A lack of depth up front was New York’s Achilles’ heels this season
As former coach John Tortorella repeatedly mentioned, New York’s depth up front was gutted during the summer of 2012 following the trade of Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov and the free agent departures of Brandon Prust, John Mitchell and Ruslan Fedotenko. The Rangers struggled mightily to replace that depth all season, but had a difficult time doing so in part due to injuries and inexperience. As a result, Tortorella was left with very few reliable forwards and it showed throughout the 2013 campaign.
It was a very disappointing regular season for Boyle, who was an occasional healthy scratch and never regained coach John Totorella’s trust. However, in the playoffs Boyle was one of the best, most consistent Rangers, scoring three goals and finally using his big body along the boards and in front. Boyle admitted to being extremely frustrated by his performance this year, which he blamed partially on his decision not to play during the lockout. He wasn’t the only Blueshirt that was negatively affected by that decision, but it may offer hope for a return to form next year.
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This news broke yesterday, but Brian Boyle is out indefinitely with a lower body injury. He did not play yesterday and won’t play tonight. The injury prompted the Rangers to recall Chris Kreider from the AHL. Kreider played 8 shifts for 7:02 of ice time during last night’s 6-1 win over Florida. It’s expected that Kreider will get the same amount of playing time as the Rangers comtinue to play must-win games.
A lot of people mocked Boyle’s injury. And while Boyle may not be the swiftest skater, he was able to eat minutes that Kreider is not ready to eat. The effect will be fatigue of other players. That’s big.
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Wednesday was a big day in Rangerland. As we all know by now, the Blueshirts acquired Ryane Clowe for three draft picks and traded oft-maligned sniper Marian Gaborik to the Blue Jackets for Derick Brassard, Derek Dorsett, and John Moore (with misc. non-prospects and a late draft pick thrown in). Yesterday, Chris did a fantastic job adding some perspective in the musings. Suit broke it down on Twitter. I don’t think it’s fair they get to have all the fun with the new acquisitions, so I’m going to throw my two cents in. Think of it as a supplemental trade musings.
I’m going to do my best not to retread on already discussed ground…
- Obviously, having some time to digest the trade scenario for a day or two in addition to the beat down the Rangers threw Pittsburgh on the eve of the trade makes it look pretty good. I’ll be interested to see how the team looks tonight.
- It’s my feeling that this trade was all about flexibility. After the Nash trade and the departures of Brandon Prust, John Mitchell and Ruslan Fedetenko, the Rangers constructed a roster with a very defined top and bottom six. At the time, I thought this was a good thing. No more mid-level players masquerading as goal scorers and grinders on the power play. However, what ended up happening was a complete loss of versatility when purported top-six players underperformed. Ryane Clowe and Derek Brassard can play in multiple situations, sliding pretty seamlessly from top to bottom six duty depending on performance, situation, etc. Read more »
Ryan Clowe had THE perfect impact.
It’s hard to call the Rangers 6-1 demolition of the Penguins last night anything other than an incredible first impact from the new guys. Wherever you looked, players were making a difference and it’s intriguing the momentum and impetus incoming players give the current roster. On to the musings; dedicated to the trade deadline
You just know the TSN crew were nervous given the lack of activity (to put it politely) going into the final few hours.
Ryane Clowe: I liked Brandon Prust; he overachieved, always gave his all and was perhaps the ultimate team player. There’s a reason however that everyone acknowledged the Canadiens overpaid to get him. He has a ceiling. Then there’s Clowe. Yes he had a poor start to the year but he’s potentially so much more for the Rangers than Prust could ever be. It’s foolish to compare them. Prust was the perfect bottom six player. Clowe can be a legitimate scorer, fighter, physical presence and thinly veiled threat. Whether he does it consistently, only time will tell but if he plays to his old level in SJ the draft picks were well worth it.
The Rangers got a lot younger this week. Wasn’t sure that was entirely possible.
I’m not embarrassed I said – just yesterday – that the Rangers would be better off holding onto Gaborik until the summer. I didn’t think Sather could get an elite (still young) defensive prospect that the Rangers were desperate for, a young 50-70 point potential skill center and another gritty forward at the deadline. He outdid himself. Ridding cap space was the cherry on top. Gaborik will be missed, and may come back to score against the Rangers but the Rangers added a huge dollop of depth, potential and grit in their deals this past few days.
