Rangers final grades: Bottom six forwards

June 5, 2013, by

A lack of depth up front was New York’s Achilles’ heels this season

As former coach John Tortorella repeatedly mentioned, New York’s depth up front was gutted during the summer of 2012 following the trade of Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov and the free agent departures of Brandon Prust, John Mitchell and Ruslan Fedotenko.  The Rangers struggled mightily to replace that depth all season, but had a difficult time doing so in part due to injuries and inexperience.  As a result, Tortorella was left with very few reliable forwards and it showed throughout the 2013 campaign.

Brian Boyle

It was a very disappointing regular season for Boyle, who was an occasional healthy scratch and never regained coach John Totorella’s trust.  However, in the playoffs Boyle was one of the best, most consistent Rangers, scoring three goals and finally using his big body along the boards and in front.  Boyle admitted to being extremely frustrated by his performance this year, which he blamed partially on his decision not to play during the lockout.  He wasn’t the only Blueshirt that was negatively affected by that decision, but it may offer hope for a return to form next year.
Grade: C-

Arron Asham

I’ll readily admit that I was vehemently against the Asham signing last summer.  His penchant for crossing the line in rival uniforms left a dirty taste in my mouth, but Asham turned out to be a model citizen for the Blueshirts.  Injuries kept him out of the lineup for much of the season, but when he was healthy Asham showcased the speed and shot that could make him an above average bottom line contributor.  Asham never quite found his role this season, but he has the tools to be more than just a policeman next year.
Grade: C+

Derek Dorsett

The third piece of the Gaborik return was doomed from the get-go after immediately drawing comparisons to Ranger fan favorite Brandon Prust.  Unfortunately, Dorsett was unable to suit up until the postseason and once he finally did hit the ice, he took way too many penalties in critical situations.  Dorsett does have many Prustian qualities that will serve him well on Broadway going forward, but his introduction was not the greatest.
Grade: D

Chris Kreider

Many Rangers fans blame departed coach John Tortorella for Kreider’s struggles this season, but the fact is that Kreider was playing poorly for the CT Whale long before the NHL season started, and that carried over.  Kreider was asked to learn to play responsibly at both ends of the ice and to work with his teammates rather than relying on his individual talent.  The result was a difficult season for New York’s 2009 first-round pick, as Kreider was up and down from Connecticut and rarely played more than a few minutes a game when he was included in the Rangers lineup.  Tortorella certainly didn’t help Kreider’s confidence, but this was a learning year for the 22-year-old in every aspect.  There’s no reason to think Kreider can’t bust out next season.
Grade: C

J.T. Miller

Rather than delaying the start of Miller’s Entry Level Contract, the Rangers chose to bring him up early in the season in an attempt to stretch their lineup.  Amazingly, Miller stepped right onto the third line and wasn’t overwhelmed by the NHL at the young age of 19.  Miller made some costly turnovers and didn’t contribute much offensively, but for the most part he was pretty effective.  The future looks bright for New York’s 2011 first-round selection.
Grade: B+

Darroll Powe

In the first of a flurry of early-season moves, New York sent enforcer Mike Rupp to Minnesota for Powe.  Powe immediately boosted New York’s penalty kill, but unfortunately, two concussions interrupted his season.  Powe proved to be a reliable defensive forward, his primary role, but it’s still incredible that he failed to notch a single point in 42 games this season.
Grade: B-

Taylor Pyatt

After lighting the lamp three times in his first four games, Pyatt did next to nothing offensively the rest of the season, drawing the ire of Rangers fans.  Despite his almost comical speed, Pyatt was consistently a bull along the boards and played smart hockey at both ends of the rink.  And like Boyle, Pyatt raised his game in the postseason.  Still, at this point in his career Pyatt should be no more than a fourth-liner and it wouldn’t be surprising to see New York cut bait this summer.
Grade: C+


Injuries to Carl Hagelin and Ryan Callahan plus a probable Brad Richards buyout could leave New York thin up front again.  Getting more quality NHL bodies will undoubtedly be a priority this summer, but the Blueshirts should also receive a boost from within as prospects move into full-time roles on Broadway.

Click here to read Chris’s grades for the top six forwards.


