Aug
05

Options at Center

August 5, 2017, by

jt miller

Trading Derek Stepan and losing Oscar Lindberg to Vegas sent a shockwave through the Rangers lineup this offseason, leaving two major holes at center and turning what was one of the Blueshirts’ biggest strengths into what could be their biggest weakness. Although the Rangers did acquire David Desharnais to help fill a bottom six role there remains one slot at center to be filled, and I thought it would be a good idea on this hot summer day to sketch out some of the options the team has for filling that gap.

The first is trading for a top-six center. The most obvious name on the market is Matt Duchene but unfortunately you’ve got to give to get. Still, considering the Rangers’ considerable depth on wing and new found glut of defensive prospects, theres pieces in place to make a deal happen. I still think this one is unlikely to happen, but it’s certainly a possibility.

If a trade does go down I wouldnt be shocked if it doesnt happen until the Rangers are in a serious position of need after the start of the season and Joe Sakic reckons he can get a higher price out of Jeff Gorton. In that case GMJG will have to hold fast and do his best not to get fleeced (which probably shouldnt be too hard considering it’s Sakic, but hey). Nabbing Duchene would allow Hayes to remain at 3C and add ludicrous speed to an already fast moving top six.

Next up is moving JT Miller to center. I’ll admit I’m not a huge fan of this, as I think he’s better suited to wing, but I’m willing to withhold final judgement on the idea until I’ve actually seen a good amount of it. The good news is we’ve got enough wingers to easily make the switch, so it’s not too big of a hit on the depth chart. This one is also the most likely I think, at least for the start of the season.

The more long shot possibilities are where things get more interesting. One name that’s been out there is Boo Nieves. This would hypothetically mean putting Desharnais at 3C and Nieves at 4C, which wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, although Id’d prefer Hayes at 3C (he’d be on the second line in this scenario). The big concern however with Nieves is injuries – he’s had multiple concussions already, and a fourth line checking role for him could be dangerous as a result. Health comes first folks. Fun fact though: I met his uncle on the LIRR once, nice guy.

This one has a real minimal chance of actually going down, but I wouldn’t be altogether shocked if it does – there’s justifiable reasons for it. Yes, I’m talking about Lias Andersson at 3C. The reasoning goes like this: he’s been tearing it up for Sweden lately, and his work ethic will likely impress the coaching staff at camp. That might give them the impression that he’s NHL ready, and while I can’t say I’m entirely sold on the idea, because it may hamper his development, if the coaches really do think he’s ready then it might just work. Like I said, pretty small chance of this happening, but if it did it wouldn’t be the craziest thing in the world. It would also mean Desharnais at 4C, which is a role I think he’s better suited to.

Which scenario is best? Well ideally Gorton takes another GM to the cleaners and scores us a top-six center for peanuts and none of this matters. After that I’d probably say Miller at C, then a close tie between calling up Nieves for the fourth line role or Andersson as the third line center. Which scenario is most likely is probably Miller playing center (which he’s done before) but who knows, maybe there’s a surprise somewhere down the road and we’ll have our center depth all sorted come October.

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Categories : Forwards

44 comments

  1. billyy1407 says:

    give the kids a real chance..it’s not like we’re fighting for a playoff spot the 1st 20 games

    • TJ says:

      Actually you are….

      • billyy1407 says:

        only if you suck

      • Mancunian Candidate says:

        Joey’s on point–early season wins have been comparatively easy for Vigneault’s Ranger teams to pick up in the last 2 seasons, mostly because they have Hank in net…would like to see the ideal roster for the playoffs set by March 1, instead of the tinkering AV indulged in down the stretch and in the playoffs. Most teams are still finding out what they’ve got in the first 20 games–it’s the ideal time to plug certain players in and see what they have to offer in real NHL competition. I think your “every game counts” point is well-taken however. Nobody wants to stumble badly coming out of the gate and have to desperately make up ground.

    • Spozo says:

      That’s what training camp is for.

      • Mancunian Candidate says:

        that’s an oversimplification by a fair margin. Coaches & GMs tinker with their rosters and lineups all season long, through callups and trades. Injuries can completely shake up a season’s best laid plans as well. Look at last season for NYR, after all–Vigneault was still deciding what his “best” lineup was in the last ten games of the regular season.

        • Spozo says:

          My point is that you don’t throw away 20 games to start the season to decide whether Anderson/Nieves should be in the NHL or Hartford. That decision needs to be made by the time the season starts.

