Cause for cautious optimism


The dust has settled on the first day of free agency and while some teams went for big splashes the Rangers made some savvy depth moves that may be cause for cautious optimism regarding the front office and their offseason strategy.

While rival GMs were busy handing out 5, 6, or even 7-year deals, the Rangers added Michael Grabner, Nathan Gerbe, Michael Paliotta and Adam Clendening to short term, low cap hit contracts. The Rangers didn’t exactly have the opportunity to make any big moves, given their tight salary cap situation, but it’s still encouraging that they looked to add speed and skill to their bottom six.

Although Paliotta and Clendening are likely to spend significant time in the AHL, Gerbe and Grabner are exactly the kind of bottom-six moves the Rangers need, with the diminutive center and ex-Islander filling in the gaps left by Dominic Moore and Viktor Stalberg. Gerbe had 7 points in 47 games played last year with Carolina, while Grabner 18 points in 80 games.

Those numbers aren’t stratospheric but it’s important to remember that these guys are playing supporting roles with the Rangers, and it’s more about their underlying numbers. To that end, Gerbe posted a 49.1% CF% at even strength, with Grabner putting up a CF% of 49.6%. If deployed correctly, Gerbe and Grabner could help a team that’s struggled in terms of possession, particularly when it comes to the third and fourth lines.

What’s most encouraging however aren’t the free agency acquisitions themselves, but rather what they say about management’s perspective. This is a team that’s been prone to win-now, big splash moves these past few years and instead of going for a shiny new toy they recognized one of the true issues with the team and addressed it. It’s cause for cautious optimism that perhaps management knows what needs fixing on this team and is making attempts to address those needs. Although we’ve yet to see any major shakeups on the ailing blue line, I’m cautiously optimistic that some change will come this summer to help retool this roster and put the team back in contention.

"Cause for cautious optimism", 5 out of 5 based on 24 ratings.

53 thoughts on “Cause for cautious optimism

  • Jul 2, 2016 at 8:24 am

    Considering the fact that Gorton had his hands tied behind his back, and couldn’t make any splash to speak of, what else could he do but go thru the rummage can, and pick up what he got.

    Of the four signees, Grabner is the one that I think will help considerably because he has speed, very good on the fore-check, and PK, so that makes him a good acquisition to me. Gerbe will be a fill in for Oscar until he returns, so that is a cheap insurance policy.

    The blue line is still a tire fire, with the snow bird, and pylon back there, for the foreseeable future. Maybe with Beauke as our d-coach, he can come up with some scheme to protect the two amigos???????? Until such time as we get rid of them both, or at least one, the future looks bleak for us, and we will get a high #1 draft pick next season !!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Jul 2, 2016 at 8:26 am

      To all our readers, please have a great 4th, see you next week, we are off to Bethany Delaware for a week with the grandchildren. Happy 4th !!!!

      • Jul 2, 2016 at 8:50 am

        Walt, my friend….. I’m in Ocean City this weekend myself and headed to Bethany for dinner at least one night this weekend. If I run into someone speaking ill of Rangers mgmt, swearing off retreads/ lamenting the loss of high draft picks and speaking with am awful lot of punctuation, I’ll be sure to introduce myself.

        Enjoy and happy 4th!

        • Jul 2, 2016 at 9:36 am

          Have fun Walt! I don’t get to post very often but I always look for your remarks and contributions to the conversation and enjoy them very much. To all my fellow Rangers diehards a very happy and healthy 4th!!!

    • Jul 2, 2016 at 9:44 am

      The problem we have with the cap space, an then add on expansion next year where on certain players can be protected its a smart move to avoid long term deals. I believe we have plenty of talent on this roster, an just need to make some changes to get max out of the talent. Are we going to win the Cup this year.?? But I do believe any of the long term deals I have seen so far this FA period would not give us the Cup either. Not a rebuilding year, but a budget constraint type year.

      • Jul 2, 2016 at 12:13 pm

        If you really like someone, offering $ & long term will keep them from getting picked in the expansion draft. So giving Backes a NMC is the height of insanity.

