Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tying Up the Last Loose End

I know this news is a little late, but here’s my take on the Fredrik Sjostrom deal. Freddie was the last Ranger who wasn’t signed, so acquiring him was the last player that the Rangers needed to worry about locking up. Sjostrom signed a one year $840,000 contract, and as I have said in prior posts, I love Sjostrom’s game. Tom Renney and Glen Sather love Sjostrom’s game. Fred plays what I like to call “high-octane hockey”: he hits hard, skates fast, is defensive minded and has a nice scoring touch that I believe is about to burst. Renney said in an interview during last season’s playoffs that he wanted to give Sjostrom more playing time than he was getting, but his main goal was too shift Sjostrom into a Ranger’s role at a slow pace, avoiding any stalls in his New York Ranger development. Sjostrom can play on the second, third or fourth line, and fit very comfortably on each. He has a defensive head on his shoulders much like Jay Pandolfo, he can take the body like Darcy Tucker (circa 2001) and can skate faster and dangle nastier than he is given credit for. When given the necessary time to settle in and develop chemistry with the most likely trio of Dubinsky centering Prucha and Sjostrom (Great 3rd line, so keeping my fingers crossed on this one), don’t be surprised to see him explode to a very attainable 20-25+ goal(s) season. Sjostrom can be used on the penalty kill as well, as we saw the coaching staff utilize his speed and defensive capabilities at the end of the season in 2007, playing with Gomez, Drury and Dubinsky on more than one occasion and killing penalties in vital playoff situations. Especially if our beloved Brendan Shanahan is out the door, Sjostrom is a more than substantial fill-in for the veteran PK killer. There’s a nice piece over at Blue Notes by Steve Zipay who has an e-mail from Sjostrom talking about next season and his signing. A dear journalist friend of mine by the name of Marty “The Moose” Hunter got in contact with me yesterday with interesting tidbits about the summer musings of Scott Gomez and Chris Drury, but I’ll keep that on the DL for now, or at least until my next posting…


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Rangers Re-Up Jessiman

Jessiman, 24, skated in 71 games with the Hartford Wolf Pack of the American Hockey League (AHL) this past season, registering 18 goals and 24 assists for 42 points, along with 154 penalty minutes and a plus-10 rating. He established career-highs in goals, assists, points, penalty minutes, and plus/minus rating. The 6-6, 230-pounder has skated in 166 career AHL games in three seasons with Hartford, registering 32 goals and 42 assists for 74 points, along with 299 penalty minutes. In 2006-07, Jessiman notched his first career multiple-goal game on March 4 at Hershey (two goals), and recorded a three-game, goal-streak from February 24 to February 28 (three goals). On January 21, 2006, he tallied his first career AHL points with a two-point effort vs. Providence (one goal and one assist). The New York City native was originally selected as the Rangers’ first round draft choice, 12th overall, in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.

Hugh Jessiman is a guy that will most likely not come close to cracking the lineup come October. He is one of those players who has the potential to be great, but is yet to take the necessary steps to further his professional hockey career. For Sather and the rest of the Rangers scouts to pick this guy in the first round, they must have seen greatness in him; which leads me to believe that Jessiman is not a lost cause just yet. If he does in fact have a greatly improved season and at least a decent training camp, he can and most likely will be called up for his size (6'6, 230lbs.) in case any injuries occur to Mara or Kalinin (which is a big possibility). If the guys in the front office saw something in that kid, than I will go along and say the potential for him to make the NHL is there. However the task is solely in his hands, and if he wants to pull that Rangers sweater over his head this season, than he better get his game in shape and work his ass off.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Rangers Get Some "Moore"

Restricted free agent--Greg Moore--re-signed with the Rangers today. The right wing scored 26 goals and 40 assists for 66 points, along with 31 penalty minutes and a plus-27 rating. He finished second on the club in goals (26) and points (66), and third in assists (40) and plus/minus rating (plus-27). His 66 points also tied for 18th among all AHL skaters, and his plus-27 rating ranked sixth in the league.The PlanetUSA AHL All-Star posted 17 multiple-point games, including two four-point efforts, and recorded a season-high, seven-game scoring streak from March 19 to March 30 (five goals and seven assists). On December 8 at Worcester, Moore notched his first professional hat trick. In the 2008 Calder Cup Playoffs, Moore tied for the team lead in plus-minus rating (plus-three), tied for second in assists (two), and tied for fourth in goals (one) and points (three) while appearing in five games for Hartford. In addition, he appeared in six games with the Rangers this past season.

Moore is yet another candidate for the 4th line, as his skill has improved over the past few years and being selected as an AHL All Star this past season. We'll definitely see and hear more of this kid during the Rangers training camp.


