Greetings and salutations everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com, here in DAY 2 OF THE ALEXIS LAFRENIERE ERA!
As I said last week, this current week in the NHL is the busiest week of the off-season for all NHL General Managers. Between the draft, qualifying free agents, trades and free agency opening up this Friday, it’s just been news story after news story this week. And as it’s been historically during these NHL off-seasons, once again, the Rangers are one of the biggest players in the league. However, unlike past off-seasons, it seems like the Rangers are doing most of their damage via the draft, rather than through free agency. Then again, who knows what happens on Friday?
What we do know is this. After landing Alexis Lafreniere on Tuesday, on Wednesday, the Rangers finished making all of their draft selections of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. And as I predicted on a past blog, the Rangers also made a trade of significance during this draft too. However, to be fair, I predicted that the Rangers would make a major splash of a trade. Instead, the Rangers made a minor trade, and a trade that was a long time coming, when the Rangers shipped off Lias Andersson to Los Angeles. I’ll have more on this trade as we move along here.
In tonight’s blog, outside of the Lias Andersson trade, I have the Rangers press release on all of their draft picks of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft for you. In addition, I have quotes from Jeff Gorton & John Davidson, including a 16 minute interview that the team’s website released. Elsewhere on this blog, I have more draft fall-out news, news on the Rangers qualifying their free agents, thoughts on NHL goaltenders and opinions on the biggest trade made on Wednesday.
As I write these words right now, my keyboard is screaming for a time-out, as I’ve done a lot of writing lately. That said, these last ten days have been arguably the greatest ten consecutive days in Rangers history, dating back to the run during the 2014-2015 season. Furthermore, without question, these last two off-seasons have been the two best consecutive off-seasons in franchise history. It truly is amazing how fast the Rangers have turned over this roster from February 2018, when the Rangers first released “The Letter”. Bright days are ahead for this franchise.
Before recapping the news of the day, as usual, the PLUGS segment of the blog. Here are my last few blogs in case you missed them:
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
Return to the DeLorean! An In-Depth Game Recap Between The New York Rangers & Los Angeles Kings From 2/27/1989! Why 1989 Was a Huge Year in The NHL, Guy LaFleur’s Stint with NYR; LaFleur’s Hat Trick Game (Clips Included), #99 Goes To LA, NYR/LA Connections, “Dirty” Duguay, Phil Esposito, Forgotten Rangers, Trump The Rangers Fan, Brian Leetch in Year One, NYR’s New Era, The World in 1989 & Much More
BCBS For 10/2: Ron Duguay’s “Up in the Blue Seats” & Tony DeAngelo’s “Watch Your Tone” Podcast Recaps, Richter Comments on Lundqvist & the HOF; DeAngelo Comments About Losing Staal, More Lundqvist Fall-Out, Great Points Made By Linda Cohn & Colby Cohen, Georgiev’s Future, Brendan Lemieux Comments On Re-Signing with NYR, JD, Larry Brooks Wants The Pandemic To Continue, BSU & More
The Henrik Lundqvist Era Is Officially Over! An In-Depth Look at Lundqvist’s Entire NYR Career & Run Since 2000, The Ups & Downs, The Contract That Plagued NYR, Lundqvist’s Time in the NHL & The Cap That Hurt Him, The Coaches, Lundqvist’s Legacy & Place in NYR History, Greatest Lundqvist Memory, Lundqvist & NYR’s Comments, Why NYR is Now Close to a Stanley Cup For The First Time Since 2015, The Bright as Ever Future of the Rangers, The Best News of 2020 & More
BCBS For 9/29: The Tampa Bay Lightning Win Perhaps The Hardest SCF Of All-Time, Ryan McDonagh is a Stanley Cup Champion; Shattenkirk & Stamkos Deserve a Ton of Respect Too, An In-Depth Look at ThI’volts Cup Victory, Their Roster, The Conn Smythe & What Lies Ahead, Joel Lundqvist Says No To a Henrik Frolunda Return, Eichel’s Agent Nixes a Buffalo Wing Split Too, Staal Update, LaFreniere Will Be a NYR Next Week, 2020-2021 Season Rumors & Much More
After a turbulent tenure with the Rangers, Lias Andersson is no longer a problem for the Rangers. During the second round of the NHL Draft on Wednesday, the Rangers tweeted out the following:
To show you how meaningless Lias Andersson had become for the Rangers, the Rangers didn’t even issue an official press release about this trade. As we all know, Lias Andersson and the Rangers was a marriage that should’ve been annulled years ago.
In the past, I’ve talked a ton about Lias Andersson. In fact, in my last in-depth blog on Andersson, I pretty much closed that blog by saying that the next time I talk about Lias Andersson on this site, it will be when the Rangers trade him. And the Rangers did just that on Wednesday. (To read that blog, check out: https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/62020/)
I don’t know what else I can say about Lias Andersson that I haven’t already said before. I’m sick of talking about the guy and I’m just glad I never have to talk about him again! Simply stated, Andersson just could never handle playing in New York and he seems happy to stay home in Sweden, and really, that’s okay. Not everyone is destined for the NHL.
