Archive for Musings
We’re approaching a significant few weeks in the NHL; for the Rangers but for the league generally. The draft, the Steven Stamkos sweepstakes, expansion (and all the fallout that comes with it), the World Cup of Hockey; all this promises to impact a busy and potentially landscape changing offseason. Let’s get into a Musings taking a look at both Rangers and league goings-on.
Do the Rangers have staffing issues?
So Rick Bowness stays in Tampa? You can’t blame the guy for staying in a good hockey situation (even potentially losing Steven Stamkos, the Lightning are well set) and I’m not sure what it says of Alain Vigneault’s ability to entice staff to New York anymore. It appears that Bowness won’t change employers unless it’s for another HC gig and the Rangers fanbase were never excited by this choice anyway.
– Rangers fans have been salivating over the possibility of trading for RFA Tyson Barrie from the Avalanche. He’d go a long way towards rebuilding the defense with more adept puck movers, but there’s going to be a long line of teams waiting to poach the 24-year-old PPQB from Colorado. New York might be able to entice the Avs with one of its RFA forwards, but the dream scenario is that Colorado might be dumb enough to accept one of the Blueshirts’ anchors as part of a package for Barrie. Unfortunately, TSN’s Bob McKenzie made it clear that the Avs know they need help on D, but don’t want to tie so much money up in one player. That would pretty much rule out Marc Staal or Dan Girardi. It’s not that the Avs don’t have cap space, but they’ve always been a budget team as opposed to a cap ceiling team, and Colorado must also re-sign RFA Nathan MacKinnon this summer without much significant money coming off the books. It’s hard to see a match here.
– Larry Brooks’ piece last week was extremely depressing for the most part, but his suggestion that Minnesota is very interested in trading for Derek Stepan caught my eye. I would be loath to part with the team’s best two-way centerman, but the Wild has a very intriguing collection of young talent. If Matt Dumba (and more) were on the table, that could go a long way towards rebuilding the defense.
– I’m dying to know what the Rangers were offering Tampa Bay in exchange for Jonathan Drouin earlier this season.
Normally, I would say “Happy Friday” and other pleasant greetings on the eve of Memorial Day weekend. Nope. Not today. Last night, my air conditioning decided that it didn’t feel like cold air was the life choice it was looking for anymore. This was on top of the Penguins winning, the Yankees losing and few other personal life factors that I could have done without. In the wake of this, I decided to take it out on a few Rangers off-season concepts that have been irritating me over the last few weeks. You’ve been warned. Just to qualify these fractured mini-rants to those who will find themselves disagreeing with me. They are not meant to insult you, I just find them to be ridiculous and need to vent. Feel free to pick a fight with me in the comments.
Last night’s appearance by James Reimer in San Jose made it official: all eight goalies, starters and backups, have had playing time in each conference final series. Though not surprising — Martin Jones had given up four goals at the time of Reimer’s entrance, and Jake Allen got the nod in an attempt to wake up the sleeping Blues — it raises a question. Just how important are goalies in the playoffs?
It’s clear that goaltending can make or break a team; we’ve seen teams with loads of talent disintegrate in the playoffs, as with the Dallas Stars. Neither Kari Lehtonen nor Antti Niemi as primary goalies will lead to a Cup in Texas. However, the differential between elite goaltending and above average goaltending doesn’t make a great difference for teams to go far in the quest for the Cup. Read More→
It’s never fun enduring a long offseason while fans of other clubs get to enjoy a playoff run. This may sound a little spoiled to fans of teams like Edmonton and Calgary, but over the last decade, Rangers fans have been treated to a consistent expectation of contention. Since the Rangers have been eliminated, I have read a lot of great analysis about the importance of this offseason and potential directions for the club to go.
It’s going to be very difficult to handicap the exact moves from an analysis standpoint and hey, that’s up to you guys and gals anyway (shameless plug for the Off-season Plan Contest). I have kind of a conceptual thought-dump I wanted to share about this coming offseason and to see how you are felt about some of these things…
– A major reason for the Rangers’ struggles defensively that was astutely pointed out by Rick Carpiniello was the disinterest in playing on that side of the puck by so many of the team’s top forwards. Whereas in the past the Blueshirts have had Ryan Callahan, Carl Hagelin, Brian Boyle, Brandon Dubinsky, etc. playing key roles and devoting just as much attention to their own end, this season a host of forwards including Derick Brassard, Mats Zuccarello, Chris Kreider, Kevin Hayes, and at times JT Miller were no-shows in their own zone. They didn’t do Dan Girardi, Marc Staal and co. any favors by botching their assignments so regularly.
– Oscar Lindberg’s surgery was a real curveball. Lindberg’s dirt cheap $650k cap hit is a hugely important piece of the puzzle heading forward given the Blueshirts’ cap woes and expected push towards youth, but now they’ll have to plan around his absence for the first month of the season. Given Nicklas Jensen’s outstanding showing at the World Championships and similar cap hit, Lindberg’s injury may have granted Jensen a regular spot to lose at camp.
The offseason is in full swing for the Rangers. There is a lot of work to do with this team, and you can bet your life savings that the team will be hard at work to fill holes and make the team better heading into next season. While we can all debate what we believe “making the team better” means, which have countless times, it’s that time of the year where we see these plans coming to action.
Since it’s a rainy, lazy Sunday. Let’s go through some predictions for this offseason.
- Pavel Buchnevich is now officially free from his KHL contract. I think he signs with the Rangers soon, as in this week. It’s a no-brainer that he signs, since he is the most highly touted prospect this organization has seen in recent memory.
The interesting thing about having a set day to write is that sometimes you are forced to sit on the sidelines while other writers are able to react to certain situations, immediately. In this case, the Rangers were eliminated by the Penguins on Saturday, and I wasn’t scheduled to publish until the following Friday. Lots of digestion time. Since then, there has been breakup day, a myriad of reactions from all over the interwebs and some fine analysis done by the talented staff here. As you can probably surmise, I have thoughts…
1. Not that the result was surprising, but it was still disappointing. The Rangers were never going to make a serious run considering all the issues the team had. Still, the fan in me was hoping to see something amazing that the analyst in me knew was never going to happen.
Not like this. Not like this.
That’s the way many felt when the Rangers collapsed in Game Four, losing 5-0 and draining all remaining hope that was left in this fan base. The team was too slow. Too rigid. Too stuck in old fashioned hockey truisms that simply are not true anymore. A glimmer of hope after Rick Nash scored in Game Five, then crushing defeat.
This loss wasn’t as bad as 2014, when a bounce here or there in the Stanley Cup Final means more hardware in New York. That was the worst. The loss in 2015 stung, but deep down, we knew Tampa Bay was better and healthier. But at least those series were competitive.
The Rangers stunk up the joint in their demolition, possibly the last hoorah for some beloved fan favorites. These same fan favorites who, like their coach and their president –but perhaps not the GM, we don’t know yet– are relics of these truisms that have been disproven by a game that now features speed and creativity.