Musings: Coaching, free agents, RFAs, offseason

Gerry Kahrmann , PNG files

Gerry Kahrmann , PNG files

There has been a whole lot of news recently, and Chris was kind enough to be unavailable to write the Musings this week. That means I get to do a brain dump on the offseason so far, which is super.

Starting with the coaching, I am still surprised that the Rangers fired John Tortorella. I don’t believe they intended to do this initially, but something clearly changed on the Memorial Day exit interviews. Everyone points to the comments made by Henrik Lundqvist and/or a player revolt, but I don’t buy it. This is an organization that has never allowed a player to have that much control, and a GM that has been faced with trading the best player in the game. I think there was something else, perhaps a disagreement about direction of the team/coaching staff.

Dan Bylsma re-upped in Pittsburgh, so my personal favorite to take the reins is no longer available. Dallas Eakins went to Edmonton, which means the Rangers are down to internal choices, Alain Vigneault, or Lindy Ruff. I’m a big fan of Vigneault, who will get the best out of this current team. Ruff is just the wrong guy for the moment, since he is a Torts-type when it comes to personality, and the firing of a coach means you need a different voice.

Either way, expect Mike Sullivan to be let go when a new coach is hired.

We’ve spent some time discussing potential UFA signings (here, here, here, and here), but the market it very thin this year. When Bryan Bickell is garnering this much attention, you know that the market is thin. Looking at the needs/surplusses, there’s a surplus of bottom-six guys, so you might see the Rangers try to address scoring by dealing from bottom-six. It won’t be on the Rick Nash scale, but you could see a guy like Taylor Pyatt packaged with a prospect to get a top-six scorer. That said, the injuries to Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin will throw a wrench into the plans. Those are two key cogs for the Rangers.

The Rangers will also have some decisions to make regarding their own RFAs, of which they have five. I don’t think they will qualify Michael Sauer at $1.25 million, and sadly I think his career is over. The other four (Mats Zuccarello, Carl Hagelin, Derek Stepan, Ryan McDonagh) will receive their qualifying offers, but they won’t be accepted. It’s a step in the process that guarantees RFA compensation should they sign an offer sheet.

Even though this is all fun to talk about, there won’t be any significant moves made –including trades, RFA signings, UFA signings (of those guys on the Rangers that are UFAs)– until a new coach is hired. The coach will have a say in personnel matters –as all coaches do– and his style of coaching and who he wants on the team will play a big part in who we see in blue next season.

Interestingly enough, the Rangers are not in salary cap hell despite what everyone else is saying. Yes, they have some important guys to sign, but they have $14 million in cap room to do it. That number becomes $20 million if Brad Richards is indeed bought out. That’s a lot of wiggle room.

Question time:

  • Take your pick from Winnipeg: Andrew Ladd or Blake Wheeler?
  • Take your pick from Edmonton: Sam Gagner or Jordan Eberle?
  • If you had to trade one, would it be Taylor Pyatt or Brian Boyle?
  • Are you comfortable with the Rangers opening next season with Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, Michael Del Zotto, Anton Stralman, and John Moore as their top-six, with Steve Eminger as their seventh?
  • How do you want management to address injury depth? Boston had Torey Krug and Matt Bartkowski, the Rangers had Roman Hamrlik and Matt Gilroy.
  • Do you hate these Nik Backstrom GEICO commercials as much as I do?

40 Responses to “Musings: Coaching, free agents, RFAs, offseason”

  1. Sally says:

    I agree that we don’t know the reason that Torts was let go. I don’t think it was about the assistant coaching because they would have let Mike Sullivan go along with Torts. It was the perfect time to clean house. So if Mike Sullivan is a goner, why didn’t they do it then?

  2. Tommy says:

    Awesome Musing as usual…

    1) Andrew Ladd is a more complete player with tons of experience in the playoffs and a 2x Cup winner, he would be a nice fit.

    2) This is a no brainer for me .. Eberle all the way his talent level is amazing. Would kill for him here in NY.

