Posted on: July 29, 2009 2:38 am
Edited on: July 29, 2009 2:43 am
So, since the Lockout, the New York Rangers have built themselves into a playoff team. They've also been ousted in the first and second round since the lock out. They made it to the Eastern Conference semi-finals twice since their recent loss to the Capitals in this years playoffs. Why? Lack of veteran presence? Team chemistry? How about both. The reason that the Rangers made it as far into the playoffs as they did in 2006-2007, and 2007-2008 is because they had a stud center (Jagr), a veteran wing (Shannahan), a solid core of defenseman, and a strong young goalie. The Rangers didn't have the best players, but the right players. When the Rangers signed Gomez and Drury, they're downfall began. After the 2008 season, the Rangers than added sketchy forward Nikolai Zherdev, and Makus naslund, as well as Wade Redden. Sather lost sight of building a team around a core of players that have chemistry, and started looking forward towards signing a team that when plays it's best, could be an all-star team. As soon as the 2009 began, the Rangers started off hot, and got into a slum. Because of their recent loss of Shannahan, and Jagr's veteran presence, the Rangers young leaderless team just couldn't click. The Rangers didn't have the right players, they had the best players. Captain Chris Drury, and Assistant Captain Scott Gomez couldn't hold the weight of the team on their shoulders. With the Rangers lack of presence, and Gomez and Drury's lack of input, they only contributed to the Rangers woes. After they're ejection from the 2009 playoffs, the Rangers made some smart moves and traded the fading Gomez to Montreal, and the Veteran Markus Naslund retired, clearing a plethora of cap space. In doing so they signed forwards Ales Kotalik, Marian Gaborik, Chris Higgins, and traded for Envir Lisin. The trade for Envir Lisin could play out to be a smart trade, but Lauri Korpikoski had great potential. He was treated the same way Petr Prucha was. He had a lot of talent, but didn't see the ice as much as he should have, same with Prucha. Chris Higgins, a New York native, averaged 38 points a season since the lockout, but didn't have a great season last year. We'll see what the change of scenery does for him. Ales Kotalik has been a consistant player since the lockout, but has recently been slumping. Now, Marian Gaborik is probably one of my favorite players to watch. He has great hands, looks like he has rockets in his skates, and has great hockey sense. Thing is, he wasn't happy in Minnesota, and was constantly injured. Lets face it though, he's a great player. Even when he was unhappy in Minnesota, and coming off an injury, he only played 17 games and still racked up 23 points. Although Sather made some very good moves, and some smart ones at that, I don't know if I like some of them just yet. This will have to wait for the season to come. Higgins, and Kotalik have been dwindling and we signed them to multi-million dollar deals, as well as Gaborik to 7.5 million a year over the next 5 years. Since the removal of Jagr and Shannahan the Rangers realized that they need a goal scorer, and they want Gaborik to be the next Jagr for the Rangers. He has the potential to be, but he has to stay healthy. There's a lot of weight on Gaborik's shoulders next year, as well as captain Drury. If the Rangers were smart they would bring Shannahan back and pay him league minimum, because if there's anyone that can keep rank up front, he can. The Rangers could be very good next year, or just as bad. The Rangers have been throwing money around to try and make this elite team, let's see if this crazy off season really turns New York into the Big Apple Paradise that Sather is trying to make it.
Posted on: July 29, 2009 2:02 am
Edited on: August 19, 2009 12:50 am
The Kings have been pretty quiet for the past couple seasons. Since the lockout the Los Angles Kings have been the Islanders of the west coast. But with years off from their greater seasons, they've had time to develop young talent in their farm system. Now in the pre 2009-2010 season they have added veterans Ryan Smyth, and Rob Scuderi. Smyth, although not always a teams strongest player, is always consistant averaging 46 points a season since the lock out. With Smyths veteran help, the young offensive power house that the Kings have should be clicking on all cylinders. Just maybe with this offensive boost, the hiding playmaker in Justin Williams will come out, but we will see. Rob Scuderi earned his position as an elite defenseman in the Pengiuns recent stanley cup playoffs. Scuderi could be a great mentor to young defenseman like Drew Doughty, and Jack Johnson. Drew Doughty is a Marc Staal caliber defenseman for his age, that can put the puck in the net. Also, Doughty is very capable of quarterbacking the power play from the blue line. With Scuderi and Doughty clicking, Johnson should add some more offensive input as well. Being from Fairfield county in Connecticut, I'm a big fan of Jonathan Quick. He had an average season for the Kings last year, but he's still steadily improving. He's young, but you ahve to start somewhere. He's a very athletic goalie, who knows his angles well and yes, he's quick. Ha. Ha. The Kings should find a very capable goalie in Johnathan quick over the next few years. All of this being said, this team should look a lot like the 2007-2008 Flyers. With Ryan Smyth and it's youth up front, and Scuderi and it's youth in back, these two vets should show this young team how the game of hockey is really played. Look out for this team next year, because they should be blooming into a playoff contending team anytime now.