Has there ever been a more boring start to an NHL off-season than this one? Granted, the free-agent pool might not be as deep as it has been in years past, and is only going to keep on getting thinner due to all of these mega-deals, but still, there are enough names out there for this to have been a pretty exciting few weeks in July. It’s funny that when Ryan Suter and Zach Parise actually signed, aside from the initial, “Wow! Minnesota got both!” reaction, the excitement was limited, and people stopped talking about it within two days. Now if Parise had gone to the Rangers, Flyers, or Penguins, and Suter to the Red Wings, not only would we still be talking about it, but suicide hotline workers would be raking in overtime cash.
- Even with no one signing anywhere, off-seasons do not have to be boring. Does everyone remember the summer of Ilya Kovalchuk’s signing with the Devils, where we waited anxiously to see where he would end up to begin with, before he actually signed, had the contract nullified by the NHL, then settled on a smaller amount, locking him up with New Jersey for eternity? Well, even then there were at least rumors and items to report on during the saga. Though half of them came from Eklund and other fools like him, it was at least something, if to just keep us occupied and laughing, and nothing else. These first two weeks of July have had none of that. No rumors of Alex Semin, or ongoing rumblings for potential Rick Nash or Bobby Ryan trades, though it is believed the Rangers and Flyers are still in the running for one or both of them. There used to be a time in July where you couldn’t wake up in the morning without having texts or Tweets waiting for you on moves that were made while you were sleeping. Now, all there seems to be is crickets chirping.
- I had a very interesting discussion last night with two people who contribute to this blog on occasion, David Zohn and Chris “Gootz” Hoeler, and that was in regards to the possibility of the Rangers drafting Martin Brodeur’s son Anthony at next season’s NHL Entry Draft. While I thought Chris wanted him out of spite for the Devils taking Stephane Matteau’s son Stefan a few weeks ago, I found that he was much more vengeful than that, saying this in between fits of maniacal laughter: “No. I just want him so they can’t have him. And to do it in the Prudential Center, no less! Could you imagine the hysteria?!” I then added that such a selection would cause the first riot and fan deaths in NHL history, along with it being the first draft riot since Vietnam. Anyway, we then posed the question surrounding the hypothetical situation of the Rangers drafting Brodeur: it is now many years into the future, and the Rangers and Devils are playing each other in an important playoff game, which has just gone to double-overtime. Stefan Matteau gets the puck in the corner and scores on a wrap-around against Anthony Brodeur. Mind = blown. Would that cause the end of the world, or what?
- Isn’t it funny, or ironic, that every off-season, even when the Rangers are dangerously close to the salary cap, they spend exorbitant amounts of money, and now this summer, after signing two players and still having nearly $16 million in cap space, there is no one to sign? Glen Sather could not give the money away right now, burning sensation in his pockets or not. This is literally the most money I ever remember this team having in the cap era, and there is no mega free agent available. Zach Parise and Ryan Suter were never in contention, and after them, no one is left, except perhaps Shane Doan, who will decide his fate after tomorrow. While I admire the Rangers’ GM for standing pat and not climbing on top of a bench in New York City and slinging hundred-dollar bills all over the place, there are many fans angry at the inaction. I usually like to poke fun at the “Garden Brainless” as I call them, but this is too much. This is a team that over-pays year after year, and this summer, has spent less than $6 million on two players (spread out over two seasons in their contracts) and people are complaining? Would you rather have wasted it on someone like Matt Carle or Jason Garrison instead? I think not, so just be patient and see what happens over the next few weeks, as I am sure he is busy working the phones with Anaheim and Columbus.
- Usually when a person suffers from delusions of grandeur, they are carted off to a mental institution, or at least given some medication. But if you like hockey and live in the Columbus area, they might even make you the GM of a professional hockey team. Putting aside the fact that Scott Howson should have been out of a job long ago, I am left wondering if the reason no deal for Nash has been made is because he is still asking for the moon from every inquiring team. Rick Nash is a star, no doubt, but coming with some baggage and off a pretty mediocre season for someone such as himself. How then can he demand one (or all) of Ryan McDonagh, Chris Kreider, and Derek Stepan from the Rangers? Sather probably laughed in his face in between cigar chomps. While I would concede Stepan, McDonagh and Kreider are untouchable, just like Jeff Skinner is on the Carolina Hurricanes, who were also in on Nash until Howson brought up his name. I wonder if in his mental deterioration he was actually surprised when they said no. Maybe he was expecting them to volunteer Cam Ward in a deal along with Skinner. I wonder who he would want from the Flyers, Claude Giroux maybe? This guy belongs in a padded room, not a front office. He has to understand that stars do not get traded for stars. They rarely ever did, and they never will in the future with any regularity either.
- QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “If I learn to ice skate and change my last name to Staal, think I could get signed and overpaid by an NHL team?”- Joe Aiello
- What’s the deal with Alex Semin? Bad reputation or not, one would think he would have been signed already. I still maintain that if Columbus trades Nash, Semin going there would be a no-brainer, but if it keeps being dragged out, the Detroit Red Wings might want to make a push for him since they lost out on Parise…and because no one ever seems to fail in Detroit. I have also done some musing on the Rangers signing him to a one-year deal. I do not like the guy, and did not need any help from TSN analysts bashing the hell out of him to make that decision, but he could score 20 goals without even trying (and he has not tried in quite some time, which is the problem) and if he could only buy into a system and be a team player, he could go back to that 40-goal star player he once was. Would a team like the Rangers be a good fit? One would immediately think no because of John Tortorella, but I’m leaning towards the fact that everyone there buys into his system. Washington was split, but on New York, he would not have much of a choice, because you know their no-nonsense coach would just scratch him every night if he did not buy in. The Rangers have so much money free that it would not hurt them at all to sign him for one year and take that chance.
- THIS JUST IN: We have learned that initially, Ruslan Fedotenko wanted to sign with the Dallas Stars, but was turned away because he wasn’t old enough.
- Lastly, how about those free agent predictions I made with the above-mentioned Joe and Chris? Wow, they are so bad they almost have an odor. Usually, we are sub par every year but this time just takes the cake. We usually advertise ourselves as “still better than Eklund”, but I don’t know about these. We are a combined 13 for 66 (~20%), with Chris leading the way at five correct picks. The two things that do stand out, however, are Chris getting Parise to Minnesota right and me picking George Parros to the Florida Panthers…don’t ask how I got that one right…