Sep
04

Three predictions for the Rangers this season

September 4, 2017, by
chris kreider

Has Chris Kreider even been more important than this coming season?

It’s been quite some time since I last wrote for the blog, but with personal things out of the way (amongst other things, work sucks doesn’t it?!….), the new season just around the corner and significant change in Rangerland behind us, now seems a good a time to get back involved. So, please accept my apologies that you will once again have to endure my ramblings.

Usually I fly over from the UK around mid-season for my annual Rangers fix, but this time I’ll be heading over for my first ever opening night Rangers game and I’m absolutely pumped. Here are three things I’m expecting from the upcoming regular season.

Chris Kreider’s true coming out party

Kreider’s path to his first thirty goal season – and status as an elite goalscorer – has never been clearer. With JT Miller tentatively(?) pencilled in at center, Kreider is clearly the Rangers go-to left wing option and he’ll need to produce consistently if the Rangers are going to ease into the playoffs.

The Rangers have solid depth at Kreider’s position with more expected from sophomore Jimmy Vesey, while the Rangers benefit from several wingers that can play both sides (Nash, Zuccarello, Grabner and Buchnevich among others) but Kreider is a fixture in the top six.

Kreider is also critical to a powerplay (2nd in goals among returning players, while only second to Zuccarello in PP ice-time among forwards) that should only improve with new addition Kevin Shattenkirk manning the point, as well as the potential upside of Anthony DeAngelo and his puck moving ability.

Kreider is unlikely to shoot above 15% again, but if he stays healthy then thirty plus goals is absolutely within reach. Despite missing seven games last year Kreider still potted twenty-eight goals while establishing career highs in shots and in overall ice time/game. Given the significant injuries sustained to Nash, Zibanejad and Buchnevich (among others) the Rangers have never relied on Kreider more than they did last season and yet he’s likely to be even more important this season given the changes up front and the apparent lack of depth outside the top six.

Only twenty-six players scored thirty+ goals last season. ‘Just’ six more goals this upcoming season and, based on last season, Kreider would break into the league’s top ten in goals scored. Kreider doesn’t seem to be considered among the league’s best goal scorers but he’s very close to making that jump. I think this is the season that Kreider truly breaks through, making that contract look even more team friendly.

Ryan McDonagh garners (serious) Norris trophy consideration

Among all returning Rangers, maybe it’s our captain that should be most excited about the upcoming season. He’ll no longer have to drag Dan Girardi around the ice (hurrah!), he’s got a legitimate supporting cast on the blueline and if the powerplay improves, McDonagh stands to benefit as well, only boosting his own numbers.

Including a return to form for Henrik Lundqvist, the Rangers should be better defensively by default. An improved defense should alleviate some of the pressure on the Rangers captain as he won’t need to do it all, and the unit’s improvement should improve all his numbers, across the board. Even factoring in the additions of DeAngelo but above all Kevin Shattenkirk, McDonagh should still see plenty of powerplay time. All in all, there’s no reason McDonagh cannot rack up his first fifty point season.

Only nine defensemen scored fifty plus points last year, one of which (Shattenkirk) will now likely be his regular partner. McDonagh enters the new season primed to be among the league’s best blueliners again and has a great chance of generating more offense given the likely improved puck possession and breakout ability from Rangers blueline.

Given he was 17th in Norris voting last year, when McDonagh (almost) singlehandedly ran the tire fire that was the Rangers blueline, if he puts up a fifty(ish) point season and has strong advanced stats then a climb up the Norris voting awaits. If the Rangers, as a collective, have a strong regular season McDonagh figures to benefit individually.

All of the fifty-point blueliners were in the top fifteen in Norris voting. Of the blueliners that scored 53+ points, only Shattenkirk was outside the top four in votes. While points are not sole measure of an elite defenseman, if McDonagh plays the full schedule (granted, something he has only ever done once) he can easily jump into the league’s top five.

With just two years before he’s due a fat new deal, there’s plenty of motivation for McDonagh to grab the league wide (and media) respect and attention he already enjoys from Rangers fans.

The end of the Marc Staal era

It appears the Rangers have started to realise what a successful NHL defense needs to look like. It’s why Dan Girardi now resides in Tampa and it’s why the team went out and acquired Kevin Shattenkirk, Anthony DeAngelo and again went down the college route to get a puck moving blueline prospect such as Neal Pionk, among others.

