Kakko who? On July 24th, the Rangers announced that they re-signed my favorite player and yours, in a one Vinni Lettieri!
Greetings and salutations everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. I know I said this last time, but I promise to bring the updates a little bit more frequently than I have been doing this summer. In fact, as mentioned on my last blog, I have finally finished my movie reviews on “Tough Guy: The Bob Probert Story” and “Goalie”. Those blogs will be posted later on this week. To be the first to read those reviews, you can subscribe to this blog by clicking the following button:
And while on the subject of blog promotion and plugs, here are my last few blogs, in case you missed them:
As mentioned in my last blog (I’ll try to stop saying that for the remainder of this blog) the Rangers have pretty much put together their best off-season in franchise history. I’ve already recapped everything that’s gone down and by now, if you’re reading these words, that means you’re a hardcore fan and already know what has happened.
Since I last left you, the Rangers have put together some finishing touches on their 2019-2020 roster. However, the off-season isn’t over yet and the Rangers will still have to make a few more moves. In fact, depending on when you read this blog, the Rangers may have done some cost-cutting already.
On July 20th, the Rangers avoided arbitration with Jacob Trouba, when they gave Trouba a $56M deal over the course of seven seasons. In other words, Trouba will be receiving $8M a season during the course of this contract.
When you look at Jeff Gorton’s career, as the General Manager of the New York Rangers, the only black marks next to his name are when it comes to the contracts he’s given to his defensemen. Of course, those players are Kevin Shattenkirk and Brendan Smith. As previously discussed (See what I did here?) when it comes to Shattenkirk, I think his Rangers tenure has been a pure case of Murphy’s Law. I don’t blame Shattenkirk for any of the negativity during his stint in NY. It just seems that anything that could go wrong, went wrong for him.
When talking about Shattenkirk and his time with the Rangers, he is rumored to be on the move. I’ll dive more into this later on. When I think about Shattenkirk and his time here, there is one word that immediately comes to mind and that word is “unfortunate.” Shattenkirk isn’t an asshole. I wouldn’t consider him a bust either. It just seems that nothing could go right for him.
In the case of Brendan Smith, when Gorton gave Smith his contract, it was puzzling at the time. His deal was basically the reward for a decent playoff stint. However, while not exactly Wade Redden, Smith’s deal has been a colossal mistake. To be fair to Jeff Gorton, who’s had plenty of more hits than misses, no General Manager, no matter what the sport, ever bats 1.000.
Jacob Trouba has yet to play one game for NYR, but the expectations are now extremely high for him. Photo Credit: NYR
As this blog approaches covering its sixth season of Rangers hockey, if you’re a regular here, you know this – I have no problem giving credit where credit is due or crediting fans who come up with things before me. While I was aware of Trouba and his career with the Jets, what really made me take a deep dive into looking into him was because of a caller on “Blueshirt Underground Radio.” (For more on BSU, check out:
Rangers season ticket holder, Jonathon Papad, aka “Roc”, a regular caller of the BSU Radio Show, has been “politicking” or campaigning for the Rangers to make a move for Trouba for years now. Put it this way – in the same vein, manner and drive that I have made my opinions on Henrik Lundqvist be known, Roc has passionately been shouting from the rooftops for the Rangers to go after Trouba. In fact, once the Rangers made the deal for Trouba, the first person I thought of was Roc. I’m sure I wasn’t the only Ranger fan who thought of Roc when the Rangers made this deal either!
Of course, whenever the Rangers make a big deal, the first question is, “Is this player worth the money?” I guess that’s a broad question that covers several gray areas. After all, you have NBA 12th men jabroni’s making $20M a season. However, under the scope of the NHL salary cap, is a defensemen worth $56M? To me, when I look at Trouba’s numbers and contributions, I think he is. Keep in mind, the NHL salary cap is only going up. While Trouba’s deal isn’t exactly a “bargain”, it is the going rate. If he didn’t get it from the the Rangers, he would get it elsewhere.
