Red, White and Blueshirts


Blue Monday (Updated)

While rumors continue to swirl about whether the Rangers are interested in pursuing Saku Koivu, Alexei Kovalev or Sergei Zubov, nothing seems to be imminent on that front. The most interesting news out of Rangers camp is that forwards Nikolai Zherdev and Ryan Callahan have both elected to take the team to salary arbitration for the upcoming season. I believe the Rangers would like to get Callahan under contract long term and will probably be able to do so and avoid a hearing with a deal that is both cap friendly and will make Callahan feel appreciated. The bigger story is Zherdev’s status. There have been reports of Zherdev having interest in returning to Russia to play in the KHL and of possible concerns within the Rangers organization over whether Zherdev can perform and co-exist with head coach John Tortorella in his new up tempo system. There are even indications that the team may walk away from the winger (making him and unrestricted free agent) should he be awarded a contract that does not fit into the team’s salary plans for next season. There is still a chance that the team comes to terms with the enigmatic yet talented winger before arbitration but it seems unlikely and this situation may turn ugly before a resolution is ultimately reached.

Nikolai Zherdev

Nikolai Zherdev

In other more positive news, Zherdev and prospect Artem Anisimov were invited to participate in the upcoming 2010 Russian Olympic Orientation camp. The invitation is a another sign that Anisimov (who registered 37 goals and 44 assists with Hartford of the AHL last season) may be well on his way to making an impact with the big club this upcoming season. Former Rangers Dmitri Kalinin and Alexei Kovalev were invited as well.

If any news breaks, we will be here to report it today and tomorrow will be the first of our Prospect Spotlight series which will feature NYR youngsters that the team is counting on to make an impact in the organization’s future.

For an explanation of the salary arbitration process and which facts teams and players are allowed and forbidden to use to make their cases, check out Blue Notes here. For more on possible Rangers target UFA Alexei Kovalev and his somewhat contentious departure from the Canadiens, check out TSN here.

UPDATE (2:30 PM) TSN.ca is reporting Christopher Higgins has come to terms with the New York Rangers on a new contract. Higgins, acquired from Montreal for Scott Gomez, was a restricted free agent. ESPN is reporting it is a one year deal worth $2.25 million.

UPDATE (4:25 PM) Apparently, Alexei Kovalev will not be making a return to Broadway as he has signed a 2 year 10 million dollar deal with the Ottawa Senators. For more details click here.

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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.



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.