Nov
08

The Rangers are getting great value from their roster

November 8, 2016, by
Providing excellent value: Chris Kreider Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images

Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images

Successful teams need depth and the Rangers certainly have depth right now. What they also have is value for money and in a cap world when depth goes hand in hand with value for money you have yourself a winning record. Getting bang for your buck is something we’ve discussed ad nauseam on the Blog but it’s worth repeating.

Here’s a number that may surprise you. Only eight(!) teams have a smaller overall cap commitment than the Rangers this season – your deep pocketed Blueshirts check in with an overall $70,246,111 spend. When was the last time the Rangers were near the bottom of the league in overall spending? Leading the league in goals scored while having the 22nd overall cap hit is a great example of value for money in a hard cap league that forces General Managers to trade away talent to be financially compliant.

Offensively, the Rangers are currently the envy of the league. Right now it’s a nightly offensive onslaught from the Rangers yet no one, individual line is being relied upon too heavily. The roster is stacked with production, not just from the expected sources but from top to bottom and regardless of the cost of the player.

Sure there’s value to be had where you’d hope and expect to find it: Chris Kreider is making his new contract look a smart investment, Mats Zuccarello’s contract continues to be one of best contract’s in the entire NHL, Ryan McDonagh is playing to a Norris Trophy standard most nights and Mika Zibanejad is an excellent swap for Derick Brassard at close to half the cap cost.

Rick Nash’s re-emergence is of course encouraging for the Rangers overall ambitions too but he’s not blatant evidence of financial value. Nash is simply delivering on his contract (and his talent level). Focus for a moment now though on the players, the lesser lights if you were, who aren’t expected to be the main offensive producers and this is where you’ll really notice the smart moves made by Jeff Gorton.

Michael Grabner, Jesper Fast, Brandon Pirri and Pavel Buchnevich combine for a total cap hit of 4.65m. Together they have already amassed 29 points. They have 15 goals as a foursome while Grabner and Pirri have already combined to chip in with three game winners. Impressive numbers from four plays who don’t cost much two of whom weren’t wanted around the league this summer.

Grabner and Pirri (while they will surely slow down following torrid starts) are currently both on pace for 55+ points; in Grabner’s case it’s a 63-point pace. Meanwhile Buchnevich (in a predominantly fourth line role) is on pace for close to 40 points as a rookie. Fast himself is flirting with the 40-point barrier. As you can see, the Rangers are getting tremendous value from the depth as well as value from the top lines.

Elsewhere on the roster and other players have chipped in as well. Even if it’s in small doses it is yet more evidence of Gorton’s good work. Adam Clendening (600k) has two helpers in limited game time and has been sensible with the puck and Nick Holden, while admittedly wildly inconsistent, does still have 7 points already – 27th in league scoring among blueliners.

Is Holden a top four blueliner? Almost certainly not. However while giving the Rangers 20 minutes a night and chipping in some offense, does he represent value for money at a cost of 1.65m? I think so (go search some comparable player salaries across the league and then think twice about your opinion of Holden). He may not be Brian Leetch but at 1.65m a season he doesn’t need to be.

Meanwhile over on rookie street Brady Skjei is doing his best Keith Yandle impression with 8 assists already and he’s doing it on his entry level deal that’s paying him 925k. He’s playing over 16 minutes per game and his play has certainly helped quell the trade for Trouba chanting.

While Derek Stepan is playing solid hockey, his one goal has gone unnoticed because of all the offensive support he has around him. Mika Zibanejad’s bad puck luck and penchant for missing the net (although he’s playing mostly good hockey since joining the Rangers) has gone unnoticed because guys all around him are filling the net. Chris Kreider wasn’t missed when he was out of the line-up because guys stepped up. All of this has meant the Rangers have sprinted out to a 10-3 start and prompted fan base fantasies of deep playoff runs.

