Monthly Archives: December 2020

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A lot has been made of the Rangers signing Jack Johnson to a one year deal worth $1.15 million this offseason. The signing was due in part to John Davidson Jersey and new assistant coach Jacques Martin’s past with the 6-1 and 227 lb defender.

Jack Johnson no lock to make the opening night roster
Jack Johnson will be 34 years old when the puck drops on the 2020-21 NHL season. The veteran will be battling with five other defenseman for two spots. Ryan Lindgren Jersey is the only certainty to make the opening roster on the left side.

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Jack Johnson joins NYR (Getty Images)
Any advantage some believe Johnson has coming in could evaporate quickly come January 3 when Rangers camp opens. That’s because he will be in competition with two other veterans in Brendan Smith Jersey and Anthony Bitetto Jersey. To make matters harder, three kids are also pressing for spots in K’Andre Miller, Libor Hajek, and Tarmo Reunanen.

If you ask me, unless Johnson stands out among this group he will wind up the 7th defenseman at best.

Brendan Smith and Anthony Bitetto
The Rangers signed 30 year-old Anthony Bitetto to a taxi squad friendly two year deal at $737,500. He played 51 games for the Winnipeg Jets last season and picked up 8 assists. Overall, he has 183 NHL games under his belt. It is unlikely the Rangers view him higher than Johnson on the current depth chart.

Brendan Smith on the other hand has a better chance of making it over Johnson. First off, he is versatile and could play 4th line wing minutes. He is willing to fight and that may be necessary in this rivalry filled division with a condensed schedule. At 31 years old, Smith only has one season left on his deal and putting him on the taxi-squad will still come with a cap hit of over $3 million. If you ask me, Smith actually has more advantages to land a spot on David Quinn’s roster.

Libor Hajek and Tarmo Reunanen could push out the veterans
Let’s start with Libor Hajek. The Rangers really want to see what they have in the 22 year-old before re-signing him and possibly exposing him to Seattle in the expansion draft.

He made quite an impression during the 2018-19 season where he played 5 games and scored a great goal before having his season end early due to a separated shoulder.

Libor Hajek
Libor Hajek (NHLI via Getty Images)
Coming into this last season, Libor made the team out of camp and was partnered on left defense with Adam Fox Jersey. The two rookies had some puck management issues and were separated with Hajek finding himself playing mostly with Jacob Trouba Jersey. He will need to do better this time around to make it and stick.

The name Tarmo Reunanen was not one many New York Rangers fans knew much of back in 2016. Selected 98th overall in the fourth round, only prospect connoisseurs were aware he existed. Now, Rangers fans are hearing it more and more as it looks like the 22 year-old is ready to make a serious pitch for a starting job.

He is emerging in the Finnish elite league as a top pair defender. Reunanen is not only playing big time minutes averaging over 26 per game, he’s excelling on both sides of the puck.

Unlike the others vying for a spot, David Quinn knows him the least. Tarmo would need to be head and shoulders above the rest to make it, but he may be able to do just that.

Is it K’Andre Miller time yet?
The 20 year-old first round pick, 22nd overall in 2018 is a blend of skill, speed, and power. K’Andre Miller is what every team dreams of having on their blue-line in this decade.

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K’Andre Miller impressed in Phase 3 (Charles Wenzelberg)
At RTP training camp, he was the non-roster player the Rangers chose to have partake in practice and scrimmages. They did this knowing full well he was ineligible to play in the playoffs because he signed his ELC for 2021.

What everyone saw at the MSG Training Facility is that he belonged. Tony DeAngelo Jersey said as much on an episode of the “Watch Your Tone” podcast. The kid didn’t look out of place playing with the big boys and his skating opened eyes of his future teammates as well.

He could overtake everyone and make the team, the only issue boils down to performance bonuses. The Rangers already are accounting for nearly $4 million in bonus cushion with their cap.

