Glen Sather’s year of mistakes

If the Rangers had won five more games, this post would never have been written.

But now that they have fallen short of the ultimate prize again, let’s take a look at General Manager of the Year finalist Glen Sather’s scorecard over the last 15 months. And before I go any further, know that I’ve been effusive in my praise of Sather in recent years here, here and here. Sather deserves credit for building a contending core from the ground up, but what he’s done since just before the 2014 trade deadline has done more to harm than to help.

Sather has been all in – and justifiably so, given how close his club is to the Cup. But it’s the compounding of each mistake that has been crushing.

February 28, 2014 – Signed Dan Girardi to a six-year, $33 million extension

Though I am not one that considers Girardi useless, this term and dollar amount should be reserved for true top-pair defenders, and Girardi just isn’t in that class. If the rumored Girardi to Anaheim for Sami Vatanen plus deal was ever actually on the table, then Sather went from roaring into the trade deadline with two slam dunk deals already in his pocket (don’t forget about the Michael Del Zotto for Kevin Klein swap), to instead tying himself to a horrific contract with major short and long-term implications.

March 5, 2014 – Traded Ryan Callahan and two first-round picks to Tampa Bay for Martin St. Louis and a second-round pick

It’s hard to kill Sather for setting a maximum budget for Callahan and sticking to his guns. But it’s also very difficult not to pine for those two top draft choices now that St. Louis has completed two underwhelming postseasons in New York and the Blueshirts haven’t won anything. Callahan was very quiet during these playoffs, but he’s still a legitimate 25-goal scorer while St. Louis has become a complete afterthought and won’t be retained. The loss of his mother last spring became a springboard both for St. Louis and for the team, but he had just one goal and seven assists during the regular season before racking up six goals and three assists after Game Four of the Quarterfinals. Not re-signing Callahan to a mammoth deal was defensible, but would you rather have committed to the former captain or been saddled with Girardi? It was likely a one or the other situation last spring and also could have saved the Blueshirts from losing Anton Stralman. But forgetting all that, it’s the absence of those top draft picks that looms large.

June 20, 2014 – Used compliance buyout on Brad Richards

Obviously a no-brainer decision.

June 27, 2014 – Traded Derek Dorsett to Vancouver for a third-round pick

The pick wasn’t a bad return for a fourth-line player, but Dorsett was part of a very formidable checking unit last season. And though Keegan Iverson could turn out to be a player, was he worth the downgrade from Dorsett to….

July 1, 2014 – Signed Tanner Glass to a three-year, $4.35 million contract

Sather basically added a third-round pick and saved $200k by going from Dorsett to Glass, but he also tacked two more years onto the term for arguably the worst player in the league. Inexplicable.

July 1, 2014 – Stood by as Benoit Pouliot signed a five-year, $20 million pact with Edmonton.

Good restraint exercised for a talented but inconsistent player.

July 1, 2014 – Signed Dan Boyle to a two-year, $9 million deal

July 1, 2014 – Watched as Stralman signed for five years, $22.5 million with Tampa Bay

These moves will forever be linked together, and they represent the low point of the past 15 months. Boyle was a declining veteran with a dreaded over-35 contract, while the ever-underrated Stralman (who is 10 years Boyle’s junior) had just completed another outstanding season and wanted to return to New York. Boyle had an OK year when healthy and was quite good in the playoffs, but the primary reason for choosing him over Stralman was to improve the power play, which ended up finishing 21st in the league. Meanwhile Stralman is now widely recognized as one of the top defensemen in the NHL and is set to be a staple next to Victor Hedman on the Lightning’s top pair for the next several years. This one is really tough to stomach.

July 1, 2014 – Re-signed Dominic Moore for two years, $3 million

July 1, 2014 – Signed Matt Hunwick to a one-year, $600k deal

Smart, cheap signings that filled key holes.

July 1, 2014 – Let Brian Boyle sign a three-year $6 million contract with Tampa

Kevin Hayes’ emergence combined with the current cap crunch makes this one look fine now, but it was still a shame to let a good player go for a really reasonable amount. Even if you never liked Boyle, spending another $500k to keep him instead of signing Glass would have worked out pretty well, right?

July 23, 2014 – Signed Lee Stempniak to a one-year, $900k deal

We’ll get to this.

July 27, 2014 – Re-signed Derick Brassard for 5 years, $25 million

Outstanding job getting an emerging player locked up at a bargain price tag.

September 7, 2014 – Signed Hayes to a two-year deal

This was more luck than anything – every team in the league wanted Hayes after he declined to sign with Chicago. The bright lights of Broadway and the club’s Beantown connection probably did most of the work, but Sather did clear the way for Hayes by letting Boyle go.

December 19, 2014 – Signed Cam Talbot to a one-year $1.45 million extension

Talk about fortuitous timing! By preemptively striking and keeping Talbot from free agency this summer, Sather was able to turn his backup into a valuable trade chip.

January 16, 2015 – Signed Marc Staal to a six-year, $34.2 million extension

If not for the Girardi anchor, this would be perfectly fine. It still is, really.

