Entering the 2011-12 American Hockey League season, the Connecticut Whale roster featured three former Quebec Major Junior Hockey League stars, who all at one point were teammates in the junior development league. And just a month ago, the Whale was provided with another former QMJHL star after the parent New York Rangers made a trade with the Washington Capitals (parent club of the Hershey Bears).

Leading the pack of four forwards is two-time Calder Cup Champion with Hershey, winger Francois Bouchard, who the Rangers’ acquired for blueliner Tomas Kundratek. Bouchard, 23, joined the Whale with zero points to his credit, after playing in nine games with the Bears’. The younger brother of Minnesota Wild forward Pierre-Marc Bouchard was taken 35th overall in the 2006 NHL entry draft by the Capitals, following a stunning season in “The Q” with Baie-Comeau Drakkar.

The Sherbrooke, QC, Canada native began his junior career as a second-round pick of Baie-Comeau in 2004. In his first season with the club, he recorded just 24 points (11 goals and 13 assists) in 54 games. Bouchard took a major step forward during his draft year in 2005-06, when the right-winger led his club in points with 102 (33 goals and 69 assists) in only 69 contests. His play only improved during his third season with Baie-Comeau, when he led the entire QMJHL with 125 points (45 goals and 80 assists) in 68 games. His scoring potential was evident, and Bouchard became a professional with Hershey during the 2008-09 campaign.

Since joining the Whale, the fourth-year pro has scored once and assisted twice in 11 games. He is a minus-1 rating, has six taken three minor-penalties along with 13 shots on goal. Though the former 20-goal scorer continues to struggle in finding his scoring game with this season, Coach Ken Gernander continues to use Bouchard as a top-6 forward and also gives him some power-play time. If Bouchard can re-discover his scoring touch, then he will be able to make more of an impact with his new club. The 6-foot-1, 188-pound, winger, has an impressive shot and is a good passer. For now his impact on the Whale has been limited, but as the season progresses, expect Bouchard and his Calder Cup experience to step up.

Next in line is second-year pro, center Kelsey Tessier. The Whale signed Tessier, 21, last summer after the forward played in his fourth QMJHL season. Originally drafted by the Colorado Avalanche in the fourth-round of the 2008, he was not signed by the NHL organization which allowed the Whale to take him.

Similar to Bouchard, the 2006 pick of the Quebec Remparts (fourth-round) was a pretty good point producer throughout his junior career. In his rookie season with Quebec, Tessier recorded 50 points (23 goals and 27 assists) in 63 games. During his draft year, 2007-08, the Fredericton, NB, Canada, native led the Remparts in scoring with 81 points (36 goals and 45 assists) in 68 games. In his fourth and final QMJHL season, Tessier played in 39 games with the Remparts and recorded 41 points prior to being sent to the Moncton Wildcats at the trading deadline. He collected 12 points in 15 games with Moncton, followed by an impressive playoff performance in which he totaled 30 points in 21 contests.

Tessier became an AHL rookie last season with the Whale, and he played mostly a bottom-6 role with the club which resulted in a 28 point season, with 75 games played.  He also recorded one assist in six playoff games. This season, Tessier has a more prominent role with Connecticut, and is relied on as more than just a bottom-6 forward. The speedy, two-way center receives plenty of penalty-killing time on a unit with veteran Jordan Owens, and he has proven to be an effective defensive-forward. Although he continues to play in a bottom-6 role with the club during even-strength minutes, Tessier’s importance to the team increases with each game. Aside from his work in the defensive zone, the 5-foot-9, 170-pound, center, is a decent in the face-off circle and he has become one of the Whale’s physical energy players. Tessier continues to battle for an NHL contract in the near future, and his current play this season could earn him one.

The final two players are both AHL rookies with the Whale, in former Remparts’ forwards Jonathan Audy-Marchessault and Ryan Bourque.

Audy-Marchessault, 20, signed with the Whale as an undrafted NHL free-agent after participating in four seasons with the Remparts. The diminutive forward was drafted in the 12th round of the 2007 (QMJHL) draft by the Remparts. It was not until his final year with the team that he exploded offensively with a team-leading 95 points (40 goals and 55 assists) in 68 games. In his second act last season, Audy-Marchessault collected 33 playoff points in just 18 games. The Remparts fell short of a QMJHL championship, but the Cap-Rouge, QC, Canada, native, left an impression on several Rangers’ scouts, which resulted in the Whale offering and signing him to a contract.