    3)If Staal is healthy and able to regain his form I am all for it, but if MDZ is to be shopped for a Eberle or Ladd we would have to grab a bottom pair guy to fill his spot, moving moore next to staal on the second pair.

    4) Addressing depth is a concern as we all noticed this season, especially the playoffs. We have some depth with Skjei, Mcillrath and Andersson though we have no idea how they will turn out. It would be tough to find a good depth guy willing to play in the AHL until needed.

    5) At first they where okay, now they are just brutal

    • Hockey talk says:

      No we have plenty of d on the back end better then delzaster gilroy and eminger

    • RyanK says:

      Correct me if I’m mistaken, but hasn’t Skjei committed at least 2 years with Minnesota? He’s not going to be an option for a while.

      McIlrath is, in all likelihood, spending next season with the Wolf Pack. They can call him up if need be but he really should have one more year of AHL development before he makes the jump. Then again, he could surprise everyone out of camp.

      • Dave says:

        Skjei won’t be getting a pro contract until at least the end of his sophomore year, more likely the end of his junior year. He’s at least 3 years away.

        McIlrath’s knee injury set him back a bit, but I think he’s an injury call up next season.

  3. Jerry says:

    Dave ,finally somebody else besides me is saying the rangers are not in a cap crunch.there are a lot of teams in worse shape then us.great read.

    • Dave says:

      People saying they are in a cap crunch aren’t even doing the easiest of research (by just going to capgeek, you can see the Rangers are actually in the bottom half in the league in committed salary). Just lazy sometimes.

  4. Bloomer says:

    I believe for the most part the defence is solid. Maybe add a bit more depth there. I would not be moving Boyle period. There has already been too much tampering with the teams’ chemistry since they were the Eastern Champs. Buying out BR is a business decision as it would cost a lot of dough. However, it would free up cap space so they can get some help with their P.P..

    • Dave says:

      I’m torn on the BR buyout. They don’t need to do it this year, and I believe he will rebound nicely. But that cap hit is awful for a question-mark heading into a season where they need to contend for a Cup.

  5. ranger17 says:

    Think BR gets to go to camp

    • Dave says:

      Amnesty buyout period is in the June/July time frame. If he makes it to camp, he is on the team for the year.

      • Sally says:

        I didn’t realize that because I also thought the Rangers would see how camp went. Dave, how does that jive with the invitations team extend to players to come to camp?

        • Dave says:

          Well all roster players are generally given invites to camp. Redden was the exception. Since the Rangers have the cap space, if Richards is with the team by camp, he will be invited.

  6. Jeff P says:

    Ladd
    Eberle
    Pyatt
    Yes on top 6. Ideally McIlrath is your 7th D.
    Be more inventive. Maybe if Blake Parlett was available and not traded, we would have seen him and not Hamrlik.

  7. Randy says:

    1) Definitely Ladd. Guy plays 150%, hits, and scores big goals, and is a leader. Wheeler is too streaky. Doubt Winnipeg will wanna let go of their captain though.

    2) Eberle. Ever goal he scores makes the highlight reel. Get him with some older, more experienced players and he will be electric.

    3)If Staal can play, then I am fine with the defensive 6. Moore proved himself in his short stint, and if healthy, these guys make a strong core.

    4)I think that the Bruins just put some faith in their AHL guys and it worked. However, maybe there is a trend where rookies who make their NHL debuts in the playoffs play above and beyond what is expected (Krug, Kreider, Bartkowski). I think the Rangers are fine with depth, and if worst comes to worst, then throw in a guy like McIlrath or Skjei (is he playing on the wolfpack next season?) rather than guys like Hamrlik (please god never again) or Gilroy.

    5)I originally thought that I only saw them because I go to school in the DC area, but no, I was wrong, they cannot be escaped. Also, it isn’t even impressive to score 15 shots in under 15 seconds when the pucks are lined up like that. A peewee could do that. Just awful marketing.

