Report Card: Glen Sather

Well done sir. Well done

Good job Slats. Good job.

I hope you all enjoyed report card week. In case you missed any of them, be sure to check out the report cards for the goaltending, top six forwards, defense, bottom six forwards, and coaches. This will be the final report card for Glen Sather and the hockey operations staff.

It’s rather difficult to grade the GM and staff, as all they can do is put the team together. It’s up to the players to produce and the coaches to motivate the players to produce. The GM’s job is to retool from the prior season (their June-August work), and to identify holes midseason and address them via trade (in-season work).

The offseason began with the firing of John Tortorella, which came as a bit of a surprise, after a mediocre showing in the 2013 playoffs. The Rangers were dominated offensively, but managed to ride Henrik Lundqvist into the second round before being dispatched by the Bruins in five.

Slats went with Alain Vigneault, Torts’ polar opposite, to guide this team to a more offensive style of play. AV brought Scott Arniel and Ulf Samuelsson on board as his assistants to go with Jim Schoenfeld and Benoit Allaire. The team struggled out of the gate as they transitioned from Torts’ north-south game to AV’s east-west game. In January, the adjustments clicked, and the Rangers were one of the best team in the league. Suffice it to say, this move worked out.

As the offseason progressed, the Rangers made some minor moves to address depth (Kris Newbury for Danny Syrvet, Christian Thomas for Danny Kristo, Justin Falk for Benn Ferriero). Syrvet led the Wolf Pack in scoring, Kristo has turned into a highly touted prospect, and Falk served as the team’s seventh defenseman. Not bad for three depth moves.

Slats was –thankfully– very quiet in July, making just three signings: Benoit Pouliot, Dominic Moore, and Aaron Johnson. Pouliot and Moore were key contributors once the Rangers got rolling, and Johnson led the Hartford defense in scoring. Let’s call Pouliot and Moore big wins, as they addressed huge needs for tertiary scoring on a team that was goal starved in 2013.

Then came the regular season.

Even before Derek Dorsett went down with an injury, the Rangers were woefully vanilla. After he went down with his injury, there was a big lack physicality in the lineup. Instead of calling up Arron Asham, Slats decided to send a conditional 7th rounder to LA for Dan Carcillo. It was a low risk move that paid dividends for the Rangers, as Carcillo played pretty productive hockey relevant to his expectations. His playoff performances blew everyone’s mind too.

Quickly following the Carcillo trade, the Rangers addressed two holes with one trade, sending Michael Del Zotto to Nashville for Kevin Klein. Klein is no fancy stats darling, but he’s relatively steady defensively and plays with a much-needed edge to his game. Plus, he filled the huge hole of a right-handed shot on the third pairing.

Up next for Slats was the Dan Girardi extension. Six years for Girardi at a $5.5 million cap hit is steep, and the Rangers are probably going to have issues with that deal in a few years. But, it was a decision between Girardi and Ryan Callahan, and Girardi was more affordable. This brings us to…

The Martin St. Louis blockbuster. The Rangers needed top-six scoring, preferably from the right side, and they went out and got it. The price was high, sending Cally and what eventually became two first round picks for MSL and a conditional 2nd round pick. MSL wasn’t exactly great in the regular season, putting up 1-7-8 in 19 games. But they didn’t get him for the regular season. In the playoffs, MSL was the rallying point for the team and a clear leader. He put up 8-7-15 in 25 playoff games.

One other hole was a seventh defenseman, as Falk had fallen out of favor. So Slats sent a 2015 fifth rounder to Vancouver for Raphael Diaz. Diaz filled in nicely for John Moore during his suspension. He played just 15 games with the Rangers, but he filled his role nicely.

When grading a GM, you look at roster construction leading into the season, and filling holes identified to make a deep playoff run. Slats did all that this year. He’s had some dark spots during his tenure in New York, but this year was not one of them. Grade: A.

23 Responses to “Report Card: Glen Sather”

  1. Scully says:

    UH OH… Cue the Sather hate haha :).

    • Dave says:

      Yea, that’s what I’m waiting for. Very few people want to admit he’s done a good job building this team.

      • Scully says:

        He’s done a fantastic job. I actually have faith in him too not to sign a 2nd line free agent to 1st line money with the Richards savings.

        • Dave says:

          I think that money is going to be used to keep existing guys here. If they go through and promote Brassard to 2C, they may have the answer for 3C in Lindberg.

          • Scully says:

            Agreed with all of that. It’s better to go into the season with a little cap room and see what happens and what needs come up.

            • Dave says:

              There are a lot of options here. Miller may be ready, or he may be shifted to wing. Grabovski is a UFA that intrigues me as well.

  2. SalMerc says:

    Unlike grading players and coaches, a GM has to make decisions and moves based on happenings that the general public is generally unaware of. Sure, trading for a need of picking up a 5th round pick somewhere seems easy, but we do not know exactly how the Callahan discussions went. We do not know if MDZ wanted out as bad as we needed to get rid of him nor do we have a full understanding of the role a JT or Fast can play. Add to that that the difficulty in managing to a cap. All in all, Slats did a fine job and deserving on an “A”.

