Per Mark Divver, the Rangers have agreed to terms with NCAA free agent defenseman John Gilmour. Josh wrote about Gilmour, who is a left-handed defenseman our of Providence College. The former 7th round pick for Calgary is a strong skater who makes good decisions with the puck. He’s the type of “new-age” defenseman teams want, in that he can quickly transition to offense with a strong first pass out of the zone.
Gilmour put up career highs in his senior season, with a line of 9-14-23. The 5’11, 185 lb defenseman signed a two-year ELC, and will likely spend the first year at Hartford, where he will complement Ryan Graves on the left side.
Generating offense can be tricky to analyze. Most use raw point totals, but those don’t tell the entire story sometimes. What point totals can miss is overall creation of offense and quality chances. Only 8.5% of team chances wind up in the back of the net on average (assuming a .915 SV% as league average), and that’s in all situations. Are we only supposed to judge offense on 8.5% of all hockey plays?
That’s where some of the passing projects come into play. The main one is Ryan Stimson’s (@RK_Stimp) passing project, where he employs many different people to manually track pass types and how they lead to goals. This got taken one step further by @loserpoints, who looked at specific pass types (Steve Valiquette’s Royal Road passes, behind the net passes, etc) and how they led to dangerous shot attempts. The full details are here.
Last week, I went through the bottom half of the New York Rangers 2016 Top 25 Under 25. The bottom half had a lot of turnover, as the 2016 draft was an early success for the Rangers that warranted some shifting in the rankings. Couple that with four players who were ranked last year that are no longer with the organization, and you have a refreshed system that is something to get excited about.
Let’s remember that there are a good number of players on the NHL roster that are under 25 years old, so the top half of this list is mostly populated with them. There was a shift in the rankings for some of these kids though, as we’ve learned what each one is capable of in the lineup.
Per the Boston Herald, the Rangers will likely be one of the finalists for soon-to-be free agent Jimmy Vesey. The former third round pick by the Predators is the most highly sought after NCAA free agent since Justin Schultz, and has made it clear he will be going to free agency. Vesey put up 24-22-46 in his senior year at Harvard, which was actually down from his 32-26-58 line his junior year.
Vesey would likely jump to the NHL right away on a team’s top-nine forwards at a bare minimum of cost. Vesey can only sign for a max $925,000 base salary with roughly $3.5 million in max bonuses. Since the Rangers don’t have many players that qualify for bonuses, it’s likely that all of Vesey’s bonuses would hit the bonus cushion with no impact on next year’s cap. This is unlike the situation in Chicago, where bonuses are becoming a problem as they spill over into future seasons.
For the Rangers, landing him would mean tremendous flexibility to deal a forward to address some of the blue line issues. I’m of the belief that most of the league is waiting for Vesey to make a decision before more moves are made. If the Rangers can land him, it may open up that long rumored Rick Nash trade for a defenseman. Vesey becomes a free agent on Monday.
Over the past three years, I’ve gone through the Rangers organization and ranked the top 25 players under the age of 25 years old (2013, 2014, 2015 part one, 2015 part two). The ground rules for this list are simple: To qualify for this list, a player must be under 25 years old. It doesn’t matter if this player is in the NHL, AHL, or in any of the leagues around the world. If they are Ranger property and under 25, they were considered.
First, let’s go through the players from last year’s list that no longer qualify and honorable mentions who missed the cut:
Aged out: Chris Kreider, Magnus Hellberg
No longer with the organization: Aleksi Saarela, Ryan Bourque, Petr Zamorsky, Emerson Etem, Keegan Iverson, Ryan Mantha
Honorable mentions: Tyler Nanne, Marek Hrivik, Sergey Zborovskiy, Calle Andersson, Tyler Wall, Gabriel Fontaine
The Rangers had three glaring holes coming into the offseason: The defense, the bottom-six, and the penalty kill. Two of the three –the bottom-six and the penalty kill– were addressed with a pretty massive overhaul. The Rangers signed three players and cut loose two in an effort to get younger, faster, and better defensively.
Michael Grabner, Nathan Gerbe, and Josh Jooris give the Rangers a ton of options. Losing Viktor Stalberg is a bit of a wash with Grabner, but it’s arguable that Jooris and Gerbe can be effective replacements for Dominic Moore. Deployment is key, but versatility can make the Rangers dangerous.
The Rangers began their retooling of the bottom-six by signing winger Michael Grabner to a two-year deal this summer. He was the first of numerous signings with the purpose of addressing the bottom-six and the penalty kill, and easily the most high profile signing they made this summer.
The 28-year-old speed demon is a former 30-goal scorer, putting up 34 goals in his first full NHL season. He then put up 20 goals his following season, then a 30-goal pace in the lockout shortened 2013 season. All these came with the Isles. Since then, Grabner has topped out at 12 goals, and has seen his goal totals in decline since.
With the signing of Marek Hrivik, the Rangers have cleared up most of their to-dos for this summer. They locked up their restricted free agents. They got younger, cheaper, and faster with a big trade that also brought back a high draft pick. They retooled their bottom-six with quicker, more skilled, better defensive, and better penalty killing players. But the one major move that has been oddly absent is the big change to the blue line.
Many expected –hoped– that the big change on the blue line would come at the expense of Dan Girardi and Marc Staal. That was fueled by some draft day rumors that the Rangers were looking to move the pair. However that was shot down eventually by the public statement that Jeff Gorton expects Girardi to have a bounce back season. Considering the contracts, trading just one of them has always been a long shot. But perhaps the upgrade on the blue line will come from a relatively unexpected place – Kevin Klein.
The Rangers have re-signed RFA Marek Hrivik to a one-year deal. Hrivik was the last RFA the Rangers needed to sign, and barring any trades, will be the last move the Rangers make this offseason. Hrivik has spent the overwhelming majority –just 5 NHL games– of his four year career in the AHL with the Hartford Wolf Pack, putting up an impressive 12-29-41 in 68 games last season.
Hrivik might compete for a fourth line role in camp, but with some of the signings made, it appears he is still on the outside looking in. Hrivik would be a good fit on the fourth line as a good skater who is competent defensively. It’s unlikely the offense would translate to the NHL level, though.
The 6’1, 197 lb winger makes a better option than some of the other options that are going to be in camp this year. It will be interesting to see how long of a look he gets.
Per Renaud Lavoie, forward Maxim Lapierre will be brought into training camp on a PTO this September. Lapierre has that old school “gritty” reputation as a defense-first fourth line guy who can help the penalty kill. Problem is that he isn’t that guy. He’s that guy in the way that Dan Paille was that guy this past winter.
The 31-year-old didn’t play in the NHL last season, opting to play overseas in Switzerland and Sweden. He is familiar with Alain Vigneault though, as a member of the 2011 Vancouver Canucks that went to the Stanley Cup Final.
This isn’t anything to get all pissy about, it’s a PTO, and it’s unlikely Lapierre makes the team. The only concern is that this is now the second of “AV’s guys” brought in to fix a problem, and the guy brought in only exacerbates the problem.