March 1, 2015 – Traded Anthony Duclair, John Moore, a first-round pick and a second-round pick to Arizona for Keith Yandle, Chris Summers and a fourth-round pick.

Yandle may yet turn out to be a long-time star on Broadway, but right now it’s just as likely this ends up similar to the St. Louis trade, with nothing to show for parting with prized young assets. Yandle’s performance probably won’t be the problem, but he should command in excess of $6 million on the open market next summer, an amount Sather will have a very tough time scrounging up considering all the other massive contracts already on the payroll and the extensions being penciled in for key youngsters.

Of course, just as with St. Louis, losing Yandle for nothing would be palatable if the team were to win the 2016 Stanley Cup. But otherwise it’s possible that Sather will have dealt his best prospect in ages AND two more high draft choices for another two-year rental.

And really the biggest problem here is that Yandle was only brought in because Boyle didn’t fix the power play as he was expected to. That was the primary reason Sather signed Boyle instead of keeping Stralman in the first place. Yes, Vigneault likes puck movers, but Stralman is quite adept at that himself. The chance to get Yandle would have been tempting regardless, but Sather might not have parted with Duclair if Boyle had proven to be the solution.

March 1, 2015 – Sent a fourth-round pick to San Jose for James Sheppard

I’m not going to get too upset about a fourth-rounder, but with all the other high picks Sather had already dealt, it’s not nothing. Of course, this would have been a totally reasonable price tag if Sheppard actually played instead of Glass…

March 1, 2015 – Traded Lee Stempniak to Winnipeg for Carl Klingberg

This one gets me more than any other. It was made partially for financial reasons, but that was cap trouble Sather could have easily avoided. It was also made for coaching reasons, but Sather boxed himself into a corner months before with the signing of Glass. Stempniak was just the depth scorer the Rangers needed to have for the playoff run in the event of an injury like Mats Zuccarello’s. Instead, the Blueshirts became a three-line team. Fine if Stempniak wasn’t what Vigneault wanted in a checking role, but the team should have been able to afford stashing Stempniak in the press box. Instead, Sather left himself with no depth up front whatsoever, which is inexplicable given the physical toll a long postseason takes on every team.

March 1, 2015 – Signed Zuccarello to a four-year, $18 million extension

Phew. This was a necessity, and the terms ended up being very favorable.

It doesn’t seem like Sather should be in consideration for GM of the year when his roster is worse now than it should have been entering the season, and when you factor in all the future assets he’s sacrificed in the process.

Coming out of another close but no cigar (eh, Glen?) season, Sather has given himself precious little wiggle room to tweak and improve this group for another run – but that’s the task at hand.

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  • Sather has a long history of over valuing fading stars and under valuing draft picks. And, surprisingly, as soon as the Rangers get interested in a player, his value goes up. St. Louis was not considered good enough for the Canadian Olympic team by his own general manger until he threw an ego hissy fit and forced himself on the team – and, demonstrated that his own general manager was right! That did not deter Sather , the one who, incidentally, seemed to have all the bargaining chips. St. Louis wanted out of TB and into NY. His relationship with Yzerman was such that keeping him would be living with cancer. Sather fixed Yzerman’s problem, and, made the TB manager look like a genius in the process. When it comes to fading stars, it seems Sather just cannot help himself. Brian Boyle when Stralman could have been had for the same amount? This was more than infatuation with past performance; this was willful blindness – the same myopia that gave us Gomez, Drury, Holik. Probably, the greatest blunder of all was bringing back an aging Messier from Vancouver after the Canucks had tired of his ego, declining skills, and lack of production. Sather gave him three more years at a king’s ransom – and, missed the playoffs all three years! Does Sather somehow think that hockey players beyond 28 improve with age? I will concede that he has developed a solid core of young players thanks to his hiring of Gordie Clarke.

    • VRP

      I thought I posted your words as I read them, your 1000000000000% right on the money. Many on this site would post otherwise, but MSL’s ego, and attitude when it came to Team Canada, was enough for me to want NO damn part of him. I called him trash, and a cancer, some disagreed with those remarks, and so be it.

      For the most part Slat’s did a good job, with the three going to Tampa, Strals would be the one we miss the most. As stated by you, Slats over rates older players, and over pays them as well, Staal, and Girardi come to mind. We got very lucky with Hayes, but again I’ll get some negative feed back for the next thing I’m about to say, those #1’s that we gave away, will hurt for years.

      With the other signings, it was routine stuff, would loved to see Dorsett not be traded, and the issue of Glass would have been a mute point. Well then we would have had nothing to bitch about, so on second thought maybe that was OK as well???????

      Overall I think Slat’s did a reasonable job, kept us in there, but our cap situation is tough, with the RFA due to be re-signed, and still having to carry Boyle for another season. Signing Brass, and Zucc was two wonderful moves, let’s see about Stepan?? Let’s also look at the bright side, MSL will be history, and will be filed as one of the worst trades we made in our history……..

