BCBS For 10/17: Two Down, Two To Go – Rangers Re-Sign DeAngelo & Georgiev; Strome & Lemieux Remain The Last Two Dominoes of the Off-Season (And Why NYR Should Re-Sign Them), Complete Breakdowns & Thoughts on The Big Four of the NYR RFA Class of 2020, Comments from TDA & Georgiev, NYR’s Potential Top of the League Goalie 1-2 Punch, NYR Roster Shaping Up Nicely, Time to Trade Brendan Smith, Official Lafreniere Merch Now For Sale & More

On Thursday, October 15th, Jeff Gorton re-signed both Tony DeAngelo & Alexandar Georgiev to two-year contracts. Of the Rangers Restricted Free Agent Class of 2020, only the statuses of Ryan Strome & Brendan Lemieux remain in limbo.

Greetings and salutations everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. Current weather report in Rangerstown, USA: bright skies and sunshine. Current weather report for the Cult of Lundqvist/Tony DeAngelo haters: mass tear-ducts flooding!

On October 15th, Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton continued to cement this new core of the New Look New York Rangers, when he re-signed both Alexandar Georgiev and Tony DeAngelo. As a few of you noted to me on social media and on email – yes, I was extremely happy about this news, and yes, of course, this news broke right after I published a 10,000 word manifesto, a manifesto which covered all of the latest Rangers news! However, the Rangers don’t operate on my schedule, nor should they! I’m just happy to see that DeAngelo & Georgiev are officially back! This off-season continues to be amazing! And that’s a lot of exclamation marks in one paragraph!

“The King of Kings” is back. And yes, I will still use this silly nickname that I created for Alexandar Georgiev!

As talked about previously on this site, and as I’ll get into deeper once I give you the full details of the Georgiev signing, there was never a question about Georgiev coming back to the Rangers. Despite what others from their basements may have led you to believe, it was always the Rangers plan to bring Georgiev back. (I still can’t believe the amount of bandwidth that was wasted by Rangers fans this season, with their GEORGIEV TO TORONTO nonsense.)

While the rumors were out there (and really, look who started them) about the Rangers trying to trade Georgiev for a center, the fact of the matter was that the goalie market was flooded during the 2020 off-season. Who was going to give up key possessions and talent for a goaltender, when you had a great selection of free agent goalies to choose from? And if you look at this a little deeper, if you were a team that had cap space, such as the Vancouver Canucks or the Calgary Flames – why would you shed parts for any goaltender, when you could just pay for a starting goaltender, as these two Western Canadian teams did? (That said, I still have no clue what the Oilers are doing with their goaltending.)

When it comes to Tony DeAngelo, I’m not surprised at all to see Tony DeAngelo back. However, I was surprised to see Deangelo re-signed before Brendan Lemieux. I thought a deal with Lemieux would’ve been easier to achieve than a deal with DeAngelo. That’s not to say that Lemieux isn’t coming back, it’s just to state the fact that the Rangers came to terms with DeAngelo first, a DeAngelo that will certainly earn more money than Lemieux next season.

I’ll get more into DeAngelo later on during this blog, but DeAngelo avoiding arbitration & getting a deal done sooner than expected, pretty much went hand-in-hand with what he’s been saying on his “Watch Your Tone” podcast this entire off-season – he wants to be a Ranger. I think at times, he may have been nervous about his status, but at the end of the day, his re-signing with the Rangers is a win-win for both parties. If there’s any gripe about DeAngelo’s new deal, it’s this – it should’ve been FOUR MORE YEARS!

All I need to see now is Brendan Lemieux get re-signed, so yours truly and my road-trip buddy, Ten O’Clock Tommy, can continue to wear these jerseys at Ranger games across North America! I’d also like to see a proven vaccine released too!

Outside of the Rangers coming to terms with Georgiev & DeAngelo, news-wise, there’s not much else going on. I guess these NHL general managers want to play the newly released “NHL ’21” on their respective gaming consoles. After all, it’s through “NHL ’21”, where armchair general managers are made! (For what it’s worth, I’m a “HUT” junkie, despite getting my shit pushed in once I get into Division 6!)

In tonight’s blog, I’ll have all the Georgiev & DeAngelo details for you. I’ll also have some thoughts on Lemieux & Strome for you too. After that, it’s a couple of quick hits and I’m out of here. However, before getting into everything, as usual, the PLUGS segment!

Here are my last few blogs, in case you missed them:

BCBS For 10/15: The Rangers Set For Arbitration with Their Big Four RFA’s; Idea for Ryan Strome, Tony DeAngelo’s “Watch Your Tone” Podcast Recap; WYT Mails It In, The “Loser” Islanders & The Interesting Comments Made, BSU’s MUST-SEE Vinni Lettieri Tribute Video, The Jerky Boys, Marc Staal Makes First Comments On His Trade to Detroit, Anthony Duclair, Matt Martin as a NYR, YouTube, NHL’s 30% Off Sales & More

BCBS For 10/13: The Rangers Make It Official as a Ref’s Whistle with Alexis Lafreniere; Lafreniere Chooses #13, Jeff Gorton & JD Address The Media; Full Details on the NYR Roster, Thoughts on Jesper Fast & His Moving On to Carolina, Longest Tenured Rangers, Next NYR Captain, Update on NYR LD & RW Positions, NYR Big Four RFA News, NHL Free Agency & Goalies, The Big FA Signings, Jimmy Vesey & More

