New signings add depth, but don’t necessarily mean trades are brewing

Don't just assume trades are coming (AP Photo/Seth Wenig).

Don’t just assume trades are coming (AP Photo/Seth Wenig).

When the Rangers made their depth moves on July 5, signing Benoit Pouliot (one-year, $1.3 million) and Dominic Moore (one-year, $1 million), many looked to the current RFAs and wondered if the Rangers had room for all of them. Capgeek currently has 12 forwards listed, which does not include the three RFAs, and does not include J.T. Miller. The number does include the recently waived Arron Asham and Darroll Powe, and the question-mark that is Chris Kreider. On the surface, it seems that the Rangers will make a trade.

Looking at the AHL roster, only two players (aside from Miller) have NHL experience: Micheal Haley and Brandon Mashinter. Everyone else is either new to the AHL (Danny Kristo, Oscar Lindberg, Jesper Fast, Michael St. Croix) or a prospect that is a question-mark (Ryan Bourque, Kyle Jean, Marek Hrivik). Suffice it to say, the Rangers are severely lacking when it comes to potential AHL call ups. Tack on the injuries to Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin, and the Rangers are all of a sudden thinner at forward to start the season.

After all, there is no guarantee that Kreider or Miller will be given NHL spots. We saw Kreider struggle mightily this year; and we saw Miller kept with the big club out of necessity, not performance. To assume that a coaching change magically brings out the best in both players is silly. They will need to earn their spot on the roster. Both struggled at the start of last season in the AHL, and neither really earned their spot on the roster when the NHL season started. Kreider was gifted the spot that he didn’t earn, and Miller was called up because the Rangers needed something, anything.

The safer assumption is that only one –likely Kreider– makes the team out of camp. That drops the number from 16 to 15. The injuries to Cally and Hagelin drop that number to 13 forwards. One more injury before they return, and the Rangers are looking at depth issues at forward. It is impossible to replace both Cally and Hagelin in the lineup, but having the pieces in place to at least weather the storm is critical. Assuming these two aren’t ready for opening night, which isn’t really a stretch, then they will need every NHL-ready forward they have for the first month.

Another aspect of all of this is training camp and preseason. There is going to be a major competition for the NHL spots. There is nothing wrong with having 16 forwards competing for 12 starting spots, 13 if you include the press box spot.  After all, Powe, Asham, and Moore are the NHL-ready question marks as is. The first two were waived already, and Moore hasn’t played the game in a year.

There are simply too many “what-ifs” and too many question-marks for the Rangers to go wheeling and dealing without bringing back something tangible in return –and no, a draft pick is not tangible in this situation. As Suit pointed out this morning, something tangible would be a right-handed shot that can play the powerplay. This club isn’t just going to trade NHL ready players or NHL vets for a draft pick. They needed the depth last season and didn’t have it. They need it this season, and now they finally have it. Filling holes is one thing, making trades to open up spots for unproven kids is another.

25 Responses to “New signings add depth, but don’t necessarily mean trades are brewing”

  1. joe719 says:

    To say that Kreider “struggled mightily” this year is a little ingenuous. Buried on a fourth line when he was called up, and barely playing 5:00 mins in some games, is hardly a representative sample of what he is capable of. With Callahan and Hagelin missing time at the beginning of this year, we’ll get a better handle on whether Kreider is all we heard he can be. Also, I think Kristo is gonna get a long look in camp to see if he can provide that stop gap effort needed until Cally and Hagelin get back. I agree, a powerplay shot from the point would be a great addition; and I believe that Boyle and/or DelZotto would be included in any trade to get that help from the point.

    • joe719 says:

      “disingenuous”

    • Dave says:

      He was awful in the AHL until around March, and never earned his NHL spot in January.

      • Spozo says:

        I agree completely.

        You also have to point out that Kreider was injured at the beginning of the season. He was sent down to the AHL and was only called back up full time when Boyle went down with an injury towards the end of the season.

      • joe719 says:

        If by awful, you mean he didn’t score 50 goals and lead the League in scoring, yeah, he was awful. If you remember, all the reports we were getting while he was down there, were that he was playing well and rounding into form. Only to be called up, and buried on the fourth line by the coach; who if memory serves me, was just fired!

