Sometimes opportunity is about timing. Anthony Duclair, JT Miller and Kevin Hayes have made the Rangers at the right time because in Alain Vigneault they have the right coach to develop them into full time – and hopefully long term – Rangers.
Vigneault won over a lot of the fan base last year by staying patient amid early troubles, by being the Anti-Torts in allowing players to develop chemistry together and also by being able to acknowledge ‘hot hands’ and give players a platform to perform when their form deserved extra playing time (example: Cam Talbot taking over midseason for a short period).
There’s every chance Anthony Duclair goes back to junior this year and if he does, it will have been the right decision. If he sticks, he’ll have earned it. The Rangers Head Coach has earned everyone’s trust and whatever he decides will likely be the best course of action. Alain Vigneault has proven he’s confident in his younger players if they earn his trust and the even ice time distribution in the St Louis game (every forward had at least 11 minutes ice time) suggests Vigneault will continue to work the kids in to meaningful positions and give them a chance of growth.
This Head Coach doesn’t revert back to the veterans just because his team are away at a contending western conference powerhouse. He sticks to his concept. Vigneault has shown he knows how to develop players on the big stage. Chris Kreider came on leaps and bounds last year even though Vigneault initially preached some tough love and sent him to Hartford. Vigneault still found a way to bring Kreider along quickly.
Although not a kid, Vigneault was the first coach to get consistency out of Benoit Pouliot and he helped turn Carl Hagelin into a game changing force with his speed and constant breakaway threat. Under Vigneault Zuccarello finally found consistency. Wherever you look on the roster you’ll find examples of how Vigneault has taken young Rangers players to the next level. This is why fans should be excited about the timing of Duclair, Hayes and Miller’s arrival – all talented, they also have the right situation and the right Head Coach to succeed.
Miller and Duclair were passengers in the Rangers’ impressive season opening win in St Louis and suggestions of a Calder trophy campaign from Duclair are premature, however if they are going to have successful seasons Alain Vigneault will be a big reason why. Much like when the Rangers needed Tom Renney way back when, they now appear to again have the right coach in place to develop the kids but this time continue to produce a contender.