          • Mancunian Candidate says:

            It happens all the time with teams. rosters are fluid throughout the season. Even Ryan McDonagh was a midseason callup.

            • Spozo says:

              I midseason callup means they decided he wasn’t ready to start the season in the NHL. They didn’t go through a painful 20 games to decided he should be in Hartford.

              • Mancunian Candidate says:

                No, they just went thru a painful 42 games without McDonagh instead.

  2. Scully says:

    The Rangers’ depth at C isn’t as poor as it seems on the surface. If Hayes gets a less defensive role as the 2C his offensive skills will show even more. Lias Andersson feels a lot like Oscar Lindberg to me (Lindberg is slightly taller) coming from defensive-minded systems in Sweden. The jury was our on whether Lindberg would be ready for an NHL role, and he was… granted he played a year in Hartford first, but like you’re saying, I wouldn’t be surprised either if Andersson replaces Hayes as the defensive oriented 3C who can also score and make plays.

    Otherwise moves Miller to Center and sign Jagr to a 1 year deal because NOSTALGIA :D.

  3. 43 says:

    Duchene could be an intriguing option, but his lack of production last season concerns me, a bit. I say “a bit” because he was playing for Colorado last season.

    That said, at this point, I think we know who are centers are going to be.

    • AWDS says:

      Reportedly, Sakic is swinging for a HR; rumored asking price for NYR is Skjei to start, with first round picks + additional prospects also being demanded.

      Which is completely ridiculous IMO; what version of Duchene does he think he’s trading…?

      … The one who just finished his rookie season with 71 points, or this bum who barely cracked 45 (with just 2 years of RFA status left)?

      Hence why he’s probably not going anywhere.

      • mintgecko says:

        It won’t happen or at least not this summer. I know this is business but JG will most likely let the team finish gelling. This is really tight team and with that comes with great production or career highs. I could see the Duchene rumors becoming more real closer to February but with that would mean that a major failure in the 1st half’s by Mika and Hayes. I don’t think JG truly wants a 1c right now, I think they’re all high on Hayes, Mika, DD and for a rookie like Boo or Andersson to step up.

    • Cd11 says:

      Haven’t we learned that plucking “good” players from bad teams never work out for us? Or are we just going to repeat Rick Nash all over again?

  4. Johnny Red says:

    Forget about Duchene, Sakic thinks he’s got Gretzsky playing for him. His asking price is ridiculous! I’m with letting Miller play center and going to zone defense to help him out. It’s time for the Rangers to let these young players step up and give them a shot. If they fail we can make a trade then. There’s plenty of time with the long season to try it. It’s where you finish the season not where you start.

    Thank goodness for computers and online access. When I was growing up loving hockey we only had my uncle’s subscription to the hockey news to get anything hockey in the summer months. I’m grateful to you guys for giving us hockey addicts our fix!

  5. Anthony DiMichele says:

    I think if we were going to get a center, stall would have been bought out to have cash for a new contract, with that said the young bloods will be given a chance to make team. stall was money safety net as holden is.

    • mintgecko says:

      Exactly but people rather try and make this a impossible situation to read. I guess it’s more fun to speculate which young and up and coming name, picks and prospects will be given away for money that isn’t even there.

    • Chris A says:

      There was no move to make this summer with Staal’s hypothetical buyout savings.

      If the Rangers are going to add a C it will be closer to the deadline, and by then they can use the banked cap savings to fit a top 6 C under the cap. If the roster stays more or less the same between now and February, the Rangers should have enough banked cap space to add pretty much any player they like.

      By not buying out Staal last week Gorton saved himself some cap space over the next 7 years.

  6. Anthony DiMichele says:

    I think if we were going to get a center, stall would have been bought out to have cash for a new contract, with that said the young bloods will be given a chance to make team. stall was money safety net as holden is.

  7. Kris says:

    The problem with adding Duchene(besides cap) is Sakic, wants a ton for a player that is under control for only 2 years. I understand give to get but if Im giving up the rumored type of deal Sakic is looking for I want a player with more term then 2 years.

    I think the right move is to look for a cheap vet 3rd line center. Its time to see if Hayes (25) can be a second line center or is a career bottom six. Plus it provides some depth in case of injury, which they need incase Zibanejad or Hayes were to go down with injury. Can Holden bring that player back plus a mid round pick?

    • mintgecko says:

      I think those fans that want to see a similar trade off assume that all 1c’s come with a top goalie for a prospect and draft pick.

