Tag Archives: Brady Skjei
Klein Heading for Retirement?
A few weeks ago, Larry Brooks broke the news that Rangers defenseman Kevin Klein was leaning toward retirement. Klein went from being one of the more dependable Rangers defensemen to a nightmare in his own zone. He has been bugged by back issues that may have contributed to his decline and will be in the last year of his contract next season.
According to TSN Insider Bob McKenzie, UFA defenseman Brendan Smith is closing in on a four-year deal with a $4.35 million AAV with the Rangers. Smith was acquired by the Rangers at the deadline last season for a second and third round pick from the Detroit Red Wings and brought a nice snarl and edge to the Rangers blueline. He formed a nice tandem with Rangers defenseman Brady Skjei toward the end of the regular season and playoffs.
Over the last week or so, Rangers center Derek Stepan’s name has come up prominently in trade rumors, which have been confirmed by many of the most clued in hockey insiders. Then, six days ago, Rangers insider Larry Brooks sent out this tweet:
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.
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.
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.
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.