Archive for Players
One of the more interesting viewpoints this offseason is that the Rangers need to trade Derek Stepan. The thought process here is that he “is not a true 1C”, “he doesn’t make anyone around him better”, and “he is overpaid.” Add on the apparent interest from the Minnesota Wild, and you have a lot of smoke around this.
While I am not opposed to trading Stepan in the right deal, I take issue with the above three statements. Stepan is not in the elite class of centers like Sidney Crosby or Anze Kopitar, but those are generational/elite talents, and few teams are privileged to have them. Stepan is in the class below that, as a solid center who can be any team’s 1C.
Viktor Stalberg was a bit of a revelation for the Rangers, perhaps their best free agent signing since Benoit Pouliot. Stalberg, like Pouliot, was grabbed for a cheap one-year deal to serve as a bottom-six player with speed. Stalberg certainly impressed most people this year, even without putting up major points (just 9-11-20 in 75 games).
Stalberg is perhaps the perfect depth player for a team like the Rangers. He’s a great skater, he’s a two-way guy who can score and play in his own zone, and he’s a worker. At just $1.1 million, he was a welcome addition to the third and fourth lines, bringing stability to a forward group that sorely needed it late in the season.
Continuing with the fun of checking out each player’s best moments of the year, let’s look at the middle depth players on the Rangers. You can find part 1 here
- Without a doubt in my mind if there is one thing we will all remember about Kevin Klein it is his uncanny ability to somehow score an important game winner. So naturally one of my best memories is his overtime goal against the Red Wings on February 21st.
- Another awesome game winner that Klein provided us this season was his GWG against the Dallas Stars almost a week after his OT goal against the Red Wings. The puck ended up on Derek Stepan’s stick in the slot, who gently slid it to Klein who immediately ripped it top shelf on Kari Lehtonen. Sick shot.
- Finally we have Klein’s “dominance” –and I use that term loosely, as the whole Rangers team was swamped against Anaheim on the west coast trip– as he scored both of the Rangers’ goals against the Ducks in a 2-1 win.
This offseason is a critical one for Jeff Gorton and the New York Rangers. A team with significant holes and cap problems, the Rangers will need to get creative and possibly break a few fan’s hearts in order to get back to respectability and a true chance at the Stanley Cup. Because one thing is for certain, the team as constructed cannot win a Cup.
While much of the focus has been on the albatross deals to Marc Staal and Dan Girardi, there has been some focus on whether or not to trade Rick Nash. Nash’s $7.8 million cap hit is second to Henrik Lundqvist, and for some that means he should be the highest scoring forward on the team. We can get into the flawed logic of salary equals production, but that’s a discussion for another time. For now, let’s focus on what Nash brings to the lineup.
I don’t know what you guys are talking about. Apparently the Rangers got knocked out of the playoffs? You have to be joking, right? This is blasphemy and I refuse to believe it. Nope. Didn’t happen.
Jokes aside, as weird as this season has been –and it is certainly a polar opposite to what the last two seasons were– this was still a year of Rangers hockey. The Rangers fanbase sticks with their team no matter what happens in the season because of the memories that the team brought to us. Here are some of the best moments for each Ranger.
After last night’s win against Tampa Bay, which I admittedly did not watch in its entirety, there were a few hot takes running around Twitter. First is that Tanner Glass put the Rangers in a big hole by taking an unnecessary five minute major for interference. The second is that Oscar Lindberg played only six minutes, despite Glass being tossed from the game early in the first period.
I did not see the Glass hit, but let’s just go with the assumption that he got a match penalty, so it was likely some form of a dirty hit. But the focus isn’t on that hit, it’s on the fact that Lindberg played six minutes in a meaningless game with the Rangers down to 11 forwards.
You know that kid J.T. Miller? He’s quite good at this thing they call hockey. Miller has surely, finally established himself as a New York Ranger and is fast becoming (if he hasn’t already) a Rangers fan favourite with his all-action, never stop style. He’s also going to get paid this summer.
Given the sudden surge in his development this season, and despite the way the Rangers are hard pressed against the cap, the Rangers need to go against their usual process and think long term with Miller when discussing a new deal this summer. Sure, there’s a lot of hockey left in the season (we hope) and things could change, but there really is no reason the Rangers should be thinking ‘bridge deal’ when it comes to Miller.
Oscar Lindberg deserves to play. This sounds like an obvious statement, because it a way it is, but it needs to be said plainly. The Rangers’ forward depth is their strength this season, and heading into this playoff run the team needs to put its best possible lineup out there in order to maximize their odds of winning a Cup.
Alain Vigneault’s continuous scratching of the versatile Swede, who started off the season on something of a scoring streak before predictably cooling off, remains perplexing in its logic. Just a few weeks ago he was clicking well with the newly acquired Eric Staal, and yet these days he remains in the press box while Tanner Glass still sees time on the ice. The scrappy Lindberg even brings an element of the grit and toughness that Glass is known for, without all of the useless hits and defensively irresponsible play. Still this isn’t enough for Alain Vigneault.
Could the Rangers be a contender without Rick Nash on their roster? If you think the answer to that question is yes, then you may have come to a similar conclusion about what the Rangers should do with Rick Nash as I did. Let me qualify this by stating I am a huge Rick Nash fan.
I’m a proud owner of a blue #61 jersey, a signed Nash puck and have followed his career since he emerged as a major prospect for the OHL London Knights. However, after this season comes to an end – and regardless of how it ends – it may be in the Rangers’ best interests to move Nash and the final two years of his $7.8m/year contract.
At some point your best players need to be just that. At some point, the forward you pay $7.8m a year to score goals needs to score goals. At some point, hustle, a defensive conscience and ‘driving possession’ isn’t enough. Nash needs to produce on the ice.