Who Wins the 2014 Stanley Cup?

New York Rangers

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Who's The Odd Man Out?
The signing of Tim Kennedy today further complicates the Rangers roster. More moves could be coming, but here's where we stand right now...


Tim Kennedy


Tim Kennedy

 

The Rangers have yet to announce the signing of C/LW Tim Kennedy to a one-year, $550k contract, but everyone around the hockey world has reported on the deal.  The addition of Kennedy gives the Rangers a ridiculous abundance of third and fourth line skaters, but at such a cheap price it’s hard to criticize the move.  Remember, Kennedy is only 24-years-old, so it’s not like the Rangers are abandoning their youth movement with this acquisition. 

The scouting report on Kennedy is that he’s very solid defensively, a good skater, and capable of chipping in a dozen goals or so.  He’s coming off a decent rookie year with 10 goals and 16 assists.  A big-time Sabres fan friend of mine says: 

“I love that guy.  It was a dumb move for the Sabres to cut him.  Seems like all our castoffs end up with the Rangers.” 

I don’t remember ever being blown away by Kennedy last year, but for what it’s worth, in many of the Sabres games I saw (more than I’d like, as they were MSG Network’s No.1 priority up in Syracuse), Kennedy’s name was called all the time.

With the addition of another depth forward, the Rangers have far too many candidates for their 12 starting forward spots.  Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan, Vinny Prospal, Chris Drury, Artem Anisimov, Marian Gaborik, Erik Christensen, and Alex Frolov are locks.  That leaves just four spots for Kennedy, Brandon Prust, Brian Boyle, Sean Avery, Derek Boogaard, Todd White and Mats Zuccarello-Aasen.  The formerly remote chance that Evgeny Grachev, Dale Weise, or Dane Byers might make the team is now all but eliminated.

The good news is that the Rangers certainly have options.  Any of the players in competition for those four spots can be placed on waivers and sent to Hartford without any salary cap penalty.  Kennedy, Prust, Boyle and Zuccarello-Aasen also have extremely affordable deals. 

At this point it’s anyone’s guess how the roster will shake out.  There are simply too many variables and players in the mix to make an accurate prediction.  But one thing is certain, training camp will feature some of the most intense position battles in years.  Here’s a quick look at the competitors:

Kennedy himself is not guaranteed a roster spot.  He’ll only earn $550k this year, and it seems very likely that the Rangers will watch him closely in training camp before deciding whether he should be a fourth line center or Hartford fodder.  At just 24-years-old, Kennedy still has a solid NHL future ahead of him.

Many speculated that Todd White was bound for the waiver wire or Hartford as soon as the Rangers acquired him.  I was not in agreement then, but with the addition of Kennedy, that seems like a very legitimate possibility.  The 35-year-old is coming off a really tough season, and will have to prove that it was a fluke for the Rangers to consider carrying his salary on their active roster.

The man who may have lost the most today is Brian Boyle.  He centered the Rangers fourth line last season and was invisible most of the time.  Because of his miniscule salary, $525k, he seemed like an obvious choice to fill the Rangers roster at an affordable price.  Since Kennedy signed for just $25k more, this looks like it could be a man-to-man battle between the two. 

I have refused to believe it all summer, but the influx of depth forwards means that Sean Avery’s future in New York is no longer guaranteed.  “The Grate One” had a bad year to be sure, but I thought that his track record on Broadway was good enough to excuse his bad performance.  That doesn’t seem to be the case, and Avery better spend the next month focusing far more on on-ice activities than his other extracurriculars.

Boogaard will be unaffected by the Kennedy signing.  He was destined for a platoon role anyway, and this changes nothing.  Boogaard will play against the Rangers division rivals and other physical teams, but that’s about it. 

It will be interesting to see what happens with Brandon Prust.  He was arguably the Rangers’ best player the last couple weeks of last season, but he is very much fighting for his job at training camp.  In watching him last year, I would think his scrappiness and desire would be more than enough to earn him a spot on John Tortorella’s team.

Zuccarello-Aasen will have to blow the Rangers away at training camp if he wants to make the big club.  It seems that the Rangers planned on giving MZA a year to acclimate to North America in Hartford all along, despite the wishes of many Rangers fans.  He may have a future as a playmaking forward on Broadway, but it’s doubtful that it will happen this year.

 

So which four forwards do you want the Rangers to carry out of these seven?  My vote goes to Prust, Avery, Kennedy and Boogaard.  

 

Posted by Kevin Baumer | August 30, 2010 at 02:50 pm
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New York Rangers VS New Jersey Devils
Tuesday, October 21, 2014

  1 2 3 OT F
Rangers 1 0 2 1 4
Devils 1 1 1 0 3








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