Greetings and salutations everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. We do have some belated Rangers’ news items to get into today, but admittedly – not much.
After talking about Kaapo Kakko, Artemi Panarin and the latest news & notes from the mean streets of Rangerstown, USA; I’ll then close tonight’s mini-manifesto with an update on my two upcoming books, “One Game at a Time – A Season to Remember” and “Tricks of the Trade – A Century Long Journey Through Every Trade Made In New York Rangers History.”
And as a spoiler alert: I have hit a snag with both books, where it all goes back to what I always say on this site – “the writing is easy for me, it’s everything else that’s a pain in the ass.”
With that all said, let’s now talk about the recently re-signed Kaapo Kakko.
Depending on how you feel about Tyler Motte and the chances of his return to New York; on Thursday, July 28th, 2022, the last domino fell for the Rangers, when Kaapo Kakko and the Blueshirts agreed to a two-year deal worth $4,200,000 overall ($2,100,000 per season).
After weeks-and-weeks of much speculation, where the phrase of “offer-sheet” was frequently used; Kakko will at least remain with the Rangers for the 2022-23 and 2023-24 seasons, that is – barring a trade.
As talked about on this site before, I thought that Kakko would re-sign with the Rangers. However, I also thought this contract would have been signed earlier.
As I said then, and as I’ll say now – at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter – the end result is all the same.
Due to the Rangers’ salary-cap situation, and despite Kakko not performing up to the standards of a second-overall draft pick thus far; it was easy and financially sound to retain Kakko, rather than letting him walk and perhaps burning Drury and company down the line.
And if Kakko should one day be “worthy” of the infamous label of “bust” (some fans already consider him to be one – but not me – not yet), that won’t fall on the shoulders of Drury. Nor would that fall on the shoulders of Drury’s predecessor, Jeff Gorton, neither.
After all, when Kakko was drafted, he was the consensus second-overall pick of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. Don’t let 20/20 hindsight fool you. At the time of the 2019 draft, only Jack Hughes (first-overall, as selected by the Devils) was rated higher than Kakko.
What could have been Drury’s fault, is if the general manager moved on from a player who has played through three consecutive unprecedented pandemic-impacted NHL seasons, only for Kakko to then emerge into a star, and reach the potential bestowed upon a player of his draft status, with another franchise.
Here is what the Rangers are saying about Kakko, courtesy of https://www.nhl.com/rangers/news/rangers-agree-to-terms-with-kaapo-kakko/c-335119662?icmp=int_web_nyr_news_rightrail:
New York Rangers President and General Manager Chris Drury announced today that the team has agreed to terms with forward Kaapo Kakko on a two-year contract extension.
Kakko, 21, played in 43 games for the Blueshirts in 2021-22, recording seven goals and 11 assists for 18 points and a plus-nine rating. In addition, Kakko registered five points (2G-3A) in 19 playoff games.
The Turku, Finland native has skated in 157 career NHL games, all with New York, collecting 26 goals and 32 assists for 58 points. Kakko’s 58 points are tied for the fourth most all-time among Rangers who were 20 or younger as of January 31 in that season.
In 2020-21, Kakko registered 17 points (9G-8A) and a plus-three rating in 48 games with the Rangers. He tied for sixth among NHL players 20 years old or younger in goals. In his rookie season (2019-20), the 6-3, 205 pound forward recorded 23 points (10G-13A) in 66 games. He tallied eight goals and 19 points while he was 18 years old; the 19 points were the most by an 18-year-old in Rangers history and the eight goals were tied for the most by an 18-year-old in franchise history (tied with Manny Malhotra).
Kakko was originally selected by the Blueshirts in the first round, second overall, of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.
I don’t like to do the PROPOZED LINEZ stuff on this site, but it will be interesting to see where Kakko slots in, come opening night.
For what it’s worth (and the following is one of the reasons why I don’t like doing the PROPOZED LINEZ stuff either), is that whatever line-up head coach Gerard Gallant deploys during the first game of the season – it won’t be the same line-up that he uses come the first game of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs. (Yep, a spoiler, and not a prediction – the Rangers will return to the playoffs in 2023!)
