Usually when we do our stay or go posts, we look at pending UFAs to see if the Rangers should spend the money to keep these players around. Last week Suit wrote a stay or go for Brian Boyle, as Boyle is the subject of a lot of discussion, and I’m going to piggy-back on this. Many know that I’m a Boyle supporter,and with AV –and his significantly less aggressive systems– in, his skating issues won’t be easily exploited as much. His defensive play makes him an almost indispensable part of the fourth line. This of course brings us to Taylor Pyatt.
Signed to be a replacement for Ruslan Fedotenko, Pyatt immediately showed that he has tremendous hockey IQ. He simply knows the game and knows where to be. The problems with Pyatt were his inability to score consistently –eight of his eleven points came in two different stretches of three and five game point streaks– and his foot speed, which was exploited time and time again.
Scoring for Pyatt has always been a relatively difficult task, as he’s only breached the 20-point barrier twice in the past five years, so his 11 points in 48 games is actually on pace with his career average. Ditto for his shot percentage (10.7% this year, compared to 10.9% over his career).
Pyatt’s usage was a happy medium between two-way and sheltered minutes, per his player usage chart. Given the bubble layout on the chart, it’s safe to say that Pyatt was actually given the most sheltered minutes of anyone not nailed to the fourth line on a regular basis. With those minutes, Pyatt would at least be expected to match his metrics from the 2011-2012 season (.140 Corsi Rel QoC, -9.3 RCorsi, 41.2% OZone starts). The problem is: His numbers this year don’t really add up.
For more on the metrics we use, click here.
Sure, Pyatt’s RCorsi was marginally better this year at -8.7, but considering the Rangers were a top-ten team in puck possession this year, that’s not unexpected. But when you compare that with his -.061 Corsi Rel QoC and 53.0% OZone starts, his marginally increased RCorsi seems less impressive. Throw in the foot speed, and this all of a sudden becomes a problem.
What you see is what you get with Pyatt: A decent bottom-six player who can eat minutes in an unimpressive fashion. He will chip in to the tune of 20 points a season, but he won’t be consistent enough offensively to warrant a spot off the bottom-six, perhaps even the fourth line. Is that enough to earn his $1.55 million salary?
In a Torts system, I’d say look to see what the Rangers could get for him. However in a Vigneault 1-2-2 system, Pyatt may be significantly more useful. After all, he wasn’t bad in Phoenix with Dave Tippet’s 1-2-2, and his two best offensive seasons came under Vigneault when they were in Vancouver together from 2006-2008, including his only 20-goal season. Perhaps Pyatt is just better suited for a trapping team. Or perhaps the 31-year old is continuing his decline over the past three seasons.
The Rangers have a glut of bottom-six guys, with more on the way in the form of J.T. Miller and Oscar Lindberg. An addition of a top-six winger moves Carl Hagelin to the third line where he belongs, and all of a sudden you have a logjam and a tough decision to make. It looks like this is coming down to Pyatt or Boyle, not both. Personally, I’d keep Boyle and see what they can get for Pyatt. Boyle adds more defensively, with face offs, and with versatility (he played the wing a bit this year, Pyatt can’t play center). Regardless, one of them won’t be in New York next season.