    • Jul 2, 2016 at 10:25 am

      Not to worry Walt, I think Beuke will make all the D better, providing he can access AVs thick skull. I lobbied all year to replace Ulfie with Beuke, but to be honest, I never thought it would happen. And I’m still lobbying to replace AV with The Messiah, who is destined for a second coming to forestall Armageddon. LOL!!!

      • Jul 2, 2016 at 12:41 pm


        Girardi 7D

        • Jul 2, 2016 at 1:56 pm

          Quincey might be a good replacement for StaaL

          • Jul 2, 2016 at 3:55 pm

            I wonder if the Wild might be interested in Staal, now that his brother Eric is there. It’s also closer to Thunder Bay where they are from. Gorton should kick the tires on that one.

        • Jul 2, 2016 at 3:34 pm

          Right on Alec, Mcllrath has to be in the there as the 3rd pair D. Girardi needs to be 17..

      • Jul 2, 2016 at 7:02 pm

        Pauly, Messier head coach with Buekaboom & Adam Graves as assistants.

    • Jul 2, 2016 at 4:16 pm

      lets hope we have a #1 pic …. don’t talk too soon

  • Jul 2, 2016 at 8:30 am

    Pat, excellent piece. I hope that this years free agency actions and inactions signal a philosophical change in management approach rather than just an artifact of no cap space. I think the PK will improve with Grabner’s speed and hockey sense. We need it! I would have liked to see us sign Martin, however at the figure Toronto gave him, I’m glad we passed. I also think some of the signings made were done with next year’s expansion draft in mind. If that’s the case, again I like what our GM has done.
    Considering what he had to work with, I’m happy with our GM’s moves. Next on to signing our RFA’s……………….

  • Jul 2, 2016 at 8:34 am

    Let me echo Walt’s 4th wishes. To all, please have a Happy and Safe Holiday Weekend.
    Give a thought or two to our men and women serving in our Armed Forces and First Responders. They deserve it.

  • Jul 2, 2016 at 8:40 am

    I also saw these 2 signings as Moore and Stalberg replacements.

    Besides the fact that their combined AAV is slightly cheaper, Grabner and Gerbe are both 28 yrs old vs. a 35 and 30 yr. old Moore and Stalberg.

    Stalberg was really starting to grow on me, and I was always a Dom Moore fan, but I think the bottom 6 just got an upgrade.

    Time to fix the D!!!!!!!

  • Jul 2, 2016 at 9:18 am

    Although no big names coming over, I too am inclined to be at ease with the new trend, no more pissing draft picks and money away. Gorton is taking the different path from Sather. The Girardi /Staal mess is going to carry over, unfortunately we have to live with it. I have to acknowledge the amazing job Steve Yzerman has done in Tampa. He locks up his still in their prime stars ( Stamkos and Hedman ) for the long haul. He handles the Druin controversy like a champ, and now has this future star on Board. He makes amazing deals and signings, totally fleecing the people he trades with,signs Brian Boyle , Anton Stalman, gets Callihan ( imagine we still had those 3 on our roster , not to mention Duclaire, ( Brillant moves Sather) picks for a14 month rental ( St Louis. ) . He has a Stud back up goalie which will allow him to trade Bishop and free up a ton of money. He has a young team in place for the long haul, mutiple Cup runs. In comparison look at our disaster contracts with no trade clauses to boot, on player’s past their prime. Hank, Nash, Girardi, Staal. Lord I am feeling sick,..What a mess.

    • Jul 2, 2016 at 10:28 am

      Stevie Y is great, but in all fairness Bobby, he got to draft near the top of the board for a while because TB sucked. But he made the most of it.

      • Jul 2, 2016 at 12:29 pm

        Isn’t that the trend of all the cup winner for the past decade with Boston being the outlier?

        The Rangers have been victims of their own success. They have been competitive enough to not draft in the top 5 for a real long time!

        For the record I don’t know how you can praise Yzerman for paying Callahan 5.8 a year with a NTC!

        • Jul 2, 2016 at 12:41 pm

          But even if they did they wouldn’t have a pick 🙂

        • Jul 2, 2016 at 1:11 pm

          Repost that when they are carrying the Cup everywhere , you may see that on numerous occaions , Stevie Y, is the Man ..