Thanks to cap constraints, the Rangers (despite the fanbase’s hopes and desires) were never realistically going to get rid of Girardi and Marc Staal in one offseason. Given his contract, Staal will certainly be dressed come opening night but what we need and want to see is Staal relied on less, his ice time reduced, and over the course of the season Staal slowly but surely phased out.

The best-case Rangers scenario is this: Shattenkirk and DeAngelo establish themselves, Brendan Smith and Brady Skjei build on the relationship they discovered last season, all the while Pionk, Bereglazov, Ryan Graves and Sean Day play so well in the minors that one or two (or ideally, all!) of them force the Rangers into ridding themselves of Staal. How does this best-case scenario finish? Staal plays well enough and often enough to have some form of value either at the deadline or, more realistically, the Rangers can move him next summer instead of buying him out.

Staal has been a loyal Ranger, robbed of a better career by injuries, but in the right situation he can likely do a job in a limited, sheltered role for the next one to two years. The job however cannot be in New York.

"Three predictions for the Rangers this season", 5 out of 5 based on 26 ratings.

55 comments

  1. Mintgecko says:

    My prediction is for both Zib and Hayes to take giant leaps this season by reaching 65+ points this season. Through guys there will be names like Kreider and Mcd who will benefit greatly by a productive year from the top 6 centers.

  2. amy says:

    this years rangers team is a little more younger and skilled I expect Zucc, Miller and Kreider will produce and Mcd will shine on defense with the addition of Shattenkirk

  3. Al Dugan says:

    Here are a couple of points….the NYR were 5th in goals scored last year, so more points for individuals are going to be tough to come by. Kreider had a huge year with tip ins and close in shots so his shooting percentage is not that big a deal as opposed to Miller who doesn’t shoot.

    McD’s PP time will probably be reduced as the NYR will, I think, employ a 1-3-1 power play with Shattenkirk being the main 1. McD had 15 PP points last year, and I don’t see him getting that many points on the PP this year. He will be hard pressed to get 40 points this year let alone 50.

    You’re kidding about Hayes, right?

    • mintgecko says:

      Yes Hayes will be a main stay for years to come as long as he takes advantage this season and proves that it was no fluke during his first season under his next contract. Like it or not just about everyone in this organization are high on him, look at what Drury did for him in the summer even though he kind of deserved that spot on team USA. AV basically told the press that Stepan was traded because Hayes is next in line so I would start being more open about Hayes and his game if I were you.

      • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

        Mint, you and I are not on the same page about Hayes. But I do agree, the coaching staff and management seems to be high on him, so he will be given every chance. They have given him plenty of leash despite is uneven performances his first three seasons.

        This is a crucial year for him to prove he can handle a 2C or 1C role. I’m not sold on him at all, but hey, you never know. But if he has another erratic season, he’s likely gone at year’s end, if not sooner.

      • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

        One additional point. You honestly believe Kreider is a “marked man” because of the Price incident from 3+ years ago? If so, that’s a bogus excuse for his inconsistent play. He’s a mature NHL player, and that was light years ago. If he’s still “tentative” because of that, then he’s a pretty mentally weak player who the Rangers should get rid of ASAP.

        I seriously doubt that is still the case.

    • Egelstein says:

      Hayes had 49 points last season with just 41.24% of his 5v5 starts in the offensive zone. Wanna know how many other centers played at least Hayes’s 76 games or more last season, and put up 49 points or more with that low or lower favorable 5v5 zone starts %?

      Ryan Kesler, Mikael Backlund, Mikko Koivu, Nazem Kadri, Mikael Granlund.

      The “Hayes is not good” narrative gets a bit old, and it is frankly laughable to me. I’m not necessarily saying he is as good as that whole group, or even any one of that group – just illustrating that he didn’t exactly wither and collapse in a role that skewed towards defensive usage (i.e. more like a “checking center”) last season, despite the hyperbole from some that would have you believe otherwise. Even Lindberg had a higher OZ start % at 44.48%. Hayes was an offensive center in a defensive role last season…of course his possession stats suffered a bit.

      AV really didn’t have much of a choice but to slot Hayes in at 3C last season given the roster situation either, though, despite the fact that how AV rolled his third line was not at all in a manner that speaks to Hayes’s skills. (Yes, I just defended AV’s deployment and/or usage…don’t get used to it, though. This was an exception to the rule: roster jam with Step and Zib obviously earning the top 2 spots. AV had a good reason for this one, unlike many of the situations in which he deploys players in roles not best suited to their skill set.) I do not believe Hayes is or ever was the Rangers’ “fallback” 2C plan for this season; I believe he is and was the Rangers’ 2C plan fully by choice all along in the event Stepan was traded for a non-C return.

