Method behind the Ranger ‘madness’

Dom Moore was brought back on a sensible deal - careful planning? (Photo: Dave Sandford/NHLI)

Dom Moore was brought back on a sensible deal – careful planning? (Photo: Dave Sandford/NHLI)

A successful franchise is well built from the bottom to the top. In the cap era a club needs to develop their own, they need to have a solid pipeline and a competitive minor league affiliate. Prospects need to get into the habit of success and the Rangers’ minor league affiliate hasn’t helped in this regard the past two years as the Wolf Pack have failed to get to the post season for two straight seasons.

To many Ranger fans, the Rangers had a disastrous July 1st. They lost popular players in Anton Stralman and Brian Boyle. They added a whole bunch of ‘minor leaguers’, an aging defenseman (Dan Boyle) with a recent injury history as well as a fist swinging bottom line player to an excessive deal. This is all true. However, let’s look at two key issues here; the loss of core players - Boyle and Stralman – and the ‘minor league’ bunch.

Stralman and Boyle are replaceable

Everyone laments the loss of Stralman and Boyle. Rightly so. They have developed into solid NHL players and became core members of the Rangers. However do you remember where they came from? Stralman couldn’t stick with a team and couldn’t do better than a try-out with the Devils; Boyle was a Kings cast-off destined for the AHL, he was a project. There is no reason why the Rangers cannot develop this kind of player again.

With Dan Boyle signed, the next person inserted into the line-up will have sheltered minutes on the 3rd pairing. In a cap world you have to make sacrifices and Stralman is getting far too much money and term from Tampa. At the end of the day, Stralman doesn’t offer anything that is irreplaceable. He offers no reason to panic.

Brian Boyle wanted a bigger role than the Rangers could give. Who hasn’t left a job for the same reasons? The anger aimed at Rangers management for not giving him enough dollars to stick around is misplaced, dollars in this case isn’t an appropriate argument.

The Rangers have prospects ready for the NHL level. Fans bemoan when teams don’t develop prospects. Boyle’s departure creates an opportunity for Oscar Lindberg, JT Miller and/or several prospects in the franchise. This is how successful teams operate in a cap world. They promote from within and spend elsewhere. The Rangers did not need to sign Tanner Glass but the prospects in the system now have a chance to grab a spot in the line up and more youth on the roster can’t be a bad thing… and in’t it ironic how so many people hated Boyle and now can’t bare to see him leave? Why can’t another player develop this kind of emotion in the fan base?

Success on the Farm 

Hunwick, Allen, Kostka, Kampfer, Matt Bodie and Dylan McIlrath. The Wolf Pack were bad last year. All of a sudden they have a core defensive unit that should be strong when you factor in this list of names. Some of these players may be in New York but the nucleus will give the Pack an experienced yet young, talented AHL unit.

If the Pack win, if they are better defensively then the Rangers will benefit. Many people don’t want the Rangers to throw blank cheques around during free agency and they didn’t. They carefully added players to the depth chart on short term deals that should benefit every level of the Franchise. Dylan Mcllrath and the likes of Matt Bodie will benefit from having AHL veterans who can defend (better than Aaron Johnson…) lining up alongside them.

The same principle goes for the AHL forwards the Rangers have signed in Chris Bourque and Chris Mueller. Giving the kids some legitimate AHL offense alongside them is a huge aid to their development and don’t underestimate what impact having his brother on the ice could have on Ryan Bourque. Remember, veteran help is part of prospect development, something that Rangers are very aware of.

As of today, the Rangers have lost several popular players and on the face of things they haven’t adequately replaced them yet but the organisation is trusting its prospect pool, and is giving opportunities to younger players while not over committing to players with limited success on their CV’s (goodbye Benoit Pouliot). Are the Rangers in a no-win scenario? Carefully adding developing their minor league system and not over committing to Free Agents sounds like a good idea to me.

Trust the management. After all, they have taken this franchise to two Conference Finals in two years; enough reason not to panic.

50 Responses to “Method behind the Ranger ‘madness’”

  1. Chuck A says:

    Sanity!

  2. MBN says:

    Excellent Post!!

    Very well written, and, IMO, oh so true.

  3. bloomer says:

    When the other team goons are taking cheap shots on your star players you are thankful you have a tanner glass in the lineup. I am very much looking forward to seeing the young ranger prospects in the lineup next year as well as a pp with 2 legitimate point men.