Rangers in Division of Their Own

As I was walking down 33rd and 7th yesterday, which is right next to the Garden, many thoughts ran through my mind on the upcoming NHL season. The Atlantic Division will be more competitive this year than ever, as each team (Rangers, Devils, Islanders, Philly, Pitt) is uniquely talented in their own way, with the Penguins most likely giving the Rangers the most trouble. When taking an extensive look at the rosters, coaches, stats, etc. of each team, I can confidently say that the Rangers are superior to every team in the Division; while being virtually equal to the Penguins. To most fans of hockey, when speaking about the Rangers, people might say, "Ohh the Rangers? they're not going anywhere next year, that dumb ass GM Sather just pulled another classic Ranger free agency period where he threw tons of money at aging players to try and win, what a joke." Now, to true Ranger fans, we know that the players that Sather pulled in are not lost, aging souls that came for the city and the money. Markus Naslund stated that he wanted to only play for New York even before the signing period began on July 1st, saying how he wanted to play for a true Cup contender. Naslund will come to NY next year and will play with one of the games most skilled center in Scott Gomez. Naslund will have a dynamic scoring forward in either Zherdev, Prucha, Callahan or Dawes..a line that is sure to explode. Naslund wants to start fresh by making a new name for himself in New York, he wants to win a Cup and he wants to revitalize his already stupendous NHL career. There is a great chance that Zherdev will meet his potential playing for the Blueshirts, as he will envision scoring that big goal and having that big celebration inside the packed Garden, quite different from his last arena in Columbus. Redden will play with one of the smartest new defenseman in the game in Marc Staal. Staal made huge leaps last year, impressing all throughout the hockey world. Staal should motivate Redden to play at his very best, and along with Roszival and my personal favorite Dan Girardi, with very sturdy defenseman Paul Mara and Dmitri Kalinin, the Rangers defense is second to none in the Eastern Conference. Oh, having Henrik Lundvqist behind all of them 'ain't too shabby either.

Now you've already heard my beliefs on how good the Rangers will be next season, with some of you saying that "I shouldn't be in love with my team", well I'm here to say I am in love with my team. I am proud to say that I'm a Rangers fan who is confident that the Rangers are far superior to the Devs, Isles and Flyers, as their defensive core is stronger than all three and the forwards in Rangers jerseys have the potential of becoming a seriously high scoring group of guys. With all the young guys on the roster, the will to win is huge. The young, ecstatic, energy packed guys like Callahan and Sjostrom will inspire the like of Gomez, Drury, Naslund to play up to their best potential as well. And vice versa, the poise and leadership that Redden and the rest of the "veterans" have will keep the young guys on their toes. The Rangers have a roster that is full of players that want to win, and want to win together and for each other and for their City. The players on the team came here to play for an organization that is known for its professionalism and its arena-packed with 18,000 screaming New Yorkers--can it get any prettier than that? Fuggetaboutit!! No other Atlantic Division offense has such a dynamic set of four lines of forwards, which has the potential to become one of the best New York Rangers squads in a long time. Except, of course for the Penguins. The Rangers first three centers (Gomez, Drury, Dubinsky) are all slight downgrades from the Penguins first three centers (Crosby, Malkin, Staal). The Penguins are undoubtedly more skilled at the center position, but that's all they have on our Rangers. Satan, Dupuis, Sykora, Fedetenko. Those are the main scoring threat wingers for the Penguins, who match up nicely to those of the Rangers. It is almost inevitable that the Rangers and Pens face off in the playoffs yet again next year, as they are both so similar in many ways, while differing greatly in style of play. In the end, the next time the Rangers face off against the Pens in the playoffs, Ranger fans can look forward to victory, as Lundvqist will lead us past Marc-Andre Fleury, the most overrated goalie in the league. Fleury did play well in the playoffs, but he did not lead the Pens to the finals as Henrik would do for the Rangers. "Sid the Kid" and the ever improving Evgeni Malkin were the catalyst players that played great offense and defense for the Pens, which hugely impacted their Cup Run.