If there is any wrinkle to talk about, regarding this trade, it’s the fact that Andersson’s father, in Niklas Andersson, is currently on the LA Kings payroll, as Father Andersson is a European scout for the silver and black. Perhaps a new change in scenery, and with his father drawing a paycheck from the Kings, well maybe these factors will only help to increase Lias Andersson’s desire to play in the NHL. In either event, whatever Lias Andersson does next, that’s for the Kings to worry about and not the Rangers.
As I’ve said repeatedly on this site, no General Manager bats 1.000. Unfortunately for Jeff Gorton & the Rangers, they struck out when they made Lias Andersson the seventh overall pick of the 2017 NHL Draft. However, when you look at this period of time, it really isn’t that bad when you break it down with 20/20 hindsight. Truth be told, that 2017 draft class wasn’t really that deep and it’s not like the Rangers truly missed out by taking Andersson seventh overall. It’s not like some superstar has emerged from a later draft slot.
While Andersson’s run with the Rangers was a complete shit show, a shit show that even Pavel Brendl & Jamie Lundmark are now laughing at, you have to take a look at what else happened on that day. The Rangers moved on from Derek Stepan, in what was really a cap space trade, in a move that was a precursor to the rebuild. The Rangers also landed Tony DeAngelo, who is now the crown jewel of that draft day trade of 2017. In addition, the Rangers landed Filip Chytil too, a Filip Chytil who shows promise.
As any Ranger fan optimist would say right now, if in your head, you flip-flopped where the Rangers drafted Chytil & Andersson, then there’s no reason to have an ounce of remorse about this Andersson selection. It was a weak draft and Andersson himself is weak. It didn’t work out. Not every move you make is going to be a homerun.
For me, as stated in previous blogs this week, I’m loving everything Gorton is doing. He’s getting rid of all the mistakes and cutting all of his losses. Rather than staying in the past or trying to force anything, Gorton is accepting responsibility for past failures, dealing with those failures and moving on. Personally, I’m ecstatic about this news – I’ll never have to write about Lias Andersson or Henrik Lundqvist, as Rangers, in the present tense ever again! FUTURE IS BRIGHT! Everything is gum drops and rainbows right now!
In closing on this Andersson trade, I’ll never think about him again, unless he comes over to America and the Rangers play the Kings. Let’s Go Lafreniere!
After round one of the NHL Entry Draft on Tuesday night, the league completed the rest of the draft on Wednesday, during a seven hour marathon, a marathon that felt like it would never end. (Just like these 10,000 word blogs!)
I commend the NHL Network for all of their coverage of this draft, but I have to admit, it got so boring for a bit, that I fell asleep during rounds four through six. It was just so repetitive, as the talking heads on the NHL Network would say the same thing about every pick, such as:
“This guy is (insert nationality here), plays the puck well, is highly regarded by his teammates & coaches and has a strong upside for a (insert position here).”
I don’t know how the NHL Network guys did it, as this process was tiresome and boring. As I said last night, I know there are people who get jacked up about the draft every year, but for me, it’s tough to be full of energy around pick #130.
There were even points during this draft broadcast, where the talking heads had no clue who a guy was (it was a Russian player, as these talking heads were more aware of North American players, obviously) and the talking heads just laughed about it. And really, can you blame them? It’s just impossible to know everything about the 217 kids who were drafted during these past two days. In addition, these draft analysts had to also know about 50 or so other kids, who while not drafted here in 2020, may make it to an NHL team as a walk-on. It’s just impossible to have quick information about 260+ different teenagers.
During last night’s manifesto, I told you that prospects and teenage kids playing hockey isn’t my thing. While I always strive for original content here, when it comes to what the Rangers did on day two of the draft, I’m going to go into copy and paste mode, and post the Rangers entire 2000+ word press release regarding the players they selected. After all, they know these players much better than I do, even if I was to spend all day on Google researching each player.
After sharing with you the official press release from the Rangers, I’ll add in a few comments and wrap this draft segment up.
The following press release and information comes from: https://www.nhl.com/rangers/news/2020-nhl-draft-recap/c-319371020?icmp=int_web_nyr_news_subnav
During the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, which was held on Tuesday, October 6 and Wednesday, October 7, the Rangers selected nine players. With their nine picks in the Draft, the Blueshirts selected six forwards, one defenseman, and two goaltenders.
Six of the nine players the Rangers selected in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, including five of the team’s first six selections, are Canadian. The Blueshirts selected at least six Canadian players in one NHL Entry Draft for the first time since 2005.
The Rangers entered the 2020 NHL Entry Draft with the first overall pick in the Draft. New York selected first overall in the NHL Amateur/Entry Draft for the first time since the universal Draft was adopted in 1969 (in which all junior players of qualifying age were eligible for selection). The Blueshirts had selected first overall in any NHL Amateur/Entry Draft only once since the Draft was implemented in 1963 (Andre Veilleux in 1965).
1st Round, 1st Overall
With the first overall pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, and the first of their two first-round selections in this year’s Draft, the Rangers selected forward Alexis Lafrenière.