    • It would have been madness to give Stralman what Tampa did or Pouliot what Edmonton did. IMO the contract the Oilers gave to Pouliot is a prime example of why they are bottom dwellers year after year. Despite some serious young talent at the NHL level. Bad decision making by management. Both players were a product of their QoT. Neither will have the success they did with the NYR. Sather was smart to look elsewhere. Tanner Glass adds size and grit to the 4th line and I think he’ll be a better possession player on the Rangers than his stats would show.
      The one thing Sather has to address is a lack of right handed shots up front. The PP thrives on a good L/R mix. A top line right wing would do wonders. Nash needs to play on the left side at even strength. A top 6 Centerman is a need as well but not as much as a righty to play with Nash on the top line. Stepan is a righty making passing to the LW on his forehand. That gets more from Nash IMO.

      • paulronty says:

        Great post because puck possession will be driven by context, quality of team & linemates. Agree that Nash should be on the left wing.

      • Walt says:

        I believe that the fan base will be happy to see Glass as the season advances. His stats are poor, no dought, because he played with a team that was run, and gun. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the Pens were one of the top PK teams in the NHL, and Glass did work on the PK.

        Another factor was that the Pens had a load of injuries, and there were plenty of kids who had to fill in, a big portion were d-men. His former team always played offense first, and never really worried about puck control, just shooting, and scoring. Recall Mike Milberry on NBCSC say that Sindy, and Malkin remind him of crack addicts the way they want to run and score. He got his wrist slapped for the remark, but he was right. The entire Pens team’s numbers probably looks bad, not just Tanner’s. Bottom line, he will be a useful player, who also will defend his teammates, which Boyle would never do, that wimp. That is coming from a Boyle fan just the same.

      • Jeff P says:

        Pouliot got significantly overpaid, Stralman got market value.

  4. TxRanger says:

    Two conference finals in three years*

  5. The Suit says:

    This might be the best article ever written on this site.

  6. SalMerc says:

    Someone tell Chris to be careful if he runs into Kevin or Dave.

  7. Dave says:

    Lots of talk on Glass, and questions on why not just keep Dorsett for slightly more $$$ and shorter term. Three reasons 1) Glass is the better, more feared fighter 2) he takes fewer penalties and 3) they also received a 3rd round pick in this years draft for Dorsett, and they need to stock the system. So Dorsett for Glass and a 3rd rounder, I’ll take that deal any day.

  8. Paul says:

    While I don’t necessarily agree with everything you said, it’s still such a relief to read something more ‘balanced’ in opinion, instead of all the negativity being hurled around.
    I think the points you made about adding some scoring/defense/experience around our younger players is spot on! We can only hope it aids in their development

  9. paulronty says:

    Right on Chris!! More youth, more speed. It will be like last year. Maybe slower start with rooks, but by Christmas the machine is humming.

  10. Rangers Fan in Boston says:

    Nice rosy article. I can only speak for myself, but never was it my issue that they didn’t bring back Boyle or Stralman or signed a bunch of depth players. At least on this site, I haven’t seen anyone upset over the AHL signings, depth is always key.

    My biggest issue is the (what I consider) frivolous spending of the team’s valuable cap space. Boyle’s fine, he may or may not improve the PP, but for $4.5M a year (a big chunk of available cap) for a player that probably needs sheltered minutes (and may be exposed with top 4 minutes), I expect better value for that money. I would have rather spent less (cap-wise) on a Mark Fayne type, who at 27 years old received a reasonable 4 years @ $3.6M per.

    I will also add, that with holes now to fill for Richards, Pouliot, and Boyle, counting on 3 rookies to come in and fill those roles is asking a lot. Rarely do 3 rookies all make the team and contribute (to a playoff team) in one season. With smarter spending, the Rangers could have added more depth with a solid 3rd line center type like Mathieu Perreault – who at 25 years old received a reasonable 3 years @ $3M per.

    That depth they rode to the Stanley Cup Finals appears to have been diminished, and the team – as currently constructed – is counting on several rookies to make impacts. Rookies should force their way onto rosters, not be given roles at the start.

    Smarter spending of the cap could have brought that depth back into the organization while allowing the kids chances to make the team if they earn it.

    Clearly there is more time to make moves before camp starts – there may be a Pouliot diamond in the rough out there (Glass is not that) for short money – but this was not what I envisioned when free agency started.

    • Chris F says:

      This, this, this, this.

      The concern is not a reflexive emotional response to losing 3 popular players (Stralman, Pouliot, Boyle) nor is it related to the myriad depth signings that were needed to shore up Hartford.