The Rangers will prove to be superior to all their Atlantic rivals next season, just wait and see folks, and even though I am in agreement that it is a little early to make these predictions, I am bored as hell; I can't sit around and wait for the season to start without throwing my take on the Rangers out there for all to ponder, disagree and debate.s

later ~syr11~

Thursday, July 17, 2008

2008-2009 Schedule, Sjostrom Close to Signing



The above hyperlink will get you to NHL.com, where the full NHL 2008-2009 Schedule is accessible for all teams.  The Rangers opening home game at the Garden will be against the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday, October 10th.  The Rangers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Ottawa Senators and Pittsburgh Penguins will compete in the NHL Premiere on Oct. 4-5 in Prague and Stockholm. The Rangers will also play Russian club Metallurg Magnitogorsk in the IIHF Victoria Cup on Oct. 1 in Bern, Switzerland. Rangers will play back-to-back nights in Prague against the revamped Lightning, who now boast No. 1 draft pick Steven Stamkos.  These games are going to be remembered for a long time to come, and tickets are on sale now at:



In other news, Freddie Sjostrom is rumored to be aiding the Rangers financially by taking a pay cut from a reported $800,000, for a two year $650,000 deal.  Nigel Dawes' deal, which I reported earlier at $600,000 was a bit high, as he took the deal he was offered at $587,500, signing on for one year with the Rangers.  That leaves the Rangers with approximately $1.5 million in cap space.  That almost ensures that neither Mats Sundin (or any other high profile player) nor Brendan Shanahan will be able to be signed, unless Shanahan takes a significant cut to remain a Blueshirt.  Signing Shanahan would cause greater harm than good, as having him take up a wing spot on the 3rd or 4th line would just cut back the progress of our young prospects.  Shanhan has done a lot for the Rangers and was a pleasure to have on the team, I just cannot see Tom Renney or Glen Sather giving up much needed cap space to sign a player who in the long run will deter the improvements of young players.




Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Dawes Remains a Blueshirt

The infamous NY Rangers GM, Glen Sather, announced today that the Rangers have agreed to terms with restricted free agent forward Nigel Dawes. Nigel skated in 61 games with the Rangers this past season, registering 14 goals and 15 assists for 29 points, along with 10 penalty minutes and a plus-11 rating. He led the club in plus/minus rating (plus-11), ranked second in shootout game-deciding goals (two) and tied for third in game-winning goals (four). His four game-winning goals also tied for second in the NHL among all rookie skaters.

Dawes had a productive rookie season with the Rangers, having scored 14 goals playing limited ice time. Dawes should net in at least 20 next season playing regularly with Drury or Dubinsky or whichever center's line he ends up playing on. Dawes signed an alleged one year deal worth somewhere in the $600,000 range.

I will follow up later with more info on the Dawes deal and what is going on with Freddie Sjostrom, who is in the midst of getting a two year deal to remain a Blueshirt.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Damn it Feels Good To Be a Ranga'

What's up all you Ranger fans out there, I am a band-spankin' new blogger for all us devoted, die hard Blueshirt wearing fans of New York City's finest, NYR(PD).   Next season, the Rangers can look forward to success, that's right, you heard it here on The Dark Ranger first, I am gonna go out on a very, very far limb and say that our beloved New York Rangers will win the Atlantic Division title next season.  I know it's a bit early to say this, but with the players they have, it is simply inevitable to have this group succeed and reign over the teams they will face.  Gomez, Drury, Naslund, Zherdev, Prucha, Dubinsky.  Those are the main scoring threats on the Rangers, and any of the other 29 NHL teams would be more than happy to have them on their first or second lines.  It is imperative that these talented forwards lead the entire team with their goal scoring abilities, as the rest of the bench will simply ride their wave of success.  With all the amassed 3rd and 4th liners on the Rangers roster, it is essential that the main group of guys hustle night in and night out, never leave anything on the ice and always play with heart and desire.  With that being said, the Ranger's will have one of the strongest depth charts in the NHL (especially with all of the prospects in Hartford: Sanguinetti, Grachev, Anisimov, Cherepanov). 

Redden, Roszival, Stall, Kalinin, Mara, Girardi.  This is a tough, mobile group that is standing in front of one of the NHL's elite goaltenders in Henrik Lundqvist, who is just beginning his already celebrated NHL career (3 time Vezina finalist in his first 3 seasons!).  Not only do we have the KING, but we have the JOKER as well, as funny-man Stephan Valliquette is more than able to cover for Henrik when he's needed, giving the Rangers yet another piece to an already tastyyyy pie. With a team that packs such a swell 1-2 punch in both offensive scoring threats and defensive coverage, including goaltending, the Rangers should be a shoe-in for the playoffs, TO SAY THE LEAST!!  Of course, there have been Ranger teams in the past who have had such expectations as these and who have crumbled (2000-2004), but with many players on the roster under 25, the will to win is greater than ever.  If all goes to plan and the likes of Dawes, Callahan, Prucha, Zherdev (especially Zherdev) and Naslund find their scoring touch, there's no doubt that the Rangers would be a serious Cup Contender.  That being said, if those players don't in fact mature and score a minimum 20-25+ goals, than New York will be up shit's creek without a paddle.  If Lundqvist plays the way he has been, the defense is just as good if not better than last year's squad, and the players that need to lead (Gomez and Drury) come to play every single night, than the sky is truly the limit for the Rangers. 

