Although the Connecticut Whale’s offense endured several extreme changes during the off-season, the team’s defensive corps remained the same for the most part. Last season’s squad allowed 223 goals in 80 games and also accounted for 25 of Connecticut’s 221 goals scored. With limited changes on the back-end, the Whale will have a “veteran” group this season, as each player is familiar with each other and the Whale playing system.

Leading the way last season was veteran defenseman Wade Redden, who scored eight goals and 34 assists in 70 games. He finished the season with a minus-1 rating. Redden, 34, will return to the team this season, and he will likely play a major leadership role for Connecticut. The veteran defenseman of 994 NHL games could be a top-pair defenseman for the Whale, and he will likely play the point on the team’s top power-play unit. Similar to last season, Redden should have a new rookie defenseman to work with. Last season Redden assisted Ryan McDonagh for the first few months of the 2010-11 season, which eventually led to McDonagh being recalled by the New York Rangers and becoming one of the their top-4 defensemen. This year it is expected that Redden will work with 20-year-old rearguard Tim Erixon, who will likely join the Whale after the Rangers play their season opening games in Europe. Although Erixon will not start with the season with Connecticut, when he returns you can expect Redden to help him reach the next level.

Another veteran returnee on this season’s squad is 29-year-old Jared Nightingale, who, at the conclusion of the 2010-11 season, signed a one-year contract extension with the Whale. Last season Nightingale scored two goals and six assists in 72 games played. He also amassed 204 penalty-minutes, the most of any defensemen, and finished with a rating of minus-5. Nightingale is known for his physical play, and he will have to continue with that playing style this season, due to lack of physical skaters on the team. Nightingale will probably log top-4 minutes, and spend time on the penalty-kill. Like Redden, the veteran blueliner will be relied on to take some of the younger defensemen under his wing; which is something that he probably will not mind at all. Being one of the only defense-first defenseman on the team, he will be an extremely important player for the Whale.

Offensive-minded defensemen Pavel Valentenko and Blake Parlett will also return to the Whale this season. Valentenko was cut by the Rangers following what was described by coaches as an unimpressive training camp, and he will be looking to prove himself NHL worthy with a big season in Connecticut. During the 2010-11 season, Valentenko scored just five goals and 12 assists in 79 games. He took 38 penalty-minutes and finished with an impressive plus-21 rating. Valentenko was most important in the shot-blocking category, which he led the team in last season. The 23-year-old defenseman is known for his booming shot, and should receive some time on the power-play. It is also likely that he will play top-4 minutes, and possibly spend some time on a pairing with Redden.

As for Parlett, 22, he signed an entry-level deal with the Rangers over the summer following an impressive season with the Whale last year. Parlett appeared in 24 games with the Whale last season after spending most of the year with the Greenville Road Warriors. Parlett scored two goals and 10 assists, along with 17 penalty-minutes and a plus-1 rating. Parlett will likely receive an opportunity to play on the Whale’ power-play this season, as he is has proven his offensive talents. He is another player that the Rangers and Whale would like Redden to work with this season.

Jyri Niemi, 21, and Tomas Kundratek, 21, are also on Connecticut’s roster this season. Both players played for the Whale last season, although Kundratek appeared in many more games than Niemi did (which was due to an injury Niemi sustained).  Kundratek played in 70 games with the Whale last season, and recorded two goals and 10 assists. He took 42 penalty-minutes and finished with an even-0 rating. Reports suggest that Kundratek had an impressive training camp with the Whale, which should earn him a consistent spot in the line-up.

Niemi, however, played in only 46 games last season due to injury. The former Islanders draft pick scored three goals and six assists for Connecticut last season, along with 22 penalty-minutes and a minus-1 rating. Niemi is a very good skater, and if given the proper playing time in the right situations, he could score some goals. Niemi will challenge for a spot in the Whale line-up this season, though it will likely be in the bottom-6.

Lee Baldwin, 23, has made the Whale roster for now, after splitting the 2010-11 season with Greenville and Connecticut. In 21 games with the Whale last year, he failed to record a point but registered 17 penalty-minutes and a minus-1 rating. Baldwin will fight for a spot in the teams’ line-up, but he will more than likely be used as a spare defenseman for the most part. He could be re-assigned to the Road Warriors some time during the season, where he should receive plenty of ice-time.

There are a few possible additions to this season’s defensive corps, as Brendan Bell and T.J. Fast could become part of the Whale roster. Bell, 28, is expected to begin the season with the Rangers, but could be demoted to Connecticut as soon as the Rangers acquire a defenseman or when an injured blueliner returns. He would become a major part of the team’s defense, and he will immediately add another puck-moving defenseman who can play in the top-4.

