Some pre-Expansion Draft thoughts

June 2, 2017, by


Happy Friday, BSB faithful.  The Stanley Cup Final is winding to a conclusion and most of the league’s front offices are gearing up for the Expansion Draft.  There has been a lot of cryptic information coming from the media about different strategies, objectives and potential hand shake deals.  If nothing else, it will be an incredibly interesting experience for industry types and fans, alike.  As we ramp up toward June 21st, I have some thoughts.

1. Can someone explain to me why we don’t have some sort of 24/7 style show recording this? From assembling a front office from scratch to the creative maneuverings of the draft itself, this is a unique and rare opportunity to get a glimpse into this process.  If you are a fan of the sport on even a casual level, it would be a phenomenal watch.  Don’t give me that crap either about the cameras compromising the job, leaking information yada, yada.  I’m sick of these guys getting to do their jobs without any transparency.  Let the fans see how it works.

2. Especially since what’s going to happen is what is going to happen. There will be a finite amount of moves, and hopefully they are interesting.  What would be really great to see if the stuff that teams tried to put together.  A bad contract changes hands, how did that discussion go?  Did they try any other variation of it?  What blockbuster trade almost came to fruition?  The format and concept of this draft has created a fertile environment for actual hockey moves.  Really interesting stuff.

3. This whole thing also kicks up a lot of dirt around the concept of value. The value of cap space, the value of keeping that one guy your prior moves forced you to expose.  The value of franchise players and future assets.  The value of NMC’s.  It’s all up for grabs.   How much bribe money is a team willing to spend to convince George McPhee to take their garbage?

4. Speaking of McPhee, has anyone ever had a better job? Sure, his team is going to suck, but he is in the driver’s seat of the entire league’s offseason strategy.  He holds all the cards, and 30 other GM’s are going to try to beg/bribe/convince him to help cover up past mistakes.  He holds power over the rest of the league and it will be fascinating not only to see how he wields this power, but what his team building/asset accumulation strategy looks like.

5. Back of my mind fear: the NHL is the only league that could screw this up. GM’s today are so weary of making hockey trades now a days (the blockbuster’s from last season notwithstanding), this needs to shake things up.  So help me, if this thing just runs down a list of mediocre selection of protected players with the cards shuffling (pun intended) every now and then as a draft pick is exchanged for a minor change in selection, I’m going to be pissed.  I’m on team chaos for this whole thing.  I want to see some serious earth moving deals made.

6. The Rangers, all things considered, are in a half decent spot as we approach the Expansion Draft. They have some useful players that are exposed, but no bloated NMC is blocking a game breaker from being protected.  Sure, you would have stacked the deck (I’m sorry, I’m going to stop with the card puns right now) differently, but the Rangers aren’t desperate.  That doesn’t mean there is no opportunity here, and Gorton should be diving head first into leveraging this format to improve the blue line.

7.Don’t forget, there are 18 days left to submit your Offseason Plan for consideration. We are cutting off submissions on June 20 at 8pm eastern.  We already have some high quality candidates, so make sure to get yours in.

Let’s hear your thoughts on the Expansion Draft and the Rangers’ strategy in the comments below.

"Some pre-Expansion Draft thoughts", 3 out of 5 based on 8 ratings.


  1. SalMerc says:

    To me, McPhee can only offer a place to offload bad contracts​ with some expectations of return of pennies on the dollar. To get that, you also may get the promise of him keeping his hands off someone else. The eventual cost would be youth and picks. McPhee also can be used as a vehicle to move other team’s players around, but he will want his “vig”.

    Vegas will put a young, exciting, but bad team together with hope for a better year 2. If they play this draft well, they walk away with 5 picks in the first 2 rounds next year. We walk away without an overpaid aging defenseman and some center who disappears come playoffs.

    • Hatrick Swayze says:

      Who’s that….. Hayes? 🙂

    • Dave says:

      Stepan has 49 points (19-30-49) in 97 playoff games. That’s not exactly what I call disappearing.

      • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

        Exactly. Stepan has been a good to very good (at times) player for the Rangers. And mostly, as you pointed out, a good playoff performer. His only “sins” as i see it are, a) he’s not a great player (and unfortunately he can join the club be cause we have no truly great players other than Hank, who’s aging) and, b) he had the nerve to want to accept a contract that would allow him to be paid in accordance with what he would likely command on the open market.

        Should he be traded if the right deal comes along to improve the team? Absolutely. Should he be dumped for minimal return because he’s not Crosby or Ovechkin? No way!

        • Egelstein says:

          This hits on a point I think gets far too often overlooked…Stepan was getting $6.5M – or quite possibly more, frankly – from somebody, if he hit the open market. He plays a two way game and is one of the top 30 centers in the league statistically. I’m not at all mad it was us who paid him.

