New York Hockey: Tim Erixon

Rapid Reaction: Rangers acquire Rick Nash

July, 23, 2012

The Garden will get a Nash after all. After the New York Knicks fumbled their chance to acquire PG Steve Nash earlier this summer, the Rangers sealed the deal to acquire winger Rick Nash from Columbus at what appears to be a very affordable price -- forwards Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, blue line prospect Tim Erixon and a first-round pick. As Nash gets ready to slip off his blue jacket for a blue shirt, here’s an early look at the potential impact:

What it means: The New York Rangers have landed the summer’s hottest trade-market commodity in what many pundits believe to be a steal of a deal. With the Blueshirts badly in need of scoring after averaging just 2.15 goals per game during the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, Nash -- a seven-time 30-plus goal scorer -- will instantly infuse some offense into what was sometimes a goal-starved lineup. The trade also adds to the Rangers' current arsenal without depleting its steadily growing stockpile of prospects (recently ranked 13th in ESPN Insider’s Organizational Rankings). With D Tim Erixon the only major young asset heading to Columbus, the Rangers’ Stanley Cup window should remain open even after Nash, Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik -- New York's projected top line once Gaborik returns from a torn labrum -- hit the down slope of their careers.

What’s the risk: It seems to be pretty limited in the short term. The Rangers don’t appear to lose much offense from last year’s Cup contender (26 regular-season goals) and bring in one of the foremost snipers in the league. The long term gets a little more dicey. Nash is under contract for six more seasons at $7.8M per year. Should Nash’s production decline, that cap hit could be rather unpalatable in the years to come. Balancing that risk, however, are young guns like Carl Hagelin and Chris Kreider, who could provide substantial offensive production at very reasonable cap hits ($2.2M combined next season per during their early service time.

Fond farewell: A fan favorite, Dubinsky -- and his intriguing facial hair -- is on his way to Columbus. Brought to the Rangers in the 2004 draft, Dubinsky teamed with fellow 2004 draftee Ryan Callahan to form the core around which these new-look, built-from-within Rangers were constructed. His grit on the ice became emblematic of the Rangers' character as a team, playing with a combination of sandpaper, skill and desire that won over the Garden faithful and helped return the Rangers to the top of the Eastern Conference. The 2011-12 season marked a bit of a rough stretch for Dubinsky, as he finished with just 34 points in 77 games, a 20-point dip from the previous campaign.

Erixon’s expectations: Based purely on potential, Erixon has the highest ceiling of any of the Rangers heading to Columbus. Regarded as one of the top defensive prospects in hockey because of his solid two-way game, the Rangers acquired the Swedish-born blueliner from the Calgary Flames last June for a pair of second-round draft picks and prospect Roman Horak. With established defenseman Marc Staal on the shelf to start the season, Erixon was pressed into duty a little ahead of schedule, logging an average of 13 minutes over 18 games and recording two points and a minus-2 rating. While the future could be bright for Erixon -- particularly if he forms a top pairing in Columbus with 2012 No. 2 overall pick Ryan Murray -- the Rangers were dealing from a position of strength here. After the trade, the Blueshirts' blue-line corps still includes mainstays Staal, Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi and Michael Del Zotto, with prospect Dylan McIlrath and 2012 first-rounder Brady Skjei waiting in the wings. And that doesn’t even figure in the questionable status of Michael Sauer (concussion).

The irony in Erixon’s inclusion in this trade is that it was widely believed he and his representation, um, facilitated his trade to the Rangers -- where his father, Jan, played -- by refusing to sign with the Flames. It wouldn’t be surprising if somewhere in Calgary they’re discussing the nature of karma right now.

What’s next?: Rumors this morning mentioned that the Rangers were not only chasing Nash, but also veteran free-agent wing Shane Doan. Per a source with knowledge of the team's thinking, Katie Strang reports that the Rangers are still in pursuit of the longtime Phoenix Coyotes forward. As it stands, the Rangers have helped shore up a serious question mark heading into the 2012-13 season and figure to remain firmly entrenched as a contender for the Stanley Cup next June.

Top 5 landing spots for Rick Nash

February, 14, 2012
ESPN Insider's Craig Custance probed a little further on the market for Columbus Blue Jackets winger Rick Nash with a post on his blog Tuesday afternoon detailing the top five destinations for the star Insider. Earlier today, Katie Strang wrote how the Rangers are rumored to be among the teams interested in acquiring Nash, but they are clearly not alone.

According to Custance, the Rangers might be the second-most likely landing spot, behind the goal-starved Los Angeles Kings who are seeking the final piece for a Stanley Cup run.

Acquiring Nash would certainly come at a steep price, with names like Brandon Dubinsky, Tim Erixon, Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller and Dylan McIlrath being thrown around. After building for so long from within -- and seeing the immense dividends on the ice this season -- would the Rangers really alter their course to snap up the biggest prize of the trade deadline? I suppose we'll find out soon enough. The trade deadline looms Feb. 27.

