Posts tagged: Matt Gilroy

Stay Or Go: Matt Gilroy

Matt Gilroy has been a disappointment in his two seasons in New York.  Signed to a two year, $3.5 million deal out of Boston University, Gilroy was brought in to provide offense from the blue line.  Gilroy did not produce, and at points was seen as a liability when inserted into the lineup.  As a converted forward, the defensive lapses aren’t surprising, and were somewhat expected.  The problem herein lies with the lack of production, as without production, you cannot ignore the defensive lapses.

Gilroy played in 69 games in 2009-2010 before being sent down to the AHL to work on his game.  It appeared that he had hit the proverbial “NCAA Wall”, which affects many NCAA players making the jump from college to the pros.  In that season, he generated just four goals and 15 points.  Gilroy played less than 12 minutes per game, and was rarely seen on the powerplay or the penalty kill.  He was essentially a $1.75 million third pairing defenseman, and one that didn’t add anything special to the mix.

This past season, Gilroy’s play wasn’t stellar, but it was better.  The production still wasn’t there –just three goals and 11 points in 58 games– and he was still being caught out of position.  He found himself as a healthy scratch for many games, especially after the Rangers called up Ryan McDonagh and acquired Bryan McCabe.  He was simply living up to his projection of a sixth/seventh defenseman. 

Gilroy was re-inserted into the lineup in April as the Rangers were closing in on a playoff berth.  In desperate need of offense, the thought process was that Gilroy’s offensive prowess would help out the team.  Well, the Rangers made the playoffs, and Gilroy played well enough to earn himself a roster spot.  During the playoffs, Gilroy’s play was much improved, as he seemed to be less jittery than some of the rookies on the blue line.  His previous playoff experience in the Frozen Four paid off, as he was one of the stronger Rangers skaters in the first round loss to Washington.  He wasn’t really noticeable, except for that first goal of the series, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing for a defenseman.

In the end, Gilroy’s play in the playoffs probably saved his future with the Rangers.  The Rangers currently have five defensemen they are 100% bringing back (McDonagh, Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, Mike Sauer, Michael Del Zotto), which leaves spots open for the sixth and seventh defenseman.  Of course, this all boils down to money, and Gilroy will simply not be getting his $1.75 million per season in his next contract.  If he wants a matching contract, he will not be a Ranger.  If he’s willing to take a paycut, then I would keep him around for a year or two.  He still has that potential to add offense.  Keyword there being potential.

Could the Rangers Look the Same Next Year?

As the Rangers looked to get in to the playoffs down the stretch and now in the playoffs, some of the Rangers best players have been their oldest. These were players deemed not good enough for other teams, even players that didn’t have a team. Ruslan Fedotenko –a try out in camp don’t forget– may have summed up the Rangers work ethos with his spectacular defensive play earlier in this playoff series against the Caps, while Vinny Prospal continues to log big minutes and score important goals. The Rangers should look to bring back both players. Both players –albeit in different ways– lead by example for the Rangers. If it’s not Prospal’s enthusiasm and offense, it’s Fedotenko’s work rate and hunger. Even as the Rangers mature next season these are two players that the younger roster players can still learn from.

Then there’s the forgotten man in New York this year, Michael Del Zotto. A poor start to the season (certainly in comparison to his rookie year) culminated with demotion and injury to cap a miserable 2nd year as a pro for the skilled defenseman.  However barring a spectacular trade offer, Del Zotto will be a Ranger next year – they clearly still value the talented blueliner. On top of the likely return of Del Zotto is the news (rumour?) that the Rangers are considering offering a new deal to Matt Gilroy. Add all this up and do the math – there are a lot of familiar faces that should or could be returning next year.

The one position that will likely see a major change is the top line center. With Brad Richards permanently linked to the Rangers, they appear to have their answer in the Dallas pivot.  But beyond Richards there may be little change on the horizon. That’s not a bad thing, as the free agent market (beyond Richards and goaltending – certainly not a need) is very weak and most of the Rangers prospects would benefit from another year of seasoning. Bringing back this year’s club with Richards as an upgrade is still a very good, competitive (and still young and developing) team. Bringing back Prospal and Fedotenko as the veteran presence every team needs is the right thing to do. Many doubted Prospal’s ability to recover from his long injury but he’s proven (and is still doing so) that there is still a lot left in that overly tanned body of his. Fedotenko is low maintenance and would be cheap – as well as building a team with the right players the finances need to add up and both veterans should fit in to the financial plan.