      The statistical indicators are there for Hayes to flourish in a 2C role, frankly – he is already performing at a 1C rate for 5v5 goals per hour and 5v5 first assists per hour, actually. Go to the HERO charts and look it up, if you don’t believe me. He could work to generate shots more to round out his skill set a bit; that’s his biggest defensive weakness as a C – keeping it out of his own end with shot generation, compared to Cs who do that a bit better. He is now being given the chance. We shall see, but I for one think a healthy season from Hayes at 2C with more favorable starts in relation to his offensive-leaning skill set could change a lot of minds about him.

      Not that he should even have to change many minds at this point, frankly…but narratives, and all.

  4. Robert Skettini says:

    Nash Zibanejad Zuccarello
    Kreider Hayes Vesey
    Grabner Miller Buchnevich
    Deshernais Andersson Fast

    McDonagh Shattenkirk
    Skjei Smith
    Staal DeAngelo

    Lundqvist
    Pavelec

  5. Spozo says:

    Chris Kreider finally has his coming out party.

    This feels like Groundhog Day.

    • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

      Yep, it sure does have that feeling. Same song every year and he usually falls short of the lofty expectations we have for him. At this point, he probably is what he is–which is a good to very good player but not a great one.

      But then again, why not say it one more time just for good measure—

      “This is the year for Chris Kreider to become one of the elite players in the game”. Yeah, that’s the ticket. 🙂

      • Spozo says:

        The frustrating part of Kreider is that he teases us with flashes of elite play. The first 15 games of last season he was unreal. He was all over the ice, hitting everything that moved, and driving to the net. Then he fell back on old habits. What about the playoffs? He decided not to show up until the third period of the final game they played. He has the ability to be the best player on the ice but he is just so inconsistent.

        Yes he was a 28 goal scorer and that type of production doesn’t grow on trees. This team is better with him than without him and I still will cheer for the guy as one of my current favorite players. But as you said, at this point he likely is what he is. Which mind you is still a darn good player but we need to lay off this “waiting for his breakout season” stuff because it is probably very unrealistic

        I wish I were wrong but it has been the same song and dance for the last 5 years and I tend to assume the same thing will happen again until it doesn’t.

        • Mancunian Candidate says:

          Man, you guys sure have some odd problems with Chris Kreider. He’s a necessary part of this team, a true first line talent whose production has been fine throughout his career. He’s been a marked man since the Carey Price collision among refs and I think he holds himself back physically sometimes–which leads to looking like he’s coasting occasionally.

          But otherwise–his speed is an asset, he’s not the greatest stickhandler in the world but he continues to improve his goal totals year after year, his possession numbers are good, and his defense has improved tremendously since coming into the league. His improvement may be incremental but it’s there, and he’s been a decent playoff performer since he’s been here. If other people hype him up (with, admittedly, the same tired lines about breakout seasons) it’s no fault of Kreider’s. I’d like to see him shoot more on his breakaways, but I think 30 goals is a realistic number for an honest, hardworking player like Kreider.

          • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

            Why do we have an “odd problem” with Kreider? The question posed by Chris was whether or not this will be Kreider’s “breakout year”. Not to speak for Spozo, but we have simply said we’ve heard that stuff before. He has yet to prove over any length of time he is anything more than a good to very good player.

            In fact, I agree with your assessment, especially when you say, “He’s a necessary part of this team, a true first line talent whose production has been fine throughout his career.”

            All true. He is a fine player. But that’s the problem. Our best forwards are all mostly “fine players”. A team of fine players is, well, fine. But it won’t win you a championship. We need some greatness at some point. What was suggested by Chris is that, perhaps this year, we will finally see it.

            Maybe, but color me skeptical.

            • Mancunian Cand says:

              On the one hand you criticize Kreider for underperforming based on his athleticism and strength, and on the other I think you undervalue his positive impact on the Rangers. He goes hot & cold offensively, that’s his single biggest problem–but even when not producing points Kreider hits people, forechecks well, and keeps defenses honest with his speed. He’s intelligent and clearly cares about winning and losing. The fact of the matter is that the hype that surrounds him each year isn’t of his own making–its projected onto him by fans & writers alike–and I wonder if people should appreciate Kreider more for what he is, rather than knocking him for what he’s not.

