Report card: Bottom six forwards

Third line on your program, first line in your hearts
Third line on your program, first line in your hearts

Next up on our final year report cards come the bottom six (or seven, in this case) forwards. Before we start individually, it should be noted that the bottom six were shockingly good this season, with the third line being arguably the most consistent and productive line towards the end of the season. The chemistry shown on both the third and fourth lines (though moreso with the third) carried the Rangers through the Pittsburgh series in the playoffs and will make for a headache for Glen Sather to keep together during the offseason. On to the grades..

Mats Zuccarello: A. Zucc was the Rangers MVP for this past season. He showed tremendous strength and a major return on his 1 year/$1.15 million contract signed prior to this season. Leading the team with a line of 19-40-59 during the regular season, Zucc kept it turned on during the playoffs with that aforementioned chemistry, with a respectable 13 points in the 25 games played. Perhaps the most promising sign is that Zuccarello is listed at 5’7, yet plays as big (and often bigger) than the 6’4 Rick Nash. Re-signing Zucc must be an absolute priority for management this summer.

Derick Brassard: B+. Brassard’s first full season with the Blueshirts certainly showed that his flashes of brilliance upon his arrival were not for naught. He showed up as the player that the former sixth overall draft pick was expected to be: A natural playmaker with an eye for when to shoot. Brassard’s hockey IQ led him to be third on the team with a shooting percentage of 11.3%. Brass only missed one game this season, proving to be much more consistent than the Blue Jackets seemed to find him. With his contract expiring, it’s necessary to find money to offer and keep this line together.

Benoit Pouliot: B+. Another high first round draft pick (fourth overall), Pouliot has found himself to be a quintessential journeyman at the ripe old age of 27. Much like Brassard, Pouliot suffered with consistency and an ability to live up to the potential expected of him. Also like Brassard, it appears that Pouliot has found his niche on this third line. Pouliot ended the regular season at 15-21-36, and continued to be productive throughout the playoffs. Perhaps the power play time helped his success; with 7 PPG in the regular season, he tied for first on the team with… you guessed it, Derick Brassard. Pouliot needs to control himself in the offensive zone and stop taking unnecessary penalties, and once he does, he looks to be unstoppable.

Brian Boyle: B. The mysterious case of Brian Boyle is that he always plays mediocre during the regular season, but like a superstar in the postseason. His postseason play would get him an “A” rating, but in analyzing the regular season as well, he played merely above average. Boyle tends to forget that he’s enormous (6’7, 244 lb) and for much of the season wasn’t playing in front of the net. Boyle was, however, phenomenal on the penalty kill along with Moore, almost entirely neutralizing a deadly Montreal PP unit during the Eastern Conference Finals. Boyle’s stellar postseason play earned him a huge raise, and maybe one that won’t be granted by the Rangers. I think Boyle’s contract will end up like a Brandon Prust situation, with him landing somewhere else grossly overpaid and the Blueshirts looking for a replacement.

Dominic Moore: B. Moore’s resurgence into the hockey world with the Rangers was certainly inspirational; however, the beginning of the season showed that it may have been a bit tougher than he anticipated. Moore found himself a healthy scratch while he tried to figure out the game again, but once he came back he came back stronger than ever. A career journeyman, at 33 years old it was interesting to see if Moore would find his stride again. It appears that with the confidence found in his camaraderie with Henrik Lundqvist (the two were drafted together), Moore played his role well. Much like Boyle, he proved his worth on the penalty kill and in the playoffs, where he rotated from line to line and played well despite facing more minutes and more potent defensive pairs while playing with the first and second lines. Moore’s shining moment was getting under the skin of Sidney Crosby in game six of the Eastern Conference Semis and helping lead the team to a win.

Derek Dorsett: C+. Part of a great fourth line? Yup. Completely replaceable? Absolutely. Dorsett was part of the Marian Gaborik trade that brought over Brassard and John Moore, lauded as the replacement for Prust that the Rangers needed .We didn’t see Dorsett play until this season, and I think we’re still waiting to see Dorsett win a fight. He’s tough but, as his Beginnings episode will remind you, he’s small. The addition of Daniel Carcillo (below) from LA reminded us that we needed more muscle, as Dorsett wasn’t quite getting it done. He didn’t do poorly this season, but he did nothing spectacular either.

Daniel Carcillo: C+. Same camp as Dorsett, except that the addition of Carcillo did add a spark that was required to push the Rangers into the postseason. Carcillo was a necessary piece in the Flyers series (who could forget this beauty?), but that incident with the linesman during the Canadiens series – no matter whose fault it was – showed that his head isn’t always in his actions. That was a concern with Carcillo, who has a nasty reputation as a goon. I personally never thought I would like him as I do, but I also know his worth and wouldn’t cry seeing him go.

Note: JT Miller and Jesper Fast were both incomplete; as we don’t have a large enough sample size to properly assess them this season.

