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Dan Girardi has been a polarizing player this offseason, by no fault of his own. The 32 year old defenseman, who has spent his entire career in New York, played most of last season with a cracked kneecap. For all of his faults, Girardi has brass cajones for playing through the entire season like that. But that said, he is 32, is coming off this injury, and has a lot of wear and tear on his body.
The front office and coaching staff are expecting Girardi to have a bounce back season. Those who have been looking at his underlying numbers for the past few seasons don’t believe this is possible for a number of reasons. But is it possible for Girardi to have this bounce back season that we all hope for?
Although I was a big fan of Derick Brassard I’m also a believer that when one of your favorite players is traded its best to just stomach it and move on. With that said I think the Rangers got the better player in the trade, and am pretty excited about Mika Zibanejad.
All the excitement got to me and I decided to do a dumb thing: I broke down every one of his goals (shootouts included) for the past two seasons. You can catch the lists below, which correspond with the two following videos, and afterwards I’ll recap a little bit of what I saw in case you want to skip to the big picture stuff.
One of the biggest questions looming over the offseason for the Rangers is how they will manage their RFAs. They have four players potentially headed to arbitration, the most important piece being Chris Kreider. Kreider’s combination of skill, size, and speed is difficult for opposing teams to match up against, making him priority number one for the Rangers. Initial guestimates had Kreider coming in on a multi-year extension worth $5 million per season. Steep price to pay for Kreider, but that’s the market value nowadays.
Enter Kyle Palmieri of the Devils, who this week inked an extension to stay in New Jersey for five years at a $4.65 million cap hit. The contract includes a modified no-trade clause for the UFA years, the last three years of his deal. Prior to his 30-goal campaign this past season, Palmieri had never even hit the 15-goal mark, with his career high being 14 goals.
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.