Lafrenière, 18 (turns 19 years old on October 11), skated in 52 games with the Rimouski Oceanic of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) this past season, registering 35 goals and 77 assists for 112 points, along with a plus-41 rating and 50 penalty minutes. He received several awards during the 2019-20 season; he was named the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) Player of the Year, received the Michel Briere Trophy as the QMJHL’s Most Valuable Player, received the Mike Bossy Trophy as the QMJHL’s Best Professional Prospect, received the Paul Dumont Trophy as the QMJHL’s Personality of the Year (which recognizes an individual who had a positive media impact and helped improve the league’s image during a season), and won the Jean Beliveau Trophy as the QMJHL’s leading point scorer. Lafrenière led the QMJHL in points and assists, tied for fifth in the league in shots on goal (261), ranked eighth in the QMJHL in plus/minus rating, and tied for 10th in the league in goals this past season. He averaged 2.15 points per game in 2019-20, becoming the first QMJHL player to average at least 2.15 points per game in a season (min. 20 games played) since Jonathan Drouin in 2013-14 (2.35), as well as the first player in any of the three Canadian Major Junior Hockey Leagues (Ontario Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Western Hockey League) to average at least 2.15 points per game in a season (min. 20 games played) since Connor McDavid in 2014-15 (2.55).
The 6-2, 193-pounder has skated in 173 career QMJHL games over three seasons (2017-18 – 2019-20), all with Rimouski, registering 114 goals and 183 assists for 297 points, along with a plus-128 rating and 176 penalty minutes. Lafrenière was named the CHL Player of the Year, the QMJHL’s Most Valuable Player, and the QMJHL’s Personality of the Year in each of the last two seasons (2018-19 and 2019-20); the only other player who has won each of those awards twice is Sidney Crosby. He has recorded 80 or more points in each of his three seasons in the QMJHL, including 100 or more points in two of those seasons, and he has also registered 35 or more goals in each of his three seasons in the league.
Lafrenière has been named to the QMJHL First All-Star Team in each of his three seasons in the league, including his rookie season in 2017-18, when he was named the CHL Rookie of the Year and the QMJHL Rookie of the Year and registered a QMJHL career-high 42 goals in 60 games. His 42 goals in 2017-18 were the most by a QMJHL player in his U17 season or younger since Crosby (54 in 2003-04). In addition, since 2003-04, Lafrenière is one of only five players in the three Canadian Major Junior Hockey Leagues who have recorded 40 or more goals in a season while playing in his U17 season or younger (along with Crosby, John Tavares, Taylor Hall, and Steven Stamkos). He was selected by Rimouski with the first overall pick in the 2017 QMJHL Entry Draft.
Internationally, the Saint-Eustache, Quebec native has represented Canada in numerous tournaments and has helped Canada earn several medals. Lafrenière registered 10 points (four goals, six assists) in five games while helping Canada win a gold medal at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship, and he was named the Most Valuable Player and the Best Forward of the tournament. He also helped Canada win a gold medal at the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, as he tallied 11 points (five goals, six assists) in five games and served as the team’s captain in the tournament. Lafrenière recorded one goal in five games at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship and became the ninth-youngest player to make Team Canada’s roster in the history of the IIHF World Junior Championship; the only players younger were Jay Bouwmeester, Sidney Crosby, Jason Spezza, Eric Lindros, Connor McDavid, Wayne Gretzky, Paul Kariya, and Mike Ricci. Lafrenière also helped Canada-Red earn a silver medal at the 2017 World U17 Hockey Challenge, registering six points (three goals, three assists) in six games.
Entering the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, Lafrenière was ranked No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting’s final ranking of North American skaters eligible for this year’s Draft. He is the first Quebec-born player to be selected first overall in the NHL Entry Draft since Marc-Andre Fleury in 2003, as well as the first Quebec-born skater to be selected first overall in the NHL Entry Draft since Vincent Lecavalier in 1998. Lafrenière is the first Canadian-born player to be selected with the first overall pick in the NHL Entry Draft since Connor McDavid in 2015. Over the last 20 years, he is one of five players listed as a left wing who has been selected with the first overall pick in the NHL Entry Draft (Ilya Kovalchuk – 2001; Rick Nash – 2002; Alex Ovechkin – 2004; Taylor Hall – 2010).
1st Round, 19th overall
During the first round of the Draft on October 6, the Rangers acquired the 19th overall pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft from the Calgary Flames in exchange for the 22nd overall and the 72nd overall picks in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. With the 19th overall pick, the Blueshirts selected defenseman Braden Schneider.
Schneider, 19 (turned 19 years old on September 20), skated in 60 games with the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League (WHL) this past season, registering seven goals and 35 assists for 42 points, along with a plus-nine rating and 42 penalty minutes. Schneider was selected to the WHL Eastern Conference’s First All-Star Team this past season. He established WHL career-highs in several categories in 2019-20, including assists and points. Schneider ranked first among all WHL draft eligible defensemen in assists and points this past season. In addition, he ranked second on Brandon in assists and ranked fifth on the team in points in 2019-20, and he also led team defensemen in both categories during the season. Schneider was named the winner of Brandon’s Mike Adamski Hardest Working Player Award this past season.
