New York Nine: NHL Players (7/28/11)

Honorable Mentions: Marc Staal, Travis Zajac, Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky, Anton Volchenkov, Colin White, Dan Girardi, Matt Moulson, Kyle Okposo, Mark Streit

9) Michael Grabner

Talking about making an immediate impact. After being picked up on waivers from Florida, Grabner scored 34 goals in his first season with the Islanders. His main tool is his speed, which makes him a threat every time he touches the puck.

8) Patrik Elias

Patrik Elias has been a constant force for the Devils throughout the past fifteen years. During his career, he’s played in 961 games, he’s scored 335 goals, and he’s put up 481 assists. He’s still a strong as ever, as he put up a 62 point season in 2010-2011.

7) John Tavares

This 20-year-old sensation has already put up 121 points in only two seasons. If his game progresses and he reaches his potential, we could be looking at a future Hall of Famer.

6) Martin Brodeur

Brodeur has a 2.22 GAA with a .913 save percentage. He has been the most consistent goalie in the NHL in the past two decades, and the best goalie in NHL history in my opinion. Sure, he’s had great players play in front of him, but he has set the bar at a new level for goalies in the NHL.

He may be on the decline, but Brodeur is still serviceable for the Devils. With 20 shutouts in the past three seasons, Marty is still going strong.

5) Brad Richards

Richards could be the missing piece in the Rangers’ puzzle. His last two years have been his best, averaging well over a point a game. Richards, a center, is extremely skilled, and he should definitely help Marian Gaborik get back on track.

4) Marian Gaborik

When Gaborik is healthy, he can put up huge numbers. He put up a combined 85 goals in his last two fully healthy seasons. With Brad Richards feeding him the puck, there’s no reason Gaborik can’t score 35+ goals this season.

3) Zach Parise

After an injury-filled 2010-2011, many forgot just how good Zach is. Parise scored 176 points in 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 combined. He is a scoring machine who will only continue to thrive with players such as Ilya Kovalchuk and Travis Zajac around him.

2) Henrik Lundqvist

Hank has played on some pretty mediocre teams, yet he’s led the Rangers to playoff berths five out of the past six seaons. My only complaint is that he’s yet to carry the team in a playoff series. Once he does that, he can become a Rangers legend.

1) Ilya Kovalchuk

Kovalchuk had a down year in 2010-2011, but he can put up 40-50 goals when he gets on a roll. Ilya is one of the elite players in the game, and he was worth whatever the Devils had to give up for him. Will he be just as good in 2025? Probably not, but I expect him to retire well before his contract is over.

Did we miss anyone?  Is there someone we should have ranked higher or lower?  Leave us feedback here or on Facebook/Twitter.

All three teams in the New York metro area have very talented players.

2011 NHL Free Agency Talking Points

– The main attraction of this year’s free agent class was obviously Brad Richards.  All along, the speculation was that he would sign with the Rangers. After narrowing his choices down to the Rangers, Leafs, Kings, and Flames, Richards finally chose the Rangers.

– I believe today is a good day for Rangers fans.  Nine-years, $60 million is a huge contract, but it comes at an affordable cap hit of $6.67 million per year.  Depending on how much this contract is frontloaded, Richards could eventually retire after six or seven years and leave some low-salary years left on the table.

– This is a symbolic signing by the Rangers.  It shows that the front office thinks the team is ready to win now.  If the Rangers could add another scorer and a veteran defenseman, I agree.  There’s no reason this team can’t win a playoff series or two next season.  It’s no so unreasonable.  The defense and goaltending are there.  Now hopefully the offense will improve with Richards.

– The Rangers also signed LW/C Mike Rupp to a three-year, $4.5 million contract and re-signed winger Ruslan Fedotenko to a one-year, $1.4 million deal.  These are two nice pieces that will undoubtedly fit into what the Rangers want to do next year.  You know how much John Tortorella likes to play a tough, physical, grinding game.

– The Islanders did nothing besides sign center Marty Reasoner to a two-year deal worth $2.7 million.  He’s obviously not the answer to anything.  With money to spend and areas to improve, Islanders fans should once again be irate at their front office.