The first 23 games of his rookie season have been a success. Audy-Marchessault leads the entire Whale team with 22 points (eight goals and 14 assists), and he also leads with 53 shots on goal. Though he is not the biggest skater on the ice (5-foot-9, 175-pounds), ‘JAM’ receives plenty of ice-time from the Whale coaches as the teams’ second-line center during even strength, and the power-play. Audy-Marchessault is not a one-dimensional player, either, as the center excels on the penalty-kill and even has a short-handed goal. He is a highly-skilled player, with tons of scoring potential. Jonathan hopes that his play will result in more interest from NHL clubs next summer, including the Rangers, and possibly an entry-level deal.

Bourque, 20, had a rocky start to his pro-career, enduring an injury just three games into the 2011-12 season. The upper-body injury forced Bourque to miss seven games with the Whale, but since his return, the former Quebec-league star has been of Connecticut’s most consistent performers.

Just a little background on the Whale freshman: he was drafted in the third-round of the 2009 draft by the Rangers as a member of the US National Development Program (U-18). The Remparts were in possession of his QMJHL rights, and that is where Bourque decided to develop his skills. He had the best rookie season of each player mentioned, recording 43 points (19 goals and 24 assists) in 44 games with Quebec. That season (2009-10), Bourque played with current Whale teammates Tessier and Audy-Marchessault on the Remparts. In his second and final season with the Remparts (2010-11), Bourque was the third best scorer with 59 points in 49 games.

As a rookie, Bourque has scored two goals and three assists in 16 games so far this season, but his lack of scoring should not alter your opinion on the top Rangers prospect. Bourque has not been relied on as a scorer for the Whale this season. Instead, the Topsfield, Massachusetts, native, makes his impact as an important penalty-killer and a vital energy player for the Whale. In recent games, the winger has earned extra playing time through his physical play, and was even considered one of the only players who showed up physically for his club during Sunday’s loss to the Binghamton Senators. It is this type of play that will intrigue the Rangers scouts and coaching staff.

Though “The Q” has been very kind to the Whale, the Rangers very rarely pick a player from the QMJHL during the draft each June. In fact, they only have one prospect that is currently a member of the junior league. That player is big-bodied defenseman, Samuel Noreau who plays for Baie-Comeau. He will not turn 20 for another two years, making him ineligible to play an entire season with the Whale until 2013-14.

The Whale may still decide to sign players from Quebec’s top NHL development organization, though, as the impact of these players has been greatly appreciated by the club; especially after 23 games this season.

Chad Kolarik update; could Pavel Valentenko receive a suspension?

Forward Chad Kolarik tweeted today that he expects to be skating with the Whale by January. This is very good news for both Kolarik and the Whale, as the scoring forward has been absent from the teams’ line-up all season after tearing his ACL during training camp in September. He is still not expected to play until March.

Blueliner Pavel Valentenko was given a five-minute major and a game-misconduct on Sunday for an illegal boarding penalty against a Binghamton forward. A suspension has not been dealt to Valentenko yet, but I have been told to expect one in the next day or so. Valentenko also appeared to hurt his hand or wrist on the play, but there has not yet been a confirmed report of an injury.

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

Email me at nickpnyrwriter@gmail.com.

Tags: CT Whale, Nick Perri

Feb 11, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Kevin Klein (8) is congratulated after scoring a goal against the Colorado Avalanche during the first period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)
Feb 11, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Kevin Klein (8) is congratulated after scoring a goal against the Colorado Avalanche during the first period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)

Kevin Klein played in 60 games for the Rangers this season but only 15 after the All-Star break.

Klein missed the first three games of the season, played in 21 straight games before being a healthy scratch.

He played in 30 straight games from 12/3 to 2/13 before missing one game with an illness, playing the next two games and then missing 16 of the next 17 games due to injury.

Tags: Kevin Klein
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Russia forward Ilya Kovalchuk (71) shoots and scores a goal against Finland in the men's ice hockey quarterfinals during the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games at Bolshoy Ice Dome. (Scott Rovak)
Russia forward Ilya Kovalchuk (71) shoots and scores a goal against Finland in the men's ice hockey quarterfinals during the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games at Bolshoy Ice Dome. (Scott Rovak)

5/29/17 | 1:58PM: Elliotte Friedman was on the radio in Calgary today and was asked about Kovalchuk. (FanRag)

He said, again, that he has heard that Kovalchuk wants to come to the Rangers but added"I don't think the Rangers are going to do it." (FanRag

