AnalysisState of the Rangers

Looking ahead: Why all the Fuss?

Every Friday here at BSB we’re going to Look ahead. We’ll be looking ahead at various aspects of the New York Rangers, this week starting with how the prospects are not being blocked. Not now, not going forward – Its all about them being ready.

I appreciate that there is some negative sentiment and pessimism floating around, that with additions such as Todd White, the Rangers are not sticking to their word by leaving roster spots open for prospects. I can see why people would be concerned but let’s be honest here; as it currently stands (yes, it may – hopefully – change by the end of camp) how many forward prospects are ready to make a legitimate impact at the NHL level?

Who can truly say Derek Stepan, Ethan Werek, but especially Evgeny Grachev wouldn’t be better served with major minutes in either the minors or in junior? Would Stepan’s development not be stunted if he was receiving between 7-10 minutes per night in NY as opposed to 16-18 mins in Hartford? Carl Hagelin, Chris Kreider, Ryan Borque and Roman Horak are all atleast a year away, Christian Thomas and Andrew Yogan more so.  Mats Zuccarello-Aasen may also benefit from major minutes in the AHL though that is still to be determined. As it stands, the apparent logjam at forward is ‘only’ a concern for Dale Weise and Dane Byers but specifically Weise is highly thought of by the coaching staff so it can be assumed he’ll atleast get a shot at making it New York. Right now however, none of the ‘blue chip’ forward prospects are in danger of getting lost amongst the forward shuffle in New York.

Things are a little clearer on the blue line. Sort of. Maybe? It looks as though Wade Redden will be waived. The current cap situation dictates it (yay!). That leaves atleast one spot open to open competition. If that’s grabbed by Steve Eminger so be it. If it’s Matt Gilroy, Ryan McDonagh or even Pavel Valentenko even better.  There are opportunities on the blue line and quite frankly if Matt Gilroy can’t beat out Steve Eminger he doesn’t deserve a spot. Fans shouldn’t see Eminger as a road block to the prospects. He basically cost the Rangers nothing, has neither a significant commitment from the club or a prohibitive cap hit so he won’t be given a job because of those factors. If Eminger is patrolling the blue line opening night it can be assumed he deserved it ahead of the competition.

McDonagh and co will get their opportunities; it’s up to them to take them. Whether that is the start of the coming season, mid season or next season we’re yet to see. Which brings me to my final point. Within the next 2 years, 16 contracts and $35.27m from the current roster come off the books. That doesn’t include Redden. Of those 16 deals it is safe to assume Prospal won’t be back after 11/12 (at the latest), same goes for Todd White and unless Sather wants a fan revolt Michael Roszival will be gone the latest in two years. Barring a great season it’s hard to imagine Eminger coming back and the same goes for Marty Biron in two years, with the caveat that Chad Johnson develops in Hartford. Brian Boyle seems to be an odd man now let alone when his deal expires in 12 months time…

The point here is that there are plenty of opportunities for the prospects on the horizon. If, during this time, Sather then fills the vacating roster spots despite the prospects truly being ready then by all means let him have it, but until prospects X, Y and Z are banging the door down with their play then it’s hard to moan – just yet. Why rush a prospect into a position just because he’s a prospect? How did that pan out for Jamie Lundmark and Manny Malhotra? By the way, a 12 goal season (Mr Grachev) is not banging the door down.

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  1. I guess signing Prospal at 35 was insurance, but not smart move. I think Grach is ready despite on bad season in HRTF. He started nice, but not let him play on WC junior destroyed his mood. It was terrible mistake by Organization. MZA, the player for whom hunted such teams like Detroit, Toronto and Chicago, pretty much said for itself. Even if he need some adjustments to NHL, I don’t think playing in AHL will benefit him. MDZ is good example for that. Weise and Bayers are good checkers with size, scoring touch and desire to play. After all, I see no trust from Management to youth, signing Prospal, EC and Boogard, especially Derek. I like what he can bring to the team, but for 4 years for $1.6ml? No brainer this contract is the reason of smiles around the NHL. After Redds directed to AHL, and Brush was traded( thanks Glen at least for correcting your own mistakes) how many opening we have for young forwards? It’s hard to count. Even though Glen told that spot will be earned no matter of contract size, it’s totally BS. Do you expect those three Prospal, EC and Boogoard to play in AHL or taking seats in press box if they would be outperformed by youngsters during the camp? I’m pretty much doubt about that. I can’t say Stepan is ready or not b/c didn’t see him much, but if he is outplay EC in camp, the most what he will be promised it’s a call ups during the season. I can be wrong, we will see. The most what I like it will be healthy competition for D spots in TC.

    1. I think we can all agree that Boogaard was a mistake, but it made Gaborik happy. If it only costs Byers a spot, so be it. Byers is nothing more than a fourth line player anyway.