BCBS For 10/10: Free Agent Frenzy Friday Review! Rangers Go “All-American”; Sign Seven Players, The Jack Johnson Signing, His Entire Past & The Crybabies on Social Media, NYR Fill a Bunch of Holes; Add Two Long Islanders & Answer the Kraken Question, Lundqvist to the Caps Official; Caps/Hank Hit a HR, My Detailed Thoughts & Opinions, Richter, Giacomin, Ex-Rangers on the Move, Lettieri Quacking, Cam Talbot Wins Free Agency, Shatty Takes the Bag, Goalie Carousel & More

BCBS For 10/8: The Rangers Make A Huge Statement During Day 2 of the NHL Draft; Focus On North American Players & Tough Guy Types, Gorton Finally Boots Crybaby Andersson Across the Country, Full Recap of Every Draft Pick, Gorton & JD Divulge Future Plans; Qualify All Top NYR RFA’s, Fast Return Seems Unlikely, DeAngelo & Fox as LD’s, Status of NYR Goalies, NHL Goalies Becoming NFL RB’s & NBA Centers, Happy Birthday Frank Boucher & More

BCBS For 10/7: A Dawn of a New Day in Rangerstown, USA! NYR Lands Lafreniere; All the Latest News on Lafreniere Including My “Exclusive” Interview with the #1 Pick of the NHL Draft, Rangers Trade Up; Draft Schneider, Tony DeAngelo’s Amazing No-Holds Barred Interview with Sean Avery on “Watch Your Tone”; Avery’s Advice For Lundqvist, NHL Announces 2021 Season Target Date; Bettman, Lundqvist Expected To Team Up with Ovechkin & More

Alexandar Georgiev was the first of the Big Four NYR RFA’s to get a new deal. DeAngelo was re-signed a few hours later. Photo Credit: NYR

As I always like to do whenever the Rangers make a big news story, let me give you their official press release first, and then follow with my comments and opinions afterwards.

The following New York Rangers press release comes from https://www.nhl.com/rangers/news/rangers-agree-to-terms-with-alexandar-georgiev/c-319462720:

The New York Rangers announced today that the team has agreed to terms with restricted free agent goaltender Alexandar Georgiev.

Georgiev, 24, appeared in 34 games with the Rangers this past season, posting a 17-14-2 record, along with a 3.04 GAA, a .910 SV%, and 2 SO. He established career-bests in several categories in 2019-20, including appearances, games started (32), and wins, and he led Rangers goaltenders in all three categories during the season. Georgiev won 13 games in which he made 30 or more saves this past season, which was tied for the sixth-most in the NHL. He posted a 13-5-1 record in 19 road appearances in 2019-20; his 13 road wins were tied for the fifth-most in the NHL during the season, and his .921 SV% on the road was tied for the ninth-best in the NHL (min. 10 road appearances). Georgiev posted a six-game road winning streak from November 23, 2019 at Montreal to December 28, 2019 at Toronto, and his six-game road winning streak was tied for the third-longest by a Rangers goaltender in franchise history (trailing only Mike Richter (eight games in 1996-97) and Dave Kerr (seven games in 1934-35)). Georgiev also tied for ninth among NHL goaltenders (min. 23 appearances) in SV% while shorthanded this past season (.888).

The 6-1, 178-pounder has appeared in 77 career games over parts of three seasons (2017-18 – 2019-20), all with the Rangers, posting a 35-31-7 record, along with a 3.00 GAA, a .913 SV%, and 4 SO. Georgiev holds the Rangers franchise record for saves in a game which the team won (55 – February 10, 2019 vs. Toronto), and he also holds the franchise record for saves by a Rangers goaltender in his NHL debut (38 – February 22, 2018 at Montreal). He ranked second among NHL rookie goaltenders in appearances (33) and saves (966), and ranked fourth among NHL rookies goaltenders in wins (14) during the 2018-19 season.

The Ruse, Bulgaria native was signed by the Rangers as an undrafted free agent on July 19, 2017. Georgiev is the only Bulgarian-born player in NHL history.

While Igor Shestyorkin vs Ilya Sorokin match-ups may dominate the headlines of future Rangers vs Islanders games, it’s Alexandar Georgiev who currently has a favorable history against the Rangers arch-rival.

Alexandar Georgiev and the Rangers agreed to a two-year contract, where Georgiev will carry a salary cap hit of $2,425,000 per season. As we’re seeing a lot of, during this period of free agency, Georgiev’s real money earned is back-loaded, but not by much.

In the 2021 season, in real money, Georgiev will earn $2,200,000. In the following season, the 2021-2022 season, Georgiev will earn $2,650,000. All in all, Georgiev will earn $4,850,000 overall in real money, which is not too shabby for a former undrafted free agent! Of course, like anyone else working in New York City, Georgiev will be taxed heavily, but unlike us common folk, Georgiev will become a bonafide millionaire after paying the tax man.

And really, when you look at all these deals, and of course I’m only focusing on the Rangers here, just think about a huge day this past Thursday was, for both Georgiev, DeAngelo & their families. Both Georgiev & DeAngelo are 24 years old (DeAngelo turns 25 next week) and now these two kids will be set for life. While their salaries will be taxed at an insane rate, they are still getting paid millions of dollars to do a job they love. We should all be so lucky! If you can find happiness in the happiness of others, the stories of Georgiev & DeAngelo will do you good. Congratulations to both of these men.

While I don’t know what Georgiev would’ve got an the open market, due to the goalie market being so flooded, I do think DeAngelo could’ve earned more money & term elsewhere. What should be stated here, is that both of these guys wanted to be back with the Rangers, the high state income tax be damned! For Ranger fans, like other Rangers on this roster, these two want to be here. You have to respect and enjoy that!