Now I know what you will say – “YOU HATE HANK’S CONTRACT.” However, as we’ve seen, two rookie goaltenders have won a Stanley Cup in the last four years. The disparity among goaltenders is as tight as it has ever been. However, and more importantly, Trouba is only 25 years old. Like Artemi Panarin, another winner of the Rangers lottery payouts this off-season, Trouba is just hitting his prime. Lundqvist became the highest paid goalie in the NHL after his peak and while he was in his 30’s. Trouba, at 25 years old, theoretically, has his best years ahead of him.
In other words, and feel free to screenshot this and throw it in my face later – I have no problem with Trouba’s deal. That said, because of the salary being paid, Trouba, like Shattenkirk two years ago and the slew of defensemen before Shattenkirk (Dan Boyle & Keith Yandle immediately come to mind. Of course, Wade Redden will always be the go-to name here, even if Redden’s deal wasn’t during the Salary Cap Era) there will be pressure on Trouba to perform immediately.
Trouba’s fiancee played a huge part in Trouba coming to NYR. Photo Credit: Jacob Trouba While the contracts of defensemen have been Gorton’s weak-point, I have no problem with Trouba getting this money. I wish Trouba the best, but he has to know that he must deliver in Year One, or risk the moans and groans by the cap hit junkies. For the sake of the Rangers, let’s hope Trouba can break the curse of Gorton’s defensemen deals.
Like Trouba, the intoxicating commie avoided arbitration. Photo Credit: NYR
On July 26th, the Rangers re-signed Pavel Buchnevich for two more years, as Buchnevich will now earn $3.25M per season. Currently at 24 years old, this is essentially a bridge/show me deal for the Russian Rocket of the New York Rangers. Come two years from now, Buchnevich will either command a $6M-$7M AAV type of deal, or be a $1M-$3M type of player that bounces around the league.
In sports, very often, we remember what you have done recently. Year 1 of this new deal for Buchnevich most likely will not be make-or-break. However, in Year 2 of his new deal, and with a chance to be an unrestricted free agent, Buchenvich will need to have the best year of his career in that 2020-2021 season. That’s a monumental season for the Rangers, because come the 2021 off-season, barring a trade/buyout/deportation, the contracts of both Henrik Lundqvist and Marc Staal will come off the books.
And real quick, because one day I want to really do a bunch of words dedicated to this topic – Marc Staal is extremely underappreciated. Yes, his contract sucks and he aged quickly, but really, who’s been a better defensemen for the Rangers during these last two seasons? Who’s a better locker room guy? Who has been a better team player? I know, I know, I know – Staal’s contract isn’t the best. However, when you compare the numbers and their roles, Marc Staal provides more value than Henrik Lundqvist. You can not argue differently. After all, as we’ve seen, you can replace Lundqvist and get more production out of a goalie making less than a million bucks. You can’t say the same about a defenseman.
Buchnevich has $6.5M reasons to smile right now. Photo Credit: NYR
While it would’ve been funny to see the Basement Banter and chart soyboys cry a river if Buchnevich was traded, I’m glad the Rangers retained the services of the rarely smiling Russian. Personally, while I would’ve liked to see the Rangers keep Jimmy Vesey too, when it comes to the debate of Buchnevich vs Vesey (which is only a thing because both men joined the Rangers at the same time) to me, Buchnevich has more upside and is the better player. I think Buchnevich can only get better and perhaps one day, can be a leader of these new Rangers. At least one can hope.
While Buchnevich, at times, was a healthy scratch of both head coaches Alain Vigneault and David Quinn, in both cases, Buchnevich usually responded well to discipline/punishment. I think Buchnevich can turn the corner this season. I’m not one for making up “PROPOZED RANGERZ LINEZ”, so I won’t speculate where Buchnevich lines up. That said, I think with more talent on this Rangers roster, Buchnevich can only get better, especially if Kreider stays here and is able to put it all together as well.
To me, Buchnevich is an asset to the Rangers. While some fans may exaggerate his worth (and to be fair, I do this all the time with players I like too) I truly believe that Buchnevich can be part of a Cup winning Rangers team. Of course, the Rangers won’t win a Cup until they accept that Lundqvist will never be part of a team that will win one, but that’s a topic I’ve already discussed to death on this blog!
