The New York Rangers are an incredible case study, I do not believe that there has ever been a team with such stark differences regarding the talent level between the offense and the defense. The offense is so deep that we may as well call our forwards Mariana. Tje defense… eh I don’t have to say anything.
In the grand scheme of things, especially seeing the moves that GM Jeff Gorton made over the summer, I still consider this season to be a transition season, and it hasn’t been as bad on the eyes as last year so that’s always fun. The Rangers’ possession numbers aren’t something to be thrilled about though, and while the defense has been a focal point of the issues that we have faced, I think there are some things that may at least be worth trying to maximize the potential of our offense.
The NHL trade deadline is less than a month away, and as always the big market New York Rangers are at the center of online trade rumors. It’s no secret that the Rangers are in need of upgrades on defense, but that doesn’t stop outlets for saying the Rangers are in the running for names like Jarome Iginla and Shane Doan. The Rangers are also in a very odd position this season that may throw a monkey wrench into possible plans.
The Rangers are in the best division in the league, where 5th place in the Metro would be 3rd in the Atlantic division. This provides something odd as the Rangers will likely play either the best team in the Atlantic Division (Montreal) or the second place team in the Metro, which will likely be better than Montreal. Either path provides a difficult and path in round 1 and an even tougher matchup in the second round.
For those who may not follow me on Twitter, I have been improving on the draft trends that I made last year. For this current season I decided to include every player playing in Major Junior, not just the draft eligibles. Thanks to the wonderful work by @3Hayden2 (creator of prospect-stats.com), I have been able to make more comprehensive views. I only have the OHL completed right now, but I’ll have the other leagues up soon.
Before looking at the players, it’s important to understand how these should be read. The visual consists of numerous parts. First, we have the basic information about the player. It is very important to look at the age when we are looking at how they perform. An older player should be expected to be great in Juniors, as they play against younger and less developed kids. But a draft eligible kid (18 years old) performing strongly can make for an interesting potential sneak pick in the mid rounds.
The New York Rangers have hit a prominent lull in the 2016-2017 season. It is pretty easy to expect fans to be getting antsy when your team has given up more touchdowns than the Cleveland Browns in one week, followed up by spotting Ottawa a two-spot early on. Members of the analytics community expected the team to slow down, and losing an entire first line tends to make the regression even more excruciating. Other bloggers in the Rangers community have mentioned that perhaps, a key thing the Rangers need to help turn this lull around is toughness.
One of the biggest proponents for adding toughness in the Rangers blogger universe is @NYR_Fulltilt and he laid out his points well in this post. I tend to disagree with a lot of what he says, but I have noticed that much of the backlash he is getting is disjointed yelling, making following and cheering for the team difficult at times. I am just going to flat out say my view, toughness is not an issue, nor is having four similar lines of skill, but I do think there is more to the discussion than what meets the eyes.
Confession: I just wanted to save this title for when it happens in the NHL.
One of the more interesting prospects for the Rangers this season has been Sergey Zborovskiy. When he was drafted he immediately became a somewhat polarizing player due to the Rangers taking him in the third round. While he was certainly shooting up the draft rankings, the Rangers’ definitely reached for him. Low and behold, last season Zborovskiy began to slowly add some more offense to his game. That is a natural progression that comes with being more comfortable in a new country and growing older.
Not all things were peachy last year though. While his point production and skating improved, he was still having difficulty breaking out of his own zone, costing him the spot on the Russian World Junior team. The Rangers still must’ve seen some potential and rewarded Zborovskiy’s improvement with an entry level contract. From the current look of things, he is beginning to reimburse the Rangers. So let’s break down the prospect that can potentially give the Rangers a nice defenseman with size.
Yesterday, the Rangers made a surprising little move by claiming the 24th overall pick in the 2011 Entry Draft, Matt Puempel. Without trying to make this more complex I truly see some good signs regarding this transaction, so lets get to some musings that have sprung from the waiver pick-up.
First and foremost lets get to the semantics, a couple of weeks ago the Rangers terminated Calle Andersson’s contract. In theory, Puempel just takes his slot and the Rangers still have a few spots open for trade flexibility or UDFA signings.
It is no secret that the Rangers want to improve defensively. It is not just the bloggers who say it too, as NHL insider Pierre Lebrun yesterday said that the Rangers are doing their due diligence and will likely make a trade for a defenseman this season. I don’t really consider this “insider news” but I am a narcissist and like when the league is talking about the Rangers doing something potentially smart.
LeBrun: I think at some point #NYR will do everything they can to trade for a Top-4 D, or get some help on D, between now & trade deadline.
— Chris Nichols (@NicholsOnHockey) October 24, 2016
There are many factors that go into this small rumor. First and foremost is the Rangers’ ability to value players and defensemen. I’d say that for the most part, supreme leader Jeff Gorton has impressed a good portion of the fan base by revamping the NYR offense and creating a speed team once again.
While we are all enjoying the new version of the Rangers, I am also keeping tabs on the Rangers prospects not playing in the AHL at the moment. Since I’m sure many of you have heard how dominant Igor Shesterkin has been in Russia in the KHL, it might be prudent to remember there are other prospects in the system
Tyler Nanne – Nanne is a series of unfortunate events. While he was a good risk to take as a dynamic right handed defenseman, Nanne had a dangerous heart condition that kept him out of playing in the NCAA last year. With this, he decided to transfer from Ohio State to the University of Minnesota. NCAA rules stipulate he must sit out this season as well, though. Sitting out two years is not good news for any player. I think this is it for him and he won’t be signed by Rangers.
The 2017 season is right around the corner, and as the World Cup of Hockey begins we will finally have something new to talk about in regards to hockey. This comes right on time as I am absolutely drained of any ideas after this one for the near future.
While many of us are certainly intrigued at how the forward depth will shape up for the New York Rangers post training camp, many more fans are eager to see what move GM Jeff Gorton may have in play to fix up the defense. It has been a long anticipated move, combining the rumors on Kevin Shattenkirk, the “guaranteed” Rick Nash trade, young defensemen remaining unsigned, and that the Rangers seem to do their business in the shadows with moves nobody sees coming (I love you Brassard, stay golden). In any case, there are a lot of factors surrounding the Rangers, but sometimes there are management and advisory roles that need to be filled as well.
The New York Rangers recently announced their Traverse City roster and invites, and while the names don’t include players from my previous post there are some interesting names. There are three non-organizational forwards invited to the camp; Reid Duke, Nick Betz, and Zack Zborosky. On defense we have Colton Bobyk, Zachary Malatesta, Turner Ottenbreit, and Dylan Di Perna as the non-roster invites. Let’s look at these invitees.
Reid Duke – The versatile right handed center and winger is the only center the Rangers invited this fall and he provides this team with some intriguing depth. He plays an all around two way game focused on speed and being responsible in his own end. The teams he has been on use him in a defensive role for this very reason, yet he does show some flashes of skill. The issue with Duke is that his offense isn’t exactly consistent nor is it impressive as a 20 year old in the WHL. Duke was lost in the numbers as he went unsigned by the Minnesota Wild, but in any case should provide some forward and penalty kill depth to the roster as he tries to get his name on a possible AHL contract.