Feb
12

Early morning Friday thoughts

February 12, 2016, by

Happy Friday, BSB faithful. It’s about 5am and I am readying to leave for Canada to get back to my Canuck roots for a couple days, so I’m going to leave you with some brief thoughts before the Kings come to town this evening.

Let’s start the proceedings with a former King. I am very surprised the Rangers did not put a claim in on Christian Erhoff. I know what you are saying; “but Justin, there was a reason the Kings put him on waivers, why would the Rangers want anything to do with him?” Well, for one he would have added defensive depth and he only cost cap space. There have been several nagging injuries this season, and clearly the organization is only looking to call up Brady Skjei in the event of a long-term role. Could also have created some matchup leverage depending on opponent. Alas, it was not meant to be.

It is nice to see some resiliency from this group with Nash and McDonagh out. They have been mighty inconsistent since their hot start and seemed a group without an identity. They still haven’t show truly what type of team they are yet, but the past few weeks have been moving back in the right direction.

Kudos to JT Miller for getting molten hot right as the Rangers lost Rick Nash. It made losing one of the team’s most important forwards much easier to absorb.

The recent run of improved form has maintained solid playoff positioning with 28 games remaining. What is a bit more troubling is that only 6 points separate the 2nd place Rangers from the 5th place Devils. I know it is harder to make up points in today’s NHL than in the past with the loser point, but the Rangers really need to start a run of consistent hockey. Hopefully they peak for the playoffs.

Henrik Lundqvist has been something of an enigma to fans this season. It seems like he has been hot, cold, hot, and lacks the consistency we have come to expect over the past decade. The reality is that his 5v5 save percentage is the highest of his career; while his 5v4 save percentage has nose-dived. Considering the state of the PK at the moment, it’s hard to be surprised by those statistics.

I’ve seen several complaints recently citing Hank’s “rebound control” issues. What is important to understand about both Hank specifically and the momentum of the equipment industry, as a whole, is that most pads now are designed to project rebounds farther out, rather than to help absorb them. This gives the goaltender extra time to recover and be ready for the next shot. “Crease clearing” in the traditional sense when it comes to rebounds is becoming less and less common. Every goaltender is going to have rebounds placed in inopportune areas depending on the degree of difficulty of the original shot. All that is to say that rebound control is not really an issue for Hank.

I think given a survey of the market, if the Rangers cannot move either Girardi or Staal, or get a significant package for Keith Yandle, I would be fine with them standing pat. Part of the value of the Yandle acquisition was for two playoff runs. I think the re-signing ship has sailed, and I get wanting to generate value from a departing asset, so the run of form over the next two weeks should be very telling about this team’s realistic possibility at a long playoff run.

Well, that’s it for me. Everyone enjoy the game tonight and share any thoughts you may have on my thoughts in the comments below.

"Early morning Friday thoughts", 5 out of 5 based on 6 ratings.

26 comments

  1. steve b. says:

    not only did LA not want ehrhoff, none of the other 29 teams wanted him either ….
    mcilrath is a better option … and boyle on his off side seems to be “comfortable” short term … and also a better option

  2. Walt says:

    Glad they passed on Erhoff, he was poor last season with Pittsburgh, and worse with LA>

    JT Miller, given a real shot has proven to be a decent player, and one of the few on this roster that plays with a bit of an edge.

    Brady Skjei will be in the line up next season, with Yandle leaving, and the kid can skate very well.

    Hanks numbers this season are bad, mainly due to the PK, or lack

    The only question I have is “Why would you be OK with the trio mentioned”?

    As an organization it is imperative that we move one of the two long term contracts on the blue line. Which of the two would bring back the most, I have no idea??????

    Let’s start tonight, and get a run of about a half dozen wins, and put some separation between us, and the guys behind us…………

  3. amy says:

    glad they didn’t go after ehroff he wouldn’t help play Dylan he has an up side to him

  4. Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

    Some really interesting points in ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun’s column. First, on the way the trade deadline may go down….

    “There’s no chance you’re seeing first-round picks go out for rental players this year,” one Western Conference hockey executive said Tuesday. “Those days are over.

    “The market correction started last summer in free agency with a lot of players getting squeezed by the flat cap and now you’re going to see teams protect their high picks and top prospects more than ever because that’s gold now, that’s the most important currency there is because of the new economic realities.”

