OffseasonState of the Rangers

Master Plan: NYR roster in 2012 & beyond

This past year the Rangers took another step towards their goal of challenging for the Cup with a core built upon homegrown talent. Some of those core players continued their development and showed us all the great promise of what’s to come, while others left us wanting a little more.

Despite a few media reports saying otherwise, we probably won’t see any major roster upheaval this summer. However, next summer could be very interesting. There will likely be several big name UFAs, our own core RFAs, and we’ll be going into an offseason coming off a year of heightened expectations.

Anyway, for now let’s focus on 2012.

2012 Roster

What I’ve taken away from the organization’s communication of NYR’s plan is that there are three main ingredients to building their team template. Those ingredients seem to be roster balance, skating, and effort. Whether it’s the kids they’ve drafted, the players they’ve signed, or the homegrown talent they’ve invested in, the foundation of our team concept hasn’t changed.

So as you begin to forecast what this roster will look like in 2012 and beyond, forget statistics, ignore the trade rumors, and bet your behind that any long-term acquisitions/signings will have to fit the John Tortorella mold even beyond JT’s tenure here.


The Rangers third line had a lot of trouble getting out of their own zone this season and I think Boyle could use a little more skill on either of his wings. Feds is likely a goner, as speed and board battles were an issue for him this season. Prust appears to be looking for more money than the Rangers are willing to spend. Mitchell is a utility player, who I wouldn’t mind resigning, but won’t be upset if he’s looking for more minutes elsewhere.

Semin? No chance. Radulov? No thanks. Parise? Not likely. Na$h? We shall see. Every other available goal scorer has been linked to the Rangers at one point or another and your guess is as good as mine whether or not we acquire someone of this ilk. However, if we take Glen at his word that he will not trade our kids, then I have a pretty tough time seeing the Rangers getting that coveted scorer we all so desperately want, unless Sather pulls another magic trick.

I know Dubinsky is everyone’s favorite whipping boy this year, but his trade value is not as high as it once was. If you want a consistent 30+ goal scorer, you have to send more than just Dubinsky in the other direction.

But Suit, what if you package Dubinsky and one of our top defensemen?

Not the worst idea I’ve read, but please read on…


Coming out of the exit interviews and subsequent media tour, Tortorella said the biggest need for the offseason was roster depth, particularly on defense. The playoffs proved that both Bickel & Eminger weren’t really ready for the pressure of the NHL’s best competition.

With this in mind, I have a hard time seeing any of our top 4 defenders (McD, Girardi, Staal, or MDZ) getting moved this summer. Bickel will probably be given another chance to develop as a #6 or #7 d-man, or perhaps even as a fourth line winger. Eminger could stay or go at this point.

Perhaps Sather brings in a cheap insurance policy or a stop-gap while Dylan McIlrath is being nurtured in the AHL. Stralman fits what is needed the most, but with the allure of oil money (the KHL), playing in his home country (SEL), or perhaps the promise of higher quality minutes elsewhere, his resigning isn’t guaranteed, though I’d like him back. If Stralman leaves I’d take a look at less heralded UFAs such as Carlo Colaiacovo, Greg Zanon, Kent Huskins, etc. These guys can eat minutes and bring some depth to the blueline.

2013 Roster and beyond


I’m still high on Anisimov as a successful NHLer, but he doesn’t truly fit in New York given my three ingredients of balance, speed, and effort. I think he’s more of an east-west finesse player trapped on roster built for north/south play. If you have no idea what I mean by that please read my hockey systems posts. Dubi at this point is a goner in 2013 unless Sather unloads him this summer.

Gaborik has proven he can score goals in many different ways (balance) and in different systems/coaching philosophies. Depending on his health, production, the trade market, and how our youth’s progressing (Kreider, Miller, etc.), will ultimately decide his fate. The KHL as an option for older Eastern European players probably prohibits the continuation of his career.

I love Michael Rupp and Brian Boyle and I appreciate their execution of their respective roles, however, I don’t see them on the roster beyond their contracts and maybe even before they’re up. The effort is there, but their skating is not.

