- Let's start where everything should start when it comes to the New York Rangers: Henrik Lundqvist. I happened to be away from the computer during the breakup day interviews and when I was able to check Twitter I saw a plethora of people panicing over the comments Lundqvist made about his contract extension. The answer wasn't as bad as what was tweeted. Here's what he actually said -- note: all quotes unless otherwise noted have come from Andrew Gross:
Lundqvist said he would talk to his agent when asked whether he'd be willing to discuss a contract extension this summer. The franchise goalie is signed through next season. "I've had such a great time here in New York...Right now I'm just trying to get over this year but we'll see. I'll talk to my agent and we'll go from there."
That's a whole hell of a lot different than my original thoughts (from the tweets I saw) where I thought a reported asked him if he planned to re-sign. This is a negotiating tactic. Why should Lundqvist re-up right now? It makes no sense. Let him at least get a look at what the Rangers are building. Trust me, he's not going anywhere.
- Based off of what John Tortorella said -- blaming himself for not getting his top players to perform -- I fully expect Tortorella to alter his system a little bit. I've been saying from the beginning that Tortorella's system is too constricting on the offense. I expect him to loosen things up. I also expect the Rangers to bring in more players who can grind in his system.
- Notice how I'm talking about Tortorella like he's going to be the coach next year. That's because he's going to be.
- Remember, guys, Rick Nash saying he doesn't need any offseason surgeries doesn't mean he was healthy during the playoffs. Any issues he was dealing with might not have been bad enough to require surgery. An injured wrist generally doesn't need surgery. Doesn't mean he's not hurt.
- I also don't think Nash was out of line by saying his playoff performance was "good." I agree and disagree with that he said. I agree Nash wasn't as bad as the numbers showed, he made things happen most every game and just didn't score. By the same token, he was brought in here to score and he didn't. So no matter how well he played he needed to contribute more.
- The Rangers have a really special thing going with the youth on this team that is already ingrained into the system. Derick Brassard, Derek Stepan, John Moore, Michael Del Zotto, Carl Hagelin, Ryan McDonagh, Chris Kreider and J.T. Miller are all under 26 years old. That doesn't even include Mats Zuccarello. And Anton Stralman (who is 27), Ryan Callahan (who is 28), Marc Staal (who is 26) and Derek Dorsett (who is 26).
- Hearing Stepan and Hagelin talk about how much they love to play for the Rangers and how they want to stay with this organization for life has to make you happy. Those are two home grown guys playing for a team they love and wanting to stick around. Stepan is transforming into a top player for the Rangers and Hagelin is starting to grow his game, too.
Stepan said, "I want to be here for sure...I want to stay here and I want my career to end here."
- McDonagh also talked about how much he wants to stay with the team (obviously), but also talked about how he's going to be "all eyes and ears" since this is his first contract negotiation.
- Brassard had a bunch of really positive things to say about his time in New York. He talked about loving being able to play in front of a full house every night and also this:
"I felt like in Columbus, my passion and the emotion in my game was gone. When I got traded, I honeslty felt so good inside me to be here and have a new start. You play with emotion you're going to play well every night."
Those are normal emotions, I think. It can be frustrating to play for a losing team in a half-empty house for Columbus. And to come from that to Madison Square Garden, with the best fans in the NHL and a crazy atmosphere has to be pretty eye opening. Please don't take this as me taking a shot at Columbus. I'm not. But I do think MSG is the best building in the NHL and that Rangers fans are the best fans in the NHL. Sure I might be bias, but whatever.
- Zuccarello talked about wanting to come back to the Rangers rather than playing in the KHL again. I think he'll find a willing partner in the Rangers. Zuccarello finished with 15 points in 27 games in all competitions for the Rangers this year. He got better as time went on, too.
- I also think Clowe will be back as well. Strictly from a business standpoint (because we're talking about someone's health) the multiple injuries to Clowe will be a good thing when it comes to his contract negotiations. There were RUMORED demands from Clowe that we over the moon. We don't know if those are true or not (my guess is they were not), but the Rangers can use a guy like Clowe on the second or third line. Remember, the Rangers need depth not star power.
- Tortorella didn't talk much about Brad Richards' future. Not surprising since he doesn't make that call. I do think the Rangers will buy him out, and I do think he'll have a good year next year. There's just too much risk if the Rangers don't do it this summer. Remember, the Rangers can't buy him out if he's injured.
- Remember that crazy trade I talked about? It involved Michael Del Zotto and the Rangers bringing in some young depth down the middle. More on that later on.
- Staal talked about how his eye will never be 100% healthy again. He also talked about how he thinks he will be able to get up to the same level of play he was at before the injury. I'm a little skeptical, but my God I hope he can. I want him just to be able to live a normal life more than anything else.
- I do think not having a camp and a true preseason caused major issues for Tortorella. You can blame his system for being so dependent on those things, but no coach should have to coach around the possibility of a lockout. Even if a lockout is imminent. It makes no sense.
- I do think, however, Tortorella's coaching will be under a much finer microscope this year.