"Report card: Bottom six forwards", 4 out of 5 based on 6 ratings.
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  1. Yep a headache for Sather especially now as he is being quoted as saying that he didn’t have a problem with Richards play in the finals, as it was only Lundquist who was perfect.

    I think the third and fourth line were amazing and a big reason that we made it to the finals

  2. I agree with most of these grades, except for Carcillo who, in my opinion, deserves at least a B-. He seemed to adapt to his role on the Rangers very quickly filling in for the injured Dorsett, and even had some huge goals in the playoffs and also the Stadium Series Game Winner vs the Islanders.

    BTW we first saw Dorsett in last years playoffs when he seemed to take an offensive zone penalty every time he was on the ice.

    1. I totally agree with you as far as Car Bomb’s rating goes. Becky, you’re spot on for the most part, but would give Carcillo a B. He immediately paid dividends when he came over, and gave our lines more balance. Is he replaceable? Yes, and he showed us how important it is for this club to have a guy that can throw the body around and be strong on the walls, WITH good hockey IQ. Yup, either re-sign him or find someone that can fill his spot, especially with the way this club is structured now.

      1. They way this club is structured now and how it looks next year may be totally different entities. This year was speed. We had quite a bunch of very good skaters and a couple that have speed to burn. For the most part, that won’t change. I can’t see any of the RFA’s going anywhere. Brassard should just accept his qualifying offer. He won’t but for his stats on paper a 10% raise should suffice.
        What I’m getting away from is the Rangers need a big top 6 RW. A guy that can go to the net with ease. I know I’m sounding like a scratched CD but I think Chris Stewart acquired by Buffalo in the Ryan Miller trade to St Louis, would be a valuable commodity on this squad. He’s no Hagelin on his skates but he’s not Mike Rupp either. He skates well for a 240lb forward. He would come for a bag of golf balls and a few tees. Buf is a fire sale looking for kids and picks. Another right handed winger would be beneficiary on the PP too. It’s all lefties. The PK can just LEAN TOWARDS THE RIGHT SIDE because there’s no off winger on the left. He’s gotta gather the puck to his forehand to shoot. By that time the lane is close and time & space are gone. Get Stewart and another RW. Keep Dorsett. He’s quick and gritty and a good hockey player to boot. I’d offer Carcillo a contract to stay. The suspension aside, He was great with his temper. If he can do that for that long. I want him on my team. As a 13th forward of course. If I’m Sather I’d make an exception to the 4th line pay rate and go up around Prust money to keep Boyle. He didn’t use his 244lbs enough but he drove possession in 70% Dzone starts and provided AV with another Center to take a draw if Moore was removed. Otherwise let Moore walk and give Boyle his mil and put Fasth on the 4th.

        1. Agree with 95%, would not over pay Boyle, and let Moore go. If anything, I’d do the reverse, and keep Moore. He proved to be very versitle, and has a better scoreing touch!! As for Stewart, man are you spot on there!!

  3. If I had to list the guys in the order I want them back it’d go:

    Zucarello- must keep
    Brassard- must keep
    Boyle- really, really want to keep but realize cost will be a factor
    Pouliot- also would very much like to keep BUT if one of our 3 3rd line players had to go, he is the most expendable as I believe Miller could slot in for him next year. If the cosr is 4 mil/ 4 years pass. If the cost is 3 mil/ 3 years keep.
    Moore- Priority increases if we cannot retain Boyle for a reasonable cost as we will need him for 4 C. 2 mil for 3 years is reasonable, right?
    Carcillo- completely indifferent. 2 years MAX. 1.5 mil MAX.

    *NOTE* Dorsett is already under contract for next yr.

    1. Forgot to say… my limit to keep Boyle would be 2.5-2.75 mil for 4 years. Similar deal to Prust, yes, but Boyle justifies it so much more with what he does.

      In order to keep that, we would have to relinquish Moore, probably and slot in someone from the farm in order to make our 4th line work cost wise.

      Something like Dorsett(1.63)- Boyle(2.75) – Fast/Lindberg(.80). That gives us a 4th line with a cost of roughly 5.2 million.

      1. You can’t over pay for Boyle.It’s bad business.If you over pay Boyle you will than find your self over paying the other FA.They will point to his contract.Boyle is replaceable.

  4. Not much to quibble with. I think I’d give Pouliot a B. Remember, he was a mess the first month of the season. Also, a bit streaky once he did find his game.

    1. At least he came around, and as Becky said, he was a net front presence, and was tied for 2nd for PP goals!!

      Overall fair assesment of the forwards, but D Moore should have been rated a bit higher!!

      1. I agree. Moore should be a tad higher. He really came on, especially in the latter half of the season and the entire playoffs.

        I also would have Boyle as a B+/A-. He is not getting 20 goals, that is not his thing. But his size, and wingspan on the penalty kill are way valuable. Also, he was the best we had on face-offs, especially in the defensive zone.