I’ve heard some idiots/detractors of Georgiev say that he got too much money. Let me break this down now! Photo Credit: Getty Images

For the Cult of Lundqvist, who are whining about Georgiev’s contract right now, let me put this into perspective a bit. When it comes to the Rangers goaltenders next season, Georgiev will be a $2,425,000 cap hit. CZAR IGOR, the starting goalie, will be a $925,000 cap hit. That means, combined, the two are a $3,350,000 cap hit. Guess what, for the last six years, Henrik Lundqvist, all by himself, was a $8.5M cap hit. Next season, Lundqvist’s buyout will cost the Rangers $5.5M. In other words, the Rangers will pay more to Lundqvist than to their two goalies next season. In fact, Lundqvist’s buy-out is $2,150,000 more than both Shestyorkin & Georgiev! So for anyone to talk about money right now, you better not be talking about Georgiev!

Is Georgiev’s cap hit that high? When compared to some back-up goaltenders perhaps. However, it’s not nearly as high as what Montreal, Vegas, NYI and Dallas are paying to their back-up goalies either. And hell, I gotta go back to the Oilers here. If back-up goaltender Mike Smith is worth $2M, than Georgiev and Shestyorkin are easily worth $20M each!

If you don’t know it by now, and if I haven’t said it enough already, let me say it one more time – this league is becoming a two goalie league. That theory will certainly apply more than ever before next season, when the schedule is condensed. Come the 2021 season, you will have a lot of back-to-backs, two games in three nights, three games in five nights, than ever before. Teams will need a strong back-up goaltender to shoulder the load.

While the playoffs, under normal conditions, will see teams primarily use one goalie; to get to the playoffs, it’s a team-wide effort, which obviously includes the back-up goaltender. In a perfect world, the Rangers make the playoffs in 2021. While Igor Shestyorkin will be the man in the net (again, providing this is a perfect world here) the Rangers will need Georgiev to win games in the regular season. And when it is playoff time? The Rangers will need Georgiev at practice to get the shooters ready too.

Igor Shestyorkin & Alexandar Georgiev have the potential to be the top goaltending tandem of 2021. Photo Credit: Aaron Davis

I’ve written a billion words about Alexandar Georgiev during the last three years. Simply put, he’s been the best goaltender on the team during his duration. While of course, CZAR IGOR was outstanding and fantastic in his limited run in 2020, it was Georgiev who started the most amount of games for the Rangers last season. And for all intents and purposes here, because I’m not suggesting that Georgiev is better than CZAR IGOR, CZAR IGOR won’t be a rookie until next season.

When it comes to Shestyorkin vs Georgiev, we all know, Georgiev included, that when it comes to the man in the barrel, this is Shestyorkin’s team. Shestyorkin is the better goaltender. If things go right for the Rangers next season, not only will Shestyorkin be battling Alexis Lafreniere for the Calder Trophy, Shestyorkin will be competing for the Vezina Trophy too. Am I being unrealistic here? I don’t think so. I’ve been following CZAR IGOR for some time now, going back to his days with SKA, and trust me when I say this – CZAR IGOR is the real deal.

I’m a day one CZAR IGOR guy, as this photo from 2017 suggests, but I also appreciate the efforts and ability of Georgiev. Hi Travis!

In 2021, I wouldn’t be shocked to see a 60-40 split between Shestyorkin and Georgiev. For the Rangers, and for any team, it’s important to have that reliable back-up on your roster. However, for the first time since the 2014-2015 season, I don’t think the Rangers back-up goalie will be better than the Rangers starting goalie:

As always, thank you Jen I. for forwarding these stats from NHL.com to me.

While it’s debatable if Georgiev could’ve been a starting goaltender elsewhere, in his role as the back-up goalie for the Rangers, the Rangers couldn’t have asked for anyone better. Georgiev provides stability and has shown a knack to win huge games, with surprisingly many of those wins coming on the road. (Vegas, Islanders, Toronto, etc.) And this is definitely a thing too – the team plays well in front of him. Georgiev has been making his bones with this new core and era of Rangers.

In the effort of full disclosure here, I thought Georgiev was going to get $2M per year. He’s getting a few dollars more, dollars that aren’t the end of the world here, considering what’s going to be asked of Georgiev in the next two seasons. With more time under the Benoit Allaire learning tree, and with Georgiev’s young age, the best should be yet to come for Georgiev.

On the Rangers end of things, they are getting a guy who has shown he can play well consistently. They also have Georgiev locked up for only two years, which is a win-win scenario. If Georgiev continues to play well, and assuming that CZAR IGOR continues to live up to expectations, the Rangers will have a hands-down starting goaltender in Georgiev. At that point in time, maybe the Rangers can flip him for a haul, in a time where the salary cap is expected to finally increase too. If Georgiev doesn’t pan out, it’s only two years and the money isn’t that bad. It’s not like Georgiev is going to be a $8.5M third string goalie!

“Okay, enough about the money, I just want to play!” Photo Credit: Alexandar Georgiev

As far as his comments on the signing, Georgiev was straight to the point, using Instagram as his medium:

Photo Credit: @AGHockey

At the end of the day, as I’ve been saying all season, Georgiev’s status was never in danger. He was always going to come back. He wanted to be back. All the rumors thrown out there were just noise. Once Henrik Lundqvist was relegated to third string status, this team, moving past 2019-2020, was always going to feature the “Redshirt” Blueshirt Russian goalies, in Shestyorkin & Georgiev. (Yes, I know Georgiev was born in Bulgaria, but he moved from there before even turning the age of one!)

