Fri 18 Oct 2013
Just when you think the New York Rangers luck might be changing for the better, karma rears its ugly head and bites the Blueshirts in their collective arses. The fans celebration wasn’t even 24 hours old when news of Ryan Callahan’s broken thumb will keep the captain out of the lineup for the next three-four weeks.
Rather than looking forward at the possibility of feasting on some Eastern Conference teams, Rangers nation looks forward to carrying on without their two top offensive weapons for the near future.
While we have an idea of how long Callahan is out, we have no idea how long Rick Nash will remain sidelined. The only thing that is certain is that the team and its fans will have to hold their collective breaths every time Nash takes a high hit.
Probably the most frustrating thing about the Callahan injury was how/when it happened. With about two minutes remaining in the game, Callahan blocked a shot by John Carlson following the captain’s turnover. The fact that Callahan was the one who turned the puck over most likely made him even more focused on blocking the shot.
It is that never-say-die/never-give-up attitude that is Callahan’s best – and worst feature. The drive that makes him such a crucial part of the Rangers is also the one thing that causes him to get so often. Short of encasing him in bubble wrap, there is nothing the Rangers can do because Callahan is not going to change his style of play.
It is a situation that could become sticky as the Rangers and Callahan move forward on contract talks. At what point, in terms of years and dollars, does a Callahan contract become prohibitive? It is not a discussion anyone wants to have, but it is one that the organization might have to have. Then again, I am guessing that is why they pay Glen Sather the big fishnagles.
Callahan’s contract is not the focal point at this time – finding a way to replace his offense is. In the short term, Darroll Powe has been recalled from Hartford and will take the captain’s roster spot against the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night.
In addition, Jason Missiaen will serve as Henrik Lundqvist’s backup as Cam Talbot was reassigned to Hartford.
Odds are both moves stem from the same the reason.
After Saturday night’s game, the Rangers do not play again until Thursday night in Philadelphia. Conversely, the Wolf Pack have a pair of games this weekend. In fact, between October 18 and October 26 Hartford plays five games while the Rangers play just three.
As a result, it makes more sense for Talbot to get regular playing time in Hartford as opposed to serving as a target in practice.
In a similar situation, the Rangers might be using this weekend as a “tryout” among the Wolf Pack’s scoring wingers. Coach Alain Vigneault has threatened lineup changes if some of the Rangers forwards do not increase their offensive production.
It is possible that, as early as this weekend or as late as next weekend, the likes of Chris Kreider, Danny Kristo, Oscar Lindberg, or Marek Hrivik could be recalled.
The Rangers could be holding off recalling any other forwards because of salary cap implications. Cap Geek lists the Rangers as having no projected cap space outside of Carl Hagelin being placed on the Long-Term Injured Reserve list. Once Hagelin is ready to return to action (as early as October 29), the Blueshirts will have to make roster moves to accommodate his cap hit.
If Callahan is going to be out beyond November 7, then the Rangers could place him on LTIR because that means he will miss 10 games. The other solution is if Nash is going to be out at least another couple of weeks then the team could place him on LTIR if needed.
The only problem is the Rangers would be delaying the inevitable in terms of clearing cap space.
The bottom line is players like Brian Boyle, Benoit Pouliot, Taylor Pyatt, Mats Zuccarello and even Michael Del Zotto have to start producing or they face the possibility of being cap casualties.
Sather is going to have to be creative if he wants to add scoring while clearing out some cap space. It can be done, but the Rangers might have to part with prospects and/or draft picks in order to so.
As I was writing, a couple of other possibilities came to mind in reference to why the Rangers recalled Powe instead of Kreider and/or Kristo. The one knock on Vigneault is he is a coach that does not like to play rookies. Given that he has spent a limited time watching Kreider and Kristo, AV might just be more comfortable with veteran players he knows as opposed to rookie he doesn’t.
The other possibility is one that has been rattling around my brain for some time. It is my contention that Glen Sather is a Lou Lamoriello plant within the Rangers organization and the Devils GM has been pulling Sather’s strings from day one.
With the Devils desperate for their first win, Lamoriello has Slats recall Powe so that New Jersey can get their first win of the season against the Rangers.
Laugh if you must, but think about it. My theory explains a lot of the doings around Madison Square Garden the last dozen or so years.
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