Archive for State of the Rangers
Now that Derek Stepan’s contract situation is all settled, the Rangers roster for the 2015-2016 season is more or less set. There is always a possibility for a Ryan Malone-style PTO, but as of now, this is our group. Currently, there are fourteen (thirteen if you don’t actually count Glass) viable NHL forwards fighting for playing time on the roster. Certain factors like Mats Zuccarello’s recovery and the continued upward trajectory of JT Miller/Jesper Fast’s development could potentially test the depth that Glen Sather/Jeff Gorton have built. Read More→
With the front office’s apparent decision to hang on to Kevin Klein, it now seems likely the Rangers will entire next season with an identical defense and starting goaltender to the group that made it to the Eastern Conference Finals.
The real cause for concern is up front, where the departures of Martin St. Louis and Carl Hagelin stripped the Blueshirts of 38 regular season goals, equivalent to over 15% of their total offense in 2014-2015. Read More→
For those accustomed to watching the Rangers leap head first into free agency and enjoy the fall out, they will have been disappointed as July 1st turned to the 2nd. For the rest of us, yesterday would have been a pleasant change. Ironically, as Glen Sather officially relinquished his GM duties to Jeff Gorton, yesterday also offered a change of approach by the Rangers, albeit a partially enforced one because of the aggressive moves made over the past two or three seasons.
Barring any significant changes over the next days and weeks (changes that could obviously yet happen) the Rangers core is in place for next season and the overall make-up of the roster is set. It’s better than it was a week ago. Losing Hagelin hurts, Talbot also. But the Rangers acquired solid depth in Viktor Stalberg, potential upside (and youth) in Emerson Etem and value for money in Antti Raanta.
Considering the unknowns, the main reason Rangers fans should be on tender hooks until the new season begins to play out is not because of the loading up in free agency by the Penguins or the aggressive moves by the Blue Jackets, nor the complete retooling undertaken by the Bruins. It’s because so much of the Rangers immediate future is the Rangers gambling on their own. Read More→
Let’s have a gander at the grades for the Rangers’ top two forward lines shall we?
Rick Nash’s overall season can be argued both as a positive and a negative. Indeed, there are few players that have divided opinion the way Nash has since he became a Ranger. A season that featured notable career highs but that was offset by another underwhelming postseason, things went as far as culminating with Nash being considered prime trade material this offseason. Hardly the appreciation you’d expect for a 42 goal player and early season Hart Trophy candidate. The problem is that Nash, like many Rangers, is now judged primarily on what he does after the regular season and this is where he failed to live up to both his regular season production and significant salary.
Nash needs to be a leader, the go-to guy offensively and in the postseason that didn’t happen nearly enough. Nash lacked postseason consistency, was never close to being his dominant regular season self and as the Rangers went quietly into the offseason, tellingly, so did Nash. Once again, despite solid numbers the microscope will firmly be on Nash come October. Despite the disappointing end, Nash finished in the top ten for the Hart trophy. Grade: B
While the disappointment of Carl Hagelin’s (necessary) departure still lingers for some, something might have been forgotten. The Rangers you may recall, have a rather talented NHL ready prospect, on deck, waiting for his chance. Thanks to the Hagelin trade, the path should now be clear for Oscar Lindberg’s arrival in New York.
Lindberg has been ready for a while, a fact only emphasised by his impressive AHL playoff performances this spring (16 points in 15 games). The main problem may have been finding an appropriate spot in the Rangers line-up suitable for Lindberg’s skill set. So is it a case of exit Hagelin, enter Lindberg?
Of course the Rangers are linked to Matt Beleskey because, well, aren’t the Rangers linked to every single free agent and trade candidate? This year’s prime buyer beware candidate is Anaheim’s Matt Beleskey who will officially test free agency and was actually ranked by several media outlets as the top free agent forward available. That he is ranked numero uno to some speaks volumes about this season’s weak free agent market and is one reason why the Rangers shouldn’t conduct any major roster surgery through free agency.