It’s put-up or shut-up time for Lettieri. Photo Credit: Getty Images
Two years ago, I started ranting and raving about how great Vinni Lettieri could be for the Rangers. Now, two years later, Lettieri will face the biggest year of his career.
When it comes to Vinni Lettieri, in case you’re new here, let me tell you why I started becoming a fan of him. It’s very simple – he has the same last name as my nieces, my god-daughter, my sister and my brother-in-law. That’s what I ran with. However, when I attended NYR pre-season games before the 2017-2018 season, I really did become a fan of the guy. I thought, and still do think, that Lettieri has a tremendous upside.
In the two years that have passed since that pre-season, the book on Lettieri is that he’s a “4A” player, which breaks down to meaning that he’s too good for the minors, but not not good enough for the majors.
During last season, Lettieri, at times, was putting up video game numbers for a terrible Hartford Wolfpack team. However, with the Rangers, Lettieri struggled to amass a point. Lettieri would eventually get a few points for the Rangers during the 2018-2019 season, but it was nothing to write home about.
Lettieri, who is also 24 years old, needs to make a name for himself this year. Lettieri, because of his age, should have a chance to make the big club at the start of the season. At the very least, he should get a look with the Rangers at some point in the season. When Lettieri gets that chance, he must maximize his minutes. Everyone at this skill level can play well, but for Lettieri, he must produce as well. If he doesn’t, not only will his Rangers tenure end, he may never get a chance in the NHL again.
While the new look Rangers have a lot of youth up-and-down the roster, Lettieri will be closer to 30 than 20, come the end of the season. I doubt this is news to Lettieri or to fans of Lettieri either.
No professional athlete dreams of being a star at the minor league level. Certainly, no one ever dreams of having their number raised in Shartford, Connecticut either. For #95, Vinni Lettieri needs to have the best season of his career during the 2019-2020 season. If he doesn’t, the label of “4A Player” will forever be linked to his name.
In the case of your truly, outside of Lettieri and his immediate family, no one will be rooting for this guy more than me. Let’s hope the best is yet to come!
Brendan Smith (L) and Kevin Shattenkirk (R) are most likely to move on from NYR and not because of their own accord. Photo Credit: Getty Images
The Rangers are currently $2.6M give or take a few bucks, over the salary cap. On Wednesday, July 31st, the Rangers will hit their deadline on being able to buy-out players, in an effort to get under the salary cap for the 2019-2020 season. Of course, and as mentioned 7896786785567857893647347867896434 zillion times by yours truly, if I was Jeff Gorton, I would cut the cord on Lundswiss. It’s the only move that makes sense and for a bunch of reasons. For starters, this is a rebuild. Any time Lundqvist starts or practices, it takes Benoit Allaire time away from both Georgiev and Shestyorkin. Again, I’ve gone over this a bunch of times on this site, so just read the archives.
“Lyin'” Larry Brooks, who recently wrote that the Rangers and Trouba were having trouble (The Rangers re-signed Touba 24 hours after Larry’s latest pack of lies designed as click-bait) is on a one-man mission for the Rangers to shed themselves of Kevin Shattenkirk. I haven’t seen a newspaper man write so much foulness about a player ever since Larry Brooks went off on another defenseman, who also ironically wore #22, in Dan Boyle.
Here’s the deal. The Rangers are over the salary cap. They need to fix that between now and the start of the season. Of course, they will ignore the disgusting Swedish albatross elephant in the room, in a one Henrik Lundswiss. Of course, a Lundswiss buy-out will cure all the cap issues for the Rangers, but the Rangers are hell-bent with losing with Lundswiss every season, rather than trying to win without him.
Larry Brooks, and others, have been pushing for the Rangers to buy-out both Brendan Smith and Kevin Shattenkirk. For some reason, these morons want a ton of dead cap space on the books for the Rangers. (Buying out Lundswiss is cheaper than buying out both Smith and Shattenkirk.) Some writers are even campaigning for the Rangers to move on from Chris Kreider. Some are beating their drum for the Rangers to move on from Vladislav Namestnikov.
