Archive for Players
Three conference finals and a Stanley Cup appearance is no mean feat, whatever franchise you are. The Rangers have had a strong run over the past half decade or so; they have done it despite the ongoing need to develop young talent, spend to the cap to retain their own and recruit the biggest names on the market. Despite the absence of a Stanley Cup, the Rangers have balanced youth and (relative) success very well. The current roster has a young core and even the most key players have plenty of miles left. With this week’s roster decisions it appears the Rangers are continuing with their dedication to youth.
This week’s announcement that 2010 top ten draft pick Dylan McIlrath made the Rangers opening night roster over cheap and flexible roster part Raphael Diaz wasn’t just the right decision (McIlrath had consistently been the better of the two all preseason) but it was another example of the Rangers dedication to youth. Oh how times have changed since the 1997 – 2003 period (what some fans call the lost years). Factor in Oscar Lindberg having likely played himself into the opening night line-up and another season has arrived where the Rangers have managed to inject youth into the line-up with at least two rookies.
He’s not Vladimir Tarasenko and he’s not Cam Fowler. To this point, Dylan McIlrath’s professional career pales in comparison to those other 2010 first-round picks selected just after him. But to his credit, McIlrath is finally on the cusp of being an NHLer.
When McIlrath was selected 10th overall, he was a feared pugilist and open ice hitter with a grand total of 24 WHL points in his draft year and 19 fighting majors to his name. The Rangers drafted him for being a tough guy, with the dancing vision of a future Chris Pronger-like player no doubt dancing through their heads. Read More→
Through four preseason games, much ire has been directed at newly acquired forward Emerson Etem. The ire isn’t without reason, as Etem has underwhelmed thus far this September, but it comes with a little bit of bias. The Rangers were forced to trade fan favorite Carl Hagelin to Anaheim for Etem for salary cap purposes. Etem is making $850,500 this year. Hagelin signed a four-year, $16 million deal with Anaheim. Money was the sole purpose for this trade.
But the trade has been made, and the Rangers have a former first round pick on their team. Etem was taken 29th overall in 2010, and while draft pedigree might not matter five years later, the skill that made him a first round pick does not fade. The skill is clearly there, and we’ve seen flashes of it. Etem needs to put it all together. The Rangers will be patient while giving him every opportunity to succeed.
Much was made yesterday of Alain Vigneault’s decision to dress defenseman Kevin Klein back-to-back nights this week given the developing competition for the final spots on the blueline in training camp.
On the one hand, Klein only dressed Monday because Dan Boyle was a last minute scratch, so perhaps some are reading into it too much. However, there were many other players Vigneault could switched with Klein last night, but he still chose to play the 30-year-old veteran again.
Despite Klein’s struggles late last season, it was still widely assumed that the final spot on the bottom pairing was all his entering training camp, but there are a few other things to consider. Read More→
Training camp is a day away, so we are nearly through the brutal August days when there’s no Rangers news to talk about. But honestly I’ve talked and thought about last year’s faults and analyzed potential new line combinations as much as I care to, so before we (finally) get down to the business of training camp, I figured it would be a good time to try something a little different.
Zuc could have a post to himself with all the hilarious photos he’s been in.
Stealing Kevin Hayes from the Blackhawks last summer may prove to be a coup of nearly the same magnitude as the Ryan McDonagh trade back in 2009.
Hayes racked up 45 points as a rookie and showed improvement with almost every passing game in the second half of the year. He’s already a huge part of the Rangers’ present and future, but there’s some uncertainty over where he fits into the lineup entering the 2015-2016 season.
