So what’s next for the Rangers?

jeff gorton

Well the season is over, and we’ve done as much postseason post-mortem as we can bear. It’s time to shift focus to the offseason, and how the Rangers will begin to address the many holes on the blue line. Do they retool, or do they tear it down? Which players are heading home from MSG for the final time?

This offseason is different though. There is an expansion draft happening in June, and the Rangers are guaranteed to lose at least one player to Vegas. Who that player is, we don’t know. The expansion draft is the wild card in all this that can force the winds of change on any club, including the Rangers.

The first order of business though, even before the expansion draft (but actually having directly to do with the expansion draft), is re-signing at least one RFA. The rules of the expansion draft state that the Rangers must expose two players signed through next year. That means under contract, not under team control, so RFAs don’t count here.

Assuming the Rangers –based off the current roster– protect Nash, Zuccarello, Stepan, Kreider, Miller, Zibanejad, and Hayes (Buchnevich/Vesey are exempt), then Michael Grabner is the only exposed forward signed through next year. The club will re-sign one of Jesper Fast or Oscar Lindberg before the expansion draft. Otherwise they will need to expose one of Miller or Hayes.

That is the obvious first step for the Rangers. But after that, the club is going to need to look long and hard at that blue line and make a couple of very difficult decisions. How do they go about improving a blue line where it’s painfully obvious that four guys need to go? How do they get rid of Girardi and Staal? Can they make a deal with Vegas to take Klein or Holden? Can they deal the other?

What about coaching? Does Jeff Beukeboom, who managed the defense, need to go? What about the Alain Vigneault himself, fresh off that extension? What about Scott Arniel, mastermind behind the powerplay?

Is there any way to keep this forward group, one that was insanely dominant, intact? Can they deal from there to address the blue line? What about free agents?

There are a ton of questions that Jeff Gorton, Chris Drury, and company are going to need to address this offseason. Considering how they revamped the forwards last summer, there is hope they can do the same to the blue line this summer. However that is a much more difficult task. It may actually be too much to ask.

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  • Really so sad that the season had to end early. True, it is probably more than most would have expected. However, it ended badly.

    I see at least 1 buy-out coming.

    • Buy outs are not the way to go. They are better off trading and keeping part of the salary, why? because on a buy out it’s about twice the years of the contract. ie: Staal has 4 years left, part of the contract stays for 6-8 years. NO GOOD. Hockey players have a lot of pride and want to play the game. If you go to them and tell them you are not in our plans so pick a few teams to be traded to they will do it. That’s what we need to do with #5 and #18

  • Doesn’t qualifying a player count as having them under contract? It does for goalies, why not for Forwards?

  • Staal may have some suitors, but with what stipulations. G’s gonna have to be bought out. Klein looks finished, untradeable. That window is closed, nailed shut maybe. Holden, because of his offense, will have a market, but I wouldn’t expect that fourth-round pick coming back.

    Re-sign Smith, sign Shattenkirk. Give Graves and Bereglazov and shot at the show.

    I don’t know, guys. The blueline is a mess.

  • Rather than buyouts we’re better off trying to trade Girardi and Staal wile retaining salary. That doesn’t lower our cost much TODAY (compared to a buyout), but at least you’ll free up the extra years on the buyout … we should also trade Klein, but I would keep Holden. Despite some of his gaffes, he still provides us with value — offensively he was leagues ahead of Staal and Girardi despite costing half as much. The issue though is not having him on the second pairing, he has to be sheltered.

    • sigh. How do you trade someone with a no trade clause?
      Does Gorton have the balls to approach a guy like Girardi, who gave so much for so long, and say “Look, thank you for being one of the best soldiers in ranger history. But you’re no good for us now, so would you please GTFO”?

      • Pavel

        He should get a pair of gonads if that’s what’s needed. Bottom line, tell Dan, or Staal that you intend to buy them out, and they would jump at the opportunity to be traded. Why you ask, because then they get 100% of the value of their contracts, as opposed to what 66%???

        As the old saying goes: money talks, and BS walks, and they will want the money!!!!!!!!

        • Also, per Cap Friendly, Girardi’s no trade is only limited to 15 teams starting July 1. That, combined with his salary being less than his cap hit, makes Girardi somewhat tradeable this summer

  • Candidly if they can’t find a taker for Stepan I would consider not protecting him in expansion. This year was very inconsistent for him. His play off was terrible and his face off percentages regressed, which is disappointing. Plekanec ate his lunch in round 1.He seemed to switch places with Hayes on the face off circle and that is not good for a guy who’s NTC kicks in July 1.. The benefit is clearly freeing up the cap space and retaining cheap effective pieces. I will be surprised if he can be traded to Phoenix for someone like Ekman Larsson or to Minnesota for one of their Dman. But we traded Scott Gomez for Ryan McDonaugh so miracles do happen. Do we need another over paid player who under performs after he gets his contract? Lindberg and Fast had a great play offs and are consistent and cheap relatively speaking. Even Grabner’s play off was not terrible. In fact without the contributions from our 4th line would we have beaten Montreal? These guys and their contracts are not the problem and they actually can be part of the solution. I hope if we look to move on from Stepan we can get something good for him. But we need to lose someone and we also need to buy out at least 1 d man on a bad contract, barring another miracle and we can trade them all away. That won’t help the cap space issue. It’s going to be interesting leading up to the expansion draft, the draft and free agency. We actually have a first rounder this year too. Here’s hoping for a constructive summer

    • Stepan has a lot of trade value. As in > a 1st round pick (especially if we held back some of that 6.5 cap hit).

      He is a fancy stat standout. His relgf% is something like 10th in the league, for example. Not to argue the validity (or lack thereof) in said stats, but I just feel like that needs to be pointed out.

      I don’t know why you people conflate his contract with the likes of Staal’s, a player who is in the bottom third of the league in many statistics which teams place more value on nowadays.

      • Stepan may have fetched a first round pick few months ago.
        But after these playoffs, we are selling low. What did he do this post season to demonstrate value to other teams?

        Even Kreider and Miller, each could have fetched a very good return in February. But now?