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(Scott Levy/NHLI/Getty Images)
Acting GM Jeff Gorton is on record as saying the Rangers plan to be aggressive on the trade market to try to improve the club by the April 3rd trade deadline. Marian Gaborik is obviously the biggest name being floated in rumors, but it’s difficult to find a good fit and it’s probably more likely than not that Gabby finishes the season with the Blueshirts. That said, it’s common knowledge that New York would like to add a top-four defenseman and a top-nine forward to help replenish the depth that was lost during the offseason and has crippled the team all season.
With so many teams still in playoff contention in this lockout-shortened season, trade prices appear to be sky high, even for rentals. So who could New York offer in trade packages over the coming weeks outside of Gaborik?
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AP Photo/Mary Altaffer
In case you missed it, the Rangers re-signed Mats Zuccarello, who will likely join the club within the week. Zuccarello will bring some stability and scoring to the bottom-six, something that is desperately needed. The addition of Zuccarello will lead to some lineup changes. When all the pieces fall into place, the odd-man out is not who you might think it is.
It’s been very clear that the organization wants offensive talent to play alongside J.T. Miller on the third line, so it’s a logical assumption that these two will see some ice time together. Since Zuccarello is rather flexible and can play either wing, that opens up a few options for the Rangers. If Torts wants to try Miller at center, then the Rangers can try either Marian Gaborik (RW) or Chris Kreider (LW). Each line will have a lot of skill and speed, but the downside is that the trio will be defensively inept. The rest of the top-six remains the same.
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Per Jim Cerny, Torts did some re-shuffling of his lines at practice. The biggest move appears to be inserting Brian Boyle back into the lineup, and scratching Chris Kreider. Boyle was centering a line with Taylor Pyatt and JT Miller. This move is likely about two things: Getting Boyle back in the lineup, and giving Miller his fifth and final game as a way to rebound from his poor outing against Boston. Kreider is just the odd man out for now. The rest of the lines:
Marian Gaborik-Brad Richards-Ryan Callahan
Carl Hagelin-Derek Stepan-Rick Nash
JT Miller-Brian Boyle-Taylor Pyatt
Arron Asham-Jeff Halpern-Darroll Powe
The defensive pairings remained the same.
(Scott Levy/NHLI/Getty Images)
As Brian Boyle continues to sit in the press box, there have been some rumblings about trading him for some defensive depth. There’s some sound logic behind this, as the Rangers desperately need a sixth defenseman capable of 10-15 minutes a night, and Brian Boyle appears to be an asset that has seen a rookie take his roster spot. It makes sense honestly.
But this is not a normal season. This is not a normal team. This is a team that is planning on playing almost every other day all the way through the end of June. The theme at this blog for the past two months has been depth, and depth is what will propel the Rangers deep into the playoffs. By trading Boyle, the Rangers trade their injury depth. It won’t happen unless a dependable forward comes back in the deal.
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Will Miller be back in another jersey this season or not?
JT Miller has been a pleasant surprise in his brief stay with the Rangers this season. His call up has coincided with (perhaps even caused) the re-emergence of the Rangers much anticipated offensive depth, and has caused players such as Brian Boyle to find themselves in the press box or with less prominent roles.
Whether we see Miller much longer in New York however, remains to be seen. Last season Carl Hagelin’s introduction to the Rangers also created a spark and the young speedy Swede forced the Rangers to keep him on the roster. Miller could conceivably do the same thing, albeit with slightly different circumstances. However, the Rangers could choose to use Miller as a spark for the rest of the roster and that’s it.
They may choose to place Miller back in the AHL and see if he can elevate his game there following his fine Broadway introduction. This move would preserve that first year of his entry contract. Miller could be used as the ‘threat’ to the roster. Every coach wants options and Miller offers John Tortorella a viable threat to established roster players who aren’t performing. They’ve seen how Miller has coped with the transition to the NHL seamlessly and will not want to sit.
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Lindberg has been tearing it up in the SEL so far.
Any Ranger fan regularly casting eyes over the club’s prospects throughout the lockout will no doubt have seen the immense start to the season Oscar Lindberg has enjoyed over in the Swedish Elite League. With 13 points in his first 13 games, Lindberg has enjoyed an unexpected offensive explosion of sorts.
The great start by Lindberg – playing on the top line for Skelleftea – could at the same time cast uncertainty over current Rangers players hampered with no competitive hockey because of the lockout. Brian Boyle in particular should have cause for concern.
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