I am no hockey expert, let me say that.  I am not Larry Brooks or Steve Zipay or Sam Weinman (Even though I am 30 years younger than all of them, at least!)  But I have played competitive ice hockey my whole life, I have coached teams to winning seasons, refereed and even water boyed a few times.  I watch every game, follow every player and know these coaches and GM's better than they know themselves.  I am connected throughout the world of hockey and I know how the system works.  The Rangers WILL be a team to beat next year, you can count on that, and if the magic does in fact exist and the Rangers harness the talent that has been brought together by GM Glen Sather (whom, by the way, I happen to think did a terrific job restructuring this organization) then New Yorkers should look forward to a parade down Broadway soon, and I mean soon.  The time has come for Lundqvist to win his first Stanley Cup, to bring hockey back to the city that bleeds Blue, to believe in our Blueshirt Boys and throw them our full support and to foresee the future:  the future that will have the names of players such as Ryan Callahan, Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, Petr Prucha, Brandon Dubinsky and of course Henrik Lundqvist to have their names etched onto Lord Stanley's Cup.  I believe that time is coming, and it's coming soon.

My take on what Tom Renney's lines should look like opening night:

O:  Zherdev-Gomez-Naslund



Voros/Rissmiller-Betts-Fritsche/Betts (Dan Fritsche can play either wing or center)

D:  Redden-Staal



G:  Lundqvist


            Happy trails..



Thursday, July 10, 2008

I Am A (Dark) Ranger! Revealed.

I am Cindy Schmidt and I am eleven years old. I am a Dark Ranger.

Thanks for visiting my site for up-to-date Rangers news over the last couple of years. It is that time for my loyal devoted readers of Rangers' Darkness to now know my true identity. With over two hundred hits a day, almost 400 posts later - it's time for a break until True Blue hockey season re-emerges come September. I have to go to hockey camp in August and my Dad won't let me take the laptop to Camp Jersey Pucks-n-Stuff, so I'll be without my friends in Blue for a while, surrounded by awful, idiot Jersey Devils fans. God I hate that f*cker Lou!

I know, I know, OMG....all of these signings? And what happened to my team? I miss Sean Avery already- he was the bomb, so..... While I'm determined to be the first professional woman player in the NHL (with the exception of Marty Brodeur or Darcy Tucker), you can get plenty of Blueshirt action from my recommended fellow bloggers - the only true sources of up-to-date Rangerplay:

The Ranger Pundit - give my regards to Mike and gang....realists in the world of Tom Renney and his gang of clueless. Make this a daily...send him cupcakes.

Scotty Hockey - this guy posts more 'Ranger blogs per day' than the cumulative conversations Slats and Jagr had over three seasons! Known to often bitch about the ticket prices, this Scotty is one hell-of-a Rangers fan and some of the most up-to-date info about our Blueshirts. I wonder if he's cute?

Pucks On Broadway - one of my comrades (I think he's eleven years old too!!?), now a big-shot with The Hockey News -- so only believe half of what he writes. Good stuff though.

Slapshot - can you believe the New York Times has one of the best hockey blogs on the planet. Eat your heart out TSN, and by far blogger extraordinaire Lynn Zinser is now my Hillary of the Hockey World -- go woman power!

Newcomers to The Dark Ranger and special mention go to 5-hole, The Manic Ranger Fan, and the Syracuse boys over at the NYRangerscast podcast (now celebrating the exodus of Jason Strudwick!!!!). Everyone should visit these blogs on my vacation.

So there it is in it's full teenage glory. See you in September ready to jump onboard, so until then...and as MSG would tell us over and over with their new soundbites....

I am a (Dark) Ranger.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

So Long Jags! Where Did My Team Go?

I like what I see.

He may not be the presence and comedian of Jaromir Jagr and he may not have the points, goals and assists as our three-year Captain, but one thing is for certain.....our newest New York Ranger, former Vancouver Canuck Captain Marcus Naslund plays his best hockey game EVERY game! This is already an improvement.

Yes....Jags was brilliant in the playoffs and that was reason enough to re-sign the Captain. In both rounds he played hard and it reminded us of what he can/could still be when he wants to.....but do NOT forget that we complained about his will and desire all the way to the playoffs. Not only did Mr. Perimeter (thanks Pundit) hold us in his clutches of lazy, he held back the team with his 'perfect-shot' perimeter play. Enough is enough. Slats gave some of us our wish. Thank you for bringing the Blueshirts back to 'legit' on Broadway, Jags -- but it is time for that Russian contract where you can play half-a-game most of the season and still make the big bucks tax-free. Run with it. Skate with it. Play with it. Gamble it. We love you, Jaromir - but not for another two-years. Love hurts.