Still if JD, Jeff Gorton, and David Quinn think he’s ready they can put him on the roster and let him fly. Should he slip, they can send him to the taxi squad without issue because he’s waiver exempt.

Ultimately, there’s a lot going on with the Rangers left side defense that clearly shows Jack Johnson Jersey isn’t a lock to make it.

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The New York Rangers announced today that the team has agreed to terms with restricted free agent forward Brendan Lemieux Jersey.

Lemieux, 24, skated in 59 games with the Rangers this past season, registering six goals and 12 assists for 18 points, along with 111 penalty minutes. He established career-highs in several categories in 2019-20, including assists, points, penalty minutes, and hits (164). Lemieux ranked second in the NHL in penalty minutes and tied for fifth in the league in major penalties (five) this past season. In addition, he ranked third in the NHL (min. 30 games played) in penalties drawn per 60 minutes of ice time (2.53) and ranked seventh in the NHL in penalties drawn (32) in 2019-20. Lemieux led the Rangers in penalties drawn and ranked second on the team (led team forwards) in hits this past season, and the Rangers posted a 12-3-1 record in games which he registered a point in 2019-20. He also skated in one game during the 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers.

The New York Rangers announced today that the team has agreed to terms with restricted free agent forward Ryan Strome Jersey.

Strome, 27, skated in 70 games with the Rangers this past season, registering 18 goals and 41 assists for 59 points, along with a plus-21 rating and 48 penalty minutes. He established career-highs in several categories in 2019-20, including assists, points, and average ice time (19:35), and he was one goal away from tying his career-high. Strome was also one of only four Rangers who skated in each of the team’s 70 regular season games this past season. He tied for 27th in the NHL in assists and tied for 18th in the NHL in primary assists (27) in 2019-20; he also tied for sixth among NHL centers in primary assists and tied for 12th among NHL centers in assists during the season. Strome was one of only two NHL forwards who logged at least 200:00 of power play ice time and at least 150:00 of shorthanded ice time this past season (along with Ryan O’Reilly), and he was one of three NHL centers who registered 59 or more points and a plus-20 rating or better during the season (along with Brayden Point and Sean Couturier). Strome also tallied two assists in three games during the 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers.

The 6-1, 193-pounder has skated in 491 career NHL games over parts of seven seasons (2013-14 – 2019-20) with the NY Islanders, Edmonton, and the Rangers, registering 95 goals and 159 assists for 254 points, along with a plus-19 rating and 268 penalty minutes. Strome has also skated in 133 games with the Rangers over parts of two seasons (2018-19 and 2019-20), recording 36 goals and 56 assists for 92 points, along with a plus-19 rating and 98 penalty minutes. Since he was acquired by the Rangers from Edmonton on November 16, 2018, he is the only player who has skated in each of the Blueshirts’ 133 regular season games, and he ranks third on the team in goals and points over the span. Strome has also tallied 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in 18 career playoff games.

The Mississauga, Ontario native was originally selected by the NY Islanders in the first round, fifth overall, of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

The 6-1, 213-pounder has skated in 131 career NHL games over parts of three seasons (2017-18 – 2019-20) with Winnipeg and the Rangers, registering 19 goals and 17 assists for 36 points, along with 240 penalty minutes. Lemieux is one of two NHL players who have recorded at least 100 penalty minutes in each of the last two seasons (along with Evander Kane). He ranked second in the NHL (min. 20 games played) in minor penalties drawn per 60 minutes of ice time in 2018-19 (2.63), and he leads the NHL (min. 20 games played) in penalties drawn per 60 minutes of ice time since the start of the 2018-19 season (2.84). Lemieux has skated in 78 games with the Rangers over parts of two seasons (2018-19 and 2019-20), registering nine goals and 15 assists for 24 points, along with 155 penalty minutes.

The Denver, Colorado native was originally selected by Buffalo in the second round, 31st overall, of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. Lemieux was acquired by the Rangers from Winnipeg on February 25, 2019.