        • Dave says:

          Can’t tell if you’re joking or not. Kreider scored 12 goals in the AHL last season. For your sake, I really hope you were kidding.

          http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/pdisplay.php?pid=120939

          • joe719 says:

            My point is, since he came up during the playoffs his first season, right away, even with the immediate success he had scoring, we hear Torts calling him out for his defensive lapses. Then during the lockout, he’s down in the minors playing with, lets face it, not the strongest club in the AHL,and we hear that he is struggling defensively. I remember a quote of Torts, to the effect, that he was watching Hartford during the lockout, and ‘none of the kids look good.’ Including Kreider. Right away, the writers run with it, and all of a sudden all the excitement about Kreider is killed off, and all we hear about is his defensive problems. Its like Torts orchestrated the whole thing. Now it all could have been avoided if Kreider didn’t experience the normal growing pains of a rookie in the NHL; but what were the odds of that happening? Then when he does get called up, he gets buried on the 4th line, gets no powerplay time, and we start hearing about how he is ‘struggling mightily.’ As for my comment about the 50 goals, pardon my hyperbole. But it seems that those fans that are still loyal to the former coach, like to characterize Kreider as a potential bust, when, IMO, he was never given a real chance to succeed. Hopefully, that will end with AV. Now if he gets his shot and cant produce, fair enough. I just don’t think he has gotten that shot on a consistent basis yet.

          • Centerman21 says:

            So he has to put up 30 as a rookie to be considered a good player? He has to go through the process. The Rangers knew he was a raw talent when they drafted him. He didn’t know how to play the pro game at all. By that I mean incorperating the other 4 skaters on the ice playing with you. In collage all he knew was take puck skate with puck and shoot puck Score!. He wasn’t familiar with NHL strategies. Like an Overload or a Low Zone collapse. He had trouble knowing where yo be without the puck. If you look back at the playoffs a year ago when he 1st came up. The best plays he made were with the puck. Learning in the AHL and scoring 12 goals in the process wasn’t all that bad. He made leaps and bounds at seasons end last year and I expect him to look like an every day LW next year. He’s a guy that Vineault should use on the RW in PP situations next season. Those off wingers are real dangerous on the man advantage. He’s gonna put up 15 goals and 25-30 points this coming season. He looked very good on the line with Brassard and Nash in the last 2 games of the Boston series last year. Even knew to go to the net for an OT winner. Lets go Kreider. I also hope we have Lindberg, Miller, Fasth, and McIlrath ready to go. Jean will be an NHL player in 14/15. good size and skill o that kid. May even get a look this year. LGR

          • Pete182 says:

            Dave if memory serves me correctly the Leafs had the same kinda of issue with Kadri for a few years. Now I realize they are different kinds of forwards, Kreider being a power forward and Kadri a little more of a speed finesse type player. The point is patience is the key here. The Leafs were patient and it has paid dividends as Kadri had a breakout year. I believe the change in coaching style with Vignault will certainly benefit players like Kreider who is a very gifted offensive player with the rare combination of power and speed. Patience is the key

        • VinceR says:

          AHL had a full season that started pre-season in September and regular season in October. He was there for the whole thing. He was awful before the NHL began and didn’t “round into form” until he was sent down again after getting in a couple of NHL games, which is when he scored most of those 12 goals. Before that he had barely touched the AHL scoring stats.

          I fully expect him to be better, don’t get me wrong, but to say he had a good season in the AHL last year seems more than a bit optimistic.

          • The Suit says:

            Players need to maximize their minutes period.

            • Centerman21 says:

              If we are talking about Kreider here, I agree. To date he hasn’t had every day roster time. At least not in a prime scoring role. Like I said. He has to learn how to use his skating as a strength and learn where to be without the puck. Hopefully a full camp under Vineault will help him round into form. Last year was kind of unfortunate for him with the lockout and all.

