Sep
14

As Camp begins, Center still area of concern for Rangers

September 14, 2017, by

Desjardins, another underwhelming addition by Jeff Gorton

Bobby Farnham and Andrew Desjardins. Read those names back to yourself. Neither of the Rangers recent PTO signings generate excitement, do they?

It’s hard to be anything but underwhelmed at the Rangers attempts to address the center position toward the end of this offseason. Hoping a prospect (such as Andersson or Nieves) wins a spot is fine – after all the team needs to continue with its transition period. Inviting PTO’s to compete for spots and potentially earn a depth spot is also the right thing to do.

However, the Rangers choices are both confusing and disappointing given the calibre of depth free agent candidates that could have been had this offseason. Let’s consider just a handful of names below.

Most players that are currently unsigned, are free agents for a reason; they have warts to their games, flaws in their skill sets or past their prime. Players such as winger Jack Skille are headed to the KHL because maybe they cannot get NHL interest.  Jaromir Jagr is probably still too pricy for some, and too slow for others. However I cannot help feeling the Rangers have failed to bring in viable alternatives to compete at camp.

As speculated on the Blog recently, could Detroit’s Athanasiou not be had for a reasonable cost given the Red Wings’ cap constraints? Could the Rangers not ask Columbus what Josh Anderson would cost? Would he really be such an extreme cost?

If the team wanted to retain assets and stick with the free agency route, would the familiar John Mitchell (now on a PTO in Chicago) not be a better PTO option than Farnham? Mitchell knows the organisation and could surely be a short-term solution at worst. Wouldn’t potential third/fourth line depth options such as Teddy Purcell, Jiri Hudler and even Chris Kelly represent even slightly more upside than Farnham or Desjardins?

It’s hard not to be disappointed by the Rangers “attempts” to rectify their center depth. Of course, wingers such as Purcell aren’t ideal – the Rangers want a center after all, even if Purcell’s skill level is appealing as a PTO.

Jiri Hudler’s game may not suit the Rangers style and a guy such as Kelly (now 36 and on a PTO in Edmonton) is certainly not the defensive role player he once was. But I keep coming back to the same original point: wouldn’t all of these once established NHL’ers be better camp invites, alternatives and potential depth additions than those so far invited by Jeff Gorton?

Gorton has had a solid offseason. Thanks to some savvy moves, the defense looks better equipped for both now and the future while the Rangers helped address their long term future (and their cap situation) with the Stepan to Arizona deal. However Gorton’s handling of the center spot deserves scrutiny. It’s almost reckless to go into a new season, one in which the Rangers expect to be a playoff team, and have such little center ice depth.

Of course, we all hope a prospect earns a job at center during camp and makes Jeff Gorton look like he knows better than all of us. However as of right now, Rangers fans have the right to be confused, frustrated and slightly concerned as the season approaches.

 

"As Camp begins, Center still area of concern for Rangers", 4 out of 5 based on 11 ratings.
Categories : Preseason

71 comments

  1. Turk617 says:

    Camp just started….lots of spots will work itself out by opening night….let’s just wait before we start bashing our GM….Although I do agree there are better options out there…maybe Gorton is still working the trade lines….

    • Richter1994 says:

      It’s very simple, which team is better, based on perception:

      2016-17 Rangers

      or

      2017-18 Rangers

      Obviously we don’t know yet but I pick the latter.

    • Lace says:

      It may be just a pipe dream and please bare with me here. I’m not trying to throw crazy trades out there. However, I think it’s hard to think that Matt Duchesne would not help the Rangers center depth. I’m sure Gorton would have to pony up quite a bit of assets and a NHL forward but having Duchene bumps our current center depth down one spot. He’s a stud #1 center, great face off man, and skates like the wind. Sure he makes a ship load of money but if it could be done, Nash comes off the books after this season. That’s a wash and Duchene makes a little bit less for 2 more seasons. Would Give Andersson some time to grow before he hopefully assumes a permanent top 6 spot.

  2. SalMerc says:

    Maybe he didn’t want those centers because they would be too competitive to Anderson. Ever think that Gorton does have a plan and it is to have soft competition at center so he has to either move JT there or allow Anderson to make the team?

    I am more concerned at the PK without Fast and Stepan than the offense without a #3C.

    • Mintgecko says:

      So much crap has to happenbefor JT can move back to center. Remember AV isn’t a fan of that and has already expressed that through the press and JG had already announced that he thinks that both Hayes and JT are top 6 meaning he probably also agrees with the coach.

      The pk has some very good options to pick to go with. Fast is out until November at best and is still imo a bit overrated in that department. Grabner/Hayes, JT/Nash, Mika/Andersson, there’s enough combo’s to find a decent mix with that group alone. Hayes has already proved that he can handle the pk. It was a dump in 16 and he revived it back by leading it to 7th place at one point in 17. He also set new records by beating out names like Mess and Leetch and was one of the leagues most dangerous shorthanded specialist last season.

  3. Peter says:

    Dave, I just do not share the opinion that the Rangers should be desperately looking for help at center.

    I believe that they believe that they have the real deal for a 3C in Andersson. Add in DeSharnais and Boo Nieves, and they have center covered even if JT remains a winger.

    Is it gambling a bit to thrust an 18 year-old into a regular role? Sure, but they apparently believe that Andersson is too mature and skilled to flop. From what I have seen if him I’d have to agree.

    So, I don’t agree with the premise Dave. I think they are going to be fine at center.

    • Peter says:

      Doh! Chris, not Dave.
      Writing before I have finished my coffee in the morning is doing so whi,e impaired! 😀

    • Mancunian Candidate says:

      Just a heads-up, Chris wrote this article. But I agree with your point, I think the answers for center this year should come from within the Rangers organization. Definitely will not be setting any production records with Andersson and Desharnais, but they should be good enough to get the job done. And Nieves isn’t getting any younger, they should either find out what he can do or move him elsewhere at this point. 3 candidates for 2 spots isn’t the worst position to be in, despite the unproven aspect to Andersson & Nieves, and Desharnais’ injury-related decline over the past 2 seasons.

      • Mintgecko says:

        I wouldn’t put so much stock into Andersson being the 3c. I have a feeling that the plan was to always get DD in between Vesey and Buch for a line that can attack on offense. Then you have Fast gone until November which lead to hope for someone like Boo to make the team as a 4th liner. Andersson would also make it and those two could fight it out for a full time role as the 4c so they could still play once Fast returns. I’m assuming Andrew Desjardins puts the pressure all over Boo to get the gig and the real competition will be truly about battling out to play on the 4th line hence why JG never went after a true 3c. Articles like this and the people who do the Bluelinestation are oblivious to what’s really happening here so they plant seeds of doubts in their story.

        • Mancunian Candidate says:

          I don’t think this writer or this site are oblivious at all. In fact this place rates as a reliable source of NYR info, and the writers in general are way better here than on any other NYR blog. The blueshirt banter writing crew is semiliterate and prone to hysteria, and I’m not a fan of the other blog you mentioned at all.

          And based on what you write here, I’d bet my life savings that the writers of Blue Seat Blogs have a better handle on what this NYR team will look like on opening night than you do.

          • Mintgecko says:

            Lol this is a very small corner of the web so relax on the reliable source build up, I’m not in the game. They obviously don’t have a handle if they’re still expecting to sign Jagar (log jam). You would think that this site is Bluelinestation older brother. I could have told you that Stepan would have been traded, promote Hayes and Zib, sign Shatty to play on the top pair and extend Skjei. Ps BSB is a alright place to get info, it’s funny because people over there act like it’s the spot to be.

        • Chris A says:

          Maybe the plan is that if Andersson shows he’s ready for a regular 3C role then DD gets shipped to Hartford and Desjardins, slots in at 4C?

          DD never felt like a 4C on this team. The way the Rangers are constructed the 4C really needs to be a faceoff/PK/defensive specialist

    • SalMerc says:

      Sheesh, we didn’t lose Crosby at center, we lost the Stepan. He wasn’t Mr. Clutch and he wasn’t a wild point producer. He did have value on the PK and did put up 50 points, but I truly believe that if you stick Anderson with Nash and Kreider, he will also amass 50 points.

      • Mintgecko says:

        I agree and even his pk ability is overrated, his mistakes were just overlook by Hank, Mcd and Girardi’s blocking shot methods. I feel Hayes could easil be that 50-55 point producer next to names like that so luckily i’ll get to see him in that role first. Andersson has a long road before he can even think about being top 6 center. He better hope that he impress enough like Hayes did and that in a few years from here that he has production that will show the club that he’s serious. Hayes has basically put up Kreider’s overall number’s without any top 6 or PP time so to assume that this kid can do that within the next 3 years is a stretch. Andersson should be a good shutdown bottom 6 role player.

      • Mancunian Candidate says:

        19-year old rookie centers generally don’t put up 50+ points in a season now, unless their names are Crosby, Malkin, McDavid, Seguin, or Matthews. If realistic expectations are put forth for Andersson it’ll make life easier–I’d be happy to see 30-35 points for him this year.

        • SalMerc says:

          I agree, just making the point that while many think the loss of Stepan creates a huge hole at center, I am not in agreement with that logic.

          • Mancunian Candidate says:

            I liked Step & think he’ll be missed. But I like the Rangers’ current center situation more than some do here. The key for this team is Hayes, I think–he’s a good player whose size makes him a difficult matchup for some teams. A little passive, but another guy whose defensive improvement has been steady since his rookie year.

            The big problem is that there are a lot of good centers in the Rangers division. At the moment they look slightly overmatched against Pittsburgh or Washington, Philly should have 3 good centers this year too. But I think Zibby & Hayes can produce like Step & Brassard did in the past if they stay healthy. To me Zib is the equal of Stepan defensively, and could definitely score more goals.

            • Egelstein says:

              I know it’s just a video game…but just sayin’… NHL ’18 ranks Mika’s potential as elite, and Hayes’s as top 6. The people who work for EA Sports who do those types of rankings are not idiots who just make crap up. They know hockey, and want the game to reflect reality as closely as possible.

              For those who cringe to even use a video game to discuss real-life hockey, fine. Look at the HERO charts. No, Mika doesn’t profile as a first line center there, yet…but his chart isn’t crap, either. His injury and lingering effects last season certainly hurt his chart a bit too, no doubt. Hayes actually (haters, prepare yourselves) grades out as first line performance in scoring, and first assist rates. Already. He does need to generate more shots, and be more aggressive in shot suppression. This season, he should see much more offensive zone starts than last season (when he was kinda used as a “checking center” with significantly more defensive zone starts), which should help his scoring numbers to be even better.

              Some folks act like Hayes is hot garbage and Mika is just ever going to be okay, as if these things are fact. That may turn out to be the case, sure…but my point is, even folks who have no interest in the Rangers and hold no bias would say that there is every chance in the world that these two can handle their roles next season just fine.

              As for the hand-wringing over who is 3rd/4th line C…look, I’m not a huge Desharnais fan myself; he wouldn’t have been my first choice of who was still around in the few-days’ span of when he was signed. Desjardins doesn’t do much for me, either. Yes, Andersson is young and maybe not quite as ready as we like. Boo has injury history and has yet to take that next step that we all wanted to see him take last year. These things are all true.

              However…not too many teams who make it far in the playoffs would tell you that their third or fourth line centers were a big key to that. All sorts of teams have gone deep in the playoffs with some lackluster bottom 6 centers.

              Would I have liked to see them get more concrete options at 3C and 4C? Sure. Of course. However, I’m not one of those “the sky is falling” fans this offseason based on the C situation. It isn’t perfect. It also is far from the worst in the league. They’ll be a playoff team. Maybe they will make a deep run. Maybe they won’t. I do think they will comfortably make the playoffs, however, and with some luck and some hot streaks, you just never know. Ottawa almost beat PIT in the ECFs. If it had not been for the brilliance of Alain Vigneault, it might have been the Rangers who almost beat -or, gasp, beat – the Pens in the ECFs. They aren’t the no-doubt world-beating Pens of two years ago, and they arguably got worse this offseason from last season’s roster.

              In any case…I’m glad to see others aren’t jumping off the ledge over the C situation, haha! I was beginning to wonder if maybe I was the only one, until recently…

              • Richter1994 says:

                Zib will do what Stepan couldn’t: Break 60 pts.

                Stepan may be a “better” NHL player right now but Zib has a much better skillset and this year he could take a big step forward.

                People forget that Zib was on a 57ish pt pace before he got hurt.

      • Rich S says:

        Spot on SaIMerc! I couldn’t have said it any better!
        Head to head Zib, Hayes, Jt Miller would all outplay stepan!
        I have watched him from day 1 and except for a short period of time after Dubi was traded ………., Stepan was a bum! He will be EASILY replaced!

  4. Mancunian Candidate says:

    If it’s down to Teddy Purcell & Chris Kelly, the Rangers are best served staying away from those guys. Purcell’s game has bottomed out in the last couple of years, and Chris Kelly has been a shadow of himself for 2-3 seasons. Farnham certainly sucks (and is a cheapshot artist to boot) but at this point you’d have to call him the equal of these guys in terms of production. I think Gorton is rolling the dice and figuring he can parlay his D surplus into a serviceable center if Lias Andersson can’t get it done.

  5. supermaz says:

    I still say a blockbuster trade for McKinnon is the way to go. I think a deal centered around McDonagh should land the young center. With our depth on the blue line, I think it’s time to move on from McDonagh. He’s overrated and I like the young Russian defenseman, Pionk and the rest can pick up the slack, with Skjei progressing of course.

  6. Bryan says:

    So we bitch and moan when AV doesn’t give kids a chance and then we bitch and moan when Gorton doesn’t sign players who wouldn’t allow kids to get a chance? There’s a reason Gorton didn’t sign those players along with EVERY other team and to presume you know better or why they didn’t sign them isn’t only ludicrous it’s also hypocritical. Camp is a long and winding road that always has a way of working itself out. Let’s let the process happen before we start playing Monday morning quarterback!

  7. howiehockey says:

    Has anyone heard anything further about the Russian player who was suspended for 2 years by the KHL. I believe he was given an OK to play here by the NHL.
    Cannot remember his name…allegedly several teams including the Rangers were interested in signing him.

  8. sherrane says:

    I’m glad training camp is opening so we can begin to talk about hockey. I realize you guys need something to write about in the offseason, so don’t take this as me being disrespectful. I wrote for a football site about 20 years ago and the offseason SUCKS because you only have about a week’s worth of information to write about.

    Do we REALLY have a problem at center? The Rangers problem at center is the same one we’ve had for quite some time, the fact that we don’t really have a #1. Brassard, Stepan, and now Zibanejad are not really #1 centers in my opinion, but are outstanding #2s. There was NOBODY who the team could have signed that would have given us the “Eureka! Championship!” moment. Sure, Gordon could inquire about Athanasiou. Maybe he has and decided against it. Who can the Rangers trade for a good center who won’t create an issue somewhere else?

    The Rangers ARE a playoff team. That means they have the luxury of trying kids like Andersson for the first few months. If he’s still struggling by the time Fast comes back, the Rangers can then try to make a deal for a center without creating a bigger problem at wing or the blue line and send Andersson to Hartford to become the NHL player we hope he can be.

    I agree that Gordon has had a very good offseason. This is the second consecutive very good offseason. At some point I think we need to sit back and give him a greater benefit of the doubt. Every team in the NHL has question marks at this point in the year. Ours is the #3C, backup G, and whether the blue line is fixed with the RIGHT guys (since it seems we have enough ability for a big upgrade from last year).

    • Ray says:

      The Rangers are not clearly a playoff team. Last year, they finished only 8 points ahead of TB and the Islanders, both of whom sat the postseason out. If one looks at goalie W-L percentages, Raanta got three more points than Hank would have in the same number of games. If you figure your backup for 3 points less than the starter instead of 3 points more (more reasonable), that eight shrinks to two. No margin for error.

      The Rangers have Shattenkirk and a full season of Smith, and MAYBE Andersson and DeAngelo will shine. But they will miss Stepan, Girardi, Lindberg, Raanta. The ages of key players Lundqvist and Nash can’t be ignored and there is not a great margin for error.

      I don’t expect the Rangers to make the playoffs this year, though I am sure I am in the minority and will not be all that surprised if I am wrong. However, I disagree with the Rangers ARE a playoff team, as if it is an unquestionable fact.

      • sherrane says:

        They were a playoff team with Lundqvist having a fairly bad year. Will he be better this season? If not, you’re probably right they are not.

        Columbus was an average team who went on a historic streak. Take the 16-game winning streak away and they were 34-24-8 in the other 66 games. Apply that 66 game pace for the 16 game winning streak and they have 94 points… which makes them fighting with the Islanders for the #8 spot.

        I don’t think they’ll miss Girardi on the ice, but may off the ice. In has last two or three seasons he had become a very limited player. I think he was one of the better players when defending a 5-on-3. He played in 95 playoff games since 2010 – 2011. The Rangers played a league high 98 playoff games since then followed by Pittsburgh with 95, so there are few, if any, players who played more playoff hockey this decade than Girardi has.

        Skjei will be better this season. He made some big strides last season.

        The Rangers are better than Columbus, Islanders, Flyers, Carolina, and the Devils. They will finish no worse than 3rd in the Metro unless someone else has a historic streak.

    • Ray says:

      Sorry, I really should have noted that I liked your comment and agree with most of it.

      I do however think that the Ranger forward corps has an imbalance of too many question marks and too few options. Guys like Puempel should only make the lineup by beating other credible candidates out.

  9. InvalidBeard says:

    Damn Duchene won 62% of FOs last year. Looks like he led the league.

  10. colt13 says:

    Purcell is underrated. He might end up with a team like the Hurricanes where he can get more ice time.

    Probably 4 rookies make this team, and Buchnevich makes the 3rd line.

  11. Peter says:

    I am possibly overly optimistic, but I am pulling for both Andersson and DeAngelo to win regular spots and to infuse the lineup with speed and energy. I am looking for Zibanejad and Hayes to step up and exceed 50 pts. each by wide margins. Looking for Vesey and Buchnevich to improve and Skjei to be even better too. I am hoping that McDonough and Shatty become a dynamic duo on defense. I look for Grabner to burn opponents again this year and get 20+ goals again. It would be great if Rick Nash can stay healthy and score 30+ goals again. Finally, I am rooting for Hank to stay healthy too and steal some games, and Benny to do another magic trick with his backup.

    Is this all possible? Of course! But who knows. Andersson could end up in Hartford, DeAngelo could be doing the Clendo in the press box while Staal and Holden play a lot. Mika and Hayes could still need to work on their game, and Nash and Grabner could fail to break 20 goals. Hank could get injured and they give up more goals than the Avalanche. But, I don’t think so! 😊

    • Ray says:

      I don’t see DeAngelo in the pressbox. If AV likes what he sees (which I doubt), he will win a starting job. If AV thinks he is too irresponsible in his own end, he gets sent down to Hartford for twenty games to learn to play defense. If he puts his game together, he returns to NY and the Rangers see what they can get for Holden. If not, JG tries to figure out what he can get for DeAngelo.

      • Reenavipul says:

        If AV treat DeAngelo that way, Gorton will be lucky to get a box of pucks for him.

        *If* AV treats DeAngelo that way, this is why AV shouldn’t be the coach of this team. In a salary cap environment, the coach & GM need to work hand in glove to maximize value of the roster, not destroying it as AV has.

        • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

          The biggest crock of nonsense I’ve read in awhile–and when it comes to AV you’ve had some real doozies.

          First of all, if Gorton didn’t believe he and the coach were on the same page, he never would have signed him to a mega raise and extension.

          Second of all, how has the roster not been “maximized”. How has AV, in your view “mistreated” young players? Who exactly? Emerson Etem? Dylan McIlrath? Adam Clendening? These guys have never proven their worth in any organization and quite possibly never will.

          AV has coached the Rangers for four seasons. Name me one young player that was “mistreated” that left the team to go on and shine elsewhere? You can’t because there aren’t any. It is a bogus myth made up by you and others to support a flawed premise.

          While developing young talent is important, a head coach’s job in the NHL is to win games and make the playoffs. With a roster largely devoid of talent, the coach keeps doing that. He’s logged three straight 100+ point seasons, extremely rare in the post-lockout salary cap era. And he’s won more playoff series as Rangers coach than any other not named Lester Patrick.

          Is he perfect? No. Hase he made mistakes? Sure. So has MIke Sullivan and Coach Q. The difference is those guys have future HOFers to bail their team out when mistakes happen. Other than Hank, AV has no such luxury.

          • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

            Sorry, I meant to say “largely devoid of ELITE talent”. This team has talent. Just not much in the way of A list talent.

            And in my attempts to reply to myself, I gave myself a thumbs up. Accidental, I assure you. 🙂

    • mintgecko says:

      Hayes should be good for 50-60 in a top 6 spot for now on. Remember when he’s in a 3c defensive role and he’s knocking on the door of 50 points. Mika’s game will help Kreider to breakout to be a 50-60 point producer. I want to say that even in a down year shooting wise that Zib should average 55-65 points.

      • Peter says:

        I too think both Zibanejad and Hayes are ready to bust out and put up serious numbers.

    • Rich S says:

      I like your thinking..Peter….its out of the box…..but logical…….teams win–see penguins, hawks with forwards…..not defensemen……even when letang went down, penguins did not miss a beat!

      • Mancunian Candidate says:

        You’re right! Why even have defensemen? It’s not like players like Erik Karlsson, Drew Doughty, Ryan McDonagh, PK Subban, Duncan Keith or even Zdeno Chara impact games and seasons for teams. I’d replace goalies with plywood cutouts too, goalies are not nearly as necessary as forwards.

        • Rich S says:

          Cut out plywood goalies…..Great line!!!!
          But explain why a top 5 defenseman like Letang can miss the entire playoffs and the penguins never missed him?
          Or the penguins who seem to win with any goalie even rookies….or the Hawks goalie….whats his name?
          Give me a great forward over a defenseman or goalie any day of the week!!!!

          • Mancunian Candidate says:

            Pens are unique–Crosby/Malkin are 2 of the 5 best offensive players in the world, and they can afford a mediocre defense, or to miss Letang when he’s hurt. Normally, teams win Cups anchored by defenders like Drew Doughty, Duncan Keith, or Zdeno Chara….look at Seguin/Benn in Dallas, arguably as good offensively as the Crybaby Brothers in Pittsburgh, yet they haven’t been a serious threat to win because their D/goalie situation has been below league average.

            Even in the past, guys like Nik Lidstrom and Scott Niedermayer helped their teams win multiple Cups because they were so damn good at what they did. Defensemen are the unsung heroes of every Cup team.

          • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

            That’s just it, Rich, You’ve answered your own question, The Pens can do it because they have Crosby, Malkin and Kessel, three of the best forwards in hockey. They are loaded with legit stars. We have faux stars and wanna be stars at the moment. Until that changes, it’s going to be very difficult for this team to legitimately compete for the Cup.

            • Mancunian Candidate says:

              For all the so-called “faux stars” and “wanna-be stars” the Rangers have had a damn fine record against Crosby & Malkin in the playoffs. And the Wonder Twerps in Pittsburgh haven’t accomplished what Gretzky & Messier did in Edmonton either, according to your superstar talent theory then one could argue that the Pens have actually underachieved during the Twerp Era. They’ve had the two best centers in the NHL for a decade plus and have only won 3 times.

              • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

                You are forgetting that many of those years, Crosby was concussed and or Malkin had significant injuries. It was in those years the Rangers had their deep runs in 2012, 2014 and 2015.

                With very few exceptions, in all sports, star power wins championships. Not saying it’s impossible to do it the way the Rangers are forced to, but everything has to go perfectly for them and badly for their key competitors. And Hank has to stand on his head. That’s reality.

              • Mancunian Candidate says:

                Again, the Rangers have beaten the Pens in the playoffs in the Crosby-Malkin era three times. Health is a part of any team’s success. Victories don’t come off the board because Crosby & Malkin were banged up. Rangers also have beaten them when they’ve both been in a playoff lineup.

              • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

                That’s true, but again, you are not looking at the reality of this. No one is saying that a team with great future HOF players can’t be beat in a best of 7. Especially in hockey. It happens often. The Preds upset a far more talented Hawks team. The point though is that it requires an upset to pull it off. The team doing it, such as was the case with the 2014 Rangers when they beat the Pens, beat a BETTER team. If that series were replayed 10 times, probably the Pens win it 7 or 8 of those times. That’s what makes sports great…the possibility that a less talented squad can pull off an unexpected series win.

                And what happened after that series? Dan Bylsma, a Stanley Cup winning coach, was promptly shown the door. That loss was totally unacceptable to Pens management because they were no doubt, on paper anyway, the better team.

                Again, look at every sport. The teams that usually win it all are the ones that have elite level players. Not always, and it doesnt have to be the team with the most elite talent. But very few teams win a Cup with only (likely) one future HOF player.

                The Rangers have no wings in the top 20 in the league. No centers in the top 20. Our guys are all in that next teir down, at least at the moment. Very, very hard to win it all doing it the way the Rangers are attempting to.

  12. howiehockey says:

    All this talk about having a center problem..has everyone hforgotten Michael Grabner… he is not exactly chopped liver!!!
    A line with Zuccarello, Grabner and Fast, when he returns to play could be very very formidable.

  13. Richter1994 says:

    2 months ago:

    AV: Miller is not playing center.
    Gorton: Miller’s natural and original position is center.

    Today:

    AV: Tells Miller he’s starting the season at center.

    A month ago:

    AV: I trust Marc Staal.

    Today:

    AV: Staal is in a fight to make the team.

    I guess we know who’s in charge huh? Like I said, Gorton is the new sheriff in Rangertown.

    • gene4240 says:

      Tony,

      Crazy right today in regard to AV’s comments. I rather have Miller at wing but they might have to have Miller at Center until they can acquire someone.

      hopefully Sakic stops asking from everything from a first round pick to your first born child for Matt Duchene who looked miserable in his head shot for the 2017 team photo today btw.

      Staal…wow interesting to see how this unfolds.

      • Richter1994 says:

        Hey pal.

        To be honest, I want no part of Duchene. The trade cost and the cap hit would be a disaster for the Rangers.

        The real “offseason hurt” was losing Lindberg. I do not know the circumstances but I hope Gorton at least tried to trade with LV to try and keep him. Would anyone complain with a line up of centers of Zib, Hayes, Lindberg, and DD? At least not nearly as much anyway.

        I would say that losing Lindberg hurt a lot more than losing Stepan.

        Which would I rather have?

        Stepan and Raanta

        or

        Shatty, Brendan Smith, Andersson, DeAngelo, and Lindberg.

        The latter, without even thinking about it.

        LV may have wanted Lindberg badly and was holding the Rangers for ransom, asking a ridiculous trade cost for the Rangers to keep Lindberg, which is LV’s right to do.

        Oscar was the Ranger’s LV pick, there was no doubt about it. Thoughts about Raanta or Grabner or Fast getting picked were way off base, IMO. Oscar is still a fairly young two way center that hasn’t gotten a chance to hit his potential yet, so he was the right pick for LV. No doubt about it. 40-50 pts I am predicting.

        • Mancunian Candidate says:

          I’d be surprised if Lindberg broke 30 points with Vegas. That’s a 20-win team out there. Liked him as a Ranger but goals are gonna be hard to come by on that team–unless he’s skating with James Neal.

        • Ray says:

          “Which would I rather have?

          Stepan and Raanta

          or

          Shatty, Brendan Smith, Andersson, DeAngelo, and Lindberg.

          The latter, without even thinking about it. ”

          That isn’t the question though.

          The question is

          What would you rather have?

          Stepan, Girardi, Raanta, and $2M extra in cap space

          or

          Shatty, Brendan Smith, Andersson, DeAngelo, and Pavelek with a $1.1M cap penalty down the road (assuming Girardi may have been bought out next year if not this).

          **************

          This is exactly the result of the Girardi buyout, Arizona trade, and free agent signings.

          I think most people would still take this deal, but it is not nearly so glorious as you painted it. Personally, I agree that Gorton had to do SOMETHING – and trading Stepan and buying out Girardi or Staal to create the cap space to sign Shatty and Smith was as reasonable a course as any. I also agree that trading Stepan for a young RH Dman and a high draft choice was reasonable.

          But the devil is in the details. Is DeAngelo an acceptable choice? Did Gorton use the #7 pick well? Can Pavelek really replace Raanta? We really don’t know yet. So far we just have opinions about how good Andersson and DeAngelo can be.

          **************

          Interesting note about opinions. Most here loved the Brassard for Zibanejad trade and still laud Gorton for it. And I liked the trade and still do.

          However, based solely on 2016-2017, Ottawa won that trade. We believe Zibanejad can be that #1 center that Brass could never be – and if this happens, it was a great trade. And I think it was a good trade simply because it might happen. Still, if Zib never takes the next step, this deal may actually hurt the Rangers.

          Yet most here will always view it as a sign of JG’s genius.

          • Mancunian Candidate says:

            Brass had 39 points in 81 games. Zib had 37 points in 56 games. Advantage–NYR.

            Brassard’s team won the head to head playoff matchup–advantage Ottawa.

            Brass had 11 points in 19 playoff games, Zibby had 9 points in 12 games. Advantage–NYR.

            Brass had off-season shoulder surgery and is five years older than Zibby. Advantage–NYR.

            The Rangers have already won this trade.

            • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

              And in agreeing with Ray, I’m not dismissing you may be right too Mancurian. It was a trade the Rangers had to make at the time. But, to say the Rangers have already won that trade? Way too soon. Zib is still a major question mark.

              • Mancunian Candidate says:

                Zibby had a better year than Brassard in every possible individual way last year. He will do so again this year. Unless Brassard can make himself 25 years old again, this trade is a win for the Rangers.

              • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

                Not if Zib doesnt progress beyond what he is.

              • Mancunian Candidate says:

                Even if Zib stays on a 57-point pace this year he’ll cover Stepan’s lost production. That’ll almost certainly exceed (again) what Brassard will do with Ottawa. How can you claim Brass had a good year last year? He had his lowest point total since his Columbus days, was disliked by the fanbase as a result, and even fell out of Ottawa’s top 6 at times?

                Top it all off with the fact that a declining 30-year old center has had yet another shoulder surgery, and you can’t rationally claim that Ottawa & Brassard are in a better place than NYR & Zibanejad right now. Rangers won the trade last year; this is the year that this trade becomes a rout for the Rangers, not just a win.

              • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

                Again, nothing you are saying is wrong–except the final point. We have no idea what Zib will be. He could become a star. Or he could regress badly either due to injury or other factors. He is not yet a proven commodity. What if Brass has an incredible year and helps lead the Sens to the SCF (which he was one game away from doing last year)?

                Was the trade the right thing for the Rangers to do at the time? Absolutely. But would the Rangers have made that trade if not for the cap? I doubt it.

                And in the end, NO trade, even when the trade for Messier was made back in 1991, can be fully evaluated until many years have passed. You just never know how it’s going to play out. That’s my only point here.

              • Mancunian Candidate says:

                I can’t put into words how strongly I disagree with your assessment of Zibby as a player or this trade. Brassard’s days are numbered in the NHL–he’s gonna be 30 in a week and he’s played a full extra season of playoff hockey, and he’s having another shoulder procedure done. Last year Zibanejad was the better player for his team. Due to age and wear-n-tear alone this will continue to be the case. Add in Zibby’s overwhelming defensive superiority and there is no way that a rational mind can claim that NYR didn’t curbstomp Ottawa in this trade.

                At age 29, Brass had his lowest point total and PPG average in a full season since ’09-’10. These trends don’t reverse themselves when a player is 30 and coming off shoulder surgery. The only possible way to view this trade as a success for Ottawa is that they won a head to head playoff series with NYR, and even that is disingenuous because the Rangers coach handed Ottawa 2 of their 4 wins with his disgraceful late-game management of his defense.

              • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

                And again, I don’t disagree with much of what your saying. But Zib still has to prove himself. He was great early, suffered a serious injury, wasn’t the same after that, but did rebound in the playoffs. Brass is aging. No doubt. On paper, everything you are saying is true. My point simply is that NO trade can be evaluated properly for serval years. What if Brass has a phenomenal season? What if Zib, given the enormous expectations he will be facing this year, is unable to be a true 1C? These are hardly impossible scenarios. Would the Rangers still have “curb stomped” the Sens in the trade?

                I’m not saying any of that will happen. Again, I make that trade again in a cap environment in a heartbeat. So right decision by Gorton but I bet even he would tell you that it is WAY too soon to say who “won” the trade.

                As for the “Ottawa was handed two wins by the coach” nonsense, ahh yes, the most simplistic bogus narrative imaginable. AV tried every deployment possible except putting you and me in there and nothing worked. Further, hockey is not football or hoop. You cant call time out and decide exactly who should be out on ice in what situation. Third, I suspect the fact we had a total novice handling the defense last year, someone I believe AV did not want but had no choice to have (Bueke), had a lot to do with what happened. That’s likely why he was “re-assigned”.

                And of course, it’s so much easier to blame the coach for the playoff losses and totally give a free pass to our “faux stars”–Miller, Hayes and Kreider, who disappeared in mid-February and failed to show up at all in the playoffs. Your three best players and Stepan as well playing awful playoff hockey? Heck, AV should win an award to even have won one round with that kind of no-show performance.

                The Rangers were a largely medicocre .500 level hockey team from mid-February on. Then lo and behold, they played…wait for it….500 hockey in the playoffs. And we got all bent out of shape because we lost to an Ottawa team that we decided was the Washington Generals (even though they had the best defenseman on the planet) and that we would roll over, even though we were a seriously flawed team.

                But yeah, it was ALL about the deployment. That’s the ticket.

              • Mancunian Candidate says:

                3E, Vigneault’s poor coaching performance in the Ottawa series is indefensible. There’s no other way to say it. Competent coaches do not forget about key players in their defensive rotation in crucial situations. And I believe like many others that AV is on his way out the door this year, despite his contract extension. Remember that the Rangers are owned by James Dolan, a man so dimwitted and free with his cash that he once chose to lose $11 million in a court case rather than admit his culpability. So the argument regarding his extension guaranteeing AV’s survival doesn’t hold water with me.

              • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

                There are many reasons why moves happen as they do. We will never know all the details of what actually happened. But is suspect AV is getting slammed by reactionary fans and probably not at all by the people that matter–the front office.

                But if his moves were “indefensible” and money means nothing, then he would have been canned this past off-season–especially with Ruff available, who would be a more than competent replacement.

                As for AV’s future, I’ve said all along, no one, not even AV, gets to coach forever. I wouldn’t have given him the extension frankly when Gorton chose to, and I’m a supporter of the guy. The fact that Gorton did shows that AV is, for the moment anyway, on solid footing.

                Unless the Rangers epically unravel, AV will survive the season. And an epic unraveling is unlikely. Know why? Not because the Rangers are necessarily that good, but because this so called “incompetent” coach has 8 100+ point seasons under his belts, including three straight. In the cap era, only a small handful of coaches have been able to have 3 in a row, since rosters are forced to turn over more so now than in the pre-lockout era.

                He’s taken his teams to the playoffs 11 times, including 9 straight years for two different teams. Again, a very rare feat in the Cap Era.

                So history says AV teams will be one of the better teams in the sport (even when the talent level isnt quite there) and they will make the playoffs. That’s what AV does–year in and year out.

                After the season with two years left on the deal? I’d say another early exit puts him on the hot seat for the next season. But whether he survives depends as much on who would be a viable available replacement. Is Coach Q possibly on the outs in Chicago? If so, even I would help AV pack his bags for that move. For some nobody assistant? Thanks but no thanks. Not with the talent or lack of elite level ability we have.

                As for Dolan, he only meddles with the Knicks. He lets Sather call all the hockey shots. Besides, he knows the Knicks have no shot at the playoffs. At least the Rangers, deficient as they are in the realm of high end talent, generally play in a round or two. That’s all Dolan cares about.

                There is nothing that even remotely suggests that AV is in any kind of trouble with Sather or Gorton.

          • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

            I 100% agree with you, Ray. Brilliantly said.

          • Richter1994 says:

            Raymond, how do you base that trade on 2016-17 when Zib was hurt a good part of the season?

            Zib was on a 57 pt pace when he got hurt. Zib will be the much better player, and trust me, I was a huge Brass fan as he was the Rangers’ best playoff performer not named Lundqvist.

    • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

      I think you might be slightly distorting these quotes my friend.

      On MIller, I recall that AV said he prefers not to go there and expected that a trade would happen. I suspect Gorton tried and couldn’t get it done. So, new plan—Miller at center.

      On Staal, these aren’t conflicting statements. You can trust Staal and still say he has to earn his playing time.

      I think you are really trying to connect the dots in a way that’s just not really there.

      Besides, AV (like most coaches) sometimes say one thing and then do another. They dont have to tell us the truth. And/or circumstances can create a new reality. Means nothing.

      And as I said the other day, Sather/Gorton have ALWAYS been the Sherrif. AV is merely the deputy. Nothing has changed in that regard.