The 6-2, 210-pounder has skated in 185 career WHL games over parts of four seasons (2016-17 – 2019-20), all with Brandon, registering 16 goals and 72 assists for 88 points, along with a plus-32 rating and 84 penalty minutes. Schneider made his WHL debut as a 15-year-old during the 2016-17 season, and he has posted a plus-nine rating or better in each of his three full seasons in the WHL. In addition, he has skated in 14 career WHL playoff games, recording seven assists and four penalty minutes. Schneider has served as one of Brandon’s alternate captains in each of the last two seasons.
Internationally, the Prince Albert, Saskatchewan native has represented Canada in several tournaments. Schneider helped Canada win a gold medal at the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup. He was named one of the Top Three Players on his Team while representing Canada at the 2019 IIHF U18 World Championship, as he recorded three points (two goals, one assist) and a plus-nine rating in seven games. Schneider also served as the captain for Canada-White at the 2017 World U17 Hockey Challenge, and he registered two points (one goal, one assist) in six games in the tournament.
Entering the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, Schneider was ranked No. 9 on NHL Central Scouting’s final ranking of North American skaters eligible for this year’s Draft.
2nd Round, 60th overall
During the second round of the Draft on October 7, the Rangers acquired the 60th overall pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft from the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for Lias Andersson. With the 60th overall pick, the Blueshirts selected forward Will Cuylle.
Cuylle, 18, skated in 62 games with the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) this past season, registering 22 goals and 20 assists for 42 points, along with 37 penalty minutes. He established career-highs in several categories in 2019-20, including assists, points, and shots on goal (200). Cuylle tied for third on Windsor in power play goals (seven), ranked fourth in shots on goal, and ranked fifth in goals this past season. He registered nine points (five goals, four assists) in the final 11 games of the 2019-20 season, including three points (two goals, one assist) and 14 shots on goal on Mar. 1, 2020 vs. Kingston.
The 6-3, 212-pounder has skated in 125 career OHL games over two seasons (2018-19 and 2019-20), both with Windsor, registering 48 goals and 35 assists for 83 points, along with 87 penalty minutes. Cuylle was named to the OHL’s Second All-Rookie Team in 2018-19, as he ranked fifth among OHL rookies in goals (26) and ranked seventh among OHL rookies in points (41) during the season. Cuylle is one of only four OHL players in their U18 season or younger who registered at least 20 goals in each of the last two seasons. He helped Windsor advance to the 2019 OHL Playoffs and tallied three points (two goals, one assist) in four playoff contests. Cuylle was originally selected by Peterborough with the third overall pick in the 2018 OHL Priority Selection Draft.
Internationally, the Toronto, Ontario native has represented Canada in several tournaments. Cuylle helped Canada earn a silver medal at the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, as he registered three points (two goals, one assist) in five games. He also tallied three points (two goals, one assist) in five games while playing with Canada-Black at the 2018 World U17 Hockey Challenge.
3rd Round, 92nd overall
In the third round, the Rangers selected forward Oliver Tarnstrom with the 92nd overall pick.
Tarnstrom, 18, skated in 41 games with AIK’s J20 team in SuperElit this past season, registering 11 goals and 23 assists for 34 points, along with a plus-eight rating and eight penalty minutes. Among all draft eligible players in SuperElit in 2019-20, he tied for sixth in assists and tied for seventh in points during the season. Tarnstrom led AIK’s J20 team in assists, ranked second in points, and ranked third in goals during the past season. He also skated in eight games with AIK in Allsvenskan in 2019-20, and he ranked fifth among draft eligible players in games played in Allsvenskan during the season.
The 6-1, 169-pounder has also skated in two games with AIK in Allsvenskan and two games with AIK’s J20 team in J20 Nationell to begin the 2020-21 season. A native of Stockholm, Sweden, Tarnstrom skated in three games with Sweden’s U18 team during the 2020 Five Nations Tournament. Tarnstrom’s father, Dick Tarnstrom, played parts of five seasons in the NHL.
4th Round, 103rd overall
In the fourth round, the Rangers selected goaltender Dylan Garand with the 103rd overall pick.
Garand, 18, appeared in 42 games with the Kamloops Blazers of the Western Hockey League (WHL) this past season, posting a 28-10-3 record, along with a 2.21 GAA, a .921 SV%, and 4 SO. He established WHL career-bests in several categories in 2019-20, including appearances, wins, GAA, SV%, and shutouts. Garand ranked third in the WHL in wins and GAA, tied for third in SV%, and tied for fourth in shutouts this past season. He also received the Daryl K. Seaman Trophy as the WHL Scholastic Player of the Year for the 2019-20 season.
The 6-0, 173-pounder has appeared in 73 career WHL games over parts of three seasons (2017-18 – 2019-20; including one tie-break game in 2018-19), all with Kamloops, posting a 41-19-6 record, along with a 2.48 GAA, a .914 SV%, and 5 SO. Among all WHL goaltenders who were draft eligible this year, Garand ranked first in appearances in 2019-20, and he also ranked first (min. 10 appearances) in GAA and SV% during the season. In 2017-18, he helped Team British Columbia win the WHL Cup.
