Red, White and Blueshirts


News Round-up: Zherdev Speaks, Zubov Leaves and Potter Signs

Not much hard news today but some interesting quotes from Nkolai Zherdev to magazine Sport-Express. Zherdev talks about the Rangers, his interest in the KHL and about where he’d like to play should he not return to New York next season. To me the most telling quote from the enigmatic winger comes when he is asked about why his numbers went down after John Tortorella replaced Tom Renney as head coach.

Q: After the new head coach of the Rangers, John Tortorella, has come in, your statistics became worse than they had been over the course of the season with Tom Renney. Did Tortorella trust you less?

A: That was probably one of the reasons. I admit, that I had slump — it’s impossible to play the entire season completely evenly. During that time, at times my game was off completely.

This answer concerns me if I’m the Rangers and I’m looking to bring Zherdev back and expect him to contribute. I don’t like the fact that he believes “it’s impossible to play the entire season completely evenly”. Would we ever hear this kind of quote from Ovechkin, Crosby, Malkin or Iginla? Would you want to commit 4.5 million or more dollars of your cap to a player you had doubts about whether they would bring their “A+” effort every game. This is the reason the Blue Jackets were willing to part with Zherdev last season despite his obvious talent. I think the only way to go with Zherdev is to say goodbye to him now and give his spot to a kid who will fight every shift to make an impression at the NHL level.

To read the entire translated interview courtesy of  Beyond The Blueshirts click here.

In Free Agency news, Dallas defenseman Sergei Zubov, who has been linked to the Rangers in various reports told ESPN.com earlier today that he will not be returning to the Stars next season. According to his agent, Zubov wants to continue his career “in a winning environment no matter where that might be”.

My take on the Zubov story is the same as it has been from the beginning. If he is willing to take a one year deal or a two year deal with incentives to come to New York and quarterback a power play that sorely needs his presence on the blueline, then I am all for it but if Zubov is looking for any more than 2 years or for big coin, the Rangers should pass. The team has built a stable of young defensive prospects all clamoring to show what they can do at the NHL level and blocking their path with Zubov (even if he is a future Hall of Famer) would be a huge mistake for the future of this organization. The better option as I stated last week would be to package one of our many D prospects with a pick to Carolina to acquire the younger Anton Babchuk to help our power play.

In the only roster move of the day, The Blueshirts have come to terms with D Corey Potter. Terms of the deal are not immediately known. Potter had one goal and one assist in five games with the Rangers last season. Rick Carpiniello of Rangers Report has the official release here.

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Roster Reshaping Continues

In a surprising flurry of  activity after a quiet weekend, The Rangers continued their recent roster overhaul by re-signing one of their core youngsters and sending another one packing to the desert.

Ryan Callahan Signs 2 Year 4.6 Miilion Dollar Contract

Ryan Callahan Signs 2 Year 4.6 Miilion Dollar Contract

Earlier today, The Rangers agreed to terms with RFA F Ryan Callahan on a 2 year deal worth 4.6 miilion dollars. If you were to ask most Rangers fans what signing they were hoping to see sooner than later, it would be Callahan’s. The 24 year old right wing  enjoyed a breakout season in 2008-09 scoring 22 goals and posting 40 points while becoming one of the team’s most physical forwards. The signing helps the team to avoid having to go to arbitration against one of it’s up and coming stars. It also may give the team a comparable starting point in negotiations with fellow RFA and young star C Brandon Dubinsky, whom the team is also interested in signing to a long term deal. The deal also leaves Nik Zherdev as the only remaining player headed for arbitration with the club.

Later in the day, The Rangers moved one of their youngsters to Phoenix in an exchange of  players with seemingly bright futures. Lauri Korpikoski, who enjoyed a fine first season with the Blueshirts (but was recently the subject of reports linking him to interest from teams in the KHL), posted 14 points in 68 games while excelling on the team’s highly ranked PK unit was sent to the Coyotes in exchange for Enver Lisin, a 23 year old 6-1, 190 lb. right wing who scored 13 goals in 48 games last season.