        • Totally disagree there. One lousy series, when considering his body of work, or two even isn’t gonna halve his trade value. I agree that it took a small hit, though.

          With Kreider (I agree about Miller, too), the thing is, given that he’s a power forward (they’re notorious for having a long development curve; Joe Pavelski is a good example of that), well, he has more leash.

          That and, even 7 minutes of him trying makes him a potential game-breaking force. That (knowing the Rangers) will only come back to bite them in the ass. Terrible idea to give up on him, even if there’s a >75% chance of him never realizing that potential. It’s just my opinion, though.

          • I hope you’re right on this. Would be nice to get nice returns for some of these guys. Assuming any are traded.

        • I think they can get a pass on one bad play off, but if there is 2 that’s a red flag. Also he has always been streaky. That said Stepan’s value is not what it was before the start of the season. We may have to take less than what we expect for him and there in lies the problem. We thought Talbot was going to net us a 1st and that did not happen and we waited a while and that hurt his value. At the end of the day someone is going to need to go in the forward group in order to improve the D. Step at $6.5 mill cap hit makes the most sense for us to move. But we need to set realistic expectations as to what we can get. The cap is not going up and that is also a big problem beyond our control and only so many teams can take his cap hit.

        • True dat, Pavel.

          You think we alone cast a jaundiced eye at Sweet Pea Stepan and his $6M sack of cement contract?

          Imagine the hard eyes of an opposing GM, managing a roster and his own balance-sheet of contracts who puts optics on Stepan, let alone Kreider this past playoff.

          Dude, you know it: we’re at The Point of Diminishing Returns for the above mentioned.

          But the absurdist in me would kill to hear Jeff Gorton’s phone calls come Draft Day and beyond.

          Gorton to Don Maloney: “Donny, yea, it’s Gorts. Yea, hey man. I know, what a tank job… Yup, can’t believe AV’s still standing. Say, what about you and I go to that new Showgirls in Scottsdale next week? Yea, get liquored up. Like Apache drunk. I got some top-shelf blow. Yea, Manny the Columbian… Oh great, Donny. Maybe I can talk you into taking on Cream Puff Kreider and his sports psychologist… Donny?… Donny? That f**cker hung up.”

          • As usual, hilarious Fotiu!

            However, Don Maloney is long gone from Arizona. He’s a pro scout now with Calgary.

          • Knight takes Rook. Well played, E3.

            It slipped my mind. ‘Zona has, what, a 13-year old GM?

            I give you, Gorton, Reloaded:

            “John Chayka?… Yea, it’s Gorts. Yea, the Rangers’ GM. Yea, I know. We always tap-out; I’ve seen little girls fight better. Yea, I know. But hey, at least we’re not the choking Caps… Hahaha. Hey man, what do you say you and I go to that new Go-Cart track in Tempe. Yea, my treat. Then maybe I can talk you into Derek Stepan pulling on one of your awkwardly art-deco Coyote jerseys… John?… John? What the f**k! That 13-year douchebag hung up on me!”

  • I think Gorton has to do a few things. First analyze honestly (not emotionally) the current team and then select the pieces that can move the needle in the correct direction. Note that this can happen in a few different ways, by addition or subtraction of players or by addition or subtraction of contract years, dollars or draft picks. Probably a combination of all of these over multiple years, including the previous year, which brought in Zinbad, Buch, Vesey and a fulltime Skjei and a late arrival of Smith. If they all stay, that is 25% of your starting roster from the close of the 2015-16 campaign.

    Defense – I would try to trade, then eventually buy out Staal and keep Girardi. I would move Klein and not re-sign Holden. I would re-sign Smith and make an effort to keep Clendening if he is cheap as a 7th D. I would make a strong effort at getting Trouba, even if the price is JT Miller. If it is Kreider, then I need to get a high draft pick in return, but I still do it. We desperately need a PP quarterback. Shatty may be costly, but he may want to come home. Stay in the mix and see if his price comes down. I also like Justin Faulk and Jonas Bodin. guys who can play the fast game. Let’s also give some of our kids a real chance.

    Offense – Is there a stud with a heart out there? A real 1C? Only John Taveras comes to mind, and he will cost $9M per. Unless someone takes Nash and gives us 2 first round picks, I doubt we move him. I still do not want Stepan on the team next year, but I highly doubt Gorton moves him. As I said earlier, I think McPhee of Las Vegas plays a role with us. We have players to make him significant. Does he bite on Stepan? Nash? Imagine Lundqvist the face of the new franchise? Back to the O-line. Guys who go 110% on their shifts. Guys like Gallagher for Montreal, Todd Marchant for Boston – yes, Crosby too (I know there is only one). Then find some guys who play hard all the time, and maybe are not the top talents in the league. Ottawa had 4 guys with great talent but 20 who gave it their all every shift. That is what wins.

    Goal – Might be time to find Hank’s replacement. Get the Russian kid in here and let him play 30 games under our goalie coach and Hanks tutelage while Hank still cares. I think discussion/altercation with Stepan should not be discounted. That will be a thorn in Hank’s side and (IMO) will be a topic behind closed doors.

    Ultimately. Gorton will get us a quick, young defenseman, rid us of one aging defenseman and substitute only 1 or 2 forwards. Will that be enough? We’ll see in October.

    • Things like the Stepan thing happen all the time with every team throughout the league. I wouldn’t make a big deal out of it.

      • Yes they do, but when they happen to your poster boy and with a guy who under-performs and is about to (maybe) get his No Trade clause, strange things happen. We’ll see by July 1st.

    • The Russian kid is under contract in KHL until 2018-19, he does NOT want to play as Hank’s backup or in the AHL. Raanta is capable, give him 30+ starts.

      • Raanta is not getting 30+ starts unless Hank completely falls apart. This is his team and should remain so for the foreseeable future. Shesterkin is still a few years away and when he’s ready, clearly he’s being groomed as Hank’s replacement. But that won’t be for a few more years yet.

        • Shestyorkin is ready right now (see KHL playoffs for further evidence). We, however, are not.

          That being said, if the Rangers were smart, Raanta would play in as many games as possible (while keeping 30 as sharp as possible).