Internationally, the Victoria, British Columbia native has represented Canada in several tournaments. Garand helped Canada earn a silver medal at the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, as he posted a 1.51 GAA in two appearances and earned one shutout. He also posted a 2-1-0 record, along with a 2.33 GAA and a .930 SV% in four appearances with Canada-Red at the 2018 World U17 Hockey Challenge.
Entering the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, Garand was ranked No. 6 on NHL Central Scouting’s final ranking of North American goaltenders eligible for this year’s Draft.
5th Round, 127th overall
During the fifth round of the Draft on October 7, the Rangers acquired the 127th overall pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for the 196th overall pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft and the 206th overall pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. With the 127th overall pick, the Blueshirts selected forward Evan Vierling.
Vierling, 18, split this past season between the Flint Firebirds and the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), registering 14 goals and 30 assists for 44 points, along with 12 penalty minutes in 43 games. He established OHL career-highs in several categories in 2019-20, including goals, assists, and points. Vierling was one of 11 draft eligible players who averaged over 1.00 points per game in the OHL this past season.
The 6-1, 178-pounder has skated in 103 career OHL games over two seasons (2018-19 and 2019-20) with Flint and Barrie, registering 20 goals and 51 assists for 71 points, along with 36 penalty minutes. A native of Aurora, Ontario, Vierling recorded three points (two goals, one assist) in six games while playing with Canada-Red at the 2018 World U17 Hockey Challenge, and he served as one of the team’s alternate captains in the tournament.
5th Round, 134th overall
In the fifth round, the Rangers selected forward Brett Berard with the 134th overall pick.
Berard, 18, skated in 41 games with the U.S. National U18 Team as part of the U.S. National Team Development Program (NTDP) this past season, registering 16 goals and 18 assists for 34 points, along with a plus-15 rating and 46 penalty minutes. He led the team in game-winning goals (four), tied for second on the team in goals, ranked third in points, and ranked fourth in assists in 2019-20. Berard skated in 13 games against opponents in the United States Hockey League (USHL) and recorded 18 points (seven goals, 11 assists) and a plus-12 rating in those 13 contests.
The 5-9, 165-pounder skated in 92 career games with the NTDP over two seasons (2018-19 and 2019-20), registering 22 goals and 32 assists for 54 points, along with 80 penalty minutes. Berard tallied 20 points (six goals, 14 assists) in 51 games with the U.S. National U17 Team in 2018-19, and he tied for fifth on the team in assists.
Internationally, the Providence, Rhode Island native has represented the United States in several tournaments. Berard tallied two assists in five games while representing the United States at the 2018 World U17 Hockey Challenge. He has committed to attend Providence College, beginning with the 2020-21 season.
6th Round, 165th overall
In the sixth round, the Rangers selected forward Matthew Rempe with the 165th overall pick.
Rempe, 18, skated in 47 games with the Seattle Thunderbirds of the Western Hockey League (WHL) this past season, registering 12 goals and 19 assists for 31 points, along with 53 penalty minutes. He ranked 13th among WHL rookies in points and ranked seventh among WHL rookies in penalty minutes in 2019-20. Rempe also ranked sixth on Seattle (second among team rookies) in points this past season, and he ranked third on the team in power play goals (five) in 2019-20. Rempe also led the team in faceoffs taken (653) and ranked second on the team in faceoff wins (301) this past season.
The 6-8, 235-pounder played with the Spruce Grove Saints of the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) prior to beginning his WHL career. A native of Calgary, Alberta, Rempe registered 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in 43 games with Spruce Grove in 2018-19, and he added one assist in eight playoff contests.
7th Round, 197th overall
In the seventh round, the Rangers selected goaltender Hugo Ollas with the 197th overall pick.
Ollas, 18, appeared in 20 games with Linkoping’s junior (J20) team in SuperElit this past season, posting a 2.43 GAA. The 6-8, 238-pounder has also appeared in seven games with Linkoping’s junior team thus far in 2020-21, posting a 2.40 GAA. A native of Linkoping, Sweden, Ollas was named the Best Goaltender U18 goaltender in Sweden’s J18 league in 2018-19.
Again, all of the above information was written by the NY Rangers and was copied and pasted from: https://www.nhl.com/rangers/news/2020-nhl-draft-recap/c-319371020?icmp=int_web_nyr_news_subnav
I have a few random observations and opinions regarding what the Rangers did on Wednesday. Before sharing all of them, let me preface what I’m about to say with this one more time – “In Gorton We Trust!” Unlike some of these chart humping basement bozos that are out there, I’m not second guessing anything the Rangers did, because after all, I didn’t know anything about these guys until reading up on them today. That said, I just have a few thoughts on what the organization did as a whole.
