50 goal season?
What a difference a week makes. The Rangers went to Western Canada unsure of themselves and came back on a roll, with a double header against a weak opponent on tap. It’s the festive season and the Rangers can really make some ground up to close out the year. A week to go before Christmas, let’s muse.
The cliché was always that power forwards take several years to maximise their potential. Could it really be that Rick Nash has only just begun to fulfil his potential? Yes he has been an elite power forward for several years and a consistent goal scorer but it’s a fair argument that he’s never maxed his undoubted skill set and upside. Until now.
Nash is definitely having the best patch of his career. Consistent, a beast at both ends all the while he’s finishing at an unprecedented rate. He’s a game changing force every single game. It’s early, but people have started to whisper the words Hart Trophy candidate with regard to Nash. Absolutely deserves to be in the mix.
Should we be worried about Dan Boyle? Or glad that he’s a sort of afterthought because of the improved play of the Rangers ‘big three’ on the blueline?
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Marc Staal has been a polarizing player for the New York Rangers this year. A pending free agent with a $3.975 cap hit, the Rangers are facing a critical decision involving another core piece –their third decision to make in two years. On one side of the coin, the Rangers can re-sign Staal, who is looking at a contract rivaling Dan Girardi’s deal (six years, $5.5 million per). On the other side of the coin, the Rangers can trade him, like they did with former captain Ryan Callahan.
On the surface, it’s not an easy decision to make. Trading Staal would mean that the entire leadership core from last season (Cally, Staal, Brad Richards) will have departed. However, Staal’s play has seriously regressed since the concussion and freak eye injury. Or at least, that’s what it seems. Staal has had a very weird career arc.
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Right now, John Moore hasn’t earned a new deal with the New York Rangers. However the young, underperforming yet talented blueliner’s future may be closely linked to that of Marc Staal. This season the Rangers are discovering what too much roster turnover in one offseason can cause. Part of the Rangers’ problems to begin the year has been a lack of chemistry up front as well as on the blueline. So would the Rangers be willing to let Staal and Moore go? As well as potentially having to fill the other spot on the third pairing?
Staal is looking for a minimum of 5.5m per year. He hasn’t earned that type of deal when focussing on his performances this season. Moore (according to the Post) is likely to receive 1.5m per year in arbitration. Given that number is almost double his current salary it’s hard to see the Rangers agreeing to that kind of deal. These kind of numbers only add to the uncertainty surrounding Moore. In short, both defensemen have huge question marks in front of their Ranger futures.
Currently a healthy scratch, Moore hasn’t really done much to warrant an extension but the tantalising talent is still there and plenty of defenseman don’t peak until their mid twenties. Should the Rangers wait for Moore to find the next level? Their decision could depend on Marc Staal’s future.
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Goal scorer extraordinaire (Scott Levy/Getty Images)
Have a happy thanksgiving everyone. Just a few Rangers thoughts to keep you going as you head into the thanksgiving weekend.
Last season it was a ‘Marty St Louis love fest’. The two games against the Lightning this season, well they have been Ryan Callahan love fests. Given the Rangers’ familiarity with their former captain and fan favourite it is completely unacceptable Callahan can have as much time and space in front of Lundqvist as he has done. Has a player ever torched their ex-club so much in their first games against their former employers as Captain Cally has?
Once again, we’ve seen the ugly side of Marc Staal. He was awful against Callahan and the Lightning. Yet he was excellent against the Canadiens and Flyers. Again, this type of inconsistency cannot be accepted especially for someone wanting the dollars Staal does.
Rick Nash scores when he wants. Nash had one of his quieter games in recent weeks. He wasn’t as dominant as he usually is yet he had a two point night. It’s always a good sign when a player finds ways to contribute even when not at their best. Nash has been a beast this year and is the absolute critical mass the Rangers need him to be.
Funny how things work out: Kevin Klein’s contract is starting to look very good value. In a league where a guy like Nikita Nikitn can get well over 4m on a multi-year deal, Klein’s steady improvement is making him a bargain. The sample size is small but Klein certainly has the talent to keep it up.
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Can the Rangers rely on Dan Girardi? Photo: McIsaac/Getty
With a few exceptions the Rangers have been abysmal in their own end for almost the entire season. Whether it’s been the disruptions to the line up caused by the myriad of injuries or ‘a lack of desperation’ (says Rick Nash) or execution on any particular game night, it doesn’t matter. The Rangers have not been good enough.
The Rangers play a bad Flyers team Wednesday night. However they play a team that is loaded with offensive talent and given the Rangers’ struggles in their own end it is a game the Rangers could easily lose – particularly in their current state.