  8. Eugene says:

    Why is still somebody keeping Duchene as an option, the guy doesn’t want to play anymore, why even to mention him. My bet Anderson is 3C, Nieves 4C and Desharnais headed to Joories path…. somewhere to Swiss or so

    • SamNY says:

      DD is a solid 4C, he’s not going anywhere. Nieves is the guy on margin here.

      I think they are going into camp with the idea of Andersson as the 3C. But I can see them making a deal if they want him in Sweden one more year. Kid is 18/19 so it could go either way.

    • mintgecko says:

      Did watch him at the Worlds last summer? He was on the 4th line making magic by himself with the puck. DD was picked up to play as the 3c, it makes zero sense in why he would be a 4c other than his FO%. My bet is that Vesey will see shelter minutes on the 3rd line with him but he’ll have a decent offensive center who can help grind and put points up. DD was a calculated move just like Pouliot was in 14, they probably expect him to produce due to the depth, role that he’ll be in and the system that could fit his game to a “T”

  9. wwpd says:

    Hadn’t really thought about boo’s concussion history. You saying he should just retire now? Because if it’s irresponsible to play him on the fourth line then it’s irresponsible really to play him at all. If you’re on the ice you got to expect there’s a risk of contact – notwithstanding certain players try to avoid it at all cost

  10. Rich S says:

    We need intervention for some of the fans/writers who already are panicking about center position.
    JT Miller will be fine, at only 24 years old , every year his stats have improved…..goals scored, points, game winning goals, assists,+/- numbers,short handed goals………the only knock is his lack of playoff numbers….that will come…….. how long did it take Barry Bonds to hit home runs in the playoffs??????
    Hayes and Zib put up respectable numbers despite being hampered by injuries, again, if they manage to play close to 82 games we will get excellent production out of the center position……
    Lindberg, however , and his all around play including his physical play will be missed on 4th line..
    Considering the HUGE upgrades on defense even AV cant screw this up!!!!!!

  11. Richter1994 says:

    Do not under any circumstances trade for Duchene because of trade cost and cap hit.

    My options, in order:

    1. Trade for Bozak, hopefully it’s not a deep trade cost.
    2. Put Miller at center and sign Jagr or Vanek.
    3. DD at 3rd C and Andersson at 4th C.

  12. Peter says:

    A lot will depend on how Andersson fares at camp. I’ve seen him a little lately and the kid is a player who looks very polished for a youngster. If he handles himself as well in the scrimmages and pre-season they just might give him a shot. You might see him as 4C or DeSharnais there. Unless a deal is made soon, you are likely looking at JT as 3C.

    I guess an alternative if no deal is made also is DeSharnais at 3C and Andersson at 4C, but that puts a lot of pressure on the 18 year-old and the team really rolls the dice that he is going to up to the task right away. For those reasons I would not be surprised to see Miller at 3C.

    Boo is a possibility, but from watching Andersson I think he is already a better player in many respects.

    • Chuck A says:

      Not an expert, but I think Gorton traded for the seventh pick with the idea that Andersson makes the club this year

  13. Agentsmith says:

    If sakic wanted a winger pretty sure a deal would have been done already with nyr or someone…

  14. Richter1994 says:

    Add Alex Kerfoot to this conversation. If you don’t know who he is, you will soon.

    • Chris A says:

      If the Rangers can steal the former Devils’ draft pick, I’d be pretty happy with that.

      Simply scouting his stat lines it seems he’s trending in the right direction. Is he NHL ready or he’s looking like a guy that needs time in the AHL?

      • Richter1994 says:

        I would think that similar to Vesey, if the Rangers sign him it would be to get the 3rd C spot. But I have been reading that he is NHL ready.

    • Reenavipul says:

      AAAA player. Good production, but not to the point that you’d think he’d make the NHL at that size. If you’re below average in height, your production has to be outsized. Marty St. Louis was around or over 2 ppg in college, Gerbe was at 1.5 ppg, Gaudreau 2.0ppg when he went pro.

      Kerfoot was at 1.25ppg last year.

      • Richter1994 says:

        Interesting, so you think the Rangers do not try to sign him?

        • Reenavipul says:

          They have 2 spots on the 50 man roster with a lot of expiring contracts after this year

          But at 22, not only is he short, but he’s also 10lbs shy of where he would need to compete at a pro level considering his production.

          AHL offer at best, but if an NHL club is going to offer better than that, he should take it.

  15. JAKE says:

    Duchene would be a glorious add! I’m not going to be surprised if Andersson slots in at 3C tho. He’s gonna be a better version of Stepan in the next couple season’s IMO.