5/16/17 | Elliotte Friedman cites Russian Sources who believe that Ilya Kovalchuk has had "serious interest" in joining the Rangers as part of his comeback to the NHL. (Sportsnet)

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Feb 13, 2017; Columbus, OH, USA; New York Rangers left wing Jimmy Vesey (26) shoots against the Columbus Blue Jackets during the first period at Nationwide Arena. New York beat Columbus 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports (Russell LaBounty)
Feb 13, 2017; Columbus, OH, USA; New York Rangers left wing Jimmy Vesey (26) shoots against the Columbus Blue Jackets during the first period at Nationwide Arena. New York beat Columbus 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports (Russell LaBounty)

Jimmy Vesey said toward the end of the regular season that he considered his rookie year to be "pretty good" and that he was "only going to get better" from that point forward. (NY Post)

He said that during the regular season he had some "stretches of really good hockey" but also had some "lulls." (NY Post)

  • In 48 games before the All-Star break, Vesey had 11 goals and 8 assists in 13:46 per game, with 67 shots
  • In 32 games after the All-Star break, Vesey had 5 goals and 3 assists, 13:27 per game and 49 shots on goal.

Vesey noted though that those lulls have made him a better player. (NY Post)

Tags: Jimmy Vesey
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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)

5/15/17 | While talking about a possible return to the Washington Capitals, pending UFA Kevin Shattenkirk said that if he did return he would want a bigger role. (TSN)

Shattenkirk was acquired by the Capitals at the trade deadline and in 19 regular season games played 20:12 and had 14 points, 18 hits, 26 blocked shots, 18 takeaways and 11 giveaways.

In the playoffs, Shattenkirk had 1 goal, 5 assists, a minus r rating, 20 hits, 22 blocked shots, 5 takeaways and 12 giveaways in 18:27 per game.

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New York Rangers forward Rick Nash against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. (Brace Hemmelgarn/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Rangers forward Rick Nash against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. (Brace Hemmelgarn/USA TODAY Sports)

5/14/17 | Rick Nash said on breakup day that New York is his home, he loves being a Ranger and plans on being with the Rangers when training camp opens for next season. (SNY)

He said before the season that he needed to show that he belonged on the roster.

Larry Brooks writes that the Rangers aren't going to shop Rick Nash but will listen to a trade offer that made sense. (NY Post)

Tags: Rick Nash
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Dec 27, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers goalie Antti Raanta (32) makes a save during the third period against the Ottawa Senators at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports (Adam Hunger)
Dec 27, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers goalie Antti Raanta (32) makes a save during the third period against the Ottawa Senators at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports (Adam Hunger)

In the latest issue of The Hockey News, they have Vegas selecting Antti Raanta from the Rangers in the expansion draft.

There is a belief that Vegas will acquire Marc-Andre Fleury but The Hockey News instead has Fleury being traded to Calgary.

They wrote later in the issue that Raanta is "cheap, a short investment, still in his prime and often outplayed 'The King." Great target for the Golden Knights.

Tags: Antti Raanta
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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)

During the playoffs, Alain Vigneault said that one thing about Michael Grabner is that his game doesn't change when he is moved around the lineup.

Vigneault said that Grabner is someone who scares the opposition with his speed, forces turnovers and creates offensive opportunities.

Grabner scored 27 goals this season while mostly skating with Kevin Hayes and JT Miller.

Tags: Michael Grabner
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Apr 2, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Brendan Smith (42) is honored as one of the stars of the game after scoring a goal to help beat 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 defenseman Brendan Smith (42) is honored as one of the stars of the game after scoring a goal to help beat the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports (Danny Wild)

5/22/17 | Brendan Smith's agent Anton Thun told Larry Brooks that Smith enjoyed his time playing with the Rangers and that he would "certainly consider" signing a new contract prior to becoming a UFA on July 1. (NY Post)

Thun noted though that Smith has not told him to "get a deal done" with the Rangers and that Smith will be looking for a "good fit with a good organization in his next contract. (NY Post)

He noted that the Rangers definitely "qualify" as a good fit but that for Smith to pass up free agency he will need to sign a contract that "reflects market value." (NY Post)

Tags: Brendan Smith
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May 4, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Nick Holden (22) scores a goal past Ottawa Senators goalie Craig Anderson (41) during the first period of 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; New York Rangers defenseman Nick Holden (22) scores a goal past Ottawa Senators goalie Craig Anderson (41) during the first period of 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)

Nick Holden played in 80 games for the Rangers this year, scoring 11 goals, 23 assists, a plus 13 rating and an average of 20:34 per game.