Of the two most recent Ranger lottery picks, I think it’s safe to assume that Alexis Lafreniere has shown more flashes of brilliance than the player drafted one year before him.
In other words, when trying to fill the spot that Frank Vatrano once had, as the right winger skating beside the BFF duo of Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad; I think Lafreniere is the odds-on favorite to land that position.
If you’re to assume that Gallant continues to use Panarin as the star of his own line; rather than being paired with Kreider and Zibanejad; then that leaves you with “The Breadman” playing alongside of his new center, Vincent Trocheck – the man that Drury has tabbed to replace Panarin’s buddy, Ryan Strome, on the Rangers’ second line.
As far as who plays right wing on the Rangers’ second line; Gallant will have options.
Not only will “THE TURK” have Kaako as an option; the head coach will also have both Vitali Kravtsov and Sammy Blais to consider.
While perhaps Kakko, based on his attitude, experience, and some success during the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs, is the front-runner for this gig; it’s not out of the realm of possibility that “Crybaby” Kravtsov, now with a new attitude (or so we hope), can grab the coveted spot next to Trocheck and Panarin.
And while maybe it’s more likely that Blais starts the season as part of the Rangers’ bottom six; at the same time, prior to the P.K. Slewban incident, #91 did get some top six time during the early stages of the 2021-22 season.
In any event, it’s always better to have more options than a lack of options and I’m sure Gallant will figure it out.
After all, I didn’t say “IN TURK WE TRUST” 97867667756756367367354367 times last season for nothing!
On June 28th (https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/62822/ ), I talked about an article that Arthur Staple, of “The Athletic,” had written, where he reported that Chris Drury was “vocally unhappy” about Panarin’s play during the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
As I said over a month ago, and as I’m saying again now – I don’t buy Staple’s report. Not even a smidge of it.
While sure, Panarin could have been better during the playoffs (who would argue otherwise?); I just don’t see the tight-lipped Drury criticizing one of his players (much less one of his stars), to not only one person, but to two different people, two people who would then betray Drury’s trust, and then stooge it off to an Islanders’ stooge himself.
And in one more “as I said at the time, and as I’m saying again now” – I would have bought this story had Larry Brooks reported it. Brooks hasn’t said one word about this story.
Since the time of Staple’s report, not one other reporter, not only exclusive to the NYR beat, but including the Canadian media too, have corroborated this nonsense.
This all brings us to this past Saturday, July 30th, 2022. On that date, Artemi Panarin hosted a charity game in Moscow, Russia, where all monies generated/raised were donated to a battling young girl, a preteen who will require brain surgery as a result of a tumor.
Several of Panarin’s peers, current Russian NHLers, joined “The Breadman” in their attempts to raise dough for the child.
Among the notable names at the event were former Ranger Pavel Buchnevich (Blues), Kim Kostin (Blues), Vladislav Gavrikov (Blue Jackets), Ilya Lyubushkin (Sabres), Ivan Prosvetov (Coyotes), Dmitri Orlov (Capitals), Vasily Podkozin (Canucks) and Valeri Nichushkin (Avalanche). (Of note, Nichushkin arrived to the event on crutches and didn’t play, but he did take part in a meet-and-greet with fans/donators.)
Also at the event? The greatest Russian NHLer of them all, Alex Ovechkin.
The @HockeyNewsHub covered the charity event. If you check out their page, you’ll find numerous videos and accounts from the game.
The Hockey News Hub also recapped how Panarin brought Ovechkin into the mix, one of “The Breadman’s” Rangers’ foes:
Panarin was asked how he invited Ovie:
How did you invite Ovechkin?
I just called, he immediately: “I agree.”
In all honesty, it surprised me. I was very happy. He called me here a couple of days before the match, I got scared because I thought he would refuse.