Namestnikov is expendable in my opinion. Photo Credit: Getty Images
What drives me nuts, is that all of these “professional” or paid writers, when on the topic of buy-outs, NEVER mention Henrik Lundswiss. I’m not saying the Rangers will do it, because they are obsessed with worshiping a loser, but at least accurately report that the option is there.
Operating with the notion that Lundswiss has the franchise wrapped around his cupless finger, to me, Namestnikov should be the easiest to move. He provides a solid upside, especially for a team on the rise.
With Smith and Shattenkirk, you’re not going to find many takers. The Rangers have already shopped both and have even offered to take 50% of both Shattenkirk and Smith’s salaries/cap-hits. However, no team has bit on such an offer. With the Rangers over the salary cap, the Rangers do not have the option of retaining the roster they have now, and hoping someone with a D-man injury knocks on the NYR door, looking for a trade.
To me, and again, I’ve talked about this before; it would be silly for the Rangers to let Kreider go. After all, who’s out there that could replace his production? I know Kreider can be a ghost at times, but with this new roster, maybe CK20 can be re-invigorated and grab the bull by the horns.
In my opinion, and going with the idea that the Rangers will never move on from Lundswiss and his losing ways, the Rangers should try to move Smith. If they can’t, they can send Smith to Hartford for some cap relief.
Unlike the majority of Ranger scribes and fans, I don’t want to give up on Kevin Shattenkirk. However, and this is no secret, the Rangers have added two right-handed defensemen to the squad, in both Jacob Trouba and Adam Fox. The Rangers also have Tony DeAngelo, who is another righty. In other words, where does Shattenkirk fit in?
Since this picture was taken, it’s been a free-fall for Shattenkirk, even if it wasn’t his fault. Photo Credit: MSG Networks
Sure, you can slot TDA or Fox elsewhere, but with the additions to the roster, Shattenkirk’s worth to the Rangers isn’t what it once was. Larry Brooks, after being wrong about Trouba, has been determined about the Rangers moving on from Shattenkirk. I’m not saying Larry is wrong here, but I will say, a lot of what he writes does come off mean-spirited and with bias.
If by some hook or crook, the Rangers are able to keep Shattenkirk, I think he can be poised to have his best year as a Ranger. Then again, that doesn’t say much, as Shattenkirk has dealt with injuries and a rebuild, ever since signing here.
If the Rangers are able to trade Namestnikov’s $4M annual salary, it would get the franchise under the salary cap. Obviously, I would like the Rangers to move on from Brendan Smith, but in all reality, what team would trade for him? I think it would be much easier to move Namestnikov.
Of course, I am of the mind-set that if you’re going to buy out anyone, you should buy out Lundqvist. That said, if I was running the Rangers, I would tell Lundqvist that he either waives his NMC or he doesn’t play at all. I would try to move him via the trade. I’m not a fan of the buy-out and why should the Rangers carry dead cap space if they don’t have to? That’s why I don’t want to see Shattenkirk bought out either.
To me, the simple solution is trying to move Namestnikov by a trade. That said, I guess that’s easier said than done!
If the Rangers are desperate to get under the cap, they could always hire Tonya Harding and put Hank on LITR! (I kid, I kid – or am I? You’ll never know!)
Moving on to other subjects, have you heard about this site called Cameo.com? Basically, Cameo has a slew of celebrities, that range from A-list to WHO? For a few bucks, you can get these celebrities to say anything you want.
For $300, I’ve seen Mark Messier endorse a Rangers podcast as the best out there. While I don’t agree with Messier here, (BSU will always be #1 to me) at the same time, he was paid to say that. And for the record, if someone can get Messier to say that “Lundqvist sucks and Richter was much better”, all for $300, I’ll give you $100 if you make it happen!