              For me the whole issue is that he’s produced & steadily improved his production each year in the NHL so far. That’s a good track record of consistent production–ironically coming from a player who’s justifiably called inconsistent.

              • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

                I posted this above in the wrong place….

                One additional point. You honestly believe Kreider is a “marked man” because of the Price incident from 3+ years ago? If so, that’s a bogus excuse for his inconsistent play. He’s a mature NHL player, and that was light years ago. If he’s still “tentative” because of that, then he’s a pretty mentally weak player who the Rangers should get rid of ASAP.

                I seriously doubt that is still the case.

              • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

                And again, we are largely in agreement. He is a fine player, as you said. I’d say he’s even better than fine. My point simply is he isnt a great player. I see no evidence that he will ever “break out”.

                he is what he is, which is fine. But fine wont win a cup.

              • Mancunian Candidate says:

                Solid complementary players win Cups every year. Teams need a good sprinkling of talent throughout the roster, not just at the top end. Ed, you often beat the drum for elite talent being the ultimate difference-maker on championship teams–how do you view the LA Kings and their multiple Cups? To me they were a classic example of a well constructed team, with talent and physicality. They’ve won in the era of Kane/Toews/Keith and Malkin/Crosby/Letang as well.

              • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

                Yes they do, but usually when they have elite players to lead them.

                There are always exceptions, like lets say Boston and MAYBE LA. But in the early half of this decade, Kopitar and Doughty were elite IMO.

  6. Peter says:

    Kreider could produce a 30+ goal season if his play continues its upswing. Going to the net with speed or planting his body there and getting those stuff-ins, tip-ins and deflections will be key because his shooting accuracy is sometimes sloppy.

    All I can say is I am excited about the training camp. It should be very interesting!

  7. Reenavipul says:

    If the Rangers want Kreider to crack 30, they should have him play on the right: being on his off hand will open up the goalie on his many breakaways, allowing to him to convert instead of ringing it off the goal light.

  8. Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

    Chris-

    Welcome back! Your insights have been missed!

    I already gave my thoughts on Kreider. I just think he’s one of those classic “faux stars” that the Rangers have had for most of the past 35 years. A very good player for sure. Can he take that next step and become a true star? I sure hope you are right but I was expecting this to happen two seasons ago. He’s at a point where he likely is what he is. But I hope I am wrong.

    McDonagh…I agree. In theory anyway. This could be a return to Norris caliber play for him. The only thing I caution is that we have no idea whether he and Shattenkirk will actually have chemistry or not. If they do, then yes, he can contend for the Norris.

    Staal–At the end of the day, obviously, this is the beginning of the end for Staal as a Ranger. What is not clear is the timeline. I suspect that if he is healthy, Staal will likely play most of the season. It’s not clear if any of the younger options are ready for regular NHL duties. But it all depends on the progress of the kids, and how well Staal plays. If he’s competent, he likely will play.

    • mintgecko says:

      I always thought that Stepan was a safety net for Kreider. His lack of taking the next step has been hindered by his center in the last few years which probably helped Stepan see the boot. He may be what he is but if you give him a true 1c than he’s better off and with the potential and expectations of Zib then I think we might see that.

      • Spozo says:

        Fact: Zib has never produced as well as Stepan.
        Fact: At the same age throughout their careers Zib has never produced as well as Stepan.

        • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

          Spozo as usual providing the needed reality check. Stepan wasn’t a star but he was a quality player and at the moment, the Rangers are weaker without him.

    • Chris says:

      Thanks Eddie! Good to ‘be back’ haha

  9. Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

    Set your DVRs….Hank will be a guest on Live with Kelly and Ryan Tuesday morning! Check your local listings for time and channel number in your area. 🙂

  10. craig says:

    Kreider is an exceptional skater with a decent shot and physical play. He is not, nor ever will be, an elite player because he lacks skill and finesse with the puck. He will never be a Cam Neely power forward that was fast, physical and highly skilled. Kreider doesn’t have a combination of those three qualities. Most definitely a very good player to have on any team, but not a great player by any means. His speed and strength are his assets. Overall, there is a limited amount of superstar skill – set missing in him, and that is who he is. That type of super-skill, is something you are born with, a natural God- given ability like a Conner McDavid or Austin Matthews. Why he is inconsistent at times remains a mystery, but I wouldn’t want to trade him unless the return was great. Still a big physical player who can score around 30 goals is needed on a team.