          He has said it himself before – goalies don’t ‘get better’ as a season churns onward, rather, they get tired & burn out.

          He’s not getting any younger you know…..

          • The time is now to find Hank’s replacement. He is getting old. Shestsomething is ready now. Get him here so he learns the NHL game. Raanta may be in LV. Goalies decline rapidly past 33.

          • Not always. Many examples of older goalies winning a Cup. Hasek, Thomas, etc.

            Shestyorkin I believe has two more years of commitment to the KHL. In theory, that brings him to the Rangers for the 2019-20 season, when he would be 24yo. Hank would be entering the final two years of his deal. That would likely be the time for the transition.

            Unless something happens with Igor’s KHL deal, it will be Hank as the primary goalie for two more years, with a quality back-up to give him plenty of rest until Igor arrives.

        • I think it’s possible to give Antti 25+ starts with the idea of ramping Hank up after Xmas. Hank only had about 53 or 54 starts this year. I think his consistency problems stemmed a lot from not getting him into a rhythm – so as long as Antti is good in October and November give him extra starts early and then gear Hank up later with regular starts.

    • honestly, we’ve got a better chance of the derbils trading us the #1 pick & the rights to kovalsuck for Glass than we do of getting Tavares,

  • Breakup Day tidbits being reported as we speak….

    1) AV will be meeting with Gorton in about ten days to discuss the current roster, his coaching staff, the Hartford roster and hockey personnel in general. My take on this–mentioning “his staff” gets my attention. I’ve believed from the beginning that AV was disappointed that Ulfie left. I further believe he really didn’t want Beuke but they couldn’t find a better alternative. (The fact they took so long to fill that vacancy to me spoke volumes). I wouldn’t be surprised if Beuke and/or Arniel are on the hot seat. Frankly, I think AV does need a significant upgrade here.

    AV also will be sitting down to discuss expansion draft scenarios with Gorton later today. Sorry to say, unless Gorton has a surprise to spring here, sounds like your favorite coach isn’t likely going anywhere. 🙂

    2) AV said it’s definitely possible Staal and Girardi will see less ice time next year because the Rangers are looking to add a young defenseman to their core. My take– might be an opening salvo to get the attention of both players to consider loosening the restrictions on moving them. Clearly, their time is running out.

    3) One player will need surgery. Not clear who. We may know more tomorrow.

    4) Sounds like Brendan Smith wants to come back. We will see if the dollars work.

    5) For whatever it is worth, Hank, Skjei and Hayes will go play for their respective countries in the World Championships. Maybe Hayes will finally score a goal in May. 🙂

    6) Reading the comments from the players, this is nothing more than speculation mind you, but I perceive that Stepan sees the writing on the wall and that he knows he may not be back. Nash, I get the sense, believes he will be back.

    7) Here’s some nuggets from AV–

    “Hopefully, we will all learn from what just transpired here and that we all will get better–coaches included.”–my take, AV knows there were mistakes made behind the bench. But I have a hunch his assistants are in trouble.

    “Chris Kreider is one of the hardest working human beings that I’ve ever been associated with. He works so hard. The Chris Kreider we saw in the 3rd period of Game 6. Boy, I would have liked to have seen him on a more regular basis”. My take–Wow! That last part….Pretty damning and appropriate. To me, the single biggest reason the Rangers weren’t able to overcome the injuries in 2015 and beat TB, weren’t able to even be competitive against Pit in 2016, and got bounced this year, was because our ultimate faux star underachiever–well, underachieved. AGAIN! Two years ago after the season ended, AV challenged Kreider to be better. He regressed. This year Kreider was better. Had a good year actually. But boy does he disappear. It’s obvious that’s it’s AV’s belief and probably Gorton’s belief (and certainly my belief) that as Kreider goes, so goes the Rangers. Work ethic clearly isn’t the issue here. So is it that his hockey sense and instincts are lacking? Maybe he just is a “Tonto” or “Robin” type player. Not really comfortable being “THE” guy, but would thrive playing alongside someone who is. This screams to me that a trade should be seriously explored.

    This is getting so tiresome though. Will he ever put it altogether? He’s 26yo. No longer a kid. I would not at all be surprised if he is dealt. My frustration with him is beyond description. Being a “faux star” will NOT cut it anymore!

    8) AV on Skjei– “I expect him to be more effective and ready for a bigger role and bigger minutes”. My take–Right or wrong, but as many coaches do, he didnt want to force feed too much at a young player. Longer range, for the development of the player, this is usually the way to go.

    • To be fair, the sort of effort Kreider put forth in the third period of Game 6 isn’t sustainable consistently across 60 minutes, let alone a season.

      He had a wonderful season, I thought, and should be good for 30-35 goals consistently. But, he wasn’t good enough during the playoffs. He doesn’t need to be that 3rd period Kreider all the time, he just needs to recognize in what situations, and in what games, he needs to rise to that level of play and put the team on his back. There are pivotal moments in a series when he simply needs to elevate his game, even if he doesn’t do it throughout an entire series or playoff run. I’d be more than happy seeing him do that just enough to change the course of a series.

      I expect him and Nash to be back next year.

      As for Stepan, I’ve always liked the kid, but considering I’m pretty much over Shattenkirk at this point, I think a solid 1-2 RHD needs to come from a trade not free agency, and Stepan is our best asset to bring that back. This not only shores up our blueline, but allows us to protect one of Grabner, Lindberg, Fast in the process. We know one of those guys is likely gone, so it would be nice to at least have a say in it by taking one of those guys off the block. I’m genuinely not sure who I prefer protected, I’ll leave that to Gorton and his team, but my gut instinct says protect Lindberg. We need to maintain that center depth, maybe promoting him to third line duties while going out and acquiring a 4th line center after the draft.

      I can stomach Zibanejad/Hayes/Lindberg as our top 3 centers in exchange for a major improvement in our D, and with the knowledge that we still keep one of Grabner and Fast.

      Hayes could also be a potential trade bait, but the return isn’t going to be nearly as large. It achieves the same thing as a Stepan deal, though, in terms of protection for Lindberg while improving the blueline, just probably not going to bring back the sort of defenseman that Stepan could net us.