For starters, there’s this tweet that everyone should be aware of:
Five of the Rangers’ first six picks in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft have been players who are Canadian. The Blueshirts have selected at least five Canadian players in one NHL Entry Draft for the first time since 2005. #NYR
— NYR Stats & Info (@NYRStatsInfo) October 7, 2020
What does this tell us? It tells you that the Rangers are getting away from these European players a bit, players who may not be ready for the NHL as fast as North American prospects usually are. As I always say here whenever I bring this topic up, North American players grow up with dreams of winning the Stanley Cup. For European & Russian players, they grow up wanting to win their respective league’s championship. And it takes time for these guys across the pond to adjust to a brand new country, culture and language. It’s all relative.
In addition, like anyone with a brain knows, you need toughness, size, grit, sandpaper types, lunch-pail players and all of those other roughneck traits, when assembling a Stanley Cup winning roster. Playing Ice Capades won’t win a Stanley Cup.
While it would be unfair to bury Vitali Kravtsov here, as he does seem to have embraced a new attitude and is making a 180, the fact of the matter is that he didn’t come flying out the gate, despite his status as a Top 10 pick of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. However, we can bury Lias Andersson. He was a bust. When it comes to Kaapo Kakko, the number 2 pick of the 2019 NHL Draft, it’s not like he came out like gangbusters this season either. However, I would argue that the best is yet to come for Kakko and I think he’ll be a major player for the Rangers one day. That said, did he live up to expectations in year one, especially when you look at other recent past Top 5 draft picks, say such as an Elias Petterson? I don’t think so. AGAIN, DON’T GET IT TWISTED. I’M NOT BURYING KAKKO HERE. I’M JUST SAYING I DON’T THINK HE LIVED UP TO EXPECTATIONS IN HIS ROOKIE YEAR. HE’LL BE BETTER AS TIME GOES ALONG!
As just a casual observer and fan of this NHL Draft, it seems to me that after Lafreniere, the Rangers really focused on getting themselves some bruising North Americans. While not every pick will make the NHL, because that rarely ever happens, the Rangers have stockpiled themselves a collection of guys that aren’t afraid of physicality. Rather than collecting pretty players or players that play a “sexy” type of game, the Rangers passed on the figure skaters and welcomed guys who aren’t afraid to mix it up. Are these the blueshirt blueprints of John Davidson or is this Jeff Gorton realizing what it takes to put together a winner? I think it’s a combination of the two.
The players the Rangers took in the sixth and seventh rounds really stood out to me, as the Rangers drafted a pair of 6’8″ twin towers. The Rangers got a centerman in Matt Rempe and a goalie in Hugo Ollas. Due to being drafted in the later rounds, I wouldn’t expect to see these guys at M$G any time soon, at least not in a regular season game. That said, with the Rangers pretty much banking on CZAR IGOR to be their starting goalie for the next decade, perhaps the Rangers drafted the 6’8″ Ollas to replace Steve Valiquette on the M$G Networks! After all, a boy can dream!
Speaking of goalies, the Rangers took two goalies in this draft, as aside from Ollas, the Rangers drafted Dylan Garand in the fourth round. I wouldn’t put any stock into any of these picks effecting CZAR IGOR or Alexandar Georgiev. Maybe if I was Adam Huska, I’d be worried a bit right now, especially after the up-and-down season he had in Hartford, where he ultimately wound up in the ECHL, for the Maine Mariners.
In my opinion, the additions of Garand and Ollas are for organizational depth. That said, who knows if we’ll even have an AHL or ECHL season in 2021, as the bulk of the revenue those leagues generate comes from ticket sales. It’s not like the AHL or ECHL, (at least not in America) have money coming in from strong TV deals, like NHL clubs do.
(From my experiences, I know the AHL teams in Canada have TV deals, TV deals that are much stronger than American AHL teams, so much so, that you can even watch Canadian AHL games in most Canadian hotel rooms and at Canadian sports bars. That said, it’s not like those TV deals even measure up to what the NHL teams get.)
Organization wise, CZAR IGOR is your number 1 goalie. Alexandar Georgiev, who received a qualifying offer and is expected to return next season, will be your number 2 goalie. After that, pen to paper, the Rangers only have Adam Huska and Tyler Wall, as goaltenders, signed to contracts.
Again, no one knows what will happen with the AHL and ECHL next year and if the Rangers even have any plans of signing these goalies, from the 2020 NHL draft, right now to begin with. The Rangers also have the rights of goaltender Olof Lindbom, a goalie the team selected in the second round of the 2018 NHL Draft. As of this writing, Lindbom does not have a contract with the Rangers.
If there’s any fact you need to know here, regarding the Rangers goalies, it’s this – the Rangers must sign some cheap veteran for next season, as the Rangers will need to expose a goalie to Seattle during the Seattle Kraken expansion draft. CZAR IGOR is automatically protected. Georgiev is not. If Georgiev even has a half-way decent season in 2021, he’ll at least be considered by Seattle as a back-up option. It’s in the Rangers best interest to grab a cheap veteran, whether they re-sign the UFA JF Berube or look elsewhere.