    • Dave says:

      We can only grade based on what we know, what moves were made, and what the result was. I wish we were privy to what goes on behind the scenes, but that’s a wish the Rangers have yet to grant me.

  3. Hatrick Swayze says:

    Solid analysis, Dave. Fully on board with the A you gave him.

    Most people who disagree will probably, albeit incorrectly, point to the MSL trade. To me, it is clear as day, that a line of 8-7-15 in 25 playoff games, multiple game winners and a SCF appearance fully justifies that move.

    This summer will be a tough one for Slats with so many moving parts. It will be interesting to see how it unfolds.

  4. mikeyyy says:

    Look within.

    Time for people to earn their paychecks.

  5. Ray says:

    Good analysis and right grade. I would quibble only slightly. I give Sather high marks for Zuccarello. Fact is, Tortorella never liked him and Sather basically rammed him down Torts’s throat and then got a coach who would use him. And he didn’t trade the highly talented MDZ until two coaching staffs had despaired with him.

    OTOH, I wouldn’t cheer the Kristo deal just yet. When Sather acquired him, Kristo was a very talented kid who might not make it. That’s what he still is – in fact, his year was disappointing. Of course, Thomas hasn’t done anything either.

    • Bob says:

      I think you give AV too much credit. He’s given Zukes the same amount of PP time Torts did. He was still deployed on the third line and Torts actually deployed him in the offensive zone more than AV did.

      If anything, AV should have given him more rope since Zuke actually produced more but still received comparable responsibilities as last year.

      • Ray says:

        Last year, Zuke was eighth in icetime per game during the season and seventh in the playoffs (Clowe injury). This year, he was fourth during the season and third in the playoffs (Richards played less). He played more than Nash for Pete’s sake. The fact that his line was referred to as the third line is just semantics.

        Also, the comment about offensive zone starts supports my arguments. Tortorella thought of Zuccarello as an offensively gifted player who was a liability on defense. AV uses him to kill penalties. Tortorella held the position that Zuke was either a top six forward or not an NHLer at all. I think we’ve seen that Zuke would be a much better fourth liner than many of those skaters the Rangers have fielded in that position.

  6. Leatherneckinlv says:

    I am a Sather fan as well. He is keen and he gets what he wants. Only poor trade was for St Louis, because we gave up way too much. However I do think he has other moves in mind which we will find out very soon. I wonder what Gordie Clark is looking at. Something tells me we may see Callahan again

  7. Richard says:

    You also forgot to mention the fact that he didn’t shell out a ton to sign Stepan. Stepan held out an extended period of time looking for the pay day. He isn’t all about bad contracts like everyone remembers him for.

  8. roadrider says:

    Well I don’t want to really ding Sather – after all two ECF in three seasons and s SCF this year ain’t too shabby.

    But it is interesting that you pointed out that under Tortorella last season “The Rangers were dominated offensively, but managed to ride Henrik Lundqvist into the second round”. The Rangers are better offensively under AV but they still depend way too much on Lundquist and have trouble scoring when they need to.

    • Dave says:

      This is just my opinion, but I think this team feels more comfortable taking chances in the OZ because they have Hank.

      • Ray says:

        Intuitively that makes sense, but the Rangers actually scored slightly more with Talbot in goal. A miniscule difference but certainly an indication that any increased recklessness didn’t pay off.

  9. MBN says:

    Dave;

    Perfect analysis of Sather. There is precious little to complain about the job he did last off-season, and during the season. I thought the Callahan for MSL move had to be made, especially if Ryan was going to be a stickler for the years AND price.

    • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

      Sure. But we can certainly quibble with the 2 firsts, however, seeing as how Tampa Bay had little leverage with MSL essentially saying he would only accept a trade to NY.

      That’s my only qualm, otherwise I think Sather has done a fine job. Tons of great underrated signings and trades.

  10. TeaneckMike says:

    An “A”? Really? Do not get sucked in by an unexpeced run, or the Ranger’s “hype” of its prospects. His drafting, by and large, is not good. He wheeled and dealed (some good, some not) and got hot for the playoffs…but the talent pool is virtually bare; no potential star material; and this is the least physical team in the league. It has one good run left in it, and then back to the drawing board.

  11. Jeff says:

    He deserves an “A” for the end result, but be real here, we have the worst rated prospect pool in the NHL, no 1st round picks for next 2 years, and finish the season every year in a dogfight to make the playoffs, but for 1 year. Playoff success is huge, and why an A is deserved for this year, but saying miller, Kristo, or Duclair are coming to make us better, is not how it is. AV has said Miller isn’t playing to his standards, hopefully he works hard in offseason, like a Kreider type, but he doesn’t have his upside. We will struggle to put the team together with our free agents, and need a pp quarterback and a guy to help moving the puck up ice. Pouls is important, must stop the dumb penalties. Keep Talbot for whole season, at his cap hit and his skill level, he serves a big purpose, unless someone gives an offer we can’t refuse. Say no to thornton, and can’t afford stastny.