The Rangers have one of the deepest, yet cheapest rosters in the league. Who’d have thought you’d read that statement? Salary wise it’s a top heavy roster but Jeff Gorton has done a fine job in filling out his roster with cheap talent that’s performing well while Alain Vigneault is utilising the tools at his disposal better than he did at any stage last year. Ladies and gentlemen, the sensibly spending New York Rangers.

 

"The Rangers are getting great value from their roster", 5 out of 5 based on 18 ratings.
Categories : Analysis

25 comments

  1. Richter1994 says:

    Very good Chris.

    I feel like Gorton has a 2 step process: This year the forwards and next year the D men.

    Gorton did a brilliant job of revamping the forwards. Guys like Pirri, Vesey, Buch, Grabner, Lindberg, and even Jooris are all low cost players that all have some value (some more than others) and will play during the year at some point since injuries always play a part during the season.

    Young and fast, that’s what teams need to be. And what’s great is that it’s all 4 lines and every night it’s someone different that scores so opponents cannot focus on just one or two lines to shut down the Rangers. Just a joy to watch.

    I feel like next year is when the D is addressed as maybe, somehow G and Staal are traded or bought out. The Rangers cannot buy out both, probably too costly, but one for sure, probably G. To make a spot for Shatty.

    I do not think it can be understated how Gorton was given a “cap mess” and has transformed the team into an explosive scoring team AND given the Rangers cap space for the trade deadline. Well done Jeff!!

    • Richter1994 says:

      Oh, and don’t think that Gorton didn’t consider next year’s expansion draft too. Grabner with a 2 year deal is a perfect example of signing a low cost player that will be exposed next year, who may be attractive to the new club.

  2. SalMerc says:

    Clearly Stepan is the overpriced and under-performing offensive player while G-man and Staal stand out as negatives on the value side on defense. Not too bad if only a handful fall into the underachiever category.

    • Hatrick Swayze says:

      Overpriced and under-performing in regards to other players on the team, sure. But let’s remember that Stepan’s contract bought UFA years, unlike Hayes, Miller, Zibanejad, etc. These contracts are more expensive by nature. The only thing that will change that tendency is another lockout and shift in free agency policies and personnel assessments. In any event, if you look across the league, Stepan is well worth those dollars for what he brings to the table. I am not saying that those $6.5 million can’t be better spent, but rather, there are plenty of players I would much rather avoid at that cost. Stepan, at that contract, on this team, is a net positive.

      • SalMerc says:

        While you make valid points, he is being paid 1C dollars, and is NOT putting up 1C numbers. Even you should be able to agree to that.

        • Hatrick Swayze says:

          Here’s a look at the list of NHL centers by salary.

          http://www.spotrac.com/nhl/rankings/center/

          If you exclude players not yet on their 3rd contract (ie signing extensions directly after their ELCs) there are few players I’d rather roster than Stepan.

          Stepan (given age/contract) > Kesler, Backes, Stasny, H Sedin, M Koivu, Zetterberg, RNH, Plekanec, J Staal. All of those guys are making 6 million or more.

          There are plenty of bargain’s I’d rather have, but keep in mind, their cap hit is depressed because it is only their second contract. When they resign, they will likely do so north of 7 or 8 million and carry that cap hit into their 30s, thus it isn’t ‘fair’ to Stepan to compare him to their team friendlier deals. That said, guys we all wish we could roster instead would be:

          Monahan, Scheifele, Couture, Duchene, Barkov, Seguin, Tavares, J Carter- though he doesn’t count bc he’s still signed for 100 more years-, Tyler Johnson, Kuznetsov, etc.

          That’s my long winded reply. 1C dollars or 1C production is such a moving target. If we look at all of those guy’s ratios (points to dollars) Stepan probably finishes middle of the pack. Not ideal, but not egregious either. If you want to talk egregious, let’s talk Toews- 10.5 mil for 53 points last year….. eeesh.