          I’ve said it before, and I will say it again: Stepan is so very far from the top of the list of the Rangers’ problems, it is amazing to me how much chatter centers on him being subpar (patently false) and moving that contract (which may be more dollars than in a perfect world we as fans can dream about, but is far from some sort of egregious overpay albatross).

          I also frankly believe his hair situation leads some to falsely assume he is older than he is. Not even kidding. There’s no reason to believe he is going to regress any second now, yet it is a point that gets cited for some reason; that an age-related regression is imminent. If he was 32, okay. Maybe. Dude will be 27 when next season starts though.

          My biggest issue is the NMC that kicks in…that does suck. NMCs are team budget and flexibility killers, and if I was a GM I’d do anything possible to avoid them or talk them down to limited NTC. They really should be reserved basically for elite talent, and the Rangers handed them out a little too generously for a stretch there, IMHO.

          All that said, I’m certainly fine with Stepan being traded if the right deal comes along as well. I’d be fine with nearly any player being traded so long as the Rangers were clearly winning the deal or at least clearly breaking even by taking from a strong area such as forward depth to address a horrendous area such as defender skill levels. Step being viewed as some sort of severely detrimental player and/or major financial burden though, and those hoping he’s jettisoned in a Vegas deal just to take advantage of an opportunity be rid of him…that stance boggles me.

          • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

            As someone who is similarly follically challenged, I concur wholeheartedly with your position! 🙂

            I’d be happy to send Step a box of Rogaine if you think that would help!

            • Egelstein says:

              Haha! I also am follically challenged, so maybe my own experiences are projecting onto Step’s situation. Luckily for me, my wife likes that. Mine didn’t start aggressively quite as early as Step’s, but once it did it went into full on retreat mode! I’m 35 now and I’m sure Step will look similar at that age, if not missing more, LOL.

              • Mintgecko says:

                Lol hey guys, Stepan is going to get traded this summer. You all can talk it up amongst yourselves but we all know he’s never lead the team in points and goals when it matters. I like to use the Bruins as a example with Bergeron and Krecji for what they did in the 2011. I know they’re not necessarily in the elite bracket but Bergeron’s two way is on another level and when Krecji use to be better, he was a actual wizard with the puck, there was no comparing his playmaking to Stepan. Those two were doing damage during that run that actually helped their team in each series. Add to the fact that those two were seriously injured during that time period.

                I’m more convinced that Stepan’s time is up as a NYR so be prepared. His points get inflated along with his defense due to who has in net and the position that he’s in after all these years, nothing special though.

              • Egelstein says:

                As stated Mint, I don’t care on a personal level if he is traded so long as the return is correct. I will not lose sleep over it if that happens. My specific point was to folks lumping him in with Staal or Girardi in the “addition by subtraction/just dump this guy any way possible/let Vegas take him for nothing/pay Vegas to take him” realm -that’s just asinine to me.

                As to your point about Step’s defense, it’s egregiously wrong to write that off. If a goalie had that huge of an impact on forward defensive metrics like GA/60, you’d see a lot more Rangers at the top of this list:


                The reason there aren’t is simple: Stepan is a damned good defender for a forward and has been for a long time. That’s not solely because of Hank, nor is it even largely because of Hank, I’d argue. Nobody is saying Stepan is a superstar – literally nobody. However, he is very much a quality two-way center.

            • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

              As I said Mint, I am not against trading him. I do feel that the piling on that he takes is unwarranted. The Rangers may well deal him, but ONLY if there is a way to upgrade to position.

          • Reenavipul says:

            Not a problem, but moving Stepan’s contract is potentially a solution to our other problems, *if* you want to do it now.

            If he stays past his NTC, then the wiggle room to remake the defense next season becomes a lot harder. If you are willing to take a chance that it all works out for the best next season by running 5&18 out there nightly, by all means.

            2018-19? So much money comes off the books that buying out Girardi & Staal is easily manageable.

      • Rich S. says:

        You are way off with stepan!!!!
        Here are his playoff stats at EVEN STRENGTH…..

        1. 97 games with most ice time of any forward
        2. ONLY 12 EVEN STRENGTH GOALS in 97 games getting most ice time!
        3. ONLY 33 EVEN STRENGTH points in 97 games getting most ice time !
        4. In 97 career playoff games a Plus-Minus of NEGATIVE -8 !!!!!
        He is NOT a good player, I want him on the opposing team so it gives the rangers a better chance of winning…..at 61 I can probably out run him !!!!!!!!

        • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

          So first assists dont count. Now PP goals don’t count. Amazing! 🙂

          Have you stopped to think about how Stepan is regularly matched up against the opposition’s best centers, who in many cases are legit stars? The guy more than holds his own. We lose that without adequately replacing it, we aren’t even a playoff team.

          I’m not saying we shouldn’t trade him if the RIGHT deal is there. But to suggest by simply ridding ourselves of him we would be a better team is patently absurd.

          I didnt have a chance to respond to your Grabner vs Stepan discussion. I would be willing to bet a lot of money that if both players were FAs and money were not a concern, that Stepan would be rated as a substantially more valuable asset than Grabner–and I bet that sentiment would be unanimous.

          Grabner had a terrific year, no doubt. But I would expose him in a heart beat. It’s highly improbable he will come close to matching this year’s output. And I doubt seriously Vegas will want him. Put Grabner on a top line and i think he would falter greatly. He’s perfect for the Rangers system with four depth lines of good but not great talent. He can shine when the matchups are right. But on a team that will likely be flawed like Vegas? No way.

          • Rich S. says:

            And who is going to make up for Grabners 27 even strength goals????
            The barometer of a player is how good he plays against the opponent when EVENLY matched….NOT WITH AN ADVANTAGE!
            Power play points always inflate numbers and thats why they are kept in a separate category, and always have been…..
            Spread out thoses power play minutes to hayes, zib and lindberg and they will more than make up for stepans points!
            GOD AWFUL!

            • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

              “God awful” is so overstated that it’s not even worthy of refutation. It’s just over the top silliness in the same vein with Kreider/Miller/Hayes being “elite, untouchable beasts”.

              All of this is living outside the realm of reality.

              As for Grabner, you are missing the point and not answering my point. NO GM is going to rate Grabner over Stepan. Quality 1C’s don’t grow on trees. Third line guys who have unsustainable career years are replaceable.

              Whether Grabner stays or goes, your question is valid. SOMEONE, maybe your overrated “Anti-Triplets”, will need to do so. It almost certainly WON’T be Grabner.

            • Dave says:

              Looking forward to Grabner scoring 13 goals next year and you wondering why he’s still on the club.

              • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

                Well said! Bank on about 13-15 tops. No way he cracks 20 again. A totally unexpected fluke that won’t likely be repeated.

              • Spozo says:

                Wrong Dave. It’s going to be AVs fault.

              • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

                That’s right Spozo. Can you imagine if Grabner had left the Rangers to sign with Toronto, and he had this kind of year. Everyone out here would be saying what an amazing job that genius Coach Babs did…that’s a REAL coach. But when it happens in reverse? Crickets.

                Time to acknowledge the reality–AV is a superior coach to Babs…at least as Grabner is concerned. 🙂

        • Spozo says:

          Since this is the barometer for “not a good player” can you please show us all the research you have done to show what other compareable (6.5 million dollar cap hit) centers have produced in the playoffs?

          • Rich S. says:

            Because you asked Spozo….the following make 7 million or less, many BELOW stepans salary….Regular season numbers….
            1. mark scheifele 82 pts
            2. nicklas backstron 86 points
            3. joe pavelski 58 points
            4. filip forsberg 58 points
            5. sean monihan 58 points
            6. bradyn schenn 55 point
            7. jeff carter 66 points

            and here are some other names/centers who make less….joe thornton, henrik sedin, nathan mckinnon, patrice bergeron, tyler seguine, matt duchene, logan coture, jordon stall….to name but a few….there are more!
            Are there any names here thet you would NOT take over stepan…Again DO YOU WATCH HIM PLAY????

            He is the 18 highest paid center, yet there are probably 50 OR MORE BETTER centers…..any other questions????

            • Spozo says:

              he’s top 30 in points this season. In the last 2 years he ranks 19th in points/60 minutes of play. Yet you would take 50 other centers over him.

              Exaggeration at its finest.

              Funny how your barometer for a good player was even strength playoff points. Yet you defend your stance with this regular seasons total points.

              • Rich S. says:


                Here is what i see when i watch Stepan play….a slow, non physical, poor shot, not good on faceoffs, doesnt go into corners, and does not play good defense anymore!

                I watched him against montreal and ottowa ‘lose’ his man numerous times playoffs us goals!!!! Do you remember his opponent pushing him into hank before the ot goal that beat us ….not sure if it was ottowa or habs,ot goal. Then I saw his man beat us from the slot, another time…..

                His soft, non physical play [ avoiding contact] has cost us plenty !
                As I look up and down nhl rosters I can honestly say most teams have 2 centers that I would take over stepan…..

                What do you see that you like about him?

              • Rich S. says:

                This link gives their top 30 centers….stepan nowhere to be found…’


              • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

                I wonder if that list was put together by the same people who also said that there are NO Rangers forwards in the top 50 players in the league? And yet this team is still supposed to be winning championships somehow.

