Hot summer thoughts

July 23, 2017, by
alain vigneault

Photo: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Nothing says “I want to talk hockey” like 95 degree weather and sweating uncontrollably whenever you step outside, am I right? Since we are all on the same page when it comes to hockey in the summer, and it’s a lazy Sunday, let’s gather some thoughts on our Rangers.

1. Last year we spent a lot of time harping on the defense. To Jeff Gorton’s credit, he did a lot to make the blue line more mobile. Alain Vigneault has ten viable options for seven roster spots, so the Rangers are now pretty deep on the blue line. However it all comes down to how AV deploys his defensemen. If he falls on old habits, then there will be no lessons learned. If he finally figures it out, then the Rangers are a dangerous team.

2. Not much has been said about Mika ZIbanejad’s contract. We took a stab at gauging his next contract¬†two months ago, and nothing has really changed since then. He and the Rangers will figure it out before his arbitration hearing. I’m intrigued to see where he lands. A right-handed, shoot-first center who skates is worth a pretty penny in the NHL. But Zibanejad has no leverage as an RFA, so we shall see.

3. Right now, Matt Puempel is slated to be the 12th forward. That likely isn’t the best option for the Rangers. Puempel is best as a depth forward/injury replacement. So there is still work to be done. I don’t know if there’s any credibility to the Tyler Bozak rumors, and I likely won’t give credence to any rumor unless it comes from McKenzie or Friedman. But there is logical sense to a trade with the Leafs.

4. The more I think about it, the more I think Anthony DeAngelo isn’t a shoo-in to make the roster. He doesn’t need to clear waivers, so he’s not a risk to lose for nothing. Despite the logjam on the blue line, I think there is a reason why we haven’t seen any trades yet. It likely has to do with ensuring the kid earns his spot on the roster. They have the luxury of being able to take their time with him. It could also be a product of no good trades out there. In all likelihood, it’s a combination of both.

5. One last thought on this Sunday. Don’t think that Lindy Ruff is some savior if you’re an AV hater. They are almost identical coaches. From being old school guys right down to the systems they use on the ice, AV and Ruff are almost carbon copies of each other. Ruff is here as an AV guy, that’s it.

"Hot summer thoughts", 5 out of 5 based on 9 ratings.
Categories : Musings


  1. Richter1994 says:

    1. The AV watch has started regardless of Ruff.
    2. Zib fired a highly credible agency and went with a relative, so stupidity from his camp could reign here. I hear that Gorton is lowballing Zib big time (not surprising) so a bridge contract may result. Or it’s 5 years for about $25M, lol.
    3. I give it a better than 50% chance that Bozak comes here, so problem solved as I expect a top 9 Ranger forward NOT to go in the deal.
    4. DeAngelo will get a spot, book it. Gorton didn’t trade Stepan to get him to play in Hartford.
    5. Ruff should help the D, that’s his role. But t doesn’t hurt to have him looking over AV’s shoulder either.

    • Ray says:

      Gorton did not acquire DeAngelo to get a third pair defenseman. For him to be of any real value, he needs to learn to play in his own zone. Will he best achieve that playing in NY or Hartford is a serious question. If he doesn’t take his shortcomings seriously, he won’t overcome them in NY and it is foolish to keep him on the roster even if he is the fifth best defenseman the Rangers have – because he will never be more than that. OTOH, if his attitude issues don’t extend to his hockey playing and he is dedicated, well, on the job training in NY might be the right path.

      • Richter1994 says:

        I was commenting on this year alone, saying that DeAngelo will be in the top 9 and playing.

        So yes, the expectation is that he will be a stud and be a top 4 D man. That will come in time, IMO.

        • Ray says:

          My point was that I don’t think management either will be or should be focused on this year. If a third pair role this year does not promote long term development, it will be avoided even if there is short term benefit to the team.