Obviously there are a few maturing prospects that could make the team (Weise, Grachev, Valentenko) and several others, maybe getting looks in camp (Thomas, Bourque) that will excite and lead calls for another shot of youth next season but Rangers fans shouldn’t be disappointed if next year’s club looks similar to this year’s. A developing team shouldn’t be rushed and this year’s team is showing Rangers fans that there’s a lot to like and a lot to get excited about already adorning red, white and blue.

What Is A Fair Contract For Matt Gilroy?

With the plethora of restricted free agents the Rangers have this summer, Matt Gilroy is often lost in the fold.  Signed to a two-year deal as an undrafted free agent prior to the 2009-2010 season (with a cap hit of $1.75 million), Gilroy has been less than stellar in his two years.  Often a healthy scratch, Gilroy has just 26 points in 127 games during the length of his contract, a far cry from what was expected of him coming to the Rangers.  Due to this underwhelming performance and hefty contract, many didn’t even expect Gilroy to receive an offer this offseason.  However, Larry Brooks is reporting that the Rangers are “expected” to offer Gilroy a multi-year deal this summer:

It’s expected general manager Glen Sather will offer Gilroy a multi-year deal at an average wage well below that number. If Gilroy declines, he would become unrestricted.

Naturally, you have to read around some of the wording there.  “It is expected that…” means that Brooks has no knowledge of whether the Rangers will or won’t offer him a contract, but just that they will offer him a deal.  What is certain is that they will not give Gilroy a qualifying offer of his current salary of $2.1 million.  Also, a multi-year deal just means more than one year, so if there’s an offer of two-years at the league minimum, that technically meets the definition of a multi-year deal at well below Gilroy’s current contract level.

Personally, if the Rangers do offer Gilroy a deal, I would assume that it woul dbe at the two-year, $1.5 million range (meaning $750,000 per season).  In essence, Gilroy is a sixth/seventh defenseman for this team, and his salary should be representative as such.  That may be a bit of a low-ball offer, but in the grand scheme of things in the Rangers organization, Gilroy is but a spare part.  It’s tough to gauge what Gilroy can get on the open market, and what his worth is to the team.  But let’s leave this to you folks; what do you think is a fair offer for Gilroy this summer?

Drury, Zuccarello, Gilroy In; Avery, Eminger Out

As per Andrew Gross, Rangers captain Chris Drury will return to the lineup for the first time since having knee surgery on February 4th, a surgery that was expected to keep him out for the remainder of the season. Drury will take Sean Avery’s spot, who probably lost his spot when he failed to clear the zone in the second period Thursday night, resulting in the first Atlanta goal.

Also in today are Mats Zuccarello, who was recalled yesterday, and Matt Gilroy. Per Gross, Gilroy is in today because he presents more of an offensive threat than Eminger, and can move the puck out of the zone quicker.

Gilroy Moves To Wing…Why That Move Instead of A Callup?

The initial response to the loss of Ryan Callahan indefinitely is to move Matt Gilroy from defense up to right wing and go with no spare forwards at the moment.  Gilroy has not played forward for any consistent time in years, so there is certainly some concern over the move and questions as to why there is not a callup for Kolarik, Zuccarello or even leaving Newbury here.  I agree that this seems like an awful time to start experimenting with new positions, but the reason this move might make more sense than a callup is coach John Tortorella has gone with mainly three lines for some time now.  Thinking in those terms one would have to figure Gilroy will be on the fourth line and playing very limited minutes at even strength anyway.

What putting Gilroy in the lineup does do is give Tortorella flexibility in terms of positioning if a defenseman is struggling on a given night as he could move Gilroy in his spot or rotate defense to lessen the ice load amongst the group.  Gilroy also has the ability to play the point on power play and having him as hybrid forward/defender with limited minutes would allow him to play that role without having to worry about any defensive concerns they have about him.  He has not been great on the point, but he has an upside for that position that could make it an option for the team in the short term.  Another potential move could be to double shift Gaborik more with Avery and Christensen as a way to get him more ice time and dictate some matchups.

If the Gilroy experiment isn’t working or the Rangers need more of a spark then the move can always be made later.  In the meantime I would expect the following lines for tomorrow’s practice:

Dubinsky-Anisimov-Gaborik

Prospal-Stepan-Wolski

Fedotenko-Boyle-Prust

Avery-Christensen-Gilroy

Eminger Over Gilroy?