  1. Walt says:

    Boyle showed us what he can do in the play-offs, maybe he is out of position at center because he seemed better at the wing while playing there . Garde C

    Asham at grade C+ seems fair. He has soft hands for a wild man, and he proved to be a decent find.

    Dorsett played too few games to be graded at D, but I think he will prove to be a better man than we saw in the play-offs.

    Kreider at C seems fair, but in his defense, the kid was gun shy with fear of Napolian. If he farted in the wrong direction, he was sent to Harfort.

    Miller was a good suprise, and maybe a B+ seems a bit high, but this kid has all the tools, and should earn a spot on the roster this coming season.

    Powe did what he was traded for, PK, and did it well, so he should be graded B or A-

    Pyatt the diesel, just stunk up the place like a truck ideling in traffic. He is so slow, and for a man of his size, he just could’nt hit, or if he did, it was with his purse. Grade DDDDDDDD

    • Hatrick Swayze says:


      I usually find myself in disagreement with your comments… but that line about Krieder farting made me laugh out loud. Nice way to start a Wednesday. Thanks.

  2. TxRanger says:

    I’d Dorsett some slack. He was just getting into the lineup and I don’t think he’s ever played a playoff game before.

  3. Erixon20 says:

    Pretty much agree with those grades. Guys like Powe are a dime a dozen, would have rather kept Rupp. Pyatt and Boyle were awful during the regular season, but two of our better forwards in the playoffs, which is not a good sign. Dorsett should contribute next year…we need a guy like him. Hopefully Kreider will move up to top six, and Hags will move down to the 3rd line where he’s more suited (and learn PK). Seriuosly, if you compare our bottom six to those teams still remaining (other than Pitt who appear to be stacked – on paper), there is not that much of a gap, yet even last year an opponent’s 4th line killed us. Would love to have a burner like Paille on our 4th…made a huge difference.

    • Rangers407 says:

      Boston’s 4th line killed us. How can you say we match Boston’s bottom 6?

  4. joe719 says:

    I’d like to see them package Boyle, Del Zotto, maybe a prospect or 2, and get themselves some legitimate offensive talent on the backline. If Moore is as good as he is being touted, than he can take up the slack for the loss of MDZ. The power play is a joke and needs to be addressed this summer. And that help is NOT coming from within the organization. If they keep Richards, then Stepan and Brassard make up the top 3 centers. If JT Miller sticks, hes in play for the 4th line center; if not, they can go out and get someone thru FA( Hendriks might be a fit). Either way, I don’t think Boyle has a future here. Hes just way too inconsistent. And if they are going to play a more uptempo, attacking style(which might be the case after the plodding style of Torts), I don’t see how Boyle fits in. Nice guy though, I’ll admit that, but this is a business. The window on Hank is starting to close. Moves have to be made.

    • Hatrick Swayze says:

      Boyle is a beast for us year in and year out in the post-season. Not the pre-season, the post-season. Which last time I checked was the most important time of the friggin year.

      He is our best face off guy. He is our best penalty killer. He is the quintessential 4th line center.

      And everyone wants to just ship him out of town. Boyle is the number one depth guy who we should NOT WANT TO TRADE.

      Pyatt, Asham, Powe (hell, even Dorsett) are all candidates to go before we should want to move Boyle.

      What we need is Dubinsky back to be our 3rd pivot. Realism aside, Richards for Dubinsky anybody?

      • Hatrick Swayze says:

        Speaking of offensive defensemen…. Streit won’t be re-signing with the Isles, so he will become a UFA this offseason. Probably worth looking into to anchor our PP and play <20 mins a game for us. He is offensive, which fills a void, but also aging, so hopefully he won't be looking for term.

        I think Dave or Suit has been pretty vocal about wanting him. You guys think Glen will try to reel him in? 2 years at 3 mil(ish) reasonable?

        • Kevin says:

          Read he turned down $4.5 million from the Isles, wants $5.5 million on a multi-year pact. NYR will have a tough time with that

          • Hatrick Swayze says:

            Shoot, maybe it was you Kev. My bad. Well 5.5 for >3 years, I would have to pass. Is he in line for that much of a raise? His expired deal was 5 yrs at 4.1 I believe. (FWIW, he’s 35 now). Appreciate the info… something I’ll be keeping my eye on.

        • Walt says:

          He turned down a reported $4.75 mil per year, do you really think he comes for 3 a year? I think not!

