Tampa Bay Lightning

New York Rangers ’15-16 Outlook

6 Comments

If you’re fascinated by athletes chasing big numbers in contract years, then the New York Rangers have been a go-to source of entertainment in recent years.

It’s difficult (if not nebulous) to try to quantify the impact of “greed is good,” but the Rangers are a hungry team with plenty of motivation in 2015-16. That’s what happens when you mortgage bits of your future via trades and employ some players chasing their next checks.

You never really know how wide open a Stanley Cup window might be.

Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault saw that in action in Vancouver, as the franchise declined from a huge contender to a bubble team in little time.

We’ve asked more than once if Henrik Lundqist’s elite days are numbered. It’s also worth noting that at 31, Rick Nash is in the middle of that age in which snipers see a slide in production.

The contract year situations aren’t of “uh oh, we better re-sign Henrik Lundqvist/our current captain/Derek Stepan” enormity, but they’re still intriguing.

On defense, you have veteran Keith Yandle and fading graybeard (literally) Dan Boyle. Antti Raanta also enters a pivotal year as an NHL backup.

The forward group might be the most intriguing.

Just look at the pending RFAs alone: Chris Kreider, Kevin Hayes, J.T Miller and Emerson Etem. There’s some fascinating potential for all four of those players.

Even with Boyle’s $4.5 million cap hit set to expire, salary cap gymnastic may be required once again in the summer of 2016.

***

Paying players after strong years – and learning to let some of the less essential ones go – has been a pretty rewarding process for the Rangers, even if there’s been the occasional miss (see: Anton Stralman).

Isles announce tryout invites, including Carkner (updated)

4 Comments

Sure, it’s not as exciting as the Pittsburgh Penguins handing Sergei Gonchar a tryout offer, but the New York Islanders’ announcement reminds us that we’re about to enter that fascinating stage of the offseason.

We’ll find out more names soon enough: who will need a strong training camp to earn an NHL gig?

The Islanders handed professional tryout contracts to Matt Carkner, Tyler Barnes and Parker Milner on Monday.

Carkner, 34, appeared in 22 games with the Islanders in 2012-13 and 53 in 2013-14, racking up 195 combined penalty minutes in that time.

The pictured pugilist fought four times in the AHL in 2014-15 and dropped the gloves on nine occasions in 2013-14 with the Islanders, according to Hockey Fights.

He received a one-game suspension back in 2012 for this altercation with Brian Boyle:

Barnes, 25, is an undrafted forward. He spent most of the 2014-15 in the ECHL. Milner, 24, is a goalie who also spent much of last season in the ECHL.

Update:

PHT Morning Skate: McDavid, Hall win their first Cup together

PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

The Oilers are champions once again! Well, sort of — Connor McDavid and Taylor Hall were part of the team that captured the Biosteel Cup, a 4-on-4 tournament held during the pre-training camp gathering of NHLers. (Sportsnet)

The Blue Jackets have inked Paul Bittner — their second-round pick (38th overall) at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft — to a three-year, entry-level contract. (Oregon Live)

Lee Stempniak, still an unrestricted free agent, really wanted to remain a Winnipeg Jet (Sportsnet)

Leafs d-man Stephane Robidas has resumed skating after recovering from a shoulder injury, and getting a screw removed from his previously broken leg. (Toronto Sun)

Good piece here on Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay’s “superstar goalie in waiting.” (Sports Illustrated)

Under Pressure: John Carlson

13 Comments

We wrote yesterday about how most teams that win the Stanley Cup have an elite center, like Jonathan Toews.

Well, most teams that win the Cup also have an elite defenseman, like Duncan Keith, the 2015 Conn Smythe Trophy winner.

Can John Carlson be that guy for the Washington Capitals?

The 25-year-old is coming off his best season as a professional. In 82 games, he had 12 goals and 43 assists, his 55 points ranking fifth among NHL defensemen, behind only Erik Karlsson, Brent Burns, P.K. Subban and Dennis Wideman.

And with the departure of Mike Green, the Caps will need Carlson more than ever to provide offense from the back end, while also continuing to improve in all the other areas of his game.

“I think with Carly, there’s been areas of his game that sort of would lag, and I think he’s done a really good job of focusing on those areas, so he can have that consistency,” coach Barry Trotz said in February, per the Washington Post. “He’s maturing as a player. He’s still a very young player who’s now entering the front end of the prime of his career. There’s lot of good things to see from him.”

Related: ‘It took him a few years, but Victor Hedman’s arrived’

PHT Morning Skate: The Replacements

2 Comments

PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Could we see the return of Dale Hunter? Five potential candidates to replace NHL coaches during the NHL season. (Sportsnet)

How Ben Bishop traveled a long, winding road to success. (The Hockey News)

One argument for Johan Franzen to retire from hockey. (Puck Daddy)

What “defines” the St. Louis Blues? (St. Louis Game Time)

In Lou We Trust ponders the situation at hand for players who were “dead weight” for the New Jersey Devils during the 2014-15 season. (In Lou We Trust)

Who should be the next captain for the San Jose Sharks? (Fear the Fin)

Dawww: