Jan
04

How Jeff Gorton Can Make This Team His Own

January 4, 2018, by

It’s no secret that the Rangers are, despite being a good team, lacking something. There’s been a lot of debate as to what exactly that something is, with much of the blame as of late going to the defensive corps (which is probably somewhat deserved), the lack of forward depth (a definite concern, as evidenced by Zibanejad’s absence), and of course the coaching (you already know). Just yesterday we heard from Chris about how the Rangers could be a Stanley Cup dark horse if only they had that extra something. Well, there may be a somewhat simple, elegant way to solve these issues, a move that would solidify this team as Jeff Gorton’s own.

If you’ve been watching the IIHF World Junior Championship, you probably caught something yesterday that came as a bit of a surprise: Team Czech Republic beat Team Finland in the quarterfinals to advance to the semis. Now, while they’ll unfortunately be playing Canada in their semifinal matchup, there is something of note here. The Czech team has, without any true superstars (save Filip Zadina, who is expected to go top-10 in this upcoming draft), made some serious noise at this tournament, and their success must be credited in part to their head coach, Filip Pesan.

If that name sounds familiar to you it’s because the Rangers invited him to their training camp this past offseason in something of an unorthodox move – outside coaches don’t usually get invited to NHL training camps, especially not seemingly random European coaches. The Rangers have obviously taken an interest in this guy, who, according to our very own Josh Khalfin, is well respected in the Czech Republic for his handling of young players in that he’s willing to give guys a chance but still takes a firm line as far as disciplining them goes.

At the World Juniors in Buffalo, he’s done a solid job with the Czech team, who came second in their group behind Sweden and finished with the same amount of points in the group as the Tre Kronor. Although they played in an admittedly easier group, it’s worth noting that the Czech team’s 11 points is one ahead of what Canada finished with (10 points) and three ahead of what the US finished with (8 points).

Especially early on against Russia, his team played a solid, structured game and stymied the Russians’ speedy counterattack, doing a good job of making controlled zone entries and exits. He’s not afraid to be bold either, pulling his goalie with three minutes left in the Czech team’s quarterfinal against Finland. That move gave the Czechs the goal they needed to tie it, enabling them to take things to a shootout where they eventually bested the Finns.

The point I’m going to make is incomplete of course if we just talk about coaching, because personnel certainly has played a part in the Rangers’ woes this season. The Rangers’ top two prospects, Lias Andersson and Filip Chytil, are both playing in this tournament and doing a damn good job so far. Andersson if anything has been more impressive, because although he’s tied for fourth in points right now with six, he currently leads the pack in terms of goals, with five.  Despite his recent, hopefully minor, injury he’s played some excellent hockey, making good reads both offensively and defensively, getting to the right areas, and making the right passes.

Chytil has had a bit of different experience so far, because although he’s got 2 goals and 2 assists so far, he hasn’t really been getting a ton of ice time and doesn’t play on the top PP unit for his team. That certainly would be a concern if we get to where I’m going with this, but let’s look on the bright side at the very least. He’s put up respectable numbers (4 points in 5 games) and has made the most of his limited shifts, battling hard along the boards and springing some productive rushes that have helped his team gain control of the puck in the offensive zone. Overall, not too shabby for a couple of guys whose selection had some scratching their heads at draft time.

Now, to tie it all together here’s my suggestion: After the WJC is over and when the time is right, Jeff Gorton could make this team his own by doing a couple of things. First, and most importantly, would be replacing Alain Vigneault with Filip Pesan. Next, he’d give Chytil the call for the big kids club (and Andersson once the SHL season ends). The addition of the two would seriously bolster the Rangers forward depth, which of course is contingent on them being handled right.

