ryan Graves, possibly even Sean Day and others to see who can fill that spot. One of the things possibly helping Bereglazov though is that he is a left-handed shot who plays the right side of the ice. The Rangers need help on the right side of the ice and if he can make an impression during training camp and the preseason… who knows?
One last point I’d like to make about Bereglazov is that unlike Pionk, Graves, Day and other Rangers defense prospects is that he has played primarily on European ice surfaces. European ice surfaces are larger than their North American cousins and players usually have to go through a period of transition if they’re coming from overseas. Forwards and defensemen both have to learn how to adjust their play style and address issues such as gap control.

The New York Rangers are hoping that Bereglazov will translate his game to the NHL rather quickly and if he plays well it only helps GM Jeff Gorton as he makes the decision on how to revamp his team’s defensive corps.

The Rangers Expansion Draft Primer

Benjamin Hager/Review Journal

On June 20, 2017, the expansion Las Vegas Golden Knights will draft 30 players left unprotected by the rest of the teams in the NHL. The next day, the results will be announced during the NHL awards show (unless they are leaked earlier, of course). There promises to be a lot of player movement in two high-stakes games, chess and “chicken”. Golden Knights GM George McPhee could bluff his way into a treasure trove of draft picks and prospects, by claiming to be picking a player he may or may not have any intention of taking. He could tell Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton that he is deciding between Michael Grabner and Anti Raanta. If Gorton feels strongly about keeping one or the other, he may have to pay a price to dissuade McPhee from taking the player he would like to keep.
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Changing of The Pack

Getty Images

After missing the playoffs for the fourth time in the last five years, the Rangers relieved Ken Gernander of his head coaching duties with the Hartford Wolf Pack. Gernander, who is the only player to have his number retired by the Wolf Pack, has served as the bench boss in Hartford since the 2007-2008 season. Gernander got as far as the AHL’s Eastern Conference Finals as head coach but had five seasons of not making the postseason. Gernander helped mold some of the NHL’s finest talents including, Artem Anisimov, Brandon Dubinsky, Mats Zuccarello, and Ryan McDonagh to name a few.
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The NHL and The Olympics

AP

If you are a hockey fan of a certain age, you have seen professionals and non-professionals representing their respective countries. Perhaps the greatest moment in Winter Olympic history came in 1980 when 25 college kids shocked the world, by defeating the Soviet powerhouse. And amateur players were the standard for the Olympics until 1998. Only since then has the NHL sent its players to the Olympic games. But while everyone is out arguing for and against, let’s look at what they are fighting about.
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So what’s it like to catch a Rangers game in Carolina?

Tickets (photo by author)

Last Thursday I traveled with my wife and son to Raleigh, Carolina, to see the Rangers take on the Hurricanes. Some have called Carolina the sixth borough, because of the amount of Rangers fans that attend games at PNC Arena in Raleigh. And Thursday night was no exception. The announced crowd was 11,404, and at least half or more were Rangers fans. Some are transplanted New Yorkers, and some made their way down from the metropolitan area. I spoke to one former Queens resident named Larry, who said that if it was a weekend game “it would have been closer to 75% Rangers fans”.


Your Money Goes Far


There are a lot of great reasons to go on a road trip to Carolina. Number one, it’s very economical from every aspect. I was able to get 3 round trip tickets from JFK to Raleigh Durham airport for under $400. Your time in air is just over an hour there, and an hour exactly back to NYC. I rented a full size car for $27 a day, and my hotel was $125 a night, which included a very extensive breakfast buffet each day. I bought tickets thru seat geek in section 101, row J, 10 rows off the glass, for $90 each. My partial season tickets in section 209 are $92 each. So, for a change, I sat almost rink side, in a section that was predominantly Rangers fans.


Getting to PNC arena was very easy. My hotel was 4 and a half miles away, and a very simple drive. No traffic at all. Parking was $15, and a lot of Rangers fans tailgated in the lot. “Let’s go Rangers”, could be heard all over, as fans started making their way in. The employees of the arena couldn’t be more friendly and courteous. The food options are plentiful and also, much less expensive then MSG. I recommend going with North Carolina bbq fare (definitely avoid the Italian food, you will be disappointed). Pulled pork, pulled chicken and prime rib sandwiches at a carving station are top options.

If you go to the pre-game warmup a half hour before the game, unlike MSG, they will let you go all the way down to the glass. Rangers players tossed many pucks to fans populating the area around the zone the Rangers were skating in. Also, the Rangers backup goaltender, Brandon Halverson on this night, was seated in front of section 123, and kind enough to sign autographs to Rangers fans seated in sections 123 and 124 before the start of the second and third periods.



The Game

Getting ready (photo by author)


The game itself wasn’t the best played game I have ever seen, but was pretty exciting, and of course controversial. Fans took turns chanting for their favorite team. I have heard some horror stories about traveling to Philadelphia and dealing with abusive fans, but this environment was safe and friendly.


The Rangers power play finally did some business, as they scored 3 goals up a man or two. But, the penalty unit let them down with two third period goals against. As we all know, the tying goal should not have counted. It happened right in front of me. I could clearly hear one referee screaming at Antti Raanta, then at the Rangers coaching staff, “He was not in the paint!”, repeatedly. That this same official, gets to review his screw up, and makes the whole league look like a Mickey Mouse operation. Different eyes in Toronto or New York, or wherever, should be reviewing that. Especially, after that official was so vociferous it almost seemed personal, when making a call that should have been reversed.

The bottom line is rather then any referee or linseman review a call on some 10 inch tablet, have off ice officials who aren’t in the thick of the game, determine the coaches challenge. I mean, there is a review room that buzzes down if a puck went into the net and play never had stopped. Adding to that responsibility wouldn’t be hard.



Bottom Line

I have traveled to Montreal, Tampa, and Buffalo, (as well as Long Island and New Jersey), and all were unique and fine experiences. I will say that Carolina was surely the most economical. The weather was great too. When we landed and it was 76 degrees, and sunny, and the following day it was 67 and sunny. It felt good to escape the low temps in NYC for a few days. The only downside to me was the small crowd. It seemed to me every section in the arena was half full or less. I know I would surely go back there to see a Rangers game.

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