          • Jul 2, 2016 at 1:43 pm

            give me Nash and his contract over Callys any day of the week.

  • Jul 2, 2016 at 9:19 am

    What I got out of the first day of FA is that Nash’s contract is nearly appropriate to his value, at least judging by Lucic, Ericksson, Backes, Okpso. Also, his trade value just went up to the rest of the league (or teams he’ll accept a trade to). Same goes for Stepan and Brassard.

    As for the D, if Larsson=Hall, Staal equals something more than a bag of pucks and Girard=bag of pucks, which is something. W/ (the IMO over rated) Backes gone from St. Louis, I could see Nash for Shattenkirk +, considering term left.

    • Jul 2, 2016 at 9:31 am

      Gary, excellent post, Nash for Shattenkirk is a great start, moving Girardi and Staal top priority, last but not least ( and it pains me to say this) they have to move Hank, no Goalie is worth 8 million a year. Gorton see’s the light, patience Ranger fans..

      • Jul 2, 2016 at 9:46 am

        Its a valid point about Hank. We all feel the pain of saying it, but business is business.

    • Jul 2, 2016 at 10:30 am

      This Nash for Shattenkirk proposal is never going to happen so give it a rest.

  • Jul 2, 2016 at 9:41 am

    I think cautious optimism is a very good way to describe it.

    We didn’t get better-we didn’t get worse-but we didn’t do anything that is going to hurt us either.

    We still have to fix the “D” unless Beuk is going to suit up. We know that Gorts knows this and we all know it won’t be easy. Demers is still out there and his price must be dropping

    At this point I guess we have to give Gorts the benefit of the doubt. Patience is the word of the day.

    • Jul 2, 2016 at 9:47 am

      Spot on!!!

  • Jul 2, 2016 at 10:29 am

    OK it’s time to keep Nash forget about trading him, his value is more with us then with somebody else. The problem we have now is the coaches philosophy. If he can change his way of coaching we might not need to get rid of Nash.

    • Jul 2, 2016 at 10:32 am

      Agreed, the coach is a major problem but he gets another kick at the can, so let’s see if he can change his philosophy and change hid d-zone coverage.

  • Jul 2, 2016 at 10:40 am

    I was very happy to see the Rangers get Grabner(would have liked Helm but no cap room) because our PK is a disaster & needed fixing. Not too excited by Gerbe. I’m not that upset about losing Stalberg as some others are. I still think the Rangers are a good team, and my hope is that Beuke gives the D some direction. I think Staal will play better with a full off season of conditioning, but G’s physical condition is of concern. I hope Beuke gives DMAC more ice time to enhance his progress. He can’t develop sitting on the bench. Our young D will make mistakes, but they shouldn’t be benched, but rather coached to cut down on errors. Graves will probably need another year with the Pack but make no mistake, he’ll be a good one. I see a pair of DMAC & Graves, the Twin Towers Of Doom.

    • Jul 2, 2016 at 11:22 am

      pauly, correct me if I am wrong??, at this stage Mcllrath is still a RFA?, he remains unsigned ( I HAVE NO CLUE ON WHY??) , I am hoping the Buekaboom assistant coach hiring keeps him in house, because if I am Mcllrath, knowing the lack of confidence AV has in him, I am seriously listening to other offers . I do believe with him being a RFA, we can match another offer??.

      • Jul 2, 2016 at 12:06 pm

        Sure we can match, but I don’t think DMAC has established himself to the extent that he’d get an offer sheet. He’ll be reupped by Gorton & hopefully it gets done quickly.

      • Jul 2, 2016 at 6:31 pm

        RFAs never sign this time of year. Teams are too busy with free agency.

        In a few weeks you’ll start seeing RFAs get signed. That’s standard operating procedure throughout the NHL.

        And if you’re worried about an offer sheet, don’t be. They never happen. I think there have been a grand total of 10 signed offer sheets in the past 11 years.

    • Jul 2, 2016 at 1:14 pm

      Twin Towers of Doom, Gotta luv it. Although AV would prefer Raffie Diaz.

  • Jul 2, 2016 at 11:43 am

    I wonder what staal and girardi think after reading about how much they suck and how much they’re killing the Rangers cap wise..