Who would’ve thought three seasons ago, when Georgiev first came here, where he was splitting time with Ondrej Pavelec as the Rangers back-up, that just three years later, Georgiev would be the highest paid goaltender on the NY Rangers? Once again, not bad for an undrafted free agent. The King of Kings indeed!

In closing on Georgiev, if you had any doubt about the Rangers bringing him back, the signing of Keith Kinkaid last week ensured Georgiev’s return. In Kinkaid, the Rangers now have their goalie to expose in order to protect Georgiev during the Seattle expansion draft. More importantly, the Rangers have their state of their goaltenders set for the next two seasons, two seasons that will definitely present a lot of twist and turns, in this pandemic, and hopefully post-pandemic, world.

All the best to Alexandar Georgiev. From all reports, he’s a likeable guy with a good head on his shoulders. I wouldn’t mind seeing him become the first back-up goalie since Glenn Healy to win the Cup with the Rangers! And call me overly optimistic, as my buddy Andrew F. likes to do, but I really have strong hopes for this franchise moving forward.

Let’s now get into Tony DeAngelo & his return. (Is return really the right word here? It’s not like he never left, much to the dismay of some of these social media shit stains!)

Tony DeAngelo, the most outspoken Ranger on social media, quickly took to Twitter to celebrate the good news. Photo Credit: @WatchYourTone4

Several hours after announcing the re-signing of Alexandar Georgiev, the Rangers tweeted out the following:

Photo Credit: NYR

Talk about a daily double!

Let me share with you the press release first. The following press release comes from https://www.nhl.com/rangers/news/rangers-agree-to-terms-with-tony-deangelo/c-319465792:

The New York Rangers announced today that the team has agreed to terms with restricted free agent defenseman Tony DeAngelo.

DeAngelo, 24, skated in 68 games with the Rangers this past season, registering 15 goals and 38 assists for 53 points, along with a plus-12 rating and 47 penalty minutes. He established career-highs in several categories in 2019-20, including goals, assists, points, plus/minus rating, and games played. DeAngelo became the first Rangers defenseman to record at least 50 points in a season since Brian Leetch in 2001-02, and he also became the first Rangers defenseman to tally at least 15 goals in a season since Leetch in 2000-01. He tied for fourth among NHL defensemen in goals and points, and tied for ninth among NHL defensemen in assists, power play assists (16), and power play points (19) this past season.

The 5-11, 180-pounder established single-game career-highs with three goals and five points on January 9, 2020 vs. New Jersey; he tied single-game Rangers records for goals and points by a defenseman, as he posted the third five-point game by a defenseman in franchise history (Leetch posted two five-point games) and became the first Rangers defenseman to record a hat trick in a regular season game since Reijo Ruotsalainen on March 17, 1982. DeAngelo also tallied two overtime goals in 2019-20, becoming the fourth defenseman to register two overtime goals in a season in franchise history (Leetch – 2001-02; Tom Poti – 2003-04; Kevin Klein – 2014-15). He notched one assist in three games with the Blueshirts during the 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers.

DeAngelo has skated in 200 career NHL games over parts of four seasons (2016-17 – 2019-20) with Arizona and the Rangers, registering 24 goals and 81 assists for 105 points, along with 172 penalty minutes. DeAngelo has played parts of three seasons with the Rangers (2017-18 – 2019-20), recording 19 goals and 72 assists for 91 points in 161 games. Over the last two seasons, which have been his two full seasons in the NHL with the Rangers, DeAngelo is one of six NHL defensemen who have recorded 80 or more points and a plus-18 rating or better (along with John Carlson, Mark Giordano, Victor Hedman, Roman Josi, and Morgan Rielly). He tallied 30 points (four goals, 26 assists) in 61 games with the Blueshirts in 2018-19 and ranked 12th among NHL defensemen who were 23 years old or younger in points during the season.

The Sewell, New Jersey native was originally selected by Tampa Bay in the first round, 19th overall, of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. DeAngelo was acquired by the Rangers from Arizona on June 23, 2017.

As I wrote back on March 17th of this year, Tony DeAngelo was due to get paid. Today, he’s officially a Million Dollar Man!

Aside from his tweet from his Watch Your Tone podcast account, Tony DeAngelo said the following on his personal twitter account:

To all the great ranger fans, thank you for all the congrats/welcome backs/support tweets I am receiving already. I couldn’t be happier to be back in NY for another 2 years and I look forward to seeing you all in the garden again hopefully asap. Love NYR and NYC.

At last look, that tweet above received over 6600 “likes”. Now if Tony DeAngelo will say more about this on the next episode of “Watch Your Tone”, I’m sure his YouTube numbers will skyrocket too! (What a callback to my last blog! #BLOWITUP! And for what it’s worth, congrats to the guys from WYT too. This had to be a huge day for them. After all, who doesn’t want to see one of their friends do well? As a WYT fan/day one listener, I’m happy for these guys.)

Previously, I’ve talked to the point of ad-nauseam about Tony DeAngelo and his future with the Rangers. Much like talking about the idiots who hate Tony DeAngelo, only because DeAngelo’s political beliefs doesn’t align with theirs, I’m happy that this is all done! (As mentioned on a past blog, I have no interest recapping TDA’s Twitter stuff and the idiots who get into his mentions. It’s tiresome. What also was tiresome was trying to predict what was going to happen with TDA & the Rangers, which is why I’m glad that TDA has re-signed and we can talk about something else – like you know, hockey, which TDA is pretty good at!)

