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Rangers final grades: Management

Photo credit: Jim McIsaac

Photo credit: Jim McIsaac

It’s no secret that we here at the blog are supporters of post-lockout (the first one) Glen Sather. He has done a wonderful job of rebuilding the Rangers farm system into one of the best producers of NHL talent. Very few teams can boast the consistent influx of youth the Rangers have added over the years, and even fewer can say they did it without the benefit of multiple top-five picks.

To grade the management this year, we need to include all moves made from the offseason through the end of the year. It’s a grade for the entire year, not just the moves made during the lockout shortened season. Although Slats has the final call in deals, you can be sure that he has Jim Schoenfeld and Jeff Gorton in his ear. So all three are going to be graded as one whole management core.

Offseason

The Rangers made the biggest splash this offseason by acquiring Rick Nash (and a 3rd round pick) for Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Tim Erixon, and a 1st round pick. For a team gearing up for a Cup run, getting a player of Nash’s caliber for two bottom-six roster players is a fantastic move, and one that is made every single chance you get. With the club advancing to the second round, the first round pick is now in the early-20s.

The rest of the offseason was rough for Slats and company. Brandon Prust priced himself out of New York, as did Ruslan Fedotenko and John Mitchell. They tried to fix the bottom six by signing slow and not physical enough Taylor Pyatt, face-off and defensive whiz Jeff Halpern, and pest Arron Asham. They also gifted Chris Kreider a roster spot which he didn’t earn until late in the postseason.

Of all these moves, the only one I really wondered about was John Mitchell, who was a puck possession force on the fourth line. I liked signing Halpern, but for the $400k they saved, it wasn’t worth it in my opinion (plus, Halpern isn’t even with the team anymore). You can’t blame them for wanting to go cheaper for Prust and Fedotenko, two replaceable players (who we found out are tougher to replace than we originally thought).

The forward depth was a known issue heading into the season, but the defensive depth was a known issue during the offseason, and this simply was not addressed. The writing was on the wall for Stu Bickel, and Steve Eminger/Matt Gilroy were not viable long-term options for a full season. Defensive depth cost them the Eastern Conference Finals, and that wasn’t addressed in the offseason.

Offseason grade: B

Regular season

We can’t address the regular season without first addressing the handling of Chris Kreider. Everyone blames Torts, but Torts only plays guys if he can trust them. Kreider’s play in the AHL during the lockout showed that he wasn’t ready for the NHL grind, but yet he was still given the roster spot when the NHL resumed play. Then you factor in the constant up and down for Kreider, when more viable bottom-six options were available, and you have a giant mess. This should have been handled much better.

Back to the moves made in the offseason, Slats and company made a solid trade when they sent Mike Rupp to Minnesota for Darroll Powe. Rupp wasn’t playing, was too slow for the system, and although he brought great leadership, he wasn’t cutting it in a Torts system that requires speed. Powe provided great penalty killing and much needed speed on the bottom-six. He didn’t score, but that’s a non-factor when his primary role is defense and penalty killing.

The trade deadline is where things got interesting. First, they nabbed Ryane Clowe without giving up a roster player (again, something that is very important here). Before Clowe got hurt, he was well worth the steep price of a 2nd and 3rd in 2013 and a conditional 2nd in 2014 (if Clowe re-signs, else a 5th). The rumored concussion was just terrible luck, as Clowe would have been an integral part against the Bruins and Caps. Clowe addressed the need for a top-six winger with scoring potential.

Depth at forward and defense was a huge issue all season long –although it was exacerbated by the underwhelming seasons of Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik– and necessitated a big trade to address it. Thus, Gaborik was sent to Columbus for Derick Brassard, Derek Dorsett, John Moore, and a 6th round pick. The trade turned out to be a fantastic move for the Rangers, as Gaborik almost immediately went down for shoulder surgery, and the Rangers acquired their much-needed forward and defensive depth. More importantly, they acquired three players that buy into John Tortorella’s aggressive systems.

Regular season grade: B+

33 Responses to “Rangers final grades: Management”

  1. RangerMom says:

    Dave, I agree (mostly) with your words, but the grades feel a little high based on your own commentary. Feels more like a B-/C+ for the offseason, and no higher than B for the season. Not addressing the defensive depth was a glaring error, as was not replacing the toughness we lost through the Nash trade and free agent losses until very late in the season. Sure, the Richie/Gabby disappearances were not foreseen, but I think they should have done more about the other 2 issues much earlier.

    • Dave says:

      I grade based on moves made to address needs. I may have been a bit generous with the offseason moves, but the Nash deal was a wonderful deal. If Richards/Gaborik don’t disappear, we aren’t having this conversation.

      • RangerMom says:

        I agree with you on the Nash deal, and if Richie & Gabby produced at least near up to par, we’d probably still be playing right now and Sather looks like a genius. That said, management admittedly underestimated the need for grit/forward depth, and defensive depth was a holdover problem from last year that they didn’t address in the preseason. John Moore’s addition during the season is great, but we could have used more from the get-go. B- tops.

