A PUZZLING MOVE BY THE RANGERS

In a rather interesting move today, the New York Rangers signed another depth defenseman in veteran Brendan Bell. It’s unlikely that the Rangers see Bell as an NHL regular and they already have their veteran depth d-man in the recently resigned Steve Eminger. Likely this move is for the Connecticut Whale who also have a plethora of defenseman on the roster.

It’s just speculation on our part, but we would assume that a move might be forthcoming that involves moving some defensive depth to obtain either a front line left-winger or perhaps, again this is just speculation, Shea Weber?

In the meantime however, Brendan Bell is now a member of the New York Rangers organization.

Here’s the official release:

RANGERS AGREE TO TERMS WITH FREE AGENT DEFENSEMAN BRENDAN BELL

New York, August 9, 2011 – New York Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather announced today that the club has agreed to terms with free agent defenseman Brendan Bell.

Bell, 28, has skated in 101 career NHL contests with the Ottawa Senators, Phoenix Coyotes and Toronto Maple Leafs, registering seven goals and 21 assists for 28 points, along with 51 penalty minutes.  He established career-highs in 2008-09 with Ottawa, tallying six goals and 15 assists for 21 points in 53 games.  Bell tied for second among Senators defensemen in goals, and ranked fourth in assists and points that season.  As a rookie in 2006-07, Bell recorded seven points (one goal, six assists) in 45 contests with Toronto and Phoenix.  He notched his first NHL point with an assist on October 28, 2006 at Montreal, and tallied his first NHL goal on January 20, 2007 at Pittsburgh.  Bell made his NHL debut as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs on March 21, 2006.

The 6-2, 211-pounder has also skated in 374 career AHL contests with the Syracuse Crunch, Peoria Rivermen, Binghamton Senators, San Antonio Rampage and Toronto Marlies/St. John’s Maple Leafs, registering 46 goals and 152 assists for 198 points, along with 376 penalty minutes.  In 2009-10, Bell established AHL career-highs in goals (14), assists (38) and points (52) while skating in 71 games with Peoria and Syracuse.  He finished that season tied for third among AHL defensemen in goals, fourth in points and assists, and led all blueliners and tied for ninth in the league overall with a career-high, 12 power play goals.  Bell also led Syracuse in assists, points and power play goals.

Last season, Bell tallied two goals and nine assists for 11 points, along with 14 penalty minutes in 29 games with EHC Biel of the Swiss A-League.  He led all team defensemen in assists and points, and tied for third on the team overall with a plus-two rating.  Bell also skated in one contest with Omsk Avangard of the Continental Hockey League (KHL), recording two assists in his only appearance.

The Ottawa, Ontario native was originally selected as Toronto’s third round choice, 65th overall, in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft.

11 responses to “A PUZZLING MOVE BY THE RANGERS

  1. Mister Delaware

    Seems like the opposite of puzzling to me (unless you’re looking at it from Bell’s POV, I guess). If NHL experienced players are willing to serve as in-organization contingency plans, why wouldn’t you stockpile them in Hartford? Depth is awesome.

    • That’s a VERY easy question to answer “Mister Delaware.”

      First, in the AHL you’re only allowed to have so many veterans. I think the number is 6 if I’m not mistaken. It might be 4 but I’m not sure. Do you want to take a slot up like that for a guy who has no real chance of sticking with the team?

      Second, they already will have Wade Redden there. Do they need another veteran? Wade has been hailed by every single one of the young d-men, including some of the forwards, as a monumental leader and teacher in the locker room.

      Third, having a guy like that gets in the way of one of the tremendous amount of quality prospects the Rangers have in Hartford that are in desperate need of minutes. Signing a guy like this hinders their development.

      There are three reasons right off the top of my head.

      • Mister Delaware

        First: If you have the room, sure. And I imagine Bell is an easy release if some even better veteran comes available to play on you AHL team.

        Second: Redden might be great for Hartford, but he can’t affect the Rangers because they can’t afford to call him up. If the Rangers lose one of their veteran defensemen on a short term injury, Bell can fill in without risking a rush promotion.

        Third: If all 6 everyday D-man slots were already filled in Hartford, I’d absolutely grant you this one.

  2. Sorry to disagree Mitch.
    I love the D prospects, and I do hope v-Tank and Kundratek make their BlueShirt debuts this season, but this may be a smart move. An insurance policy against the not-too-unlikely.

    The Rangers’D has been abnormally healthy the last couple seasons.
    If our intended D corps were to get hit with the typical percentage of lost man-games to injury, Bell will earn his keep.
    Last year the NYR used 22 F’s, the analogous # on blueline would be 11 different D-men.Think of Bell like Newbury.

