The Rangers have been fortunate to have quite a few talented young players blossoming at the NHL level recently. Kevin Hayes is emerging as a top six quality center, racking up primary points and playing a much better two-way game. Chris Kreider set a new career high in goals and is emerging as a fantastic power forward. And Brady Skjei is far outperforming offensive expectations while playing a very solid defensive game.
But JT Miller’s steady development and consistency over the last three seasons has been the most exciting, and he might be evolving into a franchise player.
Miller, 23, has played parts of five seasons with the Rangers and has improved in each and every one of them. In the 2012-13 season under John Tortorella, Miller was largely a fourth line player, not earning the trust of the former head coach and tallying four points (2-2-4) in 26 games. It was much of the same in Alain Vigneault’s first season as well, recording six points (3-3-6) in 30 games and playing just four playoff games in the team’s run to the Stanley Cup Finals. Read the rest of this entry
Out of all of the new additions the Rangers added to their team this offseason, Michael Grabner has blown expectations out of the water. Along with defenseman Nick Holden, these two have helped provide offense and consistent two-way play on cheap, cap-friendly contracts.
When Grabner was signed to a two-year deal, it seemed like he would wind up being a fourth line player who is great at killing penalties and could chip in with some offense. The stories about how he scored 34 goals in his rookie season, 20 goals another year and then 16 goals in the 2012-13 lockout season popped up, as did the ones about how he was fast but couldn’t score on breakaways or finish his chances.
Fast forward to today, and Michael Grabner leads the team with 19 goals after being awarded a hat trick in the Jan. 7 win over the Blue Jackets. That was his second hat trick of the year, and he now has more goals than Evgeni Malkin, Joe Pavelski, Connor McDavid, James Neal, Phil Kessel and more. Read the rest of this entry
This past summer talks between the National Hockey League and potential expansion franchises in either Las Vegas or Quebec City (or both) had heated up significantly. For expansion to occur it would mean that an expansion draft would have to take place for the first time since 2000. It has been reported that the league is likely to announce plans for expansion as early as June of this year, before the NHL entry draft.
TSN’s Darren Dreger has reported that if an expansion draft were to take place, each team would have the right to protect several key players of their choosing. Dreger tweeted Wednesday that teams would be given the option of protecting either: A) three defensemen, seven forwards and one goalie OR B) eight skaters and one goalie. There are a lot of smaller details that have not yet been nailed down by the league, but this would likely be the main framework of an expansion draft.
While there are a lot of areas lacking clarity, the league has begun notifying teams on the potential ideas for the draft itself. It is expected that if there is a one team expansion, each team will lose one player. In the event of a two team expansion, each team loses two. It sounds like something out of a video game. It has also been speculated that players with no-move clauses will NOT be eligible for the potential drafters. The feeling among teams is that one expansion bid will be accepted by the Board of Governors and Las Vegas will be the next NHL city. Read the rest of this entry