— Hockey News Hub (@HockeyNewsHub) July 30, 2022
All of the above was a round-about way in order to get into Panarin’s interview from Saturday, where “The Breadman” made a few interesting comments to the media from his home country.
If you haven’t seen it already, here’s the interview, courtesy of Sports-Express:
Unless you speak Russian, you’re not going to be able to understand what Panarin said during this interview.
However, Oleg Sosnov, a multi-lingual fan of the Rangers, does speak Russian and translated the interview.
Following the interview, Sosnov transcribed all of it on his Twitter account, via a chain of tweets, including this one:
1/–(Media) Artemy, how will you prepare for the next season? Do you feel disappointed? You were so close to getting to the finals and(would want) to show your better form(which you didn’t). Maybe you want to change something in season preparation to play better as a team?
— Osberg (@oggydrums) July 30, 2022
Sosnov continued his transcription, as Panarin replied:
“I think that nothing needs to be changed, I just have to work harder. The way I’ve been preparing for the last 4-5 years should remain the same. I am hungrier now. I have a desire to be better, a great feeling of a renewed motivation, and a new wave of energy.
“God willing, this will last until the end of my career. I realized it is very important to be motivated, charged, to wake up with joy, go to practice and improve every day. I’m in a great mood and cannot wait for the start of the season.”
During the interview, Panarin was asked the following:
How do you feel about losing Ryan Strome as your center and about Vincent Trocheck replacing Strome? We all know this is a business, but still, it has to be tough.
Panarin replied, “of course, it’s always hard to part ways. Stromer and I became friends not only in the dressing room and at the rink, but also in everyday life. We often shared family joys and difficulties. He became more than a hockey partner for me. But what can I do?
In what I thought was telling, Panarin was then asked by the Russian media, “how do you react to various criticisms? To be clear, it wasn’t written by us, but our Western colleagues (New York Rangers’ beat) reported that the Rangers’ front office (Chris Drury) wasn’t satisfied with your performance during the playoffs. How do you feel about that?”
Panarin fired off by responding with the following:
“Speculators! I haven’t heard of such a thing firsthand (from Drury). I’m sure I could have played better, but what did they write there? I really don’t know, I came to Korkino [after the playoffs] to see my grandfather.
“I don’t like these scoundrels-speculators because my grandfather reads it. My grandfather also plunged into this Internet drug, this garbage. All of this annoys him. He does not understand that these people are all couch journalists who write out of envy or whatever else.
“I’m already used to not paying attention to them, but he is always worried and asks me: ‘why are they trading you?’ I’m just shocked by this.
“They can’t trade me! And if these people understood at least a little bit, then they would know that I have a no-move clause and it’s impossible for me to be traded.”
Again, the entire translation of this interview came courtesy of Oleg Sosnov.
When I asked Sosnov for some clarification, such as any other details (the tone/inflection of Panarin’s voice, etc), Sosnov said that Panarin was sad to see the Rangers move on from Strome and how it will be hard for him (while understanding that the NHL is a business).
Sosnov also said that Panarin sounded pissed-off about Staple’s report, but never mentioned the reporter by name during this interview.
And in my last “as I said at the time, and as I’m saying again now” – I found the Ranger beat reporters to be extremely weak when they interviewed Panarin during his media exit interview.
Not once did the reporters ever ask Panarin if he played during the playoffs with an injury, despite Panarin missing the final week of the regular season. Instead, every single member of the beat chummed it up and had a good chuckle about Panarin joking about singing karaoke in Russia.
In addition – Staple never asked Panarin about what he heard from his DRURY SOURCES – sources that may be as credible as whatever that Twitter account, @mickeydropdeadfredimysourcerangers is currently making up. You know, Mickey and his unheralded (and anonymous) “SOURCE” – the same source that has survived three different Ranger regimes!
Similar to how his predecessor, John Davidson, once called out Adam Hermit for making up stories about Tony DeAngelo and K’Andre Miller; maybe it’s time for Drury to call out Staple too!
