Archive for Musings
– Interesting idea by Alain Vigneault to create a “tower” line of Rick Nash, Eric Staal and Viktor Stalberg. I still think Staal makes more sense as a winger in this lineup (who takes a ton of faceoffs), but I admit the idea of this monster line harassing the enemy net in the playoffs is tantalizing.
– How much money has Chris Kreider earned with his late-season surge? He’d been in the midst of a brutal year and it seemed like his lack of production would result in a discounted contract, with the savings earmarked for J.T. Miller. But now Miller’s offense has dried up and Kreider is on a tear with five goals in his last nine games and 10 since January 16. Kreider’s usual strong playoff performance will also have a major impact, but he’s now in position for a hefty raise over his current $2.475 million cap hit.
Even though Kevin wrote a musings post on Wednesday, there is some stuff in my head that I wanted to get out. So, I’m writing a separate musings post. Bring it, Kevin!
Can the Rangers justify not keeping Eric Staal beyond this season? Does anything other than a Cup winning parade justify moving two second round picks and a legitimate prospect? In my opinion Staal is getting better with each game but how do you measure a move such as Staal’s?
… and if you do keep him, what number ($) makes sense? Is there even a number the Rangers can afford?
Brady Skjei has done reasonably well in his cup of coffee with the Rangers thus far and you have to be happy his solid (albeit not rapid) development. That said, while the young blueliner makes solid, steady progress it would be a disaster if he doesn’t make the Rangers out of camp next season. That’s partly because it will mean his progression has stalled but with Dan Boyle retiring, Keith Yandle’s uncertain future, not to mention the Girardi/Staal ‘situation’ and a sticky cap scenario… the Rangers simply need him to be ready.
After a pretty consistent schedule, the Rangers have enjoyed three days off before they take on the Red Wings tomorrow afternoon at Joe Louis Arena. That will be the Rangers 68th game of the season, so we are coming down to the wire. Once colleagues and clients start irritating me with talk of brackets, upsets and obscure mountain colleges, I know the NHL playoffs aren’t too far away. Anyway, I have some scattered thoughts… Read More→
– The news that Dylan McIlrath will miss a couple weeks with a knee injury will likely effectively end his season. Barring another significant injury, there’s no chance Alain Vigneault will look McIlrath’s way upon his return when he won’t immediately be at full speed, nor in the postseason given Vigneault’s preference for the veterans. But it is a pretty huge luxury for the Blueshirts to know that their 23-year-old seventh defenseman and 21-year-old first call-up from Hartford can both be penciled into the lineup for next fall. Dan Boyle will obviously be a goner and at least one of the other five veterans will likely be out as well, but the Rangers are lucky to have two replacements in house.
– While Cam Talbot was busy wrapping up First Star of the Week honors in Edmonton, Antti Raanta was giving up three goals in the first five minutes of the game against the Islanders on Sunday. Raanta has been mostly OK, but there’s been a noticeable drop-off from Talbot last year to Raanta now. Granted, Talbot was among the top backups in the game over the last couple years and Raanta was acquired for Ryan Haggerty (remember him!?), but with Henrik Lundqvist getting older, the backup goalie is only going to be a bigger issue each year going forward. While Chris advocated for keeping Raanta this summer, I’m not as sold. I wonder if Magnus Hellberg could be the No. 2 next season?
- It took Alain Vigneault less than a game to realize playing Eric Staal at center wasn’t going to work. Sure, the idea of having Staal, Derick Brassard and Derek Stepan down the middle is tantalizing, but it just isn’t feasible with the current makeup of the team. Kevin Hayes has earned that third-line role with recent improved play and has formed an effective threesome with Oscar Lindberg and Viktor Stalberg. Hayes also has been underwhelming on the wing, where the Rangers have a major hole with Rick Nash out. Perhaps things will be different when Nash returns, but until then Staal’s greatest value is on the wing, even if he needs to tag in frequently to win faceoffs.