The crown jewel of the 2017 draft day trade between the Rangers & Coyotes!

The terms of Tony DeAngelo’s contract were made public today. Tony DeAngelo signed a two-year deal with the Rangers, where TDA will be a $4.8M cap hit in each season. However, and again, like Georgiev, the contract, in real money, is back-loaded. In 2021, TDA will receive $4.3M. In the 2021-2022 season, TDA will be paid $5.3M. However, there is another wrinkle here. Once DeAngelo’s contract expires after that 2021-2022 season, DeAngelo will remain a restricted free agent, as opposed to becoming an unrestricted free agent. It was also reported, that upon completion of the contract, DeAngelo’s automatic qualifying offer will be $5.3M. If TDA continues to ascend and play well, this qualifying offer will be a slam dunk for the Rangers. That’s what I’m rooting for!

From a Tony DeAngelo perspective, maybe he did leave some dollars on the table. However, he’s made it clear all along that he wanted to return to NY. It’s a great fit for him and for many reasons. For TDA, he’s playing the best hockey of his career here and he may have not even hit his prime yet. In addition, as a player who has now been with three franchises at an early age, it’s good to have stability and roots somewhere. No one wants to be like Anthony Duclair, a 25 year old looking for his sixth team. For DeAngelo, he gets to shine in the league’s biggest American market. In hindsight, getting sent to NY from lifeless Arizona was a godsend for TDA. (Especially now, when you look at the troubles the Coyotes are having.)

Personally for TDA, a single guy, living in NYC at the peak of your life isn’t shabby. Plus, with his family in southern NJ, he’s a car ride away and his family can attend his games. He’s also just far enough from his family where he can live his life too, if that idea appeals to him.

By signing with the Rangers, rather than going to arbitration, TDA has shown a commitment to NY, buying into the messages from David Quinn, Jeff Gorton and John Davidson, embracing his teammates and continues to be a key cog in this new Blueshirt machine.

I give this deal two thumbs up too!

As the free agency pool dries up, and as teams start to exhaust their cap space, retaining TDA was the right move for the Rangers. It was also the right move for TDA too. Ironically, one team that could’ve afforded him would’ve been his hometown/boyhood team of the Philadelphia Flyers. However, I think Alain Vigneault being there was a negative for TDA, just based on things he’s said on his podcast. (For what it’s worth, TDA seems to be a huge fan of David Quinn. Then again, he’s not going to bury DQ on his own show! But seriously speaking, TDA avoided arbitration, which tells you his comments on DQ are authentic.)

Without question, TDA is becoming one of the faces of this Rangers rebuild. He’s also taken over the old Derek Stepan bits that used to air on the M$G Networks and on the M$G jumbotron. (Ironically, that’s who DeAngelo was traded for too!)

While Mika Zibanejad & Chris Kreider, as outlined last blog, are the leaders of this team and one of them will be the next captain of the Rangers, I think TDA should become the next alternate captain of the team. You’re already starting to see some of his leadership come out already, based on how he’s always one of the media’s go-to guys before and after every game. Part of that is because of TDA’s notoriety and ability to provide great quotes. However, and more importantly, whenever you hear any of TDA’s teammates or ex-teammates speak, they all speak of him glowingly and with high praise. I wouldn’t be shocked if he followed Jesper Fast, for a string of “Player’s Player” awards.

When you look at different eras of Rangers history, and when you look at the most successful teams, regardless if they won the Cup or not, strong team chemistry was always on display. The Cook brothers & Frank Boucher lived right next door to each other. The Patrick brothers did the same. The Emile Francis Rangers were also very tight with each other, with the majority of them living close together, in either Long Beach or Atlantic Beach on Long Island. The 1979 era of Rangers all hung out together, with Ron Duguay being the talk of the town. The 1994 Rangers followed Messier’s lead and example. The peak of the Lundqvist Era of Rangers saw many strong cliques throughout, cliques that never conflicted with each other. With today’s Rangers, you’re already seeing bonds between DeAngelo and Strome, Lemieux & Fox. That’s a good thing.

Of note, Strome, Lemieux & Fox have all done DeAngelo’s podcast. You could feel how strong their camaraderie was by just listening to these guys talk. Photo Credit: NYR

Tony DeAngelo will at least be a Ranger for the next two seasons. So, what’s next?

As talked about previously, Jeff Gorton & John Davidson have talked about flipping Tony DeAngelo to the left side of the defense. (Once the NYR front office started talking like that, that’s when I knew TDA would 100% be back.) Tony DeAngelo has said he’s played LD before in juniors and would have no problem making the switch if it helps the team. Another reason why this guy is a team player and a leader. (And this is something TDA should explore on the next episode of “Watch Your Tone”, if he wants to drive up YouTube viewership!)

If you look at the Rangers Top 4 defensemen for next season, and if TDA does switch sides, that would give you top pairings of Ryan Lindgren & Adam Fox and Tony DeAngelo & Jacob Trouba. That’s a pretty good foursome to me. Of course, the Rangers may decide to keep TDA on the right side of the defense and could test him out with really anybody, with names such as K’Andre Miller, Jack Johnson, Anthony Bitetto and Brendan Smith. It’s way too early to figure out what David Quinn and the Rangers are thinking. What we do have figured out is that Tony DeAngelo is back and willing to do anything to contribute to this team. As a Rangers fan, I love to hear it.