        • MSL was huge for us in last years playoffs. I think people forget that. This team rallied around him and got all the way to the finals. Though we lost 4-1, we easily could’ve won 4-1.

      • St Louis trade was not necessary, and typical Sather blind loyalty to veterans players with successful career. But Marty as a cancer? That’s a misrepresentation. He was a fading star who faded as a NYR – that’s on Sather, but Marty was a mentor to many other Rangers, a big contributor in last year’s playoffs and was solid the first half of this year – until it went up in smoke. I didn’t see him complain about playing time or line changes. Blame management for trading for him? Check. Blaming the coaching staff for overusing him in the playoffs? Check. But no need to bash the guy himself. Simply another HOF player who ended his career here. He and Dan Boyle were NOT needed, but don’t blame them.

        • The reason for the post was to answer if Sather was a good GM, or not, by his moves. You yourself admit that these two moves were terrible, therefore Sather’s rating as a good GM come into question. I was explaining why he shouldn’t even have been given consideration in the first place. They named a street after MSL, ONE WAY, all for him, and screw his team…………..It’s Tampa’s gain, and our loss. I wonder if Stevey Y used any KY jelly on Slats during the fleecing????????????

    • It’s very difficult to compare pre-cap Slats to post-cap Slats. Hockey was different then. I get your frustrations, but the landscape changed dramatically with that cap.

      As for MSL, yes it was a lot to give up. It’s hard to justify the trade, and hard to justify giving Cally that contract. Tough spot. I, for one, would like to know what was on the table from San Jose before rushing to judgment.

      • Dave

        Why in hell is it that the trade for Callie had to be with Tampa??????
        The trade should never have taken place, and yes Callie should have been traded, but I find it unbelievable that NO other team would have traded for hit?????????? That t me is bunk.

        As for attacking him, he is a cancer, if he forced a trade with no concern for his previous team that gave him a shot to be the player he was, well he deserves to be put down. If he pulled that on the Rangers, after playing for us some 10-15 years you’d be pissed off as well, and would be calling him a cancer yourself!!!!!!!!!!

    • at the time was shocked and still am to this day…..wade Redden ugh. I still have no problem with MSL trade would you really want to be paying cally that money ? Just for avoiding that alone I’m fine with the trade.

      • Tom

        You, along with everyone else just can’t get what I’m saying. I didn’t say don’t trade Callie, and to re-sign him. Last year I said then that if he wants out, trade him, because I believed he was going to sign with Buffalo as an UFA.

        My bone of contention is, where there any other teams willing to trade for Callie? If you, and everyone else tells me that no other team had an interest in Callie, I would, and still do question that.

        That my friend is the point I’m trying to make. Nothing personal against you, or anyone else on this site!!!!!!!!

  • A bit over critical considering we won the presidents trophy and came within one win of going to the finals.

    As well as several main cogs of your team being injured with fractured bones.

    Boyle and stralman an didn’t want to play for ny.

    And Callahan just wanted his payday.

    Glass played remarkably well in the playoffs.

    Stempniak outright sucked unless on the top 6.

    Sather gets an A from me.

    • Stralman is on record saying he wanted to stay. The Rangers didn’t want him.

      Glass’ play in the playoffs was better than his play in the regular season. That doesn’t mean he played remarkably well.

      I don’t know which Stempniak you watched, but he was silently solid.

      • I seem to remember Stemp going on multiple point droughts. I think he scored three goals in the first like five games, then didn’t score another for like almost twenty games. Not solid if you ask me. To be honest, I forgot we even had him this season. Remember we also had Ryan Malone, too.

        • He was playing as a bottome 6 guy before the emergence of Hayes. Not a whole lot of scoring was done in the beginning of the season from those lines.

          For $900k, he was a very reasonable depth player.

    • No evidence that Stralman didn’t want to play in NY. He says he did but never got a serious offer.

      Glass was lousy in the playoffs. Perhaps slightly less lousy than in the regular season, but still lousy. Our fourth line with him was never very good.

      Callahan could have been let go at the end of the year.

  • I agree on the over-critical. Sather has to make player moves with a lot more info then anyone here. He knows how agents play as well as the value of players in the clubhouse.

    He traded Cally, who never played more than 60 games a season and wanted top-line money for an aging sniper. Tough call, but if we win the cup, all is always forgiven. This year, the Zucc injury hurt us more than any trade. Strallman did nothing for a horrible PP, so Boyle was brought in. Boyle and MSL got old in a hurry, but Boyle still contributed mightily during the playoffs. So did Yandle.

    Stepan & Hags will also complicate a GMs life. Stepan is going to play hardball. Is he worth $6M? I don’t know. I think the Stall signing was worse than the Girardi signing.

    There will be 15 faces we know and 5 new ones next year. Whether those 20 are the right 20, we may never know. We do know that guys like Hank, Boyle, Nash, Girardi and Stall take a big chunk of salary from the CAP. 2 rookies need to join to give us cheap bodies. How the rest pans out, well, that’s why we are here, isn’t it?

    • But we didn’t win the Cup, and that’s the whole point. Yes the Cally deal would have been tough to stomach, but again, you’re left with no St. Louis and little to show for it, plus two top picks gone. Was it worth it?

      And as for the Zuc injury, that’s exactly the problem with Sather’s cap management. There should have been more depth, in the form of Stempniak or other. And you know Stralman was never given a chance on our PP, so it’s hard to say that definitively. He looks pretty solid on Tampa’s point.

      • YES… and its maddening why he never got a look on ours. I used to love Torts but was livid he would roll Girardi out before Stralman. The guy didn’t even get a look.

        I was convinced AV would roll him, but he didn’t give him much either. Part of that was McDonagh’s emergence last yr, but there was still ample time to see what Anton could have done.

        Go back to his time in Colombus and he had a very productive year on the man advantage. Why we never tried him out there, to this day, still baffles me.

        • Tort used Stralman on the power play including 2012. AV never tried him which is puzzling for a coach who values skating D who are capable of contributing offense.

          I won’t rip Sather for the Marty deal because Cally wanted the NTC and a ton. No MSL. No SCF. No 3-1 comeback. It’s sad that he struggled but he got old and became a defensive liability.

          Girardi always gets crapped on. He was their best D vs the Caps and obviously wasn’t himself vs Bolts. Staal was terrible. I don’t know how he played. I would’ve dressed Hunwick. No one even made mention of AV managing Staal and Girard’s minutes. They were down. He went with healthier Yandle and Boyle more. I loved Stralman as much as anyone. Hated the Boyle move. But he have good account. Yandle too once in a more skating series and healthy.

          Slats took risks. He overpaid for Yandle and MSL. Let Stralman walk and Boyle. But Hayes panned out. He needs to get stronger. Any chance of a Cup with Lundqvist hinges on kids Hayes, Miller, Fast and health of blueline. I’m hopeful AV changes his mind on McIlrath BC they could use some snarl. Let Skjei develop before looking at him.

          • It’s not up to AV to change his mind on McIlrath. It’s up to McIlrath to change AV’s mind by proving he’s an NHL caliber player, which he hasn’t done to this point. First things first.

      • Klein — broken arm, missed 1st round of playoffs.
        Staal — fractured ankle, played all rounds of playoffs while injured.
        Yandle — sprained MC joint in his shoulder, played 1st, 2nd, and into 3rd round while injured.
        Zuccarrelo — fractured skull and brain contusion, missed 2nd and 3rd rounds.
        McDonagh — broken ankle in game 4 of ECF, played injured for remainder of series.
        Girardi — sprained MCL in game 4 of ECF, played injured for remainder of series.

        So, essentially the entire D-corps and Zuccarrello were injured, either missing time or playing hurt throughout the playoffs. That is going to significantly affect the team’s possession and rush game. I’m sorry, but no amount of depth could have prevented this team from running out of steam in game 7 of the ECF. They were too busted up, and even the healthy one had been carrying too much of load in prior rounds.

        Give me this team again healthy any day.

    • If they had a chance at that, I would’ve jumped all over it. A younger skating D who can contribute offense and play top pair. Cheaper too. Too bad.

      I understood why Slats re-signed Danny G. They’re built from the goal out and valued what he brings. It was market value. Same with Staal. Ultimately, Sather chose to retain D core over gritty heart and soul Cally who’s hard to replace but signed to a equally risky deal.

  • Disagree on Girardi. The contract may be a bit onerous but Girardi plas big time minutes, blocks shots, shuts down big time scorers and takes the body. He’s not a Norris trophy winner and yeah, the snow angels … But they’d be worse without him.

    The bad PP is more on the coaching and the forwards than on Boyle/Yandle. I didn’t like the Boyle/Stralman “trade” and I’m not a huge fan of Boyle but the forwards do too much standing around and too much over passing. I doubt Brian Leetch could overcome their PP performance. Boyle has had problems adapting to AV’s system (prefers to carry the puck rather than move it quickly). Yandle will probably do fine next season but yeah, he might be gone after that and I’d rather have Duclair and the picks.

    On MSL – he killed whatever line he was on and is probably the biggest culprit on the PP (bad job by AV sticking with him). But we got two deep playoff runs while he was here and escaped a huge, expensive commitment to a declining Callahan. The picks are an issue – should not have had to give them up to rid Yzerman of a guy he didn’t want.

    • RR, without a doubt I agree on Girardi.

      I’d love to see Boyle bought out, (trade would be better, but I think the possibility of a trade is remote) even though the Rangers keep the lions share of his salary on the books. Losing him is an addition by subtraction. He couldn’t move anyone out of the crease, no matter who they were. Big or small it didn’t matter. I thought he held the puck far too long waiting for the “perfect shot” on the PP. That gave defenders time to adjust their positioning.

      Having Yandle and Boyle on the same team is a scary defensive adventure. It’s my hope Yandle will figure out AV’s outlet passing scheme and improve.