Fast, 24, signed an ECHL contract with the Road Warriors this summer, but after an impressive camp it looks as though he may have earned a spot on Connecticut’s roster. Fast has the ability to become a talented two-way defenseman, and he could play a major role on this season’s team if he sticks around. It will be interesting to see what the Whale choose to do with him as the season approaches.

There is also 25-year-old Stu Bickel, who, like Bell, will start the season in the NHL but could be demoted as soon as next week. If that is the case, then he will play a similar role to the one he played last season: a physical, shut-down defenseman. In 54 games with the team last year, he scored just two goals and seven assists along with 135 penalty-minutes and a minus-2 rating. He would certainly be an important addition to the team, although he would likely push Baldwin and possibly Fast off the roster.

Projected defensive depth chart (Note: the following pairings are predictions for the season opener, and are subject to change. These pairings have not been confirmed by the Whale)

Parlett—Redden

May not be the ideal pairing, but until Erixon, Bell and Bickel return, it would work. Parlett will get an opportunity to work alongside a veteran puck-mover in Redden, and he could learn from plays that the 34-year-old makes. Both players are also reliable two-way defensemen, although offense is a big part of their game.

Kundratek—Valentenko

This would be an interesting pairing to say the least, as both players have good offensive instinct but they are also talented in their own end. As long as Valentenko is healthy for the opener, he will be a top-4 defenseman. Kundratek should be tried with Valentenko early in the season, as both players recorded the best plus/minus ratings out of all defensemen who played in 70 or more games in 2010-11.

Niemi—Nightingale

Granted there are no changes to the roster prior to Saturday’s season opener against the Adirondack Phantoms, I truly believe Niemi will earn a spot in the line-up. Partnering him with Nightingale would be a good choice by the Whale coaches. Nightingale plays a physical, shut-down game, and the veteran’s playing style would allow a smooth-skating Niemi to carry and move the puck more often. I could also see Fast, Kundratek and Parlett paired with Nightingale for the same purpose; as well as Bell, Erixon and possibly Michael Del Zotto if they return to the AHL.

The extra defensemen, based on these predictions, would then be Fast and Baldwin.

Note: you may notice that 20-year-old Collin Bowman was left off of the preview. That is because he was released from his try-out with the Whale according to his own twitter account.

Follow me on twitter for coverage of the Whale and Rangers prospects @NickPerri_SNYRB

Email me at nickpnyrwriter@gmail.com.

Check out my forward preview here.

Tags: CT Whale, Nick Perri

Dec 31, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; New York Rangers left wing Chris Kreider (20) looks on during the second period against the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports (Ron Chenoy)
Dec 31, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; New York Rangers left wing Chris Kreider (20) looks on during the second period against the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports (Ron Chenoy)

Kevin Shattenkirk has been skating this summer with Chris Kreider to prepare for the season. (New Caanan News)

Shattenkirk said that he and Kreider skate during the summers with Chris Gragnano, a skills coach, and that he helps them get ready for the season. (New Caanan News)

Kreider said recently that he has stayed around the area for most of the summer and has been working out and getting on the ice.

Tags: Chris Kreider, Kevin Shattenkirk
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Feb 23, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Rangers right wing Michael Grabner (40) during their game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre. The Rangers beat the Maple Leafs 2-1 in the shootout. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports (Tom Szczerbowski)
Feb 23, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Rangers right wing Michael Grabner (40) during their game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre. The Rangers beat the Maple Leafs 2-1 in the shootout. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports (Tom Szczerbowski)

Michael Grabner conducted an interview in his native Austria and said (KleineZeitung):

  • On his expectations for this season after scoring 27 last year, Grabner said that each year starts at "zero" and that there is a need to deliver all the time.
  • On if he is upset about being under contract after scoring 27 last year, Grabner said that he was happy to get the contract he did from the Rangers last summer and that he needed to prove himself after only scoring 9 goals in Toronto.
  • He tries to be a leader to young players
  • He is said to see friends Dan Girardi and Derek Stepan leave the team but he plays with the guys who are in the room.
  • He spends a lot of time in the summer working on jumps and speed exercises than he did earlier in his career in effort to stay fast as he gets older.
  • His main goal is team success and to win the Stanley Cup. He says that scoring fewer goals but winning the Stanley Cup would be "no problem."
Tags: Michael Grabner
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Apr 22, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers right wing Mats Zuccarello (36) celebrates with Rangers left wing Pavel Buchnevich (89) after defeating the Montreal Canadiens in game six of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports (Adam Hunger)
Apr 22, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers right wing Mats Zuccarello (36) celebrates with Rangers left wing Pavel Buchnevich (89) after defeating the Montreal Canadiens in game six of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports (Adam Hunger)

8/20/17 | Last season the Rangers had a group of four alternate captains including Marc Staal, Rick Nash, Derek Stepan and Dan Girardi.