Hayes thrived as New York’s third-line center for most of last year, but he played primarily right wing at Boston College. On an individual level, the biggest knock on Hayes playing center is his ugly 36.3% faceoff win percentage. To many #fancystats gurus that’s a non-issue, but it’s still a factor the Rangers are likely to consider (although the Blueshirts have deployed Stepan as their primary pivot for several seasons now and he has never won more than 46% of his faceoffs in a single season). Hayes also struggled defensively in his freshman season. Read More→
When the Rangers re-signed Oscar Lindberg to his two-year deal (one-way deal, guaranteeing his salary), they did so with the assumption that Lindberg will make the club. His spot on the roster is still up in the air, as he could be as high as 3C and as low as 13F, but he will be with the Rangers when the regular season starts. Where Lindberg slots in will have a major effect on his production for the upcoming season.
Lindberg has been one of Hartford’s best forwards for two seasons now. Last season he put up 28-28-56 in 75 games, an improvement on his 18-26-44 from the season prior. While with the Wolf Pack, Lindberg played on the top line, getting significant powerplay and penalty kill time as well.
Much discussion has been had about Derek Stepan and his pending arbitration on July 27. I took a stab at predicting his contract, but that was before the Ryan O’Reilly deal ($7.5m AAV, all UFA years) and Ryan Kesler ($6.875m, all UFA years) were signed. The ROR deal doesn’t help matters at all, especially since Stepan and ROR are almost identical in terms of production and role.
Stepan is the better player than Kesler, but Kesler has name brand value. Kesler’s deal actually helps the Rangers, because he is perceived as the better player, although that is far from the truth nowadays.
I think Stepan gets $6 million for his two remaining RFA years (equal to what ROR got for his final RFA years). I think that gets bumped to an average of $7 million for the UFA years signed, and let’s shoot for four years. That puts Stepan at six years and $40 million, or a $6.67 million cap hit. Just my updated guess.
So what do you think Stepan is worth? Personally, I think he’s worth north of $7 million, which is 10% of the cap. I prefer to look at things in terms of percent of cap, since cap inflation is absolutely real. As the cap increases, Stepan’s deal will count towards less percent of the cap, thus making it a relative bargain. Plus, he’s 25 now, so it’s not like the Rangers are buying his 30-year-old years.
The answer about where Martin St. Louis will play next year has been answered. When the Rangers announced they will not be bringing the winger back, there were a few teams interested, but ultimately the 40 year old winger decided on retirement instead. St. Louis, a shoo-in Hall of Famer, was noticeably slower in the second half of the season and in the playoffs, as it appeared age caught up with him.
That said, MSL is, again, a HOFer, possibly on the first ballot. In an era where bigger was better, the 5’8″ winger redefined what it meant to be an NHL player, paving the way for smaller, skilled players like Mats Zuccarello and Tyler Johnson. In 1134 games, MSL put up a line of 391-642-1033 (22-38-60 in 93 games with the Rangers) in the regular season. In the playoffs, he had a line of 42-48-90 in 102 games (9-13-22 in 43 games with the Rangers), including a Stanley Cup with the 2004 Tampa Bay Lightning.
His best moment as a Ranger, by far, was this goal:
This goal gave the Rangers a 3-1 series lead in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Montreal Canadiens, a series the Rangers would win in six games.
Last season, the Rangers deployed Benoit Pouliot, Derick Brassard and Mats Zuccarello on their third line and Derek Dorsett, Dominic Moore and Brian Boyle on the fourth for much of the season. Needless to say, depth up front was a team strength.
Thanks to the cap crunch and some head-scratching offseason moves, the bottom-six just wasn’t quite the same this year. The team spent much of the season attempting to identify a third-line scoring winger and failed to support Dominic Moore on the checking unit. But though the sum of its parts wasn’t good enough, many members of the bottom-six did have terrific seasons.
What more could you ask for from the prized former Blackhawks first-round pick after he chose to join the Rangers last summer? Hayes really turned it on in the second-half, when it seemed like he improved every single game. Hayes has an impressive combination of size, hands and wheels, and the sky appears to be the limit for the 23-year-old. Hayes was a little quieter in the playoffs, but it’s hard to fault him for that.
Grade: A Read More→