There are three final things to say here before I conclude on this topic:
One – I’m now picturing Panarin’s grandfather, using a Russian equivalent of an AOL 2.5 CD-rom (with a dial-up modem and those infamous beep-beep-beep sounds to boot) to go online, where once connecting to the internet – he’s running every Panarin-related tweet, story, comment, whatever else you can come up with here, through Google Translate.
Two – To be clear, I don’t question Staple’s journalistic integrity or anything like that – but I still think this story wasn’t well-sourced, nor did it come from anyone within Drury’s inner-circle, unless IF, and this is a big IF – if Drury was trying to find leaks in his ship.
Three – The Rangers aren’t trading Panarin. Case closed!
A case that’s still open, but could be closed later this week? The future of Nazem Kadri.
Nazem Kadri, following the Avalanche’s 2022 Stanley Cup victory, entered free agency as the biggest fish available on the market. While Johnny Gaudreau would soon change that after “Johnny Hockey” spurned the Flames; it’s amazing that we’re now here in August, and Kadri, who on July 13th, 2022 became an unrestricted free agent, still remains unsigned and “unhooked” today.
However, Kadri may be hooked soon enough – by ugh, of all the teams in the league, the fishermen themselves, the New York Islanders.
On Sunday, July 31st, Mark Seidel, the Director of Player Development for the Barrie Colts (OHL), tweeted out the following:
Just got off the phone with a guy that knows & I think that Nazem Kadri is done to @NYIslanders They have to clear out some cap room & then it’ll be announced. I’m FAR from an Insider but I’m very confident that it’s done. Great signing by NYI & Nazem Kadri deserves every penny.
— North American Central Scouting Independent Bureau (@MarkSeidel) July 31, 2022
Adrian Dater, the most plugged-in reporter on the Avalanche beat, while not confirming Seidel’s story, felt strong enough to comment about it here: https://coloradohockeynow.com/2022/07/31/nazem-kadri-to-new-york-islanders-mark-seidel/
For a while now, it’s been rumored/speculated that Isles’ head-honcho, the “charismatic” (yes, that’s a joke) Lou Lamoriello, had a deal done with a Kadri, but due to Lou’s mafia-inspired “omerta,” Kadri, nor his agent, was allowed to talk about the deal. This rumor, while funny (while perhaps having some truth to it too), was even recently discussed by Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek on the “32 Thoughts” podcast – the insider of all hockey insider podcasts.
As everyone and their mother knows, the Isles need something. Lamoriello’s team is the only NHL club to not only stay idle during the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline, but during this period of free agency too. Landing Kadri would only improve an Islanders team, that much like the Rangers, are in “WIN NOW” mode themselves. (I still believe that the Islanders’ Stanley Cup window, just like the Rangers in 2015, is closed, and they’ll need to slip a bit before climbing back up the mountain.)
Seidel’s tweet/comments make a lot of sense. After all, Lamoriello could resurrect Jesus Christ, and have Jesus trade in his sandals for skates, and even then – Lamoriello wouldn’t announce it until the last second possible.
And as Seidel said, there will have to be some salary-cap maneuvering done to accommodate what’s expected to be a hefty salary/contract/cap-hit for Kadri. Hello Coyotes. Hello Kraken. Hello Sabres. Have you heard about Josh Bailey?
As you may be aware of, I was hoping that the Rangers would have landed Kadri over the summer. With that now out of the question, I now have to join the camp of Blueshirt backers who thought the idea of Drury signing Kadri would have been a mistake!
While Kadri should improve any team he’s on during the first years of his contract, it’s the latter years of what’s expected to be a seven-year deal that people are concerned about. However, if you win a Stanley Cup with Kadri during the early stages of the deal – then who cares? Plus, the salary cap should exponentially increase during the latter years of Kadri’s deal too.
Historically, the Islanders are not a team that attracts big-name free agents. Just ask Artemi Panarin about this. However, with Johnny Gaudreau blowing off everyone for Columbus – Kadri wearing the fishstick colors during the 2022-23 season wouldn’t be the strangest result of this off-season either.
