Latest posts by Phil Kocher (see all)
- Tony DeAngelo Will Miss 3-to-4 Weeks with Sprained Ankle - 03/14/2018
- Quick Hits - Rome Wasn't Built in a Day - 03/10/2018
- Quick Hits: Rangers Suddenly Deep at C, but D May Kill Hank - 03/03/2018
Clearly still reeling from the deep cuts Jeff Gorton made over the week of the trading deadline, Kevin Hayes—now a young veteran of the team, whether he likes it or not—had some candid things to say about the state of his club in the aftermath of the trade deadline.
There’s no denying that Hayes, who has excelled in the role of shutdown center, has been one of the Blueshirts’ most important players this season. On paper, it makes sense for them to keep him. But he’s now one of five key Restricted Free Agents who the Rangers will need to make long-term decisions on. Also in that mix are 26-year-old Ryan Spooner and 25-year-old Vladislav Namestnikov – both of whom also play center.
Goal was Hayes 22nd primary point 5v5 this season. He had 21 last year.
— Tom Urtz Jr. 🥅📊📉🎰 (@TomUrtzJr) March 3, 2018
With Mika Zibanejad still under contract for another four years and assuming the Rangers will walk away from Unrestricted Free Agent David Desharnais, the Rangers center depth—wholly deficient prior to the deadline—now might actually be too deep. Especially if the Blueshirts intend to give Lias Andersson and/or Filip Chytil an honest opportunity to make next year’s roster out of training camp. It’s a good problem to have, but a problem nonetheless. One that might require more cuts at the draft this June.
If I were a betting man, one of Hayes or Spooner—who has six assists in his first three games as a Ranger—stands a significant chance of being turned into future assets as the Rangers continue to remake themselves. Buckle up, folks – the ride’s not over yet.
Come at the King, You Best Not Miss
Henrik Lundqvist, who celebrated his 36th birthday by beating the Calgary Flames on Friday, is the first Rangers goalie to win a game with 50+ saves since Mike Richter (53 in 1996). Moreover, Lundqvist set his own career-high in saves in a win (50) when the Rangers topped the Canucks 6-5 in overtime on Wednesday night, and tied it again against Calgary two nights later. For the mathematically inclined among us, that’s 100 saves in two games. That’s impressive for the King, but speaks volumes about the Rangers and their inability to defend.
The team has won consecutive games for the first time since beating the Flames and Winnipeg Jets back on February 9th and 11th respectively. But 106 shots against in two games isn’t exactly a sustainable pace if they expect to keep winning.
From Russia With Love
If the Rangers have any intention of reciprocating Ilya Kovalchuk’s interest in playing on Broadway next season, they will have to fight the Kings (among other teams, presumably) for his services.
As per source, LA Kings will be a strong contender for Ilya Kovalchuk in the summer.
— Aivis Kalniņš (@A_Kalnins) March 2, 2018
The Kings, if you recall, desperately tried to lure Kovalchuk to the West Coast in 2010, but failed to pull it off. Perhaps the second time’s the charm?
Czech Out Hajek
So, Libor Hajek—the defensive prospect acquired by New York as part of the Ryan McDonagh trade—was interviewed for the first time by John Gianonne between periods against the Flames on Friday night. When asked if there’s a player he compares himself to, the 20-year-old Czech picked an interesting name – Czech defense royalty himself, Tomas Kaberle.
Jeff Gorton was said to be adamant about Hajek’s inclusion in the trade. If his development can bring him into the same stratosphere that Kaberle carved out for himself, the Rangers won’t be missing Ryan McDonagh much longer.
Beseeching the Blue Seats
Speaking of prospects, consider Ryan Lindgren’s description of his game a teachable moment in public relations.
“My game is going to be physical. I’m going to be tough to play against and I’m going to be a leader.” he told Matt Calamia and NYRangers.com.
And with one bone-crushing body check, he just endeared himself to every blue collar Blueshirts fan who has been waiting for this kind of presence on the blue line since… Darius Kasparaitus?
By the Numbers
- Arguably the Rangers’ hottest skater of late, Kevin Hayes scored his career-high 18th goal against the Flames on Friday night. He has seven goals and 12 points in his last 11 games.
- Ryan Spooner—Hayes’ running mate since being acquired from Boston—is scorching hot himself with five points in his his last two games.
- According to @NYRStatsInfo, John Gilmour is the first Rangers rookie to score a regular season overtime goal since Mats Zuccarello’s first NHL goal back on January 5th, 2011.
- Henrik Lundqvist, who won his 25th game of the season Friday night, is one of just three goaltenders in NHL history who has won at least 25 games in 12 or more seasons. The other two? Marty Brodeur and Patrick Roy. Can you say ‘Hall of Fame’?
- One more for the prospect watch: Lias Andersson has five goals and 11 points in 16 games since joining the Hartford Wolf Pack on January 19th. All at the age of 19.