Latest Blue Jackets & Rangers Speculation – September 18, 2017

by | Sep 18, 2017 | Rumors | 42 comments

Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Ryan Murray frequently surfaced in offseason trade speculation.

Latest on Blue Jackets defenseman Ryan Murray and the Rangers aren’t ruling out adding another center. 

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline reports defenseman Ryan Murray didn’t expect to return with the Columbus Blue Jackets. He was the subject of trade speculation throughout the summer as part of a rumored offer for Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene.

Murray, whose role diminished last season from first-pairing blueliner to third-pairing rearguard, knows he has a lot to prove this season. That decline probably affected his trade value. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche reportedly seek a young, established top-four defenseman with a left-handed shot. Prior to last season, that description would’ve suited Murray. The decline in his play explains the Avs’ apparent reluctance to acquire him as part of a package return for Duchene.

If Murray improves this season it will also boost his value in the trade market, though it remains to be seen if he ends up in Colorado. Other clubs could also come calling, though the Jackets could remain keen on using Murray as a trade chip to land Duchene. 

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Justin Tasch recently reported the New York Rangers will be trying out forward J.T. Miller at center. However, general manager Jeff Gorton isn’t ruling out adding another center.

Finding a good top-nine center won’t be easy at this point, especially with the Pittsburgh Penguins also in the market for a third-line center. The Rangers have around $3 million in salary-cap space. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Much will depend on Miller’s performance. Mika Zibanejad is expected to center the first line, meaning Miller and Kevin Hayes will be centering the second and third lines. If Miller doesn’t pan out, Gorton could be forced into the trade market, though he could be waiting until later in the season, perhaps closer to the Feb. 26 trade deadline, to find a suitable center. 



  1. If Millers time at center last year is any indication of what’s to come, NY fans are in for a long painful year. I don’t see how they replace Stepans numbers, have Millers numbers take a dive, without a couple of players really stepping up beyond expectations. NY will struggle to maintain. And ANY significant injury at center will have them plummeting towards the bottom of the east.

    • It can also depend how Vesey improves and if he can add more offense on the top 6. And if Buch can handle the NHL

      • Don’t hold your breath.

      • Vesey and Buchnevich combined for 47 points last year. Even if they both step up, who below them is filling their roles / production? There will be a trickle down effect. Honestly I have no idea where Buchnevich fits this year. The only two players he can communicate with are Krieder and Zibanejad. Both presumably on the 1st line. And I don’t see Vigneault putting him there anytime soon. He’s also setting a tone that looks like he isn’t handing Andersson any significant role.

        Completely going to have to bust lines up. Obviously with Stepan gone, but also losing the Miller , Hayes, Grabner line will probably have AV forcing / juggling lines to find chemistry.

        Next. Defensive pairings. Outside of Smith / Skjei what are they going to look like? Is Shattenkirk headed where Yandle was? To the third pairing? Something tells me, he won’t end up on the 1st pairing for very long.

        Lots of question marks going into this season. Not trying to be negative, just realistic.

    • I always have concerns about the dreaded sophomore slump but it generally occurs with players that had really good rookie seasons, often they kind of come out of no where & surprise as rookies then regress in year 2.

      I’m not sure Vesey & Buchenvich meet that criteria. Vesey being older also reduces the chances he regresses, more mentally prepared. Players coming out of college need time to adjust to the heavy game schedule. They come out of College only playing weekends & tournaments to 3 to 4 games a week. Simply aren’t prepared for that grind mentally or physically.

      I expect both these players baring injury to be 20 to 25 goal scorers, posting 45 to 50 points, give or take a few.

      Hayes being a monster of a man is still at least 2 possibly 3 years from being the player he will be but with Stepan gone there is some significant power play time to be redistributed to someone else. I assume NYR will ice 2 balanced PP units again this year & Shattenkirk is many things, 1 of them being an exceptional PP QB.

