Vigneault will be looking long term, not just trying to cope in October
While the vast majority of NHL teams have trimmed their rosters down in preparation for the season, the Rangers are still carrying a large, oversized squad as they continue to work out what they need to cope with a harsh start to their regular season. The results haven’t been positive (yet) but when has the Stanley Cup ever been awarded in September?
The short of it is that Alain Vigneault is taking a long hard look at numerous players before cutting the roster down and it’s the right approach. With injuries to key players and with an extended road trip featuring multiple presumptive cup contenders it’s imperative the new coach knows what he has at his disposal not only now but in case of all eventualities moving forward. What it also allows however is long term planning for the Rangers.
The Rangers stand to benefit from having greater insight into the likes of Conor Allen, Jesper Fast and into the less heralded prospects such as Tommy Hughes. Knowing the timetable for Oscar Lindberg’s readiness (which appears to be now by the way) or Marek Hrivik’s NHL ability should allow the club to plan beyond this season. Alain Vigneault is having to acclimatise himself with a new franchise, a new conference and is doing so to a deeper level than many may feel necessary in the short term.
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Will Kreider finally shine under AV? (Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images)
So hockey has actually begun. The preseason games are underway and we’ve seen the preseason roster already begin to dwindle. So, what’s next? The Musings is of course.
When hearing Alain Vigneault discuss the potential of Chris Kreider being used in front of the net it gave a small but significant insight into his different mindset compared to John Tortorella. Vigneault looks at Kreider as an opportunity, not necessarily as a rookie who has to earn his stripes. There was merit to Tortorella’s approach (he was after all successful as Rangers HC) but trying to use players in a variety of scenarios will surely help maximise a players potential and the teams overall success.
Martin Biron: surely the only choice as the back up to the Rangers. Whether he’s more expensive than Hedberg or not, he’s arguably the best back up in the league and over a full season he’ll surely get opportunity to prove himself again.
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What’s the status of Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin?
Both players underwent surgery on torn shoulder labrums following the 2013 season and their initial recovery timelines indicated they could each miss the first month of the 2013-2014 season. However, both Callahan and Hagelin have been skating with teammates in the weeks leading up to training camp and have reported no setbacks. Neither is ready for contact just yet, but they both seem to be progressing quickly. It’s still a good bet that neither player will be ready for the season-opener, but we should get a clearer picture of their status during camp. Read more »
Nine straight road games to start the season are probably not the ideal way to start for Alain Vigneault
Two years ago the Rangers went on their first prolonged road trip to start the season as Madison Square Garden underwent renovations. The Blueshirts played their first two games in Europe, which they lost in overtime to the Kings and in a shootout to the Ducks. New York had a week off before falling to the Islanders – then the club flew to western Canada for games against Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and finally Winnipeg.
New York came out of the trip with a modest 3-2-2 record, but then dropped its first two games on home ice to Toronto and Ottawa. Six losses in the first nine games was an ugly way to kick off the 2011-2012 campaign for a team with playoff aspirations, and many of the Blueshirt faithful were in full-fledged panic mode. Read more »
Remember hockey? I miss it too.
As a hockey fan, August is by far the worst month of the year. Free agency, the major trades, the Draft, they have all long passed by and the dog days of summer have set in. Traverse City is still a few weeks away. The major headlines are the remaining few contract situations (Stepan and to some extent, Lundqvist), but the season still seems worlds away.
In the life of a hockey blogger, August represents dredging the deepest recesses of your brain for something to write about. Everything with AV, re-signing McDonagh, Hagelin and Zuccarello, speculating on Stepan and Hank’s extensions, assessing the cap situation, etc. have been beaten to death over the past two months. Nothing really left to do but wait (and read the final installment of the Top 30, of course).
In deference to our final hockey-less month, I thought I would just muse a little on some hockey related topics. Read more »
Does AV mean a changing of roles for the players?
For several off-seasons running, I’ve been creating these “master plans” that talk about the future rosters of the Rangers. The purpose of these posts is to really come full circle on all of the topics and rumors we’ve been covering over the course of the season. During prior offseasons, creating these plans was pretty easy for me as John Tortorella frequently talked about the Rangers “team concept”. Based on his vision, I just filled in the blanks.
