Rumor Roundup: Flyers need help on the blueline, but don’t expect it to come soon

(Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)

The state of the Philadelphia Flyers defense core remains a troubling issue. They’ve lacked a true top-two defenseman since Chris Pronger’s career was ended by injury nearly three years ago. They attempted to address that issue in July of 2012 by signing Nashville Predators captain Shea Weber to an expensive offer sheet, but the Predators swiftly matched it.

Former GM Paul Holmgren attempted to bolster the overall blueline depth, acquiring Luke Schenn, Mark Streit and Andrew MacDonald via trade and free agency. None of them, however, can fill Pronger’s skates.

The Flyers underwent a front-office shakeup this spring when Ron Hextall took over as GM. Despite Hextall’s stated preference for building from within, rumor-mongers believe the Flyers still seek a stud defenseman, linking them to Winnipeg Jets blueliner Zach Bogosian. Read more

Signing Michael Del Zotto an indictment of Flyers’ middling defense corps

Michael Del Zotto (Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

After receiving tough news Tuesday about veteran blueliner Kimmo Timonen, the Philadelphia Flyers moved quickly to replace their most experienced defenseman by signing Michael Del Zotto to a one-year, $1.3-million contract. But the fact GM Ron Hextall turned to a former hot property whose stock has fallen precipitously is an indication Philly’s defense corps could be the area that prevents the Flyers from securing a playoff berth this season.

Since star blueliner Chris Pronger had his career ended in 2011 by post-concussion syndrome, the Flyers have been searching to bolster their blueline. Timonen and Braydon Coburn are the only holdovers from Pronger’s time in Philadelphia, and because the organization hasn’t been able to produce a home-grown d-man of impact, they’ve had to look elsewhere – namely, the New York Islanders, from whom they acquired former Isles blueliners Mark Streit (via free agency) and Andrew MacDonald (via trade). They dealt skilled young winger James van Riemsdyk to Toronto for Luke Schenn. And those moves didn’t produce the desired result; Philly was 17th in Corsi-for last season and were in the lower tier of the NHL in goals-allowed (20th overall at 2.77 goals per game).

Those numbers won’t improve with the arrival of Del Zotto, who at age 24 has arrived at a crossroads in his five-year NHL career and who had to accept a major pay cut (from $2.55 million last season) to continue playing in hockey’s top league. Read more

THN logo rankings No. 14: New York Rangers

Adam Proteau
RangersMAIN

The New York Rangers are fortunate to have the aura that comes along with being an Original Six franchise, but in THN’s 2014 NHL logo ranking contest, their reliance on tradition hasn’t pushed them to the top. Our in-house panel of judges ranked the Rangers’ current logo 14th-best.

The Blueshirts have made very few tweaks to the original team logo used in their inaugural season of 1926-27. In many ways, that’s a good thing that speaks to the positive reception it’s had with the franchise’s fan base. But at a time when brands are almost always reshaping their image, the Rangers aren’t standing out with their current logo.

Maybe you think you could improve on the Rangers logo. If that’s true, put one together and submit it to editorial@thehockeynews.com. Once our logo rankings conclude, we’ll share them online.

HISTORY OF THE RANGERS LOGO

(All logos from Chris Creamer’s website.)

The Rangers – initially owned by George Lewis “Tex” Rickard, boxing promoter and president of Madison Square Garden – had their logo designed in part to differentiate from the rival New York Americans, who’d began playing at the famous arena one year sooner. Whereas the Americans’ logo spelled our their name horizontally, Rickard’s Rangers would begin their existence by spelling out their team name diagonally.

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Rumor Roundup: Where will Dustin Penner & Michael Del Zotto land?

Dustin Penner

As the NHL off-season drags on, former New York Rangers and Nashville Predators defenseman Michael Del Zotto remains unsigned.

Only 24, Del Zotto is just two years removed from a 41-point performance with the Rangers in 2011-12. Unfortunately, his stock tumbled significantly last season, largely because of his poor play in his own zone.

Recent speculation linking Del Zotto to the Vancouver Canucks was denied by his agent, who claims there’s “no chance” his client ends up with the Canucks. It’s been rumored the Detroit Red Wings could have interest, but he’s a left-handed shot and the Wings seek a right-shooting blueliner.

The New York Post’s Larry Brooks cited an NHL club claiming Del Zotto’s reputation was “in tatters.” He believes now is the right time to “buy low” on the young rearguard and wonders why the New York Islanders haven’t pursued him. Read more

Bob Clarke didn’t want Russians in the NHL…and he wasn’t alone

Red Alert

Russians have had a huge impact on the NHL and the way the game is played, but their arrival in North America wasn’t without controversy.

In the August, 1989, edition of The Hockey News, a wave of Soviet stars, riding the crest of glasnost, broke down barriers and signed to play with NHL teams. Slava Fetisov and Sergei Starikov inked in New Jersey. Alexandr (that’s how he spelled it in ’89) Mogilny officially became a Sabre. And Igor Larionov and Vladimir Krutov were brought into the Vancouver Canucks fold.

Some natives, however, remained suspicious and opposed.

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Fantasy Pool Look: Rangers and Wild off-season outlooks

NYR-MIN (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

It’s the 12th annual off-season look at each team from a fantasy-hockey standpoint. Every year I run through the teams alphabetically – but switch starting points each year. This year I’m doing something different and reviewing the teams in reverse order of regular season finish. Today we take a look at the 12th-place Rangers) and 11th-place Wild.

NEW YORK RANGERS
Gone – Brian Boyle, Stu Bickel, Brad Richards, Benoit Pouliot, Anton Stralman, Derek Dorsett, Daniel Carcillo and Raphael Diaz

Incoming – Lee Stempniak, Matt Lombardi, Dan Boyle, Matt Hunwick, Mike Kostka, Tanner Glass, Chris Mueller

Ready for full-time – The big one is J.T. Miller, who is more than ready for NHL duty. He can still get sent down without passing through waivers and he’s on a two-way contract, which counts against him. But as things stand now, the last forward spot would go to Chris Mueller or Chris Bourque – and Miller should easily beat those two. Expectations for Miller, as with most youngsters, should be kept low in the beginning. But he has the talent to work his way up the lineup quickly and injuries will play a role in that as well. Read more