One of my buddies, in a one Greg Rutherford, who many of you may know as @Fixxser on Twitter, got drunk one night and hired a few “celebrities” to talk about the Rangers. If you missed the “THREAD” aka “The Hyjinx” on the Twitter, here are a few of them:
Frank The Tank on Henrik Lundqvist
Frank the Tank on Kaapo Kakko
Shoenice on a Rangers Fan who wants to give me disease!
Perez Hilton on the Rangers & The Goaltenders
Perez Hilton on “THE THREAD” with shoutouts to Steve Helms, Rachel, Whalepack, Lacey & everyone else!
If this tells you anything, it is that @Fixxser will spend money on anything when he’s popping and belting that Devil’s Cut!
It’s amazing that here in 2019, you can get anyone to say anything; providing you have a few bucks to shell out!
Nikita Gusev becomes the latest name to join the Rangers vs Devils rivalry. Photo Credit: NHL.com
In what seems to be a case of “whatever you can do, I can do better”, the Devils announced a trade with the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday, July 29th. In the trade, the Devils gave up a few draft picks for Nikita Gusev. The Devils then signed Gusev, who has no NHL experience, to a 2 year contract, worth $9M overall. Gusev, who is 27 years old, will be leaving the KHL to make his NHL debut with the Devils.
When it comes to this 2019 off-season, it seems like there have been no bigger winners than both the Rangers and Devils. The arms race between the two teams has been outstanding. The Devils keep making move-after-move, only for the Rangers to come back with some bigger moves. As mentioned previously, the “Battle of the Hudson” should intensify this season and only get more ferocious with time.
Even better – the Islanders have done nothing this off-season, except announce that their fans will have to sit sober in a parking lot that smells like horse-shit. Sounds right to me!
Oh and speaking of the Devils, I received the following email on Monday:
For those who don’t know, if you ever buy a ticket to see the Rangers play a game on the road, that home team has your email address and will flood your email box non-stop.
Re-read that first paragraph. Specifically, this line: “We had a record attendance…”
Just to be clear, here is that “record attendance”:
Photo Credit: NJD
I now look to YOU, the readers. Give me your best joke. Here are mine:
— I’ve seen more people at a colonoscopy office.
— I’ve seen more people sleeping at Penn Station.
— I’ve seen more people have sex at a Buffalo Bills tailgate.
— I’ve seen more people at a “Salute Your Shorts” fan convention.
— I’ve seen more people who think the Mets can win a World Series.
— I’ve seen more people who think the Jets can win a Superbowl.
— I’ve seen more people who think the Rangers can win a Cup with Lundswiss!
— I’ve seen @Fixxser hire more people to do cameos.
Kaapo Kakko made his first cover! What a regular Jennifer Lopez!
I used to be a big collector of trading cards in the 1980’s and 1990’s. As I grew up, my need for pictures on cardboard lessened. I don’t know shit about trading cards today, except that it’s confusing and that there are 767896389464774786378347896378643 sets these days. Like boxing and their championships, once it gets too confusing, it’s very easy for the casual fan to just check out. “Hobbyists” or people who collect cards, are a hardcore bunch. You have to be, just to keep up on all of it.
This all said, while I’m not ready to dive into the collecting of cards hobby again, I wouldn’t mind having a few rookie cards, such as the cards of Lettieri, Kakko, Georgiev, Shestyorkin, etc. “Beckett”, the premier company when it comes to assessing value of trading cards, recently put Kakko on their Hockey Card magazine. Again, while I’m not into paying for pictures on cardboard, I do see myself acquiring a Kakko rookie card in the future!
For us Ranger fans, let’s hope that this isn’t the last time Kakko graces the cover of a magazine again. For Ranger fans who put value or stock into such things, this is Kakko’s first cover and you can buy this magazine off of Amazon.com or if you can find one of those antiquated things in the world called a “book store.”
My little buddy, known as “FATMAN”, passed away last week at the age of 18.
During the course of this blog and on my social media pages, I’ve shared pictures of my cats. While no pet owner would like to admit it, when it comes to playing favorites, FATMAN was my favorite cat. He had the personality of a dog. If I was doing this blog, he would lay by my feet. If I was watching a Rangers game, he would sit next to me on the couch. When I was watching the NHL Network in bed, he would lay next to me. When I woke up with the TV still on, he would still be laying next to me. If you’re a pet owner, I don’t have to expand here – pets are family. They are the only things we see all the time in our house-hold.
