Thoughts heading into the Draft

The 2013-2014 postseason was such an emotional ride, I needed to take a little step back after the Rangers were tragically eliminated in Los Angeles two weeks ago. Sure, I did a report card and may have twittered once or twice, but I needed a break to collect myself. Big props to the crew here for putting together fantastic content, from end of season grades to draft/free agent previews.

Once I felt alright to reengage the hockey world, I wanted to put the past season into some context. We all know the roller coaster narrative of a struggling team at the beginning, some transformative trades and an emotional ride to the Final. Unfortunately, those stories had already been told and I emerged from hibernation a little late. There is way too much going on now to reflect. Off to 2014-2015 we go! Here are some scattered thoughts of the various goings on surrounding the Rangers as we head into tonight’s Draft…

  • I obviously agree whole-heartedly with the Richards buy-out for both business and performance reasons. However, the move does put a decent sized hole in the lineup during an offseason without a whole lot of options. Considering the timing of internal free agents, I doubt the Rangers can make a meaningful run at Paul Stastny, considering how overpaid he will be.

  • I was never a big fan before, but after looking at some #fancystats and reading up on some Caps related materials, I am coming around to the notion that Mikhail Grabovsky is really the most appealing option on the market considering cost/term. His possession stats are solid and he would create very useful depth and versatility in the context of the existing centers on the roster.
  • Dan Boyle. I hate that he makes me want to sign him. He’s obviously declining, looking for way to much money, and the 2004 Tampa retread thing is getting a little old. That said, he would be a nice short-term replacement for Anton Stralman and could give the powerplay a much needed boost. I wouldn’t give him his two year deal, though.
  • I would love to know the organization’s internal evaluations of guys like Oscar Lindberg, Conor Allen, Danny Kristo and Kyle Beach. It would make mentally filling roster holes a lot easier if we had a sense of the team’s position on their potential readiness. I don’t get the sense that any of these guys are forcing the hand of the big club and could use some further development, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t ready to make an impact.
  • Even though he’s kind of a square peg in a round hole for this roster, am I the only one who wouldn’t mind seeing David Booth on a PTO or a low-base deal? He’s only 29 and was actually good once upon a time.
  • As Dave mentioned the other day, the long march to the Final kinda threw a wrench into our normal off-season routine. I think we are going to skip the Off-Season Plan Contest this year (sorry, TommyT!) and maybe go with a deadline edition or something of that ilk. Besides, with a huge amount of cap space needed for our own guys and a very weak free agent class, how creative can anyone really get with this roster?
  • Since the Rangers don’t have a pick in tonight’s first round, all attention turns to potential trades. The Draft has become a pretty fertile trading ground the past couple years, and I’m very interested to see what goes down. Unfortunately, I don’t think it will really involve the Blueshirts. Considering many of the “win-now” moves that Sather has made, I cant imagine he would be involved in giving up significant remaining cap space and assets for good, but very flawed players in Spezza, Thornton or Kesler.
  • I will also be very interested to see what Gordie Clark and Co. can come up with the in the middle rounds this year. Anthony Duclair was a steal in the third, and getting some nice diamond in the rough picks could really help replenish what has become a thinner system, due to both trades and graduation.

Keep it locked here to BSB for ongoing off-season coverage, including Draft analysis, free agency and trades. It should be an exciting summer of trying to reload for another deep playoff run.

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  • I believe (for this draft) the management has to take a real look at the current talent that is nearly NHL ready, and 1, 2 or even 3 years out. Once they assess that, they should decide to go with a guy who has committed to a good college program or go with a guy who may work into the mix in 2 years. Not a lot of roster spots open with about 6 guys chomping at the bit. Let’s restock for depth.

  • With the draft not being very deep, and us not having a #1 pick, it all falls on the scouting staff. Let’s see if they can do magic again, and find a good player that may help in the near future!

    Your probably right, with a load of teams having an interest in Stastny, the odds of us getting into a bidding war are slim. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Miller, Lindberg, and Fast make the roster next season. Lindberg could be the key I believe. Maybe you slot in Lindberg on the 3rd line, and Miller with Brass, and Zucc. Fast could be one of the extra forwards, or possibly on the 4th line. We really don’t have to jump into the FA market at this time, and wait for later in the season to make deals if needed!!

