When the Rangers traded Marian Gaborik to the Columbus Blue Jackets at the deadline this year, the concern was adding more grit and toughness to the lineup. Having already added Ryane Clowe, the attention turned to what Derick Brassard and Derek Dorsett bring to the group. John Moore was something of a mystery player. He wasn’t a throw in by any stretch, but he was a player that most of the fan base was unfamiliar with, and thus has no idea what we were getting back in the former first round pick from Chicago (hometown, not drafting team).
During his abbreviated tenure in New York (eight games, to be exact), Moore has been impressive. It’s becoming clear that he is becoming more comfortable in the system and is starting to make some really intelligent hockey decisions to go along with his raw tools.
His raw tools are also impressive. As we have seen for the past 8 games, the kid is an incredibly impressive skater. He has top end acceleration, and that gives him some extra wiggle room with taking chances in the offensive zone. To go along with high end skating he has a tremendous shot from the point. It’s not a traditional cannon, but he is extremely accurate. His vision and creativity were also lauded coming out of the USHL. The knock on him during his draft year was lack of defensive positioning. This is a skill that most toolsy defensemen lack when they first break onto the scene. He obviously isn’t perfect in that regard, but he seems to be coming along nicely.
When I turned to his advanced metrics, I found that there was a ton of sample size noise, both due to the lack of quality in his teammates in Columbus, and his abbreviated ice time both with the Jackets and the Rangers. He’s also not a veteran guy who is what he is at this point, he’s a young player finding his way in the league. Corsi numbers from 2010 unfortunately aren’t going to tell us about the player he is today, or will be next season and beyond.
For now, let’s just take a look from a scouting/coaching standpoint. After a big 14 minute debut against Pittsburgh, Torts decided to scale back the young American’s ice time to around 8-9 minutes per game. The last few he has been averaging around 12:30 per game. Seems like Torts and his staff are starting to trust him with more important minutes. With Marc Staal’s vision still blurry, having Moore be able to play quality minutes in big games would be a huge lift for guys like Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi and Michael Del Zotto.
What he’s been doing with those minutes has been the impressive part. Last night against the Panthers, Moore played what I consider to be his most complete game as a Ranger. While the rest of the team made several defensive miscues (many of which were bailed out by Hank), John Moore was a model citizen from a decision-making perspective. He showed tremendous vision in knowing when to move up ice and when to remain back. He skated, was aggressive along the walls in the defensive zone and put an epic beat down on Jack Skille.
Torts called him “Mac Lite”, referring to seeing a lot of Ryan McDonagh in his game. I think we can all agree that if Moore turns out anywhere near as good as McD, then he almost makes up for the Gaborik trade by himself. If Derick Brassard continues to show the creativity and poise that he has shown in his brief New York tenure, that’s a lot of value given up by the Jackets to get Gaborik. Gordie knows how to pick ‘em, huh?
The focus for the next few weeks will obviously be securing a playoff spot and gearing up to make a run, but watching how John Moore develops for this organization could have a potential impact for years going forward. We’ve mentioned this several times in this space before, if Moore can develop into a top 4 defenseman, it will give the Rangers quite the formidable core.