      I will not call MSL a cancer, but I will say he needs to go. We can give him one of those famous Tifany Silver Hockey Sticks and a nice warm video tribute. He is a professional, except for his pouting at the end in Tampa, he should be treated as a future HOF-er. He just needs to be gone from here. Sather got bent over on this trade. Cally for MSL even up, take it or leave it Tampa.

      Loss of our #1 picks and giving up our best prospect will come back to bite this organization in the butt.
      Sather in no more GM of the year than AV is coach of the year.

      Interesting off season ahead!

      • In fairness to Boyle he’s not expected to move guys out of the crease. He’s on the team to provide offense from the blue line and its on the coaching staff to keep him off the ice against the opposition’s top scorers. Unfortunately, he failed to provide enough offense and PP goodness to justify his downside in his own zone.

        On the PP, yeah, he was guilty of holding the puck too long at times. But part of that – a big part – was he failure of the forwards to keep their feet moving. The Rangers often looked outnumbered with the man advantage because they were so stationary. Boyle had a tough year starting with the broken hand, his mysterious illness and apparently a personal issue. There’s some reason (maybe not a lot) to expect him to be better, or at least better acclimated to AV’s system next year. Whether they can move him depends on finding a taker or some really creative salary cap maneuvers.

    • “On MSL – he killed whatever line he was on and is probably the biggest culprit on the PP (bad job by AV sticking with him). But we got two deep playoff runs while he was here and escaped a huge, expensive commitment to a declining Callahan. The picks are an issue – should not have had to give them up to rid Yzerman of a guy he didn’t want.’

      ^Well said.

      ALSO…. we got a 2nd rounder from Tampa back when Callahan resigned there. So it takes away from some of the hurt from our bottom of the barrel 1st rounders.

      But the questionable moves on D (letting Stralman go) hurt much much much more than this one.

      • Yeah. Also, whose to say that Callahan was going to re-sign with us anyway.

        If Slats didn’t trade him, I really do not think both parties were going to agree on a deal in the off-season.

        Unfortunately, we gave up a lil too much with the picks.

    • With regards to Boyle, and our PP failures.
      We keep trying different players, but the results are the same.
      With the talent up front, and the success with 5v5 scoring, is it time to place the blame on coaching?
      I don’t know much about Scot Arniel (sp?), he seems to be professional and well liked. But his main job is to run the power play, isn’t it? And for the last two years, it’s been our weakest link.
      I don’t buy the historical trends. Yes, pp has been bad for a more than the past two years, but the personnel is so different on ice and on the bench, that we have to consider what we have right now.

      • The PP has been terrible for years, ever since Jgar left. Look a all the stupid moves, and loss of good players, and #1 picks, in an attempt to improve it. Redden, Richards, Boyle, Yandle are just a few names that come to mind in the attempt to field a decent PP. One thing you have to say about Sather, he is like a pit bull, he won’t give up………

  • Kevin / Dave

    A Talbot/Klein draft day trade to recoup some talent and free up cap space has been mentioned and it would probably be one of our biggest low impact high return trades we could make.

    That said…. how much lower of a return would a Talbot/Boyle trade net (assuming he were to rid his ntc- I think he has one).

    Would the lower return be offset by being able to ice a better roster by keeping Klein and dealing Boyle? IMO, it should be the Yandle show next year…which hopefully develops into many more.

    • The Klein/Talbot trades are obviously the most important moves of the offseason (re-signings not withstanding). Going to have to get some cheap assets back, which is very difficult to do. Even picks, though nice to have, aren’t really the best return with where the team is right now. I think Boyle has much less value, if he would even waive. Old and more expensive.

      • Yes, obviously agree with everything said.

        I’m trying to get down to brass tax. Talbot/Klein could get us this ___________. Talbot/Boyle could get us this ___________. I’d like to value the difference in returns and then apply said values to our current roster construction to see which would net the best overall improvement to next year’s roster.

        • Why are we trading Klein? I dont get it. We lost Stralman. We lost in gaining Boyle. Why are we going to move Klein, who was more than solid, has some offensive skill, plays the right side, and has a team friendly contract? No thank you. He stays a Ranger if I’m running things.

  • if I was in the mood for some “glass half empty” reading I would have just stuck to reading comments.

      • I think the evaluation in this is fair, but it has the benefit of hindsight, knowing the outcomes of most of these moves. I think the Cally for MSL trade was a good deal. Still do, Cally isn’t exactly lighting it up in Tampa right now. Letting Stralman go and signing Boyle, and letting Brian Boyle go and signing Glass at a similar price is tough, but there is more to these stories than we even know.

        I think Sather would deserve this level of criticism if the team sucked, but fact of the matter is that we had a good chance to win the cup this year and had Zuc not gone down, i think we would have.

        • So here’s the thing, a lot of people wanted to let Girardi go. I’m one of them. If you trade Girardi for Vatanen, you free up cap space to sign Stralman and Boyle. Now Stralman is still here, playing –presumably– with McDonagh, and maybe, just maybe, the Yandle trade isn’t needed. That’s a big snowball.