That’s where swapping AV out for Pesan would be so crucial – the Rangers would need a savvy coach to handle a delicate situation correctly, and Pesan, at least in a small sample size at World Juniors (and again, according to Josh he’s done a good job overseas), has proven himself to be that savvy bench boss. A cherry on top would be that the disentangled loyalty of Pesan would mean he’d have no compunction about sitting guys like Nick Holden in favor of potential call ups Anthony DeAngelo or Neal Pionk. Jeff Gorton could make a serious power move and leave his mark on this club, all while killing several birds with one stone.

Of course, a lot of this is wishful thinking, so let me sketch out how this is more likely to go. The Rangers make another first round exit in the playoffs and Pesan is among the candidates for the vacant coaching job. Given that he’s a relatively unknown quantity gets an assistant’s gig at best. Nash and/or Grabner are traded at the deadline for futures, and although Andersson and Chytil are added to the roster, they find themselves seriously out of their depth and unable to adjust to an NHL that’s asking too much of them.

In the more likely scenario, the Rangers restock the farm a bit and leave things open for next year, but on the whole find themselves in a similar position talent-wise, along with some tricky contractual maneuvering they need to sort out to keep their core intact. It’s still very much a blended Glen Sather/Jeff Gorton team, and come springtime we make another early exit in the playoffs, all while Henrik Lundqvist grows a year older. But hey, one can dream.

"How Jeff Gorton Can Make This Team His Own", 1 out of 5 based on 30 ratings.
Categories : Musings

30 comments

  1. Richter1994 says:

    This would presume that the Rangers go to true rebuild:

    Trade everyone over 26-27, no matter who it is.
    Stock up on picks, prospects, and younger players.
    Promote every player from Hartford that is worth a darn.
    Then hire a coach that will cultivate the now younger team.

    The problem is: Henrik.

    • Hatrick Swayze says:

      There is a middle ground here.

      • Richter1994 says:

        Yes there is and Henrik would have to give his “blessing” for a total rebuild. Because he’s not going anywhere.

        He loves it here in NY more than he loves it in Sweden (yes I do know because Henrik is a client of one of my friends). He considers NY his “home” for the most part. He is also the spokesperson for the “Garden of Dreams” Foundation through his own Lundqvist Foundation established here in NY.

        So any Ranger “plan” has to be basically approved by Henrik, meaning he has to be on board with it. I cannot see him wanting anything other than a run at the Cup at this stage of his career. There is no “wait and see” for the next 3 years. That should have been done already, after the 2014-15 season starting the 3 year clock to get better.

        Instead, the Rangers rely on players like Staal, Nash, Holden, Grabner, Smith, etc. What can they do to change the dynamics of this team that makes them a contender?

        I offered the idea of keeping it in house to supplement the vet group mentioned above. But that would take a commitment from the coach and Ranger management. I see no evidence that they are board with such a direction so basically they are ef’d.

    • James1090 says:

      You could ask him if he would consider a trade to a contender, but it would definitely be a tough subject.

      The other problem is I don’t think the Rangers would ever go into a rebuild. I think they are perfectly happy being a middle of the pack to team that can and will most likely qualify for the playoffs.

      • Richter1994 says:

        Yep, I just answered Hatrick which basically reinforces what you’re saying here.

        Henrik will be here for 4 more years? 2 more where he is still the man and the last 2 years where Shesty comes in and splits time with Henrik.

        • James1090 says:

          Another problem is you will never get those elite players like Chicago has with Kane/Toews being middle of the pack. Outside of Lundqvist the Rangers don’t have that elite player. They have some good players, but that’s it.

          • Richter1994 says:

            Right, I outlined the top pick players with their respective teams in the other thread.

            The last dynamic player the Rangers picked other than a goalie was Kovalev. Cherapanov would have been and Tarasenko should have been. Hopefully Chytil is the latest one.

  2. Al Dugan says:

    The single dumbest column yet. You are going to replace AV with a guy from Europe? Who is coaching the Juniors of an Eastern Euro country? The Juniors? In the middle of a season? Please.

