Even though it’s still August, a few questions have rolled in about some of the moves the Rangers made. Since news is slow and we are simply just waiting on Traverse City and the Derek Stepan deal, I figured I would answer them all in a post.
Q: What do you think of Slats’ offseason moves? It looks like he did a good job, but there are still some question-marks about this team and the powerplay that make me nervous.
This is a bit of a loaded question. I think Slats addressed the major needs in the offseason. He needed to fix the depth, specifically injury depth, and he did just that with the additions of Falk, Syvret, Moore, and Pouliot. The Rangers now have one of the deepest teams in the league, and it’s been a while since we’ve seen them this deep with this much skill. As for the powerplay, well only time will tell. The personnel will be the same, but hopefully a full season of Mats Zuccarello will help provide a spark.
The biggest thing about the powerplay was the lack of movement and the lack of an offensive presence from the point. Ulf Samuelsson, who was with Phoenix, was brought in to help the blue liners generate some offense. He worked with guys like Keith Yandle and OEL down in the desert, so his track record is pretty solid. AV ran a solid powerplay in Vancouver as well.
Q: When will Stepan sign? I’m getting nervous that some team is going to give him an offer sheet.
There are a few things to realize about offer sheets. First and foremost, it takes two to tango. I’m sure some teams have tried to offer sheet Stepan, but he needs to agree to the deal. The teams that can afford to offer sheet him aren’t the perennial contenders like the Rangers, so he would be heading to a losing situation. Plus, these teams would likely have to give up a lot of draft picks if they do sign him, since the compensation for someone like Stepan would be at least two 1sts, a 2nd, and a 3rd. Remember that compensation is calculated on the AAV of a five-year deal (if the deal is longer than five years, otherwise it’s the standard AAV). What that means is that if a team signs Stepan to an eight-year, $40 million deal ($5 million cap hit), the compensation would be $40 million over five years ($8 million), which is the compensation mentioned above.
As for Stepan himself, I’m not worried about getting him under contract. Slats had his priorities in the offseason, and a non-arbitration eligible player was the last on the list. Don’t get me wrong, Stepan is a big priority for the club, but there were stricter timelines with the UFAs (for obvious reasons), and the other core RFAs (McDonagh, Zuccarello, Hagelin), since all three were arbitration eligible. The Rangers went down this road with Brandon Dubinsky and Marc Staal, and they were still signed on time.
Q: Which kids are going to be given a legit shot at making this team? There doesn’t appear to be many places for guys like Kreider, Miller, Lindberg, Fasth, and Kristo.
You are right, there aren’t many spots for the kids this season. The Rangers learned from their mistake last season and decided not to hand roster spots to kids. I think Kreider is the only kid that will make the team out of camp though. This is the final year of his ELC, and it’s put up or shut up time for him. He showed he was NHL ready towards the end of the season (unlike at the beginning of the season), so it’s a matter of putting it all together.
The other guys might get an injury call up if need be, but there is nothing wrong with allowing your top prospects to adjust to the professional North American game at the AHL level. We saw that Miller wasn’t ready last season, so there’s no reason to believe Fast (he changed his name from Fasth), Lindberg, or Kristo will be ready either. Same goes for McIlrath. The Rangers are deep and skilled, and it allows these kids to develop at their own pace. Having your top prospects in the AHL isn’t a bad thing.
Q: When will we see The Undertaker (McIlrath)? It feels like he’s been around forever and we haven’t seen him play at all.
Remember that McIlrath was a 2010 draft pick, so it’s not like we’ve been waiting for a while to see him. He was really set back last year due to his knee injury, but he worked hard and played pretty well when he returned. He still hasn’t played a full season at the AHL level (last year would have been his first), so this is a big year in his development. Jeff Beukeboom will be great in helping him along, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he gets his first cuppa towards the end of the season. I don’t think this is his year for the NHL, but he should compete for a spot next year.
Remember, you can always email us or get to us on Twitter (except for Justin….get with the times man) if you have any questions.