Managing the Martin St. Louis injury

With Martin St. Louis out 10-14 days with a knee injury, the New York Rangers find themselves needing to weather the storm while he heals. We can debate the argument over whether St. Louis needed the rest or not, but the point remains that the Rangers will need to find a way to deal with a top-six forward out of the lineup for 4-6 games.

The Rangers are not expected to make a call up, at least right away, while St. Louis is out. This makes relative sense, as the Rangers have a limited number of call ups until rosters expand for the playoffs. That said, this also means the return of Tanner Glass to the lineup. That’s not exactly ideal.

Since the Rangers are not making any roster moves right away, there are a few options for them to choose.

kevin hayes jt miller
Hayes and Miller

Move J.T. Miller or Kevin Hayes to 2RW

This is the most likely move for the Rangers to make. Both are skilled and can put the puck in the net. Both are good along the boards. Both are former first round picks that would benefit from playing with Derek Stepan. Both are solid possession players that the second line needs. However, Hayes is much better defensively, something else that the second line needs. Both can play RW as well.

Since moving one of Miller or Hayes to 2RW is the likely scenario, we have a few options for dealing with the third line. My gut says they want to keep Hayes at center though.

Move Jesper Fast to 3RW or James Sheppard to 3C

Naturally this is dependent on which move is made to fill St. Louis’ hole at 2RW. If it’s Miller that moves up, then it’s more likely that Fast moves to the third line to fill the RW spot. If it’s Hayes, then expect Sheppard to fill his natural position at center on the third line. Since my gut says the Rangers keep Hayes at center, I think it’s more likely we see Fast move up to play with Hayes and Carl Hagelin on the third line.

Welcome back Tanner Glass

With no call ups coming. This was inevitable.

The Rangers –at the moment– are not making roster moves, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t if the initial fixes don’t pan out. If they are looking for a fourth line fix, then I’d expect Oscar Lindberg to get the call. If they are looking for someone to fill a scoring role, then Chris Bourque is likely to get that call. I don’t think Danny Kristo is a realistic option for the scoring role, otherwise we would’ve seen him at some point in the past two seasons.

Luckily for the Rangers, they won’t be without St. Louis for long. Unfortunately, they are going to be without him, Kevin Klein, and Henrik Lundqvist for a very difficult portion of the schedule that has them up against Chicago, Anaheim, LA, Boston, Washington, and Winnipeg in six of the eight remaining games this month. The storm can be weathered, but it will require more players to step up.

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  • Why break up the 3rd line at all????? Simply move Sheppard up to the Step line, gives then the much needed defensive help, and Glass slides right back to where he started off in the first place.

    Sheppard could also help dish out passes off to Kreider, or Step, and maybe get them going as well. The other problem with Step’s line is possession, and Sheppard corrects that as well. Look, why make it tougher than it has to be, this is simple!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    By doing what your suggesting, we are disrupting too many lines, and putting Hayes in a position he hasn’t played all year for the most part. That 3rd line is so good at this time, I’d hate to break it up at all.

    • This is only for 4-6 games. Though I’d also be hesitant to move Hayes up, moving Miller up may be the jolt the 2nd line needs. Also, it gives Miller more of a look with a line he could be on next season, and gives Fast a chance to show he can be more than a 3rd liner.

      Worst case, after a few games it isn’t working and they can juggle. But best case, maybe when St. Louis comes back he goes to the 3rd line where his defensive short-comings can be covered up, and Miller-Stepan-Kreider form a fast, strong line that causes match-up problems.

      • I like the idea of Hayes on the 2nd line. Hayes and Kreider play really well together and they would give Stepan’s game the boost it needs. Play JT Miller between Fast and Hagelin, those two wingers can cover up Miller’s still developing defensive game and Miller has enough skill and creativity to use his wingers’ speed to the team’s advantage.

        I still think in the long run to max out Hayes’ potential he has to be on the wing and Miller’s best position is ultimately center.

        If things go well, once MSL returns he can slot into Fast’s spot and Fast can move back down to the 4th line.

  • I like the idea of moving Miller up as the 2RW, it’ll at least mean fewer pucks lost in transition as well as better board play and puck control in the offensive zone. I also wouldn’t hate moving Hagelin up but I don’t think you want your two fastest wingers with Stepan.

    If anything this MSL injury could be a blessing in disguise for the Rangers offense and especially their power play. St. Louis has been pretty bad this year at establishing, maintaining, and driving possession both 5on5 and on the PP. Moving possession wingers up into his role eases the burden on Kreider and Stepan while also adding a different dynamic to the 2nd unit on the PP.

  • I wonder if Glass is healthy. He did slam his hand into Deslauriers’ helmet about a dozen times in the Buffalo game and then was scratched the next night against Florida with an upper body injury.

