Thursday, August 28, 2008

The 'Off-Off-Off Season of 2008'. Got Any Rumors?

What? Haven't you heard the latest news? Ovechkin is being traded to Nashville! (or) The Rangers are getting Mats for Rozsival! (or) Peter Forsberg's skates now fit! (or) The entire Nashville team is being traded for Lidstrom! (or better yet) Gary Bettman is suing the New York Rangers and threatening to dismantle them because of a website!

With the exception of the latter, 'Welcome to the NHL Off-season of 2008, ladies & gentlemen' where every blogger has a shiny inside seat into Glen Sather's 'strategic war office' - the summer when every blogger has 'an inside source' that you believe or don't believe, but it's worth posting for one reason only.....

You thought of it.

Even here at The Dark Ranger (and later cited on Yahoo Sports) we reported on 'The Bleacher Report post on the imminent Scott Gomez trade rumor' (here) -- because it was credited with, not only one inside source, but TWO INSIDE SOURCES! And - wow- has this poor guy taken the hammer for that one, even to the point of having to defend his position -- for awkward reading go (here) - even after a shit-storm of criticism. This is where it gets tricky as bloggers, and what most don't want to contemplate -- taking such positions anonymously still makes it illegal & libel. You are legally responsible for your words as it may interfere with a hockey agent's ability and leverage to close a deal, cause disruption within a negotiation with a team and affect the desirability of any particular hockey player. Ooohhh, what I meant to say was "rumors are just rumors!" and my inside sources aren't really inside....I'm just a fan writing a blog looking for more traffic! Watch it Bleacher Report --- make sure you are indemnified by your membership!

The number of readable New York Rangers blogs has more than doubled in just a year, everyone looking to break the story, whether going with your gut or posing as some Eklund-insider that is ready to establish a new level of NHL hockey inside credibility. False as it may be.

Not here in Dark-world. We are all "business upfront & party in the back" and The Dark Ranger site remains and claims no more than 'what we think as fans of the Blueshirts.' We should all report on how terrific or horrible our team is during the on & off season and the changes that are taking place, but the business of rumors and these recent conspiracies reminds us that there is more going on than we know - and the reality of these rumors, whether you are Larry Brooks, Eklund, The Bleacher Report or, dare I say, The Dark Ranger, is probably just someone's opinion.

Keep coming for the we hear Leetch is coming back for one more year to replace Rozsival! (just kidding) ;)


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Should Scott Gomez Be Traded To Allow Mats Sundin In?

So the latest Mats Sundin conspiracy theory is that Slats & Co. are slogging the seven-year Scott Gomez contract (7 mill per year) to more than 10 teams at the last minute in order to make room for a potentially ex-Leaf Swedish-plays-with-Naslund Captain free agent for the same $7 mill per season (though in his case, for a two-year contract).

Michael Stein - Bleacher Report shares the 'pros & cons' of such a move -- and I share it in full glory taking no credit for it. It is worth sharing. What do you think?

Should Scott Gomez Be Traded? Pros and Cons for the Rangers

by Michael Stein


Trading Gomez is a move that might not just make sense if you're looking to acquire Mats Sundin, but it might make sense in regard to the types of prospects the Rangers have, and are looking to integrate into their team in the next few years.

First of all, Sundin is coming to the team for no less than $5 million to $6 million (and that's being generous on his part). He was, of course, offered $10 million by Vancouver, but the talk is that he'd take less to come to Broadway.

Sundin would be an interesting pickup, not only because he brings a load of experience to a team that let a majority of its players walk away this past summer, but he brings an annual 30 goals to his team. That's a decent amount of goals for a 37-year-old who can still sit in front of the net, and almost certainly have instant chemistry when playing with his good friend, 36-year-old Markus Naslund. Chemistry is hard to find, and Sundin playing with Naslund is almost guaranteed.

What I think is most interesting about this potential move is that Sundin is only going to play, at tops, two more years. Naslund's probably in that same boat. They'd be the new Straka/Jagr combination. However, and more so with Sundin, after he retires, it gives the Rangers' prospect depth, which truly is at center, a chance to shine.

If Gomez stays, with going-to-be-captain Chris Drury and emerging power forward Brandon Dubinsky, where are one of these centers going to play? Where would Artem Anisimov or Greg Moore find a spot in the lineup?

