New York Hockey: AHL

Del Zotto demoted

January, 3, 2011
Quick update from afar: Michael Del Zotto's struggles have dropped him back to the AHL, with the Rangers opting to send the second-year defenseman to Hartford to work out the kinks that have sabotaged what many thought would be a successful sophomore season.

A frequent scratch (healthy or otherwise) lately, the offensive-minded Del Zotto has put up just nine points in 35 games this season, struggling on the power play in particular – an area he excelled in last season. The smooth and slick skating D-man tallied nine goals and 37 points in 80 games as a rookie in 2009-10.

The Rangers called up D Ryan McDonagh to fill the roster spot. It’s the first NHL promotion for the former Wisconsin Badger, who registered a goal and seven assists in the A this season.

Bailey voted off the Island

November, 24, 2010
Yup. That just happened.

Josh Bailey was shipped to the Islanders' AHL affiliate in Bridgeport this morning in an attempt to jump-start the prized prospect who hasn't recorded a point for the full duration of the Isles' 13-game skid.

Overreaction? Possibly. Is it a bad move? Not necessarily. But what the move does do is raise questions, particularly considering the Islanders' current situation.

First off, is a demotion, after two years in Long Island, really in order? Despite the streak, during which everyone on the team has struggled, Bailey remains only 2.6 points per game off his pace from last season. He hasn't been stellar lately, in fact he's been pretty rough. But which Islander has has been good?

Timing may have played a role in the decision. With one more game played, Bailey would have had to pass through waivers to reach Bridgeport, so this was the last chance the club had to make the move. That said, what makes the move so striking is, to this point, the Islanders had been adamant about keeping Bailey with the big club, even as a 19-year-old. So that raises another question: He was mature enough to handle the pressures of the NHL back then, but two seasons later, he needs more time to develop?

And will he get the attention in Bridgeport he can get on Long Island? Is Bridgeport, where the team is likely still adapting to the recently promoted Pat Bingham, really the right environment?

Maybe he needed the kick in the pants. Maybe he needed to find some swagger against lesser competition to regain his offensive game. And yes, he'll undoubtedly be back with the Isles before too long. But for a team struggling to get a single win, sending down a player with as much potential as Bailey, in his third NHL season, just seems flat out odd.

Staal signs; Redden all but done?

September, 16, 2010
The Rangers have signed Marc Staal to a five-year contract extension with a cap hit of $3.975, ensuring one of the league’s best young defensemen will skate on Broadway through the 2014-15 season.

With the signing, the Rangers’ currently sit a little over $4 million over the cap ceiling as training camp begins. Though it has been rumored all summer, it now appears inevitable that defenseman Wade Redden -- who carries a $6.5M per season cap hit by himself -- will enter camp assured of being placed on waivers and demoted from the team.

With Staal back on board and Redden likely gone, the stage is set for a camp showdown for the final two defensemen spots on the Ranger roster. It is thought that Staal, Michal Rozsival, Dan Girardi, and Michael Del Zotto already have the top four slots locked up, leaving the battle for Steve Eminger, Matt Gilroy, rookie Ryan McDonagh, AHL veteran Mike Sauer and camp invitees Garnet Exelby and Alexei Semenov.

Camp officially begins tomorrow for veteran players, though many have already arrived at MSG Training Center.

Morning Links
  • Jesse Spector of the Daily News has more on the Staal signing, as well as the increasing expectations for Girardi after he re-upped this summer.
  • The people have spoken and want to waive Redden in order to get under the salary cap following the Staal signing, according to the unscientific Twitter poll conducted by Spector. The scibe notes that the only teams that could even afford Redden’s gargantuan contract under the cap are the Islanders, Thrashers and Avalanche. I made this point earlier when talking about the Devils’ trade candidates following the Kovalchuk signing: Just because a team has cap space, don’t assume their willing to spend it on an abysmal contract. (FWIW Spector isn't implying the interest of those teams, just the available cap space.) Redden’s deal is almost universally regarded as the worst in the NHL.
  • Blueshirt Banter uses advanced metrics to see how Redden’s removal will impact the defense.
  • Larry Brooks asked Redden’s agent if he’s been in contact with European teams as an alternative to Hartford, but he declined comment.
  • Henrik Lundqvist guarantees the Rangers will make the playoffs this season.
  • The Rangers' prospects closed out the Traverse City Tournament with a 7-2 shellacking of the Stars. Seven different players scored for the Blueshirts, including top prospects Derek Stepan and Evgeny Grachev. The production from those two has to be encouraging to the talent evaluators of the scoring-starved big-league club.
  • SNY Rangers Blog summarizes Lundqvist's Wednesday interview on WFAN.
  • Alexei Semenov is just happy to be here, per Ranger Rants.