After moving Stepan and Girardi the Rangers could have two potential openings for players to wear letters on the front of their jerseys.

Since Ryan McDonagh became captain in 2014-15, the Rangers alternate captains have been:

  • 14-15: Stepan, Marty St. Louis, Staal and Girardi
  • 15-16: Stepan, Staal and Girardi
  • 16-17: Stepan, Staal, Girardi and Rick Nash

Alain Vigneault told Dan Rosen of NHL.com that he and his staff will see who wants to do more on the ice and off the ice, "who wants to expand his role as far as leadership and example and influence?" (NHL.com)

Tags: Mats Zuccarello
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8/22/17 | 8:55PM: Kerfoot is reportedly down to the Rangers and Sharks, according to Arthur Staple of Newsday.

8:42PM: Darren Dreger tweets that Kerfoot will make his decision "soon" and that the final five teams he is considering are the Canucks, Rangers, Sharks, Isles and Avs.

8:11PM: Kerfoot is "still processing" his options, according to Brooks. (NY Post)

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Jan 7, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward Frederik Gauthier (33) and Montreal Canadiens forward Bobby Farnham (44) have a fight in the second period at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports (Dan Hamilton)
Jan 7, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward Frederik Gauthier (33) and Montreal Canadiens forward Bobby Farnham (44) have a fight in the second period at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports (Dan Hamilton)

8/23/17 | 8:45AM: Larry Brooks writes that Farnham is an "agitator in the Ryan Hollweg mold." (NY Post)

Brooks notes that Farnham had been suspended four games for a late hit on St. Louis Dmitry Jaskin. (NY Post)

8/22/17 | Bobby Farnham will attend Rangers training camp on a PTO, according to Larry Brooks.

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Apr 2, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) celebrates with teammates after beating the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports (Danny Wild)
Apr 2, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) celebrates with teammates after beating the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports (Danny Wild)

8/22/17 | Kevin Hayes said that when a team doesn't win changes are made and he thinks the changes made will help the Rangers. (NHL.com)

Hayes said that the Rangers have "elite" forwards, "really good D" and still have Henrik Lundqvist. (NHL.com)

He added, "I think we'll be contenders." (NHL.com)

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May 3, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Washington Capitals defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk (22) skates with the puck against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the second period in game four of the second round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the PPG PAINTS Arena. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports (Charles LeClaire)
May 3, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Washington Capitals defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk (22) skates with the puck against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the second period in game four of the second round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the PPG PAINTS Arena. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports (Charles LeClaire)

Kevin Shattenkirk played 19 regular season game for the Capitals, scoring 2 goals and 12 assists to go along with 46 shots on goal and an average ice time of 20:12 per game.

When he was acquired by the Capitals, GM Brian Maclellan said "Kevin is a skilled, puck moving defenseman who we think will help our team at even strength and on the power play."

Former Caps winger Justin Williams said, '"He's not just an offensive guy that's going to shy away when it gets tough. Yes, he's good offensively. But he doesn't back down, and that's what I like."

Capitals goalie Braden Holtby said that Shattenkirk is a patient, smart player and right after he was acquired said "e played with two different D partners he has never played with before and he looks like they've played together all year."

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Mar 13, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers right wing Michael Grabner (40) scores against Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Peter Budaj (31) during the second period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Mar 13, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers right wing Michael Grabner (40) scores against Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Peter Budaj (31) during the second period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

In The Hockey News Pool Guide, they list Michael Grabner as someone who might not be able to replicate his numbers from last season.

Grabner scored 27 goals in the regular season, with 13 assists, and 4 goals and 2 assists in the playoffs.

They wrote "his 27 goals were buoyed by a career-high shooting percentage of 16.7%, and Grabner his his damage from the third line. He doesn't play enough to sustain that production. He also scored one goal in his final 23 games of 2016-17.

They added that Grabner, "carries more red flags than a U.N. convention. He scored 27 goals while playing just 14 minutes a game. He posted a career-high shooting percentage of 16.7%. His luck will regress significantly. He's a shoo-in bust pick."

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Apr 2, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) celebrates with teammates after beating the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports (Danny Wild)
Apr 2, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) celebrates with teammates after beating the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports (Danny Wild)

Alain Vigneault said that it's a "definite" possibility that the Rangers acquire a third-line center prior to the start of the season. (NHL.com)

Vigneault said that "it could be in the cards." (NHL.com)

He has previously said that he would like to keep JT Miller on the wing and that could leave David Desharnais, Lias Andersson and Boo Nieves competing for a spots at center.

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 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

As part of their season preview, NHL.com has the Rangers top-five prospects listed as (NHL.com):

  • Lias Andersson, Anthony DeAngelo, Alexei Bereglazov, Neal Pionk and Sean Day.