And that's just talking about players who are very close to the callup. In two or three years time, there will definitely be either other players who deserve a second look from Hartford, or free agent centers that are coming off big years and warrant a major look (Matt Cullen two years ago). Having three No. 1 centers under contract makes that impossible. Trading Gomez, as much as it would hurt, gives the team flexibility that was otherwise lost last summer.

Gomez, at this time, is also worth a lot to a team that wants a playmaking center. There are a handful of teams I can think of that would be willing to trade for Gomez, and that could give the cap relief the Rangers need if signing Sundin is truly in the future (I'll address potential trades at the end of this article).


It baffles me that we're here talking about this. Just a year ago, at this time, signing Gomez and Drury made the Rangers the darling of all free-agent conversation. We fans were supposed to watch the Stanley Cup favorites for the next decade because of that dual move. I saw things occur this year that made me believe, even if for a little while. I saw Ryan Callahan playing great with Chris Drury at his center. I was happy with the way Nigel Dawes and Gomez played with each other. Why interrupt that? Chemistry is not easy to find, and signing Sundin, even though he might have chemistry with countryman Naslund, doesn't guarantee full team chemistry. Even that pair have only played a handful of games with each other on Swedish exhibition teams.

Gomez, for his issues (like being a Devil for the beginning of his career), I believe came to the Rangers with expectations that were too high. However, I believe that almost every free agent has to deal with that. Last season, Gomez scored 16 goals. That's above-average for him, and his third-highest goal total. He posted 54 assists, which was right at his career average. In no way was this past season a disappointment. He played his game last year, and scored what he was expected to. You couldn't ask for more.

I do believe he is overpaid, without question. However, I'll take a guaranteed 50 assists and 70 points for the next few seasons. I definitely don't believe those are the numbers of a solid first-line center, but for a second-line center, that's perfect. Let him play behind Chris Drury or Brandon Dubinsky, and the Rangers, at this moment, have an incredibly solid 1-2-3 punch. I mean, how well spread-out was the Rangers offense last year?


If the Rangers were to trade Gomez, I could see a good group of teams lining up for his services. Here are a few potential trades I came up with, keeping in mind the Rangers are looking to shed salary, as well.

Scott Gomez and a second-round pick to Colorado for David Jones and Kevin Shattenkirk

This trade gives Colorado the No. 1 center it will probably need with the possible retirements of Joe Sakic or Peter Forsberg. If they both retire, this trade becomes nearly mandatory for the Avs. It gives the Rangers two top prospects (a hard-hitting winger and a top mobile puck-moving defenseman for the future), and a ton of cap relief.

Scott Gomez and Petr Prucha to Edmonton for Ales Hemsky and a third-round pick

This trade, makes decent financial sense, giving the Rangers about $4 million back. The Rangers could still possibly squeeze Sundin in with that money. Hemsky would bring about an immediate turnaround for the Rangers group on the wing, and is a huge upgrade there. Gomez brings some experience to that team, and gives some leadership to a squad that certainly needs it.

Scott Gomez and Michal Roszival to Florida for Jay Bouwmeester and Rostislav Olesz

What a blockbuster. The Panthers get rid of their headache and draft pick that hasn't performed as they'd like, and the Rangers trade $12 million for about half that. Even if they sign Bouwmeester for a little more than he's making now, it's a major cut in salary. Olesz will eventually play better, but I think with Nikolai Zherdev, Naslund, Prucha and Dawes, he'll be given a little extra time to develop without the pressure of being that No. 1 guy right away. Bouwmeester will thrive in New York behind Redden, and the Rangers will be able to afford Sundin. To me, on a secondary note, Gomez and David Booth just seems like an unstoppable combination.

Scott Gomez and a third-round pick to LA for Dustin Brown

Adding Dustin Brown to the Rangers lineup is a significant improvement. He's big, strong, mean, a hitter, and a goal-scorer. He's a perfect power forward, and would be solid on the wing of either Dubinsky or Drury. Gomez brings leadership to a team that desperately needs it, and this is a win-win. LA keeps Kopitar, which is most important to them. Kopitar and Gomez could be dynamic.

Scott Gomez and Michal Roszival to Minnesota for Marian Gaborik and Kurtis Foster

Another monster blockbuster. Gomez wouldn't fit better anywhere than in his old system, and here's his chance to play with Jacques Lemaire once again. Roszival continues the trend Minnesota's trying to maintain with puck-moving defenseman. Gaborik has been on the block for the last little while, and really would legitimize the Rangers' core of wingers.