    • Mancunian Candidate says:

      Cam Neely played a long time ago in a slower era, was an above average skater (before his knee injuries) and stickhandler, and scored goals off one-timers a lot….he’s a strange comparison for Kreider, their games are not similar at all. Not only that, but Neely was only an elite goal scorer for half of his career in the NHL. Neely’s career started very slowly in Vancouver, who thought little enough of him to ship him to Boston. Kreider is certainly faster than Neely; while not as bruising physically he’s no shrinking violet. I’d also argue that the 30 goal mark in today’s NHL is equivalent to 40 goals in Neely’s era.

      • craig says:

        Kreider is a better skater for sure, and true, Neely had his injury issues, but all around, whether the game has changed or not, I would take Neely in his prime ANY DAY in a heartbeat over Kreider! MUCH more consistent and aside from the speed skating, much higher skill level. Kreider is 26 years old, how many great scoring years has he had so far, One?Not to mentain, he has few assists every year. You are right, there is no comparison to Neely!

        • Mancunian Candidate says:

          Neely didn’t become truly elite until age 26. And I’m not saying he’s anything other than a great player. Nobody ever has said that Kreider is in the same tier of players as Neely, despite the fact that the difference in their production isn’t much through the first five seasons of each player’s careers. And like I said, 30 goals in our current era is equal to 40 in the 80s era….go back to the 94 NYR team, they had 2 defensemen in Leetch and Zubov who tallied 79 and 89 points respectively in that regular season! There were what–3 teams that had multiple 70-point scorers last year? It’s hard to score even 28 goals today.

          I’m so tired of the view that embodies “25 goals? In my day they scored 50!” Goalies’ save percentages have improved league-wide by 15-20 percentage points, teams play defensive systems that take away offensive flow and space, and shotblocking by forwards and defensemen has improved remarkably since the 1980s. Appreciate what Kreider can do, don’t get upset because the guy’s not Hall of Famer Cam Neely. After Neely’s first five years in the league, people would’ve laughed in your face if you predicted he’d score 50 goals a year and become a Hall of Fame player.

          • SalMerc says:

            Kreider can’t take days or weeks off if he is to become a a team leader, he just can’t become Stepan and go scoreless for 10-15 games in a row. This is his modis operandi all to often.

            This is where Stepan WON”T BE MISSED. Sure he played lots of minutes, but he WASTED lots of minutes, where someone might have actually contributed to the scoresheet.

            We all too often use the “he is still young” comment. We should no longer use that with Kreider. This is the year he should put up numbers or we the fans should realize he is just a middle 6 player and nothing more.

            • Mancunian Candidate says:

              I think you’re off-base with your view here. Kreider led the team in goals last year and has been either ice cold or on fire offensively throughout his career. It’s a shame you can’t appreciate what Kreider brings to this team, and instead bash him for what he is not.

              At his young age his teams have beaten Crosby/Malkin and Ovechkin multiple times in the playoffs. He’s also been part of a Cup Final team. I’ll take the slow steady progression that Kreider has shown us all anyday. And I think you’re massively wrong on Stepan too, but it doesn’t matter–he’s not a Ranger anymore.

              • SalMerc says:

                All I am saying is that he is not an elite player, he is a very good player. For him to take the next step, he needs to bring that grit and determination every game. He has not shown that ability so far in his career.

                That isn’t showing non-appreciation, that is just factual.

              • Mancunian Candidate says:

                Never said Kreider was elite. I’ve maintained throughout this discussion that he is a worthy top 6 player who if healthy has a great chance to score 30 goals this year. Why this concept of being “elite” is so important, I’ll never know–if elite talent was the only single difference between Cup teams and also rans, then even a 3-time winner like Crosby has to be considered as an underachiever. Crosby been the best player in the NHL over the last 10 years, but has managed to lose 7 times in the playoffs during that time. Was he not elite enough in all those other seasons where the Pens didn’t win the Cup with him? Enough with the semantics, Kreider is a good player who led his team in goals last year. I’d gladly accept the same result from him this year, everyone else can worry about levels of elitism.

              • Rangers Rock says:

                I like how you think Mr Candidate! I am sure you will be a thorn in E3’s side.

  11. Bloomer says:

    Another day another article that slams Dan Girardi.

    Shattenkirk and Del Angelo have the puck skills to bolster the Rangers PP. However, neither one are an upgrade when the Rangers are on defence.

