Monday Mailbag: Systems, Trade winds & moreFebruary 3, 2014, by
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).