It should be pointed out at this stage that this is not an anti Matt Gilroy crusade; in fact it’s far from it. He just doesn’t seem to fit in this Rangers team, or at least don’t seem to be able to play his natural game effectively for the Rangers. What this post is about is discussing what may become a straight up choice between two players over the summer; when the Rangers look at putting together next season’s team. The decision between the two defensemen – Gilroy or Eminger – may just come down to economics and if it does, then the choice is even simpler. When the Rangers decide who to bring back for next season they should look to Steve Eminger and not Matt Gilroy. Gilroy has a lot of talent, he is a great skater and has offensive ability but it would be a surprise if he was willing to accept significantly less salary than he earns right now and the problem is, he is only worth significantly less, at least to this team.

The Rangers clearly still plan (as they should) with Michael Del Zotto and Bryan McCabe has done enough thus far to suggest he’s worth bringing back at the right price – ahead of Gilroy and in addition to Eminger. Those two fill the need for offensive defensemen next year, just fine. McCabe has produced more offensively than Gilroy, has that cannon of a shot, is more physical and is that veteran presence this team needs at the back. That brings us to Steve Eminger. He may be the perfect low maintenance depth defenseman. He costs little (even factoring in a little rise), plays physical and has recently stepped in admirably for Marc Staal proving he can handle a bigger work load. Yes, Eminger has had his moments where he’s caught out of position or where he has made a mistake or two but as your 6th or 7th defensemen the Rangers could do a lot worse and this is the point. Whether it is Eminger or Gilroy; at this stage one of those two looks to be the extra defenseman next year. So why have a cap burden (Gilroy) in the press box?

Gilroy will find a team next year if he isn’t kept by the Rangers. He could still turn out to be a good offensive defenseman in the league (a team like Columbus seems an ideal situation for the former Hobey Baker winner) but he doesn’t fit on the Rangers now, or next season. Eminger ticks too many boxes not to keep him around for another year. Cheap, low maintenance, good depth: underrated things that every good team needs to have. For the Rangers, those things mean Steve Eminger.

 

Excitement and Expectancy

In a few days I’ll be making my latest pilgrimage to New York and I couldn’t be more excited. I’ll be getting to go to the Canucks and Canadiens games and they’ll be my personal Christmas ! I’ll also be using the Rangers to help me forget about the Giants dismal end to 2010 but that’s a different discussion….. Before the Rangers entertain me next week they have three games coming up starting tonight against the Canes and including games versus St Louis and the Stars (hello Mr Richards…). The Rangers have played poor hockey the last 3 games and haven’t clicked offensively. Injuries can be blamed but so can poor decision making and an inconsistent, ineffective fore-check. A few changes and improved play would help. This is what I want to see happen before my trip to NYC;

Gaborik becomes Ovechkin; Gaborik needs to shoot and shoot as much as possible. He doesn’t need to necessarily look for the corner every shot but he does need to skate hard and hit the net as much as possible. He needs to do what AO does and just launch the puck at net as much as he can. Gaborik is currently on course for nearly 100 shots less than last year (obviously injuries factored in). With Stepan getting him the puck and if Dubinsky can crash the net there should be success to be had. With guys like Callahan and Prospal out, Gaborik now needs to be the offensive leader the he should be anyway.

Gilroy; now he has the promise of an extended stretch of hockey it’s time we see Gilroy use the offensive skills he’s got. He needs to take it up a notch and not just be a member of the top 6 but become an offensive contributor. He needs to become a legitimate option on the power play. He has a lot of talent but as of right now he still hasn’t earnt the deal he got off the Rangers two summers ago. If he wants to better that deal it’s time to step up his solid yet unspectacular play.

Ryan McDonagh; He represents the future and Steve Eminger does not. Assuming the drills and ‘look’ from the coaches goes well the coaching staff should give McDonagh some game time to give him a taste of what he can expect. No need to rush him but it would do McDonagh a lot of good to see what the pace of the NHL looks like. It should be Eminger that sits, not just because his play has slipped but, because of the depth behind him, he’s unlikely to return next season.

Zuccarello gets on the board; With the Rangers offense sputtering and with injuries taking its toll this team would benefit massively from Zuccarello showing he truly is NHL ready rather than ‘just’ continuing to flash his undoubted ability. At times he has shown his promise – in the few games he has played so far – but he needs to score and become an offensive contributor. No one is expecting him to become a go-to scorer straight away but while he is with the big club any offense would be welcome; while an ideal situation would be if his impact could be big straight away.