They project Andersson, DeAngelo and Bereglazov to make their NHL arrival this season, Pionk in 2018-19 and Sean Day in 2019-20. (NHL.com)

On Andersson, Alain Vigneault told Rosen that he liked what he saw during development camp and Gordie Clark said that Andersson plays a North American style that drives the net, finishes checks and makes plays. (NHL.com)

Tags: Prospect Rankings
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Mar 14, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Arizona Coyotes defenseman Anthony DeAngelo (77) scores the winning goal in the 11th round of a shootout against the Los Angeles Kings at the Staples Center. The Coyotes defeated the Kings 3-2 in a shootout. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports (Kirby Lee)
Mar 14, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Arizona Coyotes defenseman Anthony DeAngelo (77) scores the winning goal in the 11th round of a shootout against the Los Angeles Kings at the Staples Center. The Coyotes defeated the Kings 3-2 in a shootout. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports (Kirby Lee)

Anthony DeAngelo said that he knows he needs to continue to improve defensively and said that even though his offense can make up for some mistakes, in an 82 game season "you've got to be able to defend as well." (NHL.com)

He said that gap control is a big thing and that playing defense is about being in the right place at the right time and getting into lanes. (NHL.com)

In his career so far, DeAngelo has been a

Tags: Anthony DeAngelo
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Jan 21, 2017; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk (22) celebrates his goal with teammates after he scores on Winnipeg Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec (31) during the first period at MTS Centre. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports (Bruce Fedyck)
Jan 21, 2017; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk (22) celebrates his goal with teammates after he scores on Winnipeg Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec (31) during the first period at MTS Centre. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports (Bruce Fedyck)

While speaking about some of the defensemen he will coach this season, Lindy Ruff said that Kevin Shattenkirk is one of the "best offensive defensemen and one of the best power play defensemen" in the NHL. (NYR)

At NHL.com, Rob Vollman writes Kevin Shattenkirk has been the most "dominant" PP defenseman in the NHL and that over the last four years he has scored an average of 6.21 points per 60 minutes.

Since 2013-14 Shattenkirk ranks 9th among defensemen in points per game (.65) and 11th in overall points for a defenseman (189) at even strength but is second in total PP points with 104.

Tags: Kevin Shattenkirk
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 (David Banks)
(David Banks)

Corey Pronman recently ranked Lias Andersson 47th on his list of the top 100 prospects. (ESPN Insider)

In ranking him 47th, Pronman wrote that Andersson doesn't dazzle with "high-end dekes, but there is a lot of skill" in his game. (ESPN Insider)

He said that Andersson has a quick shot, makes quick decisions, is tough, strong and can "kill penalties adequately."(ESPN Insider)

Tags: Lias Andersson
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Apr 8, 2017; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; New York Rangers defenseman Brady Skjei (76) skates with the puck in the third period against the Ottawa Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre. The Senators defeated the Rangers 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports (Marc DesRosiers)
Apr 8, 2017; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; New York Rangers defenseman Brady Skjei (76) skates with the puck in the third period against the Ottawa Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre. The Senators defeated the Rangers 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports (Marc DesRosiers)

Ryan McDonagh and Brady Skjei have been working out together 5 days a week in advance of training camp beginning next month. (NYR)

Skjei said that they spent the first part of the summer getting stronger and are now working on their speed and conditioning. (NYR)

Their trainer Dan Meinz said that he is in contact with the Rangers strength and conditioning team about the key areas that the players need to focus on this summer. (NYR)

Tags: Brady Skjei, Ryan McDonagh
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Lias Andersson did not play for Frolunda against his former team HV71 in an exhibition game because the Rangers don't want him to risk injury. (JMini)

Frolunda defeated HV71 8-1. (Aftonbladet)

Andersson said that the Rangers want him to be as fresh as he can be when he comes to New York in September for training camp, and probably the Traverse City tournament. (Aftonbladet)

Andersson is expected to play for Frolunda in the Champions League when those games start next week. (GP)

Tags: Lias Andersson
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 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

The Hockey News has released their Pool Guide for this coming season and have the Rangers player scoring:

  • Mats Zuccarello: 63 (20 goals, 43 assists)
  • Mika Zibanejad: 53 (22 goals, 31 assists)
  • JT Miller: 52 (22 goals, 30 assists)
  • Kevin Shattenkirk: 49 (10 goals, 39 assists)
  • Chris Kreider: 48 (23 goals, 25 assists)
  • Kevin Hayes: 48 (17 goals, 31 assists)
  • Rick Nash: 38 (20 goals, 18 assists)
  • Jimmy Vesey: 36 (18 goals, 18 assists)
  • Pavel Buchnevich: 35
  • Ryan McDonagh: 32 (7 goals, 25 assists)
  • Brady Skjei: 31 (4 goals, 27 assists)
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Dec 17, 2016; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Arizona Coyotes defenseman Anthony DeAngelo (77) against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. The Wild defeated the Coyotes 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports (Brace Hemmelgarn)
Dec 17, 2016; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Arizona Coyotes defenseman Anthony DeAngelo (77) against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. The Wild defeated the Coyotes 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports (Brace Hemmelgarn)

