State of the Rangers

How does James Sheppard influence Oscar Lindberg’s future?

James Sheppard makes his Rangers debut against the Detroit Red Wings tonight so from a Rangers perspective we know very little about Sheppard. What we do know about Sheppard is that he brings faceoff skill (better than all but Dom Moore on the Rangers), versatility and defensive ability to the table. As a top ten pick back in 2006 he brings pedigree and perhaps some untapped offense as well (was tabbed as a scorer before he got rushed by the Wild).

In the past Sheppard has had a tough time staying healthy but resurrected his career in San Jose via the AHL. He has become solid depth player at the NHL level even if Minnesota expected more when they drafted him. Sheppard’s arrival also means (health allowing) we’ve seen the last of Oscar Lindberg in New York this season after a mere one game cameo.

The bigger question now becomes what Sheppard’s arrival means for Lindberg in the mid to long term. After all, there’s only so long a prospect is allowed to dwindle in the minors and only so long before that prospect wants a change for the sake of his own career development as well.

Sheppard is on an expiring contract so, of course, his future may not affect Lindberg beyond this year but if Sheppard has the desired impact on the Rangers there’s every chance New York will look to re-up the 26 year old center in the summer. Given their likely similar roles as Rangers, Sheppard would be going into direct competition with Lindberg for a place on the Rangers and with a solid body of NHL work to date (380 games, close to 100 points) and hopefully a successful stint as a Ranger, it would surely only be the potential cap hit that would prevent Sheppard from pushing Lindberg out of the Rangers reckoning for a bottom six spot, which leads us to Lindberg’s future.

With a top six center spot well out of reach and Dominic Moore entrenched as a center for at least one more season could Lindberg slide to the wing and make the Rangers? Or could James Sheppard move to the left (as he is comfortable in doing) to accommodate Lindberg? The fact is, with Sheppard’s arrival, Lindberg’s future as a Ranger is in question despite never really doing anything wrong since joining the organisation. He’s made solid progress each year culminating in his Rangers debut recently.

Lindberg wasn’t given the opportunity to stay in New York and the club chose to acquire Sheppard instead. Of course, NHL experience for the bottom six was desired at the deadline and not just talent and maybe the Rangers still foresee a role for Lindberg next season, particularly as they navigate an increasingly stressful cap situation. That said, Lindberg’s future is uncertain and may be out of his control no matter how he plays out his season.

The Rangers now have what looks like impressive forward depth on the current roster so Lindberg’s best hope may be one or more forwards become victims of the cap – it looks certain that the Rangers will face some hard decisions this summer. Time will tell what impact James Sheppard will have on the Rangers but it won’t just be the fans and media that will be watching Sheppard’s debut in Detroit with great interest his arrival impacts several prospects – including Oscar Lindberg.

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  • Time for the obligatory, “Who the f is James Sheppard?”

    But seriously, Fast, Miller, Dorsett, Carcillo all played during the playoffs last year as #12, 13,14,15. I have to think that Lindberg is going to play some fill-in time, AV won’t rely on Glass alone. Kleinberg?

    Then the team knows a bit about what they have going forward. They are going to give Buchnevich AHL time to get used to the larger rink. The real questions are what happens with Hags, Miller and Marty assuming that Sheppard does enough to be more than a rental.

    Also recall that when the season started Duc, Malone, Lombardi, Haggerty and Mueller were all getting ice time at the NHL level. Not to mention Kostka, McIlrath, Allen and Bodie.

    Too early to make dire predictions on the depth they might not have NEXT season.

  • Interesting topic. If you look at the entire picture with the cap factored in and signings we need to make over the next 2 season; there may be room or necessity for both. And who knows what the cap increase will look like.
    First thing you have to wonder if St. Louis can be resigned?…They will need about $3 mill in additional cap space to give Stepan a new contract assuming he gets $6 mill. Maybe another $1 mill for Hagelin and another $1 mill for Yandle(even with the Coyotes retaining half his salary). That’s $5 mill right there(almost all of Marty’s current cap hit.)and Zucc’s contract is very cap friendly, but also $1mill more cap hit than this year. Kreider needs a new contract the year after and that will probably cost another $2 mill in cap space on top of what he is making now. Also Hayes has incentives up to $2 mill in bonus that can effect the cap for next year) (D. Boyle will be done after 2015-16 freeing up $4.5 mill)Hayes can move up to play with Stepan and Kreider(his college line mate) Lindberg slots in between Hagelin and Miller…Sheppard stays on the 4th line with Fast and Moore through next season? So maybe Sheppard and Lindberg will both be needed so we can pay the other core guys?