    • Buch Nieves says:

      That something *MUST* be missing behind the bench, not on the bench. But we can all see that we are short a center and two snipers. How about if Gorton makes his mark by making intelligent moves at the trade deadline before he presses the nuclear button?

    • Walt says:

      Al

      I think you missed the point, that’s being AV behind the bench. If it takes a new mindset to win, well so be it, we’ll never get to win a cup under the current coaching staff!

      • Buch Nieves says:

        I’m pretty sure, Walt, Al didn’t miss the point of the column. I’m pretty sure he gets the point, but disagrees with the point, whereas you agree with the point, and think that anyone who disagrees must have missed the point, lol. All good. Carry on, my friend!

    • flatbush says:

      Pats article is on point. There is something missing with this team. Unlike the majority of comments to get rid of this guy or that guy I believe that AV doesn’t get the most out of his guys. That’s my perception. So before we think the problems of the world would be solved by getting rid of Stahl or Holden we need to give some young guys a shot and to push the entitled.

      I find it quite amusing that all of a sudden people on here think Kris’s loss dooms us.He is a perfect example of being inconsistent and not using all his tools. He and Hayes are monsters but you seldom see it. Yeah every once in a while they tease you.

      Another example of a protected guy is Nash. Don’t shoot me yet but he has played both ends of the rink and does go to tuff areas. Plays a good D and can be used on the PK. So you say what’s wrong with that. Nothing except we are being brainwashed by AV and the TV MSG announcers that he is really playing well. He is being paid to score. All those other things he does should be expected of any really good hockey player so lets not get all giddy with his play which is really what a third line guy should posses.

      Going back to Pats point. We need a driven coach. I don’t know about the guy he mentions but I know AV has not consistently gotten all the potential out of some good players. They need to be taken to task and if that means giving a young guy a chance so be it.

      Face it we are not a cup contending team under this management. We are a contending team to grab some sort of playoff spot. Making one or two trades will not change our position. New leadership is the first step. I agree that Nash should be traded solely from a UFA status and money constraints. Get something of value for the future and get a task master as coach

  3. Walt says:

    JG would be replacing Alain Vigneault with Filip Pesan is the best thing I’ve read on this site in years!!!!!

    I don’t necessarily agree with a complete overhaul, but some very valid points were made. The game is going more, and more to speed, and youth. We have a dinosaur for a coach who is biased, rigid, inflexible, won’t get younger players any real shot at proving themselves, and is going to play pylons like DG, Staal, and Holden until hell freezes over.

    I say get AV out of Dodge, and thank him for his service as he walks out the door!!!!!!!

  4. Lace says:

    I had heard about this coach Pesan being invited during camp but had no idea he was coach of the Czech WJC team. With all the young players the Rangers have on this team, it would be a very proactive move by Gorton to bring this guy in. I’m sure he is familiar with the new age NHL and the way the game is going. Young players would rule this team rather than just being on it. I just doubt the Rangers would make any kind of move like this during the season. There is a very real possibility he is offered a job by a younger team like the Coyotes before the Rangers got a Chance to fire 🔥 AV.

  5. Rich S says:

    This Rangers team as presently constructed has a fair amount of talent…..especially young , improving talent who should reach their peak in another year or two………and next season, we will have , what looks like two more young talented centers and possibly a rw sniper in ty ronning and a ”’star defensemen in Day…………
    IF we ”break it down”’ and finish last which wont happen this year…..and IF there happens to be a once in ten years mcdavid or towes or crosby or ovechkin…..IF, IF, IF,
    Point is , this team doesnt need a ”generational talent”’ to win, and its extremely difficult to get….a second level teir talent like a johsnsen, seguin, bergeron would be enough given the rest of our teams talent……..and maybe andersson or chytil can be that……..I still think we can make it out of the east this year given Pitts looks worn down from two straight long cup runs……

  6. roadrider says:

    Rob, if these are your dreams you are in dire need of psychotherapy. The premise that the Rangers are a much better team than they actually are but are being held back by AV is risible nonsense. That’s not to say that AV is a perfect coach or that he never makes mistakes or that all of his strategies are the only possible fits for his personnel. Obviously none of that is true. But the idea that he should be fired in mid-season with the team in a playoff position and a very respectable record given their shortcomings and replaced with a Czech coach with no NHL experience and that this maneuver would somehow unlock the hidden Stanley Cup favorite that AV is frustrating is just ludicrous.