How to Get Del Zotto Out of His Slump

Would it be so bad if the young, talented defenceman played a few games in the AHL? I’ve beaten this drum before but it’s always worth noting that a guy like Duncan Keith played his trade in the minors for two full seasons before becoming the elite defenceman that he is today. A lot appears to rest on Del Zotto’s attitude and how he handles his current predicament. Even at his young age he’s the most offensively gifted rearguard that the Rangers have but something is amiss. His offensive game has dried up and his decision making is inconsistent. What Del Zotto needs is to somehow getting his confidence up and getting back to the period where he wasn’t afraid to make plays and lead the rush. This is where the Connecticut Whale comes in.

If this discussion was taking place at the start of the year it would have been unwise to have demoted MDZ because of the mire that the Whale found themselves in.  However, right now the Whale are playing good hockey, scoring goals and most importantly, having success. What Del Zotto needs to do is play significant minutes without worrying about the effect of every play he makes. He needs to be in an environment where he is allowed to make the occasional mistake and not worry about his spot in the line up. He also needs to embrace and roster move that make come his way. Should he end up in the minors he needs to accept the challenge that comes with demotion and look to get back up to NY as soon as possible. He must realise that being sent down isn’t necessarily punishment and certainly not the end but is about development. Del Zotto has rarely experienced adversity. He had a stellar junior career, was involved in a major trade as a junior and found immediate success in NY and became a fan favourite quickly. This tough period is a new experience for the skilled youngster but difficulties such as this are often as critical to a player (and person’s) development as the good times are; it’s about building character.

What the Rangers need to make sure they avoid is letting Del Zotto stay in the press box too long. If they do feel Gilroy is deserving of an extended stay in the team (and the college kid has done nothing to deserve being removed) then Del Zotto does need to be demoted. He needs to play, in fact playing a lot is critical in a young athlete’s career – it’s akin to a young child learning to walk. They try, fall over, keep trying and learn from their falls. This is what Del Zotto needs to do on the ice. He needs to play a lot of ice time regardless of league and location. Should the Rangers keep him in street clothes night in night out, they risk damaging a huge asset, perhaps permanently. Sather, Tortorella and Schoenfeld need to decide what to do sooner rather than later, for everyone’s benefit.

Del Zotto should think about other skilled, young blueliners that have recently played in the AHL but that have made their way to the NHL. They include John Carlson (of US WJC fame) and Kevin Shattenkirk (who is playing a key role for the Avalanche this year) while Alex Edler of the Canucks alternated between Vancouver and the AHL for two seasons before making himself a core part of a strong Canucks club. These players show that going to the AHL is far from a major stumbling block but more an opportunity. If Del Zotto is willing to embrace the (potential) challenge there’s nothing to say that he can’t come back to be a mainstay for the Rangers for a long time to come; after all, the PP needs a successful Del Zotto.

Rangers Use Firing Squad in 7-2 Laugher Over Islanders

After a blizzard pounded the New York City area over the last 36 hours the New York Rangers unleashed a blizzard of their own by dumping a whopping 52 shots on net and scoring 7 times in their 7-2 victory of the rival Islanders this evening.  As difficult as it was to move around the city today it was that easy for the Rangers to do nearly whatever they wanted in the Islanders zone.  The offense was sparked early by an unlikely candidate in the often scratched Matt Gilroy who scored his first of the season and would make me look smart for saying just this afternoon that he has done everything to earn a legit shot at getting a regular spot on the defense core.  Gilroy would only help his cause and my case by adding another goal in the second.  The goals for Gilroy were his first in 64 games and only his 5th and 6th in 91 career games.  Gilroy would get some help from his friends as Marian Gaborik, Brian Boyle, Brandon Dubinsky, Ruslan Fedotenko and finally Derek Stepan would get in on the act.  The scariest part is if not for some phenomenal work from Dwayne Roloson it could have been a lot bigger score.

The first period saw the Rangers start fast as just 44 seconds into the game Matt Gilroy would fire a shot from the right point that would deflect off of Islander Rob Schremp and in to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead.  The Rangers would continue to have good puck possession but fail to get the second goal and then the Islanders on a counter would score on a shot from Rob Schremp that Henrik Lundqvist has got to stop at 7:51 of the period.