Tony DeAngelo, however you feel about him (and I think by now you know I’m a fan) makes this team better. He’s getting his money and he’s getting it from an environment he’s thrived in. If you listen to DeAngelo’s “Watch Your Tone” podcast, you can tell he’s savvy and smart to the hockey world. He knows that this team has a chance and he wants to be a big part of it. I can’t wait to see it all play out.

However, what remains to be seen, is what the Rangers do with DeAngelo’s buddies, in both Ryan Strome and Brendan Lemieux.

I 100% believe Lemieux will re-sign with the Rangers. It’s just a matter of when. Photo Credit: Getty Images

When it comes to the big four of the Rangers Restricted Free Agent Class of 2020, we now have two signed and two left to go. As of this writing, Brendan Lemieux remains unsigned. (Watch him get signed hours after me hitting the “publish” button on this blog!)

Let’s get this out of the way first – the Rangers have the cap space to sign Lemieux & Strome to the best contracts of their careers. There’s no point bogging all of this down with salary cap and bonus talk mumbo-jumbo. The Rangers have the money to retain both of these players. Of Strome & Lemieux, Lemieux is the easier play to sign, which is why I bring him up here first.

Without question, while the word “need” may be an exaggeration, the Rangers “need” Lemieux, or at least a player of his caliber, on this roster. Since Lemieux is the current Ranger, has the chemistry with this team and has shined in his short tenure with NY, why not Lemieux?

As we’ve seen all off-season, whether it was through the draft or free agency, the Rangers are heavily interested in and have invested in tough North American players. For Brendan Lemieux, American-made but with a famous Canadian father in Claude Lemieux, the same Claude Lemieux that doubles up as Brendan’s agent, the Rangers aren’t going to find anyone better than Lemieux, to fit this current roster hole that needs to be filled.

As reported a few blogs back, Brendan Lemieux seemed extremely confident that a deal with the Rangers was all but done. He said as much on the “Spittin’ Chiclets” podcast. However, for whatever reason, that deal is not done yet, and more surprisingly, it’s DeAngelo, whose tougher deal was reached first by the organEYEzation. (I love when Canadian’s pronounce the word “organization” that way!)

Another item in my insane NYR memorabilia collection! Come on, we need Lemieux re-signed in 2020 too!

In recent press conferences, both JD & Gorton have talked about the toughness issue. As it stands right now, when shit hits the fan, who is dropping the gloves for the Rangers? Tony DeAngelo? While TDA has shown that he’s willing to scrap with everyone and anyone, do you want your near $5M offensive-defenseman risking injury? (I’m sure this won’t stop TDA anyway.) Aside from TDA, the only other player on this team that’s willing to dabble into the art of pugilism, is Brendan Smith. Do you really want Smith on the ice for any extended amount of time next season? (More on Smith in the Strome segment.)

While Brendan Lemieux wants to score goals and be known for his skills (all NHL players have skills, or else they wouldn’t be in the NHL to begin with) that will never be his role with the Rangers. He knows it. We all know it. Lemieux’s role on the team is to be a pest and to be an agitator. And when you need an enforcer, (even if Lemieux wouldn’t have necessarily been an enforcer in a different era) that’s when you look directly at #48.

Something else to consider, as we head into next season, who is going to be on the penalty kill? More specifically, who will be on the second PK unit? Kevin Rooney? Jack Johnson? With Jesper Fast gone, this is another area where Lemieux could contribute to the team.

As I write these words, I don’t know what the snag is. Truth be told, when I saw DeAngelo & Georgiev get their deals on Thursday, I thought the Rangers would close out the week and announce deals with Strome & Lemieux. Instead, on Friday, the Rangers did announce two re-signings, except that instead of Strome & Lemieux, the Rangers re-signed Darren Raddysh & Gabriel Fontaine; two players destined for Hartford.

The Rangers still have three weeks to get deals done with Lemieux & Strome. While I understand the Strome situation is sticky, the Lemieux situation is clear as the fresh glass that Lemieux checks his opponents into. Maybe the hold-up is father Claude wanting more money or term. I really don’t know. However, I’ll give you this prediction: no arbitration for Lemieux, with Lemieux signing a deal for two-years, with a $1.4M AAV. That sounds fair to me, even if the family Lemieux may want a number closer to $2M.

In closing on Lemieux, I’ll repeat something I’ve said in the past – all Stanley Cup winning teams have a Lemieux type of player on their roster. With Lemieux unsigned right now, the Rangers don’t have one. Expect a deal to get done.

I don’t hide my biases on this site/blog – I’m a Ryan Strome fan!

When you look at this Rangers off-season, for the Rangers front-office, the biggest thing left to do is to make a decision on Ryan Strome. You know my opinion already – sign him!

For whatever reason, because the Rangers have a deranged fan base, there are people who actively hate Ryan Strome. I don’t get it. By now, you know the criticism- “wah, wah, wah, he only had a good year because he played with Panarin.” That said, and as I’ve said all season – THE RANGERS SIGNED PANARIN TO ELEVATE THE GAMES OF HIS TEAMMATES! Yes, while the Rangers signed Panarin because he’s a great player, part of being a great player is that you make the players around you better too!

Even if you believe that Strome had a good year only because of Panarin, shouldn’t you be happy about that? Not everyone thrives playing with superstars. Strome did so this season. Why would you want to fix what’s not broken, especially when Strome would easily get $4.5M+ on the open market?

