The Rangers’ 2015-2016 season was about a team that didn’t necessarily lack enough talent, but certainly had the wrong mix.
That’s not meant to absolve Alain Vigneault. There’s no question the coach deserves a share of the blame for his atrocious deployment – but there was also only so much Vigneault could do to right the ship with faulty personnel.
New York’s major problems were three-fold – and all were hallmarks of previous success that suddenly became glaring warts. The headliner was the disastrous blueline with long-time rocks that crumbled and created a domino effect that directly impacted the club’s other two biggest issues – forechecking and the penalty kill.
We’ve talked about the blueline repeatedly and are in universal agreement that fixing the defense will be priority No. 1 this offseason, so let’s explore the other two dilemmas.
Per Brad Schlossman, the Rangers may be in on undrafted free agent Drake Caggiula out of North Dakota. Josh profiled him here, and is a big-time favorite for him. Caggiula’s scoring has increased every season at UND, culminating with a 25-26-51 senior season. The 5’10”, 185 lb forward is highly sought after.
The Rangers have re-signed backup goalie Antti Raanta on a contract extension. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. But they will be available sooner or later. Raanta had a .919 SV% last season and was solid as the backup, so this is a smart move by the team. A solid first step in the offseason plans.
Update: Raanta’s deal is two years at $1 million per season.
the possibility of the Rangers going after Alex Radulov and I thought this one deserved its own post. I want to make clear that I’m not necessarily advocating for the acquisition of Radulov (or the circumstances under which I’d see it as necessary/prudent – more on that later), but instead fleshing out the potential reasons the Rangers might want to sign the talented Russian winger.
Let’s start with a brief synopsis of the level he’s been playing at since leaving the NHL to go play in Russia. This past season for CSKA Moscow he registered 24 goals and 47 assists in 46 games. While he went 9-25-34 in 34 games played the previous season, the one before that he registered 22 goals and 46 assists in 48 games. At age 29 he’s just about right in his prime, if not towards the back end of it, so it’s a reasonable bet that he would be able to put up around 20 goals in a season with the right linemates.
The offseason is in full swing for the Rangers. There is a lot of work to do with this team, and you can bet your life savings that the team will be hard at work to fill holes and make the team better heading into next season. While we can all debate what we believe “making the team better” means, which have countless times, it’s that time of the year where we see these plans coming to action.
Since it’s a rainy, lazy Sunday. Let’s go through some predictions for this offseason.
- Pavel Buchnevich is now officially free from his KHL contract. I think he signs with the Rangers soon, as in this week. It’s a no-brainer that he signs, since he is the most highly touted prospect this organization has seen in recent memory.
This offseason is a critical one for Jeff Gorton and the New York Rangers. A team with significant holes and cap problems, the Rangers will need to get creative and possibly break a few fan’s hearts in order to get back to respectability and a true chance at the Stanley Cup. Because one thing is for certain, the team as constructed cannot win a Cup.
While much of the focus has been on the albatross deals to Marc Staal and Dan Girardi, there has been some focus on whether or not to trade Rick Nash. Nash’s $7.8 million cap hit is second to Henrik Lundqvist, and for some that means he should be the highest scoring forward on the team. We can get into the flawed logic of salary equals production, but that’s a discussion for another time. For now, let’s focus on what Nash brings to the lineup.
Well the Rangers’ season is over, but there’s still plenty of good hockey to be viewed. Most eyes will be on that Washington/Pittsburgh series, as that may produce your eventual Cup winner, but don’t discount either series in the West. There’s a reason why that conference has won the majority of the recent Stanley Cups.
Here on the blog, we’ve previewed each of the four upcoming series, broken down by series and by each writer. Share yours in the comments and let us know how spot on / awful our predictions are.
Just a note: We wrote these after Wednesday night’s games because of the weird schedule. So, don’t think that the predictions are skewed by prior results.
The interesting thing about having a set day to write is that sometimes you are forced to sit on the sidelines while other writers are able to react to certain situations, immediately. In this case, the Rangers were eliminated by the Penguins on Saturday, and I wasn’t scheduled to publish until the following Friday. Lots of digestion time. Since then, there has been breakup day, a myriad of reactions from all over the interwebs and some fine analysis done by the talented staff here. As you can probably surmise, I have thoughts…
1. Not that the result was surprising, but it was still disappointing. The Rangers were never going to make a serious run considering all the issues the team had. Still, the fan in me was hoping to see something amazing that the analyst in me knew was never going to happen.
For those of you who have been following Blue Seat Blogs for several years, or perhaps follow me on Twitter @thehockeysuit (shameless plug), know that I’m an eternal centrist. I try to see multiple sides of an argument no matter how extreme. Since the Rangers laid an egg to Pittsburgh – and probably even before that – fans have been asking whether or not the hourglass has run out on AV. The reactions to this question have been obviously polarizing.
Rather than give you my opinion and back it up with pretty gifs, or advanced stats, etc., I’ll share with you what the thought process likely is inside the walls of 2 Penn Plaza under different scenarios. From there, you all can form your own opinion on what the Rangers front office will likely do with AV. As always, please feel free to sound off in the comments.
The smoky remains of the 2015-2016 season are beginning to clear and the Rangers front office must begin sifting through the wreckage and addressing the various questions that surround the team’s future.
Given New York’s cap crunch, it’s going to be a monumental task to diagnose what went wrong, develop a go-forward plan and reevaluate and retool the roster.
The process must start with getting rid of not just one, but both Marc Staal and Dan Girardi. Each has a no-movement clause, but recent history shows that those hold very little weight when it’s made clear to a player that he’s no longer wanted. It will be very difficult to show these long-time loyal soldiers the door, but it’s in the best interest of the team to rip the Band-Aid off as quickly as possible.