Archive for Offseason
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.
With a full weekend to cope with the Rangers losing Game 7, the time has come to shift gears. As Chris mentioned yesterday, we are going to spend the next few weeks discussing the draft, free agency, the roster, and key decision the Rangers need to make this summer. We will also be talking about what went right for the Rangers, and what they lacked. Chris also started this discussion yesterday.
The salary cap for next season is expected to be at $71.5 million, up from $69 million this past season. That doesn’t give the Rangers a lot of wiggle room to improve the team. They already have $59.5 million committed to next year, and that doesn’t include guaranteed raises to RFAs Derek Stepan, Carl Hagelin, J.T. Miller, and Jesper Fast. Once those guys are under contract, the Rangers have almost nothing left.
Some times pain lingers. But we’re back. Now that the hockey season is over (how many of you truly care who wins out of Tampa and Chicago?) it’s time to look at what went wrong for the Rangers, to discuss where the team goes from here and of course to discuss what went right. We’ll give praise where it’s deserved and there’s a lot of praise to dole out on the back of a historically good season. A hugely disappointing ending doesn’t make all the good disappear and we think we’re a rational bunch on this site. So stay the course.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll discuss the draft, free agency, take a look at the roster and we’ll give you grades for the season, on every aspect of the team from Sather to Talbot. If you have any specific requests on what you want us to look at or discuss, let us know in the comments. We try and listen to you guys as much as we can (the rational ones anyway) so let us have it.
It starts today. I’ll have a look at what I think is THE most glaring omission from the roster, right now. Check back later today and of course, over the next few weeks for all your Rangers analysis. Gracias folks.
We’re (finally) just one day away from training camp! There will be a whole lot of real Ranger news coming up, but since we’ve exhausted pretty much every type of camp preview imaginable this summer – allow me just one more random post before the action kicks into high gear.
What would happen if you were to pit the 2014 New York Rangers against the best lineup of former Blueshirts still currently playing in the NHL?
Here’s my take on the best hypothetical roster of ex-Rangers that takes into account positions and logical scoring and checking lines:
Last Sunday, we looked at playoff teams from last year which should be playing late April hockey again in 2015. Sixteen teams make it, and though none of us have a crystal ball (and if you do, remember, sharing is caring), based on offseason moves and prospect development, we could all have a good sense of teams that will be good and teams that won’t. Speaking of teams that won’t, we all know that just being in the playoffs one year does not guarantee success in years to come.
Let’s take a look again at the playoff teams of 2014:
It’s a fairly safe bet to say that not each and every team on the above bracket will be there next year. Frankly, let’s hope not; it would make for a pretty boring year. Let’s take a look at some teams which may be facing locker room breakup day when the season ends next spring.
With optional skates beginning to start and the Traverse City Tournament and NHL Pre-season just around the corner, we are almost ready to get excited about hockey again. One of the most interesting story lines of the pre-season will be opportunities for prospects and depth veterans to step up and seize important minutes. A game of musical chairs, indeed.
Most of us were fairly underwhelmed by the clubs work in free agency. Solid contributors to last year’s finalists Anton Stralman and Beniot Pouliot bolted for greener (read: money) pastures, defensive stalwarts Brian Boyle and Derek Dorsett are now employed elsewhere and Brad Richards’ buy-out saw him take a smaller money deal in the Windy City.
Immediately after July 1, it looked like the Rangers would have several forward spots open to competition at training camp. However, the eventual signings of Matt Lombardi, Lee Stempniak and Kevin Hayes have made it much more difficult for anyone else to earn a spot in the lineup. The likes of J.T. Miller, Jesper Fast and Oscar Lindberg still figure to duke it out with some of those depth signings for the final spot or two, but it’s going to be exceedingly difficult for anyone else to enter the fray. With that said, here’s a look at the handful of forwards and defensemen that could conceivably be in the mix with a standout performance at camp.
Ryan Malone – This one is a real long-shot not only because of the legal questions surrounding Malone, but because the Rangers would have to ship out a player to fit Malone under the 50-contract limit. Malone was once an effective power forward and is presumably being invited to training camp on the off chance the Blueshirts catch lightning in a bottle in their search to replace Benoit Pouliot, but unless Malone dominates, it’s highly unlikely he makes the team.
Well, here we are. The Top 10. I hope you enjoyed the ride, I know I sure did. In case you missed it, here are the previous two entries in this years list (30-21) and (20-11). Without further adieu, your 2014-2015 Top 10…
10. Mike Smith- Arizona Coyotes. Last year’s ranking: 10
- Smith has become more famous for his goal at this point than his puck stopping abilities, but those should absolutely not be overlooked. For a big guy, he moves exceedingly well and has cemented his status as a top-notch positional goaltender over the past few seasons. I mentioned in my first Top 30, that I expected perennial Vezina-caliber campaigns out of Smith, and while he has been slightly off that lofty standard, he has been a rock in the Arizona (Phoenix?) net. His large frame and third defenseman puck-handling skills make him an integral part of the ‘Yotes franchise and remains one of the league’s top tenders.
If you’ve been paying attention this offseason, you’ve noticed that several NHL teams have hired advanced stats experts. Though #fancystats still have opposition, you don’t need to look further than the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings for proof that they offer valuable insight. No longer are these metrics exclusive to a small community of mathematicians, they are now mainstream in hockey.
Last summer I reviewed Rob Vollman’s Hockey Abstract and began to fall deeper into the rabbit hole of advanced stats. Rob was kind enough to give me a copy of Hockey Abstract 2014 – co-written by Tom Awad and Ian Fyffe – again this year, and it was even better than the first edition.
Vollman’s greatest strength is in putting what appear to be complicated formulas, graphs and figures into words that anyone can understand, whether they’re good at math or not. In fact, I’ll readily admit that I glossed over many of the charts in the book, because the real value is in Vollman’s translation. I’m much more concerned with what the numbers mean than how they’re reached, so I enjoyed Vollman’s thought process and conclusions most of all. Read More→
Three hockey clubs in 47 years. The 2009 Penguins. The 1984 Oilers. The 1968 Canadiens. They are the only three hockey clubs in the Post-Original Six expansion era to win the Stanley Cup the year after they challenged for it and lost. Not exactly favorable odds.
Those three clubs weren’t exactly one hit wonders either. The Canadiens of that era helped brand their organization for a long time as the Yankees of the NHL. The Oilers of the 80s were the last of a dying breed in pro sports — a dynasty. Though they never lived up to their potential, the Crosby-led Penguins were at least expected to challenge for the Cup a few more times following their 2009 victory. They didn’t and now Bylsma and Shero are unemployed.
So will the Rangers defy history and do the unthinkable?