Archive for Musings
– I’m a little stunned by some of the quality free agents still floating out there. Guys like Brandon Pirri and Justin Fontaine should be appealing to the many front offices that have hired #fancystats analysts and developed more progressive player evaluation models. A few of those players will still find homes before the season starts, but a good number will likely end up with PTOs at training camp. Remember, Lee Stempniak signed a PTO with the Devils before last season and ended up having a huge year. There’s potential for the same thing to happen with a couple of guys this season and the Rangers should be eyeing them closely.
– Overall the Rangers have made some pretty strong moves this offseason. Nick Holden should be a nice upgrade to the third pair; Nathan Gerbe, Josh Jooris and Michael Grabner bring speed, depth and penalty killing prowess; Adam Clendening and Michael Paliotta are two post-hype prospects that still have some real potential on defense; and the draft class was loaded with value picks that fit the direction of the franchise. Failing to re-sign Viktor Stalberg is the one head-scratching departure, but it’s hardly worth losing sleep over.
Becky’s post the other day had me thinking. The dog days of summer certainly are here, with little of note occurring in Rangerstown these days my attentions turned to other things. Watching both the Euro and Copa América tournaments, keeping up with baseball, trying my best to read and exercise, etc has all occupied my time since the end of the playoffs. Unlike my fellow blogger and podcasting companion however, I’m really feeling the lack of hockey pulling at me, and that’s got me thinking about this upcoming season and how I can best prepare myself for it. Let me explain what I mean.
Eighty-two games of hockey is a long season, which to me is both a good and bad thing. It’s a good thing because it means games are frequent, adding structure and motive to otherwise boring days and weeks. Hockey gives me something to look forward to at the end of the day on any given day, the narrative fluidity of different points in the season string together in a way that makes time pass gently and without friction, and in general it just gives me something to do, something to think about, and something to spend every waking hour obsessing over. I also go to a good amount of games (my dad’s a season ticket holder), so the routine and familiarity of Rangers hockey brings a certain comfort and excitement to my life – hockey, beyond but also including the physical confines of the Garden, feels like home to me.
The ridiculousness of free agency is now a week behind us, and a whole lot has happened. Not much with the Rangers, mind you, but that is more or less a good thing. The Blueshirts brought in Michael Grabner, Nathan Gerbe, Nick Holden and a couple AHL signees. Most of the heavy lifting appears to be done, and as you can imagine, I have some thoughts…
- I can’t help but wonder if Jeff Gorton was aiming for some sort of actual return for Marc Staal and Dan Girardi. I am painfully aware that the number of cap floor, analytically-averse teams are dwindling rapidly and that there simply may have been no interested parties. This could explain why no one has signed Kris Russell yet. Point is, I hope Gorton would have jumped on the opportunity just to shed the salary and not hoped for an actual return.
– In his post-draft press conference, GM Jeff Gorton was asked about his team’s plans for the summer and acknowledged “you can probably look at our roster and pick that apart and figure out what we need to do.” Gorton’s subsequent actions were to add Michael Grabner and Nathan Gerbe, which suggests Gorton viewed the penalty kill as the club’s primary weakness. Yes, Nick Holden might be a decent third-pair depth defenseman, but by no means is bringing him aboard the wholesale defensive makeover the Blueshirts so desperately needed. And what’s most puzzling is that of all the clued in media, Pat Leonard is the only one that has reported Gorton made any effort whatsoever to deal Marc Staal and Dan Girardi. There’s still a chance that Gorton buys out Girardi later in the summer or somehow swings a blockbuster trade, but it seems pretty likely that the Rangers will enter next season with a roster far too similar to the one that disappointed this past spring. By subtracting Keith Yandle, Viktor Stalberg and Dominic Moore and adding spare parts Holden, Grabner and Gerbe, there’s not much of a case to be made that the club is improved.
This weekend the 2016 NHL Draft came and went, and while we don’t have much clearer of a picture regarding Rangers GM Jeff Gorton’s plans what we do know is that it’s going to be a wild ride. Still, Gorton’s track record with the Bruins and the comments he’s made so far can give fans some hope that this team is going to turn it around after a less than optimal campaign this past season.
Although the Rangers didn’t pick until the third round they made a prudent decision in taking OHL defenseman Sean Day. At 6 foot 2 and 228 pounds, Day brings size to the table, but more importantly he brings elite skating ability, with Rangers Director of Player Personnel Gordie Clark comparing Day’s movement to that of Paul Coffey’s. Day fell to the third round due to questions about his attitude and whether or not he could put all of his skills together, but has undeniable talent that could seriously pay off for the Rangers should he pan out. The pick certainly has risk attached to it, but the fact that the Rangers took a chance on the high-ceiling Day demonstrates that the Rangers know they need elite skating ability back on the blue line.
The draft is a great time to assess the needs of a team, to see where the front office is focusing and to guess how the team will utilize what they have and leverage their way to higher picks. It’s also a really great time to play make believe.
On Thursday, I posed a fun question to Rangers twitter: who is your dream Ranger? The one factor I threw out there is that it has to be a current player. Otherwise, we’re in total fantasy land: no cap hit, no trade issues, no restrictions. Your responses were pretty fantastic.
– The list of available puck-moving defensemen has quickly dwindled with the Ducks re-signing Sami Vatanen and Avalanche GM Joe Sakic insisting he will keep Tyson Barrie. The one possibility floating around that still makes a lot of sense is a match with Minnesota, which might be willing to part with Matt Dumba, Marco Scandella, Jared Spurgeon, or Jonas Brodin in exchange for an impact forward. There were rumors a few weeks back that the Wild coveted Derek Stepan, so there’s some smoke here.
– The one other big name that looks like he may be on the move is Kevin Shattenkirk. It’s common knowledge that Shattenkirk would love to be a Blueshirt, but with one year remaining on his current contract and a hefty raise inevitable, moving major assets to acquire him is not without risk. A Shattenkirk for Rick Nash swap still seems possible, but St. Louis has cap woes of its own that makes things tricky.
Happy Father’s Day, BSB nation! Before we dive into Rangers chat, I’d like to thank my dad for being a great role model and for being so supportive. Without him, I wouldn’t have a borderline corny-dad sense of humor. I would also like to wish all the dads who read us a happy Father’s Day and thanks for checking in here on your day.
Since it’s summer and, as an tax accountant, I use 110% of my brainpower from January-April, today will be a pre-draft musings. We went over this in last week’s podcast, but focused on who we think will be traded. How about focusing on not trading?
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.