Archive for Offseason
Jeff Gorton is entering his first full offseason as the GM of the New York Rangers, and he couldn’t be tasked with a more difficult offseason. The Rangers have toxic contracts, a system that doesn’t fit some of the players, and the worst of them all, a combination of the two. But with rumors abound that they are taking offers on pretty much everyone, the big concern is making splashes for splashes sake.
It’s pretty clear where the issues are on this team. For those that need a refresher, it’s summed up in one tweet:
1st in shooting%
7th in goals
14th in PP
21st in scoring chances against (5v5)
25th in high-danger scoring chances against (5v5)
26th in PK
— HockeyStatMiner (@HockeyStatMiner) June 12, 2016
With the Sharks 4-2 win last night in game 5, the 2015-2016 season lasts just a little bit longer. Once Lord Stanley has found his summer home, we move on proper to the business of improving the New York Rangers. Much digital ink has been spilled, including some stellar pieces around these parts, about who should stay or go, cap math and statistical analysis. This morning, I want to talk about some subtle distinctions.
I was having a beer with a buddy of mine yesterday afternoon. I grew up playing with this guy, and we been friends and Rangers fans for over 20 years. We started talking about the team; who we liked, who was overpaid, who should be shipped out and replaced in an effort to re-tool the roster back to a legitimate contender. It occurred to me during this conversation, partly because of our dynamic, that it kind of sounded like those old school scouting conversations. He isn’t much of an advanced stats guy, so we were talking like it was the 90’s. Read More→
For those who follow me on Twitter, I’ve been ranting about two players for a long, long time. Mostly because it is starting to look like an absolute necessity to add them to our system, as there is a huge issue on the right side of the blue line. This extends from the NHL through the system. With the club allowing Ryan Mantha to re-enter the draft ,you have to think they will be looking to add a body or two soon.
The first player is Jerret Smith, a 6’2, 207 lbs defenseman. He attended the Rangers training camp and is the captain of fellow Rangers’ prospect Ryan Gropp’s team (Seattle Thunderbirds). He discussed in October how much he enjoyed the training camp, and this season worked on improving his skating, something the Rangers asked him to do.
Ever since the ball dropped that the Rangers are fielding offers on everyone not named Brady Skjei, Pavel Buchnevich, or Henrik Lundqvist, the focus has been on trading names like Rick Nash, Derek Stepan, and Ryan McDonagh (Marc Staal/Dan Girardi notwithstanding). But when it comes to Stepan, very few bring up Derick Brassard, who may actually be the best chip for the Rangers.
When comparing Stepan to Brassard, most Rangers fans think this is either a toss up or lean Brassard. It’s a valid argument, as Brassard is putting up comparable offensive numbers to Stepan and is on a cheaper deal. With the Rangers crunched for cap space, trading Stepan seems like the way to lean if they decide to trade one of their top two centers.
But is that truly the smartest approach?
Though the Stanley Cup finals are in full swing, it’s felt like ages since we have had some hockey in New York. Naturally, as the withdrawal sets in, fans cling to pieces of news frequently to play psychic about the future of the team.
This is what Rangers fans have been guilty of for the past 1-2 weeks, particularly with the Brooks article. The following tweet has ruffled a lot of Rangers Twitter feathers as well late last week:
McKenzie: Outside of Lundqvist, maybe McDonagh, I’ve got to believe Gorton ‘talking to a lot of teams about a lot of players.’ #NYR
— Chris Nichols (@NicholsOnHockey) June 3, 2016
This postseason ended poorly for the Rangers, and it’s generally understood that the team is due for some major changes. This itself isn’t a problem, given the ways in which the Rangers’ on-ice process struggled throughout the season, with slight improvements here and there but nothing major. Still, recent news about whom the Rangers are shopping might be cause for some concern.
Let’s start with Larry Brooks’ article, which stated that the Rangers are standing pat on Dan Girardi but listening to offers on Nash, Stepan, Brassard, and Ryan McDonagh. This caused quite a stir both here on Blue Seat Blogs and elsewhere on the internet, as it should. Dan Girardi, simply put, had an abysmal season and should be first on the Rangers’ priority list of players to trade, not last. It’s not terribly far out to say that what the Rangers need is addition by subtraction, with any potential Girardi/Staal/Glass deal likely to improve the team no matter what.
Unless you were living under a rock this season, you noticed that the Rangers need to make some changes if they wish to stay relevant in the NHL. Without singling out specific players, they were slow, apathetic, careless, and sloppy all season long. Some of it was attitude, with the apparent expectation that they could just flip the switch in the playoffs. That didn’t work.
The bigger issue was the inability to get the puck out of the defensive zone to transition to offense. On defense, only Keith Yandle consistently moved the puck out of the defensive zone. But he’s going to command $6 million on the open market. That snowballed throughout the lineup, as the forwards were unable to generate speed through the neutral zone. That stymied the offense, especially in the playoffs.
With the exciting news of Pavel Buchnevich finally signing with the Rangers there’s been some talk of finding a fellow Russian to help ease the transition to North America for the highly touted youngster. While this discussion has involved Alex Radulov, given the likelihood of the Rangers parting ways with Dominic Moore there might be another option the Rangers should look into pursuing: Vadim Shipachyov.
Shipachyov is a skilled centerman who put up 60 points in 54 games with SKA St Petersburg last year, surpassing the 54 points he put up in 49 games the previous year and 32 points in 52 games the year before that. His most notable asset is his vision, finding space and setting up high-quality scoring plays with ease, as seen in the two videos below, but our very own Josh Khalfin also notes that he’s defensively responsible and an intelligent player generally who will likely succeed at the NHL level.
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…
There are a lot of dynamics involving our New York Rangers thus far. On one hand it is extremely exciting when beat writers are suggesting buyouts and moves for players such as Kevin Shattenkirk and Tyson Barrie. You start feeling a bit anxious that a move can be coming any day. When there are constantly rumors about players who are viewed as important members of the team being traded, fans get excited, for better or for worse.
When your team signs its brightest prospect, fans can’t help but feeling that a youth movement may be approaching, especially when your other top prospect showed his value in the playoffs against a pretty dynamic Penguins team. All of these different factors make it so difficult to predict what this team will look like in a couple of months, but that is what makes this summer feel so much more exciting than the previous summers.
I will be covering the draft starting in a few weeks, so right now I just want to mention the move that almost seems way too familiar to overlook: The Reclamation Project. From Brian Boyle to Anton Stralman to Benoit Pouliot to Viktor Stalberg on the positive side to Ryan Malone, Matt Lombardi, and Jeff Woywitka on the negative, we as fans have learned that the New York Rangers will always try their luck with these types of players.