Kurtis Foster might be exactly what the Rangers are lacking: a 6'5" defenseman who doesn't mind using his body, and has a very solid shot to boot. Even if the Rangers give Gaborik $7 million or $8 million, this move saves the Rangers lots of money...until they spend it on Sundin.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Do We Really Want Sundin?

With all of the Mats Sundin rumors being flown around the past, well...months, I wanted to give my two cents on how the Blueshirts would look like with him and without him. Now there are countless ways that the deal could go down if the Rangers do in fact get Sundin, but the most logical scenario would be something like this: The Rangers would need to trade one of their top defensemen and/or one of their promising youngsters (Prucha most likely, but there has been talk of other players being moved) to clear up enough cap space to acquire Sundin. To gain the appropriate cap space to sign a high caliber player like Sundin, the Rangers would need to get rid of someone like Roszival to use his $5 million towards paying Sundin a contract in the range of $5-$7 million for one year. However, losing Roszival would mean that the Rangers would only have 5 NHL ready defensemen, meaning that even with the increased offensive punch that Sundin would bring, the new system Tom Renney spent all summer putting together would be tarnished. Renney envisioned Roszival being a key component to the puck-moving group of D men that will hopefully feed great first passes to breakout guys like Zherdev, Sjostrom and Drury. Having Sundin on the Rangers would mean that Drury would have to switch to wing due to the abundance of centers that are already on the roster. Sundin would surely add a lot of offensive to the Rangers, but I would rather have the aging veteran sign with Philly then lose any of our defensemen or any of our young forwards. Having Sundin on the Rangers would be like, I don't know, Jeremy Shockey on the Saints? Weird, huh?
Don't get me wrong, it would be wonderful to see Mats Sundin centering Zherdev and Naslund on the first line; especially with such other good players on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th lines, the Rangers would be more than stacked. But do we really want a player of his age taking away playing time and a position of guys like Anisimov and many, many others? I don't think so. I believe that the promising young guys that the Rangers have will, in time, be able to generate enough talent that if Sundin does in fact pass on the Rangers, the move would hardly tarnish anyone in a Rangers uniform. Of course there are players that want him to suit up in a Rangers uniform, however I am willing to bet my ridiculously huge Blog Salary that there are also guys on the team that would love to play alongside the likes of Sundin. What it comes down to is this: Mats Sundin will pick a team to play for this season (retiring at this point should not be on this guys agenda), and if it happens to be the Rangers, than so be it. Our team will be great, for a season or two, and then who knows. If Sundin decides to play for Montreal, Philly, Vancouver or whoever else, then I say congrats to that team with a big smile on my face knowing that the potential young guys who just might be just as good as Mats some day. I know that is a long shot, but I want to see Michael Roszival and every other player on the Rangers roster in the first game in Prague. I think the team we have now is good enough to place atop the Conference this year (I will pray every night for those 23 guys to somehow gel together quickly and efficiently), and the team that Sundin does land on, unless its Philly, I don't really see making the playoffs (but that is another story).

It's virtually impossible to know what exactly would happen as a result of the Rangers landing Sundin, but I am very interested in knowing what the rest of you think, so please comment below and let me and the infamous TDR know where you stand on the Rangers and Sundin next season.


Saturday, August 16, 2008

Why Thank You, TDR..

Great post TDR, I am lovin' this guy already. I have probably watched that youtube clip 25 times this summer, sitting and waiting until the start of the season..or pre-season...or even the Traverse City Tourney. I have been hot on the trail of Nikolai Zherdev this summer, gaining as much knowledge on this SUPER talented Russian dangler. Zherdev can straight up play beautifuly, especially with the talented Gomerz/Drury and Dawes/Prucha/Naslund..netting 26 goals with a team that was 24th in the league in total shots on goal is pretty decent in my book. Zherdev is joining the Shootin' Rangers, ranking 3rd last year in total shots fired at those ever-expanding goalie pads. With Zherdev, he has a game that, to work efficiently, must be energetic, fast-paced and jam packed with insane highlights; he's going to have a ball in Manhattan, playing his heart out, for the first time of his career, on one of the biggest screens the NHL has to offer. That is why Zherdev is going to excel as a new comber in our big city; he's a guy that has the ability to ignite entire stadiums and his fellow players, he just hasn't been given the right opportunity to achieve this greatness yet. I believe that this young guys time has come, because when looking at his career stats and watching video on him, you cannot argue that this guy's offensive talent is at the elite level. Hopefully, by the end of this season, he will become a tremendous threat just as Datsyuk or Huselius. Hopefully.