  2. WilliamW says:

    Agree with this viewpoint, depth is always a good thing and the bulk of our depth is unproven at the NHL level. Any deal for a RD that gets made would draw heavily from this unproven group

    Would guess the opening lines to be something along the lines of:

    Kreider-Stepan-Nash
    Pouilot-Richards-Zuc
    XXX-Brassard-XXX
    Moore-Boyle-Brassard

    Injured: Callahan, Hagelin
    XXX-Miller, Kristo, Fast, Hrivik, Asham, “other AHL wings”

    Then once the injured guys return they force the 4 above 2nd/3rd line wings to compete for 3rd line duties

    Have Lindberg and potentially Miller (if not in an XXX spot compete in Hartford to replace Richards as the 2/3C next year

    • Dave says:

      I’m assuming you wanted Pyatt on the 4th, not Brassard.

      Without really knowing how AV is going to run things, my preliminary guess (when healthy):

      Top six: Stepan, Nash, Richards, Cally, Kreider, Zuc/Pouliot

      Bottom six: Zuc/Pouliot, Hagelin, Brass, Pyatt, Boyle, Asham/Moore/Powe.

      • WilliamW says:

        Oops. Actually meant Dorsett but recognize I left Pyatt out so he would be part of that XXX group as well

        Largely agree with your groupings with the caveat that Miller/Kristo/Fast could mess it up a bit

        Also agree with your above statement re: Kreider. I’m basing this top line spot on the flashes he’s shown in the past two playoffs – if he sucks again we’re in trouble

    • Mark says:

      this lineup as zero Jam. Its been this way on and off for about 5 decades.

      • Pete182 says:

        No jam? Callahan and Dorsett provide as much jam as any team has in the league. Not to mention Hagelin and Brassard. Not sure what team your looking at?

    • Pete182 says:

      Asham will be on the 4th line with dominic moore and most likely jt miller. Boyle will play on the third line with Brassard and Pouilot. I more see Derek Dorsett playing on the second line with Zuc and Richards

  3. Tim B says:

    Well their forwards with NHL experience were Newbury, Ferriero, Mashinter & Palmieri. Newbury & Ferriero were traded. Palmieri wasn’t given a contract. Mash is an RFA. Brandon Segal is also a UFA. Technically Powe & Asham are now depth. They can come up and fill in without many problems. Also Powe can also getsome PK time. Asham can also easily fill a 4th line role.

  4. Centerman21 says:

    I don’t know about what you all saw last year from Kreider but he tried in his limited TOI to play a little more physical. He was only given a few 4th line mins. However in the playoffs against Boston he looked much improved playing positionally without the puck. He looked like a difference maker playing on the 2nd line with Brassard and Nash. Not just the OT goal he scored but he played better for an NHL team game. Being able to regroup and get the puck in the zone and even trail the puck carrier entering the zone for a nice scoring chance with that wicked shot he has. I just hope that he can learn to cycle the puck and support the puck carrier in the zone for a puck possession game. Support is part of playing without the puck and he has to be one of 2 passing options a pass can be made to keep the FLOW going. Its less demanding than Torts puck persuit game. I think he has the smarts and skills to succeed. Miller was a difference maker while on the ice. Every game he created a scoring chance or two but could not hit twine and light the lamp. That will change. The Rangers should move a bottom pairing defenseman for a top 9 winger. I also think that Lindburg and/or Fasth will be ready for a call up at some point this year. They have been playing against Men for years now as teenagers. A little AHL seasoning should have either of them ready to start out of camp or to be an injury call up. Both look like studs. Kristo also has the tools like Miller to succeed in this league and should not be over looked. I think he will have Millers swagger but can finish his scoring chances at 100 MPH. My opinion in that MacIlrath, Kreider, Miller, Kristo, Lindburg, and Fasth will all be fighting for a rostor spot in camp this year. I very much like Kyle Jean too. I think he is at most one more full AHL season away from making the team. Maybe he gets a callup for the Playoffs this comming season.

    Any objective opinions are to be voiced. Any more info on any of the above players development or timeline are welcome.

    • Walt says:

      Like you, I stated that the following would be in the line up this season:

      Kreider, JT Miller, Lindberg, and by year end McIlrath!!

      Here is what the lines will look like next season

      Step-Nash-Kreider
      Brass-Callie-Miller
      Lindberg or BR-Hags-Poluiot
      Boyle-Dorsett-Zucc or Kristo

      This will give us 4 very good scoring lines, that will be defensively responsible.