      I don’t think those are anyone’s criticisms of yesterday’s activity.

      Pouliot is the most replaceable, and I could see Miller filling that role, so I’m not especially concerned about his departure (his contract with Edmonton is outrageous, to be honest).

      But Boyle and Stralman could have been kept for about the same money that was spent on D. Boyle and Glass. That’s a considerable down-grade in defensive depth, PKing, faceoffs, and possession.

      But, whatever. If they didn’t like the terms these guys were asking for, then it’s business.

      But the return didn’t really address any major needs. Sure we somewhat replaced Richards’ PP production, and we added some toughness, but at what expense?

      Boyle is not the player he once was. We’ll be lucky to get 35 points from him and his skating/footspeed will be a liability. Glass will garner 6-8 minutes a night and won’t bring anything to the table beside his fists. That’s $5.9 million spent on low, low priorities.

      We needed to add a serviceable defenseman to somewhat replace Stralman at a low cost and address the gaping hole down the middle.

      Sure, Stastny was pricey and probably never a real option considering the cap situations, but there were other options. Stepan / Brassard / Lindberg isn’t going to take you that far.

      The main point of contention is that this team just went to the Stanley Cup Finals. With some small tweaks (upgrading Richards whose %6.67 cap hit opened up some space) we could have been back and competing for it again this year.

      The loss of Richards, Pouliot, Stralman, Boyle, and Dorsett significantly alters this team, and the additions of D. Boyle and Glass don’t even come close to an upgrade. Factor in all the young kids that will now be relied on, and this is a team that is nowhere near as good as it was 2 weeks ago. People can point to the weak start last October all they want, that team was better than this current team (they just needed to adjust to AV and gain some confidence in the system). A couple of brilliant trades and that team went to the Finals.

      I don’t see a lot of tradeable assets with this current group, so I wouldn’t expect a March miracle. This is a team that will be competing just to make the playoffs.

      And that’s not what anyone wanted coming out of free agency.

      • bloomer says:

        So when some goon crosschecks msl in the face you going send Fast over the boards to take care of him?

        • Chris F says:

          First, we had no real enforcer this past season and I don’t recall anyone crosschecking any of our players in the face.

          Second, if Glass is just an enforcer, then he absolutely cannot in a thousand years command $1.45 million when we’re trying to salvage every penny.

          Third, Glass, alone, is not the sole problem with yesterday’s signings in my inion. His was just the most headscratch worthy.

          • Chris A says:

            Glass is going to play 4th line minutes and PK. Exactly what Dorsett did.

            AV coached Glass in Vancouver. I am sure AV had input in the Glass signing. If AV trusts Glass that is good enough for me. The only thing that irks me about Glass is the term. 3 years is a lot for a guy that might be a regular healthy scratch by 2016.

          • bloomer says:

            No derek stephen didn’t get his jaw broken by a late high hit…I am just making stuff up. Prust should if been taken out back to the woodshed for that cheap shot.

            • Chris F says:

              You know there is a difference between a hockey hit gone bad and an intentional crosscheck to the face. My apologies for not knowing you were referring to the former when you cited the latter.

    • cv19 says:

      Matthiew Perrault? Do you really think the Rangers need another small center? I’m sure he wasn’t a consideration for Sather.
      The new NHL punishes teams for their success by having them lose their depth guys after long playoff runs. It’s inevitable so you do have to bite the bullet by locking up your corps and bringing in the kids.
      I think Boyle could be a major get for the Rangers. He’s certainly on the downside of his career but if you watched him this year he can still get the puck to the net from the point.

  11. Rob says:

    Remover last year started with a makeshift training and never ending road trip due to the renovation if MSG. Add the new coaches, new system, injuries and reliance on replacement parts (Pouliot), you have a complete recipe for disaster.
    BUT AV is a miracle worker and Sather made some of the best in-season trades in NHL history (Klien, St. Louis, Carcillo and even Diaz) to bring the Rangers to the finals.

    Right now the team is in a better place than 365 days ago on the roster front, on the salary cap front, and on organizational depth.

    LGR

  12. LexKyNYRanger says:

    Thanks for talking me down off the ledge, last night I was ready to jump.

  13. Ray says:

    Excellent post, Chris. I am not shocked by yesterday’s activities – the Rangers were very vulnerable after all. Still, I have two questions. With all these defensemen, where do Hughes, Noreau, Zamorsky play? Of the twenty players the Rangers suited up as their first string, fully five are gone. Yet the only quality addition is Dan Boyle. Is Sather planning on getting another one or two forwards of note? This year’s versions of Pouliot and Dom Moore?

