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.

Daily Briefing: July 22, 2011

– The NFL owners passed a CBA yesterday, but the players have yet to vote on it.  I highly doubt they’ll agree to the proposal.  Reports say the deal heavily favors the owners.  Knowing well that the players won’t agree to the deal, this was likely just a public relations move by the league.

– The Jets announced yesterday that they hired former Colts offensive coordinator Tom Moore as a consultant.  I love the move.  Let’s hope he can do to Mark Sanchez what he did to Peyton Manning.

Sources say that NL East teams are interested in Carlos Beltran.  The Daily News says the Mets could trade Carlos to the Phillies or Braves, despite rivalries with both teams.  I believe this is a smart move by the Mets.

– As we reported yesterday, the Rangers have re-signed Brandon Dubinsky to a four-year deal worth $16.8 million.  Considering this year’s free agency market, this is a great deal for the Rangers.  Dubinsky could be a legitimate 30 goal scorer in this league if he reaches his potential.  If not, the Rangers will settle for a hard-working 20-25 goal scorer who gives his all every night.  You’ll rarely see a game that Dubinsky doesn’t make an impact in some way or another.

– Announcer Doc Emrick announced yesterday that he is leaving the Devils for a full-time role with NBC/Versus.  He was without a doubt one of the best announcers in the league every year he was with the Devils.  Good luck to him, and I can’t wait to see him take on a more prominent role in nationally televised games.

As always, feel free to follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the latest breaking news on all things New York sports.

Doc spend 21 years as a play-by-play man for the Devils.

Rangers Re-Sign Brandon Dubinsky

The Rangers and Brandon Dubinsky have agreed to a four-year, $16.8 million contract to avoid arbitration.  Dubinsky requested a contract worth $4.6 million in arbitration, while the Rangers came in at $2.8 million.  This deal is a huge win for the Blueshits, as they locked up one of their key core players at a very reasonable price.

Here’s the breakdown of the contract:

2011-12: $3.75 million
2012-13: $3.75 million
2013-14: $4.65 million
2014-15: $4.65 million

Daily Briefing: July 20, 2011

– The NFL lockout is still on, but it is expected to end any day now.  I personally wouldn’t be surprised if today is the day a deal gets done.  Negotiations are being held up by the Brady vs NFL anti-trust lawsuit, but hopefully everything will be resolved quickly.

– Meanwhile, the NBA lockout has no end in sight.  The Knicks will open up at home against the Heat if the season starts on time, but that’s very unlikely.  I fully expect to miss at least half the season.  I’d say at this point it’s likely we don’t see another NBA game until the 2012-2013 season.  Games are going to have to be missed before one side caves in their demands.

– Antonio Cromartie said that he wouldn’t give the Jets a hometown discount, which shouldn’t be surprising to any Jets fans.  Cromartie has always come off as a guy who would easily leave to go get money somewhere else.  It will hurt the Jets if he leaves, but the team can definitely do without him.  If his departure leads to the re-signing of Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards, it may be a good thing.

– Peter DeBoer is the new head coach of the Devils.  I don’t expect him to last more than three months, as it’s customary that Devils coaches don’t last the whole season.

– The Lightning and Steven Stamkos have reached a five-year deal.  As I said all along, there was no way Steve Yzerman was going to move him.

– The Yankees and Mets have discussed a possible Carlos Beltran trade, but it remains unlikely at this point.  I believe the Mets should not shy away from possibly trading with the Yankees, Braves, or Phillies.  They would only be hurting themselves by not taking the best deal possible.

– More and more teams seem to have interest in Ubaldo Jimenez, although there is no reason to believe the Rockies will trade him.

For more on the two lockouts, NFL free agency, and more, follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Could Carlos Beltran be wearing a different set of pinstripes within the next week and a half?

New York Rangers: Soon to be Champs

I am a Ranger.  That’s not a only a corny MSG marketing slogan, it’s also the truest thing that’s ever been spoken about Rangers fans.  From sunrise to sunset, our lives revolve around the Broadway Blueshirts.  Being a Rangers fan isn’t just a hobby, it’s a passion and a lifestyle.

We were founded in 1926 as part of the Original Six.  Despite there being a handful of teams in the league at the time, we only escaped the Original Six era with three Stanley Cups.  Besides the Chicago Blackhawks (who also have four Stanley Cups in their history), every other Original Six team has had much more success than we have had throughout the past 85 years.

As more teams were added to the league, the Rangers fell into obscurity.  There were years we were good from the late 60s through the 80s, but we never good to take home the Stanley Cup once again.  The Curse of 1940 seemed like it would never go away.

That all changed one fateful October day in 1991.  Thanks to Glen Sather and budget cuts by the Oilers, Mark Messier and Jeff Beukeboom were traded to the Rangers in exchange for Louie DeBrusk, Bernie Nicholls, and Steven Rice.