With his team template in mind, these posts were generally unified by three main ingredients for success — roster balance, strong skating ability, and making an effort in all three zones. As trade deadlines and free agency periods came and went, my plans always revolved around the idea that the Rangers should stick to those three ingredients when evaluating their own team and what’s available on the marketplace.
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Has Glen made another canny move? (image credit: Gerry Kahrmann, The Province)
Welcome to the musings. It’s the day before free agency and on many occasions it has felt like Christmas Eve to Rangers fans – the day before the presents arrive. This year is likely to be different as the Rangers are set to be more cautious with the little money they have to spend. Or are they?
Scott Arniel seems like a logical choice as assistant coach. He has run his own bench before, has been in charge of multiple Rangers before and will help Alain Vigneault’s transition to New York because of his familiarity with the ex Blue Jackets. You have to assume Arniel is motivated to prove he’s worthy of another shot as a HC too.
Even if it wasn’t the ex-Ranger many hoped for, Ulf Samuelsson is a nice addition to the coaching staff. The Rangers need to be more physically imposing next year and if Samuelsson can get his style as a player across to the Rangers now he’s a coach it could be a smart move.
Scanning the scrap heap:
With the Rangers unlikely to be major buyers July 5th, there are several players who are no longer wanted by their current teams and are either on waivers or due to be bought out. Amongst those on waivers in the last 24 hours are the following guys who could be of interest to the Rangers in some capacity.
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Is Ryane Clowe less likely to re-up with the Rangers because of AV?
As we approach the draft weekend and the Stanley Cup playoffs are over, the Rangers get ready to enter the offseason with a new leader at the helm. We’ve beaten the Alain Vigneault-analysis angle to death so let’s just jump into another musings instead.
Artem Anisimov has turned his move from the Rangers into an almost $10m, 3 year contract. Good for him but it’s another example of a struggling franchise overpaying to keep players happy. Based on production, Anisimov is not worth 3.25m per year. That said, maybe he earns it during the deal.
If Kris Letang goes to the Leafs it would be a huge mistake by the Penguins. Yes, his demands may be out of whack but that club needs balance and he’s arguably the best offensive defenseman in the league after Karlsson.
People shouldn’t assume Ryane Clowe will be back with the Rangers because he’s been medically cleared. He has had ‘history’ with the Canucks, had an almost public feud with the club up North. Remember who last coached the Canucks?….
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Zuccarello scores pretty goals, will AV get more out of him?
As Glen Sather talked about needing a changing in coaching styles and Alain Vigneault talked about giving his skill players ‘more latitude’, you could get a sense that next season has the potential to be a coming out party for a little Norwegian winger that never seemed to match up with John Tortorella. Could Alain Vigneault’s arrival be a blessing in disguise for Mats Zuccarello?
Known for maximising zone starts for his skill guys, a more puck possession style, and having run teams that have had actual powerplay success, it seems that Mats Zuccarello could be placed in the best situation to succeed with the Rangers that he has ever had. During his time on Broadway, Zuccarello has routinely been the Rangers’ most creative powerplay operator, he’s clearly better with the puck than without, and was never ideal for the grinding, throw the puck deep and chase after it style that was the hallmark of the Tortorella years.
While all the talk may center on what Vigneault can do with Rick Nash, what happens with Brad Richards, and how he’ll be able to get the most out of Chris Kreider the impact the new coaching regime could have on Mats Zuccarello could be huge. The talent has always been there.
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(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Despite a solid first season on Broadway, Rick Nash surely did not reach the heights his talent demands, nor did he become the irresistible force many anticipated. Not over a full season anyway. Some critics will argue that John Tortorella’s system stifled players such as Rick Nash (though the powerplay certainly didn’t help his production) but no one will argue that Alain Vigneault puts his key offensive players in the right situations to produce to their potential.
As has been pointed out over the internet – almost to death – the Sedin twins and Alex Burrows were consistently among league leaders in offensive zone starts under Vigneault. It can be assumed Rick Nash and maybe Derek Stepan will be similar benefactors in New York. Can we therefore assume much better numbers from Rick Nash? Nash is expected to be the leader of this offense and that won’t change with a new coaching staff. However with an improved powerplay, with more offensive zone starts, and with more puck possession and creative license, Nash should produce more.
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