D-Day Upon Us

What, did you think you were reading an apocalypse blog? Rather, tomorrow is the first day of free agency and given the bevy of signings over the past couple years within the first few hours, tomorrow should be interesting.

Like last year, I will be sitting in a room (since I coincidentally have this week off from work) with my XM radio, Mac Powerbook, and NHL Network on to bring everyone the latest updates.

Early on, I get the sense that it will be a hit or miss off-season for the Rangers. One where we will either see a wind of total change, or merely a couple small moves. Much will hinge upon Jaromir Jagr, who I still believe will re-sign.

Many rumormongers out there have different percentages of liklihoods etc. so I am going to throw a few names out there and where they stand in the Rangers plans. I will start with the forwards and put in the D later.

Jagr: I feel he is 80% back to the Rangers, with a 10% chance of Pittsburgh and 10% chance of Russia.

Sundin: 50% to the Rangers. 25% to the Canadiens. 25% to Toronto. In my heart I don't see him going to Toronto's rival, nor do I see him really going to the Rangers. However, the reports have said otherwise. My gut is telling me he stays in Toronto.

Hossa: He's a tough cookie. You hear a ton of news about him, but no sense as to where he's really going to go. I could see him following the $ so long as the team is somewhat competitive. I am going to give the Rangers a 20% chance, particularly if they don't re-sign Jagr. I am also going to say 20% to Pittsburgh. 20% to Philadelphia. 20% to Ottawa. 20% to Montreal. Did I cast a wide enough net?

Avery: Sean hasn't realized you don't mess with Sather. I still believe he will re-sign, particularly since Darcy Tucker is now on the market. I think Avery is 60% to the Rangers. 20% to San Jose. 20% to Chicago.

Tucker: Much of this will hinge on Avery, but I could see this happening. 20% to the Rangers. 40% to Boston. 20% to Buffalo. 20% to Pittsburgh.

Naslund: More should be spoken about him. At 33, he should have another 4 good years left. I think a change of scenery would do him good. I could see him coming to the Rangers for $4 million per, he almost did after the lockout. 40% to the Rangers. 40% to stay with Vancouver. 20% to Detroit.

More to come...

Looking at the Draft

The Rangers haven't had much first round success in the past decade. Sure, they have gotten Marc Staal, but they've also taken Pavel Brendl and Jamie Lundmark. For whatever the reason, the main success of the Rangers comes in the later rounds and this is the perfect draft for that.

It's a deep draft this year and with the Rangers picking 20th, there is enough intrigue to warrant following what's going on. Perhaps what is most interesting is that it is a deep defensive draft, which seldom happens. But is defense really what the Rangers need?

I have pleaded for years for the Rangers to go out and sign a stud defenseman (ahem Wade Redden), but at the same time there is a lot of potential in the Ranger ranks.

Bobby Sanguinetti, Michael Sauer, Corey Potter, Thomas Pock, and Andrew Hutchinson, there isn't much room. So, in fact, the Rangers could look to another forward.

Last year, Glen Sather got his man in Alexei Cherepanov, could one of his fellow countrymen such as Nikita Filitov fall that far? Probably not, but the abundance of defensemen will leave a lot of quality forwards in the second half of the first round. Kirill Petrov, another strong Russian forward, could be available as could Mattias Tedenby from Sweden.

However, the Rangers may choose to go the route of defense as most expect and there may be a diamond in the rough waiting there: Erik Karlsson. A Swedish puck moving defenseman that is good on the power play? May be worth a shot.

Regardless of who the Rangers pick, their actions on draft day will be telling of how they plan to conduct the remainder of their offseason. If they stay pat and make no moves, then they likely have one move or so in mind. If they move up in the draft or trade for a player's rights, then we're likely to see quite a shakeup with this roster. My guess is that if the Rangers do not have a stud defenseman in mind or they feel that Sanguinetti has tailed off, they try and move up to a top five spot.

Another surprising question: why is nobody talking about Brendan Shanahan?

Happy One Year Anniversary!

On June 4th, Pucks on Broadway officially became a year old. I remember the original format, the original photos and letters. Some of my favorite moments came early on, breaking the Drury/Gomez situation, the Michael Peca interviews, etc.

Some great and fascinating moments.

If you would have asked me what I expected from this blog at the time, I would have said that a few people would stumble upon it, I could use it to vent on the Rangers, and a few friends may occasionally comment. Instead, I got much, much more.

And that's thanks to you, the readers.

From Stan Fischler, MSG Network, the Blueshirt Bulletin, The Hockey News, Ranger Nation, Outside the Garden, Dallas Stars Chat, NHL Top Shelf, and Aceman and the Kwass, I am truly honored and floored as to how this blog took off.

Add that to a near 30,000 hits later and I really am baffled. The fine guys that work hard at their blogs, such as Scotty Hockey, Inferno, and The Dark Ranger (just to name a few) have been great to me and it's been a great season interacting with them.

Again I thank you and look forward to continuing this for years to come.

And as always....more to come...

Season Review 1: The Coaches

I am a firm believer that coaches are given the ax far too often and should not be as accountable as the players. Tom Renney, I feel, is one of those special coaches. In New York, coaches have not fared well. Between the media, the pressure, the fans, and the lack of overall success the franchise has had, a good keeper coach is few and far between.

Even the successful ones, Mike Keenan ahem, off and leave quickly. I don't get the sense that Tom Renney is about that. He handles the media expertly, knows his players better than most coaches, and admits his own faults.

At the same time, the team did underachieve. Most of us will never know what goes on inside the locker rooms. Why the lines changed as they did, why changes occurred so frequently, why certain players weren't given a chance with others. Yet, I often gave Tom Renney the benefit of the doubt.

Without question, he has transformed the lowly organization into one of three consecutive years of success. At the same time, the team needed to be better in some major areas. Namely special teams.

How much can you blame that on assistant coaches who are in charge of that? How much can you blame on the head coach who oversees that? It is a difficult debate.

If you look at the overall scheme of the season, the coaches get a B. Figuring they made the playoffs, made the second round, but had an overall inconsistent year chock full of mistakes.

Can this group get better? Yes. Will this staff be able to lead these players to a better successful season next year? I think so. If Perry Pearn or Mike Pelino leave to other pastures, we may need to re-evaluate. John Tortorella needs a job.

Head Coach Tom Renney: B+
Assistant Coach Perry Pearn: B

Assistant Coach Mike Pelino: C+

(Photo from The Hockey News)