    • Jul 2, 2016 at 12:08 pm

      I seriously think that they don’t read the press stuff, just like AV had no idea he was being criticized for playing Glass. Hopefully they are concentrating on conditioning & not reading Ranger blogs.

      • Jul 2, 2016 at 12:16 pm

        Conditioning, Bionic Hips and Knees. Human growth hormone, and whatever else they can find.

        • Jul 2, 2016 at 1:05 pm

          Like I said before, somebody should get Girardi A-Rod’s number fast!

    • Jul 2, 2016 at 4:55 pm

      I would guess they’re thinking……

      “Man….I can’t wait till I heal from all of these surgeries I had done (Knees, hips, ribs, EYE, brain), so I can show all those NEGATIVE ungrateful bastid fans that I could still do, what I’ve done on the ice for all those years” 🙂

  • Jul 2, 2016 at 12:55 pm

    I haven’t read all the comments above yet so my apologies in advance if I am being redundant, but I am so enthused over the moves to acquire Nick Holden and sign Michael Paliotta.

    These are very astute players to replace Staal and Girardi, and they come on the cheap, with Paliotta also a potential long-term Ranger.

    What I love most about the acquisition of these players is it tells me Gorton has turned the page from last year with the dreadful trade for Eric Staal, and is being very shrewd in how he reconstructs our roster for the future.

    Very, very good indications all around with these moves.

  • Jul 2, 2016 at 1:57 pm

    I dont see direction/plan with this GM….like sather he is a react-er not planner….
    LA beats us with a big , physical team sather reacts and signs jared stoll etc
    Now, Pitts beats us so we immediately sign smaller faster forwards….

    Sorry….Both moves lack thought…….
    Sign and Keep talented players —-strallman, hagelin, stempniak, strallberg,

    STOP changing with the wind………..Chicago and LA dont react every year to who wins and change the team , THEY stick with what they do best….and WIN

    • Jul 2, 2016 at 4:10 pm

      Thumbs down for re-fighting the last war. Stalberg has a better chance in CAR to get middle 6 TOI and turn it into a better deal next year. Can’t begrudge him that.

      • Jul 2, 2016 at 9:45 pm

        Alec, spot on, I liked Stalberg’s game, I feel we will miss him, again its a $$$, cap thing. I am sure he has the calendar date circle the 1st time Letang and The Pens come to Carolina, he owes Letang a two hand chop or a cross check across the face!!

    • Jul 2, 2016 at 4:59 pm

      With respect Rich.

      There are SO many things in your post that are wrong, that I wouldn’t even know where to begin lol.


    • Jul 2, 2016 at 5:54 pm

      Okay, so I couldn’t resist and HAD to respond to what you wrote. Although it’s rushed because, I was pressed for time.

      First off, the Rangers DO NOT follow in the footsteps of the teams that they were beaten by and sign players of similar style of those teams lol!

      Besides! Jarret Stoll is more of a heady, two-way forward that could do a little bit of everything. You’re making him out to be the second coming of Dave Semenko 🙂

      I’ll say it again, since there are several people here that continually REPEAT the same negative spiel on management. Well, I might as well do the same thing, in a positive/realistic take.

      I believe Ranger management has done a great job over the past 5 years n even further back!

      I could understand almost every move made, or non-move not made, but the ONLY one that they dropped the ball on, is the one for Stralman. Other then that situation, there aren’t really any deals that make me say “WTF!”

      This teams been really trying to do the right thing for almost a decade now, and aside from the Eric Staal signing (nobody knew just how slow he got), they’ve stuck with a general plan and HAVE direction. However, let’s not go to far back. Remember what Slats said at the presser when Torts was let go? He was talking about how “Torts is a great coach, but the times have changed, and there’s not a lot of dumping the puck. The game now, more then ever is about SPEED etc etc.”

      Well, here we are, 5 years later knocking on the door that leads into the room where that heavenly tin cup resides, and what does management do, with not even a pot to piss in, under the cap?

      They get the FASTEST players available for the cheapest price, and the only asset they gave up was a 4th round pick in 2017.

      I’d say they HAVE a game plan.