      Resign Smith, and give Pionk or Bereglazov a shot on the club next year.

      Buyout Staal. If it’s a choice between keeping Staal or Girardi, I say keep Girardi. But he had to play third pair and sheltered matchups as much as possible.

      I don’t know if dealing Klein is remotely possible, but I don’t care what the return is, we need him off the books.

      I’d like to see Arniel gone, I haven’t seem him bring anything to the table since he arrived. I’m less interested in Buekeboom, as I don’t really know how significant that role is.

      If Vegas doesn’t select Raanta, which they probably won’t, I’d give him a hefty workload next year, in the realm of 25 games. Rest Hank as much as possible, but give him a nice of stretch of starts entering the playoffs for him to find his rhythm.

      • Chris

        As for the 4th line center need, why not Boo, he showed he could do the job, and he’d be cheap enough!!!!!!!! The kid is fast, defensively responsible, and could pitch in a few goals as well. That’s an easy choice to make……………

        • Boo Nieves?

          He had an OK year in Hartford. I’m not saying that he couldn’t get the job necessarily, but when did he “show he could do the job”?

          • He played 1 game with the Rangers this season.

            Again, not saying he couldn’t do the job, but I’d hardly say that 1 game showed he can do the job.

      • On a certain level, I agree. I think AV was speaking a little unrealistically about Kreider in that regard. But the central point is–the organization expected him at this point to be a star–maybe THE star. He hasn’t been anything close to that. He’s been a good player. He’s had a good season. No doubt. But that’s the problem. Good is not good enough. Somewhere along the way, SOMEONE on this team needs to be great. You dont win championships without some greatness. Karlsson is a great player who played great when it mattered. We have NO ONE like that. And I think that is frustrating to AV and the organization. I think for the right deal, eh could be dealt as part of a blockbuster.

        I agree on Nash. He probably will be back.

        Stepan probably gets dealt.

        I agree…I’d keep Lindberg, especially if Stepan is dealt. Grabner was great but to me that was likely an abberational season from him.

        I think the guy managing the defense and the PK is a crucial role. I just have a gut feeling Beuke was part of the problem this year and in the playoffs. But that’s nothing more than speculation. I’d be looking to upgrade AV’s staff for sure.

        I actually don’t think Raanta will be back. Either he goes to Vegas or the Rangers look to deal him as they did with Talbot. With so many quality goaltenders out there, Benny has already proven that he can weave his magic and we likely would have a quality back-up for Hank regardless. But I agree, while Hank needs to play enough to stay sharp, as he ages, he certainly needs to play less.

        • I’d be ecstatic to see Vegas take Raanta. Keeping Grabner, Lindberg, and Fast would be huge, while as you note, we can go out and get a solid back-up fairly easily.

          • It would also be nice to see Raanta get a shot at being the starting goalie for Las Vegas. The young man is talented and has been a good soldier for the Rangers. Be nice for him to get a chance.

    • Completely agree with you on Kreider. I’m sick and tired of waiting for him to put it together on a consistent basis. This was his 6th year in the playoffs I believe. He should be dominating by now.

      • could explain the scoring drought, but he still busted his chops out there, while Daisy had his usual skate by………….

  • I think the rangers could use a cup winner on the roster. Maybe theres 1 or 2 players who have the winning experience to give this lucky room something to model after and learn from.

    There are several players form the Kings and Blackhawks past that seem to bring some speak to their current clubs…

    What do you guys think?

    • That’s my preference, but depends on who, how much and how long.

      Sounds like on defense, they will be looking to get younger. Not sure where a veteran fits in with the forwards but we shall see.

      • I was happy with JG this past offseason and I think he tried to do something at this years deadline, so I am excited to see him build this offseason. Just hard to watch Henrik miss out, but MAN, some of his saves are the best in the playoffs this season…

        the Dive across the front of the net way out past the blue paint in game 4, I think it was 4.

        he was playing like a king possessed

        • Yeah, that dive was pretty cool. Never really seen Hank go all unorthodox like that, but it was definitely a jaw dropping moment. One of the highlights of the Rangers’ playoff year, if you ask me

    • No need to just give him away when he does not yet have a NMC and he will fetch a positive return in a trade.

      • It depends on what he would actually fetch in a trade (which we dont know) and what it would take to replace what he brings to the table. Not saying I would do it, but I heard Valiquette mentions this idea too and I dont think it’s totally off the wall.

        • ONLY way I expose him is if LVK does the following;

          To NYR –

          6th overall lolottery pick

          To LVK –

          (Stepan exposed & taken for free)
          Staal (1.2 withheld)
          2nd round pick (whenever our next one is available)

          Given that this is a weak draft, think there’s a chance they’d do that? Would you?

    • I don’t care how it’s done, as long as I never see him in a Ranger jersey again!!!!!!!!!!! Good bye Daisy, glad to see you go………….

      If and when Dan & Staal go, I won’t be as happy because both gave their all, unlike the woos above……………….

      • I disagree. No question in my mind Stepan has given his all. He’s been a solid player here, not a star obviously, but solid enough.

        If any player’s hearts need to be questioned would be Miller and Hayes IMO.

        • Maybe Hayes, disagree on Miller!!!!!!!! He gave his all, even if it didn’t produce the results we wanted, while Daisy went thru the motions. Sorry he isn’t worth the sweat I leave behind in my jock strap!!!!!!

          • I agree there Walt, Miller (I think) has heart. Obviously it’s impossible to back up with much evidence, so that’s just a hot take as steamy as any.

            Hayes, though…. he probably gives more of a damn whenever his take-out food gets screwed up by the blockhead making it…. hopefully people are too caught up in the fact he has tremendous talent to notice he lacks a heart to go along with it.

