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NHL Update: Hot Topics in NHL and New York Rangers

The Stanley Cup

Congratulations to the Boston Bruins on their hard-earned victory.  While the entire team was impressive, Tim Thomas was absolutely incredible.  It’s crazy to think that the Bruins were trying to get rid of this guy last offseason, and couldn’t find any takers.  After witnessing the netminding debacle in Philadelphia, I have to think Flyer GM Paul Holmgren wishes he could have a do-over on that decision.

The Vancouver Canucks have really come away with a big black eye after this year’s final.  Between biting fingers, suspension-earning dirty hits, and asinine comments made by their goalie, the team didn’t exactly display a great deal of class.  Then the fans burn down the city(again), and the team attempts to disown them.  Look, not every Canucks fan rioted, and I feel bad that they are being dragged down by the rioters, but the riots were started by Canucks fans.  This isn’t the first time this has happened in Vancouver, after all.  When the Rangers beat them in seven games in 1994, the fans did the same thing.  I am not going to get into criticizing law enforcement or government officials.  This is a sports column.  I hope the criminals involved go to jail, and the brave officers and citizens who got injured trying to help make full recoveries.  I just think it is ridiculous for the Canucks to say that it wasn’t their “real fans” causing the trouble.  It’s like trying to say that embarrassing uncle isn’t in your family.  He’s in your family, and those maniacs are in Vancouver’s fan base.

Jaromir Jagr

Word is Jaromir Jagr is looking to return to the NHL next season.  Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Montreal are all rumored to be interested in the services of the former New York Ranger star.  Jagr posted point-per-game type numbers in the KHL last season (19g 31a 50pts in 49 games), and could still be an effective weapon on the powerplay despite being nearly forty years old.  The Rangers have not shown any interest in reacquiring Jagr, and that is a very good decision.

The Salary Cap

It looks as though this year’s salary cap will rise to $64 million from $59.4 last year.  The floor will be set at $48 million.  That’s nine million dollars higher than the original $39 million ceiling set following the cancelled season that led to the current Collective Bargaining Agreement that imposed a salary cap.  How exactly has the cap helped those lower salary teams like the Islanders, Blues, Panthers, and Oilers compete against the big spenders?  It hasn’t.  None of those small spenders made the playoffs this season.  It has created a very positive change in the New York Rangers, however.  No longer can they be accused of attempting to buy cups by signing all of the major free agents each offseason.  The core of the Rangers roster-Callahan, Dubinsky, Staal, Girardi, Lundqvist, Anisimov-are all homegrown.  Last season’s rookies Derek Stepan and Michael Sauer also figure to be part of that impressive core moving forward as well.

Winnipeg  

No offense Atlanta, but it’s about time.  I’m sure there were some decent hockey fans in Atlanta, but I’m guessing that they will both find something else to do with their time next year.  Seriously, I have family in the Atlanta area and have attended a few Thrashers-Rangers games in Blueland over the years.  It’s just not normal.  Do you have any idea how hard it was to listen to fans scream, “Run!” every time an Atlanta player got possession of the puck?  Almost as hard as it was to hear them scream, “Get the ball!”  I was easily able to get great seats when the Rangers played the Thrashin what was Atlanta’s first playoff appearance back in 2007, and sat three rows from the glass when the All Star game was there.  Hockey just isn’t a draw in the southern states.  Now it is back where it belongs in Winnipeg.  Here’s hoping they are called the Jets again.

Up Next

Now that the Salary Cap number has been set, I can break down the Rangers impending free agents, and present my thoughts on who they should bring back and which free agents they should go after from other teams.  I will also include my Entry Draft Preview, and discuss which players I think the Rangers will be after.

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