Enver Lisin, acquired from Phoenix for Lauri Korpikoski, brings his speed to the Blueshirts

Enver Lisin, acquired from Phoenix for Lauri Korpikoski, brings his speed to the Blueshirts

As I watched this offseason play out and began formulating possible line combinations in my head, I often found myself wondering where Korpikoski would fit amongst the newly acquired forwards and most of the time I didn’t see a strong fit. It looks like the front office did not either. While Korpikoski was sound defensively, he did not give the Rangers much in terms of offensive upside (much like Blair Betts and Freddie Sjostrom, who have also been jettisoned this offseason). Lisin gives the Rangers another speedy winger with the potential to put pucks in the net either at the NHL or AHL level and another option to look at in camp (or another chip should the Heatley situation rear it’s head again) if Zherdev is not brought back next season. I think this was a good deal by Sather to get something promising for Korpikoski before his offensive shortcomings became fully realized by other GM’s around the league.

Here is a highlight video of Enver Lisin from Youtube:

 

I didn’t get the chance to catch up on much local news while in New Orleans over the weekend but there were some interesting reads on the web beginning with Larry Brooks’ artcle in the NY Post here and his interview with new Rangers sniper Marion Gaborik here. The Dallas Morning News puts in their two cents on both the Brad Richards and Sergei Zubov rumors here. The Rangers also re-signed RFA Dane Byers and G Chad Johnson over the last few days. The official releases are here and here.

I hope that gets everybody caught up. Tomorrow we will continue our Prospect Spotlight series. If anything else happens, we will have it for you right here.



Carolina In My Mind

Most of the news surrounding the Rangers search for a defenseman has centered on Sergei Zubov and Derek Morris but we want to add another possibility to the list. According to reports on ESPN, Carolina Hurricanes RFA Anton Babchuk is at a stalemate with the Canes over his contract and the team’s GM Jim Rutherford has told him “if he finds another team that wants him, they will attempt to trade him”. Enter the Rangers. Babchuck is the type of big bodied (6-5, 214) defenseman the Rangers desperately need but he is not just a big frame as he also has some offensive tools (16 goals and 19 assists and +13 rating last season) as well. More important than either of those things however, is the fact that Babchuk is still young (25) and looks to be coming into the prime of his career while Zubov (who missed all but 10 games last season with injury at age 39) and Morris (who has seen his point totals drop every year for the last 5 years) might be on the backside of their careeers. Babchuk would also give the Rangers another option for next season as both Dan Girardi and Marc Staal will be restricted free agents and one of both could possibly recieve offer sheets leaving Glen Sather to make a very tough decision cap wise. Like Patrick Sharp, who we discussed in this blog yesterday, Babchuk could probably be had for a package of a prospect and a pick and would not fall into that old Rangers tradition of trading prospects for “over the hill ” “Name” players. If the Rangers could get Zubov to come on a one year deal for a discount and hope he’s healthy enough to quarterback the power play and be a mentor to some of our younger D men , i’m all for it but if he wants long term or big coin to come then I think a trade for an up and comer like Babchuk is the smarter move all around.

In other Rangers news,  the two year deal signed by Brian Boyle yesterday was worth 525,000 per.  Pierre LeBrun at ESPN has updates on Zubov and the Babchuk-Hurricanes stalemate here. Steve Zipay speculates the Rangers may be looking west for a trade partner here and SNY Rangers blog has an article on the  reported interest of some KHL teams in Rangers forward Lauri Korpikoski here. (The Korpikoski story seemed like a longshot yesterday but after Detroit forward Jiri Hudler signed a deal with a team in the KHL yesterday afternoon, this may not be just the leverage ploy by Korpikoski’s agent most believed it to be at first…stay tuned)

As always if anything breaks, we’ll have it here.