Hagelin and Stepan are part of our core and in a perfect world should be held on to unless other Rangers prospects like Fogarty, Fast, etc. push them out the door down the road.  Ryan Callahan is a New York Ranger for life and hopefully Kreider will give reason to be as well. Richards likely is because of his contract.


While the short-term look of our defense probably won’t change much, the long-term implications are a different story. In my opinion, everything begins and ends with stay-at-home defensemen Marc Staal. Up until his unfortunate concussion (delivered last season from his brother Eric), Marc was arguably one of the best shutdown defensemen in the NHL. We started to see Staal come around during the playoffs and I’d expect for him to be back to his elite self come October.

What makes this situation interesting is the recent trade of Marc’s younger brother Jordan to the Hurricanes, where his older brother Eric is locked up until 2016. One would have to think that an entire summer of excitement in the Staal household has Marc thinking about eventually taking his talents to Raleigh, joining up with his two brothers (and potentially 3 if Jared makes it out of the Carolina’s farm system). Would he ask for a trade prior to his contract running out in 2015? Hell, I probably would.

What also makes a trade potentially feasible next summer is the continued emergence of players such as Ryan McDonagh, Michael Del Zotto, and perhaps Tim Erixon and/or Dylan McIlrath if the latter two aren’t traded for offense. If you could pull off a three team trade with Carolina, so they get Marc and we receive an elite scorer, I’d be quite happy with a defense consisting of McD, Girardi, MDZ, and then either Erixon or McIlrath, and d-men acquired via trade, free agency, or through the draft. But that’s for down the road to debate…

*Side note – Dear hockey rumor sites, please source me on all three-team trade rumors involving Marc Staal moving forward.


The Suit

PS – Replacing Henrik Lundqvist is not on my periphery at this point.

Also, here is our 2011 Master Plan. It’s always fun to look back and see how far our opinions have all come in the past year. Seems just like yesterday people were complaining Rupp and Fedotenko would impede the progress of guys like Hagelin.

So what’s your plan of attack?

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  • Carlo Colaiacovo flat out sucks, I’d rather pick up Matt Carle and there is no way we trade Marc Staal. If Sauer can recover like Staal and play part of a season and be ready for the playoffs then we have an awesome D. Rangers will push hard for Parise, and if we can score here, well enough said. I’d also pick up Whitney for a year or two for the third line. Rangers should look into obtaining Clarke MacArthur from the Leafs. He would fit in well.

    • Matt Carle will likely cost us too much, and I doubt he would sign here given what’s ahead of him on the depth chart. We have a Whitney post coming later this week, so stay tuned.

      • I’ve been saying Whitney since the deadline, he’d be a good fit, but not sure how he’d feel at 37 years old having to jump in front of shots every night. I think that will steer him away from us.

  • The one missing ingredient for Stanley Cup success is SKILL. Pittsburgh has it, LA has it, Chicago has it…etc. All Cup winners have skill. “Grinding” it out will get you far – as the Rangers displayed – but the requisite skill is what get you to the promise land.

    The Rangers lack top end skill, simply put. Beyond Gabs and Richards – the balance of the team are not 1st liners. Time will tell re: Kreider, Hags…etc – but we need bonafide scorers.

    • I don’t disagree. The one caveat I’ll add is I believe any skill guys they bring in will have to fit our team template. So backchecking/two-way play and an all around emphasis on team-first mentality are pre-reqs.

  • Great write up Suit. I also believe that Marc will, in due time, request a trade to play with his brothers. After the concussion, I’d be willing to see what kind of return we get for him.

    We have a load of good young d-men in the system. McIlrath, Erixon, hopefully Sauer returns, the new kid Sajei, we could afford to trade for some scoreing. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we should trade Marc, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world if we lost him, just look at this past season!

    The only point of interest that I disagree with you on is Boyle. He has been very effective, has done a great job at the PK, and can chip in some scoreing, not a load, but some. He is a good shut down checking forward, not blazing speed, but does the job.

    Can’t wait to see what Slats has up his sleeves with the FA market, and who will sign with us.