        • Eddie, I personally think Stepan cares and I believe he gave plenty of effort. (Sorry Walt, my brother) The results just weren’t there. That said I’d like to see him traded before his no move clause kicks in.
          I will disagree with you on Miller. Is he perfect? Obviously not, and you like to point out every single brain freeze he has. And I’ll be just as happy to point out the gaffs some of your favorites have…… But Miller works and works, and then works some more. In my mind, unless we are offered something ridiculously good, I’d keep him.
          I think Krieder needs a different coach. A coach that during the season can fix his inconsistency issues. I don’t put a hard number of goals he scores, and use that as the measuring stick of his success, but the effort should be there every game, not just on occasion. And I’m not just talking about the last part of Game 6. There is no reason he shouldn’t put forth “power forward effort” EVERY game. And Krieder is one of my favorite Rangers.
          I agree with Angry Wiener Dog. I have had it with Hayes.

          • Upon reflection, my “heart” comment is probably harsh here. It was more an emotional response to Walt. I dont think heart is really an issue here with any of these guys. But if you are going to question heart, yes, Miller and Hayes would be at the top of my list. Not because of the occasional brain farts. Because they have had well documented issues relating to preparation, work ethic and/or conditioning. Dave Maloney a couple of years ago commented on how it was unclear within the Rangers organization just how much Miller actually “wanted” to be an NHL player.

            Now, perhaps all that is behind him but again, IF heart was the issue and I had to pick two culprits, they’d be at the top of my list WAY ahead of Stepan.

            But let’s put that all aside, because I suspect that effort is NOT the issue here. It is the overrating of talent that some do here. Miller (along with Hayes and Kreider) were essentially invisible from mid-February on. Miller, in 40 playoff games, has one goal. ONE! Hayes has two in something like 35 games. We constantly fawn over and overrate these young “untouchables” and sorry, they have mostly just teased us.

            We can talk about coaching, Glass, McIlrath, Clendo until we are blue in the face, but at some point, the Rangers need someone other than Hank to be a true star…not a “faux star”, if we want to realistically have a chance at the Cup. So either these guys need to step up or they need to be dealt for others who can. Plain and simple.

          • Jerry exactly when did Stepan go to the net for loose change or a screen. When did Stepan push the pace and drive the D back button hook in the Ozone and hit the trailer. When has he lead. Never. Stop with the FCKN stats because you miss the game. Moneyball never won anything. Watch the way a player plays how he creates space and time for himself or others. Opportunities that become available because of his play. Is he driving play forcing pace in others faces is the other players saying dam I hate playing against that SOB. These are things that can be said of Jesper Fasth. Not a Star or Superstar just a tough player to play against. Stats don’t measure a man heart or grit or toughness. Stepan is a boy wonder who doesn’t want to get down and dirty. Tell me when have you seen Stepan throw himself in front of a shot from the point or slot. Boo is ready to be that 4th line center this October just play him.

          • Jerry

            We can disagree on Stepan, but I’m convinced he has no guts at all. I was so angry when he held this team hostage for the deal he got, only to play like he didn’t give a hoot about the team, or anyone else but himself. The guy is soooooooooooooooooo over rated, it turns my stomach. On the other hand, I’ll never hold that against my man Jerry!!!!!!!!!!

        • I never cared much for Hayes although he did play good at the beginning of the year. Even though he has the potential to be a decent playmaker,he’s a a big soft player who holds on to the puck to long and his shot is average. I said it before, his style is not suited for fast paced playoff hockey. I don’t believe he is going to get much better then he is now. Eddie, I’m not so sure I totally agree about Stepan.
          Stepan has been a very good all around player in the past and I always liked him, but it almost seems like he has not evolved either with the faster paced game today. He still gets points, but he seems to miss an awful lot of choice opportunities to score. He looked slow and out of place most of the time during the playoffs. Miller seemed like he wasn’t for some reason, playing on all cylinders throughout the playoffs. I would definitely package Hayes in a trade, but keep Miller. I always liked Lindberg and felt he would really develop and excel. I am slowly becoming a Fast fan also. I would rather lose Hayes then these two guys in the expansion and trade Stepan if need be. This team needs some new chemistry. I can’t figure out why Krieder sometimes disappears and other times is dominant.
          Have a blessed summer Eddie!

          • I have to disagree, the beauty of watching Kevin Hayes play is how he can hold on to the puck while the opposition buzzes around him. You would think they should just be able to take the puck off him, but they can’t because he’s always making subtle moves to buy time and hit an open teammate. His body positioning is impeccable. He is sneaky good at using his big body to shield the puck while keeping his eyes up looking for teammates.

            The reason Hayes works so well with Grabner and to a lesser extent with Fast, is that those two are constantly moving and making themselves available for Hayes’ passes.

            Not every great hockey player has to fly around with his hair on fire. Some of the greats just let things happen around them and make plays. That’s Kevin Hayes.

            Last thing, you say Hayes isn’t suited for playoff hockey, but if you watched game 6 against Ottawa closely, in the first two periods the only line really doing anything was the Hayes line. Hayes was just dragging the puck around and playing keep away with the Sens. Sadly, Fast and Grabner couldn’t bury any of their chances.

          • All this may be true Chris, but nonetheless, 0-3-3 in 12 playoff games and 2 goals in something like 35 playoff games is totally inadequate. He was arguably the Rangers worst player down the stretch from mid-February on. He’s a former 1st round pick. What you are lauding here describes a quality 3rd rounder. Not anywhere near good enough if the Rangers hope to legitimately contend.

          • I agree on Hayes as he is what he is a very good player who creates opportunities for others by holding on to the puck. Put him with a sniper who skates you would see his skill set clearer.

    • Step has minimal trade value before the expansion draft as it will screw up most other team’s protected lists.

      So you have a 12 hour window to trade him through the entire league before the NTC kicks in.

      So the question becomes, what is more valuable: The freed up roster spot and $6.5mm in salary or a freed up roster spot that does nothing for your budget?

      • Vehemently disagree with that, sorry. Step is a good player, not some overpaid bum.

        He is not, however, an elite center & irreplaceable talent. That’s the difference.

          • Aye. Stepan alone is worth more than a first round pick (especially in this craptastic draft). Refer to a prior post if you’d like to see a good example of his relative value.

            Although, to be honest, in that theoretical trade, I’m probably undervaluing what a black hole Staal’s contract is. Might have to add slightly on the NYR side of it, or withhold an extra million or so on Staal.

          • Sorry no gives you a number one for Stepan unless it’s 25 to 30. Pretty much a second is what you’ll get for him.