Beleskey actually would be a nice addition for the Rangers. He has size, he’s physical and he has suddenly discovered a scoring touch but he’s a classic free agency risk. He shot around 15% this regular season which is unsustainable (especially given his career 8% mark) and yet he still ‘only’ potted 22 goals in 65 games during the regular season. Considering Marty St Louis and his 21 goals are being chased out of New York City it’s hard to see why you would overpay for a guy that has had plenty of ice time with one of the league best tandems (Perry and Getzlaf) in recent years and hasn’t yet truly broken out.
The New York Rangers defense has been called elite by some, and a disaster by others. The reality of the unit is that it is somewhere in the middle, much like how Suit graded them yesterday. The Rangers seem to be set on the left side. They have a legit top pairing defenseman in Ryan McDonagh, at least two solid top-four in Keith Yandle and Marc Staal, and then, well, it gets fuzzy on the right side.
Starting with Dan Girardi, who appears to be the most divisive topic among Ranger fans later, the Rangers have a player who thrived under John Tortorella’s zone collapse defensive zone style. But under Alain Vigneault, Girardi’s lack of foot speed, poor gap control, and poor positioning have many questioning if he can keep up in a strong side overload/man coverage system. I’ve already suggested that the Rangers consider dropping him from his top pairing role, to mixed reviews.
Dan Boyle was brought in to help the powerplay –at the expense of Anton Stralman, who I needed to mention at least once in this post due to the situation, but will forego mentioning him again– and was relatively unsuccessful. He made the opposition mindful of his presence, and he certainly gave them options, but the results simply were not there.
It’s still amazing to think that just a couple of short seasons ago, Mats Zuccarello was toiling away in the KHL because, well, the Rangers didn’t really want him. At best, they were certainly not convinced by him. Fast forward a few years and Zuccarello is absolutely irreplaceable on a club that harbours annual Stanley Cup hopes.
We all saw how the Rangers struggled to generate consistent offense in the playoffs. Zuccarello’s enforced absence early in the playoffs was almost an instant death knell to the team’s hopes of winning the Cup. It shouldn’t have been the case however.
The Rangers had Rick Nash, they had Marty St Louis in position to step up, they had their trio of young centers all entering the playoffs in good form and they had Chris ‘Mr Playoff’ Kreider. But it didn’t work out as intended. St Louis literally played himself out of a new contract and maybe even out of the league. Nash hasn’t ridden himself of his playoffs demons. So what does it all mean?
With the Draft approaching and everyone’s attention turning to off-season business, Ranger fans have fixated on a report from TSN’s Darren Dreger (here and here) regarding significant interest around the league in Cam Talbot. He is apparently the top choice for a number of teams for their goaltending vacancies; Edmonton, San Jose, Calgary, Florida, Buffalo and Dallas, have all been named as potential suitors.
This is great news for the Rangers. A short time ago, we were talking about a second round pick representing solid value for the one-time undrafted free agent. Now, there is chatter about Talbot’s value being as high as a mid-first round pick. That would be quite the coup. This development has created an interesting debate in real versus perceived value. Read More→
The coaching of Alain Vigneault has come under fire in past months, as he appeared to be routinely outcoached by Barry Trotz and Jon Cooper in the playoffs. Compounding this was his decision to play Tanner Glass regularly, a decision which left most fans baffled.
But Vigneault is a Jack Adams finalist, so it’s not like he was all bad this season. He did a lot of good, and there’s a ready why he’s a Jack Adams finalist.
Good: Easing the kids into the lineup
The Rangers came into camp with a lot of question marks on the roster. No one knew what to expect of Kevin Hayes, who made the roster out of camp, and was transitioning to a new position. J.T. Miller and Jesper Fast were sent back to the AHL to work on little things in their games as well. In the end, it wound up being the right decision.
Vigneault took the slow approach with the roster, seeing what he had in veterans Ryan Malone, Matt Lombardi, and Chris Mueller. All three played a good portion of the first two months with the big club. Perhaps Vigneault wanted to see what they had, or perhaps he wanted to buy time for the kids to develop properly.