Dan Boyle

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Rangers get younger and faster with Zibanejad trade, but is it enough?

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The New York Rangers’ 2015-16 season came to an abrupt end in the first round of the playoffs when they were systematically dominated by a better, faster and more skilled Pittsburgh Penguins team.

The roster had some obvious flaws, and one of the most glaring was a lack of speed that the Penguins were able to consistently expose in the five-game series.

On Monday, general manager Jeff Gorton said one of the goals for the Rangers this summer was for the team to try to get younger and faster without having to give up too much in return. They attempted to address that on Monday with the trade that sent veteran forward Derick Brassard to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for Mika Zibanejad.

Even though Brassard has developed into a pretty solid two-way center for the Rangers, and his production was nearly identical to Zibanejad’s this past season, it is still easy to see why this trade was so appealing for the team.

Related: Rangers send Brassard to Ottawa for Zibanejad

In Zibanejad they are getting a player that is not only more than five years younger, but has also been trending upward over the past few seasons from a production standpoint and is already a strong penalty killer. He also gives them a dimension up front that they had started to lack over the past couple of years with his speed and overall skill level. With a pair of 20-goal seasons already under his belt before his age 23 season in the league it shouldn’t be be out of the question to think he could reach the 30-goal season in the coming years.

But while Zibanejad brings some much needed youth, speed and (for now) salary cap relief to the team, it is still the only significant move the team has made this summer to add talent and address the most glaring flaws on the team. And while it is a nice move, it doesn’t really do much to significantly close the gap between them and the top contenders in Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and Washington.

Gorton refused to say on Monday if he had another move coming after clearing about $2.5 million in cap space.

“You can say cap space if you like, but for us this is a younger player who is almost six years younger, has two 20 goal seasons, and is a player that we think is heading to the prime of his career,” Gorton said.

“The ability to get him, a younger player, someone who is fast, plays well in his own zone, can do a lot of things for us. That is the exciting part, the fact that we have some cap space is good. We will look at everything now but even if I had a move I promise I wouldn’t tell you.”

The Rangers’ only other additions this summer have been Michael Grabner, Josh Jooris and Nathan Gerbe up front, and Nick Holden and Adam Clendening on defense.

Gorton also said on Monday that the team had no serious discussions about buying out the remainder of Dan Girardi‘s contract following a tough 2015-16 season.

That means the defense will be mostly the same one that struggled through much of the second half of the season and playoffs … minus its two best puck-moving options in Keith Yandle (traded to Florida) and Dan Boyle (retirement).

 

 

 

Rangers sign McIlrath, narrow to-do list down to Kreider, Hayes

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The New York Rangers aren’t waiting until the last minute to handle every salary arbitration situation, although they still have some work to do.

The Rangers avoided arbitration with defenseman Dylan McIlrath via a one-year, $800K deal, according to the CBC’s Tim Wharnsby. New York recently confirmed that an agreement was made.

This comes after locking down promising forward J.T. Miller on Wednesday while New York still faces potential hearings with Chris Kreider (slated for July 22) and Kevin Hayes (July 27).

Locking up McIlrath to a reasonable deal provides optimism that the Rangers could take care of both Kreider and Hayes.

(For further reading on one of those scenarios, note that The New York Post’s Larry Brooks believes Kyle Palmieri‘s contract could stand as a comparable for Kreider.)

McIlrath, the 10th pick of the 2010 NHL Draft, is still attempting to carve out his place in the Rangers’ lineup. He played 34 of his 37 career NHL regular season games last season and added a playoff contest as well.

Dan Boyle‘s departure opens things up quite a bit for him, although he’ll still need to prove himself since the Rangers have plenty of defensive options from a quantity standpoint.

Rangers sign Grabner, Gerbe and Clendening to short-term deals

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They aren’t the biggest signings of the day, but they’re still…signings.

Michael Grabner, Nathan Gerbe, and Adam Clendening have all signed with the New York Rangers.

Grabner, 28, gets a two-year deal with a cap hit of $1.6 million. He’s fast and a good penalty killer, though he had just nine goals in 80 games last season for the Maple Leafs.

The other forward, Gerbe, gets a one-year deal for $600,000. The diminutive 28-year-old was absolutely snakebitten last season in Carolina. In 47 games, he had just three goals on 73 shots.

Clendening — a 23-year-old defenseman who’s already played for the Blackhawks, Canucks, Penguins and Oilers — received a one-year, two-way contract worth $600,000 at the NHL level. Known as a puck-mover, he should get a reasonable chance to play in New York. The Rangers had trouble moving the puck last season, and they don’t have Keith Yandle or Dan Boyle anymore.

Trade: Rangers acquire d-man Holden from Avs

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BUFFALO — The Rangers needed help on defense, and got some on Day 2 of the NHL Draft.

After the seventh round wrapped, New York announced it had acquired Nick Holden from Colorado in exchange for a fourth-round selection in 2017.

Holden, 29, was a regular fixture in Colorado last year, appearing in all 82 games (while racking up 22 points). He has two years remaining on a three-year, $4.95 million deal — a $1.65M average annual cap hit — and was one of Colorado’s main penalty killers last year, finishing third on the team in average shorthanded TOI per game.

With the departures of Dan Boyle and Keith Yandle, the Blueshirts had holes to fill on defense. Holden will help in that regard.

It remains to be seen what the Avalanche’s plan is for the blueline. They are in the midst of negotiations with pending RFA Tyson Barrie, and believed to be interested in Winnipeg blueliner Jacob Trouba.

If that’s the case, Holden could be viewed as expendable. It was suggested he played too large a role last season (21:53 TOI per night) and might be better suited for a sixth defenseman, third-pairing role.

Rangers re-sign defenseman Summers

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New York has extended blueliner Chris Summers, the club announced on Wednesday.

Per General Fanager, it’s a one-year, two-way deal worth $600,000 — very similar to his last contract, which was of the two year variety but also paid $600K annually.

Summers, 28, has appeared in just six games for the Rangers since coming over in the Keith Yandle trade of 2015. He’s spent the majority of his time in the AHL with Hartford, scoring 11 points in 74 games a year ago.

A left-handed shot, it’ll be interesting to see where Summers fits within the organization next season. The Rangers are losing the services of Dan Boyle (shoots right) and could lose Keith Yandle (a lefty) to free agency.

Dylan McIlrath (right) could be in line for a bigger role next year, but he’s a restricted free agent on July 1 and will require a new contract. The club also has depth defenseman Mat Bodie (left) and youngster Ryan Graves (left) in the mix on defense, so it’s likely Summers will be a recall guy once again, spending most of next year with the Wolf Pack.