      • Why I say “don’t hold your breath” in response to the post by ds – especially where Vesey is concerned – is that he was a 34d round pick in 2012 (66th overall) in a draft where not one other F has begun to establish himself in the NHL. Not one. Of the 5 that have, 3 are D (Pelech – 65th by NYI), Gostisbehere (78th by Pha), and Parayko (86th by St.L) and 2 are goalies (Murray – 83rd by Pit) and Andersen (187th in 2019 by Carolina – re-entered the draft in 2012 – 87th by Ana).

        That’s more reflective, however, of the fact that D and G take the longest to develop into NHLers from their draft year.

        Even 2nd rounders from 2012 are few and far between with McGinn (49th by Carolina) and Martinook (61st by Dallas) the only ones with appreciable GP – and both can best be described as enhh.

        Now, unless someone is about to argue that Vesey was “the steal of the 2012 draft” I think his 16 goals and 11 assists is in the category of what you see is what you get – and even then I think they were inflated by being thrown out during the season with some pretty decent F.

        In his case the biggest “thing” was the fact he became one of those who wangled his way into UFA status and some team was going to get him for nothing but money and a promise to give him some quality ice time. From this vantage point it sometimes looked like the Rangers were going to pound the proverbial square peg into the round hole by playing him more than they perhaps should have. We’ll soon see this year.

      • ” … 3rd round pick …” damned faded script

      • 80/20 rule for me George. He’s in the 20% that beats the odds.

        He’s 1 of the exceptions. Had he entered the NHL/AHL out of the draft he may never have gotten the opportunity 4 years of devlopment in college provided him.

        He was 10th in TOI/GP at forward last season battling for 2nd line PP minutes with Hayes & Miller. He will see more icetime per game, about 2 mins & regular 2nd line PP time.

        I could be wrong you right but this player isn’t the same player that was drafted in the 3rd round 66th overall in 2012. He’s 6’3″ & this size forward develops more along the lines of Dman. It takes a kong time to grow into that frame.

        Steal of the 2012 draft? Who knows we will need 4 to 6 years to make that determination but when solid sources make statements like the best player not playing in the NHL I take notice.

        I stand by my assumptions for next season. 20 t0 25 goals & 40 to 45 points give or take a few even as the 3rd line LW. Baring injury. Would need at least 75 games played to hit that target.

      • Assumption also means prediction, or educated guess. Ha-ha! There are no absolutes in life or hockey other than tax’s & death.

      • I hope you’re right, but that’s a tall order. That’s saying Vesey can about double last years production. A lot of players in NY have made that jump from bottom 6 to top 6. Miller, Brassard, Zuccarello, Stepan, Kreider etc. but none of them have doubled their production.

      • If Vesey had signed with the pens he would be potting 30 goals this year. we all make mistakes

      • Is there ever an argument that does not include the Pens in some way shape or form?

      • Just wanted you to be right about something NY. Teamwork.

      • I’ve been right many times. Like saying you don’t see much outside of Pittsburgh games. And renaming you the John Madden of this site!

      • I ate the terducguin….

      • Actually 50% not a 100% double, 4 to 9 more goals, 13 to 18 more points to hit 20 to 25 goals & 40 to 45 points respectively.

        Again I see his icetime rising by about 2 mins a game overall & more consistent 2nd line PP time.

        It’s not a stretch but he has to play well.

        I could easily be wrong, like you I hope not.

      • You’re putting him in between 50-70% jump. Doubling maybe a stretch, but only a 9 point differential between double and the 45 end of what you’re predicting. Even at 50-70%, it’s a tall order for any player over one year.

        Chism, is anyone other than you supposed to understand your humor?

      • Firstly. So longs as am entertained the rest is gravy.
        Second. Frank caliendo fans might get it. But obscure though. Try youtubing john madden and turduckin

      • You’ve officially graduated from “Chism “to Madden.

      • You hit the nail on the head with chris is this sites madden! Only watches his team really doesn’t know hockey

  2. It’s not the decline in Murray’s play that concerns me specifically. He simply got pushed down the depth chart by 4 better Dman to a 3rd pairing role with little no no quality PP time having to carry the #6 Dman.

    I would consider this player as a young establish top 4 Dman if he could only stay healthy. He has missed significant portions of in 4 of his last 5 seasons playing hockey. That makes him a band-aid, part of the ambulance brigade & till he can show he can stay healthy for several years to risky to take as the key asset in trade for a player like Duchene.