Alain Vigneault said that he has only seen Anthony DeAngelo once but all of the people he has spoken with say that DeAngelo is "legit" and ready to "tale the next step." (NHL.com)

Vigneault said that he has spoken about DeAngelo with Rangers GM Jeff Gorton, with the team's scouts as well as Newell Brown, his former assistant in Vancouver, who was with DeAngelo in Arizona last year. (NHL.com)

He said that everyone he has spoken with says that DeAngelo will help the Rangers play their "quick north/south transition game" and on the PP. (NHL.com)

Tags: Anthony DeAngelo
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May 4, 2017; New York, NY, USA; The New York Rangers salute their fans after defeating the Ottawa Senators in game four of the second round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
May 4, 2017; New York, NY, USA; The New York Rangers salute their fans after defeating the Ottawa Senators in game four of the second round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Corey Pronman ranks the Rangers farm system 29th out of 31 teams, saying that while they added talent during the 2017 draft those players were added to a shallow group that now "brings the system just a notch above awful." (ESPN Insider)

The Rangers were ranked 28th, out of 30, by Pronman last year.

Pronman graded the Rangers 2017 Draft as a "B" and said that "for a very light farm system coming into the weekend, things changed for the better."

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Feb 2, 2017; Buffalo, NY, USA; New York Rangers right wing Mats Zuccarello (36) waits for a faceoff during the third period against the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center. Rangers beat the Sabres in overtime 2 to 1. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports (Timothy T. Ludwig)
Feb 2, 2017; Buffalo, NY, USA; New York Rangers right wing Mats Zuccarello (36) waits for a faceoff during the third period against the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center. Rangers beat the Sabres in overtime 2 to 1. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports (Timothy T. Ludwig)

8:55AM: Mats Zuccarello said that it's "sad" to see players like Derek Stepan and Dan Girardi that have been important players and good friends leave the team but that "this is a business." (VG)

Carl Hagelin, who is in Norway to play in Zuccarello's charity game, said that Zuccarello continues to assume more responsibility and "he will have a good year this year." (VG)

Hagelin also described the differences between his teams with the Rangers and his current team in Pittsburgh by saying that the Penguins have Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and that they create opportunities every time they are on the ice. (VG)

He followed up by saying "we did not have that with the Rangers." (VG)

Tags: Mats Zuccarello
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Mar 18, 2017; Saint Paul, MN, USA; New York Rangers forward Jimmy Vesey (26) celebrates his goal on Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk (40) during the second period at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports (Brace Hemmelgarn)
Mar 18, 2017; Saint Paul, MN, USA; New York Rangers forward Jimmy Vesey (26) celebrates his goal on Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk (40) during the second period at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports (Brace Hemmelgarn)

Bill Lindsay said on the NHL Network that Jimmy Vesey needs to be better this season and to expect "bigger and better things" from him. (NHL.com)

Vesey had 16 goals and 11 assists last season with 11 goals and 8 assists in the first 48 games and then 5 goals and 3 assists in the final 32 games.

By month, Vesey's numbers were:

Tags: Jimmy Vesey
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Sep 25, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Team Sweden goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) warms up prior to the semifinal game against Team Europe in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports  (John E. Sokolowski)
Sep 25, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Team Sweden goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) warms up prior to the semifinal game against Team Europe in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports (John E. Sokolowski)

Henrik Lundqvist is on the ice in Sweden and practicing with his former team of Frolunda. (Expressen)

Lundqvist was on the ice with his brother Joel as well as Rangers first round pick Lias Andersson. (Expressen)

 

Tags: Henrik Lundqvist
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Ryan McDonagh scored last night for his team in the Minnesota Summer Hockey League DaBeautyLeague.

To see the goal, click below

Tags: Ryan McDonagh
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 (Adam Hunger)
(Adam Hunger)

7/21/17 | Jimmy Vesey said that Mats Zuccarello inspires everyone with his work ethic and how "tenacious he is on the puck." (Newsday)

Brendan Smith praised Zuccarello's work ethic and said that when he is making plays and winning battles "everybody feeds off of it."

Mike Milbury said early in the series against Montreal that Zuccarello is "fun to watch" and always plays with energy.

Tags: Mats Zuccarello
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May 4, 2017; New York, NY, USA; The New York Rangers salute their fans after defeating the Ottawa Senators in game four of the second round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
May 4, 2017; New York, NY, USA; The New York Rangers salute their fans after defeating the Ottawa Senators in game four of the second round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

8/7/17 | The Hockey News has released their 2017-18 yearbook and has the Rangers finishing in fourth place in the Metro Division and, again, taking the first Wild Card spot.