Marcus Naslund is our new guy -- Battle of the Potential Captains with Chris Drury (my vote), Scott Gomez and now former Canuck-Captain Naslund, plus a couple of new kids on the block and an actual blue line to support our Hank. Our Staal, Girardi, Callahan and Dubinsky kids aren't babies anymore either.

I think I like this team.

Here's the official Canadian press on Naslund -- and it's worth hitting the Vancouver blogs -- who are very upset over his leaving.

THE CANADIAN PRESS Thu Jul 3, 6:51 PM ET NEW YORK - Markus Naslund is heading to the Big Apple.The former Vancouver Canucks captain has agreed to an US$8-million, two-year deal with the New York Rangers. "It's not an easy thing," Naslund said on a conference call. "I've been in Vancouver a long time. I've been a captain there for the last eight years. I have very fond memories of playing in that city and all that comes with that. "The fan base that's there, the organization has treated me first-class all the way. It's definitely a big step but it's a step that I'm excited to take." The Canucks released a statement thanking him for his years of service. "As an organization we would like to thank Markus Naslund for his 12 exemplary seasons in a Canucks sweater," said Canucks GM Mike Gillis. "Markus is one of the greatest athletes to ever represent the Canucks both on and off of the ice. His on-ice success sees him leave the organization among the club leaders in almost every offensive category. "We are very grateful for Markus' commitment to our community, our fans and our team over the years. Markus and his wife Lotta have given generously of their time over the years to many worthy causes ..." Naslund's new contract, which includes a $1-million signing bonus, will pay him $4 million next season and $3 million in 2009-10. "I think for anyone who dreams of playing in the NHL, playing for one of the Original Six teams with the history and tradition, it's special," Naslund said. "It was very appealing to me and my family to live in New York and be part of what's going on there. ... The overall picture was very appealing to me." The 34-year-old unrestricted free agent forward had 55 points (25-30) in 82 games with the Canucks last season. Naslund was drafted by Pittsburgh with the 16th overall pick in 1991. He has recorded 823 points (371-452) in 1,035 career games with the Canucks and Penguins.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Trade Confirmed

More updates:
Columbus Blue Jackets Nikolai Zherdev and Dan Fritsche have been traded to the New York Rangers for Fedor Tyutin and Christian Backman.

Searching For A Captain To Right The Ship

4:44pm, 2nd day of free agency
Not to get DEFENSIVE or anything, but.....who is our CAPTAIN and who is taking care of our team at the moment? Disappointed Rangers fans across the globe unite!

Never to question the brilliance and arrogance of Blueshirt GM Glen Sather, we have signed Wade Redden from the Ottawa Senators and re-signed Michal Rozsival to reinforce our blue line. Despite Redden's play last season, I do believe this to be a solid addition to our lineup --- the Senators suffered in spotty goaltending and at a certain point in the season, everyone gives up -- Wade's track record is one of a solid top five defenseman to play quarterback to Staal, Girardi, Tyutin and Rozzy. Maybe Bobby Sanguinetti may be ready for the big leagues. Fine.

Where is the goal scoring?

Either we re-sign Jaromir Jagr now or we wait for Mats Sundin to decide what is happening with his career. Here is the problem in waiting for Sundin.....HE IS THE ONLY GUY LEFT. Everyone else in our''wish list' are signed with other teams at this point. Let's take a snapshot, simplified look at what's happened in the last 17 hours:

No Sean Avery (accepted the 16 million - 4yr offer from the Dallas Stars. we are idiots)

No Martin Straka (back to Czech-land)

No Brian Campbell (now a Chicago Blackhawk)

No Marian Hossa (one year in Detroit -- wants to win a Stanley Cup)

No Brian Rolston (now a NJ Devil)

No Mark Streit (now a NY Islander)

No Brooks Orpik (still a friggin Penguin)

Though, we did sign Aaron Voros (a Sean Avery wannabe) & Patrick Rissmiller. Who? This is the operative question as we are more-or-less a skeleton of the 2/3 full team we were last season. Rangers fans are screaming and we can only hope that Sather and the DOLAN Empire has made a secret deal with both Sundin and Jagr (brillliance if so) -- and are playing hard to get with the media to draw attention to it.

If all of this is an act and Sather & Co. have secret deals in place, then good press never hurt anyone. But if this is all we have.....

...does someone want 2 season tickets in the 117 section?

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