    • Walt,

      Couldn’t agree more. With the Rangers pretty much destined to sit out of the free agent market for the most part, the youth will be an important part of the team next year.

      I’m not as high on Fast, but I do think Miller finally takes the next step this season and solifies his place on the team (a la Kreider – but in a lesser role). I can see him fitting as a 3rd line winger with the possible departure of Pouliot.

      Lindberg is the player I’m most fascinated with since I haven’t seen him play at all, and I have no idea if he’s NHL ready. From what I understand he’s a solid 2 way player that could crack the team in a 4th line role as either a winger or center (if Moore isn’t resigned – which I think he will be).

      Long story short, with the possible departures of Stralman, Boyle and Pouliot, the youth will have to be a big part of this team. The silver lining here is that there will be cap space to make a splash for either a top 9 center or top 4 dman assuming the 3 players mentioned do, in fact, leave.

      • RFIB

        Lindberg was the MVP of the SEL, and the play offs the last year he was there. He needed a year to adjust to the smaller rink, but a friend told me the kid is a solid two way player, ( he saw him play) with soft hands, and very sound defensivly. He isn’t the big body that Boyle is, and who will be missed, but he is a better all round player, and younger, faster, cheaper!!

  • With no 1st round pick last year and none going forward the next 2, I lost interest in the draft. Dan Boyle can still play hockey and even at 38 he is a huge upgrade over Anton.

    BR had to be bought out, unlike Boyle, Richards’ game is rapidly tailing off. The replacement center I prefer (if the Rangers sign one) is Dave Bolland. Quite frankly he can do it all, score goals, win faceoffs, play solid defence and gets under the opponents skin. Bolland is a proven playoff performer and could help should the Blue Shirts make another run in the playoffs.

      • Fair enough Dave, but you have to admit when it comes to future prospects in the Rangers’ organization the cupboard is bare.

  • Spitballing here, but any chance the Rangers can pry Justin Braun or Jason Demers (less likely) from the Sharks? Both are righty defensemen who drive puck possession, are young and cheap. Either would be a solid replacement for Stralman.

    Hard to see why San Jose would trade either of them, but maybe a forward for a defenseman works here.

  • I liked your statement about how the organization feels about our prospects. I am with you on that. Also it is tough to gauge by the moves. Only Fast seems to have made a statement. McIlrath, Allen, Kristo, Beach and Lindberg would be the ones I would really like to know about.
    Free Agents this year is best to sign our own and stay away from that group. You do not need to make news just for the sake of news. Good time to let our own make a name for themselves.

  • Along with the other youngsters mentioned, what about the plan for Ryan Haggerty?

    Pretty sure Slats gave up a year of arbitration rights to sign him and have not heard anything about him since.

    Is there a shot he can push his way on to the team next year?

  • Didn’t we get Hank in like the 7th round, or something? #207?
    I’m sure someone will chime in with exact #’s, but hey, we can always hope for that gem in the rough!

  • Concerning Kristo and Beach, I generally read Howlings, a Wolfpack site, and the writings there are not encouraging. Beach is regarded as a huge mistake and I think they would be surprised if he got a qualifying offer. Kristo is a gifted offensive player, but still has major problems in his own zone and in fact I believe he was a healthy scratch on some occasions. He merits a qualifying offer – he has a high ceiling after all – but is probably less than 50/50 to end up as an NHLer of any consequence.

    The forwards they would see as ready are Miller, Fast, Lindberg, and Bourque, but of course Bourque’s ceiling is probably too low to make him more than an injury replacement on a good team.

    • Ray, that’s the general concensus. After the (almost) ready NHL prospects Miller, Lindberg and Fast graduate, there really is nothing to hang your hat on in the near future. Promising players like Duclair and Buchnevich (and maybe Skeij) are a ways away.

      Kristo has a chance, but he’s just another in a long line of American players that have a hard time playing in their own end.

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