Rangers final grades: Top six forwardsMay 29, 2012, by
If you’re new to the site and have never read our report cards before, essentially what we do is break up the roster evals into 4 separate posts (top 6, bottom 6, defense, and goaltending+management). We include the mid-season grade we posted earlier this year, the full regular season grade, as well as a separate grade for the playoffs. Before we get started, let me reiterate these grades are based on the players executing their specific roles within our team concept. This isn’t just based on stats.
Marian Gaborik had a terrific regular season (41 g, 76 pts) and to no surprise really bounced back from an off-year last season. He proved to everybody that he’s more than just a one-dimensional goal scorer, which so many offensive stars seem to be these days (cough, cough Semin). He is a terrific passer, he is not a puck hog with a tendency for turnovers, and most importantly he makes an effort to backcheck, which is so critical to a team’s overall success. Unfortunately, he failed to really elevate his game during the postseason (5 g, 11 pts in 20 gp).
Steve Zipay reported yesterday that Gabby injured his shoulder early in the playoffs and needs offseason surgery. The report is a bit ambiguous, but we can probably cut him some slack for his sub-par performance, particularly for not attacking the net enough. Still, I’m glad he manned up and hoped over the boards. Had he not, I’m not sure we win that triple OT game against the Caps, and I’m not sure this fanbase would have ever forgiven him. Mid-season: A+/Full Season: A/Playoffs: B-
Although Richie’s points were down from last year (66 vs. 77), he did play much of the early season with Callahan and Dubinsky. Cally is a personal favorite of mine, but he is certainly not the same caliber offensively as Loui Ericksson. And I think we all know feeding Dubinsky for scoring chances is where assists go to die.
Richie started off slow this season and generally wasn’t attacking the puck or winning faceoffs. Torts benched him, he got the message and became a point per game player after the All-Star break. He also finished with a 52% winning percentage on the draw. Richards was also extremely clutch, as he had 9 game winning goals during the regular season, which tied for 3rd in the league.
Richards led our team in points during the postseason (6 g, 15 pts in 20 gp) and continued his clutch ways, but I still expected a little more out of him on the power play. His puck possession numbers were decent (+3 relative corsi, which is basically just a combined +/- for shot attempts), but should have been better considering he had a 62% offensive zone start %. Keep in mind this stat doesn’t account for line changes on the fly, only faceoffs. Mid-season: B-/Full Season: A-/Playoffs: B+
Hagelin started off his pro career with 14 goals and 24 assists in 64 games played. Prorated over the course of an 82 game season and you are likely looking at a 45-50 point rookie year. Obviously Hags has a great first step, is terrific on the forecheck and possess playmaking ability. If he ever learns to shoot mid-stride, watch the eff out.
His zero goals and three assists on the postseason were obviously disappointing, especially considering his spot on the top line. With that said, I was more disappointed with his puck possession numbers, which were so damn good during the regular season, but dropped during the playoffs. Given, Carl isn’t used to playing this many games. Last year for Michigan he played 44 games. This year he played 98 games, so you have to keep that in perspective. None the less, I still thought the effort was there, just not the execution. Mid-season: A/Full Season: B+/Playoffs: C+
If you could build a model of an all around terrific hockey player, you would build that model around Ryan Callahan (29 g, 54 pts). Callahan does it all on both ends of the ice and plays in all situations. He hits for turnovers, blocks shots, backchecks, plays between the dots, I could go on and on. Some undermine his offensive abilities because most of his goals come from playing down and dirty in the crease and not pretty transition goals, but you need to score goals in many different ways to have a successful team and he obviously helps us get there.
I think Cally was a little inconsistent during the playoffs (6 g, 10 pts), which might have something to do with the number of games we had to play. Though this is true for most of the team, I think it’s magnified for him given the sandpaper style he plays. Still, I aint mad atcha. Mid-season: A+/Full Season: A+/Playoffs: B+
It’s hard to believe this kid is only 21. He took a major step forward this season in his overall play and the future is still incredibly bright for him. Stepan put up 17 goals and 51 points and looks like he could be a major playmaker down the road. To no surprise he improved his faceoff wins to 45% (up from 38% last season). He should continue to improve in that regard as he continues to grow into his body and better understand the competition’s tendencies.
(For more on how to improve at faceoffs, checkout a technical post I wrote here.)
Derek also much improved defensively this year, which is a credit to the coaching staff. For that reason he saw his penalty kill minutes increase from 37 last season to 105 pk minutes this season. Ultimately, he needs to work on his shot selection. He is a brilliant passer, but sometimes he over thinks what to do with the puck, especially on the cycle, and that carried over into the playoffs (1 g, 9 pts). Mid-season: B+/Full Season: B+/Playoffs: B-
I was thoroughly against trading him at the deadline for Nash and/or Bobby Ryan and very much for signing him for the playoffs. It was a risky move by John Tortorella to push for this kid’s signing (as it burns a year off of his entry-level deal), but ultimately it was necessary and it all worked out.
Kreider played very well (5 g, 7 pts in 18 gp) for his first taste in the Show. Eighteen games may be a bit too small of a sample size to start projecting this kids future statistical output. If he makes improvements in his defensive zone coverage, he will ultimately have the puck more in the offensive zone and more chances to bury that powerful shot of his. If he can continue to have Hag’s quickness, hit for turnovers like Callahan, and bury them like no one else on this roster, the Rangers will have a much better chance contending next season. Playoffs: B+
Next up, Chris will break down our defense.