  • Doe’s anybody know what bonus Hayes is in line for or if he can meet them . Everybody is worried about next year Cap lets just make it thru this year . Next year will work itself out . What is Hayes Cap hit right now against the Cap.

    • Hayes’ potential cap hit for this year is $3.95M but his base cap hit is only about $900K. The other $3M is based on if he hits the bonuses in his contract that no one knows and we won’t know if he attained any of them until the summer when the NHL releases that info.

      I asked Dave the same thing earlier, he guessed that Hayes will likely miss all of his bonuses and the Rangers will only have his base cap hit to deal with. That’s just a guess though as bonus goals are never made public. Usually the bonuses are based on things like being named to All-Star teams, scoring titles, and winning trophies, like the Calder.

      • There are a few realistic ones:

        1) Ice time among top-six forwards (done by TOI/game).
        2) 20 goals
        3) 35 assists
        4) 60 points
        5) .73 PPG
        6) Among top-3 on team in +/-
        7) All rookie team

        This season, only #7 is really doable, meaning there could be some bonuses paid out to him this year.

        As he gets more ice time, the bonuses go up. Worth noting that bonuses would apply to the following year only if the Rangers don’t have the cap space to apply it to the current year.

        • I’m confused, are those Hayes’s specific bonuses or just some general ones that have been in past contracts?

          Man, it would suck to lose a few hundred thousand against next years already tight cap due to bonuses.

  • With Lindberg being the only NHL ready prospect down in the Pack, is there really a chance they will be so quick to part with him?
    I feel really good on the Sheppard pick up. Hopefully, with a good team and positive dynamic, AV will get him to play a bit more to his potential than the other two teams did.
    Still, there is nothing wrong in letting Lindberg develop one more year in AHL (I know he’s outgrown in), and bring him up once in a while.
    Even in Marty plays next year, I don’t think he’ll try to go for two more. At which point, Perhaps everyone slides up a notch, not counting any potential contractual losses.

  • Can we please let Sheppard play at least few games before we start speculating on whether he has any impact on prospects down on the farm. Derek Dorsett was supposed to be a solid addition too; nothing much came from that. I couldn’t pick Sheppard out of a lineup; not gonna’ pretend that I know anything about him. Lets all learn about him together; and then start to speculate about future cap moves and roster decisions.

  • From what I’ve read, they play similar style games and are both effective bottom six / 4th liners.

    May need both of them in the NHL next year as one of MSL / Hagelin won’t be around, unless MSL wants to play for a ~$1 mm base salary. That opens a spot in the line-up that can either be filled by Lindberg, the guy from the Jets, Buchnevich (doubtful right away) or a Stempniak like UFA signing

  • Sheppard is here because he is ready to play defensive 4th line hockey and because TGlass brought little of that to the table. He creates a true shutdown line with DMoore and Fast.

    Lindberg will make the squad next year in some capacity. Between the CAP issues and allowing guys to move up so feel that they can achieve, he will be here.

    Not sure Sheppard hurts his chances, in fact, as a guy who can take a face-off, he may be able to take some of that pressure off of Lindberg in the early going if they are on the same line. That does mean that DMoore may not be around though.

    We will need a few more cheapies on the squad

  • I saw the interview Cerney did with Sheppard yesterday and his attitude towards being traded to NY was markedly different then that of Yandle. Of course Yandle went from a terrible team to a Cup contender, but Sheppard seemed almost disappointed in the trade and seemed more interested in talking about the team he left behind.

    Maybe it was just the shock of the trade, but when you couple his interview with his less then speedy departure to join his new team on the other coast, I really don’t think Shep wants to be here. For that reason I’d be surprised if he resigns or has any impact on Lindberg. And as others have said, it’s a bit premature to be seriously discussing Lindberg’s future based on a deadline deal for a UFA.

    • I wouldn’t worry about this. Everyone knew there was a fire sale in Arizona. Yandle expected to be traded and he was. He leaves a sinking ship and moves on to a good place. OTOH, people didn’t see San Jose as sellers. Sheppard was taken by surprise.

      And his attitude – a guy who like his city, his team, his teammates. It’ll take a while to adjust to his new surroundings, but that’s the kind of guy you want around.

  • Shepard is basically Glass replacement, he’s listed as a C but plays all forward positions SJS had im as 3c and moved him to AHL he could not meet their requirements. So with stempniak gone and Glass more than likely demoted we could see a fourth of shepard/lindberg/fast similar to shepard/moore/fast moving more up to 3c freeing hayes to a wing

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