  5. If we can get a real #1 center on this team, I think Moore is the 4th line center. Boyle will get more elsewhere and Dorsett (to me) is not a keeper.

    Nash/Real Center/Kreider

    Wouldn’t be horrible if we acquire Grabovski, and pencil him in between Nash & Kreider (if Stasny is too expensive)

    1. Maybe not totally on topic, but word is the Ryan O’Reilly talks are contentious already (good chance of going to arbitration, something the ROR camp does not want), on top of the last go around of negotiations that left a bad taste in all party’s mouths.

      There’s a real chance of a trade here (with Colorado instead re-upping Stastny).

      Word is Colorado would look for defense, since they really are set at center if Stastny re-signs (obviously not a given at all).

      Would there be a match here? ROR would solve a ton of issues, basically aligning the forward lines instantly and giving the Rangers true depth and allowing Stepan/Brassard (I’m assuming he returns) to play 2/3C.

      Hard to say since the Rangers don’t really have the young defense depth they used to. You can’t move McD (obviously), Girardi (too pricey, and not that young) or Staal (only one year left on his deal). Would John Moore be a conversation starter? Along with maybe JT Miller and Brady Skjei?

      I’m spitballing here, but the idea of ROR possibly being available (as unlikely as it may be) gets me all antsy in the pantsy. Remember, no one thought Seguin was getting traded last year, you never know.

      1. You’re assuming ROR would be a good fit as a #1 C, A role he was not tasked with in Colorado.

        He’s been playing full seasons in the League since 2009-10, and this was his first breakout year statistically speaking (28 G, 36 A).

        He seems more of a two-way specialist.

        1. ROR would provide a balanced top 3 at the center position (assuming Brassard is resigned). He may not have been a #1 in Colorado, but his career trajectory suggests he can handle the role. He’s only 23, much more room for growth.

          Your mentioning that he’s a two way specialist implies that he can’t be a force offensively. I disagree. There are many two way centers that can and do support a top 6 (or top line) role.

          Just adding him to the roster adds youth, upside, and balance. Setting aside the fact that acquiring O’Reilly is most likely a pipe dream, the Rangers should jump at the opportunity to land him if available.

  6. I would like to see E Kane and stewart on the team next year they bring scoring and grit.Can Kane possibly play center on the first line.if sothen we could roll
    Nash Kane Zucc
    Stewart Step MSL
    Kreider Brass Hags
    lindberg Barch Dorsett
    D Moore JT Miller
    McD DG
    J Moore C Allen
    Staal Stoner
    Henrik Talbot/Reimer

    1. This is a nearly impossible roster to fill and also flawed in many ways. First of all, Kane plays wing and would be an awful fit in NY IMO. Also, after the way Moore played this year, the Rangers will be keeping him on the 4th line without question should he resign. Barch is garbage and I dont see how Lindberg plays ahead of Moore or Miller who both seemed to be ahead on the depth chart this year. My other question is how do you expect to get Stewart and Kane? Kane at least is under contract (and I am pretty sure Stewart is too), to get one of those guys I see it being a necessity to move a roster player or at least a borderline roster player ala JT Miller or Oscar Lindberg. Finally, why would you ever break up the chemistry shown between Zuc and Brass. Zuc had a career year and brass showed the most consistency he has ever shown in his career. Nash and Kreider were very strong together. If Nash remembers how to get to the net and starts cashing in (being given a real #1 center would help) this team is going to be increasingly dangerous.

  7. if BB leaves the rangers for a “bigger role” elsewhere, that is a serious loss. who steps in?

  8. MZA should be signed along with Brassard.I wouldn’t sign Boyle at Prust numbers,Prust isn’t worth those numbers and Boyle isn’t either.I would hold up on resigning Pouliot.I would want to see who’s available by trades or otherwise.3 yrs at fair price no more than that.I wouldn’t resign DMoore. Lindberg centering the 4th line nxt year is fine with me.Younger,faster,bigger and more skilled.Love to have EKane but what would it cost.Still need at number 1 center.Younger,faster,bigger more skill should be on the menu nxt year.

    1. fair points but who is going to kill penalties next year? Hags and Boyle had serious chemistry on the PK. You also arent going to want MSL on the pk all the time as hes getting up there in age. Managing his minutes might be important next year to keep him fresh. So that leaves Hags, Nash, MSL, Zuc. Generally you need at least another 1-2 guys. That means Step (who i dont love on the pk) and who else? More stabilizes the pk and is better offensively than people give him credit for. If Boyle goes, Moore is a must sign IMO.

  9. As far as I’m concerned, Car Bomb was a far more significant player for us. People talk of Dorsett’s offensive ability, but I can only recall Carcillo getting the clutch goals. They deserve different grades, and I would miss Car Bomb a lot if he isn’t resigned.

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