W2W4: Rangers vs. Islanders

December, 22, 2011

The rivalry gets rekindled in the Garden tonight. Here are five factors to consider before the puck drops off Broadway:

The Incapable Offense vs. the Unbreachable Net

The Islanders have sputtered in the offensive zone this season, getting little offense beyond their first line. Currently they rank 29th in the league at just 2.26 goals per game. Conversely, even with a D corps depleted by injury, the Rangers have allowed a meager 2.10 goals per game, the third-best mark in the league. The Islanders can take some (small) solace that Marty Biron will start for the Blueshirts, but that relief would only be based on reputation. Biron has an identical save percentage (.934) as Henrik Lundqvist this season, while posting an even better GAA (1.82).

The Islanders’ Crease

With Al Montoya out, Evgeni Nabokov gets the start. To say Nabokov hasn’t seen much ice time lately would be an understatement. As the Isles have started five different netminders this season, Nabokov hasn’t played a full game since Nov. 15, a 4-2 loss to the Rangers. From the misleading stats department: Nabokov hasn’t allowed a goal since that game, turning aside all 21 shots he’s faced in his past two games … of course that came in less than 35 minutes of playing time.

Moulson Golden

Matt Moulson continues to provide one of the best values in the NHL, with 15 goals this season. He’s also been on fire in December with 7 goals and 12 points in 9 games. You can expect him and center John Tavares to earn the majority of the Blueshirts’ defensive attention Thursday night.

Blueshirts’ Back End

If there’s a silver lining to all the Rangers’ defensive injuries it’s that players throughout the team’s organizational depth chart are getting ice time in the NHL. If/when Marc Staal and Michael Sauer come back, that’ll help. In the meantime, the pressure will be on the Rangers’ third pairing of fill-ins Stu Bickell and Tim Erixon. With the Rangers on home ice, look for Blueshirt bench boss John Tortorella to try and limit their exposure.

HBO Impact

With the "24/7" cameras rolling, I bet we see 110 precent effort from the Islanders. It’s the first of two meetings between the rivals during the TV series window and the show has already made grudge matches a theme, previously emphasizing the Flyers-Penguins rivalry. You can bet the show will do something similar to highlight a clash between the two New York team and there’s no way the Islanders want to be characterized as the step child in this relationship, not with their pride in their Stanley Cup-rich history, and not with the pride the current players have in their locker room. This is going to be a good one.

The Rangers have sent down 20-year-old defenseman Tim Erixon to the Connecticut Whale.

The demotion followed a 5-4 shootout loss to the Senators during which Erixon played only 7:43 over 13 shifts and was a minus-1.

Defenseman Jeff Woywitka, who was claimed off waivers from Montreal earlier this month, has been a healthy scratch the last two games. The 28-year-old could replace Erixon in the lineup or the Rangers may continue to look elsewhere for help bolstering their defense.

The Bergen Record reported last week that the Rangers made a contract offer to 25-year-old Swedish defenseman Anton Stralman, who attended Devils training camp on a tryout. That offer remains on the table for the unrestricted free agent.

The Rangers also returned forward Kris Newbury to the AHL; Whale forward Andre Deveaux has been recalled.

Deveaux has four goals and two assists in 9 games for the Whale; he scored the game-tying goal in Saturday's 3-2 shootout win over Worcester.

Sean Avery scored the shootout winner.

W2W4: Rangers vs. Flames

October, 20, 2011
The Rangers look to turn their first win into their first win streak Thursday night in Calgary. Here are a few factors to keep your eye on when the Blueshirts skate into the Saddledome.

Say No to the Sin Bin

The Rangers have been patronizing the penalty box with disturbing regularity in the season's early going. Even after recognizing the problem the Rangers racked up 31 PIMs against the Vancouver Canucks Tuesday night.

Head coach John Tortorella sent a message that enough is enough when he benched Brandon Prust for part of the Vancouver game after Prust took a holding the stick penalty in the offensive zone. The move was particularly notable considering Prust is usually one of Tortorella's top examples of guys who play the game the way the coach preaches it. It will be interesting to see if anyone invokes the ire of Torts tonight.

Fleeing the Flames

Tim Erixon was Calgary's top prospect when he, allegedly, forced a trade out of town and into Manhattan. You can imagine how such a scenario would fill an arena full of red-sweatered Flames fans with all kinds of warm and fuzzy feelings. Look for him to receive a warm welcome back.


Calgary has not been able to muster many shots in their first five games, which could be a big help to the injury-depleted Ranger D. The Flames have averaged just 23.6 shots on goal per game thus far, the third lowest total in the NHL. Of course, the Rangers sport a league-worst mark of 22.8 per game, so here's hoping you like watching the intricacies of neutral zone play.

The Rangers sans Staal

October, 6, 2011
The Rangers are rightfully concerned regarding the absence of Marc Staal, placed on the IR Wednesday, particularly since the timetable for his potential return is unclear. He’ll be eligible to play starting Oct. 12, but one look at the Sidney Crosby concussion saga should tell you that no return date is set in stone.

