One of the NHL’s breakout stars from last year is on his way to Russia.
(Well, technically Kazakhstan.)
Ryan McDonagh — one of the key components of the Rangers’ conference finals run — has agreed to terms with KHL club HC Barys Astana, according to the New York Daily News.
The 23-year-old rearguard played in every single game for the Rangers in 2011-12 (102 in all) and, in a triple-overtime playoff win against Washington, logged an eye-popping 53:21 in ice time. It was the most any Ranger defenseman had played in the last 25 years and cemented McDonagh as one of the Blueshirts’ heart-and-soul guys.
McDonagh referenced his dedication to the club in an email to the Daily News.
“The decision was tough [to join Barys] but ultimately I wanted to put myself in a situation that would best prepare me to be playing at my best when the Rangers start up again,” he explained. “I love playing this game and this is a great opportunity for me to play and stay in game shape so I can ultimately be at my best to help the Rangers win.”
As for McDonagh’s new club — Astana has some familiar faces, including former a pair of ex-Rangers in Nigel Dawes and Nik Antropov.
It also features a tantalizing defensive pairing option in Tampa Bay blueliner Victor Hedman, who signed a lockout deal with the club in late September.
Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.
We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.
It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”
Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)
Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.
So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”
… You get the idea.
The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.
The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.
Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.
It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.
The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.
As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.
Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?
The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.
This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.