Holden played the second most minutes of any Ranger during the regular season, was second in ice time per game at 20:36 and played 18:18 at even strength, 1:42 on the PK and 36 seconds on the PP.

In 49 games before the All-Star break, Holden had 8 goals and 16 assists, a plus 18 rating and an average of 20:15 per game.

Tags: Nick Holden
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 ( Adam Hunger)
( Adam Hunger)

The Rangers will have the 21st pick in the first round of the 2017 NHL draft, their first pick in the first round since taking Brady Skjei in 2012.

The Rangers traded their picks in:

  • 2013 to acquire Rick Nash
  • 2014 to acquire Marty St. Louis
  • 2015 as a condition as part of the Marty St. Louis trade
  • 2016 to acquire Keith Yandle

Jeff Gorton said that he tried to move into the first round last year, with some saying it was to try and acquire the fourth overall pick from Edmonton.

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The Penguins defeated Ottawa in double OT during last night's Game 7 to win the Eastern Conference Final for the second straight year.

The Penguins are aiming to to be the first team since the Red Wings in 1997 and 1998 to win the Stanley Cup in back to back years.

They will face the Predators starting on Monday in Pittsburgh.

The Rangers felt, after being eliminated by Ottawa, that they still should have been playing.bu

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 (Andy Marlin)
(Andy Marlin)

Brandon Pirri played in 60 games for the Rangers this season, netting 8 goals, 10 assists, 96 shots, 201 shot attempts, a minus 8 rating and 12:17 per game.

Pirri played in the Rangers first 32 games of the season before being scratched for two games.

He then:

Tags: Brandon Pirri
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Feb 13, 2017; Columbus, OH, USA; New York Rangers right wing Kevin Hayes (13) carries the puck as Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson (7) trails the play during the third period at Nationwide Arena. New York beat Columbus 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports (Russell LaBounty)
Feb 13, 2017; Columbus, OH, USA; New York Rangers right wing Kevin Hayes (13) carries the puck as Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson (7) trails the play during the third period at Nationwide Arena. New York beat Columbus 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports (Russell LaBounty)

Larry Brooks wrote, when the season ended, that the Rangers need more consistency from Kevin Hayes moving forward. (NY Post)

Brooks wrote that Hayes has not been "forceful enough" in using his size, reach and puck skills in getting to the net. (NY Post)

He did note that Hayes adapted well to being put in different positions by Alain Vigneault, including more time in the defensive zone. (NY Post)

Alain Vigneault said in February that Kevin Hayes is "rounding out as a player" and starting to better understand the game at both ends of the rink.

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Apr 9, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh (27) and defenseman Dan Girardi (5) congratulate goalie Magnus Hellberg (45) after the 3-2 win over against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports (Vincent Carchietta)
Apr 9, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh (27) and defenseman Dan Girardi (5) congratulate goalie Magnus Hellberg (45) after the 3-2 win over against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports (Vincent Carchietta)

Magnus Hellberg has reportedly signed with Kunlun Red Star of the KHL, who play in China. (Elite Prospects)

Kunlun's head coach is former Rangers head coach Mike Keenan.

For Hartford this season, Hellberg was 12-15 with a GAA of 2.95 and save percentage of .903.

Tags: Magnus Hellberg
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Mar 18, 2017; Saint Paul, MN, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Brady Skjei (76) shoots during the second period against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports (Brace Hemmelgarn)
Mar 18, 2017; Saint Paul, MN, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Brady Skjei (76) shoots during the second period against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports (Brace Hemmelgarn)

Brendan Smith said during the playoffs that he had been "really impressed" with Brady Skjei since joining the Rangers and that he is sometimes "in awe" of the plays that Skjei makes. (NYR)

Smith said that Skjei is "wiser" than his age and that he doesn't see the kind of mistakes that other rookie defensemen tend to make. (NYR)

Smith said that Skjei is "strong" at both ends of the ice and "that's what you need from a defenseman." (NYR)

Tags: Brady Skjei
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New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad scores a goal past Ottawa Senators goalie Craig Anderson during the second period in Game 6 of the second round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. (Adam Hunger/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad scores a goal past Ottawa Senators goalie Craig Anderson during the second period in Game 6 of the second round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. (Adam Hunger/USA Today Sports Images)

While speaking about Mika Zibanejad on breakup day, Alain Vigneault said that Zibanejad is at a crossroad in his career and needs to "figure it out."