          Glass we all cringed at.

          • I get all that, but you again, have the benefit of hindsight, which isn’t unfair in an analysis of a GM, but it doesn’t validates the argument.

            Girardi is one of the best defensive defensemen in the league. That’s not saying he’s one of the top ten defensemen in the league, but he is not easily replaceable. Essentially, he’s a valuable commodity. A player like him needs to be retained. Vatanen is an offensive Defenseman. We had John Moore, so we didn’t need Vatanen at the time, nor do we need him now.

            I think a lot of the criticism here on Sather comes at what the team needs now, not when the moves were made.

            I also think you guys are overvaluing Brian Boyle, he’s not that great of a player, and undervaluing Tanner Glass. Worst player in the league? C’mon.

          • “He’s really not a good defenseman. He’s, at best, a 2nd pairing guy.”

            Regarding Danny G, I don’t mean to lambaste advanced metrics (I appreciate them), but here is something these stats will never tell you: Tyler Seguin, one of the League’s premier offensive talents has stated that Girardi is the single hardest defenseman to play against. That, to me, accounts for much more than reductive characterizations of Girardi’s play that are strictly stat-based.

          • I’ve said it time and again, I think the one blind spot in advanced metrics is how it makes virtually all defensive D appear useless.

            Girardi faces the opposition’s top line every game and usually that top line leaves the ice scoreless at the end of the game. That’s Girardi’s role on the team and he does it really, really well.

          • I also think you guys are overvaluing Brian Boyle, he’s not that great of a player, and undervaluing Tanner Glass. Worst player in the league? C’mon.

            Show me the stat that say he has any value in him? Glass that is.

          • The article says Tanner Glass is “arguably the worst player in the league.” Do you think he’s that bad? You’d rather have John Scott? Half of Buffalo’s roster?

            Glass is not a player I’d want with the puck, but he’s a good physical player, dishes out the hits, and is the only guy on the team willing to duke it out and protect his teammates.

            What is valueless about him?

  • Still think Sather is one of the best GMs now. He fleeced Columbus for Nash, then a few months later, fleeced them again with the Gaborik for Brassard trade that also helped get Yandle here.

    • The Nash and Gaborik trades are wins, no doubt. His decisions on free agents (his own and other team’s) are dubious at best. Still his achilles heel.

      • I hate how hard good right handed defenseman are to come by. Otherwise IMO Girardi doesn’t get the deal he got. However, the moves Sather made last season got us to the finals. This year hindsight is always 20/20. I’d like to see Boyle or Girardi gone next season. Simply because of their contracts. It will be hard to find a right handed defenseman to play the mins that Girardi does but he’s killing us right now.
        Vatanen is a bit small but he had 11 points in 16 playoff games and was a +5. He plays 18-20 mins a game which could work but we don’t have a Hedman on our defense. Girardi is our hitter/shot blocker. How/who would replace that. The way the Rangers scored from the defensive end is why they were so successful last season. Guys like Girardi do the dirty work in the Dzone so that can happen. Maybe a buyout for Boyle and a trade for a right handed defenseman. I think a buyout would save $3 mil in cap space though it’ll cost some of the rise in cap the following year. Girardi or Boyle need to go. Contracts hurting Rangers. Although Klein was bad in the playoffs. Maybe he parts ways but his contract much more favourable. Any thoughts? Talbot is the bait and Girardi, Boyle are the hook.

        • Girardi is the contract to deal. Boyle only has one year left and he was at least serviceable (in his role as a matchup dman). The problem is the Rangers are running out of good, all around defenseman for the top 4. Neither Staal or Girardi drive possession and Girardi (as has been said) is miscast as a top 2. I’ll say it again, letting Stralman walk hurts this team incredibly. He was a perfect fit, right handed, and hitting his prime.

          Shot blocking is a function of not having possession of the puck, and when Girardi is on the ice, the Rangers rarely have the puck. He’s slow, is always chasing. He’s just one of many problems on the dcorp, however. He’s just the poster boy because he plays with McDonagh.

          • If you had to watch Boyle play without knowing his history, I doubt you’d be sayiing this. He was atrocious really all year, compounded by the fact that the coaching staff refused to make adjustments to move him off the PP and have more sheltered minutes.

  • I won’t defend everything, but things that didn’t happen are important too. The acquisition of Chris Summers was made to give the Rangers a better #8 Dman. As things turned out, the Rangers didn’t need him, but others teams have had to resort to #8. Replacing Stempniak by Sheppard would have paid off if it had been Brass or Step or Moore or Hayes that had gone down. Ryan Callahan has scored 25 goals once in his eight year career and had become a cancer; without dealing him the Rangers don’t go to the SCF last year.

    Oddly, I think the Rangers should have kept Boyle. He left, as I recall, because he wanted a bigger role, not because of money. He thought TB would give him that. After raising his TOI from 12:45 to 12:59, I’d say it didn’t really work out.