    Bell was the top D man in Junior hockey at 20.
    He likely won’t be that kind of star now, but 28 is a D-man’s prime

    You’re right, the Whale D blueline is well-stocked – DZ or Erixon, v-Tank, TK, Niemi, Parlett, Bickell, Baldwin, Klassen, and the older vets Redden and Nightingale.

    My hope for a silver lining here is a plan to remove of Redden’s contract….

  3. CWede, You never need to apologize for disagreeing with me. I don’t know it all…at least not yet. :) I admire when people have contrary opinions and they give their reasons in a logical fashion as you do.

    You are missing a couple of things here.

    #1 – As I said, if Bell plays then a young kid does not. Bell has no future in the NHL. I would also pose this to you…why do you think that he’s played on SO many different teams. He’s played on FIVE AHL teams (St Johns, Toronto, San Antonio, Binghamton, Peoria and Syracuse), THREE NHL (Toronto, Phoenix and Ottawa) and Omsk in the KHL and Biel in the Swiss-A all since 2003. Why do you think he hasn’t stuck somewhere…anywhere? BTW, in his 505 game career as a professional, combining all of his stats, Bell’s posted 55 goals, 183 assists for 233 points, 431 PIM and an ugly minus-75.

    I’m sure all that jumping is not all based upon his hockey skills.

    #2 – Wade Redden isn’t likely going anywhere until the new CBA happens. I’m sure at that point there will be another grace period to buy out contracts and that’s when it’ll happen. In the meantime he’s been great in Hartford and you want him there to work with all the young defense.

    #3 – If they do have a rash of injuries on defense, I am certain that the young guys out there will benefit in much the same way that the forwards did from getting the NHL exposure. That can only help…not only their play moving forward, but also as trade bait as other teams see them as having potential their value goes up and if the Rangers did make a move they’d get more for them.

    Like i said, this is a curious move. To me it’s not a big one YET but could be a bigger one if something else is up.

  4. I have a feeling that Bell could end up the Rangers 7th d-man. It makes no sense keeping a kid (like Del Zotto, Erixon or Valentenko) sitting with the Rangers when they can play with the Whale. On top of that, I would guess that Bell is more salary cap friendly as a bench player than Erixon or Del Zotto who both make over $1 million.

    • The Rangers seventh d-man is Steve Eminger. Any of the others you mention here will be among the top six or in Hartford. Bell’s signing still makes no sense to me unless it’s part of a bigger plan and he’s the insurance at that point…

  5. If Eminger is the spare d-man, who are 5th and 6th? I can’t see Del Zotto and Tim Erixon as a third pair because it would be a repeat of last year when Staal-Girardi and McDonagh-Sauer logged too many minutes game-in and game-out. I still wish they could find a way to add a Scott Hannan for a Colin White type contract.

    • Erixon will be a Ranger this season. If he’s not the team is going to be VERY disappointed.

      I’ve gotten to know MDZ really well. I think he’s a lock to make it back in NY and he isn’t exactly a slouch that has no experience at the next level. Remember he was on the All-Rookie team. He just needed to make some adjustments. I think he will.

      I think your assumption about them overworking the top two pairs won’t happen.

  6. Colorado Mark

    Wow! Anthony M- That’s a blast from the past (I think you’ve commented here before, but I guess I didn’t notice it. Anyway, I was thinking this was to have a vet call-up option in Hartford, but Mitch is making me think twice. There will be some interesting decisions made in training camp. Besides the glut at forward (with Weise being a guy I think they will keep a la Sauer last year, and maybe he works his way in the lineup for good). Figure the battle between Zucc, Christensen, Avery and Wolski for 2-3 spots. But the D is where it gets interesting with the cap implications. If both DZ and Erixon make it (this is where I agree with Mitch, I think those two are who the Rangers are hoping make it, but a cap clearing move (forward) will result in that 3rd D pairing. So in Hartford you have: Redden-Kundratek, V-Tank-Baldwin, Niemi-Parlett, with Bickell-Klassen and Nightingale-Bell giving you 10 AHL+D-men. I don’t see any of those guys getting sent to the ECHL, so it seems like there are a few too many contracts on the books. Pashnin would have been interesting to see on the Whale, but now that I see all those names I’m wondering where he would have fit in. It will be nice to see actual competition in training camp.

  7. Mark,

    The D-lines are likely to be Redden-Nightingale, Valentenko-Kundratek, Bickell-Parlett with Niemi working into a rotation.

    I think Klassen is Greenville bound, as is probably Baldwin.

    Where Bell fits in with that I have no idea.