        • Dave says:

          I think they underestimated the effect the departures of some of the depth guys, then they signed players who didn’t play the type of game that Torts uses.

  2. RocketRoy says:

    GM’s GRADE OVER THEIR BODY OF WORK…!!!
    I For one think a GM needs to be graded over the (3)components of their Job: (1) Draft (2) Trades (3) Free Agency: My Draft Grade @ B+….My Trade Grade @ B+…My Free Agency Grade @ D-….We have several top prospects thru draft…Rick Nash Trade (pending grade)…Marion Gaborik Trade(B)..Here are my Free Agent Grades: Redden(F)..Gomez(C)=(McDonough)..Drury(F)…Richards(F)..Clowe Trade(pending)…!!!!!

    • Dave says:

      Tough to grade a draft year less than a year after the draft. Those need about 3-4 years to really grade. Also, tough to really include moves that were made prior to this year when I’m grading for only this year.

      • RocketRoy says:

        My Grade is for his overall drafting since lockout..!!!

        • Adam says:

          you tell him…!!!

        • Jess says:

          One day people will realize that Sather doesn’t do the drafting, he sits there and has Jeff Gorton and Gordie Clark to run the draft.

          If you want to grade Sather then grade him on the moves he actually makes which are the trades and UFA signings.

  3. Steve says:

    Why does everybody slam Gomez. His 2 seasons with the Rangers were as good as his prior season with the Devils and all but I think one crazy good year he had with the Devils. In short, he performed as expected. Maybe his pay was too high for those #’s , but they got what they should have expected??

    • Dave says:

      Expectations based on contract. Plus he was kind of a dick.

      • RocketRoy says:

        In my opinion the only reason I gave Gomez a C, is due to getting McDonough in trade.

      • Jess says:

        No Dave he wasn’t kind of a dick Gomez was one. People bitched about Avery but Gomez was in many ways much worse than Avery ever was as a Ranger.

        Gomez was one of the Rangers who threw Tom Renney under the bus while Renney was repeatedly defending him.

  4. Erixon20 says:

    Sather is great at trading out of his mistakes…but better GMs don’t put themselves in that position to begin with. The team has done much better in terms of not trading their top prospects for washed up former stars…but how is that a compliment? Saying that things are better now only points out how terrible they once were. Somewheere, Dolan is counting his $$$, not too worried about other results (wins/Cups).

    • Dave says:

      Why is it necessary to focus on pre lockout moves when post lockout has been a wonderful ride to be a part of? The lockout was almost 10 years ago, and it shows the great change of direction for the organization. Be happy with that.

      • RocketRoy says:

        HAPPY WITH FREE AGENTS..Redden, Drury, & Richards….I Don’t think so…!!!!!

  5. Erixon20 says:

    True, the whole post lockout/salary cap “saving us from ourselves” things is a real source of pride. Sorry to be negative. And I will say they have been drafting much, much better recently and that is a good sign. And I really do appreciate how they haven’t decided to tank several years in a row like the Isles, Hawks, and Pens did in order to stockpile draftpicks, which is pretty classless and unsportsmanlike. My point is that it has taken way too long to get close to being a great team, and that all starts at the top (ownership>management). What does Hank think about the team’s direction?

    • Dave says:

      I’d have to assume Hank likes the direction, the team has gotten better with each year that he’s been here. The owner/GM has made changes to try and get them geared for the playoffs. Players like teams that go for it.

  6. Erixon20 says:

    Yes, they are not shy about making moves, which in theory is what you want as a fan/player. But Hank is going to make them sweat for his next contract I think…maybe send a message that this isn’t good enough.

  7. KennyJ says:

    Just wanna say: this is my only Ranger blog. I’m 67 years old, have about 6 million interests besides hockey, have a wife both beautiful and loving, have children grandchildren, good friends, fine neighbors, (well, except for one!), and my life is just humming along. So, when I want to find out what’s up with our team, I don’t want to mess around and waste my time. I come to you. I get the facts and the opinions. Is Tortorella a good/great/suck coach?, is DZ gonna ever be the D we want him to be?, is our PP beyond fixing, (of course not.), etc., and much more. I come to you. For info about $$$, about strategy, about it all. I even like the negativity. It all goes into the mix and gives me perspective and insight. Thank you. I love this blog. Dave, chris, justin, kevin, The Suit, you all rock!! I’m sure that all you religious devotees feel the same!
    Thanks again, Ken Jacobs, Shandaken,NY (formerly of Sheepshead Bay)

    • Dave says:

      Thanks Ken. Much appreciated, and glad to see that the family is happy and healthy.

      In regards to MDZ and the PP, stay tuned, we will be addressing those this summer.

