The Rangers are in the middle of a rebuild. We don’t know exactly what that means yet, other than jettisoning some expiring contracts and avoiding a likely terrible contract for Ryan McDonagh (yes, I said it). What we do know, or at least we are hoping/assuming, is that the Rangers are going to give their newly acquired youth time to play and grow.
There are a lot of people out there who want the Rangers to completely tear it down and trade everyone. From Mats Zuccarello to Chris Kreider to Marc Staal to Kevin Shattenkirk. Trade every possible piece on the roster that can fetch something younger and run with it. Fill in the roster with deadbeat free agents, and tank for the top pick next year. I am not a fan of that strategy.
Don’t get me wrong, the Rangers should be listening in on every player. However unless they are blown away with an offer, there may be more value in keeping some of the “veterans” around.
A guy like Chris Kreider, who is on a good contract and provides top line production and chemistry with Pavel Buchnevich and Mika Zibanejad, is someone that may have more value on the team than sent away in even a market value return. If there is belief Kreider is leadership material, that’s another reason to keep him around.
The same goes for ZIbanejad, another top line player on a good contract.
Perhaps the same can be said for Mats Zuccarello, who is the only surviving member of the leadership group among the forwards. I do, however, see the desire to trade him –as painful as that sounds– because he has one year left on a great deal and is likely to fetch a decent haul. Zucc, however, has taken a discount to stay in New York. If still productive, perhaps that can be leveraged for cap space down the road.
Either way, there needs to be a balance on the NHL roster. A team won’t be successful in the long term by playing all kids. There will need to be strong locker room presences on the roster to help guide these kids. David Quinn is a good start in development, but it takes more than the coaching staff.
This isn’t a call for all leadership types who can’t play the game anymore. It’s about the right leaders. Guys that still play the game at a high level but also command respect in the locker room. I have no idea if Kreider or Zuccarello command that respect, but from an outsider’s perspective, it sure looks like they do.
The rebuild is happening, but it needs to be done right. There are too many tales of rebuilds gone wrong (Edmonton, Buffalo, Islanders, etc). While the current front office regime may not have earned our trust as fans yet, we may need to take a leap of faith. That includes not crying when there are still guys over the age of 25 still on the roster next season."The need to keep some players around",