Two and a half years later in the spring of 1994, the Rangers found themselves four games away from a trip back to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1979.  The problem?  The Blueshirts fell into a 3-2 series hole and were facing elimination on the road.

The opponents were none other than the New Jersey Devils, led by a young Martin Brodeur.  Mark Messier claimed “We’ll Win Tonight” before Game 6, and The Captain delivered with a hat trick that night at the Meadowlands.

A wraparound goal in overtime of Game 7 sent the Rangers back to the promised land.  But Stephane Matteau would only have been a footnote in history if the Rangers didn’t take care of things on “Mount Vancouver”, in the words of Howie Rose.  The Rangers jumped out to a quick 3-1 lead, but two straight losses set up an apocalyptic Game 7.  It  was truly the last stand on Earth for the Rangers.

Leetch sniped one into an open net, Graves scored on the power play, and Messier tipped one in on another power play for good measure.  The Rangers were the champions for the first time in 54 years and it felt damn good.  Sam Rosen famously (or infamously, depending on your point-of-view) exclaimed, “…and this one will last a lifetime!”

But that one didn’t last a lifetime.  17 years later, Rangers fans are as hungry as ever for another chance to bring the Stanley Cup back to New York.  From ‘94 to the lockout, we watched this franchise crumble to the ground.  Between bad draft picks, terrible trades, and laughable free agent signings, the Rangers became the joke of the league.

Luckily, we decided to change our strategy after the lockout.  Behind our franchise goalie in Henrik Lundqvist, we’ve made the playoffs five out of the last six seasons.  Instead of trying to “win now” every year, we’ve built from within and put ourselves in an enviable position.  With a plethora of young prospects and two stars in Richards and Gaborik, there’s no reason we can’t take the next step and be parading down the Canyon of Heroes sooner than later.

The Big Apple deserves a winning hockey team, and I believe the Rangers are here to stay as the premier hockey franchise in the New York metropolitan area.  The Devils may have the veteran players to carry them the next few seasons, and the Islanders may have the young prospects to be good one day.  But there’s only a handful of teams in the league that have the perfect balance between the two.  I wholeheartedly believe that we are one of those teams.

So why not us?  Say what you want about our owner, but he’s willing to spend money to get the job done.  There are a lot of teams who would kill to have an owner like Jim Dolan.  The same goes for our general manager.  Sure, Sather may not be Conn Smythe, Lester Patrick, or even Neil Smith, but he’s really been committed to building this team the right way over the past few seasons.  And what’s not to like about our coach?  He’s fiery, his players seem to love playing under him, and he’s already won a Stanley Cup.

What about our goaltender?  Henrik Lundqvist has yet to put the team on his back and carry us through a playoff series, but anyone who watches him every game knows how vital he is to this team’s success.  From saves in crucial moments to shutting out teams in the shootout, there are only a handful of goalies who are as good and as consistent as Hank.

There’s no use in having a good goaltender if you don’t have quality defensemen to put in front of him.  Thankfully, that’s not a concern for the Rangers.  With Marc Staal and Dan Girardi, we have a potent top-two defense pair.  Michael Sauer and Ryan McDonaugh, two rookies last season, emerged as legitimate top-four defenseman.  Add Tim Erixon to that mix, who is NHL-ready according to most scouts, and you have five reliable defensemen who will be part of the long-term picture.

Then you have Michael Del Zotto, who is an extremely skilled 21-year-old puck mover.  If he can figure things out, he can be a great tool on the power play.  Another highly touted defenseman is last year’s first round pick, Dylan McIlrath.  I was a critic of the pick at the time, but it makes perfect sense now.  McIlrath can be the crease-clearing defenseman we’ve been missing for years.  If he can develop into what we think he can be, he is definitely going to be a special player in this league.

Our defense and goaltending are great, but what about our offense?  For years we couldn’t score, but the Gaborik-Richards combo is sure to change that.  We haven’t had a more potent forward combo since Messier and Graves.  No matter if it’s Wolski or someone else playing left wing with Richards and Gaborik, the Rangers are going to have no problems with their first line in the near future.  The second line isn’t bad at all either, with Dubinsky, Anisimov, and Callahan.  I’ll take those guys any day of the week.

Perhaps the heart and soul of this team lays within the lesser known players on the team.  Boyle, Prust, Rupp, Zuccarello, Fedotenko, Avery, and others are the players who make up our true identity.  We’re a hard working team that grinds out every minute of every period of every game.  Those players above clearly exemplify of what we’re about.  We haven’t had an identity for years, but now we are finally showing teams what we’re all about.

So what about our future forwards?  With guys like Chris Kreider, Carl Hagelin, and Christian Thomas all inching closer to joining the team, we’re in good hands.  Derek Stepan proved to the world last year that our farm system is as good as hyped.  Led by Gordie Clark, our scouting department has done a great job at drafting some the game’s future stars.  If we continue drafting as well as we have been, we’re going to be a competitive franchise for a long, long time.