  8. KennyJ says:

    ROCKETBOY, ADAM, AND ALL YOU FINE NAYSAYERS. THANK YOU TOO, FOR YOUR PERSPECTIVE. i for one, think that we’re close to our next CUP.

  9. Walt says:

    Slats made some very good moves when he unloaded Gabby for some very young, and talented players. Clowe was a reasonable move, but he didn’t work out due to injury, so the jury is still out on him. Rupp for Powe was also a good move for the PK, and Rupp was losing his fights anyway, so that was no big loss!

    The biggest mistakes were on defense, where we got Gilroy under contract again. Why? Oh well, we all screw up some times, but you know what you get with him, why a second time? I bet that the organization was thinking that Mike Sauer would have come back after the lock out, but that never happened, too bad there, I really like Mike.

    This off season Slats will unload Pyatt, Asham, and some others, who I don’t know. He should bring in big, mean, nasty in your face players who play with an edge. I’m not sure we should sign Clowe again, his age, speed or lack there of, and injuries are areas of concern for me.

    We have to match up against big teams in the division. Philly, Pens got bigger, Caps, Devils, even the Isles, all are bigger, and quicker than us to a certain extent. Carolina isn’t what you can call small either. As a matter of fact, looking at the teams still in the play offs, only the Red Wings aren’t that big. LA, San Jose, Hawks, all are big and tough. The NHL is changing, we have to keep up to stay alive.

    I just hope we make the right moves, don’t go after any retreads, develope our kids, draft well, and show Hank that we want to win with him between the pipes!!

  10. Chuck A says:

    So, off topic, but who is Sather grooming for taking his place in what I assume would be the near-future (next 4-7 years)? Is it Messier?

    • Dave says:

      It’s Gorton, and I’m pretty comfortable with that. Gorton built the Bruins you see today.

  11. Sally says:

    I’m pretty sure that it is Jeff Groton.

    • Chuck A says:

      Thanks, Sally – after doing a bit of reading, it looks like they’re in good hands with Gorton.

  12. Kris says:

    Its amazing what one year can do to the fan base. How can Sather get a bad grade for this year? Everyone says needs more scoring. Whats he do goes out and gets Nash at a steal.

    There isnt a Ranger fan out there that last year didnt have Kreider penciled in the top 6 forwards this year. The problem is so did he and seemed to go through the motions in the AHL during the lockout and wasnt ready once the season started. Sather’s fault?

    Richards, did not preform this year, but I’ll give him a pass on the shortened season. He seemed to never find a groove. He like most Rangers seem like they didnt play much during the lockout, followed by missing camp, he never got going. He got in a slump and never climbed out. It happens.

    Gaborik, had his normal off season, after having a great previous season. Sather had a choice keep Gaborik and lose him for nothing next summer or get a return this season. Not only did he get a return but added depth at the center position and blue line, as well as a depth forward. Hows that a bad grade?

    Nash didnt have a bad year but he didnt light the world on fire. I dont blame Sather for that. He didnt disappear in the playoffs, he played hard, just got shut down it happens. If you rate his play totally on goals, Dupuis (7g) and Bickell (5g) while Zetterberg Datsyuk and Brown(3g each), P.Kane, Kopitar, and M.Richards(2geach) Toews (1g). Points dont tell the whole story.

    Clowe would have provided the needed grit in the playoffs had he not gotten hurt cant blame Sather for that.

    Is it Sather’s fault that Staal got hurt? Im sure Staal would have helped in the playoffs. Even though he got hurt before the trade deadline, its not like players of his caliber are being given away by teams. Even if there was a player of his caliber availble, what would the cost be. He added Moore, which helps going forward.

    If you were in his shoes what would you have done? Not acquired Nash and not addressed your biggest problem going forward? Would you have overpaid for middle of the road players like Prust and Feds, to only have less room for resigning players like Stepan, Mcdonagh, Kreider, Hagelin, Hank?

    There is a reason many picked the Rangers to go all the way before the season began, and that is because on paper they had a good team. Management continued to fill the holes they saw. How did they do a bad job?

    • Seahorse says:

      thank you for being reasonable

    • Walt says:

      Nice write up, and spot on! Maybe you can join the blog staff, ha ha ha. Just kidding with you.

      Also, I agree that Gorton will be the next GM. He is involved in the contract negotiations, drafting, and probably some of the back room stuff. He would be by far the best choice. Some are going to get upset, but what makes anyone think that Mess would be a good GM? What are they basing it on?

  13. Erixon20 says:

    Sather has done a great job with trades recently, no doubt about it. The Nash and Gabby deals were both excellent moves. He has an atrociuos record with high-priced free agents however. As in no one has been worse. And after the Richards buyout (if it happens, and how could it not?) we’re done with those…no more amnesty buyouts left which is scary. Please please please keep Sather away from the free agency pool…other than that he’s doing quite well.