  2. DAVID k says:

    Just remember one thing about A.V. the only D-Man that he has allowed to play on this team is Skjei. He does not have the balls or the patience with young d. He will find a way to bench or send DeAngelo back to Hartford unless Gorton forces him to use DeAngelo bc you are correct he did not trade Stepan to have DeAngelo to play in Hartford.

    • Spozo says:

      Maybe Skjei is the only defenseman that actually a) has the talent to be an NHLer and b) was ready as a rookie for the Rangers?

  3. Mintgecko says:

    They won’t be pursuing any top 6 centers this summer unless the Mika talks would go south. Hayes was groom for this situation to be a 2c, he’s earned it and I think JG wants to test him out in a contract year and also think that AV believes in him like that now. I can’t wait until the Leafs tell the press that Bozak isn’t going anywhere or that he just got traded so the speculation could stop.

  4. Gorty's Boys says:

    I agree that Ruff is an AV guy… but I think the respect level AV has for Ruff is way higher than what he had for Beuk… the hope here us that Ruff’s deployment and D-assessment reigns and plays the best and most viable 6.

  5. Stevesse says:

    I think that this season will be a transitional one for the club. Unwilling to scrap the season for the big draft choice, Gorton has retooled the d. He will see what he has in Hayes and with Nash’s contract coming off the books he will have money to get a big name if necessary. Holden also comes off and either Staal retires or is bought out next year. If they play better D, they will still be dangerous without a great offense. Look at how far Ottawa went.

  6. Leatherneck says:

    It will be an intriguing first half of the year and the preseason will be interesting as well. There should be fierce competition.
    I still think there is a move going to be made prior to the preseason

  7. Larry says:

    1. AV isn’t going to learn new tricks at this stage of his career, we all know that.

    2. Gordon has done a very good job so far, no complains.

    3. No Bozak trade from the leafs side, they don’t like Holden.

    4. I seriously hope DeAngelo is a surprising dark horse for the NYR.

    5. As a AV”hater”, I don’t really care about Ruff. I just don’t think NYR would win a cup with AV as their coach.

    • Mikeyyy says:


    • AWDS says:

      Yeah, I completely agree with you on #1 there… he won’t fix what he didn’t think was broken.

      For the first time in his tenure, the Rangers may actually be able to ice a truly ‘AV’ defense. Each pairing will… err … should have at least one offensive defenseman; McD/Shatty is a bit of both, Skjei/Smith is just heavy on the left side…. and lastly, there’s Not Staal / Not Holden. Well, hopefully anyways – it’s more likely to be Staal / DeAngelo..

      I’m not sure where Berezgalov fits into this (given his contract).

      My point is, hopefully, either the gumchomper gets it right with a relatively foolproof defense, or they finally realize it’s time to give someone else a try before #30 is 40.

  8. Larry says:

    Just pour some cold water in this hot summer day, AV will guide this team to another President’s Trophy or close to it, and be ousted in the 1st or 2nd round in the playoffs.

  9. Ray says:

    The Rangers don’t have ten viable options on defense. What they have is ten options (or eleven if you count Kampfer). Graves, Pionk, Bereglazov have simply not shown they can play in the NHL. Perhaps they can, but what they are now is options that may or may not be viable.

    For now, I am convinced Graves won’t really be considered and the Rangers likely don’t think Pionk will make the team either. I don’t know where Bereglazov fits in and think that while DeAngelo can play NHL hockey, he is not a lock to make the team. At the end of camp, the Rangers may have a glut of men, but they don’t feel that way now.

  10. Peter says:

    DeAngelo put up 14 points in 39 games as a rookie in limited minutes with a very poor team last season. If he gets better in his own team’s end of the ice he should make the team unless the Rangers are going to bury their kids and go with Staal / Holden as the third pair. I doubt they will go that way because of the way Gorton spoke about Anthony, which is that he sees him running a power play for the team. I think they got him to play him unless he bombs in trading camp.

    • Richter1994 says:

      It is extremely difficult to assess D men’s play on an awful team like the Yutes. OEL is a top player in the league and his +/- is awful.

      Would you and I take him? In a second.