Identifying A Rebuild; And When That Rebuild Has Ended

As a follow up to my post this morning about the dangers of being prospect obsessed, I think it’s prudent to discuss how to identify a rebuild and when that rebuild has ended. For almost a year, fans have been talking about the rebuild, and how it is finally a success after 12 long months. I smile a little bit every time I read something like that, because the Rangers rebuild started long before last year. The rebuild started after the 2004 fire sale, which seems obvious enough. However, the Rangers play in New York, so they can’t rebuild in the traditional “tank five seasons in a row and hoard elite prospects” manner that the Blackhawks and Penguins mastered. The Rangers had to follow the Red Wings approach, which is draft well while attempting to compete at the same time.

The Rangers started that rebuild in 2004, but because the Rangers made the playoffs in each of the first four seasons following the lockout, it was largely ignored. That may have worked out in the long run for the front office, as the Rangers were able to quietly develop these prospects without the need to rush them to the big leagues. Where would the Rangers have been if they rushed Marc Staal, Brandon Dubinsky, and Ryan Callahan?

The thing that hid the rebuild was the success and the free agent signings. Most of those signings were on the shorter term as stop gaps (there are really only three exceptions here), designed to be place holders until some of the prospects were ready. Those prospects are now on the roster, and while there are a few prospects waiting in the wings, the core of the team has been identified, which of course brings me to the second part of this post.

With the core of the team identified, and the numbers of holes needing filling dwindling, is it safe to say that the rebuild in New York is complete? I think it is. The Rangers have a franchise goaltender, a stud defenseman with several compliments, and several core pieces at forward. Sure, there are a few high end prospects waiting, but the two main holes on this team are a legitimate top center and a puck moving defenseman. From those, the former can be addressed this offseason, and the latter may already be in the system.

The number of holes on this Rangers club has dwindled surprisingly fast due to prospect development. The Rangers may not be a Cup contender at this moment (pending offseason moves), but they should be a lock for the playoffs for the next few seasons. Once more high end talent arrive, be it in the form of Brad Richards, Chris Kreider, and/or Christian Thomas, the Rangers have incredible depth and skill. Some may argue that the rebuild isn’t over until Kreider and/or Thomas make the roster. But having them in the cupboard is enough to show that the Rangers are on the brink of being contenders. It looks like the rebuild is over, and the future is now. Time to take advantage of it.

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  • This post reminds me of that Get Him To The Greek scene with Puff Daddy, where he’s like “I’m mind f*cking the sh*t out of you!”

    This is a mind f*ck post. You wanna throw crazy money at free agents don’t you!

    • I want to throw money at Brad Richards.

      Then I want to see one of Thomas/Kreider make the team in 2012, and the other in 2013 (or both in 2012).

  • Yeah let’s throw money at Richards. What’s the worst that could happen? Chris Drury could happen, but Drury is half the player Richards is and was. Richards fills a lot of holes. Everyone is so skeptical of free agents now. Maybe everyone should start watching College Hockey as it’s all homegrown players and no money to be wasted.

    • You just said in your other comment you would do a couple of deals for elite talent. Now you’re saying don’t sign Richards and we should be watching college hockey? Richards doesn’t cost us anything but money? Are there two Matt J’s floating around?

      • That was pure sarcasm, as here’s what we should do.

        Go after Richards hard. If the price gets too big or the years back away.

        Plan B: Get a Stastny type or Paul Stastny himself.. A Stastny type would be someone with the not so greatest contract on a terrible team who needs to clear the cap space. Jason Spezza would qualify as another one of these but i’m not as in love with him.

        The whole college hockey part of my comment is that people are so afraid of roster changes through free agency, and college hockey has no roster changes and every player is homegrown.

        There are not to two Matt J’s.

          • I wish there was a way to italicize comments. That would give waaaayyy better hints of sarcasm.

            Maybe we should try winking.

            “hey Matt I like your idea of Spezza” 😉 😉

          • Well Spezza was just a suggestion that’s in the realm of possibility. Some people on this blog suggest Eric Staal, and Patrick Kane. I’m trying to be a realist, and not live in some fantasy land where the Rangers will someday win the cup. Wink Wink.

          • Depends on how we trade for Stastny…I have seen some idiotic proposals in order to trade for him…I am for a Stastny trade but my ideal move would still be for a prospect…Brayden Schenn…I think the rangers are on the cusp of a great thing here It just needs fine tuning not major moves…I really do not see Richards as a part of the solution but I can see a Stastny or a Laich as being one

          • Couple things:
            *We talk about Statsny because he was rumored to be dealt. Schenn is not available, nor is anyone of that caliber of prospect. I think that AA, MDZ, and a 1st for Statsny would make both teams quite happy.
            *I understand the Richards apprehension, but you can’t deny he is one hell of a fit for this team.
            *Why on Earth would we pay Laich an extraordinarily overpriced contract (as an UFA) to come here? Because that is what it will take. He is intriguing, but not at what it will cost.

          • What is his asking price?..Liach…I am thinking 3.5 mil a year…I am not surewhat his Salary was last year…3 mil range?

          • Laich is a product of ovi and semin. Girardi grachev and first for stastny. Nothing more. or girardi and mdz for stastny.

          • Laich, in this market, is going to get at least $4m, and might get $5m if the right GM (read: Brian Burke) gets a hold of him. He’s the 2nd best center behind Richards on the UFA market.

  • Stay on target.

    Rebuilding never ends. Fire sales are for when the team compiled sucks and must be disbanded.

    Why are we going after Richards? (we wont ever sign them).

    Given the development that has occurred thus far, stay the course. Stepan will be an elite talent. Forget about going after fagents. Let’s look at the past ones we got. Gomez drury redden. Gabby. All have underachieved. Why sign another?

    My gut tells me to go with what we have. And while the suit has his suits. I have my gut and my gut tells me even if we falter next season we have a good core that gets better every year. Better to build that out rather than throw money around like Neil smith.

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