2. When predictions were made last October, many sages wondered whether the Blueshirts would gain a playoff berth. Finishing where they did — with 102 points — was no small accomplishment in the marathon.
3. Argue about Alain Vigneault if you will, but there’s substance in his end-of-season observation: “There were a lot of good things for a team that re-tooled on the fly and wasn’t given much of a chance in terms of making the playoffs.”
Alain Vigneault analyzes how his club was bested by the Senators and breaks down the positives from the Rangers 2016-17 season.
4. The Rangers high command will soon convene with several issues to deal with; not the least being the future of Michael Grabner.
5. Considering that The Flying Austrian finished second in the club in goal-scoring (27) and was one of the only consistent bright spots over two playoff rounds, it would be hard to lose such an asset.
6. Glen Sather-Alain Vigneault-Jeff Gorton know they have an asset in Antti Raanta. But with Vegas coveting a goalie in the Expansion Draft, there’s a chance that the Golden Knights will make a Raanta grab.
7. How does the high command avoid such a fate?
With the NHL Expansion Draft looming next month, Al Trautwig, Steve Valiquette and Ron Duguay look at how it will affect the construction of the team next season.
9. After the Blueshirts Game 6 elimination on home ice this week, Stepan allowed that he suffered through a sub-par playoff. “It kills me that I was not able to find my game,” said the club’s top center. “It’s confidence for me. Confidence in making the right plays. I just struggled to do it all playoff long.”
Derek Stepan voices how proud he is of this Rangers group despite their second round exit and talks on Rangers expectations and his own.
11. Conversely, rookies Jimmy Vesey and Brady Skjei proved to be meaningful assets over the two series. If Brady’s improvement graph continues to climb, he’ll be an All-Star in a few years. And if you don’t believe me, ask A.V.
12. “Brady had a big role on our team,” the head coach asserted. “Next year he should be better and more effective; ready for a bigger role and bigger minutes.”
13. Both Skjei and Kevin Hayes have been added to the roster of the U.S. Men’s National Team competing at the 2017 International Ice Hockey Federation Men’s World Championship in Cologne and Paris.
14. Ex-Islanders head coach Jack Capuano is one of Uncle Sam’s assistant coaches with Team USA. Devils GM Ray Shero and Rangers assistant GM Chris Drury are serving as part of the managerial group for the team.
15. Should either the Rangers, Islanders, Devils or Sabres choose to sign a goalie, a few familiar names could be available this summer. With Ben Bishop gone to Dallas, Jimmy Howard is one who might tempt a team or two.
16. Some other reasonable puck-stopping choices include Marc-Andre Fleury — his rep has soared so far in the playoffs — Steve Mason and Brian Elliott.
17. Then again, the Rangers have a couple of stud goalies in the “future watch” department. A potential gem is large-and-in-charge Brandon Halverson along with Adam Huska, who’s lauded for his “excellent lateral movement.”
Chris Kreider voices how he made strides this year as a player and welcomes the opportunity to mentor young Blueshirts when the Rangers return to the ice.
19. “Pavel is a bit of a sponge,” Kreider explained to my Russian speaking reporter, Liz Mirovich, “He’s picked up English incredibly quickly and is incredibly skilled and wants to get better. He wants to be a big part of the team. I’m excited for him.”
20. Buffalo’s choice of Jason Botterill as new GM has drawn raves from assorted NHL realms including Penguins GM Jim Rutherford, who was Botterill’s former boss.
21. “The best way to sum up Jason’s hiring,” said Rutherford, “is that he’s a ‘Number One Pick’ as a general manager. A first-rounder all the way.”
22. Not surprisingly, Sabres owner Terry Pegula seconds the motion. “Jason’s hockey knowledge, experience drafting and developing players and his approach to management stood out to us during our interviewing process.”
23. Just for the record, Botterill had to beat out six other challengers for the coveted Buffalo gig.
GM Jason Botterill wants to build a winner, year in & year out. Here's how.
— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) May 12, 2017
24. The Islanders general staff should be tickled with the way Anders Lee and Brock Nelson are producing for Team USA (4-1) in the World tourney. Last Wednesday they helped beat Italy, 3-0. Nelson nabbed a pair and Lee got the other. In Saturday’s come-from-behind victory against Latvia, Lee tallied an assist.
25. Among other reasons why the Isles re-signed Dennis Seidenberg — apart from his team leading plus-25 — is that he’s respected and well-liked in the room. Personally, I’ve found talking hockey with Dennis is a special pleasure.
26. Next challenge for Doug Weight — no doubt happening as we speak — will be his choices as assistant coaches. (Don’t ask me who’s in the mix because there’s a ton of talent out there.)
27. I can see Calvin de Haan moving into a top-four slot on the Isles defense.
28. Looking far ahead, figure Ilya Sorokin will take over goaltending for Garth Snow in a couple of years. Starring for CSKA Moscow, Sorokin moves well and has outstanding athleticism. Ilya was picked 78th in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.
29. After the see-saw season that Tanner Glass endured, I have no idea whether the brass will retain the grit guy. What I do know is that he finished the season as winner of the Blueshirts “Best Beard Award.” (This from a Maven who knows a bit about beards.)
30. Looking ahead, one of the more compelling Devils forwards is Blake Coleman. My man in Newark, James Mauldin, believes that Coleman should be on the opening night roster.
31. “Blake was a surprise,” says Mauldin. “He’s a grinder who’s fantastic on the penalty kill and isn’t fazed by NHL play. He does a lot of the little things well. He’s good on face-offs and supports in his own end. I see him as a fourth-liner.”