Vigneault said that Zibanejad has the "tools and capabilities to be a high end center in this league and needs to put it together."

He said that Zibanejad is in a phase of figuring things out and understanding how to play in different situations and what those situations may require him to do.

Tags: Mika Zibanejad
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 (Danny Wild)
(Danny Wild)

JT Miller said earlier this season that the Rangers expect him to bring his "A" game on nightly basis and that is what he also expects of himself. (CBC)

He said that he challenges himself to be better every year and that he has high expectations for how he wants to perform. (CBC)

  • Larry Brooks writes that Miller was the Rangers best forward through the first 50 games of the season before going through an "unfortunate slide." (NY Post)
  • Miller had 16 goals and 19 assists in the first 49 games this season, prior to the All-Star break, and 6 goals and 18 assists in the 45 games that followed, including the playoffs.
  • In 24 games in January and February, Miller had 7 goals and 15 assists.
  • In 19 games in March an April, Miller had 3 goals and 5 assists.
Tags: J.T. Miller
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Defenseman Neal Pionk said that he chose the Rangers after visiting with the organization, meeting the management team and speaking with Alain Vigneault. (Duluth News Tribune)

It was reported when he signed that around 20 teams were interested in Pionk.

Pionk said that he likes the Rangers style of play as well as the success they have had the past few years. (Duluth News Tribune)

Tags: Neal Pionk
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May 4, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers center Oscar Lindberg (24) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the Ottawa Senators during the second period of 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; New York Rangers center Oscar Lindberg (24) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the Ottawa Senators during the second period of 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)

In 5 games at the World Championships, Oscar Lindberg had 2 assists, a plus 6 rating and 18:10 per game while helping Sweden win the Gold Medal.

Lindberg spent most of the tournament on a line with Washington's Nicklas Backstrom and Toronto's William Nylander.

Sweden's coach Rikard Gronborg said that despite Lindberg playing more of a defensive role with the Rangers, they view him as an offensive player who fit in well with Backstrom and Nylander. (HockeySverige)

Tags: Oscar Lindberg
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New York Rangers right wing Mats Zuccarello (36) looks to make a pass against the Philadelphia Flyers during the second period at Madison Square Garden. (Danny Wild)
New York Rangers right wing Mats Zuccarello (36) looks to make a pass against the Philadelphia Flyers during the second period at Madison Square Garden. (Danny Wild)

Mats Zuccarello said that the hopes to be able to play for Norway in the Olympics next year despite the NHL saying that they won't shut down their season. (Nettavisen)

Zuccarello said that he would like to have a chat with the Rangers about possibly playing in the Olympics and that if the decision is up to him then he will go." (Nettavisen)

Asked why he didn't go play for Norway in the World Championships after the Rangers season ended, Zuccarello said that the team was doing well without him and that he wanted to take some time to relax. (Nettavisen)

Henrik Lundqvist has said that he would like the chance to play in the Olympics again.

Tags: Mats Zuccarello
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Dan Girardi and Marc Staal watch the final seconds during the third period of a first-round NHL playoff game. (Gene J. Puskar)
Dan Girardi and Marc Staal watch the final seconds during the third period of a first-round NHL playoff game. (Gene J. Puskar)

Alain Vigneault was asked on breakup day about Marc Staal an Dan Girardi and if they are both still 20 minute a night players.

Vigneault said that if you were to ask the players that question then they would likely say yes, while adding that from his perspective everything will sort itself out at training camp.

  • Girardi played 63 games this season, scoring 4 goals, 11 assists, 19:06 per game, 44% of the shot attempts at 5 on 5. He played in all 12 playoff games, 2 assists, 22:06 per game 45.4% of the shot attempts at 5 on 5.
  • Staal played 72 games this season, scoring 3 goals, 7 assists, 19:11 per game, 46.6% of the shot attempts at 5 on 5. He played in all 12 playoff games, 0 points, 19:15 per game, 44.9% of the shot attempts at 5 on 5.

He added that there are some players who are "taking strides" and deserve more minutes and that would mean that other players would get fewer minutes.

Asked about his season, Girardi said that it was definitely an improvement over his 2015-16 season but that he wishes he could have done more in the playoffs. (SNY)

Tags: Dan Girardi, Marc Staal
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Sep 25, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Team Sweden goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) during a break in the action against Team Europe during a semifinal game in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey at Air Canada Centre. Team Europe defeated Team Sweden 3-2 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports (John E. Sokolowski)
Sep 25, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Team Sweden goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) during a break in the action against Team Europe during a semifinal game in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey at Air Canada Centre. Team Europe defeated Team Sweden 3-2 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports (John E. Sokolowski)

Henrik Lundqvist said that he suffered a knee injury in Saturday's semi-final win over Finland.

