Dan Girardi has been a polarizing player this offseason, by no fault of his own. The 32 year old defenseman, who has spent his entire career in New York, played most of last season with a cracked kneecap. For all of his faults, Girardi has brass cajones for playing through the entire season like that. But that said, he is 32, is coming off this injury, and has a lot of wear and tear on his body.
The front office and coaching staff are expecting Girardi to have a bounce back season. Those who have been looking at his underlying numbers for the past few seasons don’t believe this is possible for a number of reasons. But is it possible for Girardi to have this bounce back season that we all hope for?
Last summer, I was asked to provide some insight into which stats I use, how I use them, and why I use them. I held off on writing that post until now for a few reasons, most importantly being my personal use of the stats available. This is going to be a very long post about how I use stats, why I use them, and how my use of them evolved over time.
First things first, I am not a statistician. For the most part, I do not understand a lot of the stat posts I see that dive into r-squared calculations. I read the first paragraph, I skim through the meat –which is where these posts begin to lose me– and then I read the conclusion. I also read what the trusted minds say about these pieces, and I draw my conclusions from there. But generally speaking, the “mainstream” stats have been peer reviewed multiple times. In any field, from math to medical to business, peer review is essential, which is why these are the ones that hit mainstream.
The Rangers signed their last two remaining RFAs yesterday inking Chris Kreider and Kevin Hayes to contract extensions. Kreider received a long term deal (four years), while Hayes received the standard bridge deal, coming off his ELC. Both deals come with great cap hits for a team that is supposed to be cap strapped heading into the next few years. But here’s the thing: With this much cap space available, and everyone signed, why wouldn’t the Rangers look to at least lock up Miller to longer term? There are too many signs that something else is brewing.
1 – The Rangers have about $3 million in cap space –let’s call it that, as Brady Skjei and Pavel Buchnevich need to be added and Adam Clendening removed and assuming Tanner Glass is still here– which is very odd for this team. If no more moves are planned, I would have liked to see Hayes and J.T. Miller get longer term deals. I have no idea if they only wanted their short term deals though, with the chance to earn more. But this was a real opportunity to keep future costs down as well. Which brings me to point 2.
The Rangers have locked up their last remaining RFA, agreeing to a two-year deal with Kevin Hayes. The deal will carry a $2.6 million cap hit. Hayes will be 26 when the deal expires, with one year left of team control.
I would have liked Hayes to get a longer term deal, but I seem to be in the minority regarding his play. Hayes is a solid 3C producing at 1C levels, and it’s a reasonable assumption that with more playing time, he will produce more as well. Yet others believe that Hayes is lazy, mostly because he sounds like he’s had a lobotomy when he talks.
Hayes will be the teams 3C, likely serving as the primary center for Pavel Buchnevich in mostly sheltered zone starts. He is expected to “rebound” from his “down year” as well.
Per Aaron Ward, the Rangers and Chris Kreider have agreed on a multi-year contract, avoiding today’s arbitration hearing. The deal is for four years at a $4.625 million cap hit. The deal keeps Kreider signed through his age-28 season, and buys two years of unrestricted free agency.
This is a solid deal for the Rangers, as Kreider could have received more money based on the Kyle Palmieri deal. The numbers are actually lower than initially reported, which is also great news. Kreider’s skill set is very difficult for opponents to match up against, as his size and speed are a rare combination in today’s NHL.
Kreider will be a lock for a top-six spot, and look to improve on his past two seasons, where he put up 21 goals and 20+ assists in each season.
Chris Kreider is set for arbitration on Friday, and the details of his case and the ongoing negotiations have hit the interwebs:
- The arbitration numbers have the Rangers coming in with a $3.2 million offer, and Kreider looking for $4.75 million, both on one-year deals (that’s how arbitration works). Naturally, the Rangers are low and Kreider is high –negotiation 101– and the middle ground is about $4 million.
- Apparently both sides are negotiating to a long-term deal. Kreider is looking for $5.25 million over five years, the Rangers offering $4.75 million over that time frame. I’m with Melissa here, and say just get it done. Five years, $5 million. That’s the logical contract.
The Rangers made their first, and possibly only, big move yesterday, shipping Derick Brassard and a 2018 7th round pick to Ottawa for Mika Zibanejad and a 2018 2nd round pick. The move saves the Rangers $2.35 million in cap space while getting arguably equal –with the distinct possibility of it evolving into better– production while also getting younger. They also nabbed a second round pick as well. All in all, it was a solid trade for Jeff Gorton, adding to his already solid offseason. Here are my thoughts on the trade.
1 – First things first, it stinks to see Brassard go. But if any of the centers were to go, he was the only logical choice. Brass was the best trade chip for the Rangers, as Gorton cashed in on what is likely a depreciating asset. It was highly unlikely he was going to score 27 goals again next year, as he needed a whopping 15% shooting percentage to get to that. It was the first and only time Brass had ever cracked 20 goals, and at 29 years old when the season starts, he’s already peaked. Zibanejad already has a pair of 20-goal seasons at just 23 years old. Both Brassard and Zibanejad will put up 50 points next year. I’ll take the cap savings any day.
The Rangers have acquired forward Mika Zibanejad and a 2018 2nd round pick from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for Derick Brassard and a 2018 7th round pick. Zibanejad, 23, put up a line of 21-30-51 last year for the Sens, following up his impressive 20-26-46 rookie campaign. He has one year left at $2.65 million on his current deal.
Brassard, 28, is coming off a career high in goals with 27 last season, and has put up 60 points the last two seasons with the Rangers. Brassard has three years left at $5 million per season.
The Rangers have signed their fourth player today, inking prospect Robin Kovacs to a three year entry level deal. The 19-year-old winger (20 in November), the Rangers third round pick in 2015, had a very impressive season last year in the SHL. As a boy among men, Kovacs had a 20-goal season and put up 34 points in 44 games.
It was previously expected that Kovacs would spend another year in the SHL before coming over to North America. I am unfamiliar with how the transfer agreement between the SHL and the NHL works, but I’m assuming that if he signed, that he will play in the AHL next season.
Bringing Kovacs to the AHL is great news for a team that needs young, cheap talent infused into the lineup regularly. Kovacs is among the top prospects in the system, and projects to be a good middle-six forward if he continues to develop. Following up his strong age-19 season with a solid showing in his rookie AHL season is a good start.
The Rangers are busy today, cleaning up a bunch of loose ends. RFA Tommy Hughes has been re-signed, terms undisclosed (side note: It’s 2016, just release the terms). Hughes was one of the few Hartford RFAs to receive a qualifying offer, and his inclusion in this was a surprise to a few people, given his relatively meager production over the life of his ELC.
The 24-year-old undrafted defenseman (righty) has spent the last three seasons in Hartford, with his best season being last year. He’s not a guy that will light the lamp often, and is relied on more as a prototypical defensive defenseman.
Hughes will likely spend another full year in Hartford. It’s unlikely he sees much, if any, NHL time.