Staal has been the cornerstone of a Rangers defensive corps that has spent three of the last four seasons ranked among the top six in the league as far as goals allowed average. He’s constantly matched against the opposition’s top forwards and, as his plus-14 career +/- rating indicates, he’s often successful.

With Staal out of the lineup, things change. And they change drastically.

The Rangers’ defensive depth will be tested. Ryan McDonagh will likely be paired with Dan Girardi as the team’s top unit. Michael Del Zotto, who was banished to Hartford last season to work out the kinks in his defensive game, will stick in the top four with a banged-up Michael Sauer. Steve Eminger will likely be paired with rookie Tim Erixon, who was recalled from Hartford earlier this week. And it’s not yet clear how waiver claim Jeff Woywitka fits into this picture.

None of that is to say those players can’t step up in Staal’s absence. Far from it. After all, a young and largely untested blue line carried the Rangers to the playoffs last season. Still, when your do-everything D-man goes down, it leads to a lot of changes. Suddenly guys slotted for second- and third-pair minutes are skating more minutes against better competition.

Last season the Rangers usually found scoring in a different way each game. But the constant was their solid defense, with Staal leading the way. Now that constant becomes a question mark. And it will be interesting to see how the Blueshirts answer in their first two games.

Training camp preview: New York Rangers

September, 15, 2011
The New York Rangers, who open camp Friday, made a hasty exit from the playoffs last season, losing in five games to the Washington Capitals. They hope some key offseason signings will help them become Stanley Cup contenders this year.

Main storylines

1. Spotlight on Richards: The Rangers were big winners in July when they lured coveted free agent Brad Richards to New York with a nine-year, $60 million deal. The addition of Richards gives them the dynamic first-line center they lacked last season -- someone who can be counted on to produce offensively and distribute the puck.

2. More from Gaborik: The team also hopes Richards can coax the most out of sniper Marian Gaborik, who is expected to flank him on the right wing. After a career season in 2009-10 -- 42 goals and 86 points -- the 29-year-old winger scored only 22 goals last season and was incredibly streaky. Ten of his goals were scored in three games, all against non-playoff teams. If the Rangers want to do damage in the playoffs, they need him to score -- when it counts.

3. Third defensive pairing: Defense was a strength for the Rangers last season, and given the youth on the back end, it will be for years to come. Top-pair defensemen Marc Staal and Dan Girardi were counted on to match up against opponents' top lines all year, and they had a tandem of solid young blue-liners behind them in Ryan McDonagh and Michael Sauer. Young defensemen Tim Erixon, Michael Del Zotto and 27-year-old Steve Eminger will battle for the fifth and sixth spots. Brendan Bell could also garner a look, although he will likely be used as a call-up guy from Hartford.

New additions

C Brad Richards: The 31-year-old veteran will feel the burden of the monster contract he signed and the expectation that goes with it, but he's a proven scoring threat with a Stanley Cup championship on his résumé.

LW Mike Rupp: the 6-5, 230 pound bruiser, who racked up 124 penalty minutes with Pittsburgh last season, will add size and toughness to the Rangers' fourth line. The 31-year-old former Devil will also be a high-character veteran presence in the room.

D Tim Erixon: The Rangers traded for the 20-year-old Swedish defenseman in June in what might soon be regarded as a steal. As the son of former NHL'er Jan Erixon, Tim has a strong hockey IQ and the potential to be effective on the power play.

Wild card

Ryan Bourque, son of NHL legend Ray Bourque, is likely to start the season with the team's AHL affiliate in Hartford, but the 20-year-old forward stood out among his peers and impressed many during a recent prospect tournament in Traverse City, Mich.

Bottom line

By developing a strong group of young players and adding key free agents to complement that core, the Rangers have the talent and skill to be dangerous in the future. What remains to be seen is whether they can make the next stop now.

Rangers re-sign Steve Eminger

July, 25, 2011
In a move to keep a veteran in their defense, the Rangers have re-signed defenseman Steve Eminger, the team announced Monday.

Eminger, 27, came to New York on July 9, 2010 in a trade with Anaheim. Last season, Eminger scored two goals and four assists in 65 games, but had stretches toward the end of the season where he did not dress for games. Eminger did not dress for the season finale and did not play in the playoffs for the Blueshirts.

Eminger will play on the Rangers' third defensive line next year, but will have some competition from some youngsters. Third-year player Michael Del Zotto and touted prospect Tim Erixon both could be playing with the Rangers next season, which could mean Eminger could be in and out of the lineup as he was last season.

Eminger has played in 411 career games since joining the NHL in 2002-03 with Washington. He has scored 17 goals and 74 assists while accumulating 323 penalty minutes in his career. He has also played with Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, Florida and Anaheim in his career. Eminger is a native of Woodbridge, Ontario.

With the Rangers defense likely set, the Rangers will now turn their attention back to their offense as forward Ryan Callahan is scheduled to have his arbitration hearing Thursday.