They have Tampa Bay finishing as the overall number one seed in the East and hosting the lower seeded Wild Card Carolina in the playoffs.

Because of that the Rangers stay in the Metro bracket for the playoffs and they have the Penguins defeating the Rangers in the first round.

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Apr 20, 2017; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; New York Rangers forward Chris Kreider (20) prepares for a face off during the overtime period in game five of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports (Eric Bolte)
Apr 20, 2017; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; New York Rangers forward Chris Kreider (20) prepares for a face off during the overtime period in game five of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports (Eric Bolte)

According to TSN, Chris Kreider leads the NHL in goals that have been tipped or redirected from 2014-15 to 2017.

Kreider's 19 goals is just above Joe Pavelski and Wayne Simmonds.

Travis Yost wrote that for a player who is mostly known for his speed, Kreider can score in a "variety of ways" and shows that he isn't just a "one-dimensional player." (TSN)

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When Kevin Shattenkirk signed with the Rangers he mentioned a few players that he liked growing up but singled out Brian Leetch in particular.

Shattenkirk said that he tried to model his game after Leetch and take different parts of what Leetch did and put them in his own game.

Shortly after signing with the Rangers, Shattenkirk's mother told the NY Post that Leetch was the player he "adored" and that Leetch was "his guy."

Tags: Kevin Shattenkirk
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 (David Banks)
(David Banks)

Filip Chytil is playing in the Czech Republic right now and scored while also hitting the post and creating other chances. (Idnes.cz)

Chytil said that he needs to add strength and muscle before he can play in the NHL. (Idnes.cz)

He then added that he wants to play with the Rangers as soon as possible, "either this or the next season." (Idnes.cz)

Tags: Filip Chytil
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 ( Adam Hunger)
( Adam Hunger)

As part of a series, The Hockey News is looking at how teams may look heading into the 2019-20 season based upon players currently in the organization.

They have the Rangers lineup for the 2019-20 season as:

  • Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad, Pavel Buchnevich
  • Jimmy Vesey, JT Miller, Kevin Hayes
  • Matt Puempel, Lias Andersson, Jesper Fast
  • Adam Tambellini, Boo Nieves, Filip Chytil

Ryan McDonagh & Kevin Shattenkirk, Brady Skjei & Brendan Smith, Neal Pionk & Anthony DeAngelo.

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Dec 4, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Montreal Canadiens center David Desharnais (51) takes the puck down ice in the first period of the game against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports (Jayne Kamin-Oncea)
Dec 4, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Montreal Canadiens center David Desharnais (51) takes the puck down ice in the first period of the game against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports (Jayne Kamin-Oncea)

David Desharnais says that he thinks he can play throughout the lineup but that the "third line" is his "role." (La Presse)

He said that he thinks that he can move around as the season goes on and that it's better to start on the third line and finish higher up than the other way around. (La Presse)

Desharnais said that he knows he has to be more disciplined and work harder to be able to stay in the NHL. (La Presse)

Tags: David Desharnais
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Dec 8, 2016; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; New York Rangers defenseman Brady Skjei (76) controls the puck past Winnipeg Jets center Bryan Little (18) during the third period at MTS Centre. Rangers win 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports (Bruce Fedyck)
Dec 8, 2016; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; New York Rangers defenseman Brady Skjei (76) controls the puck past Winnipeg Jets center Bryan Little (18) during the third period at MTS Centre. Rangers win 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports (Bruce Fedyck)

8/7/17 | Alain Vigneault said in early April that Brady Skjei is the "new type" of defenseman in the NHL because of how he uses his skating both to carry the puck and to defend.

Vigneault added that he didn't consider Skjei to be a rookie, that he was playing big minutes and he "will be a real good player for us moving forward."

On breakup day, Vigneault said that Skjei played a "big role" and was considered to be one of the Rangers offensive defensemen.

Tags: Brady Skjei, Rueben Randle
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Rangers backup goalie Ondrej Pavelec's agent Allan Walsh has tweeted out a video of Pavelec's Rangers centric mask for this season.

Click below to see the mask.

Tags: Ondrej Pavelec
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Apr 8, 2017; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) is hurt after blocking a shot in the second period against the Ottawa Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports (Marc DesRosiers)
Apr 8, 2017; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) is hurt after blocking a shot in the second period against the Ottawa Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports (Marc DesRosiers)

In a list compiled by the NHL Network, Henrik Lundqvist was ranked as the 8th best goalie in the NHL heading into this season.

Lundqvist is listed as the fourth goalie in the Metro Division, behind Brayden Holtby (2), Sergei Bobrovsky (3) and Matt Murray (4).

