10 Thoughts on Rangers & NHL

As a riveting and wildly popular, and now tied Stanley Cup Final takes a breather – one game in the next five days – and the Rangers’ offseason about to get busy in the next week or so, some thoughts:

1. All this talk about Ilya Kovalchuk’s return from the KHL? First of all, to me, it makes sense for him to wait until next summer to make his comeback. He can play in the Olympics, an opportunity he won’t get if he’s in the NHL next February. And he can get a bidding war going for his services as an unrestricted free agent and a potentially crazy contract.

If he returns for this coming season, the Devils will be able to control his destination via trade, and he won’t make a king’s ransom in salary without the bidding war.

But I don’t believe either way that he will be a Ranger, especially if his return is now. The Devils won’t trade him to the Rangers, plain and simple. And if they were inclined to do so, it would take a lot of talent going the other way. That doesn’t seem to fit the direction the Rangers are going. Just my opinion.

2. With the expansion draft coming up, there’s some speculation that Jesper Fast’s injury might affect which way Vegas GM George McPhee will go when he chooses a player from the Rangers’ roster.

In case you missed it, Fast had hip surgery and is expected to require five months of recovery and rehab. So his return would be early November, most likely.

To me, if Fast is indeed unprotected, and if he is the player Vegas would take if healthy, then he will be the player they take regardless of his injury. I mean, Vegas isn’t winning the Stanley Cup next season, and if the Golden Knights really are a contender, then they should be able to survive a month without Fast. Seriously, if they want him, the wait for him is moot.

[Fischler: Who Will Rangers Protect in Expansion Draft?]

3. Also, in case you missed it, Henrik Lundqvist did indeed sprain an MCL in his knee during Sweden’s run to the World Championship gold medal, though it has been reported that his 4-6 week recovery should not affect his normal offseason training nor his ability to be ready to go by training camp.

4. A couple of weeks ago we discussed here the top teams of all-time, and the poll NHL.com was conducting. Well, last night the 1984-85 Edmonton Oilers were announced (by Wayne Gretzky on behalf of the NHL) as the winner of the poll.

I’m not sure if the 1984-85 team was the best (Gretzky has said 1987-88 was the best), but in my opinion, the Oilers of the ‘80s were the best team I’ve ever seen. Yes, better by a bit than the ‘70s Canadiens and ‘80s Islanders.

I asked Gretzky about it once, and he said, “I don’t know if we were the best team ever, but I’ll guarantee you we were the most exciting.”

5. I’m a big, big fan of P.K. Subban the man, the person, with his Adam Graves charitable persona – the way he digs into his own pockets to donate millions of dollars, especially to children’s hospitals.

[Carpiniello: It’s All About the Smiles for Charitable Graves]

But the hockey player annoys me sometimes, with the antics, the embellishments, and the chatter. He’s a terrific hockey player, but the other stuff detracts from that.

6. Speaking of which, I really dislike where mass sports (or otherwise) journalism has gone, when things like this Catfish Thrower guy get overblown, and when Subban’s “bad breath” story has legs for days. These 15-minutes-of-fame stories – Dart Guy in Toronto, for example – dominate the coverage of sports now.

Subban clearly went out of his way to taunt Sidney Crosby after Game 3, and when he was asked about it, he joked with Pierre McGuire of NBCSN that Crosby was complaining about his breath. Crosby was not amused when the follow-up questions came. But it became a wildfire story. Very disappointing.

[Carpiniello: Stacking Up Crosby with the All-Time Greats]

7. Kenny Albert noted that the sons of the players the Rangers acquired for Dave and Don Maloney were in the building in Nashville Monday. The Rangers got Carey Wilson in the Don Maloney trade with Hartford, and his son Colin plays for the Predators. Steven Patrick was one of the players the Rangers got from Buffalo for Dave Maloney, and his kid Nolan is projected to be a top pick in the draft later this month. Nolan, who is also James Patrick’s nephew, was at the arena as the NHL showcased its top draft prospects.

[The Apod – Ep 15: Rangers & Knicks Play-By-Play Announcer Kenny Albert]

8. They actually play “Brass Bonanza” in the arena in Nashville. That’s the old Hartford Whalers theme song, youngsters.

9. Monday was the 39th anniversary of the Rangers’ twin signings of WHA stars Anders Hedberg and Ulf Nilsson before the 1978-79 season, which ended with a Stanley Cup Final. Info thanks to @NHLhistorygirl Jen.

10. I guess Peter Laviolette was correct in sticking with Pekka Rinne in goal after Game 2.