  3. Can’t Desharnais play 3rd line C for NYR? Isn’t that why he was essentially signed?

    As Vigneault said yesterday, Miller will have to play some C this season as he has the last 2 years as injuries, illness & other require he do so.

    • Everything out of Gortons and AVs mouth point toward Miller playing 3rd line center. At least to start the preseason. And if the alternative is Desharnais starting on the 3rd line…. I’m even more concerned. That is a HUGE point gap from last year with Hayes on the 3rd line

      • Yes having Desharnais play as the 3rd line C is a significant down grade & if it or something else in house doesn’t work NYR can work to address in trade.

        Capfriendly currently has them with 21 players on their roster so 2 need to be added by the 23 roster deadline on Oct 3rd. a #3/4 C & a #7/8 Dman. I have Andersson currently as the #4 C bumping Desharnais down as soon as he gains Vigneault’s trust & I assume Bereglazov will get the 1st shot in Nthe NHL as he can return to the KHL if sent to the AHL.

        I have DeAngelo in the minors until an injury or trade open up a roster spot. Currently he’s only really a suitable replacement for Shattenkirk as very 1 dimensional still, needs more time to learn to play defense in the AHL to be a full time NHL player.

        NYR will have about 2 mil in cap space not counting shipping a player out in trade to address if nothing works internally or can’t be addressed off the waiver wire.

        Rumors had Holden being shopped at least by several journalists & broadcasters but I hope they are just that rumors & NYR retains him. He is a great partner for McDonagh & for a 4th round pick & a cap hit of 1.65 great value.

      • If we’re waiting on AV to trust Andersson, I see Desharnais or Miller being the 3rd line center all year. We’ve all seen What Skjei, Hayes, Miller, Lindberg etc have gone through in that department. Skjei was still working on that late last year.

        Av already stated, he doesn’t expect much from the 18 year old kid, and won’t be putting any kind of pressure on his back.

      • He was the same in Van as well. Miller won’t play C all year but will when required.

        There is a reason NYR choose this kid th overall. I would far prefer him to play in the AHL until after the All-Star break.

        Sheltering him in a 4th line C role in the NHL playing around 10 mins a night if he can handle the defensive aspects of that role works for me. He was very responsible defensively for HV71 last season.

        I don’t like to see kids rushed either but if he’s ready he’s ready. Time will tell. Will he get more than 25 NHL games this season? Will NYR burn of his rookie year, contractual year 9 games or UFA year 41 games? These are all business considerations that factor in some how.

  4. Very interesting what the NHL’s response will be to Joffrey Lupul situation. As we all know Lou has been burying salary on the so-called Robitias Island for 2 to 3 years now. If it is deemed circumventing the salary cap there could be draft pick consequences

    • Lupul’s situation is the crux to it all. I know it’s called Robidas Island, but I don’t think the situations are overly similar. Robidas is in his late 30’s and has had two major knee surgeries in a few years. He might be able to push it to get into playing shape, but I am sure any rational doctor would suggest that he consider not doing so to avoid damage that could decrease his future lifestyle and mobility. Also, Robidas has stayed visible and on good terms with the teams coaches and managers. I feel like it was a mutual decision that you could argue is in Robidas Best interests both financially and in terms of his long term health. If he pushed it, he basically just gets put on waivers and demoted, which I am sure he doesn’t want.

      Lupul was exiled, and seems only to be staying quiet because he has been forced to do so. Also, this could drastically impact his future earnings. Had he played, he would likely have stayed in better playing shape, and at least had a chance at a next contract. The way it is now, even if he is deemed healthy, this has likely ended his NHL career, one way or another.

      Unless there is something else to this story, there should be big consequences to the Leafs if they lose a grievance. There should be draft picks forfeited, but also salary cap re-captured, and roster spots held, not to mention potential financial restitution paid for defamation and loss of future earnings.

    • you don’t know the whole story there is a reason why the leafs are not going down this road i think the whole truth is not out

  5. Here are my lines at present. Jumble them up anyway you like. Injuries, illness, personal absences & coaches tweaking to get players going or to punish them for poor play alter line ups constantly.