He is also ranked one spot below his former backup, Cam Talbot.

Tags: Henrik Lundqvist
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Sep 29, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers right wing Pavel Buchnevich (89) in action against the New Jersey Devils at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Sep 29, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers right wing Pavel Buchnevich (89) in action against the New Jersey Devils at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Pavel Buchenvich said that he returned to New York recently and has already been working with Ben Prentiss and skating with Chris Kreider to get ready for the season.

Buchnevich worked with Prentiss, now a Rangers strength and conditioning consultant, last summer as well.

He said that with Kreider he's been skating and playing three-on-three "to have some fun."

Tags: Pavel Buchnevich
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Feb 23, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) warms up before playing against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports (Tom Szczerbowski)
Feb 23, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) warms up before playing against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports (Tom Szczerbowski)

8/10/17 | 3:58PM: Lundqvist said he has resumed skating this summer at the same time that he does every year and that things start to ramp up when he gets on the ice. (NHL.com)

He said that it's a process, like every year, to feel comfortable but that he takes things "step by step." (NHL.com)

1:09PM: Henrik Lundqvist said that he has been on the ice lately and that "everything feels good." (Expressen)

Tags: Henrik Lundqvist
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Oct 22, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh (27) passes the puck against Washington Capitals during the first period at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Mills)
Oct 22, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh (27) passes the puck against Washington Capitals during the first period at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Mills)

Ryan McDonagh was on NHL Tonight last night and said the following about the upcoming Rangers season:

  • "It will be exciting. Pretty big turnover, a little turnover every year from one season to the next but two guys, two key guys that have been with me since the beginning of my time with New York, Girardi and Stepan, moving on to different teams. It will give us a different look as far as the veteran leader role. Guys will step up in that area but you talk about the additions, we had Brendan Smith for a little bit of our playoff run and what he brought was much needed for our blue line. You add the element of Kevin Shattenkirk and how he can play with and without the puck. He's obviously wondrous with the puck and I'm looking forward to seeing him contribute to all areas of our game."

Shattenkirk and McDonagh were both recently named as two of The Hockey News' top 50 players in the NHL right now.

McDonagh has previously talked about the excitement around adding Shattenkirk.

Tags: Ryan McDonagh
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 (AP)
(AP)

8/4/17 | Boo Nieves said that he knows what will be expected during training camp this season and that his goal is to make the Rangers. (NYR)

He said that he thinks he is capable of achieving that goal as long as he is healthy and playing at his best.

Nieves added, "I think there's a chance to show what I can really do at this level. I just want to prove that I belong here."

Tags: Boo Nieves
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 (David Banks)
(David Banks)

The Rangers drafted Filip Chytil with the 21st pick in June's draft and heading into the draft he was ranked:

The Hockey News wrote that Chytil is a "strong, two-way pivot does all the right things. Good international play."

Chytil was a bottom-six forward as a 17-year old in the Czech league and is an "impressive skater" who can be tough to check and has the ability to create things out of nothing. (ESPN Insider)

Tags: Filip Chytil
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Feb 2, 2017; Dallas, TX, USA; Winnipeg Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec (31) faces the Dallas Stars attack during the first period at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports (Jerome Miron)
Feb 2, 2017; Dallas, TX, USA; Winnipeg Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec (31) faces the Dallas Stars attack during the first period at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports (Jerome Miron)

Ondrej Pavelec said that he didn't expect to sign a contract with a new team until the middle of July and was surprised that he ended up with the Rangers on the first day of free agency. (ISport)

He said that the two sides didn't have "major discussions" and that it was "two calls and it was done." (ISport)

Pavelec said that he was giving himself until July 15th to sign with a team or he was going to think about playing in Europe, he had an offer from the KHL, or possibly retiring all together. (ISport)

Tags: Ondrej Pavelec
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New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh plays the puck against Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point during the first period at Madison Square Garden. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh plays the puck against Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point during the first period at Madison Square Garden. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)

In The Hockey News Yearbook's list of Top 50 players, Kevin Shattenkirk ranked 34th and Ryan McDonagh ranked 35th.

On Shattenkirk, who was not ranked on last year's list, they wrote "the biggest free agent of the summer, Shattenkirk even gave his hometown Rangers a discount. In exchange, New York gets an elite puck-mover in his prime."ere he was already the Rangers'

On McDonagh, who was ranked 50th last year, they wrote "getting an elite, right-handed "D" partner in Shattenkirk is going to unlock McDonagh in New York, where he was already the Rangers' premier defenseman.