In my final thoughts regarding the draft, I thought the Rangers executed their gameplan well. It was obvious, as noted above, that the Rangers wanted to add some tough guys to this team. Twice during this 2020 NHL Draft, the Rangers made a trade. As recapped last night, the Rangers traded three spots up, to select Braden Schneider. Speaking of Schneider, just to give you an update, it seems that the plans aren’t for him to be with the main club next season. That’s not to say that it won’t happen, that’s just to say that the Rangers aren’t planning to rush Schneider to the main roster.
In day two of the draft, the Rangers rid themselves of Lias Andersson, trading the former 7th overall pick of three years ago, for the 60th overall pick of this year’s draft. Quite frankly, I can’t believe the Rangers got a second rounder out of Lias Andersson, as his stock was worse than Enron’s. I truly thought the Rangers would have to settle for a seventh round pick for Andersson, if they were able to find a trading partner at all.
When it comes to Cuylle, the player the Rangers selected after trading Andersson, he seemed to be a huge hit with the media, as his “Stars Wars” knowledge impressed these geeks and goofballs. However, hockey fans were also impressed, because at 6’3″ and 212 pounds, this left winger says he models his game after Tom Wilson. If Cuylle can make that happen for the Rangers, the Rangers surely will have a valuable asset.
In closing on the draft, I’m just going to keep saying what I’ve been saying – the future is bright, In Gorton We Trust!
Making things crazier for NHL GM’s across the league on Wednesday, is that not only did they have the draft to contend with, but these GM’s also had to make decisions on all of their restricted free agents by 5PM. (The draft didn’t end until after 7PM, so GM’s were multi-tasking here.)
The Rangers qualified all of their major RFA’s, thus preventing Tony DeAngelo, Alexandar Georgiev and Brendan Lemieux from becoming unrestricted free agents. The Rangers also waited two hours before the deadline before qualifying Ryan Strome too. Also of note, both Phil Di Giuseppe and Brandon Crawley received qualifying offers. Unfortunately, I have no news on the status of Vinni Lettieri, THE KEY PIECE OF THIS RANGERS REBUILD!
When it comes to the Rangers RFA’s, it seems like it’s a lock that the Rangers will get deals done with Lemieux, Georgiev, PDG and Mr. Crawley. When it comes to Lemieux, Lemieux said as much in a recent interview during the “Spittin’ Chiclets” podcast.
Due to their career best seasons, Tony DeAngelo & Ryan Strome still remain the wild cards. While both have indicated on the “Watch Your Tone” podcast that they want to return to the Rangers, both are also aware that this is a business.
Of the two, while the Rangers are getting offers on DeAngelo (a report came out today that Vegas is interested in TDA) if you’re a betting man, the odds on TDA returning to NYR are better than the odds on a Strome return. After all, the Rangers, as admitted by the front office themselves, weighed all of their options, before making Strome the last RFA to receive an offer.
The Rangers certainly have the money right now to give TDA & Strome fair contracts. Whether that’s what the Rangers want to do or not, that remains unknown, as many expect, especially as a result of this draft, for the Rangers to look for center help through free agency.
Of note, all qualifying offers to restricted free agents expire on October 18th. What that means, is that despite free agency opening up this Friday, the Rangers will have a short window of time to negotiate with their RFA’s. Also for your consideration, if the Rangers don’t lock up their RFA’s this Friday, that isn’t an indication of anything either.
When the dust all settles, in my opinion, I think all of the Rangers RFA’s return. Why get rid of guys coming off the best season of their careers? Plus, when you look at this roster now, especially with the contracts given out to Kreider, Zibanejad, Trouba and Panarin, the rebuild is over. Going into next season, the goal of the Rangers is not only to make the playoffs, but to make some noise in the playoffs too. The Rangers now have their core of the next era. Unless the Rangers are able to “trade-rape” Buffalo or Tampa for either Jack Eichel or Steven Stamkos, I just don’t see the Rangers moving on from guys who have proved that they can succeed in New York.
Lastly, when it comes to all of the recent moves the Rangers have made this week, both Jeff Gorton and John Davidson sat down with the media for a 16 minute zoom call. Here’s the video of that call:
— The Rangers have talked about Fox and/or DeAngelo moving to the left side. If there’s anything you get out of that, it’s that the Rangers may be showing their hand here, and will re-sign TDA. Then again, it could be a red herring. Either way, if TDA and/or Fox are willing to move to the left side, and if they are able to succeed, it only makes the team stronger. And for what it’s worth, I’m sure both of these players will give it a try, if and when asked.
— The Rangers were never going to let Strome walk as a free agent. However, like everything else, the Rangers were going to do their due diligence on the situation. Gorton also admitted that Strome was due for a raise. I should also mention here, by qualifying Strome, the Rangers could still trade him.
— In the last ever time that I mention Lias Andersson on this blog/site, unless it’s about him as a King against the Rangers, Gorton was pretty open about the messy situation. Gorton said: “Obviously, you take a guy that high, you hope that he has an impact sooner than later. At this point in his career, it’s hard to say. Maybe we brought him over too soon. I don’t know. It’s just a lot of things didn’t go the way we wanted it to. He’s still a young guy. I think he needed a fresh start, so we just made a decision to move and start over.”
