Alain Vigneault noted last night that the Rangers have one decision to make on defense and it is who will be the seventh defenseman.
As noted by the NY Post and Newsday, the battle is between Justin Falk and Stu Bickel while Conor Allen will be sent to Hartford on Sunday.
Bickel and Falk are both on one-year, one-way deals. Bickel is at $750,000 while Falk is at $975,000 and would cost a $50,000 cap charge if he was sent to Hartford since his salary is above $925,000.
The NY Post notes that Bickel brings a physical element to the Rangers, something that they need, and his versatility and ability to play wing may give him an advantage.
Prior to the game last night, Alain Vigneault told the team’s website that he was hoping to have an answer on the seventh defenseman by the end of the night and that both Falk and Bickel played well.
Last season, Stu Bickel played 16 games with the Rangers before being sent to Hartford and playing ten games.
Bickel is in NY and skating as he tries to make the Rangers as a depth defenseman this season.
He told the Rangers website, “I’m really looking forward to it. It’s a clean slate. I’m not looking to make excuses for last season. I’m in really good shape right now and I am happy for the opportunity.”
“It was a difficult year for a lot of reasons but I am not putting any thought into what happened last year. “
He is a UFA after the season with a cap hit of $750,000 and has also played forward in his career.
For more on Bickel, CLICK HERE.
Yesterday, in the NY Post, Larry Brooks noted that the Rangers acquisition of Justin Falk and signing of Aaron Johnson spelled the end of Roman Hamrlik, Matt Gilroy and Steve Eminger’s time with the Rangers.
Hamrlik was claimed off of waivers by the Rangers on March 6 and played 12 regular season games for the Rangers and two playoff games.
Eminger has played three seasons for the Rangers and signed one-year contracts with them the last two summers. He played in 35 regular season games and 11 playoff games.
Gilroy signed an AHL contract and played the first half of the season with the Whale before signing an NHL contract after the lockout ended. He played 15 games for the Rangers in the regular season.
Stu Bickel is also on a one-way contract for this season with a cap hit of $750,000.
12:24PM: Bob McKenzie says that Bickel will play for the Whale today.
12:10PM: According to Larry Brooks, Stu Bickel has cleared waivers.
The Rangers have 30 days to send Bickel down to Hartford before they need to place him on waivers again.
Bickel was placed on waivers yesterday.
Ken Daneyko said on HNL last night that he thought Stu Bickel had the potential to be a good 5th/6th defenseman.
Dave Maloney said he wasn’t sure bout placing Bickel on waivers as he falls into the category of players who stand up for his teammates and could develop into a role player.
When asked about Bickel yesterday,John Tortorella said ,“it certainly isn’t helping him to be bag skated every day. We will see what happens.”
Elliotte Friedman notes that the Rangers have placed Stu Bickel on waivers.
Bickel has one more year on his contract with a cap hit of $750,000.
He has played under ten minutes in 14 of his 16 games this season. Bickel is averaging 5:31 per game this season.
He last played on March 8th against Ottawa. Bickel has three fighting majors this season.
If Bickel clears waivers the Rangers would have 30 days to send him to Hartford. After 30 days the Rangers would have to place Bickel on waivers again.
On Saturday, Stu Bickel played 5:32, had one hit and two giveaways to go with a fight.
On Sunday, Bickel played 14:15, had one hit, three blocked shots, a roughing penalty and was beaten by Joe Vitale on what ended up being Tyler Kennedy’s goal.
Steve Zipay writes at Newsday that he would probably insert Matt Gilroy into the lineup to replace Bickel.
Stu Bickel is one of many locked out NHLers who is skating in Minnesota according to Michael Russo of the Star Tribune.
Some of the players that Bickel is skating with include Zach Parise, Matt Cullen, Mikko Kouvu, Erik Johnson, Keith Ballard, Kyle Okposo, Matt Carle, Niklas Backstrom (the goalie) and Josh Harding.
Another one of the players is Ryan Carter from the Devils who Bickel fought in the big game starting brawl between the two teams.
Stu Bickel is one of the Rangers who has come into town early to skate informally at the MSG training center.
Bickel had nine assists last season, four in his first six games, and averaged 10:26 per game. In 17 games in March, Bickel averaged 13:41.
He had 12 fighting majors during the season. In the playoffs Bickel averaged 5:09 per game. In 9 games in April he averaged 4:43 and in 9 games in May he averaged 5:35.
Bickel told Blueshirts United that he is looking forward to becoming a better player this season, “I always want to push myself to another level, and I felt like I’ve had a really productive off-season and worked on a lot of different things. I’m excited to get going. “
Bickel re-signed with the Rangers on July 1 for two years.
In March of last season, John Tortorella said of Bickel “Give him credit for his mental toughness, undrafted, no one knows who the hell he is. And he’s not surprised. He feels that good about himself. That’s a good starting point for a player trying to make a hockey club, playing the highest spot in his profession and find his way. A big part of it is mental. So give him some credit.”
Adam Rotter: Bickel is a nice guy to have in the lineup because of his toughness and willingness to defend his teammates, but he needs to be better in his own zone. He has to gain the trust of John Tortorella so he doesn’t see his ice time cut in half and into single digits in the playoffs next year. The Rangers need depth on defense to make a big run and having Bickel be part of that would lessen the need to add another defenseman or make a trade.
The Rangers have announced that Stu Bickel has been re-signed.
Larry Brooks notes that the deal is for two-years and worth $750,000 per season. Katie Strang tweets that it is a one-year deal.
Bickel averaged 10:26 per game in the regular season and had nine assists.
He had 12 fights during the regular season.
In the playoffs, Bickel played 18 games and averaged 5:09 per game.
55% of readers voted that they wanted to see Bickel back this season.
Adam Rotter: A nice move for the Rangers and Bickel can battle for one of the last spots on defense, can play a little forward, is tough and a guy that everyone seems to like. It’s a depth move and gives Bickel the chance to keep working with the team and become a better player.
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