In case you missed it yesterday, the Rangers signed Jason Arnott last night to a one year, $1.6 million contract. It was something that I talked about just that morning, so it’s rather funny that the Rangers inked him that day. Arnott, 38, spent last season with the St. Louis Blues, putting together a line of 17-17-34 and a +13 rating.
Arnott likely won’t be expected to play a scoring role with the Rangers, especially with Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik, and Rick Nash in tow. Instead, Arnott will be relied upon to provide depth and stability to the bottom six forwards, something that has troubled the Rangers this season. For starters, Arnott will bring his 50.3% faceoff win percentage to a team winning face offs at a 46.6% clip.
Arnott will also bring that depth and stability mentioned above. For a while now, we’ve been discussing how the Rangers will not survive if their fourth line consists of Mike Rupp, Jeff Halpern, and Arron Asham. We talked about the need for a depth forward and about available free agents. Arnott’s presence will likely push one of them out of the lineup –barring injuries– and serve as a matchup forward.
Since Arnott will not be relied upon offensively, he will clearly be on the roster for his defensive abilities. That said, Arnott has not been relied upon defensively for at least two seasons. His peripherals last year (read more here) weren’t all that impressive, with a 6.4 GVT, 2.1 PVT, -.067 QOC, 3.9 RCorsi, and 60.3% OZone Start. His numbers were similar for the 2010-2011 season. What these numbers mean is that although Arnott does provide a positive presence and will lead to more points in the standings (GVT/PVT), he wasn’t the guy that St. Louis relied upon to do the heavy lifting defensively, as he faced a negative QoC and started just 40% of his shifts in the defensive zone.
While those are the two most recent seasons, it doesn’t exactly paint a picture of Arnott’s entire career. In the 2009-2010 season, Arnott had a much better QoC (-.009), a RCorsi that is consistent with his previous two years (4.4), but he started significantly more shifts in the defensive zone (50%). Those numbers are pretty consistent throughout his career in Nashville.
It’s going to be interesting to see how Arnott is deployed by Torts. While he is a solid two-way player, his skating –especially at 38-year-old– isn’t top-notch and he has never been relied upon to play a role like Brian Boyle does for this team. With the team in desperate need of depth, Arnott will at least provide some stability, once he gets his feet back under him.