    The fact is that the Rangers’ players just aren’t as good as all that. Its not primarily AV’s fault that the offense has sputtered since the Xmas break. In the past four games they’ve scored 0, 2, 2, and 2 goals in regulation. Why is that? Well, for one, guys like Zucc and Hayes refuse to shoot the puck even when they have time and open space. Always one more pass that results in no shot or a blocked shot. Mika likes to shoot but except for this 5-on-3 goal seemed not to be able to shoot the puck into the ocean from the end of a pier. Nash generates lots of chances but can’t finish. The D isn’t chipping in much in the goals column either. The PP has regressed even with the heralded Shattenkirk who was supposed to fix that and the return of Mika.

    You blog guys have all these miracle cures that never seem to work out. Get rid of this guy, get rid of that guy and get that guy and all will be well.And when it doesn’t work as your vaunted models predict then, of course, it must be the coach’s fault because some guys is getting 3% less ice time than your calculated optimum value. It never occurs to you that the players just aren’t that good.

    And when all else fails, the Rangers’ problems are all because AV hates young players (despite being flatly contradicted by the evidence). Of course, you now want to hire a guy who isn’t playing Chytil a lot in a junior tournament. What makes you think he would give Chytil a bigger role with the Rangers? And what makes you think he wouldn’t make the same decisions AV made regarding Holden, D’Angelo and Pionk?

    If you guys know so much about how to run a major league hockey franchise then why are you wasting your time writing blogs? Couldn’t you make a lot more money actually running a team? Of course, in order to get one of those jobs you have to, you know, have some standing in the game as an ex-player or have worked your way up through the amateur, college and minor-league professional leagues where you might actually learn that much of your peanut gallery knowledge is not actually valid or must be tempered by real-life experience.

    So dream on Pat. I’ll be glad to know that my nightmares are nowhere near as terrifying.

    • joe from newburgh says:

      “… that this maneuver would somehow unlock the hidden Stanley Cup favorite that AV is frustrating is just ludicrous …” may be the best line I’ve read on this, or any other board, and it can be applied to almost every amateur suggestion. Thank you.

    • Puckpaul says:

      He may not know as much as you would like him to, but he knows the important thing, that AV is NOT the answer here. It is sooooo obvious. Even a czech junior coach would be an improvement.

      I just want to watch exciting and strong hockey. The Rangers have been dreadful to watch for three years now. Do you really like watching the way they play?

      Dont replace him because they are a playoff team? Seriously? They arent going anywhere this year barring a miracle, who wants another 7 game struggle where they look dreadful for most of it (again).

    • Mancunian Candidate says:

      Roadrider—this article is not something I agree with, but your criticism is WAAAAAAYYYYY over the top. In any difference of opinion, to resort to the “why aren’t YOU there with the pros” argument is the lamest response possible. To dismiss the time & effort that these writers spend for our entertainment and enlightenment with such nonsense is meanspirited and pathetic.

      Or maybe the question to ask is this: if writers here are wasting their time offering their opinions, what does that make you? You’re commenting on something you claim is worthless, so…….I think that drops you lower on the food chain, or worthwhile existence list, or whatever you’d like to call it. Plus if you’re gonna way your finger at the writing staff, get it straight as far as who wrote the article—you start your screed by calling the author “Rob”, then by its end you use the author’s correct name. Nice work.

  7. Spozo says:

    Well I think we have a new front runner for BSB Article of the Year.

