Archive for Players
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.
It would probably have been better timed to publish this post after Aanti Raanta stonewalled the Caps last week. Raanta was of course, in the middle of some solid form while subbing for Henrik Lundqvist. While Raanta was certainly shaky in the (ugly) loss to the Isles on Sunday night he wasn’t the main problem. You could have put any goaltender in front of that defensive performance on Sunday and very few would have come out on the right side of the win/loss column.
The fact is though; the Rangers have found another solid keeper in Raanta. They have developed another NHL quality goaltender and critically, have found someone they should be able to keep under relative cost control in the short term (despite his pending status this summer). Raanta should be a strong backup for the Rangers while the prospects develop out of the New York spotlight and while Lundqvist continues to do his thing.
One of the major questions facing Jeff Gorton this offseason is what he will do with defenseman Keith Yandle. Yandle is headed for unrestricted free agency, and will likely come in at a price that the Rangers cannot afford. While Yandle has been the focus of the blue line at the deadline, the injury to Ryan McDonagh may open up a need for an upgrade.
It’s not expected that McDonagh will be out much longer, as he does not have another concussion. The Rangers dodged a bullet there, and assuming Yandle continues to get more ice time, then the improvement we’ve seen from them recently should continue. However there is always room for improvement, and the focus is on three players that have been the subject of the most debate this season.
Through the end of January, it seemed to be a sure bet that the Rangers were going to trade Keith Yandle. The club has Ryan McDonagh and Marc Staal locked into long-term deals and have Brady Skjei –their 2012 1st round pick– knocking at the door. That’s a pretty crowded left side. Getting the most for Yandle, especially considering the cost, made the most sense.
Even before the season started, many wanted to keep Yandle and preferred to trade one of Staal or Dan Girardi. Yandle is one of the premier puck movers in the game, and both Staal and Girardi either were regressing prior to the season or have regressed since the season started. Either way, Yandle is a better option than both at the moment.
Now that the season is more than half over, we are seeing Yandle emerge as the best option on the blue line. He’s thrived in his recent usage (20+ minutes per game), and while he does make a gaffe here and there, the positives far outweigh the negatives.
It’s amazing how quickly public opinion can turn on a player. Last year Kevin Hayes could do no wrong, aside from faceoffs. This year, he’s the worst player on the team and needs to be traded. I find this to be humorous, because these are not only opposite ends of the spectrum, but incorrect talent evaluations. It’s one made from subjectivity, not objectivity.
In reality, Kevin Hayes is just fine. Hayes has seen better performance in relative Corsi (up to 3.0 from 2.2 last season), shots on goal (on pace for 144 this season, to 111 last season), and assists (on pace for 30 assists to 25 last year). People are focusing on his seven goals, which is down from last year. But in reality, I think it’s just unrealistic expectations that are causing all this unwarranted hate.