THN’s 2015-16 NHL season preview: New York Rangers

The Hockey News
Rick Nash and Henrik Lundqvist (Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

2014-15 Record: 53-22-7 (113 Pts.)

THN’s Prediction: 3rd, Metropolitan Division

What To Expect: A year after falling to the Kings in the Stanley Cup final, the Rangers surged to a franchise-record 113 points and a Presidents’ Trophy. Despite an improved regular season, the Blueshirts couldn’t get back to the main event. They fell short to the Lightning, blanked twice at home.

Martin St-Louis retired, and New York will miss his 52 points and work ethic, but the team remains exceptional on paper. Unfortunately for the Rangers, the Metro Division looks a lot more dangerous, as the top rivals added artillery.

Jeff Gorton takes over as GM while Glen Sather narrows his role to club president. Gorton used his first off-season to shuffle the bottom six forwards. He traded Carl Hagelin for Emerson Etem and signed Viktor Stalberg and Jarret Stoll after they flamed out with their previous teams. Stalberg can replace Hagelin’s speed but is a downgrade skill-wise. Stoll, who pled guilty to two misdemeanors after being charged with felony cocaine possession this off-season, can step in as the No. 4 center and play a heavy game with a defensive slant. Read more

The biggest and best prospects from Traverse City

Kerby Rychel (Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

TRAVERSE CITY, MICH. – Another tourney is in the books, as the Columbus Blue Jackets defending their Traverse City prospects tournament title with a 5-2 win over the home team Detroit Red Wings. There was a lot of talent again this year, so I’ve put together mini scouting reports on many of the big names, plus others who caught my eye.

I was at two days of games, watching double-headers that were staggered between two rinks in the same building. So I saw more of some teams than others, though I tried to keep it even. If you don’t see your fave player here, it’s because he didn’t catch me eye enough – which is not to say he didn’t play well, but rather that there were a lot of prospects in play and I wouldn’t want to pretend to see more than I did.

Also, some teams had a lot of free agents on their squads since NCAA players couldn’t participate due to eligibility issues and some teams don’t have deep prospect pools right now. Chicago and the Rangers – both in contender mode right now – are two examples. They fought for last place, so we’ll start with them and work our way up to the champs.

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Rumor Roundup: Will Yandle last the season on Broadway?

Lyle Richardson
Keith Yandle. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The New York Rangers enter training camp having retained center Derek Stepan. Doing so, however, came at the cost of shedding salary by trading winger Carl Hagelin to the Anaheim Ducks for an inexperienced, but also affordable, Emerson Etem.

While the Rangers’ Metropolitan Division rivals in Pittsburgh, Washington and Columbus improved their rosters during the off-season,’s Arthur Staple notes the Rangers salary-cap issues prevented them from doing the same The Blueshirts’ cap issues will continue for 2016-17, with over $54 million invested in just 12 players.

Staple suggests defenseman Keith Yandle could become a salary-cap casualty by the Feb. 29th trade deadline, as the Rangers can’t afford to re-sign him beyond this season. Yandle, 29, becomes eligible for unrestricted free agency next July. His current annual cap hit is $5.25 million split between the Rangers and his former club, the Arizona Coyotes and he’ll likely seek a substantial raise. Read more

Steven Stamkos and the importance of playing other sports

Steven Stamkos (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Toronto Blue Jays are putting up enough offense to win the Rocket Richard Trophy (they have that in baseball too, right?), so it’s no surprise local boy Steven Stamkos – a two-time winner of that accolade himself – dropped by to shag a few pitches himself the other day.

Stamkos is a well-known baseball fan who plays the game in the summer, despite the fact he’s one of the best hockey players in the world. But he’s not the only elite iceman whose sporting pursuits go beyond the arena. And for young players (and their parents), Stamkos is a great role model.

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Why Carl Hagelin’s new four-year, $16 million deal looks good for Anaheim

Jared Clinton
Carl Hagelin was traded to the Anaheim Ducks on June 27. (Gregg Forwerck/Getty Images)

When the New York Rangers dealt Carl Hagelin to the Anaheim Ducks at the draft, it was a trade made not because the Rangers had no more use for the speedy winger, but because New York simply couldn’t afford to pay Hagelin what he was asking.

Over his four seasons in the NHL, Hagelin, 26, had been a steady 15-goal, 30-point player and, as a restricted free agent, he was due for a healthy raise on the $2.25 million he had earned over the past two seasons.

Well, Hagelin got that raise Friday, signing a four-year, $16 million deal with the Ducks that will keep him locked up until the 2018-19 season. And at an average cap hit of only $4 million per year, the Blueshirts might be kicking themselves in two years’ time. Read more

AHL Logo Ranking: No. 27 – Hartford Wolf Pack

Jared Clinton
Hartford Wolf Pack logo (via Creamer)

(The AHL has undergone a season of change and one third of the league has changed locations or logos for the 2015-16 season. Leading up to the new season, The Hockey News will be ranking the logos of the league’s teams and offering a brief look at the history of each franchise. See the rest of the rankings in our AHL feed.)

In the past two seasons the Hartford Wolf Pack have gone from being on the outside looking in to legitimate post-season threat. In 2013-14, the club finished nine points out of a playoff spot and just five games over .500, but came back with a vengeance in 2014-15, finishing 19 games above .500 and winning their division.

With the Northeast locked up, the Wolf Pack downed the Providence Bruins in the post-season’s opening round and disposed of the Hershey Bears in six games in round two. The Eastern Conference final was a different story, though, as the near-unbeatable Manchester Monarchs booted the Wolf Pack from the playoffs with a 4-0 series sweep.

Of their top 10 scorers, only Oscar Lindberg, Marek Hrivik and Ryan Bourque are still with the team. Leading scorer Chris Bourque headed to the Capitals organization, Danny Kristo is off to Blues, Carl Klingberg left for the KHL, Chris Mueller is now a Duck, Conor Allen is with the Predators, Ryan Haggerty was dealt to the Blackhawks and Justin Vaive signed with the rival Islanders. That doesn’t bode well for the Wolf Pack’s offense in 2015-16.

To replace the lost production, the Wolf Pack have added scoring by committee. Luke Adam, Brian Gibbons and Jayson Megna have all been brought in to contribute up front. The lack of offensive defensemen will put pressure on sophomore Mat Bodie, who scored five goals and 32 points in 75 games for the Wolf Pack in his rookie year, to step up from the blueline and spark some scoring from the backend. Luckily, the Wolf Pack should be set in goal with Mackenzie Skapski, Magnus Hellberg and Cedrick Desjardins.

Hartford has missed the post-season in three of the past six campaigns and unless there’s a breakout star, it could be another long summer for the Wolf Pack. Read more