Conor Allen showing John Moore’s spot is not guaranteed

Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

When the Rangers blue line finally gets healthy, the assumption has always been that John Moore will be the LD on the third pairing. It’s tough to argue with that, as the one prospect who appears NHL ready is currently playing at the University of Minnesota (Brady Skjei). Conor Allen, in preseason, was seemingly beat out by Dylan McIlrath as the 7D (both were sent to the AHL for Matt Hunwick, since the kids need playing time). Moore’s spot appeared to be safe.

Allen, recalled due to the Moore suspension and the injury to Ryan McDonagh, looked steady in his two games this year. He’s not flashy by any stretch, but he reminds me of a right-handed Anton Stralman. If you recall, Stralman didn’t show up on the scoreboard, but he always made the smart, short, easy pass to move the puck out of the zone. It’s something that is greatly under appreciated because it is such a subtle play. Allen showed a lot of those qualities when I watched him.

Naturally I’m a bit of a nerd, so I took to the numbers to see if what I saw matches what was produced on the ice.

Now, we are subject to small sample size here. Two games are not enough time to determine if Allen is indeed a solid defenseman or a kid playing above his true talent level.

That said, Allen’s numbers so far are impressive. He drove puck possession at a –roughly– 57% clip (10% relative), despite starting 40% of his shifts in the offensive zone (per Natural Stat Trick). He also appears to draw even with his WOWYs. Again, small sample size, but the numbers match my eye test, so he was clearly the right choice to keep around once Kevin Klein was healthy (ignoring the righty/lefty issue for the sake of the post).

Moore, on the other hand, has numbers that aren’t as nice as Allen’s. He’s still driving puck possession, but at a 56% clip (4% relative). He’s also starting 60% of his shifts in the offensive zone. Again, small sample size, but these are relatively in line with his career numbers. Allen, when compared to Moore, has had a better start to the season. I’m not sure many people would argue that.

Moore may not be guaranteed a spot in the lineup once he returns. He’s been better than Matt Hunwick, so maybe the smart move is to have Allen move up to the second pairing, have Moore slide into his spot on the third pairing, and remove Hunwick from the lineup.

With so many injuries decimating the blue line, Allen has –in his first two games– shown that he belongs at the NHL level. While Moore is in the beginning of his “show me” deal, perhaps that period of time to “show me” expired with his second suspension in 14 games. I think he gets back in the lineup, but Ryan McDonagh’s return is 4-6 weeks away. Moore will need to outplay Allen to keep his spot.

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  • I don’t agree that Moore was outplaying Hunwick. Hunwick as been very solid defensively, as well as smart in the O-zone for us. Not exactly an ideal point man on the PP but he’s been serviceable. Moore is going to have to really step up his game the next few weeks to lock himself in the lineup

    • Hunwick has really stepped up big time. Our defense has been very steady despite all the injuries. Last year Conor Allen when called up was solid. He has good size and can skate. He’s a keeper. I still wouldn’t give up on Moore just yet; still young with much potential.

      • I’m with you as far as giving up on Moore. Look, John is bigger, stronger, and faster, and has way more NHL games under his belt. That stated, he had better get his act in order, because there are a few players who could replace him, and do a decent job f it!!

    • I have to agree with John, Hunwick has played smarter, more solid, just better all around. I think Moore has shown the better upside, but it’s been a bit since we’ve seen it.

      With that said, Allen has looked great, albeit over only a couple of games. Hunwick’s first game he started by not embarrassing himself too bad and has gotten more impressive every game.

    • I haven’t seen much of a difference between Hunwick’s game and Moore’s game. Numbers are showing Moore with the edge.

      • The difference between Moore and Hunwick to me is almost reminiscent of the difference in Klein and MDZ at that point. MDZ had the potential to be much better, but in Klein you got the consistency. Obviously it’s a small sample size, but Hunwick is showing the consistency, over Moore’s potential

          • I will say this, Stralman was a journeyman also, before becoming a mainstay with the Rangers. It happens occasionally.

          • I was thinking the same thing about Hunwick a week ago. Then I realized that Hunwick is 29 and Stralman was 24 when the Rangers signed him.

            Still, Hunwick is playing better than even the most wildly optimistic Ranger Fan could have hoped.

      • It is not always about numbers Dave…Moore is a heck of a lot more physical than Hunwick…enough of you correlating everything to numbers. Use your eyes too. You will lose credibility with me if all you are going to do is use analytic s in every conversation on a Ranger. Numbers are not everything and in fact not even 50% of the picture because there are so many variables missing

        • “I haven’t seen much of a difference between Hunwick’s game and Moore’s game.”

          I don’t disagree with you that numbers aren’t everything. But you can’t ignore them either. The possession numbers, when used properly, have been proven to have significant influence on team and player success.

          • I agree, you can’t ignore them. They are a tool, problem with numbers is that it can’t differentiate circumstances and life events. Take Nash, it has to be clearly evident last year he was playing scared/hurt from the concussion. Look at him this year as a healthy Nash. His numbers then are not accurate about him over all

          • Nash had an 82-game pace of 32 goals, which is on par with his career average. Sure, he was certainly playing more of a perimeter game, but he was still scoring at his usual career pace. His SH% was also in line with his career averages, as were his possession numbers. He shot 3% in the playoffs, which is relatively absurd for him, and a terrible cold streak (still drove possession).

            It’s been pretty well documented that the Rangers lack of puck luck cost them dearly in the SCF too.

  • I haven’t and won’t give up on Moore. But I believe he will be used as a trade chip in a package deal with J.T Miller. I agree that Hunwick has played very well. Very impressed with how mobile he is. Great skater and good stick. He will stay in the lineup

    When we are healthy, this is how i see the lineup

    Staal Girardi
    McDonagh Boyle
    Allen Hunwick

  • Not sure you would find many to agree that Moore has outplayed Hunwick, and Conor Allen on the 2nd pairing defensive unit?

    Allen has played much better than training camp but clearly needs to work on positioning and some on-ice decisions. He cannot handle 2nd pairing defensive responsibilities over a sustained period.

    Also, McIlrath is still ahead of Allen within the Rangers depth chart; the club simply has a need for a left-handed defenseman right now.

  • Run the same numbers on Hunwick to see how he compares to Moore and Allen. I have been impressed with Hunwick’s play thus far.

    Kudos to “Slats” who continues to build a team with depth from middle level draft picks and free agents. Our W Seneca NY player appears to be another brilliant signing by Sather.

    The blueshirts play with all these injures has been unbelievable, I feel.

    • Small sample sizes for this year, but Allen’s blows the others out of the water. But again, small sample sizes, and Allen doesn’t have much pro experience.

      Over careers, Moore > Hunwick.

  • Call me old fashioned but I think that these stats are far more indicative of Hunwick’s play as compared to Moore’s than any fancy stats:

    Hunwick: 10G 0G 5A
    Moore: 9G 0G 1A

  • I’ve tried to post this comment about 7 times, so hopefully it works.

    I know it’s off topic, but there hasn’t been a prospect column in a while so I don’t exactly know where else to post it:

    Adam Tambellini has 18 points in 17 games in the WHL so far this year. Any one who has seen him play/knows more about the WHL, is this really good, or just normal? The idea of a 6-3 scoring center in the system is just too good to be true. It would also be insane if we drafted 3 quality players in that 2013 3rd round.

  • Hunwick and Allen remind me of Michael Sauer. I am not saying either is at that steady, reliable level yet but both have that style, not flashy, but dependable, good hockey instincts, not prone to careless play in their end. I often wonder just how good this D would be if it had Staal, DG, McD, and Sauer as the top 4.

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