      • Kevin says:

        100% agree on Boyle

      • Erixon20 says:

        Agree, Boyle is a keeper. Needs to be more consistent and use his size better. Would like him 4th line C or 3rd line winger, where he was surprisingly effective last season. Great on PK and faceoffs, and huge. Dubi – who was my favorite player – has 4.2mm cap hit which is ridiculous, so NYR can spend better if they buy out Brad. I think Dorsett will be a keeper and fan favorite. He can play, too, just like Asham. Bye-bye Pyatt and Powe, who s/b replaced by JT Miller. Could JT Miller play 3rd line C next year?

        • Seahorse says:

          He’s going to need. Apparently slats said he would’ve been playing in the playoffs if it wasn’t for a wrist injury. And he’s cheaper than getting a free agent

      • Bitter Zen says:

        Hatrick you said it brother bring Dubinsky back straight up for Richards. Unfortunately Columbus isn’t stupid enough to pay 16 million for Gabby and Richards.

  5. Ray says:

    You said “Tortorella didn’t help Kreider’s confidence”? Considering that the problem was clearly too much confidence, I think he did. Unfortunately, Kreider didn’t have a chance to learn the system last year and Torts let him play his own game, letting the team react to him. His lack of success with the Whale suggests he saw no need to adjust to his team.

    Miller is an F, sorry. Reasonable expectations for a player who is getting a year of his ELC burned are high. I see no reason why he won’t be a first rate player – maybe even next year – but the cost of playing him this year in dollar terms may exceed what Boyle was paid.

    Kudos for putting Asham well above Dorsett.

  6. joe719 says:

    I don’t know what Boyle you watch, but the one I see is a clumsy, offensively ineffective plodding 4th line player. Don’t give me his great playoff performances; he hasn’t been the same player since Chris Neal nearly killed him. By his own admission, he stunk this year. He hardly ever uses his size to his advantage, and when he does, its few and far between. Like I said, he’s a nice guy and would serve a purpose, IMO, as a utility 4th or maybe 3rd line winger. But if what we’re hearing is true; that the team wants to go in a more attacking, offensively friendly direction,where does a Brian Boyle fit in? Better to fit in a younger body, like a Miller to fill that 4th line role. Granted, Miller would probably be better with 2nd and 3rd line talent on his wings, but it could be a nice start to his career to man the 4th line and get valuable experience. I think what we all have to do is reevaluate some of the talent on this team now that Tortorella is gone. I think that starts with a Brian Boyle; and I don’t think we are going to see much more from him then we already have; a 4th line forward who rarely uses his size and is very inconsistent.

    • Erixon20 says:

      That year Boyle scored 20 was a fluke, but he s/b able to chip in at least 10 goals in a full season. He is also our best faceoff guy and penalty killer. You don’t trade that unless you have someone who can step in take over those roles. He makes slightly too much $, is way too inconsistent and not mean enough. That said, replacing Brian Boyle is far from the top of NYR’s priorities heading into next season. And if he were packaged for another asset as many suggest, we would have a very hard time replacing what he brings to the rink.

    • Hatrick Swayze says:

      As I begin to pick apart your flawed reasoning, Ill start here:

      “Dont give me his great playoff performances”
      – he has .33ppg in the playoffs compared to .27ppg in the regular season over his career. If you don’t like playoff production, then yes, we should get rid of him.

      ” He hardly ever uses his size to his advantage, and when he does, its few and far between”
      -Boyle was 15th in hits (145 overall) in the NHL this season. That is 15th in a league with roughly 540 players overall. Top 3%. For reference Callahan was 11th with 154 but played 7 more games.

      “Like I said, hes a nice guy and would serve a purpose, IMO, as a utility 4th or maybe 3rd line winger”
      -No one is suggesting that he be bumped up to top 6. Many of us want to see him kept at our 4C and PK guy, aka utility. This blog has stated multiple times that if NYR were to be a true contender, Boyle will be our 4C, and we would have decent depth. And as to why you want to move him to wing and take our #1 faceoff guy out of the circle is very confusing and counterproductive.