      • Jul 2, 2016 at 7:38 pm

        Thanks for the comments Orig Rob…
        But I see that every year they do the same thing……panic sign usually an older player at the deadline, st louis, stall, and yandle…..give up bunch of draft picks or young talent …….then lose in playoffs….

        Then in the off season lose good players strallman, hagelin, stempniak, strallberg, and have no top draft choices—-
        that shows me lack of planning/poor management

        We signed stoll because we lost too many faceoffs in the series finals loss to LA
        We signed boyle and let strallman go besause our power play was bad also
        Then we traded for yandle and lost duclair etc…..
        We let hagelin go [couldt afford= bad planning] and now we sign players because we lacked speed against pittsburgh…..

        Gene Carr was once the fastest player in the league in 1970’s…who cares if he cant play…….hagelin could play, very valuable on PK and even strength…….did you watch the finals ?

        Tell me honestly you wouldt want hagelin, strallman, stempniak, duclair and what 4 number one picks back??????

        • Jul 2, 2016 at 7:40 pm

          AND Rob how could management trade for eric stall and NOT know how slow he got??????

        • Jul 3, 2016 at 12:01 am

          Unless you have invented a time machine, give it a rest.

        • Jul 3, 2016 at 1:00 pm


          You call it panic, but a team thats been so, so close to winning it all makes deals to get them over the hump and it has nothing to do with panic. It’s a team trying to do the right thing to get them over the top.

          You do realize, if they didn’t trade St.Louis, Callahan would NOT be a Ranger two months later right? So you would have lost your beloved, greedy captain for NOTHING. Instead, they were prudent, and pro active and got a player back in return that took them to the Finals against an LA Team that never had a lead against us until game 5!

          You wanna talk about the draft pick we gave up for him? Sure, it sucks, but I’d do it again. Besides, it would have been what, a 30th pick overall, whereas that player drafted, in all likelihood wouldn’t have even cracked the lineup for a few years, when this team is in win now mode.

          It’s so easy to say, ” Hey look, the Rangers are doing the same stupid things in years past, mortgaging the future” , HOWEVER, that was at a time when the Rangers were a below average team that weren’t remotely close to winning a cup in years past.

          It’s funny that you ask me if I watch the Finals??? I NEVER, NEVER miss a Hockey game if it’s on! Never, they used to call me Mr.Hockey in school 🙂

          “Bad planning by Management” “We lacked Speed” Are you serious???
          Yeah we lost against Pittsburgh that was on par with our speed, maybe they were slightly faster then us, maybe we were slightly faster then them, but only a casual fan would look at the obvious and say…”Pittsburgh is fast, they beat the Rangers, and look, they have Hagelin now too and he’s fast, so that MUST be why we lost against them” Did you maybe think that there might have been other factors to why we lost against a team that eventually won the cup?

          Again, you’re insisting that we’re following in the footsteps of the teams that have beat us, by you saying “we lost to Pittsburgh with Carl Hagelin, and that’s why we’re signing “faster” players today, completely missing the point what I wrote in my prior post that we’ve been drafting and signing faster players for a LOOOONG time now. Managements plan on team identity has been about speed 5 years ago, and that still hasn’t changed.

          It’s sounds to me like many of your opinions are that of a typical Monday morning quarterback. Hindight is 20 20 my friend. If you have read posts here on BSB for a while now, you’d know that it was me and Joe that were talking about how good, underrated and under used Stempniak was, and how we hope he wasn’t traded at the deadline the year before. Also, I was VERY vocal and upset on losing Hagelin initially, but upon hearing that he signed for $4 Mill per year, I completely understood Ranger Managements decision on not resigning him for that kind of money. If Hagelin somehow was available today for $4 Mill, I’d STILL tell him to go fly a kite!

          Poor planning? Please name me one playoff team today that has more home grown players in their current lineup then us???

  • Jul 2, 2016 at 2:03 pm

    26 hours and nobody’s signed Brandon Pirri.

    • Jul 2, 2016 at 5:36 pm

      Guessing it will get to 72 before long.

  • Jul 3, 2016 at 11:25 am

    If this is cause for optimism, I would hate to see what is cause for pessimism.

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