  • I’m going to have to disagree with you on Boyle. He’s one of the top defensive forwards on the team right now. I think he stays through for one more contract at least.

  • Good piece. Here are a few names that might help the Rangers. Prust for over 2 mill is a joke. Zenon Konapka could fill that role for half the price plus he wins faceoffs.How effective was Zenon against the Rangers? D how about Jason Garrison for th PP. If Carolina wants Staal start the conversation with Jeff Skinner and hangup the phone.There are some older players out there like Ryan Symth, Ray Whitney, or Shane Doan. IMO I just don’t see any of the 3 comming here and would not be worth the money. Also any of those 3 could slow the development of Chris Kreider by taking away specialty minutes away from him. IMO they have to upgrade there roster with some skill. You are right next years UFA are better. Would love to see Ryan Getzlaf, however the Duck might be looking to move Bobby Ryan because they need the money to resign Getzlaf.

  • While all teams need balanced scoring, you cannot score if you do not break out of your own zone effectively. NYR seems to struggle getting out of their own zone with 2 crisp passes. LAK seem to do this effortlessly. Maybe a quicker, more skilled defense makes our offense look more consistent.

    • Breaking out of our zone was painful during the playoffs. Send it up the boards, send it up the boards…over and over again. The opposition D would always cheat in and put the puck back into the corner. I know it is the safe play (and probally the correct play most of the time) but when you watched the Kings, they were not scared of throwing the puck across the ice or up the middle thus preventing the opposition D from cheating in. Torts probally wanted the D to go up the boards all of the time because he did not trust them making the pass through the center – thus the need for some D with hands.

  • The great thing about this master plan is that our young kids are still developing. Our elder statesman (in terms of homegrown talent) are Lundqvist (30), Callahan (27) and Dubinsky (26). That’s pretty awesome when you think about it. Our kids will come to camp prepared and Sather will hopefully tweak the roster and continue to make smart moves. I can’t wait for September.

  • With the plan in motion now for a few years and staying the course this free agency we should replace the players we will lose in Feds, possibly prust and add another forward to make Rupp the extra forward to be inserted in the line up for the physical games. Prust leaves then sign Gaustad, replace Feds with a player from the prospect pool and keep close tabs on Thomas to see if he can get into the line up sometime this year

    On D sign Bickel as a depth D taking over Emingers spot, Sign Shultz go after this kid with Vigor, Erixon and Sauer can hopefully be in the line up and Stralman should be signed as well

    In goal sign Clemenssen or Biron

    2013 we should be in a good position to sign the right UFA. I actually think we will be picking late again in 2013 so I wouldn’t mind us nabbing another 1st in the 8 to 14 range. with a deeper draft and 3 3rd rounders we will probably nab 2 goalies to add to our pool

    • 2 goalies??? Dont think so. There are way too many good goalies out there as FA to waste that many picks.

  • Good post. For 2012, I would get away from this top six-bottom six forwards idea and put together a quality third line. I like Boyle-Dubinsky-Callahan as a classical checking line, which can also put the puck in the net. They would probably play more than the second line against teams with premier scorers. Boyle-Prust-Feds were close to this last year, but clearly faded this year.

    • Boyle does not belong on the 3rd line. This is where this team failed last year only haveing 2 and a half lines to roll out every night in the playoffs killed us.

      The third line should be made up of fast some what skilled players that other teams have to chase around not giving them the chance to rest at all.

    • Boyle does not belong on the third line. Prust Boyle and Mitchel should have made up a shutdown 4th line. And thats it.

  • This is what the Rangers could do and it would be very easy. Well most of it.

    Kreider Richards A Kostitsyn while Gabs is out.

    Penner Anisimov Cally- AA plays beeter between bookends.

    Hagelin Gaustad Stepan- or Stepan at center with Dubi on the wing.

