Metro Area Hockey -- Nobody is a Lock For the Playoffs
By Russ Cohen
As it stands today the only Metro Area team headed to the playoffs would be the New York Rangers. They’re currently ranked second in the Metro Division but they aren’t a lock.
Now that the possible trading of captain, Ryan Callahan has become public, who knows how that might affect the Rangers’ team chemistry? Hockey players are professionals but the Rangers have two impending UFA’s, Callahan and defenseman Dan Girardi. Neither are extended beyond this season so something has to give. The assumption is once one of the two has been dealt the other will extend.
The Rangers are without their leading scorer, Mats Zuccarello. He incurred a non-displaced fracture while competing in the Olympics for Team Norway. It happened when he was blocking a shot, a sign of the times for today’s hockey. The injury is supposed to keep him out 3-4 weeks. That’s going to hurt considering what he added to the resurrected power play and at even strength. He shoots left so this injury could bother him all year, it will definitely affect his shot when he is healthy and they’ll proably put a plastic sleeve in his glove to protect it. Now others have to step up like Rick Nash (who got hot before the break), Brad Richards, Derick Brassard and Chris Kreider. Henrik Lundqvist won a Silver Medal for Team Sweden in Sochi, Russia, and he’s currently playing his best hockey of the season so that’s good news for the Blueshirts.
The New York Islanders lost John Tavares for the season (severe knee injury) while playing for Team Canada, who won a gold medal. Isles GM Garth Snow isn’t happy, but he hasn’t made any additions since acquiring Thomas Vanek, the results, the Islanders now seem like a lost cause. Vanek turned down a big money offer and he’ll be shopped. The Islanders will recoup approximately 70% of JT91’s salary. Will they invest in back into the club and try and make a run at the playoffs? It doesn’t seem that way so look for the Islanders to become that lottery team once again. Fans are tiring of it but sitting in 8th place in the Wild Card standings seems impossible to overcome.
The New Jersey Devils are getting ready to make a playoff run 3 points out of a Wild Card spot and 5 points behind the Flyers who are sitting third in the Metro. Jaromir Jagr is healthy and has to ramp it back up after the Olympics. At 42, that seems like a tall order but if he can do it many think the Devils will make him another contract offer for next season right around the $5 million dollar mark.
The Devils recently juggled around some goaltending in their minor leagues and that could be setting up a trade that would send their legendary netminder, Martin Brodeur, somewhere for some potential offense on or before the March 5th trading deadline. Nashville and Minnesota seem like two potential landing spots but he would have to approve the deal. The Devils have new ownership and their future franchise goalie, Corey Schneider has been a good soldier this year but with one year left on his deal he has to be declared the #1 goalie soon or he might not want to sign long-term in New Jersey. Don’t count the Devils out. This could go down to the last week of the season.
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