– As for the Devils, they re-signed backup goalie Johan Hedburg and defenseman Andy Greene.  Greene’s four-year deal should provide some concern, but both are good players that the Devils should be glad to have back.  I’m just not sure the Devils have enough to once again become contenders next season.  They had a chance to add some pieces through free agency, but they were once again restricted because of cap problems.  With only about $7 million to spend and with Zach Parise unsigned, they had no resources to make a move.

– Overall, the past two days have been crazy.  Ridiculous contracts have been handed out, players went to teams you’d never expect them to go to, and some teams like the Panthers went absolutely crazy.  I refuse to pick winners and losers because no one knows how these signings will work out.  Almost every team overspent on players, so no one really won.  By far, the winners were the players.  That’s why it was such a shock that Brad Richards’ cap hit was under $7 million.

For more on NHL free agency, follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

2011 NHL Free Agency Madness

No Daily Briefing today, but we’ve got live coverage of the annual NHL free agency circus.

It’s July 1, and that means it’s time for the most exciting few hours of the hockey year.  It’s time for the first day of NHL free agency, which customarily is the busiest.  All eyes will be on the Rangers in their efforts to land Brad Richards.  The Devils and Islanders are expected to have quiet days, but who knows with Lou and Garth Snow.  As news and signings of interest are reported, we’ll have them here.

Pre-12:00

– The Sabres signed Christian Erhoff to a 10-year, $40 million contract yesterday.

– Carolina re-signed Jussi Jokinen to a 3-year, $9 million contract yesterday.

– Former Islander James Wisniewski will sign with the Blue Jackets for 6-years, $33 million.  Insanity.

– The Devils and Andy Greene are still talking.  He could be re-signed before noon.

TSN’s pre-noon handicap on Brad Richards has the Rangers as the favorites, followed by LA, Toronto, and Tampa.

– The Penguins have withdrawn their offer to Jaromir Jagr.  Could the Rangers be interested?

– Leino turned down a 4-year, $12 million deal from Flyers.  I’d like to see the Rangers in on him for the right price.

12:00-1:00

– Tyler Kennedy re-signed by the Penguins on a two-year deal.  No surprises there.

– Johan Hedburg and Andy Greene were not re-signed by New Jersey.  They will hit the free agent market.

– Red Wings are out on Jagr.  Many Rangers fans don’t want him, but don’t be surprised if Sather gets in on this.

– The LA Kings have arrived at Newport offices to meet with Brad Richards and agent Pat Morris.  Not good for the Rangers.

– The Leafs will meet with Richards/Morris next.  The Rangers won’t because Richards knows Tortorella well.

– The Islanders have signed 2008 draft pick Kirill Kabanov to three-year entry level deal.

– Andy Greene re-signs with Devils for 4 years.

– Various bloggers have suggested that the Rangers give Drew Doughty an offer sheet if the Kings sign Richards.  Unlikely to happen though.  And I say everyone should calm down, Richards still will probably be a Ranger at the end of all of this.

1:00-2:00

– Huge breaking news for Devils fans.  Their Christmas jerseys will be in NHL 12.

– The Rangers may be interested in veteran LW Andrew Brunette.

– Flyers sign Jaromir Jagr. Done deal. Wow. Was not expecting that. $3.3 million for 1 year. At lot for someone who hasn’t played in the NHL for three seasons. Penguins fans are irate right now.

– The Kings are seriously pursuing premier free agent forward Brad Richards.

– Chicago signs Andrew Brunette for $2 million.  He won’t be a Ranger.

– Ville Leino is still on the market.  There are a lot teams interested, possibly including the Rangers.

2:00-3:00

– The Caps have traded Semyon Varlamov to the Avs or a first and second round pick.

– Larry Brooks says that the Rangers will get chance to match on Richards at the end of the day. Brooks says Richards will demand close to max money for the first two years of the deal with a major signing bonus for 7/1/12 to protect against a rollback or lockout.

– Johan Hedburg re-signs with the Devils. I thought this would happen all along.

– Max Talbot joins Jagr in Philly, signs a 5-year deal. Leino and Gagne still available if the Rangers decide to go that direction.

Larry Brooks says the Rangers are in the hunt for Mike Rupp and Anton Babchuk. It’s unclear if any offers were made.

