Photo by Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images
Martin St. Louis spent over 12 seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning before his midseason trade last year brought him to Broadway. Tonight marks the first time he will set foot in the St. Pete Times Forum since that trade. In those 12+ seasons with Tampa Bay, Marty scored 365 goals, had 588 assists (953 points in 972 games), won two Art Ross trophies for most points (’04, ’13), won a Hart and a Lester B. Pearson (’03-’04), won three Lady Byngs (’10, ’11, ’13), was a six-time All Star (’03, ’04, ’07, ’08, ’09, ’11), and –most importantly– won a Stanley Cup in 2004. He should get a heroes welcome in Tampa.
But, the marriage ended poorly. New General Manager Steve Yzerman snubbed Marty for the 2014 Winter Olympics, initially not selecting him for Team Canada’s roster. Marty –who, for a long time, wanted to come to New York to be closer to his family in Connecticut– requested a trade. Not only that, he requested a trade to one team and one team only: The New York Rangers. That puts a GM in a very tight spot.
On March 5, 2014, Marty was dealt to the Rangers with a second round pick in 2015 for Ryan Callahan and a pair of first round picks (2014, 2015). It was the first time in history two captains were traded for each other at the deadline.
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Klein is off to a pretty good start.
If you’ve been around these parts long, you know that, prior to this season, we weren’t the biggest fans of Kevin Klein. It was nothing personal, we just felt there were better options out there. He was certainly serviceable, but for that contract, the Rangers could probably have done better. It wasn’t an uncommon or unpopular opinion either.
Then this season happened. The injuries mounted, and Klein was forced into a top-four role for an extended period of time. Klein has responded by tying his career high in goals just 18 games into the season (4), and is on pace to shatter his career high in points (21). All that while showing improvement in his possession numbers, despite being paired with Marc Staal (more on that later).
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If you missed it yesterday on Twitter, a good number of Rangers bloggers, ourselves included, are beginning a campaign to have Dominic Moore get enough votes to make the 2015 NHL All Star Game. Moore is probably the single most unsung hero on the New York Rangers at the moment, and it’s guys like Moore that rarely garner NHL All Star Game votes because they don’t rack up points. Martin broke down his fantastic start to the season, but the appreciation for Moore goes deeper.
Moore, who rejoined the Rangers last year after taking a season off to cope with the death of his wife, has been the one steadying force on the bottom six this season. Originally slated to be the 4C, he played up a role as the 3C when the Rangers dealt with the Derek Stepan injury. Players like Chris Mueller and Kevin Hayes played the 4C role, although Hayes and Moore flipped occasionally. But Moore’s true spot is the 4C, and he’s one of the best in the game.
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The Rangers need help in almost every department right now, given the patchwork team that’s being cobbled together because of all the injuries (and suspension) the team has endured. Although the Rangers lost to St Louis Blues – a game they should have won – that game suggested Marty St Louis’ return to his usual right wing position was the tonic his game needed.
St Louis is absolutely critical to the Rangers. He is an elite playmaker, goal scorer and when he is on form, gives the Rangers the potential to stretch opposition defenses when you consider the presence of Chris Kreider but above all Rick Nash. Teams cannot game plan for just one wing elite winger, but three. Teams cannot focus on one player as we saw when he snuck away for his first goal against the Blues.
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With Derek Stepan only three compulsory games away from a return to the Rangers lineup and Derick Brassard firmly entrenched as the Rangers second line center, questions have already begun to surface about what will be best for Kevin Hayes’ development.
Hayes has had a fairly promising start to his NHL career amid difficult circumstances. Asked to start his big league career in a position that isn’t his best and in the Rangers’ weakest position, Hayes has struggled in the face-off circle winning a feeble 24.6% of his draws. On the flip side, Hayes has shown excellent skill on the puck, a willingness to play both ends of the rink and composure on the puck that isn’t seen from most rookies.
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Rick Nash is off to a hot goal-scoring streak to start the 2014-15 season, scoring 7 goals in 6 games, tops in the NHL. Nash, who was the subject of much criticism over the off-season for “not showing up” in the playoffs despite strong possession numbers, is in for a bit of a wake up call, which may be coming sooner than later. Ranger fans should be expecting a goal-scoring slump from the winger, but it’s ok.
Nash has had strong possession numbers over the course of his first two seasons with the Rangers. His CF% is 54.8 over that span. This season, in even strength situations, Nash’s CF% and FF% are last on the team (44.9 and 43.1 respectively). His saving grace thus far has been an insanely high and unsustainable SH% of 44.4%, which is going to drop dramatically over the course of the season. For a player who led the NHL in shots last postseason while only scoring 3 goals, he was bound to find a string of good fortune and he seems to have found it early on this year.
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Just saying the name brings up a debate that becomes more heated than the never-ending Michael Del Zotto debates. A first round pick who is still just 21 years old, Miller has been touted as high as a potential 1C (not happening) to an epic bust (too soon, but also not likely). Much like the discussions about him, Miller has also played all over the place in the lineup.
But here’s what we do know about Miller: He had a great preseason, and seemed to finally take the next step after two years of bouncing back and forth from the AHL. He is close to a point-per-game in the AHL, so he has offensive talent. Prior to this season, he was also a defensive tire fire.
So what can the Rangers do with Miller?
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The Rangers have formally announced that Ryan McDonagh will be the 27th captain in New York Rangers history. The Rangers were without a captain following the trade of Ryan Callahan and the buyout of (more or less) acting captain Brad Richards. Naming McDonagh captain was the worst kept secret in the organization, as it was widely expected this summer.
Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, Martin St. Louis, and Derek Stepan will be the alternate captains.
Thank you Bob Gainey, Scott Gomez, and all those involved in the Gomez for McDonagh swap.
A must keep.
When we last checked in on Marc Staal, he was rumored to be looking for a Dan Girardi contract, roughly $5.5 million over six years. The cost isn’t that big of a deal with a rising cap, and the term is fine by me since Staal is just 28 years old (34 when that contract would expire). Sure, having two contract like that might be harmful, but Staal is a top-four defender, and that’s what they get nowadays.
It’s highly unlikely the Rangers will play out the entire season without a deal in place for Staal. Like Girardi and Ryan Callahan last year, the Rangers will work to get a deal done, and if they aren’t close, will trade Staal at the deadline. It’s not a guarantee, but last year set the precedent that the Rangers will not let their top guys leave for nothing. But that hasn’t stopped the Marc Staal rumors from cirulating, from trade to re-sign to letting him walk.
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Incase you missed it the Rangers and defenseman John Moore finally reached an agreement on a one-year $850,500 contract on Wednesday. Moore, who is slotted in to the Rangers bottom defensive pairing once again, will be entering his fourth NHL season in 2014/15. At 23 years old (24 in November), the 2009 first round draft pick is running out of time to make me, amongst others, find confidence in his ability to blossom into the top four defenseman we were told he could be.
After noticing a lot of debate amongst Rangers fans I decided to take a closer look at Moore’s 5v5 metrics (his PP TOI was too small a sample for me to consider of any value).
The first thing that pops out when looking at Moore’s 5v5 numbers is his zone start percentage (ZS%) of 64%. Amongst 2013/14 Metropolitan Division defensemen this was the highest ZS% for anyone. Moore should have been able to thrive being placed in the offensive zone as often as he was, however his result was less than impressive. Moore held a corsi for percentage (CF%) of 51.7% with his relative CF% (relCF%) at -1.26%, an awful number when taking into account how he was handed the offensive zone on a silver platter. This is not out of the ordinary for Moore, who has failed to record a positive relCF% since breaking into the league with regular playing time in 2011/12 .
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