Today we are going to take a deeper look at the Rangers recent moves. Though the team played better in Tampa the other night, the bottom six hasn’t been very consistent and clearly Torts and Sather thought a change was needed. Below we’ve put together a qualitative analysis, or as Dave likes to call it – the eye test. If there’s an interest in the quantitative/advanced stats-type stuff. Let us know. Dave can whip that together.
What the Rangers lose – Size, fights, veteran leadership
I was one of the few advocates of having a guy like Mike Rupp in the lineup. Most people who didn’t play organized hockey growing up have a hard time evaluating 4th line guys, so I get the disconnect some fans had with his presence in the lineup. For me, Rupp was exactly what you need from a 4th line role player.
Rupper was a leader in the locker room, as evidenced by Torts constantly seeking Rupp’s input at key times (shown in 24/7). He stood up for his teammates (remember Tomas Kopecky sucker punching MDZ last year? Rupp was the first guy in). He also played well in a limited role during the playoffs, bringing a good forecheck and puck management.
That might not mean much to some, but to a team in the trenches – there’s a value to having that type of presence in the lineup. Above all else, he was coachable and he had a ring. But then Sather signed Arron Ashman, who is a stronger skater, better fighter and thus made Rupp’s skill set duplicative. His minutes suffered as a result.
What the Rangers receive – Speed, blocked shots, PKer, overall depth
Minnesota is a team of hobbits, who have been getting pushed around by their division rivals. Zach Parise, Mikael Granlund, Pierre-March Bouchard are all around 5’10 180 lbs soaking wet. Matt Cullen, Mikko Koivu and even Dany Heatley have bigger frames, but don’t always play big. Rupp adds some needed grit to their lineup. Perhaps he will receive more minutes under Mike Yeo, who doesn’t run as an aggressive forecheck as Torts.
I called one of my friends who scouts the Western Conference and he said Darroll Powe (listed at 5’11 200 lbs) is kinda like a Benn Ferriero, just with more seasoning and more bulk. He’s a good skater, good along the boards and isn’t afraid to go to the net, despite being somewhat undersized. Powe’s skating helps him get from the net to the wall for loose pucks and he’s adept at blocking shots. He can also kill penalties, which Rupp can’t do at this stage of his career. Most importantly, he’ll likely play around 10 minutes a game, so he’ll bring much needed depth to the bottom six.
Nick Palmieri has a decent shot, size, and ability off the wall, but there’s questions about his overall effort. At worst, he’ll help the Whale’s offense, which is depleted right now. At best, he’ll force a call up and work hard to avoid going back to the minors.
Overall, I think this is a good trade for both sides, but leans more towards our favor, as we get a cheaper player (around $500k in savings) who can log more minutes.
Rangers call up Center J.T. Miller & LW Brandon Mashinter, send RW Benn Ferriero to the Whale
This is JT Miller’s test run. There’s some who believe Miller needs a full year of learning the pro game in the AHL. While others are eager to give the kid the Chris Kreider/Carl Hagelin treatment and have him under the tutelage of Tortorella and Sully. What happens from here is anyone’s guess.
In an ideal world, Miller slots on to the third line and forces Boyle to the 4th line. Moving Boyle down is something Dave, Chris, and I have been talking about on this site for 2 years. In our opinion, on a deep team, Boyle plays 10-12 mins on the 4th line instead of being over utilized on the third. Simply put, you need to provide some pop on offense on the third line. Miller is projected to be that type of third liner. He has scored 8 goals and 20 pts for the Whale this season and had a terrific World Junior Championship. We shall see.
Mashinter is listed at 6’4 22o lbs and plays your prototypical power game, but he also has provided some surprise offense at the AHL level. In eight games for the Whale, he’s had 3 goals and 7 points. My guess is both are here to provide some competition for the bottom 6, who haven’t been up to par so far this season.
Though Ferrier0 was sent down, I suspect he will be back at some point. He’s a product of Jerry York’s hockey system (Boston College), who has a mutual respect for John Tortorella’s philosophy. Go fast, go hard, and do whatever it takes to win hockey games. That’s a philosophy I’m still buying into. Of course the question now becomes…what are the new line combos? Your turn…