          • “Sorry no gives you a number one for Stepan unless it’s 25 to 30. Pretty much a second is what you’ll get for him.”

            LOL, no. Look at ROR brought, Spezza, etc.

            He won’t quite net what they did, but he’s not far from it.

            You people criminally underrate the weenie hut general. There’s more to being a center *gasp* than just faceoffs, you know……

            (not that we shouldn’t trade him)

          • Forgot to mention, did you see what Bergeron did this year? 53 points.

      • The NTC kicks in July 1, not sure where this 12 hour window is coming from.

        The Rangers could trade Stepan to any team they want at the moment, even the teams still playing (of course they wouldn’t actually be allowed to play Stepan right now).

          • Well, I think you are correct about the two drafts being bunched together, but Stepan’s no trade still doesn’t kick in until July 1. It’s possible I missed the point you were trying to make

  • If Vegas is trying to draft the best team Lindberg without a doubt is gone. For some reason AV absolutely hates him and is quick to discipline him but not other players. To be honest I really hope he gets drafted, I like Lindberg a lot and I have no doubt if given the chance with a coach that gives him the opportunity he could become a great 3rd line center that could be used on the pk and possibly pp. And put up a constant 40-50 points.

    That being said I would try and go for Duchene. When it comes down to it the Rangers do not have a good offensive center at all. Stepan and Zibanjed are both more 2 way. I would try and propose a trade along the lines of Stepan, Miller or Hayes, plus 3rd for Duchene and 4th. Also I would see if New Jersey would be willing to do a Nash for Kovalchuk trade, only thing that would be difficult there is Nash’s absurdly large cap hit.

    Than finally I would try to trade Staal for something. Honestly I would be fine with Girardi staying on the team IF THEY USE HIM AS A 3rd PAIRING ONLY. Either way they need to get rid of one of them.

    And for the love of god, get some right handed players, the Rangers only have 5 on the active roster and they only use one of them on the powerplay ever, which is Stepan. I honestly think that is what is killing their powerplay. Shattenkirk would be expensive but my god, it would be nice if McDonagh finally had a top right handed partner.

    • OMG! More “AV hates the kids” nonsense. I can pretty much guarantee that AV does NOT hate Lindberg. The kid came off major double hip surgery and once he got his groove, AV played him. What more do you want?

      • AV hates the kids….. I didn’t say that. I said he hates Lindberg. Lindberg was one of the best players for the Rangers in the 2nd round and he was last on the team in TOI/GP for the whole playoffs (not including Tanner Glass), at 09:54 GP, next was Buchnevich at 12:17 GP than Grabner at 14:01 GP. There is your proof………..

        • How does that prove he “hates” Lindberg? What it proves is that he trusted Stepan, Hayes and Mika more. Lindberg was the 4th line center remember. Next year, depending on the roster and if he’s still around, he likely gets upgraded.

          • Maybe hate is to strong of a word but when it comes down to it when a player is going majority of coaches will put that player in for extra shifts and give him more opportunities by increasing his minutes but AV never once has done that for Lindberg, instead he benches him at the end of almost every game.

            Look at the analytics and just hockey analyst of Lindberg’s play in the playoffs. Not to mention he was the best faceoff man for the Rangers but he is addicted to using Stepan constantly who is bad and has always been poor at them. Or Hayes whose defensive play dropped in the playoffs.

            Your making me scared too and I hope AV does really dislike him because if he doesn’t dislike him he isn’t intelligent enough to see what was blatantly obvious to many other people.

          • And the 4th line argument is kinda silly seeing how most 4th liners in the league now a days are used the penalty kill at least. Like on the Rangers, when Miller was the playing the 4th line he was the pk and pp, buchenvich on the pp, grabner the pk, glass the pk, fast the pk…………… wait…….. everyone but Lindberg on the Rangers….. hmm……. 😉

          • Again, he just came off double hip surgery. There are many variables to these decisions that we know nothing about.

          • You’re right, hopefully you are correct and that will mean IF he is still with the Rangers next year he will get a better opportunity. Thanks for proposing a new train of thought on the situation for me.

          • There is a technique that I don’t recall AV using – putting a guy out for the face off. Other teams use it and Messier did this all the time in Edmonton. Guy takes a face off and heads straight for the bench. So for example, if you wanted to use Stepan-Nash-Vesey, you could start with Lindberg and two of the trio, followed by a quick change.

          • What it proves is how stubborn AV is when right there in front of you Lindberg is playing better than the others.

    • Hey Sad.
      I’m definitely NOT in AV’s camp, but I see no evidence that AV doesn’t like or even trust Lindberg. I think AV used him ‘sparingly’ while he was getting back into 100% form after double hip surgery. Once he was back skating like he was capable of I think AV used him properly.

  • We need to trust that Gorton understands the business of hockey and how to build not only a successful team that accumulates 102 points in a season but wins more than 1 round of playoff games.

    He needs a dance partner for all of these deals to happen, whether it is Stepan or Klein going or Duchene or Trouba arriving. I am betting that he saw the playoff games and was not pleased with the outcome. I am also guessing he has better information than most of us on what went on behind the scenes. It is fun to play BSB GM, but ultimately Gorton needs to build us a $70M~ winner.

    • Sal, I agree 100%. We’d all like to trade some of our lesser players for other teams super stars. But this is the real world and it does take two (or more) to consummate a trade.
      I think Gorton a) understands the business side of hockey and b) has a plan of where he wants to take this team.
      Although ANYONE would be an improvement over Sather, I was happy to see Gorton get the promotion to GM. He has already started repairing Hartford, which is dismal, and that’s being kind.
      He has Boston ‘blue collar’ blood in his management veins, so I can see him rounding out this team and making it much harder to play against, by making it a team that will be happy to compete in ANY way the opposition wants to play.
      I’m looking forward to a GREAT off season.