Tags: Kevin Shattenkirk
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Jan 19, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Rangers forward J.T. Miller (10) skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre. New York defeated Toronto 5-2. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports (John E. Sokolowski)
Jan 19, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Rangers forward J.T. Miller (10) skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre. New York defeated Toronto 5-2. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports (John E. Sokolowski)

Last season Alain Vigneault was asked about possibly being harder on JT Miller than on other players and said that when he was in Vancouver he was harder on the Sedin twins than he was on anyone else.

Vigneault said, "when you see guys that have potential you want to help them deliver that potential. There is a lot of potential there and trying to work with him, and he's trying to work with me and the coaches to try and become the best player that he can be."

Miller told Dan Rosen of NHL.com that he is happy that Vigneault has been hard on him in their time together and that he still is.

Tags: J.T. Miller
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 (AP)
(AP)

As part of their 2017-18 yearbook, The Hockey News has the Rangers Top 10 prospects listed as:

  • Lias Andersson (C)
  • Igor Shesterkin (G)
  • Anthony DeAngelo (D)
  • Adam Huska (G)
  • Filip Chytil (C)
  • Sean Day (D)
  • Ryan Graves (D)
  • Ryan Gropp (LW)
  • Tyler Wall (G)
  • Tim Gettinger (LW)

On Andersson, they wrote "The Rangers weren't the only team picking in the top 10 that wanted Andersson, but they struck first so they get the spoils. A fast, competitive two-way force, Andersson is a coach's dream. Excellent hockey sense, work ethic and plays 200ft game. Needs to get bigger.

In the spring, THN had Shesterkin, Huska and Day as the Rangers top prospects.

Last summer they had the Rangers top prospects as Pavel Buchnevich, Brady Skjei and Brandon Halverson.

Tags: Prospect Rankings
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 (David Banks)
(David Banks)

Lias Andersson scored thrice for Sweden during the World Junior Summer Showcase and added 1 assist and 11 shots on goal.

Swedish coach Tomas Monten said of Andersson, "Lias is a player that leaves everything on the ice every time. That's a big key factor for your team. We need the leadership, that kind of work ethic on the ice." (NHL)

Andersson was the captain for Team Sweden.

Tags: Lias Andersson
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Apr 6, 2017; San Jose, CA, USA; Edmonton Oilers center David Desharnais (13) controls the puck against the San Jose Sharks during the second period at SAP Center at San Jose. The Edmonton Oilers defeated the San Jose Sharks 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports (Stan Szeto)
Apr 6, 2017; San Jose, CA, USA; Edmonton Oilers center David Desharnais (13) controls the puck against the San Jose Sharks during the second period at SAP Center at San Jose. The Edmonton Oilers defeated the San Jose Sharks 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports (Stan Szeto)

When the Oilers acquired David Desharnais at the trade deadline this past year, Peter Chiarelli said that Desharnais is an undersized player but strong on the puck and competitive. (Sportsnet)

Chiarelli noted that he had seen Desharnais a lot when he worked for Ottawa and Boston and said that he's a smart, experienced player who makes smart decisions without the puck. (Oilers)

Desharnais played in 18 games for the Oilers, scoring 2 goals, 2 assists, a minus one rating, 16 shots on goal, 24 shot attempts, 54.3% on faceoffs and an average of 11:21 per game.

He played in 13 playoff games for the Oilers, scoring once, adding three assists, 6 shots on goal, 47.4% on faceoffs and 9:32 per game.

Tags: David Desharnais
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 (David Banks)
(David Banks)

When asked after the draft to describe his game, Rangers first round pick Lias Andersson said that he is a two-way center that loves to "change games and score big goals." (NHL Transcript)

He added, "I want to be a leader. So, yeah, I'll say I'm a leader."

Andersson said that he likes to pattern his game after guys like Jonathon Toews, Claude Giroux and said that he thinks he can play "a little bit tough and score big goals."

Tags: Lias Andersson
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 ( Adam Hunger)
( Adam Hunger)

Following his 400th career win this season, Henrik Lundqvist spoke about goalie coach Benoit Allaire and said that Allaire has been the "most important person" to him during his time with the Rangers. (NYR)

Lundqvist said, "to have that consistency and someone who is so positive and so much structure in the way that he works. You get to know him over the years and he knows me really well, how I work, how I feel and it's just fun." (NYR)

He added that Allaire "knows how to push me and without question he has meant a lot to me personally and to my game and to develop it. I adjusted my game through the years and he has been a big part of that." (NYR)

Tags: Henrik Lundqvist
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 (AP)
(AP)

7/30/17 | Kevin Shattenkirk said that he is "excited" about all of the pressure that will be placed upon him after signing with the Rangers.

He said that being from the area he understands things from the fans point of view and that he "welcomes it."

Shattenkirk said that this past season brought a lot of pressure to him as did the trade to the Capitals but he feels that he "prevailed" and came through it "pretty well."

Tags: Kevin Shattenkirk
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