                Funny how you will cite a chart like that, which admittedly may be right, but yet dismiss the evaluations of 30 GMs and coaches when it comes to your favorite player who we will not mention but is toiling in the AHL.

                Stepan may not be in the top 30. But I guarantee you he’s not in the bottom 30 as you seem to imply.

              • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

                (This may wind up as a repeat comment…sorry if it does.)

                I wonder if that list was put together by the same people who also said that there are NO Rangers forwards in the top 50 players in the league? And yet this team is still supposed to be winning championships somehow.

                Funny how you will cite a chart like that, which admittedly may be right, but yet dismiss the evaluations of 30 GMs and coaches when it comes to your favorite player who we will not mention but is toiling in the AHL.

                Stepan may not be in the top 30. But I guarantee you he’s not in the bottom 30 as you seem to imply.

            • ANGRY WIENER DOG STAMPEDE says:

              You’re really not being objective at all whatsoever if you think a guy who literally was (and has been) in the top 30 in scoring among centers is a bum, especially when you consider his cap (6.5) is pretty close to his output (mid fifties+ in pts).

              That, of course, mentions nothing of his defensive capabilities.

              I think we should trade him too, but not because he’s a “bum”….

    • Reenavipul says:

      They need the picks accumulated lasting at least 3 years so they can have their contracts stagger a bit more evenly over time for both cap and 50 man roster purposes.

      More picks is better in case you screw up, but too many contracts can clog the pipeline.

  2. amy says:

    i see vegas as an up and coming team but I am interested In seeing who we protect while we got in to the playoffs going as far as the second round I am interested in seeing who we protect and who gets taken

  3. Walt says:

    Should the Rangers be Concerned About Buchnevich’s Development?
    by Goldman

    Great article on the Blueshirt Banter web site, detailing how AV treated the kid, and his history with young players developement, and his days in Vancouver.

    • Spozo says:

      Derek Stepan is anything but a problem.

      Great article on Blueshirt Banter.

      • SalMerc says:

        An assist captain who argues with the goalie, who doesn’t stand up for his teammates and did nothing to help his team get ready for an elimination game isn’t a problem?

        Okay Spozo, enough Koolaid for you.

        • Spozo says:

          Stepan is awful because he doesn’t stand up for his teammates and because he stood up for the rookie Skjei who was being yelled at by the goaltender.

          Please repeat that

        • Spozo says:

          He’s bad because he doesn’t stick up for his teammates and because he stuck up for the rookie Skjei who was getting yelled at by Hank?

        • Egelstein says:

          They’re all grown men, and plenty of them quite large. I don’t think they need Step to stand up for them. There are several others on the team better suited for that role.

          As for the tiff with Hank, I don’t know exactly what was said. My initial gut reaction was “Nobody messes with Hank!”, but I quickly realized that for Step to pipe up to Hank like that, there had to be a reason, probably at least partially valid. For the same reason that Step isn’t ever yapping at other opposing players – just not his style – I feel that some benefit of doubt also needs to be given regarding when he jawed at Hank.

          • Spozo says:

            Hank was yelling at Skjei. Stepan told Hank to relax. Anyone who has played even high school sports know this type of stuff is commonplace!

            • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

              Most overblown non-story of all time. Meaningless.

              • ANGRY WIENER DOG STAMPEDE says:

                I wouldn’t call it ‘overblown’ because it shows who is the leader in the locker room.

                Which is a problem, because IMO goalies only become vocal in the absence of other voices.

                As much as I like McD, Step & Nash, based upon what I’ve seen/read (see Yandle’s player tribune for further reference), I’m not sure if I’d call them ‘leaders’ or say that they’re captain material.

                Which isn’t their fault; rather, I’d blame management for thinking that they could turn McD (in particular) into something he isn’t by throwing a ‘C’ on there.

              • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

                You make a valid point. My contention is this a good but not great group that doesnt have a “true” leader like MSL, Richards, and years before that Shanny and Jagr were. So McDonagh will have to do. And Stepan, as I understand it, is one of the more vocal leaders in that room.

      • Al Dugan says:

        As I have mentioned a number of times here on this forum, Busch’s numbers after January were HORRIBLE. And after seeing him live (and actually watching him off the puck) no wonder his numbers were HORRIBLE.

        He was bodied around quite easily, roughed up, pushed which made him less likely to go where a winger needed to go. His ability to work the boards, and help our defense move the puck from defense to offense wasn’t very good either. But, that’s a fairly common trait with MOST of our wingers.