As of this writing, the Rangers need Strome more than Strome needs the Rangers. However, don’t get that previous sentence twisted. Strome wants to be here. He’s said it on “Watch Your Tone”. He’s said it during recent interviews. Hell, he even liked this tweet I sent out yesterday:

Insiderrrrr stuff here folks! I kid, I kid!
FACT: Artemi Panarin was never considered for a Hart Trophy before playing with Strome! Photo Credit: Getty Images

For all the people who cry about Ryan Strome all day, let me ask you this – what’s the better option that’s out there? And before you say Jack Eichel, that rumor is a rumor that was started in the basements, but to their credit, got legs where even NHL reporters were asking Buffalo about that rumor. That said, Buffalo nixed that rumor, and furthermore, didn’t just sign Taylor Hall to trade Eichel away. Hall signed with Buffalo to play with Eichel. In addition, I know there was talk about Anthony Cirelli, but Tampa has made it clear that they want to retain him. (It’s why Tampa has let other players from their Stanley Cup winning team go.)

Without Ryan Strome, the Rangers don’t have many options at center. A NYR team without Ryan Strome would have Mika Zibanejad as your first center, Filip Chytil as your second center and then it’s close your eyes and pucker your asshole time, when trying to fill out the third and fourth line center positions.

Let’s drop some facts here. The best years of Ryan Strome’s career have come with the Rangers. After disappointing stints in Long Island and in Edmonton, Ryan Strome has flourished on Broadway. While yes, Panarin was part of that last season, another thing to consider is that Strome, a fifth overall draft pick in 2011, is now 27 years old. He’s putting it all together now. Maybe he just had to overcome the learning curve in his ascension to a solid everyday NHLer. (And it’s not like the Islanders or the Oilers were great during his time in those two locations.)

And while this doesn’t play much into his current status of today, the Spooner for Strome deal is arguably the second best trade Gorton has ever done. (Brassard for Mika being the obvious best trade.) Then again, that DeAngelo trade is looking pretty sweet right now, Lias Andersson be damned!

Strome is also a big part of that Rangers locker room. Photo Credit: Getty Images

While this talk may sound redundant tonight, you can’t ignore Strome’s worth to the Rangers locker room either. Similar to DeAngelo, Zibanejad & Kreider; Strome has become a guy that the media flocks to, before and after every game. He’s become a leader. And now, at the age of 27, Strome is one of the senior men on the team. (He also has more NHL experience than most on this roster too.)

The Rangers rarely go to arbitration with their players, and we saw what happened the last time a player went to arbitration with the club. (The Rangers let Nikolai Zherdev walk, refusing to pay him $3.9M, back in the summer of 2009.)

Like Lemieux, I don’t think the Rangers go to arbitration with Strome, but obviously, the price tag is what concerns Gorton. He admitted as much in a recent media zoom call, saying that Strome was due for a hefty raise.

If you’re Ryan Strome, a man with a new child, you obviously want to put roots somewhere and call a city home. From what I know, Strome wants it to be the Big Apple. From a Rangers perspective, they don’t want to overpay either, as even if it’s not this season, but in the season following the 2021 season, the Rangers want to see if the grass is greener on the other side.

I would assume Strome wants term. However, the Rangers don’t want to give it to him. A fair deal for both parties is probably two years, with a AAV of $5M a season. Then again, as mentioned last blog, if Strome really wants to bet on himself and cash out, (think Kevin Hayes here) signing a one-year deal for more cash may be more appealing. After that, Strome could shop himself to Seattle, a Seattle team that would have no cap issues.

And if the Rangers are really worried about the hard salary cap, in regards to Strome, Lemieux and whatever other moves they may make, may I suggest a trade of Brendan Smith?

If the Rangers can find teams to take the cap hits of Brady Skjei & Marc Staal off of their hands, I believe that Jeff Gorton can find a suitor for Brendan Smith too. Photo Credit: Getty Images

Man, this blog is going longer than I thought it would. I guess that’s what happens when I let the Woodford Reserve fly!

I’m assuming by now, you know all about the life and times of Brendan Smith as a New York Ranger. If you don’t, let me give you a quick recap, with my personal stories thrown in:

— In the 2016-2017 season, the Rangers traded for Brendan Smith, of the Detroit Red Wings, for draft picks. This trade occurred at the trade deadline.

— Ironically, three weeks later, I went to Detroit, to see the Rangers last game at “The Joe”. When I talked to Wings fans about Smith, they all said the same thing – “HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA, GOOD LUCK!” I talked about that here: https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/detwin/

— After some good games in the 2017 playoffs, Jeff Gorton immediately signed Smith to a four year deal worth $17.4M overall. As we’ve seen with Gorton, if he has one Achilles Heel, it’s his contracts with defensemen. (Something I think he’s improved on as time has passed.)

— In the season that followed, after getting the money, Smith came to camp out of shape. He would eventually be waived, not even a year into his contract, where he wound up with the Wolfpack.

— With the Wolfpack, Smith got into a fist fight with one of my favorites, in Vinni Lettieri. Smith broke his hand, ending his season.

— After a disappointing and overpaid run with the Rangers, Smith had a decent 2019-2020 season, where he became a forward for David Quinn. Once Skjei was moved, Smith reverted back as a defenseman. In either event, Smith’s contract has been bad and his run here has been disappointing.

All caught up? Good.

Smith has had many ups and downs with the Rangers. Photo Credit: Getty Images

Going back to Ryan Strome, and knowing that the Rangers may continue to look for center and LD depth, in addition to tough guys, I think it’s only a matter of time before the Rangers deal Brendan Smith. I’m sure it has at least been talked about. While he has a bad contract, with a cap hit of $4,350,000, Smith only has one year left on it. Knowing that Smith is a team-first guy, he could help a contender as a 13th forward/7th d-man, providing the Rangers eat half of his salary.