      Why wasn’t Grachev allowed to play at the World Juniors? I don’t remember that. Can you elaborate on that?

      1. Dave, it was all over in Rangers news, you can google it and find. Their statement was that they afraid his possibility to be injured and prevent him from call up form AHL to main team, doing this they destroyed his mood for a season. Re Gabby happy, do we have to hire half wilds players do to that? LOL Byers is cheaper and deserved to has this spot instead of BooBoo, who doesn’t do anything except fight.

        1. The Grachev situation just slipped my mind I guess.

          We hired people for Jagr (see: 2005-2006 Rangers, all Czechs), so why not do it for Gaborik too?

          1. Can you remember one of them was so dummy as BooBoo? We got talents back there: Starka Sikora, Rosy was good, well Malik, but do you remember his penalty shot. I still consider the gorgeous I ever see.

          2. Dave one more thing, If Gabby liked them so much, he could just simply stay there. Here is New York City, not Wild Wild West. LOL

  2. Agreed. I believe most fans are worried because the bosses have in the past let talent sit because of large contracts. If for instance avprospect plays better in camp than let’s say Chris drury, will the prospect get the spot. I don’t want to hear anyone on the coaching staff say, “he had a stellar camp, but we think he needs more time in the minors”. I feel at this point with the legitimate talent that is in our system that is unacceptable. If a player is obviously beat out for a spot. Then they shouldget said spot. People I expect to make a jump out of camp
    byers and weise – both these guys are legit 3rd and 4th line players and in any team in the league would be on the roster opening night
    people I expect to have a great showing in camp, but will have to truly impress because of their long term potential.
    grachev, Stepan, mcdonough, aasen
    dark horses
    Valentenko, horak, borque, sauer

    overall I will concede that it’s good to have options. But I do have concerns that the brass will play people because of contracts. I know they have said they won’t. But that’s like a junkie saying they won’t smoke more rock.

  3. No-one can say Grachev deserves a spot based on past performance. EC, White and other players arent safe from Grachev and the prospects this coming camp and thats important… but if Grachev isnt stellar at camp he hasnt done anything to make the team on merit. No shame in another year in the A for him, or the other kids. If they need it.

    There are plenty of spaces coming up in the next 2 seasons for the prospects. Prospects also need veteran guidance and guys like Prospal help.

    Cup winners like Chicago had to suffer through building years before becoming stellar teams. in 06-07 they too had to bridge the gap to the prospects with guys like Hamilton, Smolinski, Mikael Homlqvist, Arkhipov etc, etc. If the prospects arent ready you DO NOT rush them. Chicago didnt and they reaped the rewards.

    If Grachev and Stepan play well in camp and get demoted im sort of ok with it. If they then continue to dominate in the A, and players are underperforming in NY and they STILL dont get their opportunity thats when i’ll be critical.

    1. I believe you speaking theoretically, but let me ask you this: If Grach will outplay Prospal in camp and Stepan outplay EC, do you really believe that those EC and Vinny go to AHL? Or your beliefs based on Glen and Torts words, if so, you can’t encourage me to believe in that.

      1. Do i believe Torts and Sather completely? no. Sather doesnt deserve our trust but if Stepan completely outplayed EC or (more relevantly) White yes, i believe he’d make the team.

        Prospal is important to the Rangers. He’s a leader, a scorer and a veteran presence – every team need those things. Unless he’s shockingly bad Prospal is untouchable to start the year, as he should be.

        1. you may be right, but still they are on the way our youth to make a team, not like Berlin wall, but kind of…

  4. Great post again. I think we’ve seen that this fan base gets way too enamored with mediocre players and prospects (Blair Betts anyone?). I think the main competition for the final two spots will be between Weise, MZA, and White, with two winding up in Hartford.

    1. Don’t know about you, but I’d take Betts (who was just in the Cup finals last year) over Boyle anyday

      It is important to have role players like that who do their job and do it well (shot blocking, hustle, PK dominance, etc.)

      1. Dominic Moore is much better than Boyle too. It’s as if they (management) like him just because he’s 6’7 which doesn’t amount to anything if you can’t play.

        Since the departure of Renney, we’ve lost our definative role players.

        1. Lots of people are better than Boyle. Betts was replacable, he just wasn’t replaced. So the role he played was filled by the $7m man, who had his production fall off a cliff because of it.

          I don’t think we’ve lost our role players as much as inadequately replaced them. Boyle was supposed to be Betts with more offense. Except he was terrible at faceoffs and generally useless. I wouldn’t mind seeing Todd White take that role to ease up on Drury’s assignments.

  5. “If Eminger is patrolling the blue line opening night it can be assumed he deserved it ahead of the competition.” — This assumes that Sather and Torts have a clue. When has this been shown?

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