    The previous leader in this category “clear disconnect between AV and Management” ( I will summarize: Since AV isn’t handling the players like Dave thinks he should, then this clearly means there is a rift between Gorton and AV that needs to be corrected) has been passed by “let’s take a playoff team and replace the coach with a World Juniors Coach that *gasp* saw his Czech team upset Team Finland”.

    Great stuff guys!

  8. Stevesse says:

    Ultimately, I feel that ownership and management make a business decision. Keep the Rangers in the playoffs, with minor adjustments and hope to catch lightning in a bottle. There will not be a full rebuild until Henrik is gone. Hopefully they can be revitalized with the 2 # 1’s they have. They will never get that elite talent until they tank a season. Dolan fills the seats year after year and the average person who attends games is entertained. How many seats are corporate and given for gifts? Diehard fans will be just that forever.

  9. Bloomer says:

    The NHL is not a place to experiment with unproven coaches. I like coaches with a good track record and understands what it takes to win in the big leagues. Gerald Gallant who teaches his players how to play honest discipline kick ass hockey was available last season, but instead Gorton signs AV to a long-term.

    Boink and Delangelo have done diddy squat down on the farm. I don’t understand how bringing them up will suddenly turn them into the next Brian Leetch or Barry Beck.

    Lastly if the Rangers are still playing mediocre hockey at the trade deadline…yes Gorton should cut his loses and move his free agents. The Rangers still have move work to do in building player talent into their organization.

    • Egelstein says:

      I really don’t understand this line of thinking. It contributes to the retread factor of flawed coaches who have already proven this at the AHL and NHL levels surviving in these leagues much longer than they otherwise should.

      I’m not saying they should come here and make a list and put our names in a hat and pick one of us to be the next coach, mind you. I’m not saying they should go out and hire whoever leads their plucky underdog high school/college team to a national championship. No experience is not the same as no pro North American experience, though. Pesan has been coaching for over ten years, seems to getting more than expected from this Czech team, and to discount him just because he hasn’t been plying his trade on this side of the pond just doesn’t make much sense to me.

      I’d look at more tangible factors (and, I’m thinking the Rangers did before they invited him for a look at camp). How is his English; can he communicate well enough? How well have his recent teams performed in comparison to what scouts and evaluators would have expected from them? What are the systems he runs? Has he shown adaptability with his systems when other coaches counter them successfully? Has he shown that he will not play favorites and/or rely on veterans to an extreme degree without it being defensible in the on-ice product?

      If AV is relieved of his duties soon (I very highly doubt it will be any sooner than this summer, if he is, to note), I wouldn’t mind consideration of a Gerard Gallant type, if you have that out there and on the table. I also would not in any way rule out an exciting prospective coach like Pesan either, though.

      (Side note – I know it was just a typo/auto-correct, but Gerald Gallant is a notorious Canadian contract killer/assassin…that would REALLY be thinking out of the box!)

      As for players like Pionk/DeAngelo/Fill In The Blank – it is not that they are tearing it up down there. It is that players up here whom AV has cemented in the roster are at times playing very poorly at times and costing the team games at times. The coach has proven that he isn’t going to fix it. Maybe some fresh faces and “taking AV’s toys away” will. Normally you wouldn’t want to do that to a coach that you want around a good long time. Not full-out, anyway (although it sure looks like Gorton has done a little bit of that). Maybe it’s time to go full-out. I’m not saying Gorton will do that…I think that is unlikely. I for one wouldn’t be mad one bit if he did, though.

      Maybe Pionk would come up and have an up and down game and make about a bonehead error a week or so that pretty much single-handedly leads to a goal against. Okay. That’s what Holden does now, anyway. Would rather have the kid be doing it and at least getting a taste of the NHL in the process, all while getting whatever the best pick we could get in the deep upcoming draft for Holden. Really don’t think we would skip a beat in that scenario, personally.