Archive for Glen Sather

There are precious few quality defensemen that become available in the National Hockey League. It’s why defensemen like James Wisniewski, Ben Lovejoy(!), Marek Zidlicky and Braydon Coburn all fetched far more than any of them should have done at the trade deadline. Most of them still have their uses for sure, but the prices that they were moved for were certainly inflated in each case. This all brings us to Rangers defenseman and the owner of one well discussed, long term and onerous contract, Dan Girardi.

It’s highly unlikely that Girardi gets moved any time soon. This is because Girardi has been incredibly loyal, is well respected inside the organisation and is an absolute iron man. He logs big minutes, he’s a low maintenance kind of guy and he’s a leader. That said, Girardi is regressing; he’s a possession disaster and his (average) skating and puck moving ability don’t really fit well with Alain Vigneault’s system now, let alone as he ages. However, the market for defensemen has never been weaker – get your supply and demand caps on – which means moving Girardi is something the Rangers must consider. This summer the Rangers should be able to find a taker for Girardi as teams are increasingly desperate for defensive help.

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The 2014-2015 campaign has been something of an odd season thus far. The beginning was marred by injury and ineffectiveness, although that’s not all that weird. Rangers fans have gotten somewhat used to slow starts recently. We had all the Anthony Duclair drama. Some soft goals and Hank debate. Rick Nash’s resurgence. The kids trying to make their mark. Zuccarello’s one-year deal and subsequent slow production. Marc Staal’s exntension. Salary cap issues. And, of course, Tanner Glass.

That’s a lot going on for just under fifty games. All of that of that only even gets into what was happening internally with the team. Forget the drama over Anton Stralman’s success in Tampa, Islanders all of a sudden relevance, the four horse race in the Metropolitan division, or the NHL jumping on board the #fancystat bandwagon with jersey microchips. This season has had no shortage of narratives.

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Mats Zuccarello is not producing the goods. To some that’s a pretty inflammatory comment, but think about it for a moment. Zuccarello’s production is well down compared to last season’s impressive totals, and it’s not just because his powerplay numbers are down (an issue in its own right, covered today at noon). He’s simply not impacting games right now, and hasn’t for most of the season.

I saw a blog comment recently and the writer made a very valid point; given his linemates Zuccarello’s numbers should be much better. For the majority of the season he’s shared a line with Rick Nash, who had been on an All Star level tear, and has predominantly had Derek Stepan (close to a point per game himself) as his center, yet Zuccarello’s production is modest.

Thanks to several large, long term contracts, the Rangers face a struggle to retain Zuccarello at the end of this season. Regardless how you judge Zuccarello’s season so far, he’s surely going to expect a raise on his $3.5 million salary. He’ll also know that if he hits free agency he’ll get that raise he’s looking for because, to put it mildly, the upcoming free agent class is underwhelming at best. Remember what Benoit Pouliot got from the Oilers on the back of a solid but hardly All Star season?

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The Rangers, barring more trade robbery from Glen Sather, should stay quiet as the NHL trade deadline approaches. Several rumours are beginning to circulate around the Rangers and usually there’s no smoke without fire. Indeed, a lot of these rumours come from good sources (McKenzie, Dreger etc) but despite the rumours this Rangers team is well placed to compete for the Cup as currently constructed.

There needs to be a careful balance between competing now and long term. The Rangers have stripped themselves of assets in recent seasons with trades for, among others, Rick Nash and Marty St Louis and at some stage the cupboard will need more top end talent. While the Rangers do have a few solid prospects on the cusp (Skjei, Duclair, Buchnevich etc) there’s not a huge amount of prospects en route that are certainties to make the Rangers.

Given what the Rangers have at their disposal to make a trade (not much, unless you think Sather will ship out a core roster part such as Carl Hagelin mid-season), there’s not a huge amount out there that would represent either a massive upgrade or value for money and does anyone want to see another early draft pick sent to a club such as Arizona for four months of Antoine Vermette? Vermette is a good player for sure but surely not the kind of player that will put the Rangers that much closer to the Cup. Don’t think Arizona are going to give away their players either.

