Monday Mailbag: Systems, Trade winds & more

February 3, 2014, by
You got questions. The Suit has answers.
You got questions. The Suit has answers.

Happy Monday Rangers fans. I hope everyone had a fun and safe Super Bowl Sunday. We received a few good questions over the past few weeks, so hopefully I can provide some good answers as the Rangers continue their push towards the playoffs.

You’ve written that the Rangers play an ‘overload defense’ but NBC continues to label the Rangers as team that plays man-on-man coverage, which is it?

When it comes to defensive zone coverages, a lot of coaches just don’t want their clubs playing one way anymore. Alain Vigneault is one of those coaches. Without getting too repetitive, as I’ve covered this before, AV has our boys playing an overload defense when the puck is along the half wall. However, when the puck ends up down low, they switch to man-on-man. Recognizing the overload vs. man-on-man vs. zone isn’t too hard to spot.

The overload has defenses outnumbering the opposition (e.g., 3-on-2, 2-on-1) in certain parts of the ice. Man-on-man coverages mean players defend evenly and will follow their check. There is often a lot of movement around the slot, almost resembling a cyclone with guys swirling everywhere. Zone means skaters will defend a patch of ice, so defenses end up looking like a more static geometric shape (e.g., box+1, triangle+2, etc.).

Now that the Rangers finally acquired a right-handed defensemen in Kevin Klein and some grit in Carcillo, what other holes need to be filled to get this team over the hump?

In my opinion, they still need a top flight center. Very few championship teams I can think of in my lifetime had holes at 1C. None of our current pivots would really be considered 1st line material. With that said, this is a hole they’ll likely have to wait to fill, as I doubt any will be available between now and the deadline.

Perhaps they’re taking a look at Stastny, who will be a free agent this summer. Perhaps they’ll try to make a move for Spezza or Krejci next season. Either way, their current crop of centers just isn’t on that level.

Should NYR be buyers at the trade deadline, or would they be better off standing pat and promoting from HFD?

It all depends on who is available and what those contracts look like. I doubt the Rangers will trade for a rental. If they make a move, it will be a ‘hockey trade’ where they get someone who has term or is willing to sign an extension.

Of course, most of what’s been rumored to be available are scoring wingers (e.g., Hemsky, Vanek, Cammalleri, etc.), which we don’t really need. There isn’t much available at center aside from what I’ve mentioned today and in past posts. That leaves us with defense, which we’ve already upgraded.

Would the Rangers like to add an offensive puck mover on the blueline? Sure, any team would. However, a trade for that type of player would take a lot of moving pieces, something I’m not sure I’d do the way we’re playing.

This might be a ‘rely on Hartford’ type of deadline where maybe you give JT another look, or perhaps Lindberg, or Kristo will go on a tear in the AHL over the final months and force a call up.

Thoughts on Chris Stewart, rumored to be available from the Blues? He’s big, skates well and is better suited for AV than Hitchcock. He’s that guy NYR are missing making a living in front.

I’m going have to disagree with you here. While Stewart certainly brings size and strength to the wing, ultimately I don’t think he’s quick enough to handle AV’s system, which is more of a trap and transition offense than it is heavy forechecking and playing below the dots.

Stewart would be a nice net-front presence on the PP for sure, but we already have Kreider and Pouliot. Both are much more cost-effective than Stewart ($4.1M per).

Categories : Musings


  1. Walt says:

    The main need is for a true first line center, and if we can’t trade for Stastny, then try to sign him as an UFA.

    The others mentioned, Spezza would be expensive, and do you really see Boston give up on Krejci? Worst case senerio would be Step, Brass, Lindberg, and D Moore-Boyle next season, which isn’t too shabby! Sure I would prefer Paul Stastny, but if he wants the world for terms, we can go the route mentioned with our existing players. Also, JT Miller is a natural center, that we only got to see play the wing, he could be the missing piece down the road, second or third line, that this team needs.

    I still find Stewart an interesting player that I would like to see. Maybe not the fleetest on his skates, but he is big, strong, gives you equal scoreing as Callie, and can be physical. I stated before, the NHL is getting bigger, and we have to get there as well!!