Should Kadri wind up an Islander (there are some reports out there, from the Canadian media, that suggest that Seidel is spot-on), there would be some irony to come out of such a deal too.
Former Islander John Tavares is the same age as Kadri. As you’re probably aware of, Tavares left the Islanders for Toronto in July of 2018, under circumstances similar to Gaudreau leaving Calgary. Prior to leaving the Islanders, Kadri and Tavares played together with the London Knights (OHL) during their formative years. Once with the Leafs, Tavares played with Kadri during the 2018-19 season. (Kadri was then traded to Colorado on July 1st, 2019.)
In a way, after watching Tavares desert them four years ago, Islander fans may soon see Kadri replace Tavares as one of the top centers on the team.
Want more? Lamoriello once had Kadri under his employ in Toronto. Lamoriello also watched Tavares leave Long Island just six weeks after being hired by the Islanders on May 22nd, 2018. (The Tavares situation fell on the shoulders of former Islanders’ general manager, Garth Snow, and not on Lamoriello.)
Isn’t that amazing Suzyn?
Even more amazing – another bad season for the Islanders during the 2022-23 campaign!
Up next, the “DIARY” segment of today’s blog!
After giving you a major status update on my two upcoming books during last week’s blog (link located in the PLUGS segment); I now have another update for you – and not a positive one (at least not for me – but at the end of the day – it will all work out for you, the readers).
To give you a little backstory here, without getting too tangled up in the weeds – just as I did with my first book – I’m using Amazon as my publisher.
Prior to writing my first book, I had a few tiny publishing companies offer me deals, but really, none of them were financially worth it. Even now, I had a few more publishing companies express interest in these upcoming two books, but again – I don’t see the point in it.
What publishing companies can offer me (and any other independent author) is that they can remove all of the headaches that the publication process present.
These companies do all of the editing, formatting, binding, etc – but it comes at a nominal fee/cost.
In addition, they can also set up book-tours and can get your work into the brick-and-mortar stores. However, let’s face it – my books cover niche topics of what’s really a niche sport in America. Furthermore, a book-tour is a waste of time, as I doubt anyone from Des Moines, Iowa is clamoring for books covering specific Ranger topics.
Plus, these days (and this was taking place before the pandemic) – book stores are going the way of the dodo bird. In fact, I can’t even tell you the closest book store near me, where 15-20 years ago, there were about a dozen of them within a radius of ten miles.
Long story short – going with Amazon was/is the best option for me – even if there’s a new problem that’s recently popped up – piracy/plagiarizing. (People buy the Kindle/e-book version, copy and paste it, and then release it themselves. This hasn’t happened to me yet, but it has happened to others that I know. In fact, the New York Post just covered this story over the weekend.)
The bootleggers aside; Amazon really has made it easy for inspiring authors to get their works published.
Even better, they encourage you to sell your stuff away from Amazon too, as it’s a win-win deal – you buy copies of the book at a discounted rate (more money/sales for them), and then you can sell your book on your own for more of a profit, rather than allowing Amazon to control 100% of your inventory.
(Hence, all of the signed books, and many trips to the post office too, from last year – and a title that I still continue to send out.)
(The only negative about this process? For authors, whatever books of yours that you buy for your own resale purposes – those sales/numbers aren’t included in the almighty Amazon ratings. But I am not that vain to get caught up in that – although better sales off of Amazon does jump your book up in their listings.)
What I didn’t know about Amazon’s publishing house until this past Thursday night was this – there is a page limitation for all books. You can print 868 paperback pages and 550 hardcover pages. And as noted many times before – both of my upcoming books smash those limitations.
(Funny enough, my first book clocked in at 540 pages. Eleven more pages and then I would’ve known about these limits last year!)
So, now knowing this, I’m going to have to chop up these books, already lengthy and perhaps due to their size, somewhat off-putting too; into volume sets – something I was trying to avoid.