The negative play would continue just 1:52 later as an overall team breakdown would lead the Islanders taking a 2-1 lead when the Islanders would break down 3-on-2 and after a failed pass attempt by P.A. Parenteau would go to Matt Moulson, Parenteau would score on the rebound but the failure of the forwards to backcheck left him wide open.

The Rangers would have their share of chances in trying to tie the game, but it would not be until 19:09 of the first where they would finally strike.  On the shift Mats Zuccarello would make a beautiful feed to Chris Drury in front but he could not convert, but eventually the puck would work back to the point and Marc Staal would pinch down and give a beautiful feed through the seem to Marian Gaborik for the one-timer to tie the score at 2-2.  The Rangers would have chances late in the period for Drury hitting the post and Prust missing the net, but the period would end 2-2 with the shots at 18-12.

The Rangers would dominate the second period from start to finish but for a while Dwayne Roloson had their number and it had the feeling of one of those game that could go the other way.  At 12:08 of the period Matt Gilroy would change all that and start the floodgates opening as he would drive into the Rangers zone and with no hesitation let go of a quick shot that deflected off Andy MacDonald and in to make it 3-2.

The Rangers would strike again late in the period as at 18:21 Brian Boyle would beat Dwayne Roloson short side hide with a backhander that Roloson is supposed to save and as good as he was for the first 30 minutes that goal had the makings of a back-breaker for his club.  At the end of two the Rangers were now up 4-2 and outshooting the Islanders 36-16 overall.

After killing of an Artem Anisimov early penalty in the third the Rangers would keep the throttle down and blow it open and it would be Anisimov’s hard work behind the Isles net that would lead to Brandon Dubinsky scoring his 15th goal of the season when he lifted the puck over Rollie to make it 5-2 4:14 in.

At 9:05 in typical Fedotenko-Boyle-Prust fashion they would get a grinding type goal for Fedotenko to make it 6-2.  The Rangers would cap the scoring at 10:34 when Derek Stepan scored his 11th of the season and the Rangers second power play goal of the evening.

  • Marian Gaborik was much more involved tonight as he took the play to the net, fought for the puck and was much more decisive, especially on the power play
  • Zuccarello was not quite as noticeable on a shift to shift basis tonight but again proved he belonged and got his first NHL point.
  • Derek Stepan scored in his fourth straight game and now has 11 goals on the season only pushing him higher in the Calder conversation
  • Brandon Dubinsky played another very involved game tonight, which was great to see with Gaborik back in there.
  • Artem Anisimov played another excellent game as he was a force to be reckoned with in the offensive zone and love that he was around the crease all night and not drifted as he sometimes does
  • Chris Drury did not score a goal, but he was in the right spot on numerous occasions and eventually one has to go
  • Brian Boyle is giving Dubinsky a run for his money as the MVP of the club for the half way mark
  • Matt Gilroy has earned more games and if Del Zotto is to come back in it should be at the expense of Eminger right now.
  • Mike Sauer had another quietly effective game as usual

Gilroy Getting The Prucha Treatment

When the Rangers signed defenseman Matt Gilroy out of Boston University in 2008, many thought they were getting a bonafide top-four defenseman. The general consensus was that Gilroy would be on the top-four pairing and quarterback the powerplay back to respectability. This was solid logic, as Gilroy captained the BU team to a national championship, and was their best defenseman during that run. It didn’t take Gilroy that long to produce in the NHL, scoring a goal in just his third career game. After his first month as a pro, Gilroy had three points (2-1-3), and was a +5 rating. While it wasn’t the offensive production many expected, he emerged as a solid two-way defender, averaging close to 17 minutes per game.

Unfortunately for Gilroy, he struggled mightily after that first month. The truncated NHL schedule (due to the Olympics), coupled with the fact that Gilroy had never played more than 45 games in a season, really started to take its toll on the young defenseman. His production slowed to a standstill, and his +/- rating dropped from +5 to a +1 before he was sent to Hartford in December 2009 to reassess his game. After a five game stint with the Wolfpack, he was re-called by the Rangers. Both sides hoped he had worked out his kinks in the minors.

Gilroy would play in 39 more games after being re-called, he would not score a single goal in that span. In fact, he would finish with a dismal line of 0-9-9, and a -3 rating in those 39 games before finding himself as a healthy scratch in lieu of the veteran Anders Eriksson, who was acquired at the trade deadline and called up from Hartford. When all was said and done, Gilroy’s rookie season was a bit of a head scratcher.

More after the jump