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With the Blueshirts’ ridiculous stretch of winning 13 games in 14 now concluded, the Rangers will soon be faced with a decision perhaps as difficult as the one they had to make at the trade deadline a year ago.

Then, the club reached a contract negotiation stalemate with Ryan Callahan and shipped its beloved captain, along with two top draft choices, to Tampa Bay in exchange for then 38-year-old winger Marty St. Louis. It paid off – St. Louis was an integral part of the team that came within three games of the Cup.

The trade deadline is again quickly approaching, and by March 5 GM Glen Sather must decide how all-in he really is.

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McIlrath mayn ot ready for prime time but his skill set is sorely needed. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

McIlrath may not be ready for prime time but his type of skill set is sorely needed. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Sometimes you have to live with the growing pains while some teams traditionally have slow starts and if you want prospects on the roster you have to endure the inconsistencies that accompany them. However, the sudden lack of depth the Rangers have on defense is an issue that might need resolving with acquiring help from outside of the organisation rather than turning to a prospect.

The Rangers defense, thus far, has looked completely inept. Countless blown assignments, a lack of physicality and terrible positioning in their own zone; the Rangers defense has been highlighted by a boat load of errors in the first three games. Even before Dan Boyle got injured in game one, the Rangers defense had its struggles. In game one it was the inability to get out of their own zone effectively.

The Rangers bottom pairing needs addressing and despite a respectable first game, Matt Hunwick is not the answer. Players such as Hunwick and Mike Kostka are stop gaps. They are not ‘plug in and play’ types that add competence to a unit long term. The Rangers can (and will) stop the bleeding despite Dan Boyle’s absence but even with Boyle this unit has its flaws that will need addressing.

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Derek Stepan is a year away from being a rich young man.

Derek Stepan is a year away from being a rich young man.

Following the news of former New York Ranger and fan favourite Brandon Dubinsky signing an excessive (market representative?) new deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets I was having a twitter chat with well-informed Ranger fan and friend of the blog George Ays (Ranger Smurf). We started discussing the Derek Stepan situation and how Dubinsky’s deal affects the talented Ranger pivot.

Derek Stepan represents a huge headache for the Rangers management. He has already proven he’ll stick to his guns and risk a holdout if he doesn’t get what he feels he deserves and if this summer has shown anything, it’s that it’s very much a sellers’ market. There truly is a dearth of available young talent at the center position. In other words, Stepan knows that if he has a strong season in 2015, he’s getting a truck load of cash.

In fact, the stark reality is that Stepan doesn’t need to be brilliant next year and he’s still going to get rewarded. A young, American forward who has been close to a point/game player (albeit in a lock-out shortened year), who has contributed heavily to a run to the Cup Final and who is arguably the top line center on an original six team? The kid is going to get paid even as a pending RFA. The next deal Stepan signs will likely buy up some UFA years and that’s where it begins to get expensive.

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Sifting through the wreckage of July 1

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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

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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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Is Sather learning?

Is Sather learning?

Can old dogs learn new tricks? Everyone will agree that Glen Sather’s approach to the Lundqvist, Girardi and especially Callahan contract situations over the last year adversely impacted the Rangers this season. It almost certainly cost the Rangers their captain (even if Callahan’s demands were excessive).

News of Pouliot and the Rangers having a ‘mutual interest’ in extending the talented winger’s stay in New York may be premature to draw any conclusions from, but alternatively it may be a sign that the Rangers – Sather in particular – may be learning from the trials and tribulations of the past twelve months.

The Rangers have a few major contract situations creeping up on them that could really impact the competitiveness of their roster, long term. The major contract situation is of course Marc Staal’s, who is close to being back to his best and who gives the Rangers an elite defenseman on their second pair – a rare luxury in a cap driven league. With Staal’s situation likely to be a complicated one, getting the contract situations of the likes of Pouliot, Mats Zuccarello and other core roster players resolved early will allow the Rangers to know exactly what they can or can’t afford with regard to Staal.

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Categories : Business of Hockey
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