  14. paulronty says:

    Of course, rookies shouldn’t just be handed a job. They will make mistakes but that doesn’t mean they should be stapled to the pine & deemed unready. This is where coaching & player smarts come in. Miller,Fast & Lindberg are good players who will need to show distinct improvement as the season progresses. If they are not up to the task, then maybe trades will be made. It’s all in flux now, no different than last year, right? Look where we started & look where we ended up.

  15. joe719 says:

    Finally a rational assessment of the players who left yesterday. I’ve been saying basically the same thing for at least a day now. They all can, and will be replaced. No need to panic, indeed!!!

  16. Chris F says:

    According to CapGeek, the Rangers have $14,607,500 in available cap space and only have to sign Brassard, Kreider, Zuccarello, and J. Moore.

    Assuming $3.7 million for Brassard, $1.15 million for Zuccarello, $850,500 for eacgh of Kreider and Moore (these are all the QOs), that still leaves slightly over $8 million left.

    Where’s all that going? I thought we were in some sort of cap crunch…

    Or is that $8 million tied up in the AHL FAs?

    • Dave says:

      Uh….you just cited last year’s salaries. All four are getting raises, some significant.

      • Chris F says:

        So the QOs are not the actual offers, just the first step in negotiations?

        Even then, between the 4 of them, the collective raises shouldn’t approach $8 million, so we do have some financial wiggle room it would appear.

        • Chris F says:

          Let’s say $4.5m for Brassard (raise of 800k), $2m for Zuke (raise of 850k), and $1.5m for Krieder and Moore (raises of 650k each), that still brings us down to over $5 million available space.

          That makes me even more pissed at the Glass signing. Take him out and we have $6.5 million to sign a good depth center with without bringing the team to the absolute ceiling.

          • Ray says:

            You can’t sign Zuccarello for $2m unless he is in an absurdly generous mood. He is arbitration eligible, which means that the Rangers will have to pay him a salary which is at least slightly fair. He is coming off a season that Ryan Callahan ($5.8m) could never even dream of. Obviously, Zuke won’t get that much, but I’m guessing an arbitration award around $4m. A multi-year pact upwards of $3m might get it done since Zuke wants to stay, but never $2m.

            • Chris F says:

              He had one good season.

              I love the guy, but $4 million, to me, sounds absurd for a bridge deal (considering he’ll then be looking for a long-term $5.5+ million in 2 years).

              I’d say $3m at the absolute maximum for a bridge deal. He also stated he’d take years over salary, so a longer 3-4 years at $3 million sounds very reasonable.

              • joe719 says:

                Don’t take too much stock in what was said in a Norwegian Paper, translated to English. Yes he wants years over salary, supposedly, but he’s not gonna’ take the hometown discount. And he shouldn’t. He, right now, is the best playmaker on the team. If they’re going to fork it over to any of the RFA’S, he’s first in line. Deservedly so.

            • TxRanger says:

              Didn’t Zucc already say he would take less money as not to hamper the team?

              BTW, does anyone remember when everyone was calling MZA?

          • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

            Youre close with Brassard’s and Moore’s potential salaries, but undershot Zucc and Kreider by at least a million each. Probably closer to two million for Zucc.

            • Chris F says:

              Sather pretty much came out and said that Zuccarello is both unproven and undeserving of either long-term deal or high salary. While I disagree with his hard-line assessment (I think Zuke is proven and deserving of recognition), I think that a $4 million deal isn’t something Sather is going to go for.

              It sounds like he is going for a short-term, low salary bridge deal. 2 years, $2-3 million maximum. Hopefully Zuccarello is OK with that, with the knowledge that if he keeps laying this way, he’ll be making over $5 million in a couple years.

              Not bad for the kid who is too small for hockey.

          • Chris A says:

            I’ll throw up some predictions for you Chris F. All these figures are cap hits.

            Brass: $4.3M (over $5M if he signs a deal over 3 years long)

            Zucc: $3.8M

            Kreider: $1.7M

            J.Moore: $1.4M

            Total RFA Cap Hit: $11.2M, leaving about $3.4M in cap space.

  17. mikeyyy says:

    30 Helens agree

    You can’t rush a rasberry.

