Archive for State of the Rangers
Last week I talked about how the Rangers’ off season signings can possibly fit as penalty killers. When we look at how GM Jeff Gorton did over the summer, it is easy to be happy that he did do his best in improving the penalty kill. That said, as happy as I am with the steps taken, I am not keen on automatically giving Gorton a pass for Dan Girardi and Marc Staal, as he was likely a big player in the re-signing of them.
We talked about these players a lot and I think we saw one of the most negative effects of having their contracts on the payroll when Keith Yandle was traded. You can hate Yandle because he is not in the realm of Kris Letang or Erik Karlsson. You can hate Yandle because you automatically equate him as the reason the Rangers lost Anthony Duclair. But his ability to move pucks out not only at even strength but also be a valuable player on the power play will be missed. Add a retiring Dan Boyle to the fold, and you just opened up two holes on the back end for both even strength play as well as power play.
The Rangers had three glaring holes coming into the offseason: The defense, the bottom-six, and the penalty kill. Two of the three –the bottom-six and the penalty kill– were addressed with a pretty massive overhaul. The Rangers signed three players and cut loose two in an effort to get younger, faster, and better defensively.
Michael Grabner, Nathan Gerbe, and Josh Jooris give the Rangers a ton of options. Losing Viktor Stalberg is a bit of a wash with Grabner, but it’s arguable that Jooris and Gerbe can be effective replacements for Dominic Moore. Deployment is key, but versatility can make the Rangers dangerous.
Before the summer officially began, rumors were swirling that the Rangers would be retooling their roster to become a competitive team sometime in the near future. Here we are almost in August and we have seen the organization make moves to not only become a quicker team, but also a younger team.
While I still believe there is more fallout to come after the Derick Brassard trade, the current look of this team presents us fans with some interesting story lines to follow over the course of the year. The defense still has work to be done but I think the major moves will be catalyzed by the upcoming expansion draft. Until then, this defense unit will be put into new situations and we can possibly begin to plan out which players may have expanded roles either later this season or the Shattenkirk season (yes he will sign with here, I already bought his jersey).
Despite some shrewd acquisitions by GM Jeff Gorton this offseason, most fans and critics believe the Rangers have failed to make the necessary improvements required to propel them back into contention in 2016-2017.
That criticism is based largely on the sorry state of the defense where the Blueshirts appear poised to trot a unit that is no better than the group that was so porous a year ago. And despite improved depth up front and a radically improved penalty kill, that makes it hard to envision success, at least at the level that would meet lofty expectations for a club that had been knocking on the door of the Stanley Cup.
Full disclosure: this is pure speculation, but did the Rangers prioritise J.T. Miller when dealing with their own Free Agents? The Rangers wrapped up the Miller situation on Wednesday, agreeing to a new two year bridge deal with a cap hit of 2.65m per year. It’s clearly a prove yourself deal, which goes against the recent league wide trend of committing long term to younger players and is a deal that has frustrated a lot of the Rangers fanbase.
I personally have no problem with a bridge deal. Its already good value for the team, if Miller breaks out in a big way it’s a bargain, and in two years time Miller may indeed get a bigger deal but he’ll also get tied up for a lot longer. Rick Nash, Marc Staal, Dan Girardi and Tanner Glass (at a minimum) are highly unlikely to be Rangers in two years time. That’s a lot of money coming off the books. Retaining Miller shouldn’t be a problem unless he becomes a 60 goal scorer and demands max terms. But I digress…
Per Larry Brooks, the Rangers are set to announce Jeff Beukeboom as assistant coach, replacing the recently departed Ulf Samuelsson. Samuelsson was in charge of the defense and penalty kill before departing for Carolina’s AHL team to be their head coach.
Beuk is beloved by many fans for his play in the 90s with the Rangers. He was one of the few big, tough, stay at home guys that could actually do more than drop the gloves. His style of play has been extinct in the NHL for years, though.
Beuk has been instrumental in the development of a lot of Rangers defense prospects, specifically Dylan McIlrath. It is assumed Beuk will take over the same that Samuelsson had before his departure.
Much to the dismay of about half of Rangers fandom, the Keith Yandle era is over in New York. After dealing his rights to the Florida Panthers for a sixth and conditional fourth round pick on Monday, the Cats came to terms with Yandle on a seven-year/$44.45m contract yesterday. His deal includes a no movement clause for the first six (!) years of the deal, with a modified no-trade clause in year seven.
We all knew going into his big contract that Yandle would not come cheap. We also knew that his gross misuse over the past season would likely lead to his exit. The cap hit for the deal is a pretty representative $6.35m, but it was the term that really knocked me over. I certainly did not expect Yandle to get max term, but in a barren waste land of free agency and Alex Goligoski already off the board, I feel like the Panthers did what they had to do. Read More→
Ironically, Keith Yandle’s contract with the Florida Panthers is one I would consider reasonable. Too long? Sure. That’s free agency for you. Too much? Maybe slightly, but it’s not an ugly contract for a club, unlike the Rangers that has cap space and a young core, in the ascendancy.
With that all said, if the Rangers are going to show financial restraint (aka not signing Yandle et al) during the next few weeks then that is absolutely fine, they just need to be consistent and stick with it. Don’t throw good money after bad.
The next week or two will tell us if the Rangers are learning from previous mistakes (and the previous regime) or whether they are absent a concept. Most fans, bloggers, media types have no idea how Jeff Gorton is intending on addressing the immediate future and that is causing angst amongst an already angst-ridden fanbase.
The Rangers have released the full 2016-2017 season schedule:
RangersTown our schedule is here! Get ready for our 90th season together! pic.twitter.com/2u4BRolenX
The Rangers open at home against the Islanders, which is pretty cool and only the 25th time they have opened at home in their history. That’s 90 seasons, 25 times opening at home. Wow.
End of February through March looks like a rough run. They also play 30 games in 61 days in November and December. That should be fun.
Update: It was brought to our attention that the wording of the Sportsnet article is confusing, and that the limited NTC business discussed was in relation to NMCs that don’t have full no-trade protection, like Fleury and David Clarkson. Regular NTCs may not have to be protected, which certainly helps the Rangers immensely. This should be confirmed next week.
The latest news from Sportsnet on a potential expansion draft to stock the new Las Vegas franchise next summer revealed some important details on how teams can build their “protected” lists. Here’s a summary of the key criteria:
- Each team must expose at least two forwards and one defenseman that played at least 40 games during the 2016-2017 season, or 70 total games over the previous two years.
- All teams may protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie.
- Players with no-movement and no-trade clauses that extend through the 2017-2018 season will count against the protection limit, but those with clauses that expire at the end of next season may be exposed. Teams may also seek agreements with individual players to waive existing clauses.
- Players with two years of pro experience or less are exempt from the process.
- Each team can lose a maximum of one player to expansion.