    As much as I couldn’t stand BR this season, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Rangers give him one more season. He needs to be used in the ways that have given his career so much success, not as a fourth liner. He is a PP specialist, but needs someone who can bury a one timer so he doesn’t have to take his muffin shots from the point. If Hags and Cally are out for the beginning of the season, we may need a guy like BR to step up. I would like to see him bought out so we can get a guy like Bozak, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him make a nice comeback with a new coach and a new, full length season.

  8. Walt says:

    Nice job Dave, interesting points to think about!

    Andrew Ladd is a quality guy, who can score, skate, and lead younger kids, which we have.

    Jordan Eberle for MDZ is a move I’d make any day. Pure skill set that would round out the offense, and young!!

    I’ll call for the garbage truck to back up into MSG for Pyatt, and pay for the service myself!

    The D is in good shape, and if no trades are made, then I’d prefer to see McIlrath as a 6-7 d-man, to work his way into the line up going forward.

    Love the Geico commercial, NOT!! At first it was funny, now it’s worn off, and is ready to join Pyatt on the same garbage truck.

    As for the depth, after all the buy outs occur, review what is available, and go from there. I believe that there may be some good talent that will play for less to stay in the game!!

    • Walt says:

      I assume the commercial is the one with the hockey stick as a splinter??

      If you mean the 15 pucks in 15 seconds, that also qualifies for the same trash truck!!

  9. george says:

    1. Ladd
    2. Eberle
    3. Pyatt
    4. Yes
    5. Not much to do. Wait until prospects to get NHL ready.
    6. They are annoying.

  10. Hatrick Swayze says:

    Great content today, Dave. Many interesting things to think about in the post.

    1) Ladd… but WPG would be as willing to move him as we would Callahan. Wheeler is more realistic.
    2) Gagner (lower asking price). Eberle would be a sick acquisition though.
    3) Pyatt
    4) Abso-friggin-lutely. Let’s hope Staal is good to go.
    5) Bring the wolves up from the pack if need be.
    6) Worst commercials ever. I’d rather watch the new La Quinta ad campaigns that are out for business travelers.

  11. Erixon20 says:

    It is tempting to think of BR returning to form and having Step, BR, Brassard, and Boyle as your centers. If BR’s contract wasn’t so ridiculous and the cap wasnt going down, I’d be on board with giving him another chance. But they can’t afford to gamble on that (he gets hurt we’re screwed), and can use $7mil+ in other ways to help the team – since Step and Brassard seem ready to take over top 2 center roles.

  12. joe719 says:

    Makes no sense to talk about possible trades or signings, until we find out who the Coach is and what direction they want to go in. A lot of the names I see mentioned here, and on other blogs in connection to the Rangers are the type of players who fit into that 2nd or 3rd line player mold that Torts loved. Who knows if that’s going to be the same type of player the new staff is looking at. Again, I think as a fan-base we are gonna’ have to de-Torterize our minds! (:

  13. Erixon20 says:

    1. Ladd
    2. Eberle
    3. Pyatt and Powe for a bag of pucks
    4. Yes, but could be improved with a trade of MDZ+ for all 300lbs of Big Buff
    5. Depth is Eminger as #7 and Hartford, who have had another year to develop (not Gilroy)
    6. Awful. And why Backstrom? No offense, great player, just curious.

  14. RangerSmurf says:

    Wheeler, by a nose.

    Eberle, also by a nose. And I absolutely love Gagner as a player.

    Pyatt by 25 lengths.

    Yes, you can win with that D corps.

    Injuries are addressed by having prospect depth. You can look at the roster/system and see we absorbed forward injuries very well, with Thomas, Miller, etc… D needs to be the same way, so the fact that we have zero D prospects that are ready even for a cup of coffee stint is troubling.

    With the fire of a thousand suns.