    With the lost of Stepan, Klein and Girardi, I predict the opposition will make mincemeat of the Rangers defence. This doesn’t bode well for an aging goalie who is trying to bounce back from a mediocre season performance.

    • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

      Bloomer-

      On the Stepan and Girardi argument, I tend to agree with you more often than not. I think a lot of fans are going to be surprised how much we miss Stepan. And, isn’t it interesting that Yzerman, widely considered one of the smartest GMs in the league, doled out serious dollars and terms for a guy that supposedly isn’t even an NHL caliber player anymore. (And all the other supposed better options we had are either AHL bound or likely 7D types). I predict Dan will play well in TB.

      That being said, you are forgetting that one way to defend is to possess the puck. Even I, a Girardi supporter, realizes that Shattenkirk is a HUGE upgrade over our guy Dan. It was time to move on and I think we will be better defensively for sure.

      As for Klein, he was absolutely done. And even he knew it.

      I think Hank will have a bounce back season. He was sensational at times last year, especially vs Montreal. He was entitled to an off year. Our top 4 on defense should be terrific and that will help.

      • Reenavipul says:

        It’s good to see absolutely nothing has changed with your view of the hockey universe.

        • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

          Wouldn’t want to disappoint you. Someone has to keep you honest. 🙂

      • Bloomer says:

        Eddie I am a true blue Ranger fan and every season I hope they go all the way. Right now Henk needs some experience and stability playing in front of him. Av is a run and gun style coach. I followed the Canucks when Alain was here and seen this movie before. I know how it will play out. Once Lundqvist like Lou, can no longer be superhuman his system breaks down.

        If fans think Henk was hung out to dry last season…they ain’t seen nothing yet. The fast break quick transition is fine in the QMJHL but NHL coaches will pick it apart. We saw this in the playoffs when Ottawa trapped the Rangers to death.

        • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

          McDonagh/Shattenkirk/Smith/Staal all have plenty of experience. Holden too. Skjei was impressive in his rookie year. I dont think the defense is going to regress. I am very concerned about our center depth though, and I think we may see some regression with our scoring.

        • Mancunian Candidate says:

          Funny how having awful defensemen like Girardi/Staal/Holden/Klein prevented the Rangers from actually having a transition game from defense to offense last year. None of the 4 guys mentioned above were any good at making a consistent clearing pass for NYR to leave the zone. In order to beatthe trap you’ve gotta possess the puck and make smart decisions with it. That level of competence was beyond Girardi, Staal, and Holden.

          But really, I forgot that it’s all Hank’s fault because he doesn’t handle the puck well.

      • Egelstein says:

        It is indeed interesting that Yzerman signed Girardi…interesting because it makes little sense at face value, with one exception: as bad as Girardi has been on the ice the last 2-3 seasons, nobody has ever questioned his positive impact in the locker room and on team culture in general. GMs do still pay for that, regardless of the debate over how much it is truly worth.

        For a TB team who went to the finals in 2015 and didn’t even make the playoffs in 2017, that’s a pretty steep performance decline. If Yzerman suspects it to be in large part due to lack of leadership and/or preparation, then it makes sense he would see Girardi as one of the best – if not the best – free agent options he had, in those leadership departments.

        One thing we do know for sure is that Yzerman didn’t like the concept of giving up anything other than money for Girardi. He could have easily traded for him and perhaps (likely?) even for the full allowed 50% salary retained by the Rangers for the duration of the contract. It was no large secret that the Rangers and Girardi would be parting ways eventually somehow, though, so why give up valuable players/prospects/picks and take a contract of that length – even if for less AAV than what he ended up paying – for a player who has very clearly deteriorated very quickly?

        Not to mention, I’ll be shocked if TB has Girardi on their top pair for big minutes. I’ll bet usage is going to be a lot different. If Girardi is sheltered and given less minutes, I’d say he probably will look better. If he’s on the top pair again, I think he’s going to look as god-awful as he did the last two-to-three seasons in NY.

    • Egelstein says:

      Dan Girardi has basically the ugliest current HERO chart of any defender in the NHL, and certainly without argument the ugliest of any first pair defender for the current/latest period that the HERO charts cover (15-17). He was mentioned in this article only in relation to McD’s potential performance, and it is more than fair to take Griardi’s role as McD’s longtime partner into consideration, in that light. There is a shot suppression metric on that HERO chart, and Dan Girardi literally has a 0 out of 10.