          • Chris A says:

            I love Stepan, but I’d swap him for Jordan Staal in a heartbeat. The rest of your post is perfection

            I’d just add that Stepan’s contract ends when he’s 31, which is exactly the age you want to see long term deals end at.

    • Dave says:

      You’re beating this whole “Stepan is overpaid” thing, but you do realize he’s top-three on the team in points, right?

      • SalMerc says:

        I might have 10 points playing between Nash & Vesey.

        • Chris A says:

          Vesey would have 1, maybe 2 goals if it weren’t for Stepan feeding him in front of a wide open net.

          Stepan is not overpaid, he’s paid exactly what he should be paid.

          We should be embracing players like Derek Stepan, home grown, fair contract, super talented, instead so many folks around here just want to get rid of the guy.

  3. DAVID k says:

    He needs to find a way to undo Girardi & Staal NMC so they can move them.

  4. Johnny Red says:

    Young man you have nailed it! I’m a fan since 1962 and have always watched this team spend, spend, spend. This is one of my Ranger bucket list gifts. The other is to see them get the number 1 pick overall.

    • joe from newburgh says:

      I don’t EVER want to see the Rangers with a number one overall draft pick, unless they trade an excess player to get it.

  5. Craig says:

    The Rangers have completely dismantled just about every opponent so far this year, beat up on at least five top teams, have the most goals in the league and the second best record in the league. The defense has been decent. Staal is playing good hockey and Girardi is healthy playing ten times better then last year, and Ranger fans are still complaining how bad our defense is. Skeij is turning into a beast, big MaC is tremendous and Klein is playing very good. Until we start losing, then we can continue complaining. This system and team(defense and all) is WINNING, case closed!

  6. SalMerc says:

    There are so many new charts & calculations in hockey. Is there a “Value Calculation”? Something that uses Points scored + TOI + Scoring chances prevented + blocked shots / salary? I can see that it won’t work well for goalies, but something that could be normalized for both offensive and defensive players? Something more than the eye-test.

    • Hatrick Swayze says:

      Josh has developed some of those tools. Unfortunately I don’t have a link for them, but maybe he or Dave can throw one up. Great way to see production vs salary cap and how certain players are performing against their peers.

  7. JoeS. says:

    Nice Job, Chris! I was unaware the Rangers have become so thrifty.

  8. Chris A says:

    Great write up Chris! I was shocked there was no mention of Jimmy Vesey

    • Hatrick Swayze says:

      Too many nice surprises this year to keep track of 🙂

      • Chris A says:

        Yup, I just hope we all remember how happy we were when things inevitably cool off at some point.

        Mind you, I’m not saying this team isn’t capable of big things this year, I’m merely pointing out that a downturn, or a cold streak, or regression is coming, and we better not all get bent out of shape when it does.

        • Hatrick Swayze says:

          For sure. No way we’re going to continue to convert at this clip. The indicator(s) during that stretch which we’ll be looking for will be if we can still carry the pace of the game (corsi, scoring chance diff, shot suppression, etc)….. unless, of course, you’re not a “stats” guy, in which case you’ll have to tell us how your eye test saw this coming since preseason becuz we don’t play toff enoff.

        • Rod Seiling's Twilight Zone says:

          When that does happen, the number of comments will almost double, the cranks who think they’re fans but only write to whine and complain will reappear, there’ll be calls to trade whomever isn’t scoring goals (regardless of their overall play, Lundqvist will be criticized for being old, over-rated and over-paid, and AV will, of course, be called a “clown” who doesn’t know how to coach and should be fired.

    • Chris says:

      Thanks chris A. Vesey wasn’t really mentioned as he has serious bonuese written into his contract which could influence the cap. He’s doing well though

      • Chris A says:

        That’s right, good catch. I always forget about bonuses.

        Although, you could say leaving cap space to keep potential bonuses from spilling into next year is simply more shrewd management from Jeff Gorton

  9. amy says:

    I like the roster moves that were made and it is showing up on the ice