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Rangers interested in Czech defenseman Mozik

Bobby Bevilacqua

UPDATE: Vojtěch Mozík has signed an Entry Level Contract with the New Jersey Devils.

vojtech mozic

The Rangers have shown interest in 22-year old Vojtech Mozic, a defensive prospect playing in the Czech League. Photo courtesy of HC Skoda Plzen.

According to IDNES.cz, a Czech newspaper, the New York Rangers have expressed interest in signing Vojtěch Mozík, a defensive prospect playing in the Czech League for HC Plzen. Last year he led the league in goals as a defenseman with 10 goals in 50 games, adding 19 assists as well.

Mozík, 22, is 6-foot-2, 189 pounds, and a right-handed shot, and played 51 games in each of the last two seasons, with a total of 18 goals, 25 assists and 154 penalty minutes in those 102 games.

Mozík has been scouted and watched by the Rangers before, with Jan Dajdosik initially discovering him, and Gordie Clark inviting him to the team’s development camp in 2013 and 2014. After the 2013 camp, Clark told him that he performed well, with his skating ability standing out, but that he needed to get stronger. Read the rest of this entry

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Rangers Player Grades: Dan Boyle and Marc Staal

Bobby Bevilacqua

Boyle and Staal

Marc Staal and Dan Boyle spent a majority of the season together on the second pairing, as polar opposite players. Boyle is the offensive specialist, and Staal is tasked as one of the shutdown defenders. Photos courtesy of Getty Images and MSG Photos.

While Ryan and McDonagh and Dan Girardi are viewed as the top defenseman on the Rangers, it’s important to have other depth players to keep a team from being one dimensional. Fortunately, New York is host to plenty of solid defensemen.

Marc Staal, a Ranger draft pick from 2005, and Dan Boyle, a veteran, offensive defenseman acquired in the offseason, made up the second pair for the majority of the season, with each player logging around or over 20 minutes a game.

Staal serves as an alternate captain, and team funny man, and Boyle is another veteran leader in the locker room, while also driving passion and quarterbacking the power play. Both of these players have been the target for a lot of blame, especially Boyle, but some of it is really undeserved. Read the rest of this entry

Rangers Player Grades: Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi

Bobby Bevilacqua

dan girardi and ryan mcdonagh

Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh have been the two top defensemen in New York for a few years now. It was another solid year for the duo, both dealing with adversity throughout the season. Photo courtesy of Bruce Bennet/Getty Images North America.

For quite some time now, the Rangers have had a defense-first mentality, and have built their team from the net out. John Tortorella was a very defensively minded coach, focusing on blocking shots, playing physical, and creating plays from behind the net.

Even with the hiring of Alain Vigneault, who brings a more up-tempo style of play to New York, he did not forget about defense. Instead, the Rangers now have a system where they create offense off of their defense, stopping plays first and then countering on the rush.

That defensive focus came through at the trade deadline as well, when Glen Sather made a move to acquire Keith Yandle, an elite puck moving, offensive defenseman from the Arizona Coyotes, forfeiting top prospect Anthony Duclair, John Moore and two picks. That gave the Rangers one of the best defenses on paper, and that was their strength heading into the playoffs.

Despite dealing with injuries and change throughout the season, the Rangers were pretty strong throughout the season at the blue line. There’s a nice mix of defensive players and guys with a bit of offensive flare, and if they all stay healthy next year, Alain Vigneault should have himself another year of shutdown defensive play. Read the rest of this entry

Rangers face off against St. Louis at MSG; McIlrath and Allen make season debut

Bobby Bevilacqua

When the Rangers (5-4-1) take the ice tonight at 7 PM against the St. Louis Blues (6-3-1), four of the defenseman in the starting lineup for New York will be guys that did not play when these two teams first faced off in the season opener.

Recent callups Connor Allen and Dylan McIlrath will both be in the starting lineup tonight, following the injuries to Ryan McDonagh and Kevil Klein.

New York Rangers v Los Angeles Kings

Connor Allen will be making his season debut tonight against the Blues tonight, and could either play with Mike Kostka or Dylan McIlrath. Allen is a capable two-way defender who can move the puck and play solid defense.

The two are not linemates in Hartford, but were teammates last season and roommates for training camp this year.

Allen nearly made the team out of camp last season, and played in three games for the Rangers, where he looked comfortable and moved well with the puck. In eight games in Hartford, he has scored twice and picked up three assists with a minus-one rating. Read the rest of this entry

Connor Allen and Dylan McIlrath called up from Hartford; Will play tomorrow

Bobby Bevilacqua

mcilrath and allen hartford

Dylan McIlrath (L) and Connor Allen (R) have been recalled from the Hartford Wolf Pack to replace Ryan McDonagh and Kevin Klein for tomorrow’s game against the St. Louis Blues. Photo courtesy of NHL.com

As expected, Connor Allen and Dylan McIlrath have both been recalled from the Hartford Wolf Pack to replace the two free spots in the Rangers’ defensive pairings with the injured to Kevin Klein and captain Ryan McDonagh.

This is now the second straight season that Allen, 24, and McIlrath, 22, have been called up to play with the Rangers.

McIlrath, the Rangers’ 10th overall pick in the 2010 draft, turned pro during the 2012-2013 season, but played just 45 games due to surgery he required on his kneecap. He played in 62 games with Hartford last year, scoring six goals with 11 assists for a total of 17 points, as well as accumulating 165 penalty minutes Read the rest of this entry