One can only dream about the season beginning and watching some of our new guys mesh with our old guys like Naslund and Betts playing golf in Brooklyn and Redden and Girardi hangin' out at the bar after the game. Ahhhh, I believe that our Rangers squad has the potential to be THE team to beat in the Atlantic, but I can't deny the fact that this years "Sather Experiment" might turn out to be a flop and a huge disappointment. But my gut is telling me otherwise and the Rangers do indeed have all the necessary components to take their game to the next level, possibly the Conference Finals or hey, ya never know, the Cup.

It doesn't hurt to dream..


Nikolai Zherdev - Just Maybe...

You be the judge as our new recruit, Nikolai Zherdev, is now a Blueshirt. Not only does he come with terrific youthful puck handling, this Russian comes with genuine attitude as well.

This is impressive footage, and with a little lady luck (as evidenced by the poll to the right), this guy will be the surprise of the fall.

Get ready.


Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Habs and the Habs Not!

So The Dark Ranger is vacationing in Habs country throughout the week, staying in a lovely resort on the lake at Mont Tremblant. Subtly, I wear dark vintage clothing with New York Rangers logos carefully printed designs to remind these loyal French Canadiens that it is possible to worship another team. I regret to admit that I am somewhat jealous at the vast Quebec province of hockey followers with this team; now, the Blueshirts have always had/have a strong, loyal and important following - but we are smoked by these hockey fans in how far they are willing to go for their beloved hockey Habs. The fans wears the logos, the fans are everywhere and the province is practically governed by the NHL game of hockey.

Even the nickname "Habs" for the Montreal Canadiens was created to differentiate themselves from the other "secondary" Canadian hockey teams. Why couldn't they simply be called The Canadiens? Well, Habs is derived from "The Habitats du Quebec", that's why! We are French. Not Canadien! Retarded and cliche'.

A side story while here......I spoke with this one French-Canadian Hab lover, kids face painted with the logo, himself wearing the jersey in 75 degree weather on a random day, actually found it insulting that I would wear a blue shirt with a NYR in the middle of Habs country. True story. Why couldn't we all just get along and enjoy that we're both hockey fans and we like to dress our kids up in hockey gear?

Like ex-Ranger Sean Avery, The Dark Ranger is not a fan of the French-Canadien hockey fans as they choose to fit the negative French stereotype. Boo, boo Dark-fella you may say!!?

I personally feel that Habs fans have their heads so far up their French-Canadian arses; in love with their own team. They haven't seen a Cup since 1992 and they carry their French ancestry elitism throughout the entire league. If only non-Hab fans actually listened to them it might mean something to the outsiders. These Montreal hockey lovers hold dear to their hockey superiority like they hold onto their culture and everything else. When their team loses playoff games, these Habs fans destroy their own arena. When they play a non-Canadian team, their commentators remark on how Americans don't care about hockey followed by the redundant speech of how they've won more Cups than anyone else in the history of the NHL. Culture snobs and this level of hockey nationalism (or provincialism in Canada for that matter) creates prejudice in the NHL and life in general. These English-Hooligan-Mirroring Habs destroy their own cars & break into local businesses when they lose. The City of Montreal had to double security throughout the entire season last year in order to deter the fans from creating havoc. One might say this is a minor group of fans that is not representative of the fan base as a whole, and I accept that -- but it is shameful that the authorities, the majority of fans allows this mentality. 'Idiot behavior.' 'Idiot Habs.'

Now come on....did the Quebecios really think St. Hubert could ever truly go head-to-head with Swiss Chalet? HA! Ignorance. (I am obviously spending too much time in Canada these days, especially coming from an American hockey blogger making Province jokes).

I admit to my hockey racism.. I don't like Habs. Note I also don't like Leafs, Flyers and Devils too. I am and will always be a New York Ranger fan, and will celebrate and be critical of my team winning or not -- and I will NOT always love them, kind of like family. So if you are the Montreal Canadiens playing at home and you lose a game, head to the hills up in Mont Tremblant because a little resort on a lake might put things into perspective.


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