  18. roadrider says:

    Great – if you’re objective is to win the Calder Cup instead of the Stanley Cup. I won’t waste time arguing that Boyle, Stralman or Pouliot should have been kept but losing all three and only obtaining a declining, slow-footed 38-year old defense man for the other side of the ledger is hard to understand. Oh, I forgot. Dan Boyle really, really wants to be a Ranger. We know how that thing has worked out in the past.

    So now we’ve lost two top-nine forwards, two thirds of the fourth line and a top four defense man and only kind of replaced one of those guys? And we’re supposed to get excited about non-prospect “depth” guys acquired to help the Hartford Wolf Pack? What’s wrong with this picture? Sure, none of the guys who have departed are irreplaceable and Lindberg, Fast and JT Miller may make the big club next season but the odds are that one ore more of them may either not be ready or not ready to contribute at the same level of the guy they’re replacing.

    Unless there are some other acquisitions in the offing the Rangers have taken a huge step backwards and have not even begun to address the lack of scoring punch or lack of a true #1 center (and no, its not Derek Stepan), size, puck-moving defense man and PP-QB (yeah, I know its supposed to be Boyle but I’m highly skeptical).

    Sather may be playing a deeper game but he needs to start revealing it soon.

  19. mikeyyy says:

    We all questioned Av when he started and he guided us to the finals.

    Lets see what he has planned vs throwing in the towel already.

    So he got rid of Dorsett, Dorsett sucked.

    He didn’t sign stralman to a 5 year deal at 5 mil. Would you throw 5m at a retread who had a good year? Yeah me neither.

    He didn’t sign Boyle, who has hands of granite is 6’8″ and doesn’t nearly hit enough or know how to level people Phaneuf style.

    And Pouliot had a god awful offer from Edmonton of all places. Lets face it, he was the beneficiary of brass and zucc having great chemistry.

    We got our pp QB in d. Boyle , toughness in tanner glass a bunch of ahl depth.

    So this means the kids HAVE to make the team out if camp.

    Isn’t this what we have wanted ?

    • "The Original" Rob says:

      Thank you Mike, you hit the nail on the head! Now to re-sign our RFA’s. The big question is, would you go after a guy like a Radim Vrbata, David Legwand or Dustin Penner if there’s any money left? I just don’t understand why everyone is so up in arms after yesterday. We finally got the PP Q-back we so dearly wanted, which are very hard to come by and got him at a slight discount and signed for only 2 years.

  20. Johnny Red says:

    Agree 100% other teams have young players come in and do a good job. It’s time for us to do the same. You’ll never find out if these kids can do the job if they’re in the minors!! It takes time to build a winner, LET’S GO RANGERS!!!!!!!

  21. Hockey Dennis says:

    I agree with building from within though what I see being the hard issue to swallow is that teams got better this week. Did the Rangers? They were so close to winning and we all want them to and I think I speak for many of us when I say we got worse then better and thats tough to swallow right now. I would rather work from the draft to build our system up. I just think there needs to be balance in both to be successful. When I see other teams who are better get even better and the Rangers regress it just stinks. I don’t trust Sather one bit. Thanks let’s go rangers!

  22. flatbush says:

    There are many assumptions and opinions of the moves in the last few days but we really don’t have all the info. Money, length of contract,and player roles have been major factors in these discussions and moves. The factor hidden is the coaches desires. We’ll never really know because AV is low key but we got a hint from Sather speaking about the acceptance of player roles. History shows us that dominate personalities like Torts and Keenan tell you what they want, It sort of gets the GM off the hook when the coach gets or gets rid of a player. No better examples of Gartner, Gaborik, Richards and Nash. Its obvious that losing Dorsett and Boyle produced a wash in terms of money and contract years. My perception is that the coach was not their advocate and I expect Carcillo is in the same boat. I think Av would have wanted to keep Pouliot and Stralman but their demands didn’t fit money and contract years. At this point all these move are of minor impact until we start play next season. The one thing we really need and have no answer for is a #1 center.

  23. WayneG says:

    The biggest issue the Rangers were facing was the number of contracts they had to deal with- too many UFA and RFA hitting the market at the same time- Perhaps that should have been addressed earlier but who really know we were capable of the wonderful run to the finals. We lost some key players who were real key role players. But- we are positioned to make changes through trades and promotions as the season progresses and as our assets prove what they can or can not provide. As it was said somewhere else- this team that went to the finals was certainly not the team that opened the season. Let’s not get all crazy an bitch and moan until we actually see who does what and what AV and Slats to when the season is at the mid-point.