  • I think, for once, most of you (us) are saying the same thing: NHL hockey, like any other professional sport, is not a skills competition; it is about winning. Too many on the current roster, like Hayes, have exceptional skill, but are not winners. Not because they have or have not won on prior teams, but because they lack drive, intensity, killer instinct, all on a consistent basis. That can be shown in varying ways….MacD has it…..Zucc has it…..Smith has it….yes, Glass has it….and that is my point… is demonstrated in varying ways but it is obvious when it is there…..the player simply refuses to be denied and/or the player seeks to impose his will on the opposition. SCOUTING is one of the real issues here that no one has addressed. Going back to the 1960’s (I started watching around ’68 or ’69) and continuing to date, the NYR do not generally draft or grow those types of players (Vickers, Fotiu being the exceptions that come to mind…its virtually generational). We like ’em pretty, but they don’t like to be contested, and we don’t like to protect ’em. Think of it….on the 1994 Cup team, virtually all the intensity was imported other than Leetchie. Think….Mess…Gravy…Beuke…Noonan…Matteau (!)….even the less purely physical yet equally intense players like Lowe… Anderson…Tikkanen. Just sayin’…..

    • Brilliant, RJCY. Spot on brilliant.

      A more crystalline message I have not seen here. IT’S ABOUT CULTURE, man.

      As abhorrent an undertaking as it is to watch The Penguins, they have that fight. That ‘I’m gonna’ battle’ mentality: from bench boss Sully to Sidney to D-men that heretofore were never physically predisposed–like Hainsey and Dumolin–but now fight for M-A Fleury and dare to hit Czar Ovie.

      But dude, you and I, Dave Maloney, Anson Carter, Valiquette, Coach Walt, Doc Paul, Bobby B, JoeS, Steven, we know that this club needs a sea change: In attitude, in pride for the jersey. Its very ethos, its identity is as muddy and ill-defined as swamp water.

      That will only change when an indifferent and unimaginative AV exits. When Mr Gorton and staff add some ‘own it’/ass-kicking personalities to that room.

      Inasmuch, as Pavel-B said above, we’re selling low. Basement low.

  • With all the talk of the upcoming expansion draft. I’m pretty sure Las Vegas has to met the Cap floor. So I do see the possibility of them taking or even trading for some high salaried players. McPhee was a hard nosed, no nonsense Ranger so I can see him building a team along those guidelines. Hard nosed and no nonsense is an entertaining product, and he’s gotta put fannies in the seats…..

    • As well as adding some sort of Marque name to sell some Las Vegas jesrseys. Adding everyone’s 18th player won’t give you a very good team or much name recognition, but add a few guys like Stepan or a Nash, now maybe you sell some LV jerseys! And really, isn’t that what it is all about for an expansion team in year one? Or make Raanta the face of the franchise for their first 5 years.

  • This is very sad! There is no way the team will be better with AV behind the bench. Stupido wanted to get Miller to play better and so he puts him with Glass! I am sure Stupido wants to win so you put him with the worst player on the team. Stupido sounds like a genius And Sheit Head wants Stupido to coach again. Its a lost upcoming season. Why even guess at the new clowns in town while Stupido is here. E3 the Stupido supporter is loving it. It’s like supporting the Captain of the Titanic! Do it again Captain!

    • As usual, you have it backwards. Miller wasn’t unproductive because he was demoted to the 4th line. Miller was demoted because he was unproductive from mid-February on. Other guys were playing better. It’s the playoffs. That’s the way it works.

      It’s always everyone else’s fault with you when it comes to Miller. Never, ever is it on the player. But that’s understandable since your whole mantra is “AV bad, underachieving young stars like Miller great”. Only way to justify your position–blame the coach!

      • JT has to be the one going the knife, right? If I remember correctly, he tweaked his knee in February and hadn’t been himself since.

        • Could be. Nash was seen limping around after Game 6. Him maybe?

          I wonder why it’s such a mystery that they couldn’t clue us in today?

    • Did you miss your last visit with your mental health provider?

      I can’t imagine you’re trying to be taken seriously using words like Stupido and Sheit Head, but on the off-chance that you were, I’d say this:

      Regardless of how you feel about AV, how can you possibly feel that the ability of this team to improve this next season has nothing to do with what personnel they bring in?

      That makes absolutely no sense.

      Not does your example regarding Miller. Sometimes a demotion does get a player to play better even if they’re put with lesser line mates. Surely, you can understand that concept?

      • It’s what Trotz did with Ovie and that got the Caps going in Games 5 and 6.

        You have to excuse Rock. Sometimes he writes like he’s an adult. Sometimes he writes like he’s 10 years old. 🙂

      • Did you see Nash on the 4th line to make him better?
        We have experienced the way misuses the players so it does not matter who comes here. How many more years do you need to learn? You sure take a long time to learn do you have a learning disability?

        • Why should he be on the 4th line? Nash was playing well down the stretch and was a beast vs Montreal. Ridiculous.

  • No, Eddie, what makes AV ‘bad’ is that, despite his positives, the stuff he does wrong is both painfully obvious & easily fixable.

    No one would criticize him (at least not as viciously) if stuff like Glass finding his way out there at the end of a playoff game didn’t (still) happen …

    (among other obvious questionable deployments that need no further mention).

    Can’t they just promote the asshat (to Hockey Systems Director or something important sounding) & get a real coach in there already?

  • Really though, none of this matters. Most people here believe one false fact, that somehow goaltending is a significant Ranger strength. Yes, hank is no doubt the greatest goalie who has ever lived. But he has one weakness. He doesn’t actually win games.

    One can statistically analyze this. Over the last four years, his regular season W-L record was 131-99. Yet how much of that was him and how much was the rest of the team. Suppose we assume, as I imagine E3 would, that the Rangers are just a .500 team, 115-115, with an extra four wins a year provided by Hank. Now, with the extra points, a .500 team gets 90+ points and squeaks into the playoffs most years. So Hank transforms a marginal playoff team into a solid one. However, if you think about it, four wins in 60 starts is not so much — just one extra win every 15 games (putting into perspective, one or two wins over a successful Cup run). Let us also assume that Talbot and Raanta are just typical NHL starting goaltenders, the very kind of guy that Hank is getting four more wins than.

    If those assumptions are true, there is less than a 2% chance that a Talbot/Raanta composite could have put up the numbers that they have. The assumptions just don’t wash. Hank isn’t worth four wins a year.