As explained last week, I had a “Francis Ford Coppolla” vision, and didn’t care about the length – especially with the trades book. That book can not be truncated to fit space specifications, as admittedly, I have tried to get it down to 868 pages, in order to meet the paperback maximum page limit. However, I’d be cutting a lot if I did so, and I don’t want to “half-ass” it.
Going into this past Thursday, it was my goal to send “One Game at a Time” to the printer. However, that’s now out of the window, as that book is just a tad shy of 1,600 pages – as it covers 102 games from the 2021-22 season (plus everything else from the 2021-22 season).
I will adapt!
For yours truly, and with the Rangers pretty much done for the next month (barring Drury re-signing Motte and/or making a trade or two), it’s my goal to do all of my re-writes and edits, and then release volume sets of each book.
While I would rather release each book as stand-alone titles; for the paper-back and hardcover versions, I’m going to have to chop them up.
For the e-Book/Kindle versions, I will release each title as a complete version, as there are no limitations/specifications.
For the paperback and hardcover versions of “One Game at a Time,” I’m going to chop up the book into four volumes, with each book clocking in at a tad over 400 pages each.
For the paperback and hardcover versions of “Tricks of the Trade,” I’m going to chop up the book into two volumes for now, although a third may be needed.
While I haven’t figured out price points yet (I don’t know what my costs will be until I do my rewrites and then submit my now numerous manuscripts); obviously, I will price accordingly.
In other words, each volume isn’t going to be $24.99 or anything like that. However, for the complete version of each book, the e-Book version, the price will be higher than an individual volume – duh.
And yes, these two projects (who writes two monstrous books at the same time besides a crazy person?) already labor-intensive, have just become even more laborious. However, I know once I get to the finish line, I’ll be happy with what I’m putting out there – and then I can start my next three projects all at once!
Lastly, thanks for all of the interest in these two books.
I know many of you clamoring for me to get them done, but bear with me – they will get done, even if I just hit a major snag.
And while it’s more work for me, and more of my free time spent on these two projects – it’s probably best to release volumes, rather than asking people to buy two books at over 1,500 pages each. I know we live in an ADD world and the page count will make some people say “pass.”
My first plug of tonight’s blog – the mandatory plug for my book, “The New York Rangers Rink of Honor and the Rafters of Madison Square Garden”.
As mentioned previously, the book is now available in hardcover, in paperback and in Kindle formats. To purchase a copy of the book, visit this link:
For those still looking for signed paperback versions of the book, I have re-ordered more copies. I now have a few signed copies for sale at $25 a pop (includes shipping price) through me directly. Here is all the information on that:
Here are my last few blogs, in case you missed them:
Two New Ranger-Themed Books Set to Hit the Market; Updates on “Tricks of the Trade” & “One Game at a Time,” The Mike Gartner Trade of 1994, Kakko & Motte Updates, DQ, Tex Rickard Screenplay, DeAngelo Interview, Flaming Out in Calgary, Thank You Maven & More
Ryan Strome Goes From “The City That Never Sleeps” to Disneyland; Sample Chapter of Upcoming NYR Trades Book, Rangers/Drury Continue To Flesh Out 2022-23 Roster, NYR Podcasts & More
NHL Free Agent Frenzy Day One Recap & Review: NYR Lose a Bunch of Veterans; Bring in Trocheck & a Ranger Killer, Time for the Blueshirts’ Kids To Grow, Drury’s Comments; Erases His Lone Black Mark, Kakko, Potential Line-Up, Alumni, Bad Puns & More
If you haven’t already, subscribe to this blog for the next update:
For a writer, this next week, and providing that “real life” and my “shoot job” don’t get in the way, will be “hell week.” However, I’m determined to get all of this done, here on my dinosaur computer from the archaic year of 2003!
Finally, if you want to read more from me, check out Stan Fischler’s column in “The Hockey News,” where my thoughts about David Quinn in San Jose are included. You can read that article here: https://thehockeynews.com/news/fischler-report-an-interview-with-former-nhlpa-head-paul-kelly
Thanks for reading.
LET’S GO RANGERS!
@NYCTHEMIC on the Tweeter machine