The coaching of Alain Vigneault has come under fire in past months, as he appeared to be routinely outcoached by Barry Trotz and Jon Cooper in the playoffs. Compounding this was his decision to play Tanner Glass regularly, a decision which left most fans baffled.
But Vigneault is a Jack Adams finalist, so it’s not like he was all bad this season. He did a lot of good, and there’s a ready why he’s a Jack Adams finalist.
Good: Easing the kids into the lineup
The Rangers came into camp with a lot of question marks on the roster. No one knew what to expect of Kevin Hayes, who made the roster out of camp, and was transitioning to a new position. J.T. Miller and Jesper Fast were sent back to the AHL to work on little things in their games as well. In the end, it wound up being the right decision.
Vigneault took the slow approach with the roster, seeing what he had in veterans Ryan Malone, Matt Lombardi, and Chris Mueller. All three played a good portion of the first two months with the big club. Perhaps Vigneault wanted to see what they had, or perhaps he wanted to buy time for the kids to develop properly.
Sorry for all the changes to the design of the site. Once the slider in the last design proved to be a failure, I knew that design wasn’t lasting long. It was a pain to manage. This one is easier (it’s also the same layout of nyrgifs.com, which makes it easier on me). Hopefully this is the last change for a while.
Some quick notes that broke over the weekend:
- Marc Staal had surgery to remove a bone chip in his ankle last week, he is expected back for opening night.
- Dan Girardi also had surgery for a bursa excision. He is also expected back for opening night.
- The Arizona Coyotes had their sights set on goalie coach Benoit Allaire, but Allaire turned them down, preferring to stay with New York as part of a long-term approach. Allaire has worked with Henrik Lundqvist and Cam Talbot to great success, and will be working with Mackenzie Skapski as well.
- Jeff Gorton appears to be the heir apparent to Glen Sather, if he steps down. The Rangers denied the Maple Leafs and Bruins interviews with the Assistant GM.
Got four questions for the mailbag, so let’s have at it.
Q (More of an FYI, from Ray): I questioned the SAT data showing the Lightning dominated the first two periods of Game 6 in a BSB comment. Anyway, I actually didn’t watch the game live – I taped it -and so I could revisit it. I tried to keep track of zone time in the first period (too mindless to do the entire game).
My numbers aren’t perfect, I’m sure, but they are unbiased with presumably small errors which likely mostly balance out.
I believe OZ time itself is a better indicator of possession, but the NHL stopped tracking it in 2001 for some reason. We use SAT because, logically, if you have the puck in the offensive zone, you are getting shot attempts. Yes, this does undervalue the cycle, and wearing down and pinning the opposition, but the goal of the cycle is to get shot attempts. You can cycle all you want, but if you don’t get shot attempts, the puck won’t go in.
Your email was very detailed. I’m posting the full email in the comments so that people can discuss.
Per Larry Brooks, Glen Sather is considering stepping down as General Manager of the New York Rangers. Slats has been GM since the 2000 season, and has been apparently grooming Assistant GM Jeff Gorton to replace him (which is why Slats denied teams the ability to interview Gorton this season).
Slats’ pre-salary cap run was mired with unsuccessful big-money signings and trades, aimed at buying a Stanley Cup. With the salary cap in place, Slats has seen the Rangers make the playoffs nine of the last ten years, with two runs to the Eastern Conference Final and one to the Stanley Cup Final in the past four years.
This does not mean that Slats is stepping down. In the article, Slats clearly states he is undecided about his future.
I love the offseason. It’s a chance to go through available players and play armchair-GM to make your favorite team a Cup contender next season. But with the offseason comes a season of lunacy. People thinking Tanner Glass will fetch this team a 3rd round pick. Or that Cam Talbot will fetch the #1 overall pick.
In the salary cap era, not many teams are able to throw big money at free agents at will. But yet, that doesn’t stop the media from throwing the Rangers out there as a possible destination for every single free agent. This usually starts with one member of the media speculating, with absolutely no basis, and then every other outlet picking it up.
This year, it appears that Rick Nash is the target of the trade rumors. It all started with Larry Brooks’ column five days ago, a seemingly innocuous post about how the Rangers will look to trade Nash to free up cap space. He even has a possible trade scenario: Nash to St. Louis for T.J. Oshie, Alex Steen, and Jaden Schwartz.
Henrik Lundqvist is the New York Rangers. He’s their best player, their leader, and the heart and soul of the team. This team goes as far as Lundqvist goes in the postseason. An injury to him would derail any potential playoff run.
Or so we thought.
While most of the above is true, the Rangers dealt with adversity this season when Lundqvist took a puck to the throat, sidelining him with a vascular injury for six weeks. Enter Cam Talbot, the Rangers backup with just 32 NHL games under his belt prior to the injury. Those games were solid, but it was unclear if Talbot would be able to shoulder that load.
Per Elliotte Friedman, the Rangers are one of at least five teams NCAA free agent defenseman Mike Reilly will meet with today. Other teams Reilly will be meeting with are Chicago, Minnesota, LA, and possibly Pittsburgh.
Reilly, originally a 4th round pick in 2011 by Columbus, elected not to sign with the Blue Jackets, likely due to their crowded blue line. It’s believed that Minnesota has the inside track because of Reilly’s connections to the team (his dad is a minority investor with the group that owns the Wild), but the Rangers have Brady Skjei, Reilly’s teammate throughout college.
Reilly put up big numbers with Minnesota the last two years, with 15 goals and 75 points in 80 games over the last two years. He’s being described as a potential top-four defenseman with a big shot from the point, something the Rangers sorely need.
I find it to be amazing that the Rangers are even on his interview list. They have three guys signed long term (Staal, Girardi, McDonagh). They have a big prospect on the way (Skjei). They have Yandle and Boyle for at least this year. They also have Klein. The blue line is just as crowded as Columbus’. Perhaps Slats will be working magic to convince him to sign. After all, few thought Kevin Hayes would land in New York.
Hartford Wolf Pack starting goaltender Mackenzie Skapski had successful arthroscopic hip surgery today, which repaired a torn labrum in his right hip. Skapski will be out 4-5 months, which puts his return in the October-November timeframe.
This further solidifies that Skapski will be in Hartford next season, despite allowing just one goal in two games –both against the Sabres– during his stint as the Rangers backup goalie.
When the Rangers started the season, there were many questions about which kids would make a significant impact on the big club. Kevin Hayes made the club out of camp, but his transition to center in the NHL was going to be a long road and there were times when he sat as a healthy scratch. Jesper Fast was yo-yo’d a few times this season before finally sticking around December. J.T. Miller received the same treatment.
By the time the Rangers started rolling in December, Hayes, Miller, and Fast had become the three rookie staples in the lineup. Hayes had been impressing everyone –literally everyone, as I don’t think there’s one person who believes the Rangers rushed him– as he adapted to the NHL and the rigors of the center position. He got better each and every game, first focusing on defense and positioning.
Hayes put up a modest 6-11-17 in the first four months (46 games). But once February came, Hayes turned up the scoring, notching 11 goals, 17 assists, and 28 points in the final 35 games. With Derick Brassard and Derek Stepan holding down the top two center spots, Hayes turned even his fiercest doubters into his largest supporters.