    With the bigger stars taking up so much salary-cap space, the middle class is getting squeezed and teams need cheap, young players in the entry-level class more than ever to round out their rosters. And teams need the pipeline to keep producing young players.

    So suddenly those second-round draft picks getting thrown around like candy over the past decade near the trade deadline might not move as much.

    “Those might be third-round picks now,” one Eastern Conference executive said. “You look at Toronto and all the UFAs they want to sell. They’ll still sell a lot of them, but not for the kind of picks they could have got two years ago.”

    Maybe.

    It always sounds so good in theory until the actual market and the competitive juices of GMs take over. We shall see. (End of LeBrun’s thoughts)

    My thoughts on this….GMs have been consulting with Walt, who’s been screaming about protecting draft picks for some time now, showing he is indeed ahead of the curve on this subject. 🙂

    Now, the flip side is, that might mean the return on what we would get in a potential Yandle trade might not be as impressive as we hoped. If so, I’d rather hang on to him for the remainder of the season. Trading him for a marginal return does nothing for us.

    And along those lines, here’s LeBrun on Yandle….

    Really good point by veteran columnist Larry Brooks that with Ryan McDonagh’s concussion and the uncertainty that goes with it, it’s hard to think the New York Rangers can move pending UFA Keith Yandle before Feb. 29. Unless the Rangers white-flag it because of a downward slide in the standings between now and then, I think they’re ready to just let him walk July 1. The salary-cap space gained is a positive in this system for big-spending teams like New York. The Rangers have the third-best record in the East. When healthy, they can play with the best in the East. The debate, I suppose, is whether GM Jeff Gorton feels it’s time to reset the roster a bit after years of going for it. Really tough call when you consider where they are in the standings. (End of LeBrun’s thoughts)

    My thoughts…..100% agree. Unless the Rangers are blown away with the proverbial offer they can’t refuse, or the Rangers unravel (which appears unlikely given the way they are trending), I totally agree. Don’t trade Yandle….either make trades this summer to find a way to keep him or just let him walk this summer. We have people out here who say we would then lose him for nothing, but that’s not really true. Between Boyle and Yandle’s departure, that’s $7.1 mil in cap space freed up. You can use that to sign one elite player (and keep in mind, that elite player COULD be Yandle, although I’m not advocating that the $7.1 mil be used that way), two very good players, or one very good player and two other bargain players to add to our 4th line depth, especially since Moore likely leaves after this year as well.

    • SalMerc says:

      Gorton, as any GM, knows his teams needs. I am sure he is dangling some names out there to see who bites. He also knows his CAP flexibility and his UFAs and RFAs. I would guess Yandle, Hayes, Nash, and yes, even Kreider, Lindberg and Stalberg are being made available for the right price; maybe a lesser price for Girardi and Stall.

      He needs to try to improve this years team, make some CAP space AND obtain some picks to keep the pipeline flowing. Whether he can do all of that is quite another story.

      LA has a goalie issue for tonight. We should pounce early and hard.

      • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

        Yandle….could be dealt but only if the return is terrific that makes us better now OR the team unravels.

        Hayes….very possible

        Nash….highly doubtful pre-deadline. Declining production, dealing with an injury that’s slow to heal. Any deal we make here probably weakens us short term, which is not an option Gorton will likely entertain. This summer? Possible..very possible.

        Kreider…..I see him as the ultimate wild card trade chip. Teams may see him as a player who might just need a change of scenery. Maybe go to a small market where the spotlight isn’t as intense. He will command a nice raise this summer. We would need a BIG return to make this trade now, but perhaps a lesser return this summer if the goal is to further improve our cap position.

        Lindberg….maybe, but not sure if we’d get much back here of value. I think we value him more than other teams do.

        Stalberg….he’d be a rental. I can’t see him fetching anything back, and it would just weaken us now without a legit replacement. He just walks this summer.

        As I said, I see no scenario whatsoever that Girardi or Staal are dealt for at least another year, if not more.

        I think Klein could get dealt as part of a package now, but more likely this summer. Can’t trade Klein now unless you are certain you can replace him effectively and still expect to win. He’s proven to be too important to us.