    As for the Yandle trade, well time will tell how good Duclair will be. As for Yandle himself, the more I saw of him, the more I wondered how good he could be properly coached in the proper system – still young and just maybe more talented that either
    McDonagh or Staal. May not be as strong, but certainly more dynamic.

    • Solid point on Yandle.

      Give the guy an offseason, camp and a run next season to really judge the move. Especially for a guy who will play a role on this team as big as he…. he really deserves that. Then let the praises/criticisms come out.

  • Sather and AV and the rest of coaches and staff get together to decide who should they keep and get rid of. I cannot go into their minds and know exactly what they were thinking we can only surmise by what came about.
    Good Boyle would tell the coach wait until the playoff comes(that he would play better). My assumption is the coach did not like good Boyle. What he gave up was a face-off wizard, giant body which you cant teach and a good player. In exchange they get Glass.
    I heard the cry from my fellow Rangers fans when Stralman was not resigned, and I felt for you, I wanted to see what slow boil would do, but we were wrong and again I believe it was the coach who disliked Stralman and not the GM.
    AV in my opinion is to blame. You can say that they were only 1 period from the finals but I disagree he gave up before game 7. How can I say that? By the lineup he put in in Game 7. Everyone with eyes could notice the white flag and how the players responded.

    • AV in my opinion is to blame. You can say that they were only 1 period from the finals but I disagree he gave up before game 7. How can I say that? By the lineup he put in in Game 7. Everyone with eyes could notice the white flag and how the players responded.

      ^ What are you talking about? He put Hunwick in for Shepard because no one knew if McDonagh would be able to play at all due to his broken foot. He logged like 1:27 in the first period.

      How is that white flagging anything? I’m so lost here….

      • If you put a defense man in for an offense man ARE YOU PLANNING TO SCORE. And taking out a person who scored 2 times in the play offs to someone incapable of scoring ARE YOU PLANNING TO SCORE?
        a COACH LAST YEAR WHO SAID IT IS IMPORTANT TO HAVE 4 LINES PLAYS WITH 3. You may not want to understand because it is more important to defend the failure of the coach because he is stubborn.

        • It has nothing to do with me wanting or not wanting to understand.

          Poll 30 coaches in the NHL and see how many would favor rolling 5 D.

          Did you see the limited minutes Shepard got from AV? Why dress him just to sit him on the bench.

          Also, going back to you original post why on FFFF’ing earth would AV decide to “throw in the towel”. The guy came 1 win away from the cup in 2011. Went to the SCF last year. If you don’t think he is one of the hungriest people in the world to win the ultimate prize than your fooling yourself.

          Additionally…..tampa was dressing 7 D and 11 forwards all series. And that is with a guy like Jonathin Drouin ready and able to be dressed. So how exactly does 7D lead to not scoring goals?

          Again. What are you talking about

          • Shepard got limited minutes because the coach likes Glass for what ever reason. You could ask 30 coaches and none of them want Glass on their team.
            why on FFFF’ing earth would AV decide to “throw in the towel”. The guy came 1 win away from the cup in 2011. Went to the SCF last year. If you don’t think he is one of the hungriest people in the world to win the ultimate prize than your fooling yourself.
            Good question. Why would AV not put in the best lineup that is available. He kept in the worst player arguably in the league over a player that has shone to be a valuable playoff player from the Sharks. Keep deflecting the stupid move from the coach.

          • James Sheppard is not very good at hockey. I don’t care that he lucked into a few goals, he’s almost as bad as Glass. At least Glass hits extremely hard. Both players have stone hands and neither skates all that well. Both are weak playing man to man defense, which is the Rangers preferred defensive strategy in their own zone. Maybe the Sharks played a zone and that masked some of Sheppard’s deficiencies.

            If you think the reason the Rangers lost Game 7 is because AV benched James Sheppard and the team responded to that move by giving up, you are doing the team and the coach a grave disservice.

          • In an attempt to reduce to the least common factor, you are wrong. The stats will prove other wise.
            I copied and pasted the stats but it didn’t look right. I am sure you can look up the stats and see you are approaching delusional.

          • I am not defending AV for dressing Glass over Shepard. Never have said anything of the sort. I am upset about that too and I disagree with Chris A about the separation between the two players. Shepard > Glass any day.

            That said, it was obvious that AV preferred Glass (for reasons unbeknownst to us) and he got ice time over Shepard since the trade was made. I don’t like it. Never once did I deflect that fact.

            Regardless, Hunwick in for Shepard rather than Glass is not the reason we lost Game 7.

          • In hindsight, I think that the only move that gave the Rangers a chance to win was Hunwick for McDonagh. With McDonagh in the locker room for the first ten minutes, the Rangers dressed a team that was not ready for the start of the game. The result was a home team that started the game lifeless as a rag doll. Forwards used to playing in units were mixed and matched. and frankly, McD wasn’t noticeably better than what we expect from Hunwick.

            I suspect AV should have foreseen this, but I’m not sure I would have.