If anything here, for the Lias Andersson fans (they are out there) at least Gorton did put some blame on himself.
— Gorton admitted that the Rangers draft strategy focused on getting players with “grit”. This was obvious, as talked about earlier on this blog.
— On Jesper Fast, another Swedish player (it hasn’t looked good for Swedish players and being retained with the Rangers this week) Gorton said he expected Fast to test free agency. It doesn’t seem like keeping Fast is something the Rangers want to do. I’m surprised. I thought they’d at least talk to him, as he’s beloved by that locker room. He’s also a strong PKer. (Fast has also won the last five NYR Player’s Player awards, as voted on by the team themselves.)
— Gorton kind of debunked the crap Larry Brooks was putting out there about Nils Lundkvist and how he could effect the Rangers moving forward. Just like DeAngelo & Fox, Gorton said it’s possible that Lundkvist could go to the left side too.
That’s pretty much all the highlights. What’s that? You want to hear it one more time? Sure, here you go – “IN GORTON WE TRUST!”
Away from the Rangers, there were a ton of moves in the NHL today, with perhaps Matt Murray going to the Ottawa Senators being the biggest of moves. For all the talk about Lundqvist from his Cult, look at the way the Penguins have treated their Stanley Cup winning goalies! They let Marc-Andre Fleury go to Vegas for nothing. Then, the Pens trade the young 2 time Stanley Cup champion goalie to the Senators. There is no such thing as loyalty anymore in this NHL hard cap era. Have I ever mentioned before, how much I hate the salary cap?
I also want to say this. With this NHL goalie carousel we’re now experiencing and with many GM’s realizing that you can’t overpay the goaltender position, it seems like goalies are now becoming hockey’s version of NFL running backs of today. Both running backs and goalies used to be a focus of any team, even as recent as twenty years ago. Today, in both football and hockey, running backs and goalies are now interchangeable. It doesn’t seem like these positional players have a long shelf life as starter’s anymore, as there’s always someone cheaper, just as good and younger out there. Of course, the hard cap, in both leagues, makes these once key positions not as important as they once were. You can win a Superbowl without a star running back. You can win a Stanley Cup without a star goalie. That’s where we are at in 2020.
It’s crazy how much sports have changed in my lifetime. I grew up in an era where centers in the NBA, running backs in the NFL and goalies in the NHL were all prominent positions. You needed to have elite stars at these positions to win championships, that is, until Michael Jordan came around. Then, when Jordan first retired, look who won the NBA title in those two years – the Houston Rockets, led by center Hakeem Olajuwon. While I’m not much of a fan of the NBA today, because I can’t stand the five on five three point contests that the league has become, I do wonder this – would Shaq be a major player in today’s NBA?
If there’s one thing that has remained constant in sports, especially when it comes to winning championships, it’s starting pitching in baseball. No matter the changes the MLB has made over the years, you always need starting pitching to win a World Series.
One last thing before closing time.
As we get to the end here, I just wanted to make mention that October 7th was Frank Boucher’s birthday. While he never would’ve lived this long, if he had, the greatest Ranger of all-time would’ve turned 119 this past Wednesday.
I won’t bore you with another long-winded rant on why Frank Boucher and his #7 should be in the rafters of MSG. All I’ll do is plug my 6789678967889 blogs on Boucher, blogs that include how I met the family of Frank Boucher and how me and my buddy visited the resting place of this Hall of Famer. You can find all of my Boucher work here: https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/retire-frank-bouchers-7/
Until it gets done, I’ll never rest when it comes to my mission of seeing the Rangers retire Frank Boucher’s #7 jersey. In fact, as mentioned when the Rangers bought out Lundqvist, I told you how some of my detractors said to me – “now what will you whine about?” Well here you go, I’ll keep hammering all of my points on why the Rangers need to do the right thing, and honor the greatest man to ever be involved with the franchise!
In what brought a smile to my face today, I saw people younger than me talking about Frank Boucher today, mentioning how it was his birthday. I saw two different bloggers write something about Boucher today, with one of them quoting this site. It’s good to know that even if it’s just one person, I made one person aware of the legacy Boucher left with the Rangers.
For all the great stuff John Davidson and his crew accomplished this week, the final cherry on top would be for the organization to right this major wrong, and get Boucher’s #7 up there. As I’ve said in the past, I would just have one huge ass “We Father Fink’d Up” night, and just put banners in the rafters of Boucher, Patrick, the Cook brothers and Hextall. Then, as far as people living today, I’d have no problem with the Rangers honoring Emile Francis, Ron Greschner and Brad Park too. After doing all of this, then the Rangers can have their Henrik Lundqvist night!
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It’s been non-stop writing lately and I think I might go five straight days this week, which would be a record here! I’ll definitely be back Friday night, covering whatever the Rangers do in free agency and if the Capitals do make the Lundqvist signing official. As far as Thursday night goes, if Ron Duguay does release a new episode of “Up in the Blue Seats”, I’ll have a recap for you. Furthermore, the Rangers may come to deals with their RFA’s on Thursday too! We’ll see!
As always here, thanks for reading and…
LET’S GO RANGERS!
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