Rangers fans have been waiting since 1994 for another Stanley Cup victory, and I believe we’re closer now than ever before.  1994 was a thrill for every Rangers fan old enough to remember it, but it’s time for some new memories.  With stable leadership on the ice, behind the bench, and in the front office, I think Stanley Cup number five could be right around the corner.  It may not be this season or the next one, but our time is coming.

When Glen Sather pulled the trigger and signed Brad Richards, this franchise’s rebuilding mode came to an end.  It’s now only a matter of time before “the waiting is over” once again.

Daily Briefing: July 10, 2011

– Derek Jeter got his 3000th hit yesterday, and he did it in grand style.  His home run to give him 3000 hits was part of a 5-5 day.  He delivered the game winning hit in the 8th inning.  Christian Lopez, who caught the home run ball, will be rewarded with front row tickets for today’s game, suite tickets for the rest of the season, and a plethora of signed merchandise.

–  Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez has indeed hired Scott Boras to be his agent, according to multiple sources.  K-Rod refused to acknowledge the move yesterday, but we have no reason to believe the Boras hiring isn’t true.

– Rangers Wojtek Wolski could still be bought out, according to Larry Brooks.  This move only makes sense if the Rangers plan on perusing another high-priced player.  The Blueshirts have enough money to sign all of their RFAs, and like a few million dollars left over.  There’s no reason to buyout a player with such a high ceiling.  The Rangers need offense, and cutting ties with Wolski would only hurt them in that department.  The only way buying out Wolski could make sense is if the Rangers are looking to go after another scorer

– There’s been no news on either the NFL or NBA lockouts.  Deron Williams’ and Michael Beasley’s signings overseas have caused a stir throughout the NBA.  There’s word that some players could stay beyond 2011-2012, even if the lockout ends.  We also must wonder how D-Will playing overseas impacts his future with the Nets.  I think, if anything, not playing a second season with the Nets is a bad thing for the franchise.  It would have been much easier to re-sign Deron with a full season as a Net under his belt.

– Reports say Shaq is set to join the TNT studios.  This is a huge win for TNT and fans of the NBA.  The problem is that there likely will not be a season next year, so we may have to wait until 2012-2013 to see Shaq’s hard-hitting analysis.

– Oddly enough, Lebron James will now be sponsoring three college basketball teams.  Ohio State, Kentucky, and Miami should all benefit off of Lebron’s great public image, especially in recent months.  Great move by those those colleges.  I’m sure people from Ohio just love that their college basketball team is paying Lebron money to represent them.  The funny thing is, Lebron didn’t even go college.

– If you were wondering or concerned, Yi Jianlian is doing just fine during the lockout. Here’s a video of a recent epic dunk of his. Where was this Yi with the Nets?

– One of the main issues concerning the next NBA CBA is the salary cap.  Players want to keep the soft cap in place, while the owners want a hard/flex cap.  In this article, Gilbert Arenas explained how a hard cap won’t help small market teams.  I never though Arenas would say something intelligent, but he’s 100% right about this one.  I believe a hard cap really wouldn’t improve parity at all in the NBA.  Until you put actual rules in place to limit what the top teams in the league can do during the offseason, you’ll never have a competitive balance.  Something like the “Final Four” and “Final Eight” rules like we had in the NFL last season would be perfect.  I don’t get why realistic solutions like that aren’t brought up.  In the end, it’s about the owners and the league making money.  That’s the only reason they want a hard cap.

As always, feel free to follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the latest breaking news on all things New York sports.

Mauling the Media: ESPN Knows Nothing About Hockey

ESPN, who has constantly shown an anti-NHL bias in their daily coverage of the sports world, decided to ask Rangers fans if the Brad Richards signing was the biggest since Mark Messier’s signing.  The problem is Mark Messier was never signed by the Rangers.  The Captain was traded in 1991 (by none other than Glen Sather) from the Oilers to the Blueshirts for Louie DeBrusk, Bernie Nicholls, and Steven Rice.  This is not only basic Rangers knowledge, but it’s basic hockey knowledge.  I would give them a pass, but this was ESPN New York.  Not knowing how the biggest name in Rangers history was acquired is unacceptable for anyone covering New York sports.

The bigger story here is the sports media’s general hockey coverage.  ESPN and other major sports media outlets constantly have no idea what’s going on in the world of the NHL.  But it’s not only ESPN.  SNY’s hockey coverage on Daily News Live, The Wheelhouse, and Loud Mouths is borderline laughable.  I really don’t care if someone doesn’t know anything about hockey, I just get offended when people like Chris Carlin think they know what they’re talking about when they don’t.

The epitome of this point can be found within the friendly confines of Mike Francesa’s radio program.  Mike talks about golf, horse racing, and even his favorite summer songs.  Hockey?  Don’t even think about bringing it up on Mike’s show.  Although, one of the most famous moments on Francesa’s show did involve the Islanders.