        Plus, he can’t find his shot. He went games without getting a shot on target, and that g/60 thing every defender of Buch brings up was all in the first 150 minutes. His last 300 minutes of ice time was awful. AV put him out there the last few weeks of the season, and he got nothing from him. He scored 2 in his last 31 games. That’s TWO.

        BTW,another reminder for all you JT Miller blame it on AV supporters. JT now has a career total of 1 playoff goal in 40 playoff games.

        • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

          Perfectly said Al.

        • wwpd says:

          Hopefully this summer he is working out with Kreider and will be jumping out of swimming pools by training camp. then watch out for this guy.

          • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

            Kreider is great at jumping out of swimming pools. I wish he were equally great at jumping into the fray at the front of the net.

        • Reenavipul says:

          Can’t find his shot because he’s easily pushed around. Much like I wrote about Tambellini a 22 year old who weighs what an 18 year old should. 10 lbs of muscle would fix his game.

      • jerry maley says:

        At 6.5 MILLION, He is a big problem. Slow, not at all physical, not a scorer, mediocre at best on face offs. One of the real problems the Rangers have on this team.

        • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

          If Gorton trades him and he is not adequately replaced, we will take a hit. Guaranteed. He’s not spectacular but he’s solid, and gets matched up against the league’s best. The Rangers had their worst stretch of the AV era when Stepan was out with the rib injury, and I dont think it was a coincidence.

          I’m not against trading him for the right return. But the idea we can just move our other mediocrities up and that’s all we need is frankly laughable.


            exphose stephan imo


            Also, Stepan was on the ice for an astonishingly few number of goals against this season….

            I don’t know why people think two way centermen grow on trees….. they don’t!

        • Rich S. says:

          You are 100 % correct Jerry ……He stinks!!

          Here are his playoff stats at EVEN STRENGTH…..What really shows how good or bad a player is!

          1. 97 games with most ice time of any forward
          2. ONLY 12 EVEN STRENGTH GOALS in 97 games getting most ice time!
          3. ONLY 33 EVEN STRENGTH points in 97 games getting most ice time !
          4. In 97 career playoff games a Plus-Minus of NEGATIVE -8 !!!!!
          ONLY 3 GAME WINNING GOALS!!!!!!
          He is NOT a good player, I want him on the opposing team so it gives the rangers a better chance of winning…..at 61 I can probably out run him !!!!!!!!
          Click to Edit – 4 minutes and 15 seconds

        • Mintgecko says:

          Mediocre at best in the circle is putting it nicely. Hayes was taking all the big draws against MTL in the DZ and Weber was always back there ready to fire away. Stepan meanwhile was getting smoked by a rookie center, his FO% will continue to go down imo. I’m happy that international stint is dead, I actually think US can beat team Canada in the next World cup as long as they revamp the center’s and who plays with P Kane. Stepan against the stiff competition is a joke of a narrative, I think other teams welcome that matchup.

      • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

        Yeah, I read that Spozo and I agree. Now THAT was truly a well done article that somehow got overlooked out here! 🙂

      • Walt says:

        Who gives a shit about Step, I’m talking about your boy AV, and his short comings!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

      Walt, you do know that in Vancouver, the GM was fired shortly after he fired AV, largely because it turned out all those “talented kids” in Vancouver that AV wouldn’t play turned out to be less than stellar options.

      And amazingly, the writer somehow “missed” the fact that AV took a bad Vancouver team and grew those kids, especially the Twins, with his tough love approach and made them into a great team and great players.

      I read this person’s story and let’s just say this–it had more holes in it than a slice of Swiss cheese. Let’s deal with facts. Buch came to camp a skinny kid. He apparently tried to put on weight. He would up hurting his back. The writer assumes that as soon as Buch came back, he was “healthy”. As we all know, there is a difference between being healthy enough to play and healhty enough to perform at a high level. And frankly, post-injury, Buch was not very good. He did nothing to earn more time.

      As for the list of players scratched for Glass, let’s look at them–

      Pirri (seriously? He was terrible!)

      Puempel (again, seriously? Will Pirri and Puempel even be in the league next year?)

      Duclair (total distortion of reality…the kid was up briefly at the start of the season in 2014-15, because guys were hurt. Rembember, MSL had to move to center. Duclair got a look. It was mentioned over an over how much AV and the staff LOVED “The Duke”, but they were concerned that, once the team was healthy, Duclair would not get a lot of playing time on a team with legit SC aspirations. So they rightly sent him back to juniors so he can develop more. Very poor example)

      Etem–(OMG….PLEASE, I can’t stop laughing! That’s quite an example to use!)