- Speaking of Nash, when he returns the Rangers should finally achieve the depth level that Dave preached all year – Stalberg/Dominic Moore/Jesper Fast, or the equivalent, as the fourth line. Granted, it’s possible that Vigneault will still choose to dress Tanner Glass over a guy like Lindberg, but if not, the forwards should be pretty strong one through 12. This looks pretty good to me:
The long rumored Eric Staal to New York trade has been finalized. The Rangers acquired the C/W from Carolina yesterday afternoon –at 50% retained salary– in exchange for prospect Aleksi Saarela and a pair of second round picks in 2016 and 2017. A lot of people had a lot of opinions about the trade, and now that we’ve had some time to digest the move, let’s break this down.
1. Make no doubt about it, this team is better now than they were Saturday night. Eric Staal, despite his goal scoring numbers this year, is still a solid hockey player. He drives possession to absurd amounts (56.7% this year) despite playing on very bad teams. He only has ten goals this year, but he’s shooting a paltry 6.3%, almost half his career average. The optimist in my believes that there is a chance Staal goes on a tear with better teammates and a turnaround in luck.
The trade deadline is right around the corner, and the rumors are flying left and right. Speculation is also rampant. So as we head to the deadline, which is this coming Monday, I have some helpful hints to help you through this stressful time.
1. First and foremost, know the difference between speculation and rumor. A rumor is something concrete, stating that there have been talks, pieces discussed, and a deal could be in the works. Usually these rumors come from two people: Bob McKenzie or Elliotte Friedman. Speculation is different from a rumor. Speculation is saying that the Rangers could deal for Eric Staal because Rick Nash is out. “Could” is the key word there. That’s someone throwing something at a wall. It could make logical sense, it could not. But try and identify the difference, it’ll save you some sanity.
2. Beware of fake accounts. I linked to McKenzie and Friedman above for a reason. Even if they aren’t the first to report something, they will piggyback off the original reporter. Seriously, beware of fake accounts.
Two questions for the mailbag this week. As always, submit your questions via the widget on the right, and we will answer them on a weekly basis.
Ray observes: This is more of an observation about the penalty kill than a question. So I’m going to put the full email from Ray below, it’s superb analysis.
I looked up some surprisingly hard to find numbers and did some calculations that might be of interest. I found my starting numbers on War-on-Ice. The stat is simple enough — TOI/GA (time-on-ice per goals against), so one is rating defenders by the simple metric of how well they keep the puck out of the net. High numbers are good.
I list all Rangers with at least 10 minutes of PK time and asterisk those with < 50 minutes.
Happy Friday, BSB faithful. It’s about 5am and I am readying to leave for Canada to get back to my Canuck roots for a couple days, so I’m going to leave you with some brief thoughts before the Kings come to town this evening.
Let’s start the proceedings with a former King. I am very surprised the Rangers did not put a claim in on Christian Erhoff. I know what you are saying; “but Justin, there was a reason the Kings put him on waivers, why would the Rangers want anything to do with him?” Well, for one he would have added defensive depth and he only cost cap space. There have been several nagging injuries this season, and clearly the organization is only looking to call up Brady Skjei in the event of a long-term role. Could also have created some matchup leverage depending on opponent. Alas, it was not meant to be.
The Rangers’ defensive lapses and disappointing individual performances have been discussed again and again, but one surprising issue this season has been the frequency with which the team hits the ice with very little energy. We saw so few of those pure stinker games in recent years under first John Tortorella and then Alain Vigneault, but this impossible-to-measure quality has been missing this season with unacceptable regularity.
Part of the problem has been the exodus of key individuals that served as the main spark plugs for the Blueshirts. Former captain Ryan Callahan could always be counted on to give the team a lift by sacrificing his body, Carl Hagelin had the unique ability to fly on ice and wreak havoc in the opponent’s zone, and Martin St. Louis channeled his veteran status and personal experiences into juice for the club. The Rangers survived the departure of Callahan just fine, but losing the latter two last summer may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back. Read More→