Alain Vigneault has been pleased with the play of Brad Richards. Credit: Getty Images
Among the myriad reasons Rangers general manager Glen Sather hired Alain Vigneault to replace John Tortorella as head coach was his offensive-oriented mentality.
But, as Vigneault emphasized Tuesday prior to the Lightning-Rangers game at the Garden, that does not mean all of his players have a green light to take risks offensively.
"I think it depends on the player, the level of skill in the player," Vigneault said. "The more skill, we probably give them more leeway. If it's — I'm using this as an example — a Dan Carcillo or [Brian Boyle] I'm going to say, 'You guys can't do that.' It depends on the player and the skill level, the time of the game, etc., etc.
"As players understand the game more, as they understand the dynamics in the game — within the game — they do a pretty good job figuring out on their own when they can try something that's high-risk and when they can't."
One player Vigneault believes has been key throughout the season has been center Brad Richards.
Richards entered last night's game with seven points in the last five games. He leads the Rangers in points (34) and assists (23), and is second in goals (11).
"I thought coming in he was very confident," Vigneault said of Richards' mindset leading into training camp. "[He] felt good about himself and just went out onto the ice and tried to play hard, and he's been doing that for us since day one."
Kovalchuk enjoying Russia
Ilya Kovalchuk has no regrets.
Kovalchuk told the Associated Press in a phone interview Saturday following the Kontinental Hockey League All-Star Game that his retirement from the Devils and subsequent join the KHL's SKA St. Petersburg has been a boon for himself and the league.
"I'm really enjoying everything here," Kovalchuk said. "It's a great league. The game is different but we are getting there. There are good players here."
Kovalchuk has 36 points (14 goals and 22 assists) in 38 games with SKA St. Petersburg. He recorded 816 points (417 goals and 399 assists) in 816 games with the Thrashers and the Devils.
SKA St. Petersburg's 85 points are second most in the KHL's Western Division, and third-most in the league.
Feeling a draft
The NHL announced the Florida Panthers will host the 2015 Entry Draft.
The draft is set for June 26-27, 2015 at the BB&T Center, and it will mark the second time the Panthers have hosted the draft. Florida hosted the 2001 Draft and the 2003 All-Star Game.
The Miami Herald reported Monday that the league had decided upon the Panthers as the host franchise.
"The draft is where the future of the NHL begins to take shape, and the BB&T Center is an ideal setting in which to enjoy the excitement as we welcome our next generation of stars. [Owners] Vinnie Viola [and ]Doug Cifu, [Panthers president and chief executive officer] Michael Yormark, the Panthers' fans and the South Florida community will be outstanding hosts to our clubs, our media and our incoming class of 2015 draftees," commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement.
Philadelphia is the host city for the 2014 draft. It will be held June 27-28 at the Wells Fargo Center.
Follow Rangers beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter@DenisGorman.