Red, White and Blueshirts


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.

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LAZY SUNDAY

There’s not much happening in Ranger Land today as Glen Sather and Co. seem to have taken the holiday weekend off to regroup after this busy past week. If any news breaks, I’ll bring it to you immediately. If you are having withdrawals, there are some interesting reads around the ‘net today.

Hockey’s Future has an in-depth review of last week’s Prospect Orientation Camp here. It seems Mike Del Zotto was not nearly as impressive in their eyes as he was in the eyes of most of the beat writers who had been reporting back from the camp all week. Larry Brooks writes about the controversial Donald Brashear signing and it’s possible locker room effects here and NHL.com has comments from an “excited” Christopher Higgins about joining the Rangers.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend and i’ll be back with more tomorrow.

UPDATE (11:45 PM)- Nikolai Zherdev and Ryan Callahan have elected to go to salary arbitration for the upcoming season. More details on this story tomorrow.



FREE AGENCY DAY 3: ALL QUIET IN THE EASTERN CONFERENCE

The third day of free agency has been slow as the Rangers have been pretty quiet. There are a few reports circulating that Glen Sather has been working the phones trying to acquire a No. 1 center to complement newly acquired winger Marian Gaborik, as well as a power play quarterback to man the blue line next season but nothing has materialized as of yet. Another report says the Rangers have been in contact with Montreal Canadiens stalwart Saku Koivu about possibly signing on to bring his emotionally charged game to Broadway but that New Jersey, Los Angeles and Minnesota (where Saku’s brother Mikko plays) are also very interested in securing his services.

For some observations from the Rangers’ week long prospect development camp, check out Steve Zipay’s Blue Notes and for some comments from Marian Gaborik about his joining the blueshirts click here and here.



FREE AGENCY DAY 2: ANTROPOV GONE, DEPTH FOR THE WOLFPACK

While the Rangers were quiet on the second day of free agency, a few notable moves took place. The first being the departure of Rangers winger Nik Antropov, who was acquired at last season’s trade deadline, when he signed a 4 year 16 million dollar deal with the Atlanta Thrashers. The Rangers had some interest in getting Antropov to return to the team early on but after Sather spoke to his agent and was told Antropov was seeking more than 5 million annually, the team instead turned it’s attention to the other options available both already on the roster (qualifying Nikolai Zherdev for next season) and in free agency (Gaborik). Some question whether the Rangers would have been able to fit Antropov into their plans at the 4 million per year he eventually signed for if they had not given Donald Brashear such a ridiculous 2 year contract but I believe that both sides had already felt it was better to move on to newer pastures.

The Rangers also signed a trio of depth forwards that are almost certainly destined to begin the season with the team’s affiliate, the Hartford Wolfpack. Tyler Arnason, a defensive forward and NHL veteran having spent time with the Chicago Blackhawks and Colorado Avalance was signed to a two way contract and could get a chance to make the fourth line of the big club during training camp. Chris Chappell, an undrafted free agent who scored 38 goals and added 38 assists for Owen Sound of the OHL last season and Corey Locke, who lead the AHL’s Houston Aeros in scoring last season were signed to minor league deals. The Rangers also re-signed P.A. Parentau who plated for the Wolfpack last season.

For the official releases on these signings, click here: Arnason, Locke, Chappell, Parentau.



Gomez Gone

After 2 disappointing seasons on Broadway, the Scott Gomez era is over. The Rangers have traded their big free agent prize from the summer of 2007 to the Montreal Canadiens for Smithtown, L.I. native LW Christopher Higgins.

Gomez, who came to the Rangers after years of winning Stanley Cups across the river in New Jersey, could never find the right fit here with the Rangers in his two seasons on the team. After being brought in to center perennial all-star Jaromir Jagr, the two players found they both needed to control the puck too much to be a match as linemates. Numerous other attempted pairings for Gomez would only produce more of the same and eventually it seems the Rangers have decided to give up on trying to find players to mesh with him, instead moving him out and starting over and in the process, freeing up some much needed cap room entering into tomorrow’s free agency signing period.

In Higgins the Rangers get a player coming off a disappointing season of his own due to nagging injuries but also a player who will probably fit better into John Tortorella’s up tempo attacking style.

 (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The other players involved in the deal are minor league forward Tom Pyatt and defenseman Mike Busto heading with Gomez to MTL and defensive prospects Ryan McDonagh (who was MTL’s No.1 prospect) Pavel Velentenko and Doug Janik come to the Rangers with Higgins.

Analysis: This deal was a no brainer and absolute steal for Sather and the Rangers. Gomez is a very good player but it was evident towards the end of last season that it wasn’t going to work here in Manhattan. I was surprised to see Sather actually back up his strong proclamation of changes coming after last season’s embarassing loss to Washington in the first round of the playoffs but he finally kept his word. Not only did he keep his word but he didn’t just dump Gomez and his albatross of a contract, he actually got back a serviceable winger in Higgins and a top prospect in McDonagh (which has Habs fans blazing up the internet with rage towards GM Bob Gainey seldom seen from them) that could pay dividends for the organization now and in the future. This move also made us players in the upcoming free agency period by freeing up cap room to possibly land Gomez’s replacement at center or a top scoring winger the team so desperately lacked since the departure of Jagr.