With Zuccarello in, who will sit among Boyle, Pyatt, and Powe?

March 25, 2013, by
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

In case you missed it, the Rangers re-signed Mats Zuccarello, who will likely join the club within the week. Zuccarello will bring some stability and scoring to the bottom-six, something that is desperately needed. The addition of Zuccarello will lead to some lineup changes. When all the pieces fall into place, the odd-man out is not who you might think it is.

It’s been very clear that the organization wants offensive talent to play alongside J.T. Miller on the third line, so it’s a logical assumption that these two will see some ice time together. Since Zuccarello is rather flexible and can play either wing, that opens up a few options for the Rangers. If Torts wants to try Miller at center, then the Rangers can try either Marian Gaborik (RW) or Chris Kreider (LW). Each line will have a lot of skill and speed, but the downside is that the trio will be defensively inept. The rest of the top-six remains the same.

With Miller at center, there are two side effects. Either one or both of Brian Boyle and Taylor Pyatt need to be pushed down to the fourth line. That means Kris Newbury will be returned to Connecticut, and one more roster player will need to come out of the lineup. This is where things get tricky. With Newbury back to CT as a given, the Rangers will have four players (Pyatt, Boyle, Arron Asham, Darroll Powe) who would be competing for the fourth line spots.

Asham isn’t likely to be scratched, he’s been effective for the Rangers. The other three, however, have been severely underachieving and could see themselves on the chopping block. Boyle has seen his time as a healthy scratch and has a single goal on the year. Pyatt has scored just once since January 24. Powe hasn’t scored at all. Of the three, Powe and Boyle are the most defensively sound, Pyatt has the best hockey IQ, and Powe is the best skater. It is truly a conundrum.

What may wind up being the deciding factor is the ability to kill penalties. Powe and Boyle are two of the main penalty killers on this team. With Halpern gone, even more of the responsibilities will fall on these two. Pyatt is the only one of this trio that does not kill penalties. Pyatt is also the only one who cannot play center.

All of this gets blown up if the coaching staff is hesitant to put Miller at center. It means Boyle stays as third line center with Miller and Gaborik, and Zuccarello gets moved to the fourth line, likely with Asham and Powe (or Pyatt). That just creates the whole Zuccarello mess from the past years, and likely won’t end well for him or the club. The third line is still weighed down offensively by Boyle, and the fourth line is thrown together with mis-matching skill sets.

If this becomes the case, then a trade would like be in the works. At that point, there’s way too much speculation to even go into all the possibilities. Between the Gaborik rumors, and the logical reasoning about Boyle and Pyatt, there’s too much information there to possibly outline all the scenarios.

Using the current personnel, the Rangers are best served trying out a top-nine that includes Zuccarello and Miller, and subtracts Pyatt and Boyle. The next few days are going to be very telling for the organization, specifically about who the coaching staff trusts.


  1. Tim B says:

    Can’t trade Gaborik if he gets injured. Im thinking he will be up in the press box. I would like to dump salary. I don’t really think we need Boyle. Yes he is a defensive forward but we have plenty of cheap good ones on the roster. Id like

    I would roll all 4 lines. Give the third and fourth line some chances. They scored last night. Our 3 superstars couldn’t even score. As for Boyle & Gaborik, id rather trade them for one of the best PP QB’s on the league. Maybe throw Hamrilik or a prospect on the deal. Also it’s just a matter of time before Staal gets another concussion once he starts playing again. Id trade him sooner rather than later.

  2. ranger17 says:

    Sit Gabby get real . Nobody wants the Hammer , my thinking is Pyatt is the sit out . Need to waive the Hammer , Gilroy can give you 5 min a game as well , just watch Hammer try to skate .
    Hags Step Nash
    Gabby BR Cally
    Kreder Miller Zucc
    Ashem Boule Powe / Haley
    G Stralman
    McD MDZ
    Gilroy Eminger
    They need to get 6th seed , then play SE div winner . It can and will happen .

  3. Mikeyyy says:

    Everyone keeps talking trade.

    You make a trade if its the big push to make you a cup winner. Not to get into the playoffs.

    Plus dont you want to allow the new coach time to evaluate the players to see who he wants to keep?

  4. supermaz says:

    Zuccarello will never be used properly by that moron we call a coach.
    He has no chance to succeed in this stupid system.
    Talent going to waste.

  5. Bloomer says:

    The Rangers need Boyle a lot more then they need Zuccarello. Boyle is a shutdown pivot who closes down the opposition. The squad already has enough perimeter players, adding another will not make them any better. They need some players willing to go to the net and pay the price ie Callahan. I think Zucc and Gabby are trade bait.

    • (@PuckCentral) says:

      Bloomer you hit the nail on the head. My thoughts exactly! We need gritty players who can score not another perimeter player that has no ability to get to the net. We need guys who can make space for the skilled guys we already have. Enough with the Disney on ice roster already!

      • Dave says:

        Problem is those guys are tough to find. The best option is Clowe who has a bum shoulder and less goals than Boyle.

  6. Erixon20 says:

    We need grit and add a 5’nothing Norweigen?

    Hags Step Nash
    Gabby BR Cally
    Kreider Newbury Miller
    Asham Boyle Powe

    Roll 4 lines like a good team does.

    ps Would rather have Haley in lineup than Pyatt or Zucc

  7. Bluesboy says:

    They really only have ONE extra forward right now if they roll four lines and I think Asham and/or JT will sit out, depending upon who they are playing… If it’s a tough banging team, expect Asham in the lineup… if it’s a high skilled skating team then it will be JT in the line up… Unfortunately, “The Hobbit” will be mercilessly HAMMERED by everyone over 4’11” in every game they have on the schedule… Unless he skates REALLY REALLY fast, he is getting NO WHERE near the opposing net…