– The Rangers will sign Mike Rupp to a 3 year, $4.5 million contract. Never thought I’d see him put on a Rangers uniform.

3:00-5:00

– The Islanders have signed veteran center Marty Reasoner to a 2-year deal.  The deal is worth $2.7 million total.

– Former Ranger Alex Auld has signed with Ottawa on a 1-year deal.

– The Flyers have traded Kris Versteeg to Florida for second and third round draft picks.

– Ville Leino signs with Buffalo, 6 years for $27 million total.

– JS Giguere signs with Colorado.  Devils fans remember him very well from the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals.

Larry Brooks: Rangers have made their pitch to Richards. Now we wait.

Post-5:00: Brad Richards Drama

– TSN’s Darren Dreger says that Calgary is going in with a big pitch for Richards.  The Flyers may be in on him too, according to Dreger.

– Gord Miller of TSN claims that the Rangers are “confident” about their chances to sign Richards.

– Nick Kyperos tweets that the Flyers may now be the favorites for Richards.  But how could they sign him?  They have no cap space.

Larry Brooks of the Post points out that because the “Kovalchuk Amendment” in the CBA, the longest deal for Richards would probably be nine years.

Brooks also says that the Rangers don’t have the highest offer for Richards.  With more teams getting in on the bidding for Richards, this may not end well.

– Despite a monster 9-year, $64 million offer, Jesse Spector says Richards won’t go to Calgary.

Larry Brooks reports that Jim Dolan has spoken with Brad Richards.  Is that even a good thing?

– Jesse Spector of the Daily News tweets that the Rangers would look to add a scoring left winger if they landed Richards.

– The Rangers re-sign Ruslan Fedotenko for one-year, $1.4 million.  He wasn’t needed with the Rupp signing, but he’s good to have.

– According to GM Steve Yzerman, the Lightning are out of the Brad Richards sweepstakes.

– This may end very bad for the Rangers.  According to Larry Brooks, the Rangers are definitely not the highest bidder.  Goodbye Brad?

For more on NHL free agency, follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

It's that time of year again.

Devils Final Draft Summary

The New Jersey Devils completed their 2011 NHL draft starting off with a bang by selecting Defenseman Adam Larsson in the 1st round (#4), arguably the best two-way defensemen in the draft. All sources were pointed towards the Devils drafting much-needed forward, but when Larsson fell in their laps, it was a no-brainer. The following picks by the Devils were greeted with mixed reviews and they were:

3rd round: Blake Coleman (Center): Won both Junior player of the year and forward player of the year by posting 92 points (34G/58A). He was posted a + rating of 52 which indicates to me a player who handles both ends of the ice. Coleman is committed to Miami University, but should only need 2 seasons before making his way to the NHL.

4 round: Reid Boucher (Center): He is a  5’10”, 192 lbs center, who also plays the wing. Boucher lacks top-end speed, so a move to the wing could bolster his career. Simply put, the left-handed shooter can put the puck in the net. That said, he needs to improve his stick, as he won only 9 of 25 total puck-battles.

5 round: Blake Pietila (LW): The 5’11”, 189 lbs left-winger had the lowest grade (42) among all the players scouted in this game. He played limited minutes, while winning only 2 of 5 faceoffs, and 4 of 10 offensive-zone puck-battles.

6 round: Reese Scarlett (Defense):  He is a very smart two-way defenseman. He is a good skater and has good size, but like most 17 year olds, he is still a bit skinny. More weight and muscle will come with time. He is also a right-handed shot, something many NHL teams still covet.

7 round: Patrick Daly (Defense): Daly is a defenseman from Benilde-St. Margeret’s a prep school in Minnesota.  He isn’t all that big or all that small at 6’0″ and 181 pounds. Like Reece Scarlett, the Devils’ sixth round pick, Daly can stand to bulk up quite a bit.  Daly is a long-term project and will be going to play for the Wisconsin Badgers next season.

As I mentioned earlier, the Devils started they draft with a bang (drafting Larsson), however; they kind of fizzled out after the selection of center Blake Coleman.  Only time will tell if Boucher, Pietila, Scarlett and Daly make they way to the NHL. My final grade for the Devils is C+.