Consider the Rangers most senior blueliners for a moment. Dan Girardi is being paid like an elite defenseman. Marc Staal is expecting to be paid like an elite defenseman. Ryan McDonagh and Dan Boyle are being paid handsomely and even Kevin Klein is being paid better than most. Yet the Rangers defense has been appalling.
It’s unfair to expect miracles from a Matt Hunwick or Mike Kostka. Even less can be reasonably expected of Conor Allen and Dylan McIlrath. However, a significant portion of the blame needs to lie at the feet of Girardi and Staal. Their play causes significant concern moving forward.
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Marc Staal’s future could have a huge influence on the Rangers competitiveness.
It’s amazing the difference one dominant performance can make. Prior to the Pens game I was ready to criticise Marc Staal pretty heavily, and all of a sudden he turns out his best performance of the year. However, the point of this post remains. For now.
This year, on a consistent basis, the Rangers have been poor in their own end. Games where the Rangers have been acceptable defensively (such as the Pens game, where the team played well – for the most part – in front of Henrik Lundqvist) have been the exception rather than the rule. Some of this can certainly be attributed to the defensive unit being blown up by injury and suspension but there have been two constants in the line-up in Marc Staal and Girardi.
While Girardi has been inconsistent he has rebounded to some extent. Marc Staal however has been playing at an unacceptable level given his salary expectations and the standards we have come to expect. Make no mistake, Staal has had a few good games this season and really was more like his usual self against the Pens, and he remains a player with tremendous skill and size, but the Rangers need Staal to be much better consistently (key word).
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Marc Staal needs to be better. Especially if he wants to cash in.
Marc Staal quite frankly has been awful, Henrik Lundqvist has been inconsistent, Martin St Louis has been on the periphery, and core players such as Mats Zuccarello have either been invisible or terrible, depending on how forgiving you are as a fan. Throughout the Rangers line-up too many players haven’t kicked into gear yet or shown nearly enough consistency.
Almost the entire roster has Rick Nash (and to a lesser extent Chris Kreider) to thank that the record isn’t a lot uglier than 4-4, eight games in. Fancy stats to one side, this team hasn’t passed the good old fashioned eye test. A lot has been made of the Rangers ‘big three’ on defense not playing well so far, and that is certainly true (McDonagh and Staal were both particularly poor in Montreal) but better contributions are required all over the line-up.
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Through the first seven games of the season, the Rangers have tread water with a 4-3 record. Considering the injuries to Derek Stepan and Dan Boyle, that’s what most had hoped for. These are two significant injuries that compound the issue of significant roster turnover from last year. Those that have been with the club for a while need to be the anchors that hold the ship steady, and right now, the top three of Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi, and Marc Staal have been underwhelming.
The three of them combined have just five assists for the season. Defensive scoring is critical for successful teams, and while I don’t expect this to be an on-going problem throughout the year, it has been a problem nonetheless. While offense is an issue, the more alarming issue is the defensive meltdowns that led to three straight losses where the team allowed 17 goals. Evan Sporer at Blueshirt Banter wrote a good piece about shot quality, and how the Rangers defense was allowing quality shots. I’m not going to re-hash it here, but you should check it out, it’s a brilliant post.
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The Rangers have formally announced that Ryan McDonagh will be the 27th captain in New York Rangers history. The Rangers were without a captain following the trade of Ryan Callahan and the buyout of (more or less) acting captain Brad Richards. Naming McDonagh captain was the worst kept secret in the organization, as it was widely expected this summer.
Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, Martin St. Louis, and Derek Stepan will be the alternate captains.
Thank you Bob Gainey, Scott Gomez, and all those involved in the Gomez for McDonagh swap.
A must keep.
When we last checked in on Marc Staal, he was rumored to be looking for a Dan Girardi contract, roughly $5.5 million over six years. The cost isn’t that big of a deal with a rising cap, and the term is fine by me since Staal is just 28 years old (34 when that contract would expire). Sure, having two contract like that might be harmful, but Staal is a top-four defender, and that’s what they get nowadays.
It’s highly unlikely the Rangers will play out the entire season without a deal in place for Staal. Like Girardi and Ryan Callahan last year, the Rangers will work to get a deal done, and if they aren’t close, will trade Staal at the deadline. It’s not a guarantee, but last year set the precedent that the Rangers will not let their top guys leave for nothing. But that hasn’t stopped the Marc Staal rumors from cirulating, from trade to re-sign to letting him walk.
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