      ZERO.

      Do you understand how ridiculously appalling that is over as many hockey games as Girardi played in that window? Deangelo’s sample is too small to take seriously at this point, but even he at least registers on that scale. Shattenkirk is actually damn close to elite, ranking 8 out of 10 on that same scale. Anton Stralman, who pretty much anyone would say is one of the best shot suppressors in the game over that range registers a 9, Hampus Lindholm an 8, and Josh Manson (who appeared in many Rangers fan dream trade scenarios of late) a startling 10…in case you feel like questioning that scale. It doesn’t lie.

      Again, Dan Girardi does not even register on that scale. That is preposterously bad defense.

  12. Barry Pratley says:

    Having frequently almost died during the Rangers 1958-66 seasons, my prediction for 2017/18 is that I’ll be amongst the happiest of Rangers fans on the planet. This is truly an exciting team and, if Alain Vigneault could be traded for a #1 Draft pick, certainly in the running for a Stanley Cup. I wouldn’t be surprised if they actually win the Cup four years in a row (or surprised if they didn’t); what won’t be a surprise is that we are going to experience some great Rangers hockey. I sincerely believe this to be, if not the best Rangers team ever, the most interesting/fascinating. Sort of like the 1960 Yankees.

    • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

      The 1960 Yankees lost the World Series in 7. Just sayin…. 🙂

      Best Rangers team EVER? Without a single star or elite player at the moment at wing or center? Better than the ’94 team and the early 70’s that were loaded with elite talent? To quote a line from Get Smart, “I find that difficult to believe Mr. Smart….”

      Interesting, fascinating, unpredictable, fun to watch? Yep, that I suspect will be the case.

      We can be a dark horse to win the East if everything breaks just right. Or we can regress and barely make the playoffs like we did for most of the Torts era. I can see it going either extreme or somewhere in the middle.

    • Bloomer says:

      I don’t follow baseball Barry, only hockey. But trading AV for a first round pick…I would take that trade in a heartbeat.

  13. Richter1994 says:

    Predictions:

    Rangers will make the playoffs.

    McD, already a top 15 D man will become a top 10 D man next to Shatty.

    The Skjei-Smith 2nd pair will be one of the best in the NHL.

    The King will be criticized for letting in a goal (because of his cap hit), no matter how impossible it was to stop it and be blamed for every Ranger loss, even if he didn’t play in that particular game.

    Kreider obviously does not buy into his own hype and takes games off regularly, keeping from being a consistent 30 goal scorer. It’s not as bad when he does it during the regular season but when he does it in the playoffs, then it’s a big issue. Deciding to wait and play the last playoff game as if his life depended on it doesn’t cut it as a “key player.” He should have ripped the Rangers’ playoff opponents to shreds with his speed and size. He did not.

    • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

      Agree with every word, Richter. Your last paragraph is brilliant and underscores the issue with Kreider. Play like that more consistently, and we have ourselves an elite player. Until or unless that ever happens, he’s just another in a long line of good to very good players who we annually overrate.

      • Richter1994 says:

        Hey bro, hope you’re continuing to feel well.

        With his size and speed, there should not be many players in the NHL able to stop him from doing whatever he wants. My fear is that last year is his best. It shouldn’t be.

  14. SalMerc says:

    Rangers still need a superstar. So far no one on this roster can have that title. Until someone does, the sum of the parts does not win the Cup.

    Kreider , McD, Zib can all earn that title. Until they do, we are just another good team.

    • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

      Exactly right Sal. I’d maybe put Miller in there as well, simply because he is still young and with plenty of upside. Maybe Buch, too. Will either ever become truly elite players? To win a Cup, SOMEONE needs tro take that step.

      • SalMerc says:

        I think we have enough talented guys who have the ability to step up and have that great year, but to date, a 25 goal year just does not cut it.

        Even Montreal found out that if your goalie is your superstar, that isn’t enough. You need a scoring stud. We have many very good complementary players that can come in waves, but who really scares the competition? Is our PP lethal? Can any Ranger go end-to-end and the result be a point? Yes, only few in the league can make this happen, but someone in blue needs that type of year. I am thinking sometime around December a line combo is going to emerge that will be that lethal line. For some reason I am thinking Nash (contract year Nash) is on that line. Maybe they pair him with a kid, maybe with some speed, but his work ethic and desire for a $5M payday makes him show the world that he still has got the touch.