Originally written June 14, 2012 on Blue Seat Blogs:
Interesting debate on Twitter the other night:  who would you rather have: Gabriel Landeskog, Adam Henrique or Chris Kreider?  I think I’d take Henrique, but the Twitterverse seemed split between Landeskog and Kreider.  I may have a slightly biased audience… This offseason was wacky even before it officially began.  Prior to the Kings victory on Monday: Nicklas Lidstrom retired, Tim Thomas decided to take a hiatus, Edmonton shockingly won the draft lottery (again) and Marian Gaborik was lost for six months. It would be just like Detroit to replace Nicklas Lidstrom, Brad Stuart and Brian Rafalski (a year later) with Ryan Suter, Justin Schultz and Brendan Smith.  That franchise reloads better than anyone. It seems like many have soured on Derek Stepan after he failed to break out this season and was again a no-show in the playoffs.  It’s perhaps a little unfair to expect a kid to handle such a heavy offensive burden at the tender age of 21, but that’s the pressure Stepan faces in New York.  I still fully expect Stepan to blossom into a 50-to-60-point player though. Just like last year, Rangers fans have begun to discuss the possibility of bringing Jaromir Jagr back into the fold.  The 40-year-old is set to be an unrestricted free agent on July 1st and although it’s likely that he’ll re-sign with Philadelphia, it’s hard for many to resist imagining him back in blue especially with the gaping hole on the right side left by Marian Gaborik’s injury.  But the Blueshirts weren’t interested last year, so I see no reason why they would be 12 months later. It pains me to say it, but Martin Brodeur was stellar in the playoffs.  He’s still obviously prone to giving up juicy rebounds and flopping around like a dead fish, but for the most part, he’s was pretty solid for the Devils. Writing that makes me want to smash my keyboard over my head, but it’s the truth.  Marty’s athleticism is still sensational and it certainly seems like he could play another couple of seasons at a reasonably high level. The Rangers are currently scheduled to make four selections in the draft, I’ll bet they end up making six; GM Glen Sather is not shy about wheeling and dealing at the draft, especially in the middle rounds.  And I wouldn’t be surprised to see Andrew Yogan sent packing. Heading into the playoffs you might have said that Philadelphia’s 2011 summer trades worked out pretty well.  Jakub Voracek, Sean Couturier, Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn were all integral parts of the Flyers, while Jeff Carter had been summarily dismissed by Columbus and had yet to make much of an impact with Los Angeles.  Mike Richards had played well, but it seemed as though the Flyers may have made some pretty savvy deals.  The four Flyers performed well in the playoffs, but Carter and Richards were both huge in capturing a Stanley Cup for the Kings. Here’s how they produced in the regular season compared to the playoffs: Regular season: Voracek – 18g, 31a, 78gp Couturier – 13g, 14a, 77gp Simmonds – 28g, 21a, 82gp Schenn – 12g, 6a, 54gp Total – 81g, 120a, .69 ppg   Richards – 18g, 26a, 74gp Carter – 21g, 13a, 55gp Total – 39g, 39a, .60 ppg   Playoffs Voracek- 2g, 8a, 11gp Couturier – 3g, 1a, 11gp Simmonds – 1g, 5a, 11gp Schenn – 3g, 6a, 11gp Total – 9g, 20a, .66 ppg   Richards – 4g, 11a, 20gp Carter- 8g, 5a, 20gp Total – 12g, 16a, .70 ppg Of course, the Flyers would also contend that they are positioned well moving forward and that Claude Giroux might not have emerged without the dealing of Carter and Richards, so this isn’t cut and dry… Incidentally, Richards, Carter and Simon Gagne are the bigger names, but the Kings have a fourth former Flyer who’s pretty good – Justin Williams. These are the fop-four defensemen units I might rather have heading into next year than New York’s quartet of Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal and Michael Del Zotto: Chicago’s (Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Nick Leddy) and I think that’s about it. The Rangers – a team that is clearly ready to win now – don’t have a choice but to plan ahead thinking Michael Sauer won’t play again.  That’s a legitimate possibility, but the optimistic way of thinking is that Sauer could also have a Staal-like impact upon returning sometime late in the 2012-2013 season.  If Sauer is able to recover from his concussion, he could be a huge unexpected reinforcement. Gordie Clark and company have earned our trust and should pick the best available player on their draft board next weekend, but it will be a little difficult to resist pulling for one of Stefan Matteau, Henrik Samuelsson, or Zachary Stepan to end up a Ranger. I really hope Tuesday night wasn’t our last of hockey until 2013.   Question Time:
  • So who would you rather have: Landeskog, Henrique or Kreider?
  • If you were Edmonton, what would you do with the first pick?
  • Which top-four defensemen units would you prefer to New York’s?
  • Will Michael Sauer play next season?
  • Who is on your top-five draft wish list?
  • Are you expecting a lockout?

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