Archive for Players

pavel buchnevich chris kreider

Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac/AP

The Rangers are done for the year. The remaining games are meaningless, serving only to #fuelthetank and get a look at some of the kids who may be on the bubble for next season. All attention is going to be on the April through June months, as the Rangers are poised to make more moves to help rebuild the roster. The biggest move is going to be behind the bench, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the roster is safe.

One player that many people have focused on is Chris Kreider. He’s the second highest paid forward on the roster, with another two seasons remaining at $4.625 millions. His rare combination of speed and skill make him a match up nightmare, and he would likely fetch a haul at the draft. The argument to trade him makes sense.

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John Gilmour has earned his keep so far

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AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek

In the realm of defense prospects, John Gilmour was overlooked by almost everyone, including myself. He didn’t have a particularly great season as a 23 year old in Hartford last year, so naturally at 24 years old –prospect age-out territory– thoughts had shifted away from him. His solid half season in Hartford (6-20-26 in 44 games) combined with the need for the Blueshirts to sell at the deadline created the opportunity for Gilmour to be called up.

Since his call up, Gilmour has put up a line of 2-1-3 in 12 games. Nothing spectacular, but it’s the rest of his game that has drawn the attention of many. Paired with Brady Skjei, Gilmour has showcased great skating and smart decisions with the puck. His strength has been in the transition game, an area the Blueshirts sorely needed help.

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kevin hayes

AP Photo/Julio Cortez

The Rangers, who had no depth at center just two weeks ago, are now flush with center depth. After Mika Zibanejad, they have Kevin Hayes, Ryan Spooner, and Vladislav Namestnikov. Consider, for a moment, that Spooner and Namestnikov replace some combination of David Desharnais, Paul Carey, and Peter Holland, and you the realization of steps made during the trade deadline become apparent.

Hayes, Spooner, and Namestnikov are all RFAs at the end of this season. Spooner and Namestnikov are probably due big raises, but Hayes is likely due a modest raise due to his poor output this season. The cap space, at least in the short term, shouldn’t be an issue, but the club will need to make decisions on this trio pretty quickly.

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brady skjei

Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Much of the focus the past week is what the Rangers would be able to get for Ryan McDonagh and other players on the roster. However there is still life after the trade deadline, and while trading McDonagh is not a guarantee, there needs to be a contingency plan. The Rangers will need someone to fill in top pairing duties. And by that I mean an actual top pairing defenseman, not another Nick Holden.

The logical step is that Brady Skjei would take that role. He’s already the clear cut #2 on the left side, well ahead of Marc Staal on the depth chart. There aren’t many in the system who could take his role either, so barring a return of a top-pairing defenseman –unlikely at best– we are looking at Skjei assuming the role of top pairing defenseman on the left side.

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Appreciating Jimmy Vesey’s improvements

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jimmy vesey

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Jimmy Vesey was the prize undrafted free agent before last season, and the Rangers nabbed him. The former third round pick was instantly placed into a middle/bottom six role and put together a nice rookie season. The winger finished with a line of 16-11-27 in 80 games, which is impressive for a rookie given his usage.

That said, his play away from the puck left a lot to be desired. It didn’t go unnoticed that he was sporting a -4.27 rel CF%, a -13.32 rel GF% (!!), and a -5.83 rel xGF%, it just went without much criticism. He was a rookie and playing more than 40 games for the first time in his hockey career. His sophomore season would be looked at with more scrutiny, and he hasn’t disappointed.

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Paul J. Bereswill

At the end of tonight’s game in Arizona, the Rangers will reach the midway point of their 2017-18 regular season.  That means it’s time for some midseason report cards!  To kick things off, we’ll be focusing on the top six forwards.

Complicating matters slightly is the fact that the Rangers don’t have a strict delineation between their top six and bottom six.  There’s definitely a fourth line.  There’s Kevin Hayes handling tough match-ups on a nightly basis, but his wingers have rotated regularly.  So for the purposes of this exercise, let’s call the following players “the top six”: Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider, Pavel Buchnevich, Mats Zuccarello, Rick Nash, JT Miller and David Desharnais.  Yes, that’s actually seven forwards.  Just roll with it.

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david desharnais rangers blues

When the Rangers signed David Desharnais this summer, it was viewed as a deal for a bottom-six center who could fake it in the top-six if needed. He is certainly talented, but hasn’t been consistent enough to warrant any serious consideration as a top-six center. Given his last few years in the league, it isn’t an unfair analysis.

Fast forward to this year, and we have a completely different Desharnais. He 100% deserves to be in the lineup, he’s been playing very well. He’s been used by Alain Vigneault in basically every lineup spot too. First line center? Check. Second line center? Check. Third line center? Check. Fourth line center? Check. Healthy scratch? Check.

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rick nash rangers sharks

Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

Much like their dilemma with Michael Grabner, the Rangers have a tough choice to make this offseason (or sooner) with Rick Nash. The good news is that unlike Grabner, Nash will likely be looking at a pretty large pay cut from his current $7.8 million deal. The bad news is that he still isn’t going to be cheap.

Nash may not be worth his $7.8 million on the score sheet, but he’s still good for roughly 25 goals and 40-50 points over an 82 game season. That may not seem like much, but that’s still top-six production. Factor in that Nash is a force on the ice and draws attention, and he’s a valuable asset for any team.

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Ryan McDonagh’s Strange Season

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The Rangers up-and-down start to the 2017-18 season has called into question every facet of the team.  From Alain Vigneault’s obvious flaws, to questions about Henrik Lundqvist’s “decline”, to the lack of real center depth, there’s been no shortage of talking points as fans and analysts have tried to figure out why the Rangers have been largely mediocre this season.

One of the players that’s caught my eye this season, often for the wrong reasons, is Ryan McDonagh.  Even the most staunch McDonagh fan would have to admit that the Ranger captain just doesn’t look right.  His up-and-down season reached its nadir with a historically bad performance on Tuesday night vs. Dallas.

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michael grabner

The Rangers sure did strike gold with Michael Grabner. Signed to an expansion friendly deal before last season, fans –and probably the front office– thought they were getting 10-15 goals with good penalty killing. Getting that and a body for expansion for $1.6 million was a solid deal.

But then Grabner started scoring. His shooting percentage astronomically high, but the goals were coming. He scored 27 last year, and many thought the Rangers were silly not to capitalize on his value. He likely could have fetched a first round pick at the trade deadline last year. But the Rangers held court.

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