      Fast–(Ok, a more reasonable discussion point there. But it’s so funny since half this blog has no use for Fast! To me, Fast was a project. Torts had him as well and I remember how he seemed to be quite unimpressed when the kid came over. He wasn’t ready. This is not a pee wee development league. It takes time for players to earn the time)

      Hayes–(Totally bogus. Hayes has seen his playing time increase every year. He has rarely been benched. And when it happened in his second year, we learned later (from Hayes’ own admission btw), that he was not as well prepared to play as he needed to be. Yet AV stuck with him anyway, even though the kid in my view should have gotten a lot more time in street clothes)

      Lindberg–(Again, nonsense. His play deteriorated badly in 2015-16, and we had people out here screaming for AV’s head because he wouldn’t play Lindberg more. Turned out he had a serious double hip injury that required surgery. Which no doubt slowed him down in terms of being fully ready this season. Bogus!)

      Miller–(Oh, boo hoo! Poor JT. It was reported when Torts was fired that insiders said he was no fan either. Then as has been discussed over and over, we find out from sources, including Dave Maloney, that Miller had significant work ethic issues. He very much EARNED his spot in street clothes. But notice that you are not seeing that at all anymore. Even when Miller makes his awful bonehead decisions, AV sticks with him. If anything, THAT is what I would hold AV accountable for–not being TOUGH ENOUGH with the “Anti-Triplets”

      Sheppard–(OMG!!!!! Again! Is she serious? He NEVER played in the NHL again. It was a bad trade by Sather and AV recognized it).

      Stalberg–(wrong! Stalberg was battling through injuries in the first part of the season he was here–and Glass wasn’t even on the NHL roster then. Once recovered, Stalberg played and played well.)

      Stempniak–(Ok, that one might be valid. The only thing I will say there is that teams seem to want to move on from this guy pretty fast. Maybe there’s a reason).

      She also misses the fact that Zuc became a significant player in AV’s system, Kreider has taken steps forward nad has had the 100% backing of the coach despite LENGHTY growing pains, that Skjei had a breakout rookie season, that Vesey probably exceeded expectations for his first year, and that even Miller and Hayes, flaws and all, continue to develop and grow.

      And somehow, someway, it was an out going Brian Boyle telling Hayes to sign here and that AV was part of the reason why he should. And it was Hayes who made the same recommendation to Vesey. Pionk was quoted in a Duluth paper that talking to AV helped seal the deal. All these kids want to play for this guy, and yet somehow, he’s bad with the kids? If the money is the same, which it generally is, why would any player want to play for a coach who hurts their chances of making millions down the road?

      I dont like to pass judgments on young writers like her. That would not be appropriate. But this is one of those examples where this is just some person on a blog making a poorly thought out argument. Not something worth sourcing as proof that AV is bad with the kids IMO.

      • Egelstein says:

        I read Banter and here equally. I saw the article in question, to note.

        While you make a strong case in some ways Eddie, and I won’t deny that one bit, I think you tend to overlook one thing that I consider major in such debates: young players’ natural progression curves. I think sometimes you give far too much credit to AV for what is simply natural progression. I will always argue that a coach can do more to stunt who a player is in a negative way than to change a player into someone he inherently is not in a positive way. For example, a coach can stunt an offensive dynamo by insisting he adjust his game to focus on defense and deploying said player in more defensively-reliant roles that he is not very well suited for, with his ice time depending on his execution of the coach’s instruction. A coach cannot turn a defensively minded and skilled player into an offensive dynamo, because the skill and instinct just isn’t there in the first place. That’s not to say good coaching can’t build on a players’ inherent skills and enhance them to a degree – I’m not saying that at all. Actually quite the opposite. I’m saying that’s really all coaches can do in my opinion to improve players, though, from a talent standpoint.

        Deployment is also huge to a player, rookie or veteran or anywhere between. This is largely how a player can look mediocre on one team then the very next year brilliant on a different team, or vice versa. Deployment to me is not just where in the lineup a player is, but also most frequent linemates, how the player is used when it comes to special teams, when their TOI generally comes from the game situational standpoint, etc.

        I do not believe AV deploys younger players correctly at many times, with a habit of making them “work their way up” the lines in many scenarios when they are punished for mistakes veteran players around them get away with, and are basically demoted. Buch isn’t a fourth line style player. He isn’t physically suited to face some other fourth line players (on certain teams, depending on their build philosophy) many of whom are in the NHL for their physical merits alone. That’s not to say he can’t ultimately succeed there…but when you look at who Buch is and what his strengths are, it does not at all suggest a fourth line role.

        Maybe he was still injured late in the season – if so, he should have been rehabbing, not watching from the press box or playing on a line and against lines where his skill set and physical capabilities may not translate well. That is something none of us will probably ever know unless Buch or AV comes out and says it.