  15. RyanK says:

    1. Ladd. He’s a more complete player and adds leadership.

    2. Eberle. Still coming in to form, and he’s already producing at a better rate than some of the guys on this team. Gagner still hasn’t even hit the 50 point mark.

    3. Pyatt. Boyle makes up for most of his shortcomings on the PK. Pyatt doesn’t.

    4. The top 6 is fine. Eminger as a 7th? No thanks.

    5. Assuming this is referring to blue line injury depth, that’s a tough call to make. I’d like to see Pyatt involved in a trade to add some depth. Maybe use Christian Thomas, Michael Haley,or Andrew Yogan to try and grab an prospect that looks like he can handle a bottom pairing role. If they can upgrade over Eminger, great. If not, they still need someone in the system besides McIlrath who can fill an injury gap.

    6. They can’t all be on Georges Laraques’ level:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjR16u7PQwE

  16. Alex says:

    Ladd – slightly less skilled then Wheeler but uses his size and strength better.

    Eberle – if we didnt have brassard I might go with Gagner

    Idk, both are pretty useless

    YES

    No clue

    Turrible commercials – By far the worst part of the Backstrom commercials is the “make” 15 goals in 15 seconds. Its “score” goals, dumbass producers

  17. Bayman says:

    Has there ever been a Geico commercial that WASN’T annoying?

    • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

      The very early cavemen commericals were funny in my opinion. Did get old though.

  18. Ray says:

    Picking and choosing questions —

    -Given his age and cap hit, most teams wouldn’t give a 7th rounder for Pyatt. He goes if possible.
    -Not totally dissatisfied with defensive lineup, but would prefer to see MDZ traded for a true right Dman. MDZ should be more valuable to a team that will use him on the left than to the Rangers and that extra value makes for a good trading opportunity. Trade players that others need more than you do.
    -You can’t stock Torey Krugs. McIlraith may fit the bill next year, but young guys need to be chosen for the future, not depth.
    This year, the Rangers had Vernace and Pyett, both better AHL Dmen than Bickel ever was, I believe. They outplayed Gilroy in Connecticut the first half of the season. They should have gotten a test run – they might have been as good as Newbury and Haley.

  19. Chris A says:

    Wheeler, big body that can score

    Gagner, allows you to dump BR on a buyout while keeping depth at C

    Pyatt for sure, Boyle is at a reasonable price for one year of a bottom six, PK, Faceoff specialist

    If Staal is feeling ready and confident then I think the Rangers have a top 5 D corps

    I think the natural progression of time makes the Rangers young depth D men better and will allow them to get away from the likes of Gilroy and Hamerlik

    Love the commercials because they remind me of the only fun part of this past Rangers season, Games 6 and 7 of the Washington series.

    I just wanted to add that anyone that thinks the cap going down in 13-14 affects the Rangers, keep in mind that the final year of cap hits for Chris Drury’s and Wade Redden’s buyout virtually equaled the amount that the cap goes down this year. Basically the Rangers didn’t need the extra cap space from last season. The cap going down only really prohibits the Rangers from adding a big time $5M+ per season Free Agent. Of course, buying out Richards changes everything.

  20. Hoggo says:

    1) Wheeler. Slightly more skilled, in my opinion.
    2) Eberle. Gagner’s a center, and he and Brassard both suck on the wing (horribly, which is partly why they both plateaued) and need skilled wings to be more productive. Those are few on the Rangers.
    3) Pyatt. No role. Checking line player who doesn’t PK. No thanks.
    4) No. The Rangers’ D-corps is one-dimensional. Staal is injury-prone, and Del Zotto is a horrible skater for an offensive D-man, and Moore is still a relatively unknown quantity (young and can learn/get better, but still unknown). Eminger’s fine as the 7, as is Stralman as a 5/6.
    5) Be better at acquiring talent?
    6) I don’t know the depths of your hatred, but I find them really f***ing annoying.

  21. Dan Francis says:

    Ladd
    Eberle
    Pyatt
    Yes, add Mcllraith
    internally
    Hate the commercials