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Category: State of the Rangers

Sifting through the wreckage of July 1

Don’t look at Tanner Glass’s metrics. Seriously, don’t.

In just a few short hours, the 2013-2014 New York Rangers were blown apart.

Usually it’s GM Glen Sather that flashes the power of the dollar as he plucks key contributors away from other top teams on July 1, but yesterday it was the Blueshirts that were victimized by the league’s annual spending spree. The unfortunate part of the carnage was that much of it could have been avoided.

That Sather wasn’t prepared to come near the five years, $20 million that Benoit Pouliot received from Edmonton is completely understandable. But that he wasn’t willing to match the five years, $22.5 million that Anton Stralman got from Tampa Bay is a little less so.

The real kicker came towards the end of the day, when the same Lightning that had already re-signed Ryan Callahan and poached Stralman then inked Brian Boyle to the perfectly reasonable contract of three years, $6 million. Read more »

Report Card: Glen Sather

Well done sir. Well done

Good job Slats. Good job.

I hope you all enjoyed report card week. In case you missed any of them, be sure to check out the report cards for the goaltending, top six forwards, defense, bottom six forwards, and coaches. This will be the final report card for Glen Sather and the hockey operations staff.

It’s rather difficult to grade the GM and staff, as all they can do is put the team together. It’s up to the players to produce and the coaches to motivate the players to produce. The GM’s job is to retool from the prior season (their June-August work), and to identify holes midseason and address them via trade (in-season work).

The offseason began with the firing of John Tortorella, which came as a bit of a surprise, after a mediocre showing in the 2013 playoffs. The Rangers were dominated offensively, but managed to ride Henrik Lundqvist into the second round before being dispatched by the Bruins in five.

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Report card: Goaltending

They're the two best friends that anyone could have...

They’re the two best friends that anyone could have…

This was kind of a strange year for Ranger goaltending. We saw Martin Biron retire after only seven games, Henrik Lundqvist really struggle for the first time in his career and the relatively untested Cam Talbot come up and dominate. Let’s try and sort it out and get some grades…

Cam Talbot- Talbot came up after the previously mentioned retirement of Martin Biron and allowed the world to see that he belongs in The Show. In 21 games and 19 starts, Talbot put up a 12-6-1 line with a 1.64 GAA and a .941 save percentage. No matter how you slice it, this was a phenomenal year from a backup that could easily be viewed as a best case scenario.

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Canucks ask permission to speak to Scott Arniel; Pens ask for Samuelsson

It appears that Rangers assistant coaches are in high demand. Just hours after the Hurricanes asked to speak to Ulf Samuelsson about their head coaching vacancy, John Shannon reported that the Canucks asked to speak to Scott Arniel. Shannon also noted that the Penguins asked to speak to Samuelsson.

Report card: Defense

You were expecting a photo of Ryan McDonagh, weren’t you?

Dan GirardiWhat a roller coaster year Girardi just completed. He looked totally lost at the beginning of the season (like several Blueshirts), but quickly turned around his game and played like his old self during the second-half. Management was convinced that Girardi’s early-season hiccups were an anomaly and rewarded him with a six-year, $33 million contract, essentially choosing Girardi over captain Ryan Callahan. But Girardi again looked like a liability once the playoffs started, culminating in his train wreck performance (mixed with a healthy share of bad luck) during the Stanley Cup Final that left many fans calling for a trade. Girardi had no more than a dislocated finger during the playoffs, so his pylon-like play should raise eyebrows given the substantial financial commitment New York made to him just a few months prior. Nevertheless, Girardi has been a tremendous player for the Rangers during his eight-year career, and, just as Brad Richards did at the start of this year, Girardi seems likely to bounce-back from this most recent embarrassment in a big way. Grade: B-

Anton StralmanFor almost his entire tenure in blue, Stralman was the most underappreciated player on the team. But thanks to his particularly stellar play during the postseason and some gushing comments from talking heads and bloggers alike, Stralman is now viewed as a must-keep player by many fans. Advanced metrics make Stralman look like a true stud, but he’s been a very good second-pairing defender, not necessarily a $5 million a year blueliner. Stralman contributes next to nothing offensively – though some argue that his possession metrics suggest he was a victim of bad luck and believe Stralman actually does far more to help the attack than his point total indicates. Stralman has certainly emerged as a very good defender, but he seems like a guy that was underrated for so long, he’s now overrated. Grade: A-