    Kredier, Zibanejad, Buchenevich.
    Miller, Hayes, Zuccarello.
    Vesey, Desharnais, Nash.
    Grabner, Andersson, Fast.
    Spare Puempel.

    McDonagh, Holden.
    Staal, Shattenkirk.
    Skjei, Smith.
    Kampher, ?

    Vigneault doesn’t like rookies very much but Andersson is a solid 2 way player who has played the last 2 seasons with men in Sweden’s 1st div. If he’s not ready to start should be by the All-Star break, perhaps Lettieri or Tambellini are. Is Nieves ready to play as a shut down C yet? If not NYR will have about 2 mil to play with in trade.

    NYR makes the playoffs battling it out for 3rd in the Atlantic, posting asnother 100+ point season but coming up short, You don’t want to make the top 3, you want to slide into the Atlantic playoff bracket as the top wildcard just like last season.

    The NHL needs to kill this stupid bracket system & return to 1 plays 8 reseeding after each round.

  6. Is it just me or does anyone else think it’s rather odd that Colorado would not accept Ryan Murray as part of a deal for Matt Duchene because of his “decline in play” considering how much Duchene’s play also declined?

    • No as Murray has yet to really accomplish anything in the NHL & has only been healthy in 1 of 4 seasons.

      Colorado was brutal last season, like historically brutal, that didn’t just effect Duchene but every Colorado player. Shutting down a team that couldn’t even ice 1 full scoring line but 4 players on 2 lines McKinnon & Rantanen; rookie, on 1 & Landeskog & Duchene is pretty easy to shut down.

      Let’s revisit Duchene at the end of next season. I say he bounces back to historical norms be it in Col or else where. You can’t judge a 26 year old player on 1 bad season.

  7. Jonathan CheeChoo 6′ 200 lbs – back-to-back seasons of 56, 37 and 23 goals when he was 26/28 – then drops to 12 and 8 and bye bye by the time he’s 30.

    Matt Duchene – 5′ 11″ 200 lbs – seasons of 23, 21 and 23 goals – then drops to 18. So, without any attempt to compare the two other than that, yes you can sometimes judge a player on one bad season

    • but only with hindsight goggles

      • Well of course only with hindsight – no one’s making any predictions here – then again, no one should be making assumptions either when there are any number of examples where things went south in a hurry. As Forrest Gump allegedly coined “s*^t happens.”

      • I’d like to say for every cheechoo there is a patrick eaves but that would probably be wrong.

      • I want to say Danny Heatley took a nose dive around 27-28?

      • And you would be right on. He faded like a cheap suit in tropical sunlight.

    • The common denominator with Cheechoo and Heatley was playing wing on Thornton’s line when they had the big seasons (Heatley also with Spezza in OTT for a while). Thornton drove the offence on his line and still does, Cheechoo and Heatley reaped the rewards.
      Duchene drove his lines and is an elite skater which is what made him attractive to team Canada where he also played a 2 way game.
      I see him as a soft 1C and a very good 2C. A valuable asset none the less. He almost has to improve on last year doesn’t he?

      • Heatley also played with Savard and Kovalchuk in Atlanta.

    • I always felt cheechoos production was simply a by product of playing with Thorton. As soon as he was away from Joe he dropped off a cliff. Kind of like setoguchi did after that one season of playing on Thorntons line.

  8. Heatley and Cheechoo were pure snipers. Completely one dimensional. I know fans here in Ottawa were not happy about the slowness and lack of backcheck on Heatley (and Cheechoo for his cup of coffee here), but in reality, you paid these guys millions to put up 40+ goals and nothing more. Who would I rather have when we’re talking Thornton and Heatley? Obviously Thornton because he is a complete player. Doesn’t take away from a guy like Heatley though and every team needs a one dimensional guy who fills a role like that. Cheechoo and Heatley’s careers died because they were too slow for today’s game despite their sniping talents. I would bet had either been league average speed, both would today be trolling around on a 3rd line and drawing 2nd PP unit time.