Lundqvist said that around lunch time on Sunday he did not think that he would be able to play but the pain "disappeared" after undergoing acupuncture treatment. (Expressen)

He said that some pain returned to his knee about halfway through the game but said that all he was thinking about was stopping the next shot.(Expressen)

Tags: Henrik Lundqvist
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 (Andre Ringuette)
(Andre Ringuette)

Following his win in the Gold Medal game of the World Championships, Henrik Lundqvist said:

  • What does winning mean, "so many things. Sitting in NY ten days ago, this is what I pictured myself, to be here with my brother, to hold this trophy. What a game, so exciting. It's been an amazing week, to be part of this team, this group, to spend time with my brother and then play exciting hockey, that is what I was looking for. It was very disappointing being in New York, the way we ended it. This really, makes me feel a lot better." (IIHF)
  • What was going through your mind in the shootout, "stay calm." (IIHF)
  • Is the trophy heavier than you thought, "yes. Not the medal, but the trophy is pretty heavy." (TSN)
  • What part of the experience will you take with you, "everything. I think 5-6 reasons why I came here and it turned out to be an amazing time for me. To come and play with my brother and win this. It's a great group to be part of, I knew that coming here. To play for your country and to see the flag go up, it's just an amazing feeling. It was very disappointing end in New York the way we did but I recharged and wanted to play with my brother again and come here and experience this was awesome." (TSN)
Tags: Henrik Lundqvist
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Sep 14, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Team Sweden goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) takes to the ice prior to Team Sweden game against Team Europe during a World Cup of Hockey pre-tournament game at Verizon Center. Team Europe won 6-2. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports (Geoff Burke)
Sep 14, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Team Sweden goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) takes to the ice prior to Team Sweden game against Team Europe during a World Cup of Hockey pre-tournament game at Verizon Center. Team Europe won 6-2. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports (Geoff Burke)

Henrik Lundqvist and Sweden defeated Canada 2-1 in a shootout to win the Gold Medal at the World Hockey Championships.

Lundqvist stopped 42 of 43 shots during regulation and OT including 20 of 21 in the third period and OT.

He also stopped all four shots he faced in the shootout and was named the Player of the Game. 

Tags: Henrik Lundqvist, Oscar Lindberg
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Dec 11, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Brady Skjei (right) celebrates after scoring his first NHL goal against the New Jersey Devils during the second period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)
Dec 11, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Brady Skjei (right) celebrates after scoring his first NHL goal against the New Jersey Devils during the second period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)

While speaking about the defense on breakup day, Alain Vigneault said that the Rangers are "definitely" looking at bringing in another young defenseman next year.

Dan Girardi (33), Kevin Klein (32), Marc Staal (30), Nick Holden (30), Steven Kampfer (28), Ryan McDonagh (27) and Brady Skjei (23) are all under contract for next season.

The Rangers signed Alexei Bereglazov (23), Vince Pedrie (23) and Neal Pionk (21) this spring and had John Gilmour (24) and Ryan Graves (21) in Hartford this past season.

Brendan Smith (28) is a UFA and Adam Clendening (24) is an RFA.

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 (Rick Osentoski)
(Rick Osentoski)

While writing about the center position and potential moves this offseason, Larry Brooks writes that the Rangers could try and use Derek Stepan to land a top-pair right defenseman. (NY Post)

Moving Stepan would also allow the Rangers to give Oscar Lindberg a bigger role at center as well as protect him in the expansion draft. (NY Post)

Brooks notes that potentially moving Kevin Hayes, as opposed to Stepan, likely wouldn't bring "close to the yield" that the Rangers could get for Stepan. (NY Post)

He writes that Lindberg has been under-utilized so far in his time with the Rangers and that it would be a "shame" to lose him in the expansion draft because of limited ice time. (NY Post)

Tags: Derek Stepan, Kevin Hayes
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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)

6:22PM: Lundqvist reportedly made an "acrobatic save" in the final moments of the third period and had to receive treatment after the game.

Reports indicate that as of now Lundqvist should be able to play in the Gold Medal Game. (Expressen)

3:27PM: Sweden defeated Finland 4-1 today to advance to the Gold Medal Game at the World Championships.

Tags: Henrik Lundqvist
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