    I know the number of call ups is limited (I think it’s 4 call ups allowed from the trade deadline to the end of the AHL season), but with Klein and MSL out, dressing Glass would mean zero extra players for the Rangers. You would think they would have to make a call up at this point. I wonder if the Rangers just aren’t sure which winger to call up at this time.

  • Look it is simple, as Walt said, Sheppard to be a wing with Stepan and Kreider. We weren’t getting much out of this line, so maybe this is a blessing.

    Glass goes back to 4th line.

    Since we are starting our 7th defenseman and our 13th forward, we need to carefully manage call-ups until it is a must situation.

    MSL getting some days off is the best thing that could happen.

    • I think this will prove how much MSL has been the dead weight on this line. I hope this will finally show AV that MSL is better watching from the press box. We will now see the real Stepan back 😉

  • Here’s a thought. If they move Hayes up to the 2nd line what about moving Moore up to replace him and let Sheppard center the 4th line. Moore has routinely been a player to move up the lineup in injury situations.

    • AV prefers the third line to be an offensive line, giving them a huge number of OZ starts and sheltered minutes. Neither Moore or Sheppard is skilled enough to regularly play in the Rangers top 9. Let them stay on the fourth line with over 60% DZ starts and play to their strengths.

      • Moore was the guy to move up during last years playoffs when Brassard was injured. If Hayes is moved to the wing to replace MSL, Moore is the better choice than Sheppard to take over the 3C.

        • There were literally no options other than moving up Moore when Stepan was hurt last year. The Rangers taxi squad forwards last playoffs were JT Miller, Fast and Carcillo. JT Miller is inconsistent on defense this year, last year he was a disaster.

          Also, I would be comfortable with plugging Lindberg in on the third line if Hayes was moved up to play on Stepan’s wing.

          I think I would just rather have Moore and Sheppard play a few games together before the playoffs start since they are going to likely be two-thirds of the Rangers shutdown line this spring. I have a feeling once the playoffs start we won’t be seeing Glass in the lineup night after night.

          • Well I’m clearly getting my centers mixed up….

            I get it, neither Sheppard or Moore are ideal top nine forwards. But there hasn’t been a call up yet so it appears that Sheppard and Glass will dress every night and there will be some line shuffling. If someone moves off the 3rd line to take MSLs place, then someone from the fourth line then needs to move up. In my opinion that person is Dom Moore. He has some top 9 experience and he did it for AV last year.

            I’d imagine the reason no one was called up is the same reason why Mclrath/Allen weren’t called up to replace Klein. I don’t think the stretch run of the last 20 games of the season for a Stanley cup favorite is the best time to break in a prospect. AV has decided that this team is the one he’s going to war with and despite the injuries this is the team he’s moving forward with.

          • Not counting emergencies – and this isn’t since the Rangers have enough healthy players, the Rangers are only allowed two more recalls for the rest of the season. They are reticent about using them at this point. Lot of games left.

          • Well it looks like we are both wrong. Zippay is reporting the top 9 is Kreider-Step-Nash. Hayes-Brass-Zuke. Hags-Sheppard-Miller. Everything got shook up and I’m sure the horrible Florida game is to blame.

  • How many call-ups do the Rangers have left? Andrew Gross says two, but I can’t see why they don’t still have all four. They haven’t called anyone up since the deadline, have they?

    • When the Rangers acquired Summers and Klingberg it counted as two call-ups. It’s a stupid rule but that’s the way it is.
      Speaking of Klingberg, if things don’t pan out with Miller up on the 2nd line, why not give him an opportunity? He’s been good in the AHL and has a really good skating ability. Loves to drive the net and is an aggressive forechecker. To the point that he drives the opposition nuts with his relentless play. If the Rangers don’t feel either Miller or Hayes work there and want to call up a top 6 replacement, why not Klingberg? Bessides isn’t Borque a little small?

    • Or, you know, two years ago when he won the scoring title.

      I’m not crazy about Marty right now either, but give the man his due, he’s earned that much.

    • Seriously, are you delusional? Fair weather friend, obviously. Do you happen to remember last spring, when Marty basically carried the team on his shoulders for a stretch of incredibly important games? Chris A. put it best with his comment below! I guess scoring titles don’t mean much to you, though.

      What is this bone you have with MSL? Between your comment here and the one above about how he’s been “dead weight,” I’m wondering if he ran over your dog or something. I’m pretty used to MSL not getting the respect he deserves, regardless of how many accomplishments and seemingly impossible feats he pulls off. But he’s not a top six forward? Not even a remotely fathomable statement on your part. I’m with Chris A. in that I’m disappointed with his play the last 5-6 weeks here, but it’s not for a lack of talent or effort. I’d be willing to bet the farm he steps it up another level in the playoffs like he always has. Regardless, the guy doesn’t yet deserve to be thrown under the bus, and calling him “dead weight” is an insult. Some Rangers fan you are.

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