        I do not believe AV’s benchings of any young players for making mistakes or having a terrible game have achieved anything in cultivating said players’ natural inherent skill level. Benching for attitude reasons however, perhaps fruitful. I personally feel it is folly and counterproductive to the result to ever take talent off the ice to address an attitude problem unless it is something very severe like physically assaulting another teammate or staff member or committing crimes off the ice, etc. However, it is one way to go about it I suppose, even if my personal preference would be to have it handled in the coaches offices, not on the ice.

        We can’t ever say for a fact that the talent that flamed out in Vancouver had nothing to do with AV, or that it had everything to do with AV. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. So to me, that’s pointless to really debate. All we know is that it was a gripe that was very, very common among their fans, and during his tenure, some of their younger players didn’t seem to be given adequate chances.

        What we can see for sure is that in his tenure in NY, AV has coached some prospects that were pegged to be pretty good in the first place…and lo and behold most have turned out to be pretty good. He does not get a gold star from me for that.

        If I go to McDonald’s and they simply make my Big Mac adequately – buns burgers and toppings in the correct order, correct ingredients, in the box upright, etc. – but it isn’t anything above and beyond what I expected, I do not proclaim them master chefs. They did their job and didn’t completely ruin my sandwich. Could it have been made better? It is my opinion that it probably could have. This is how I view AV with how he has handled some of the young Rangers.

        Above this all though, what bothers me is his sliding scale of accountability. We’ve discussed this before Eddie, and I know you disagree, but there is no place for the rampant homerism/favoritism AV has shown certain players in his NY tenure. There will always be playing favorites to a degree; that’s human nature. AV takes it to a whole different level, and how this applies to young players most is the undeniable pattern of deployment that AV has displayed of overusing tired veterans who aren’t as skilled as some of the young guys in the first place to attempt to protect leads or come back from a small deficit late in games. Especially in the playoffs, when it counts most to have fresh legs on the ice in such scenarios. That to me is one of AV’s worst characteristics as a coach.

        As for young players wanting to play for the Rangers…another thing I’ve noted in the past: there are a bunch of reasons to play for the New York Rangers, regardless of who their coach is. But, AV is a player’s coach, and that’s no secret. So, I wouldn’t necessarily take it as young players flocking to AV like he is some kind of guru for their development. He is a respected hockey lifer who doesn’t crap on his players in the locker room. None of this is evidence that he handles young players perfectly. We’re gonna hear the stories of things like how Hayes lobbied for Vesey to come to the Rangers. Naturally. That’s feel good press and all. Are we gonna hear about (disclaimer: completely fictional example) how Adam Clendening or Keith Yandle spoke to a young offensively-gifted defensemen prospect and told him that if he wants play time to develop, he should probably consider playing for someone else? No. Of course not. So again, I don’t know as we can really draw a ton of conclusions by connecting those dots.

        I don’t think AV is necessarily abhorrent when it comes to developing young players. I do think he could be significantly better, specifically in the areas of deployment and response to young players’ routine mistakes.

        • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:


          This is brilliantly thought out and much of it frankly is hard to refute. I really respect that.

          That being said, a few points to consider….

          I don’t at all disagree with your “natural progression” theory. But I also think it is a one-sided argument for some to say that when a player progresses, it’s on the player but when he doesn’t progress as much as we would like him to, it’s on the coach and it’s automatically about deployment.

          I admit I doubled down here on defending AV, but I do that to provide balance to what I thought was a really badly flawed argument by the writer. Coaches get too much blame when things go badly and sometimes not enough credit when things go well–especially this coach. I just think that people dramatically overstate what the head coach brings to the table on the NHL level. Of course you need a great one. But the top tier guys are all great. You don’t win as many games as AV has won unless you are a top tier guy. To me, changing coaches comes when the message gets old and it’s just time for a change. As I said months ago, I like AV but I would NOT have given him the extension they gave him at that time. But obviously, Gorton and Sather concluded that this team, which is getting younger, is best served with this coach at the helm.

          To me the argument is much like the Stepan argument. I have no problem moving on, but show me who the upgrade would be. AV could be fired tomorrow but if the personnel remains the same, you will likely not see much difference in the actual outcome. This roster is just too flawed, so to me, that’s not the issue.

          I really believe that a truly great player will find a way to be great. If such a player isn’t getting enough minutes, that player won’t make excuses as we often tend to do for him. That player will find a way, in the minutes that he plays, to open people’s eyes. In all the years I’ve watched AV coach, I cant think of one situation where a supposedly underutilized player has impressed to such a degree that it is evident that he should play more.

          The way you REALLY know is when they are let go and then shine in another organization. I can’t think of one example of that happening in the four years he’s been the coach.