      “But if what were hearing is true; that the team wants to go in a more attacking, offensively friendly direction,where does a Brian Boyle fit in?”
      -Boyle flourished under Tortarella’s 2-1-2 system which demanded a heavy forecheck and quick decision making, becoming one of Tort’s most relied on players to the disdain of many of the uninformed Garden Faithful. As he is not fleet of foot, how would it depreciate his value if we brought in another coach who implemented a 1-3-1 trap style which emphasized skating less? Perhaps he would have less opportunity to block shots in the D zone… still I think we’re stretching the argument here.

      “Better to fit in a younger body, like a Miller to fill that 4th line role.”
      -Boyle fits into a shut down role perfectly. He has proven that he can be relied on to take defensive zone draws and push the puck up ice, leading to offensive zone starts. At which point he comes off the ice and we put out more offensively gifted guys. Miller was given protected minutes last year with over 50% of shifts started in the offensive zone (I think Miller, Krieder and Richards were given the most protected minutes this yr). He is not yet ready to fill Boyle’s shoes. The job is to shutdown the opposition’s top talent. Leave the scoring to the other guys. If we could get our top 6 to score more, then depth scoring wouldn’t really be that much of an issue and we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

      Boyle has many useful, tangible aspects to his game which other players don’t have. It would be a mistake to look past them solely in search of a scoring touch. Any player is worth moving for the right return, but as I stated prior Boyle should not be headlining our ‘export list’.

      And before anyone asks…. no I don’t have a Boyle jersey at home. Just a McDonagh and Richter.

  7. joe719 says:

    To get the offensive help on the blueline that this team sorely needs, something has to be given up. When you look at the lineup as it is now, you’re not about to give up on Cally, Step, Hags, Nash, Brassard, Kreider,and the rest of the top 9 forwards on the team. I don’t see anything of earth shattering potential coming up that this team could afford to part with going forward. In that case, you look to move the type of player that could be replaced. Boyle, IMO, is that type of player. Even with all the shiny attributes you listed that he possesses, he still was benched by his coach during the season, and by his own admission “stunk” this season. He is an inconsistent, limited player. As for his hitting stats, please, just look at tapes of the Montreal games and watch him being out muscled by that giant of a forward, Brian Gionta! Look, I’m not trying to trash the guy, but I believe if packaged with some other assets, he could bring back some offensive help for the blue line. I’m not suggesting an All-Star power play guy will be coming back in the trade, but someone who actually knows what to do at the point. Its a need that has to be addressed, and this might be a way to do it while not losing an irreplaceable part. Again, as a fan base I think we have ‘de-torterize’, and realize that not every player will be back next year, and guess what; they can be replaced! Especially a 4th line center who makes entirely too much money for his production.

  8. joe719 says:

    * “…have to de-torterize…”

  9. Frank Cerbone says:

    Neither Dorsett nor Hendricks RARELY win fights, even if we forget that Dorsett is a PM machine.

    Putting McDonough on the power play, means Staal (salary cap issues this year and next) has to go; maybe for Justin Faulk (young right handed defenseman playing for Carolina)or Travis Hamonic (young,right handed, physical, defensive defenseman

    Can’t move MDZ or Girardi because they eat up minutes and rarly miss a shift or game. Watch the exit interview with Staal and you get the idea Staal STILL isn’t ready to play.

    Asham doesn’t play a lot, but there are no guys under 200lbs who can beat him. Both Haley & 6-4, 220 lb Mashinter are tough guys too; even if they only play 3 shifts a game.

    Having McDonough (bloodied face), Stralman (fractured face), & Nash (concussion) at the receiving end of Lucic’s elbows was an indictment of Tortorella failing to protect his players.

    Next season, with McIlrath & Mashinter playing even limited minutes (both 6-4, 220)will severly limit teams like Boston or Phila from trying to intimidate,

    Kreider in his 3rd year of his ELC and JTMiller is probably a 3rd liner, but they are both young.

    Bryan Bickel or David Clarkson would look good on the Rangers as UFAs and not having to give up a 2nd rounder next year.

  10. supermaz says:

    I can’t believe the respect some of you give Boyle.
    He is way overrated, and the things he does well(faceoffs PK) are easily replaced. Lets move forward already, not “sideways”.

    • Evan M says:

      People are valuing him highly since he does his part well. He’s not the 20 goal guy, but he does a great job as a defensive forward. You say the things he does are easily replaced… ok, but why replace them when Boyle is already here doing them? If you’re looking for a 20 goal guy, don’t look at the 4th line.