  2. Bloomer says:

    The Rangers need a defenceman to quarterback their PP.

    • Dave says:

      Their powerplay has been pretty damn good this year.

      • Bloomer says:

        They are 10th in the league on the PP. Did you ever get a ribbon in school for 10th. place?..Maybe you did.

        • Steven Cifuentes says:

          There is nothing wrong with finishing top 10 PP, espcially where they came from.

          Give them 2 more PP goals on the season they would be 6th…so they are playing at the same level just outside the top 5. I know you cant give them 2 PPG’s, but while they are 10th, there is not much seperating 6-10.

          PP is not something you need to fix right now.

  3. Rockdog says:

    Thanks for the write up, Suit. I appreciate your thoughts, as usual.

  4. Gary says:

    I don’t see Krejci as a strong #1. Not even sure if he is a #1.

    I recall a knock on Stastney is a lack of foot speed. No? Wrong for AV system if true.

    This team is fine as is, coming in waves and yeh not true #1 pivot, but it is one of those teams that I love to watch rolling lines with each one bringing something to the table.

    I don’t mess with this, after what they’ve shown.

    • The Suit says:

      Krejci is on pace for 50+ assists. 1st line material in my book.

    • FlynBrian61 says:

      Since Stastney has an ankle injury, (out ’till after the Olympics), doesn’t that make it a moot point? Not to mention his foot speed issues.

  5. paulronty says:

    Spezza flat out sucks, believe me-he will add nothing. Stasny will cost as much as Richards & despite all the naysayers I’d rather have Richards. I like the current chemistry on the team & if there were no trades at all I’d be happy.

    • Dave says:

      Slight exaggeration there for Spezza. Considering how AV would deploy him, I wouldn’t mind him at the right price.

      Of course, I’d prefer Stastny.

      • The Suit says:

        Honestly, I think Spezza just needs a change of scenery.

        • Hatrick Swayze says:

          Has a ton of skill and can put points on the board in bundles. But don’t you have to worry about his play on the defensive side of the puck and propensity to turn the puck over?

          I don’t watch a ton of Sens games, but isn’t there some truth to the chatter?

          • Seahorse says:

            He’s had a ton of injury issues the past year, his +/- is terrible and it’s not cause he’s scoring all his points on the power play

          • RangerSmurf says:

            Brad Richards and Brassard aren’t exactly defensive dynamos. If it is true about Spezza, AV would certainly insulate a guy like that by keeping him out of the defensive zone as much as possible, as he has with Richards.

            • Dave says:

              The usage chart for the forwards is pretty incredible. Blackhawk like, minus the execution.

              • RangerSmurf says:

                Compare the 12-13 Hawks to 13-14 Hawks. Quenneville’s adopting the Torts/AV strategy, not the other way around.

  6. SalMerc says:

    Would be nice to continue to roll 4 lines. An upgrade on 3 & 4 wouldn’t hurt, but upgrade 3 for offense and 4 for defense (IMO).

  7. Ray says:

    You mention Hartford. Kristo is only the leading scorer because he has played so many games. Fast is now fully healed from his injury and is really playing well, though probably still behind Miller. Both Miller and Fast are light years ahead of Kristo (as I suppose is Hentgen, who is not Ranger property).

  8. Puck Luck @Centerman21 says:

    Suit I want to thank you for posting my Q and your answer. I have to go by what I hear like what you have said since I don’t get to see Western teams much even with the schedulal changes made. I thought from what I was told Stewart was a better skater than what you have let on. That hurts his value on a team that wins games with speed and quick transitioning. I really like the team now but my only point is the playoffs. AV’s teams had some playoff success but seemed to get beat by a bigger tougher more defensively structured game. I just think it may be worth giving up a little transition speed for some size and grit to win battles in the corners causing some dirty goals. I also think the Blues look at Stewart like NYR saw DZ. A guy needing a change of scenery. They may not mind ridding his $4 mil too. Maybe for Hagelin? AV hasn’t used him to his strengths as well as Torts did. Play it out till 3/5 and make a move.