    As it happens, Talbot/Raanta have had a better record than Hank. That in itself proves nothing. In fact, one could assume that Hank was worth two games a year and the T/R numbers come under the heading of reasonable fluctuation. But I don’t see how a goalie worth two wins a year is really worth $8.5 million. Seriously, the Rangers may have lost out in 2015 because they lost Zuccarello. They struggle without McDonagh. When Lundqvist goes down, they don’t miss a beat.

    We look at things the way we want to. Consider this two question True-False test.

    1. Lundqvist plays better in Game 7 than in Game 5.
    2. Lundqvist doesn’t play as well in Game 5 as he does in Game 7.

    • Fascinating. And compelling on a certain level. But sorry, ain’t buying it. He’s going to the HOF. His number will be in the rafters one day. We are a lottery team most seasons without him. We would have likely been buried first round in the years we would make it most years without him.

      To me, the guy has exuded greatness. You don’t like him. Lots of guys hated Mickey Mantle too. To each their own.

      I will be cheering at the top of my lungs in about five years when I see Hank’s number go up in the rafters. He’s the one MOST responsible for what has arguably been the best 11 year stretch in Rangers history.

      • I don’t always agree with E3, but when I do, it’s usually about #30.

        You’ve noted, correctly, that the rangers get about an extra 5 (it’s more than 4, but you’re close) wins a year above replacement. Please refer to the articles written by Yost on TSN for further info/proof if you need it.

        But, to me, to say that they haven’t missed a beat while he’s out is nuts. Nevermind the fact that with 10 fewer points a year they wouldn’t have made the playoffs a bunch of times.

        It’s like making the equivalency that Hank let a goal in, so absolutely nothing that happened prior to that moment matters at all (a popular position assumed by a few crab people here).

        They try harder when he’s out. They take the guy for granted. Watch them play again when Talbot was in for 30 after that neck injury. Note how more determined they looked out there.

        Now, I can’t tell you why that is (maybe he’s screamed at them one too many times in that room for not giving a crap & they tune him out?)

        • All I said was that the notion that Lundqvist won four games a year was pretty much demonstrably false. Five is just absurd. The opposing argument is sort of a “well, if you consider save percentage or whatever, he should win games.” But I am putting concrete evidence against speculation.

          Now, I am not explaining the numbers. As you suggest, maybe the team doesn’t try as hard with Hank in net. Well, guess what. It really doesn’t matter. If he earns an extra five wins and the team throws those five away because they don’t like him, he has gotten them nothing. Maybe Hank’s strengths don’t mesh with AV’s systems. Maybe his poor puck handling is more important than we think.

          What I am saying is that Yost’s numbers are not credible. I also point out that my numbers cover four years and say nothing of Hank’s value 2005-2013. Certainly he did better than the weak backups of those days.

          • “All I said was that the notion that Lundqvist won four games a year was pretty much demonstrably false. Five is just absurd.”

            Au contraire… once again




            You are wrong. They cover the past decade (and it’s not just Yost, there’s even an article or three on Blueshirt Banter should you actually require more proof).

            Furthermore, if they ‘don’t try’ because they ‘don’t like’ Lundqvist…… then it’s high time we trade these schmucks before EVERY SINGLE GM catches on to what a bunch of sh!theads they are!

            Here’s another random statistic. Last year’s NYR pk gave up an avg shot distance against of 12 feet….. the league-leading CHI pk only let teams shoot from an average of 24 (!!!!) feet.

            No, you’ve been, quite frankly, so spoiled by such a generational talent that you’ve lost your objectivity about him.

          • You misunderstand my study and their studies. They analyze shots and they project. According to their metrics, Lundqvist is projected to be worth five victories a year. According to my study, Lundqvist has clearly not been worth anywhere near five victories a year during AV’s tenure.

            Those things are not contradictory. Yes, I could be wrong. Perhaps the strong T/R is explained by luck – the 150 to 1 shot or whatever it is. But it seems more likely that the projection, which is subjective, is just not right. This has two repercussions. One is that the Ranger skaters are better than E3 for example thinks — and in fact is more in line with what they appear to be. The second is that projections based on just shots are faulty.

            If you think about it, Hank is a metrics darling. He doesn’t handle the puck well, so why not shoot and let him handle it. Far safer than shooting on Brodeur or Price. I also suspect that his style offers shooters an inviting target and then takes it away. Shooters don’t dance around as much looking for an opportunity. If you project what you want from partial information, it is absolutely inevitable that you will overrate some and underrate others.

      • I imagine he will go to the HOF, though frankly not many tenders do these days. And maybe he deserves it since he makes so many exciting saves. I was just pointing out that the Rangers have no better chance of winning with him than without him.

        And people hated Mickey Mantle for the same reason people here hated Brodeur.

    • Good lord. Anyone who has ever analyzed the Rangers and their goaltending over the past decade has agreed that Hank is without a doubt a generational talent and a sure Hall of Famer. But yeah you must be right..,

  • otherwise solid article but reluctantly gave this one thumb down [usually vote the other way] b’c of scenario depicted minimizes options.

    Here is what WILL happen:
    1 Stepan will not be permitted to stay here w/NMC-NTC. He goes. If possible, which depends on the best suitor and the cost, it may well be before the draft, That would be one less guy to protect.

    2, No reason to not do Nash to SJ, who have no reason to not accommodate before the draft since they are thin at F and await to re-sign Marleau, Thornton. Ergo, Sharks send 1st, + RD Julius Bergman, an ELC prospect and NY gets most of the cap relief for Nash, who also then no longer needs protection.

    So, — just Fs — exempt: Buch, Vesey
    7 we protect: Kreider, Zib, Miller, Hayes, Lindberg, Fast, Zuc
    Grabner is odd man out if he or Zuc are not dealt, which is plausible

    Thus bpa for Knights becomes D Holden or Pumpeil if they go F.
    Raanta will not be lost for nothing.

    But Stepan and Nash are out, more so than Lindberg and Fast who deserve to stay, and sorry, but it is beyond irrational to list Miller/Hayes as candidates who could even conceivably be listed

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