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Dreger: Canes ask permission to speak with Ulf Samuelsson

Per Darren Dreger, the Carolina Hurricanes have asked permission of the Rangers to speak with assistant coach Ulf Samuelsson about their head coaching vacancy. Samuelsson has long been rumored to be on the list of candidates for multiple open positions, but teams were waiting for the Stanley Cup Final to end before speaking with him. It is likely Ulfie will land himself a head coaching job sooner rather than later.

Rangers final grades: Coaching

Needs improvement

Needs improvement

Back by popular demand, we’ve decided to kick start our annual player, coaching, and management report cards. As always, these grades aren’t just based on stats, but also the execution of each personnel or player’s respective role within the organization. Obviously there’s some subjectivity here, but that’s what makes this interesting and conversational.

Before I get started on AV and company, let me first say that grading coaching specifically is not easy. Many of the greatest coaches in this game have been fired multiple times over, and it’s never because they lost their ability to do what they do. More often than not, those decisions typically come down to politics.

So how does one evaluate a coaching staff?

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Rangers stay alive; post game thoughts

Winner. Photo by Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images

Winner. Photo by Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images

Stay of execution or the start of something special? The Rangers held on to get their first win of the Cup finals Wednesday night and give the fan base a glimmer of hope. Let’s have a little muse about how things went down.

Earlier this week we considered a few reasons to be cheerful despite the Rangers being 3 down in the series. One of those reasons was Chris Kreider who had a huge part to play in the game winning goal. Kreider’s mere presence causes problems, even against the best defenses in the league.

If Kreider can continue to go to the net, continue to play physically and get a little less reckless in his own zone, the sky’s the limit. Yes, Kreider needs to develop more facets to his game but he’s already scaring teams.

Martin St Louis. He leads the team in goals; he has three game winning tallies amongst his eight markers. If someone told me the Rangers would give up two first round picks and a captain that was pricing himself out of town for a trip to the Finals, I’d have definitely taken that deal. Well, that’s what we got. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and while St Louis hasn’t been brilliant every game he’s certainly justified Sather’s decision to bring him to New York.

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Little positive energy around the Rangers is understandable

Call it sour grapes, but the officiating fiasco in Game 2 changed the series

There will come a time when Rangers fans look back on this season with mostly fond memories, but it is not this day.

Not when the team was so close – four measly wins from attaining the sport’s ultimate prize – but now faces the very realistic prospect of an embarrassing sweep. And not when that prize was seemingly lost as much because of atrocious officiating and because of pucks’ recent tendency to find every which way to bounce off Blueshirts into their own net, while simultaneously finding every which way to bounce away from the opponents’.

Years ago, Wayne Gretzky famously said, “there are three seasons in the NHL: The regular season, the post-season and then the Stanley Cup final.”

Never could a statement ring more true with this fan base.

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Reasons to be cheerful

Don't worry be happy. Photo: Andrew Theodorakis/New York Daily News

Don’t worry be happy. Photo: Andrew Theodorakis/New York Daily News

The Rangers have been the equal of the Kings in all three contests so far, and yet the Rangers are facing a 3-0 series deficit and probable defeat in the Stanley Cup Final. On the heels of a promising yet inconsistent first regular season under Alain Vigneault, the Rangers have shown a huge amount of promise in the playoffs to get to their first Cup Final since the magical ride of 1994.

There has been a ton of positives that should provide plenty of hope for the future. Smiling in the face of defeat, let’s look at a few things that should excite Rangers fans moving forward.

Norway has a hockey force

It seems a long, long time ago since the whole ‘Is Mats Zuccarello NHL calibre’ debate. Zuccarello has grown throughout this season (and the Final) and after discussing whether Zuccarello could do more after Game One of the Cup Final, boy has he.

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