So it appears as though the Rangers will sign Staal and Girardi and go into the regular season with Wade Redden in tow. While this is slightly premature, this is your opportunity to post a long, endless rant about the rangers anticipated lineup, camp, players, player battles, ect. If it looks interesting enough, some folks may actually read it before posting theirs.
Lets start. My anticipated 2010-2011 Rangers lineup.
I dont expect Christ to be the first line center all year. Look for Dubinsky to take that spot if EC struggle or slumps at any point during the year. I like EC, but he may even end up a healthy scratch for periods of time. But Prospal was re-signed, and he was most effective last season playing on Gaborik's line for around 65 games of the season. Much like last season, a lot will hinge on Gaborik's health, and big game ability.
2nd line; Dubinsky-Anisimov-Zuccarello-Aasen
Dubinsky adjusted to the LW position beautifully at the end of last season, and with out relative weakness in that position, he will start the season as a LW barring an unsuspected signing or Grachev making the team. He is the best of Prospal, Christensen, Dubi (Our top 6 guys) at playing without leaning on Gaborik, and is the reasonable player for this slot.
Anisimov we should look to for a breakout year. I have critiqued his speed (or lack thereof) but it is hard to deny that his wrist shot is the best on the team, and his stickhandling is phenominal. Package that with his Jagr-lite ability to control the puck along the boards and I think he has the package to be a great player.
I have Zuccarello-Aason winning the camp battle for a RW spot. He will either start top 6 or be a scratch, in my opinion.
3rd line; Avery-Drury-Callahan
This line will output a relatively modest offensive production, but will be very good at what it does. A great 2 way line with grinding and agitating ability. Drury and Callahan have natural chemistry, especially in their own zone, and Avery fits well onto the left hand side. This is the line I think is most likely to stick ogehter for much of the year, but cannot be expected to carry to much of the offensive load (15 goals from each would be great)
4th line; Prust-Boyle-Weise
Im unsure on how this will pan out. I am confident Prust will be back and in his 4th line role. Boyle, I see a possibility of a demotion, waiving and then to Hartford, but Sather may not be reay to giveup on the project he traded our 3rd for a year ago.
Weise I have here because i'd like to see him here, though it isnt altogether likely. he will likely be in a camp battle with MZA for the open RW spot, and Boogard may fill the 4th line permanently with Voros being the extra forward.
1st D pairing; Staal-Rozsival
Barring a major falling out, Staal will be back with a good long term deal with the Rangers and settled into the #1 spot as always. We will see if his late season burst in up ice rushes will continue.
This is a big year for Michael Rozsival. We cannot afford for him to have an early season slump, he must play well early and always to avoid forcing Redden into a top 4 spot (horrifying prospect)
2nd D pairing; MDZ-Girardi
Pretty much by default, MDZ is the 2nd pairing Left handed D. I believe that either Girardi or Rozsival will be his partner, but I prefer Girardi who plays better without Staal IMO. MDZ still a little over his head defensively in this role, a question is will Redden step it up enough to cover for a defensive shortneing bench situation where we need to preserve a lead.
3rd D pairing; Redden-Gilroy
If Redden indeed is on the team this year, he will have something to prove. I have said about all I need to say about him already.
Gilroy is interesting. I would prefer McD, Valentenko, or Sauer in this spot, but I anticipate another strong preseason from Matt and likely filling this spot.
Goaltending,nothing really needs to be said.
Camp Battles to watch
MZA vs Dale Weise; Both think they will be on the team this year. If MZA triumphs, ranger fans should be ecstatic about a new top 6 winger. If MZA struggles, Weise will likely make the team in the 3rd line spot, pushing Callahan up to 2nd. There is an outside possibility of both getting a spot.
McDonagh vs Gilroy
For the final D spot, McDonagh clearly wants to be fastracked to the NHL. Gilroy may be caught off guard and demoted, but we'll see.
Darkhorses to make the team;
Grachev-Maybe filling a LW hole to move Dubi to center, in this case Boyle is as good as gone
Valentenko; Nasty Russian defenseman may be what we need to stopgap the next few years until McIlrath is ready
Sauer; NHL ready 3rd pairing guy, may be a callup for injury or given a good shot, only if Redden is waived.
just a slight tweaking moving Drury up and Anisimov down since Artem just doesn't have the awareness to play top 6 minutes yet. In another season or two if he continues to develop I can see him slotting in nicely on the 2nd line, but until then best to use him on the 3rd with linemates that take the body (because artem doesn't)
I am hoping Boyle takes a step forward and uses his size and strength more often. He is so big yet he often seems to play like a smaller player. I am also bummed about not slotting in Weise who I think can help NY.
also not sold on Christensen on the top line, I would actually prefer to see Drury there. Points wise I don't see a real improvement between Eric and Chris anyway so why not slot the captain with Prospal and Gabby.
Asuming we go ahead with what we got and no miracles trades go down i see it something like this
Prospal- EC- Gaborik
Dubi- Drury- Cally
Avery- Anisimov- Prust
Byers- Boyle - boogie
Redden - McD
Id love to see guys like MZA, Stepan, and Grachev make this team but im not sure they are ready yet. That being said this team is just sad and even more depressing is how the PP will look with this roster
If either Hank or Gabby miss much time we're likely a lottery team. If they both play a full season we're likely looking at 7th to 10th in the conference. So basically more of the same. I just hope we sell at the deadline this time around. I have higher hopes for 2011-2012.
Does everyone remember Savard is 33 years old and has 7 YEARS left on his contract? AND a no-trade clause?
1st of all I am not a NYR fan. 2nd of course I do remember. 3rd, this is the type of move Glan usually makes in off season. 4th, NYR must make playoffs otherwise he may lose his job. 5th, Savard contract might be bad in the last two years of his NHL lilfe. 6th, you do want to maximize Gaboriks scoring. with Savard he can score 50-55 if both are healthy. 7th, you almost always overpay for decent #1 center.
I mean if you are going into NHL season with Drury, Dubie, Christensen or Anisimov as your #1 centers then you are not doing your job as a GM unless you are committed to rebuild. Most NYR would no tmind to wait another year and get a top pick.