          The irony is that AV was brought in largely because it was perceived that Torts was in fact holding back a lot of guys from fulfilling their potential. To me, no one that’s still here from the Torts era has regressed (other than issues of aging but that’s different). Indeed, most if not all improved upon AV’s arrival. The performance in terms of point total and playoff series won has been dramatically improved under this coach. So hard to say he hasn’t been succesful with the talent he’s been given to work with.

          As for Buch, no one is suggesting that he’s a 4th line guy. But the Rangers had a logjam at forward this year. Anyone who would have been cycled down to the 4th line would have been similarly “out of position”. And let’s not forget, the Rangers 4th line was not a typical 4th line this year.

          To me, Buch looked terribly mediocre after his return from injury. This is not a development league. AV’s job is to win games. There was no indication whatsoever that Buch, post-injury, was going to be of much help to that end. I think with him and Vesey, it was always assumed that this year would be a “get your feet wet” kind of experience. I see nothing wrong with that and I doubt the players do either.

          As for Vancouver, again, why was Mike Gillis fired? Why did Torts, when he came there, flame out epically? There was a new sheriff in town and an opportunity for each of those players to impress. None of the young players were ultimately good enough and both coach and GM were canned as the franchise proceeded to unravel once AV left.

          I agree AV doesn’t or shouldn’t get a gold star for taking young talent that was pretty good and making them pretty good. But my point is he also shouldn’t be taken to the woodshed for not turning these guys into the elite beasts some who overrate our talent think they should be. This team is what it is. AV is getting, for the most part, the most out of a good but not great team.

          The sliding scale argument, I agree, we’ve debated that to death. I’m not at all saying that my opinion is any more valid than yours or anyone else’s. But the coaches I’ve known and the GMs that I’ve known, one of whom who is a HOFer who I consider a dear friend and mentor, would disagree. A good coach knows what buttons to push with each player. It’s not one size fits all. Bill Parcells was the master at this. He treated LT very differently from Elvis Patterson, and eventually, Phil Simms very differently from let’s say George Adams.

          I covered the Rangers in the early 80s. Herb Brooks most definitely had his own sliding scale. Ted Sator might have had the most extreme sliding scale I’ve ever seen.

          This technique is far more common that I think most realize.

          As for the young players choosing to come here, I want to be clear. I have NEVER said AV is some guru that players flock to. There’s no doubt there are many reasons a young player would want to play for the NY Rangers. But my point is, when a player, especially a young player, has a choice, and money is not the factor (and it’s not with the young free agents), no player is going to come and play for a coach with a bad reputation for developing young talent. You said it yourself–those early years are critical. Not just for development but in terms of future earning potential. There is no doubt in my mind on this–young free agents come here because the word must be that this is an excellent coach to learn from and play for. The Rangers are a class organization and he’s obviously a key part of that. They will become better players and have a chance to maximize their potential and make big bucks down the road. And they believe they will eventually have a chance to win the Stanley Cup here. If those beliefs are not in play, there’s no chance these players would come here unless they had few other choices.

          On the Hayes comment, again, to be clear, this was not a reporter asking the question and steering him in a certain direction. This was his own words. He could have simply said “the organization was the reason” and be covered. He specifically mentioned AV and frankly no one else was even mentioned. So I think it’s pretty clear that Hayes very much respects AV and I get the sense the feeling is mutual.

          Anyway, great discussion and points as always Eg!


        The problem isn’t really the forwards so much as it was the D.

        And no one ever said the man wasn’t liked by his players (at least I haven’t IIRC); if anything, going back a few seasons, I personally think the reason (was it Hamhuis who did it?) that Hertl on SJ got clonked & suffered a bad concussion (after he embarrassed poor Biron straight into retirement) was because he disrespected AV by pulling that stunt.

        Also, with Sheppard, that’s a bit much (unless you’d like to argue that Glass was more effective?).

        To be fair, with regards to Buch, I think the back problems were about 85% of the source of the team’s reluctance in playing him more this season. You don’t mess with that stuff.

        But yeah, as much as I like Miller, to call him ‘untouchable’ is a bit of a stretch….

  4. Eugene says:

    About #4, that’s why league should of either not expand or add at least 1 more team, to make it more complicated for newcomers managers

    • Hatrick Swayze says:

      Owners were not about to turn down a $500 mil buy in of non hockey related revenue (meaning they don’t have to share it with the players), just because it would be ideal to have 2 teams join at once. We will see a 32nd team do the same thing in another 2-3 years.

      But, I agree, a process with 2 expansion teams would have been even more awesome.

  5. Dave says:

    Anyone want to play poker?

  6. Will says:

    All that matters are the playoff stats.
    The regular season is the ice capades.