        I think the Rangers could deal Graves or Skjei in lieu of a draft pick as part of a package to get a much needed scorer.

        McIlrath is always a possibility too IF management isn’t as enamored with him as the fan base is. I can’t see it happening. I think he would bring back very little in terms of a return, so why bother? There’s no indication GMs are lining up to try and get him.

        I think teams will be falling over themselves to convince the Rangers to part with Miller. It won’t likely happen unless the Rangers are blown away, but those discussions may lead to other options involving trading Kreider and or Hayes.

        • Wranger17 says:

          Would like to see them keep Lindberg for the fourth line C next year Lindberg with Fast and Stlberg would work for me and would be cost efficient . Lets not kid our selves we need a better fourth line next year , We would have to either trade give away or waive TG ,If waiver he would cost 650 against the cap in Hartford .or could be the 13 forward

    • Walt says:

      well you finally acknowledged I may be right, LOL!!!!!!!!

      I have felt this way for the longest time, and now the economics of the game dictate that GM’s keep their picks. Great for us, bad for some of the old timers who will be shown the door if their demands are way out of line!!!!!!!!!!!

      LGR………..

  5. Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

    Some additional thoughts on the trade deadline and Justin and Walt’s thoughts–

    First of all, there is ZERO chance we trade Staal or Girardi prior to the deadline, and highly, highly improbable that they are traded before the Rangers are in full rebuild mode. I’d bet every dollar I have they are Rangers come training camp next September. Walt, sorry to say, it’s not happening in the short term. The players don’t want to leave and the Rangers don’t seem to have any interest in moving on. There is a school of thought that a normal summer with no post surgical recovery issues will result in improved play from both, which I personally agree with. Stall will be 30. Girardi 32. Maybe not in their prime anymore but hardly over the hill either. It’s not happening…..unless the Rangers fire AV and bring back Torts. Now that would probably convince them to waive their NMCs! 🙂

    As for Yandle, he likley leaves this summer. Barring the unthinkable, McDonagh and Staal will be two of the lefty defensemen. Which means there is room for one more. We have two promising players down on the farm–Skjei and Graves. If they keep progressing, both will get a shot at the final spot next year in camp. That could mean that, at this year’s deadline, or next summer, one of the two might be a trade chip. It doesn’t appear that there will be any way to keep both young players, as I see it anyway.

    • Seahorse says:

      spent sometime asking if girardi to columbus is the only conceivable option. torts, retooling not rebuilding, no RD outside of seth jones, then shockwave crashed.

      conclusion: girardi, player(x) and third for rene borque, and cam atkinson.
      couldn’t see another option other than atkinson, maybe calvert, but then no third rounder

      • Wranger17 says:

        Why would we want Bourgue

      • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

        Seahorse, I would say virtually a zero chance the trade you proposed could happen. Two reasons. One, Torts seems to like Atkinson. Two, and this is the big one, Girardi will NOT waive his NMC, the Rangers have zero interest in wanting him to move on at the moment, and perhaps most importantly, reporters who have talked to Girardi said that the CBJs would be 30th on his list of teams to go to. Pretty clear he was one of the Rangers involved in the “coup” to rid themselves of Torts after the ’12-’13 season.

        So I wouldn’t hold my breath on that one happening.

        • Seahorse says:

          i was just trying to find a potential deal since everyone on this site keeps commenting we need to trade staal and girardi. staal to carolina doesn’t make sense cause there wont be his bros to go to.

          wasn’t sure if girardi and torts were friends or not.

          i just like to try and find what would be fair value, and actually possible in the real world

  6. Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

    Raanta is in goal tonight. Sounds like AV wants Hank fresh for the key Eastern Conference matchups that are ahead.

    Good news–McDonagh rode the bike the last two days and skated lightly this morning. Also shooting and puck handling a bit. He was reported to be in “good spirits and smiling”. Sounds like he is symptom-free, but the question of course is will he remain symptom-free once the intensity gets higher for him in practice. Still no time table but have to assume the earliest would be 7-10 days away (although guessing concussion timelines is a fool’s errand).

    Bad news–Nash has made NO progress. It still hurts to walk. This injury happened two weeks ago and it still hurts to walk? I’m no doctor, but visions of Mark Teixiera are dancing in my head here. Not good, and if he can’t play, or play but be ineffective, then we are big trouble.