And I’ll say this for the 267892678267824th time on this blog – I hate the hard salary cap. Just look at this blog alone. Most of it is talking about the salary cap and player contracts. However, that’s what the NHL intended when they instituted this stupid system. (I’ll save you the rest of my greatest hits on the cap. Just check out the archives of this site for more.)

If there’s a reason for the Rangers to retain Smith, it’s the fact that he has a strong relationship with Kaapo Kakko. While I don’t know if the word “mentor” is the right word here, Smith, to his credit, has helped Kakko acclimate to America and to his new job. No one can argue that. However, the Rangers can get Kakko an UBER, if finding someone to drive Kakko around is that important.

What makes Smith more “tradeable”, if that’s a word, is the fact that TDA is back and has said he’ll play the left side of the defense if asked. With Lindgren as your first LD, that would give the Rangers two solid LD. As far as who comes in the rear, the Rangers have Johnson and Bitetto for now, and could find someone else, if they shed Smith’s salary. And again, let’s not forget K’Andre Miller either.

While Smith played as a fourth line forward during the bulk of the 2019-2020 season, the Rangers are stockpiled at the wings. I would venture to guess, that if it came down to it, most fans would rather see this guy, rather than Smith:

I got an update on Lafreniere after this segment on Smith! Photo Credit: NYR

I know this is getting long-winded a bit, so let me get to my point.

The Rangers need Brendan Lemieux. The Rangers need Ryan Strome. There aren’t better options out there. If money is a concern, moving Smith should be of the utmost priority. While the Rangers do have the cap space to retain Strome & Lemieux regardless, by moving Smith, even if NYR retains 50% of his salary, that extra $2M and change could help the team with spare parts.

Like Lemieux, I see Strome being retained. Both players make the Rangers better and I hope both of them are part of the eventual Stanley Cup hoisting Rangers team!

Two more things (and it will be quick) and I’ll put a bow on this one.

Jim Schmeideberg still deserves an Oscar! Photo Credit: BSU

I know I plugged this last blog, but it’s worth plugging again!

On Thursday, Jim S., of BSU, uploaded his Vinni Lettieri tribute video as a stand alone thing. In other words, if you don’t want to, you don’t have to watch the latest episode of BSU to see it. (Although you should!)

Here’s the Lettieri tribute video, in full form:

I can’t lie. I’ve watched this thing 15 times, and on each viewing, I’ve laughed out loud.

One more thing!

Lafreniere replica jerseys are now on sale. However, no sale or promo codes are allowed. Photo Credit: Shop.NHL.com

If you visit https://shop.nhl.com/new-york-rangers/alexis-lafreniere/t-36595293+a-8959818450+z-90-3013478379?ab={wt-static_graphic}{pt-tlp}{al-Sleeper_0}{ct-Alexis_Lafreniere}{New_York_Rangers} you can purchase an official replica jersey of Alexis Lafreniere. As mentioned last blog, I think that if you wait until Black Friday/Cyber Monday, you can get this jersey for 30% off. However, if you don’t want to wait, you can purchase it today.

Full disclaimer here: I forgot that I had $41.45 of “FAN CREDIT” from Shop.NHL.com. I caved and bought one! After all, I have to update my fall wardrobe! Hopefully by Black Friday, the Rangers will announce that they are bringing back a third jersey, a Liberty Head jersey at that, and I can use that 30% off code for that. (And I fully expect every team to have a third jersey next season, as a way to boost profits during a bad time in history.)

Also of note here – the NHL store isn’t selling an official Lafreniere authentic jersey just yet. However, for my money, I like the new Fanatic breakaway replica jerseys. They are lightweight, easy to wash and it’s not the end of the world if I spill beer on them!

If you haven’t already, subscribe to this blog for the next update:

Current mood! Photo Credit: Happinessisjustachoice.com

Pressing forward, the next blog I do will most likely cover whatever the Rangers do on Strome & Lemiuex. After that, it’s book reviews and DeLorean blogs. I also want to say this, in case you haven’t figured it out already – I love what the Rangers have done this off-season. I can’t wait for puck drop.

I also want to thank everyone for reading/clicking this site over the last 30 days. I swear on my signed Mike Richter jersey – I’ve done record shattering traffic here, and that’s with no games being played! It seems more and more people are finding this site and I’m glad you guys are enjoying it. I will always provide a product that no one else is giving you and for free!

As always here, thanks for reading and…


Sean McCaffrey


@NYCTHEMIC on Tweeter and on Parler

Follow the BlueCollarBlueShirts.com Facebook Group by clicking this link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1564026407193056/

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2 thoughts on “BCBS For 10/17: Two Down, Two To Go – Rangers Re-Sign DeAngelo & Georgiev; Strome & Lemieux Remain The Last Two Dominoes of the Off-Season (And Why NYR Should Re-Sign Them), Complete Breakdowns & Thoughts on The Big Four of the NYR RFA Class of 2020, Comments from TDA & Georgiev, NYR’s Potential Top of the League Goalie 1-2 Punch, NYR Roster Shaping Up Nicely, Time to Trade Brendan Smith, Official Lafreniere Merch Now For Sale & More

  1. Another excellent blog. I don’t know how you do it. But I do appreciate it.

    I might have to delve into past episodes as the NHL goes to sleep for a few months.

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