At 18 years old, in his life, Fatman survived an amputation, two cancer scares and a hyper-thyroid issue. Unfortunately, he came down with a breathing disease and tumors, and after using many of his nine lives, he couldn’t get over this. At 18 years old, I know I was fortunate to have him in my life for such a long time, especially with what he went through. For me and Danielle, while we cherish the good times we had with him, losing him is a painful ordeal.
Fatman lived a great and long life. Unfortunately, as a pet owner, the worst day in owning a pet came for me this past Friday – having to make the humane choice to put my pet down. It’s a decision, that all of us pet owners, will make one day. It’s always the right decision, because no one wants an animal to suffer, but it’s always the hardest & most emotional decision as well.
Since this is the internet, and cat pictures are KING, (more than Lundswiss), let me share a few more pics of my deceased buddy:
In the past, I have written about the struggles Fatman overcame. I thank you all that wrote in with your stories of pets and your ordeals. As pet owners, we are a dedicated group of people.
For me, this is the second cat I lost in two years. Fatman’s sister, Mookie, was 16 years old when she passed.
Currently, here are my two pals, Boogie (16 years old) and Sabrina (9 years old):
All my pets are rescues. I’ve said it before here on this site – I’m a huge animal guy. If you ever want to get a pet, please go to an adoption or rescue agency. Never frequent a puppy mill or a pet store, who try to sell animals for profit. There are so many animals who need a home that you can get from a rescue/adoption place.
At this time, I’d like to thank everyone who reached out and shared their condolences with me. If you have a pet, you know what this time is like. While time is a healer, when a pet lives this long, we remember the unique good times and memories that our pet provided us.
I just wish FATMAN saw a Rangers Stanley Cup victory. RIP FATMAN! You were the best!
I still wonder what we will see more of this season – Panarin or Kakko jerseys? Photo Credit: NYR
That about wraps up this latest manifesto. Just a couple of random thoughts before departing here:
— Did Daya die in the series finale of “Orange is the New Black?”
— Does anyone really believe that Hopper died in the season 3 finale of “Stranger Things?”
— Will EA’s NHL series ever update the graphics or gameplay? All you have to do is a cross ice pass for a goal. No goalie can stop it.
— Anyone looking forward to Madden 20 this Friday?
— Is Tampa’s Cup window closed, especially with Tampa giving Vasilevksiy a monster contract?
— How long does Arizona have left in the NHL, especially with a new owner?
— Shout-out to the “THREAD” and I hope Helms gets the help he needs!
— After sacrificing my summer to this job, I can’t wait for my road-trips. That said, if you need someone to man a concrete pump, give me a shout earlier than 8PM Eddie S.! Jajajajajajajaja!
— Who gets the Calder – Kakko, Hughes or someone else?
— If you’re reading this, “Shut your five-hole” Bill M.! “Let’s talk about pooing!”
— How much do I have to pay for a Vinni Lettieri rookie card? A Georgiev rookie card? A Shestyorkin rookie?
— Will the Rangers ever do right by the Frank Boucher family?
— Congrats to JEFFREY!
— Will JD force the MSG Networks to bring back Ron Duguay?
— Is there a better follow on twitter than Donald Trump? How long before @Fixxser pays him to do a CAMEO?
I’ll be back later with two different movie reviews. I also want to get a few book reviews up and a Delorean blog up this summer.
I’m expecting the Rangers to make a cap move between now and Wednesday. If it happens, I’ll get a blog up about it. Make sure to subscribe, as flooding social media to promote a blog at times is a taxing task!
Also, stay tuned for a URL change to this blog. It’s time to move on from the DOINOW name and officially go with the BlueCollarBlueShirts.com URL.
As always, thanks for reading and…
“LET’S GO RANGERS!”
@NYCTHEMIC on the tweet tweet