The depth issue goes beyond roster makeup

February 1, 2013, by
Howard Simmons/New York Daily News

Howard Simmons/New York Daily News

The Rangers have had a lot of issues at forward depth. It’s something we’ve discussed ad nauseam (here, here, here, here). Part of this issue is the roster makeup, there is no denying that. But that problem was only supposed to be limited to the fourth line of Arron Asham, Jeff Halpern, and Mike Rupp. The thought here was that one more quality depth player with speed would be able to balance out the lineup a little better. This was rectified a bit with the addition of Benn Ferriero.

Then injuries started to take its toll. Chris Kreider went down with an ankle injury, and Ryan Callahan went down with a shoulder injury less than a week later. These are two guys expected to play in the top six, which forces guys from the bottom six to move up a slot. This in turn leads to Stu Bickel playing forward, and the likes of Brandon Segal and Kris Newbury getting a game a piece.

But the issue goes deeper than this. The Rangers were assuming they would get top-six quality out of Derek Stepan and Carl Hagelin. They have not gotten this from these two yet. This is also relevant for Kreider, but to a far lesser extent, especially since he started the season on the third line.

The Rangers had their lineup set, and it assumed certain production and a certain quality of play from players already on the roster. They have gotten that from four of their top six, but have not gotten this from Stepan or Hagelin. Therein lies the problem.

Taylor Pyatt is not a top-six forward, but he has been playing infinitely better than the Hagelin/Stepan duo, so he is getting more ice time in a spot where he probably shouldn’t be playing. Ferriero has been outplaying Stepan and Hagelin, so it’s only a matter of time before Torts tries him out on the top pair, especially considering who he rewards with ice time.

Stepan and Hagelin will find their form. It’s only been seven games after all. When they find it (and when Cally returns from injury), the Rangers will get their top-six back in order. If Kreider can find his game, then that rounds out the third line. The addition of Ferriero adds some much-needed balance to the fourth line.

Depth is an issue, but it is exacerbated because certain players are not playing up to expectations. If and when everyone comes around, we will find that the Rangers depth issue extends only to one or two players, if at all, especially with the Ferriero addition.

Categories : Forwards


  1. invalidbeard says:

    I get that contracts were a factor, but I hate that we lost Mitchell and Feds. Not just the qualify of player, but the type. This team just doesn’t try to mix it up. Dubi had to go to get Nash, and I wouldn’t have matched Prust’s offer, but I think we’re feeling the absence of those guys, who had shown they could contribute here.

    And while I’m at it, Kundratek – why did we give him away again?

    • Dave says:

      I’m willing to give the new guys more than 7 games. Halpern is a face off king, so let him hit his stride.

      I think Kundratek requested a trade.

      • Jeff P says:

        I watch Caps all the time, and Kundratek is not any better than Gilroy/Eminger.

  2. Seahorse says:

    has boyle been playing 2nd or third line? if not second id move him up. hes been rolling people over and getting pucks to the net just to make something happen

    • Dave says:

      He’s been a third liner, and that’s where he should be. If he’s playing top-six minutes, we are in trouble.

  3. Mikeyyy says:

    3 years, and we are still griping about our depth. Before we lacked top six depth. Now we lack 2nd line depth. At some point we need to get to the root of the problem…the coach.

    Unfortunately tortarella style coaches lose their effectiveness over time.

    Best get a new one while we have time to get them acclimated before next year starts.

  4. mhurley says:

    I tend to think there is some validity to what you say Mikey. Torts has been here for 3+ years and systemically has failed to fix the powerplay. I fear it shall be his undoing. That and not having any patience with young players when they make the inevitable mistakes. Unfortunately, Scotty Bowman has vowed he will not come out of semiretirement.:)

    • The Suit says:

      I actually think Torts has no patience for washed up overpaid veterans who don’t produce like Drury, Gomez, Redden, Avery, Rozi, etc.

      They all found their minutes cut before being shown the door. If anything Torts has in-trusted his younger, hungrier players like the Hagelins, the Stepans, the Michael Del Zottos, McDonagh’s etc.

      I judge this by how he distributes ice-time, not by sound bytes.

  5. Bb says:

    I read that Mike Sullivan has been in charged of the power play but I agree that it ultimately boils back down to Torts. Speaking of former Rangers prospects in addition to Mitchell playing well, good ol PA Paranteau is doing quite well in Colorado this year. These are tough times at the moment but if we can grind it out like we usually do, I for one am looking forward to Lindberg and Fast getting a look at camp next year and McIlrath as well.

  6. rickyrants13 says:

    I find it funny how everyone in this blog as well as others can never find blame in the coach or the goalie. When in fact we are singing the same tune under Torts as we were Renney.

    We have had no more luck with Torts then we did Renney. Think about it. And we even had more drafted players playing under Renney. Then we do now. And the funny thing is this. Cally and Lundy were playing under Renney. So that means this team has added only Steppan, Hags and DelZotto to the mix?

    NO POWERPLAY and no fox in sight.

    Cant win Faceoffs.

    Cant Score.

    I know they have only played 8 games. But lets be real here folks. We had the same isues last year and the year before that.

    • John and Hank says:

      People on this blog don’t blame us because collectively we have a Jack Adams nomination, a Vezina, and we were 2 games away from the Cup not even 12 months ago. Simmer.

    • RickyYells@clouds says:

      How do you come up with 8 games from a 3-4 record? New math?

      • rickyrants13 says:

        O great the children are allowed to make up new names here now. This blog has gone to crap now