    • Hatrick Swayze says:

      Thanks for the update, Eddie. Haven’t had my ear to the ground so appreciate the news. The Nash situation is one to watch to say the least. If it’s anything long term…. it is a huge game changer about how to approach the deadline and post season.

    • Walt says:

      could this be a hairline fracture that Nash has???????????????

      if so, this may require at least 4-6 weeks to heal!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      they may not want the public to know the seriousness of his injury??????

      • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

        You may well be right Walt. Tex had what was originally thought to be a bone bruise. He was day to day. It didn’t get better. Weeks later, they re-examined and found the small break. Done for the season.

        We have no idea.

  7. Ray says:

    You said Erhoff only cost cap space, but cap space is a big deal. The Kings now have a $550K cap hit for a player in the minors. That was what the Rangers had to look forward to when McDonagh came back. Maybe not a bad idea to have such an emergency reserve — ASSUMING you are not making any other deadline moves that require cap space. Not a good assumption.

  8. Hatrick Swayze says:

    The upcoming Rangers schedule is, to me, the best thing for this team right now. LA, PHI, CHI, TOR, DET, NJD, STL, DAL, CBJ….. then the deadline. I count one or two gimmes in that group- TOR and CBJ.

    This is the best thing for the squad right now. Hopefully it cements where we stand as a club and provides a less cluttered way to assess our situation. Unless we find a way to defecate the bed, there’s no way the Rangers don’t gear up for another run. Agree or not, that seems to be the reality we are headed towards. Other than WAS and TB, no one horrifies me in the East. Almost everyone else scares me, but there aren’t any other titans. PIT, BOS, NYI…. any series could go either way.

    Look ahead to the bracket and the most likely scenario is that our first dance with one of the titans would be WAS in the 2nd round. It will be interesting to see how things unfold between now and then. But barring the unlikely, I doubt we do anything to weaken our club for the post season. We likely don’t have the assets to be buyers, nor the mindset to be sellers.

    • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

      I mostly agree Hatrick. I read somewhere that for the rest of the of season, the Rangers have the second toughest remaining schedule of any Eastern Conference team. That’s both a blessing and a curse, and the blessing is exactly what you said….we will know soon where we stand.

      Totally agree the Rangers are going to be all in. They are third best in the conference. No team bails in that situation and starts retooling. All that can happen this summer, which it obviously will to some extent.

      I’m not sure I totally agree that TB would horrify me. I put them in the same category as Pit, NYI (not sure Bostin scares me at all). And the Caps, well they are legitimately scary, but let’s see how they play with the weight of expectations on them. Does Ovie cough up a hair ball? Can Trotz actually win more than one playoff series, which has been the extent of his post-season resume? I don’t know why I feel this way, but given a hot goalie, I would not at all be shocked if they go out in the first round. We shall see.

  9. Hatrick Swayze says:

    Tampa is a very legit threat. They’ve had significant injuries to key players (Johnson, Palat) for the greater portion of the year. The duo is back now, but the squad has yet to round into full form. Once they hit their stride, they should be every bit as dangerous as last yr. AND if they want to, still have the ability to flip Drouin for that extra piece for a cup run. Which, if I’m Stevie Y, I look to do exactly that.

    As for Washington, if at this point they haven’t proven their worth, I don’t know what to tell you. Ovie is still all world. Holtby is the locked in the top tenders in the game, Kuznetsov has improved arguably more than any other player in the NHL this year offensively, Oshie and Williams have been key additions, Carlson and Niskanen stand out in any top 4 in the league and Trotz is a great coach. The questions you pose make for great headlines, but in all honesty once the puck drops in a playoff series, they don’t mean a thing. For instance, last year in game 7 Ovie opened the scoring…. history says that should have won the hockey game. Hayes and Stepan made sure that wasn’t the case. Point being, media headlines are interesting but so many variables differ year, I wouldn’t put too much stock into them.

    Now, I’m not saying hand them the cup BUT if I were to bet my Friday paycheck on who would most likely win a playoff series in a couple months, WAS or NYR…. I’m putting it on the bad guys.

    All that said, who the hell knows how things unfold. Looking forward to watching with you along the way.

    • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

      All very reasonable Hatrick.

      On TB, of course I agree they are dangerous. I just don’t agree they are “scary”, because I’m convinced we would have beaten them in 6 or 7 games last year if healthy. As for the trade deadline, who knows how any team will look post-Feb 29.

      On Was, oh believe me, they have more than proven their worth. They are a great team. But I will say again what I said a few days ago. They haven’t played a meaningful hockey game all year. They are on cruise control the rest of the way. They have no post-season pedigree at all….Ovie has never proven he can deliver in big games and big moments. Most of their players similarly have had little in the way of post-season success. Their coach has never, ever advanced past the second round, and he’s had some very good teams with which to make a run and has failed. These are legit questions.

      Maybe you are right and the Caps are like the late 70s Canadiens that dominate the regular season and then crush the opposition come playoff time, and there is just no stopping them. Very possible. Or maybe, they are the ’79 Islanders, a dominant regular season team that had folded the prior three seasons come playoff time, and was stunned by the upstart Rangers and the hot goaltending of JD. Or maybe they are the ’86 Keenan-led Flyers, who overwhelmed everyone during the regular season, only to be shocked in the first round by a sub-.500 Rangers team riding the hot goaltending of Beezer.

      The pressure on the Caps as the top seed will be enormous. Are you THAT sure they won’t succumb to it? I’m not.

  10. wwpd says:

    justin, nice to see a musings post, even if it’s not Thursday and not titled “musings”

    also, interesting about rebound control vs new pads, although I wouldn’t expect hank (or anyone) to trade into pads where they have less control over rebounds, if he’s not confidently steering those big rebounds into the corner as opposed to a prime scoring area? maybe still better than having pucks drop dead off pads into the crease, but that creates some challenge for the defense as you pointed out, “crease clearing” has to give way to actually covering the shooters.

  11. Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

    Interesting column from Brooksie today on the Post’s website (probably will be in tomorrow’s edition). It focuses on Miller and how he is the lowest paid player in the league I think it said relative to his production. This summer, he will be due for a nice bump (which again, MIGHT be a reason for why you trade Kreider, but that’s just my own speculation).

    But Brooks also talks about Miller’s ascendency as a young player, and the ups and downs associated with the growing pains.

    Brooks said…..

    (Miller) grabbed onto the opportunity and hasn’t let go, scoring eight goals in the past nine games and nine in the past 11. So the question: Chicken or egg? Ice time or production?

    “That’s always the question,” coach Alain Vigneault said. “Guys come in to me and say, ‘Give me more ice time and I’ll be better,’ and I tell them, ‘You be better and I’ll give you more ice time.’

    “You’re always walking a fine line,” he said. “Like with Yands [Keith Yandle] against New Jersey [on Monday], he makes that play into the middle on the power play late in the game to give them a shorthanded goal and the question is: Do I take him off or keep him on?

    “I kept him on. You want to show confidence in your guys, but different players react differently.”

    Vigneault is as patient a coach as they come, but seemed to have a low tolerance for Miller making mistakes with the puck. It was a predictable dance: unthinking giveaway into the middle of the ice, followed by diminished ice time.

    Now, though, the mistakes have decreased. The ice time and responsibility have increased proportionately.

    “I think J.T. understands what it takes to be a solid professional,” Vigneault said. “His work ethic, not only on the ice at practice, but what it takes in terms of preparation before and after practices, [is improved].

    “And his decisions are better. A lot of his puck decisions put him or his teammates in difficult situations. That’s gotten much better.” (End of the Brooks excerpt).

    I know this has been an ongoing debate out here, and I know some think there’s a double standard between the leash given to rookies vs. vets. And in truth, there probably is a double standard to an extent. On most teams, veterans get a longer leash, especially trusted veterans. Hardly unusual.

    But again we are hearing the magic words that simply can’t be defended or tolerated–“work ethic”. That issue came up two years ago and last year with Miller, and this year with Hayes. Clearly, that’s a situation AV simply won’t tolerate, and I would say NO successful coach would ever put up with.

    Hard lessons had to be learned. Miller has seemingly learned them. Kudos to both player AND coach for working the problem effectively and now seeing positive results. Let’s hope the same thing happens with Hayes.