New Jersey Devils

First Round Review for Rangers, Devils & Islanders

The 1st round of the 2011 NHL draft is completed and the Rangers, Devils and Islanders selection have some mixed reviews. let’s start with the Rangers:

Rangers

The New York Rangers selected Jonathan Miller out of the USA U-18 USHL League. Miller’s stock rose after an impressive Under-18 World Championships. where he led US to a gold medal over Sweden by posting 4 goals and 9 assists in the tournament. I like Miller and his style of play fits right into the Rangers system. However; I was hoping the Rangers would have traded down (perhaps with Ottawa, who had 3 1st round picks (#6/#21/#24), perhaps acquiring Ottawa’s #21 or #24 pick and also an additional pick (#61 in the 2nd round) for their 15th overall pick. Players like Tyler Biggs, Nicklas Jensen (who I had projected) would have been available between the 21st and 24th picks and possibly Miller as well. Again, Miller is a solid player and pick and reminds me of Brandon Dubinsky, but I think the Rangers wasted an opportunity to acquire an additional pick.

Jonathan Miller

Devils

The devils selected arguably the best all around defensemen in the draft in Adam Larsson with their 1st round (#4) overall pick .  I had the Devils drafting a center in my pre-draft (Sean Couturier), however; I did suggest that if Larsson fell to them, it would be very hard to pass on him, which they didn’t. Despite the Devils having depth on defense in their system, I can not blame them for selecting Larsson, he is that good. Larsson will have a solid NHL career and become the 2nd best defensemen in Devils history (Scott Neidermayer #1).

Adam Larsson

Islanders

The Islanders selected a gifted center in Ryan Strome who posted 106 pts (33g/73a) last season. Out of the three local picks, I think this one surprised more people, as many (including myself) had the Islanders drafting a much-needed Defensemen. Strome wasn’t even listed on many mock drafts in the top 10, so this was definitely a surprise. The Islanders passed on Defensemean Dougie Hamilton, who would have been a mainstay for this organization for the next decade. Strome is an exciting player, but in my opinion, players like Courturier and Huberdeau would have been a better selection.

Ryan Strome

All three teams drafted a quality player and only time will tell how good they will be. I will give my overall grades for each team after the draft is completed.

Final Footnote:

I will say this that the Eastern Division has gotten a lot better over the past week with all the transitions and draft selections that have occurred. I expect this division to even get stronger after July 1st free agent signings begin. I will give a preview for each local team on who they should pursue via free agency later this week.

2011 NHL Draft First Round Recap

With the 4th overall pick, the Devils selected Swedish defenseman Adam Larsson with the 4th overall pick.

– Pierre Mcguire has called Larsson the best defenseman in the draft since Drew Doughty in 2008 so this looks like a good pick for Lou Lamoriello.

With the 5th overall pick, the Islanders selected Canadian center Ryan Strome with the 5th overall pick.

– Strome has a lot of potential and can be very good for the Islanders.  He scored 106 points in the OHL last season.

With the 15th overall pick, the Rangers selected J.T Miller right-winger with the 15th overall pick.

– Surprising pick to many, but Gordie Clark has been great over the years.  He seems to fit in to the model for the Rangers team going forward, so you can’t complain about this pick.  Gordie got his man.

For more on each pick, follow us on Twitter.

2011 NHL Draft Preview

Mike Stewart has been working very hard predicting the NHL Draft over the past few weeks.  With the Rangers, Devils, and Islanders all picking inside the top-15, it is going to be an exciting draft for sports fans.  Here’s what Mike has come up with.

Islanders Pre-Draft Analysis

Devils Pre-Draft Analysis

Rangers Pre-Draft Analysis

Mike also created preliminary mock drafts for the Rangers, Islanders, and Devils last month, as well as an overview of what each team should focus on.

As we have discussed here and on Twitter, the Rangers moving down is a huge possibility.  I personally don’t like it, and would much rather trade up.  I feel the Rangers may be able to get an elite prospect inside the top-10, but they will almost certainly not get one if they trade down.

For a recap of last year’s draft, click here.

Two of these four guys were draft picks for the Rangers. Moving forward, the Rangers will need a nice balance of young talent and impact veterans.