    Prust? Boyle Konopka- if we lose Prust then sign Taylor Pyatt too He is 6’4 228

    All of this can be done without losing anything And makes us way deeper when Gabby gets back

  • Why is it that the Rangers make every team that plays them look like they are playing a trap (ala 2007 NJD). It is because we need to increase the skill level across the board. I think the last time a forward went end-to-end, it was Scottt Gomez. We need to pass/skate/pass/skate then shoot. We spend more time on the boards, behind the net then anyone. Mucking is okay, but finesse would be nice too!

  • Who do we sign to push us over the top?

    I’m glad we didn’t send half the farm to Columbus for one player. The Rangers are slowly becoming the Red Wings of the East by reloading with drafted talent.

    We need a power forward that can score. Not sure if it is going to rise out of the Whale or not in the next coming years.

    But if Parise signs with Pittsburgh, then this team has to look at what it is going to take to beat them if they are going to win the cup.

  • I wouldn’t mind bring PA Parenteau back. At least we would have someone who can score in a shootout and he wouldn’t be bad as a 2nd or 3rd line winger. If he wants the same as Prust, who would you prefer?

  • my thinking is this

    To start the season we should stay the course with just the minor tinkering and the biggest high risk high reward being we sign Schultz and give him the spot out right but with this in mind with him. He under performs he loses his spot and can be evaluated by the staff to best grow him into the star he will become. The biggest factor for added offense will be in Thomas. Collectively the Rangers will score more goals but if Thomas siezes his opportunity and produces then we have solved our issues. One other factor is what will happen to Sauer.

    I am more about the defense over forwards and when I see this possibility….I really like it

    McDonagh with Girardi
    Staal with Schultz
    Del Zotto with Sauer
    Erixon with Bickel/Stralman as the extras

    The future holds bright with
    McIlrath, Skjei, Partlett and I really think we got a steal in Andersson

  • I think people need to forget about Sauer for the time being. Torts said he is planning on starting the season without him, so depth will be needed.

  • Its not skill. It’s the system.

    Breakout. Along the wall.

    Offensive zone along the wall

    Someone needs to break away from the wall and go to the net.

    Problem is you can lose puck possession by doing that.

    We focus so much on maintaining control of the puck and not moving the puck to prime scoring locations.

  • The Suit strikes again! I liked the article. It’s always fun to look ahead and I happen to agree with the majority of the article. Solid Job

  • JAM could be given a shot for third line. How bout we steal PHO’s 4th line. Or try to get Stephen Gionta. Trade Rupp. Sign Bickel.

  • nobody talks about other trade possibility,s edmonton is loaded with fowards they lack some good young d mem how about maybe looking to deal for ales hemsky or sam gagner . maybe a erixon or mcllarth in the trade and jagr is still out there for scoring because the way i see it on the nash talks is both sather and howson wont budge from there demands who knows what player the rangers will get for a scorer

    • Thats not all very true. They have 7 very high rated D men in their system. Compared to our two. And thats before this years draft.

      What they dont have is as many young promising D men that have been in the NHL for 2 to 5 years as we do. So the only way they trade with us Is if we give up a Girardi, Stall or Mc D…

  • Can Dubinsky become a 35 goal scorer? We is a hard worker who seems to work very hard along the boards, but does not position himself to be a scorer. Who can the NYR pair him with to bring out that scoring touch next year (if he is still here)

    • What needs to be done with Dubi Is put him back at Center. He doesnt naturally go to the net from the wing.

  • Haha – nice to look back at the 2011 plan.

    Girardi, an allstar this year, still the best D man on the team… and now Staal is the one to be moved, not Girardi, nice.

  • Well before the Staal trade I have been thinking that the most logical defenseman to trade is Staal. The team was successful for most of the year without him, he has the largest salary cap hit, we will need to resign McD & MDZ in the near future and we have some good youung prospects coming up in Erixson and McIlrath. If you combine Dubi and Staal with one or 2 prospects/picks that should be enough to get a first line winger in return.

  • How about Staal and a second rounder in 2013 for Jeff Skinner, solves problems for both teams and sends Marc down with his brothers…?

  • That one line “Ryan Callahan is a New York Ranger for life” brought me a small tear of joy. I miss those days when players were lifers with one club.

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