          • Boy are you overvaluing Sheppard. Mediocre journeyman. Guy who was brought here to win face offs and was pretty poor come playoff time (I think 40%). what did he bring exactly that would have made any difference?

        • Utterly absurd Rock.

          Not just McDonagh, but now we know that essentially, other than Boyle, the whole defense was compromised to some extent. You had a very real chance of losing McDonagh, Girardi and Staal at any moment. Klein was likely still not 100% and Yandle was banged up too it seems. The way the Rangers had played, a 1-1 or 2-2 tie going to OT was certainly a scenario to prepare for. You want to play with 5 d or less in a Game 7 OT? And somehow you think Sheppard, a mediocre journeyman player, would have been the offensive difference the team needed? Please!

  • Frankly all this crap about Girardi makes me sick. The guy was fantastic against the Pens and there is no mention of him playing on a sprained MCL. Let’s see if you can play at a high level with that injury. Injuries are part of the game & they did us in for the Cupo run. Broken ankle, broken foot, sprained MCL & strained shoulder. These guys gave it their ALL, they are not supermen. Klein was not right either and I believe that MSL was still struggling with the knee injury he incurred late in the season. Add Zucc’s skull fracture & I say NYR, I am so so proud of how you guys performed through that adversity. Knowing what I know now I salute this team and am proud to be a Rangers fan, especially for a team like this.

    • I wish this was the attitude of the bloggers on this site. All this negativity is unbecoming and just plain unfounded.

      • I think this blog has done a fine job writing about the good and bad. You can’t just tell the good story all the time. I’m of the belief – and therefore in agreement with this post – that Sather has made some really bad decisions the past year or so.

        The team played valiently with the injuries, but that’s not the point of this post. Sather did not put the best team on the ice, and that hurt them.

        • I agree with you about Sather making bad moves. Look in these comments, I said the loss of Stralman and Boyle were disappointing (not so much on Boyle), but the attitude of this blog has been real down on the team ever since they lost games 7. It’s not easy to be positive after a loss like that, but it’s not hard either.

  • All I can say is this past offseason was a huge gut punch. I basically hated every move he made almost 12 months ago.

    Losing Stralman and signing Glass were the two that had me scratching my head.

    Sather’s been fine, but sometimes I think he makes moves for the sake of making moves.

  • Great article detailing most of Sathers Blunders !!!!!!
    He continues to repeat same mistakes….trading or losing young players [Duclair, strallman] number one draft choices…….for older expensive players…..

    Wouldnt you have rather had Duclar in lineup rather than MSL???
    I could have lived with Hunwick instead of yandle!!!!!
    And losing Strallman….what is he smoking in his cigars??????????

    He better not trade or lose JT Miller or Hags …….

  • I hated seeing Strahlman leave too but he had like 18 points on the Rangers last season. On the Rangers Strahlman is a bottom 4 defenseman. He got good money in TB. To give him an equal deal in NYC there would have to be a mil per season added to account for cost of living and the city/state taxes. The same contract would have been $27-$28 mil. He wanted to stay here but being the 17th best possession player in the NHL after the 13/14 season. I’m sure it was for no real discount. We don’t know what went on. His agent may have sent Sather an offer like what Girardi got. 6 years $32.5 mil. Sather may have taken a look at it and never even made a counter offer.
    It would be nice to have him but he isn’t having the season he had in TB in NY. Our PP wasn’t very good and we don’t have all these young scorers up and down the lineup.
    I like the kid Klingburg. I think he should get a look at some point during next season. He’s played well in Hartford.
    I think Sather should try to move Girardi’s contract. He is slightly overpriced but he earns his money and has missed all of 5 games in his career. Maybe the Rangers revisit that trade with the Ducks for a defenseman and a kid like Silverberg. Maybe Vatanen could be included or a draft pick. We payed Girardi a year of that so he’s got what 5 to go. Hard to trade but maybe Edmonton wants Talbot enough to take Girardi. Girardi would really help that defensively challenged team.

  • I’ve been trying to make this point for years, but no one listens. This owner has been enamored with his orgy which includes glen Sather and Isaiah Thomas! But, really, the only player Sather brought to new York, at the expense of top picks and key dollars, was Jagr! Nedved, lindros, bure, redden, Gomez, Drury, st. Louis and countless others have always made this team competitive but not good enough because key stars are too old. You also have nothing but good role players who work hard but are usually not skilled enough to put major pressure on opposition. This is also true about Sather and his drafting. Yes, Lundquist in the 7th rd was incredibly “lucky”, as was giraldi (u drafted). But, too often there were no 1st rd picks, or the picks never developed into franchise players like Crosby/malkin, toews/kane, getzlab/perry, etc. For ranger fans, its time for Sather to go and bring in new, young hockey minds who can reinvent the franchise.

    • Wow – while I don’t agree with all decisions by Sather and AV – to say all the good moves were lucky and the bad moves mean he sucks (and not unlucky) seems a “LITTLE” unfair

  • Kevin-

    Great post but you really stirred up a hornet’s nest with this one! 🙂

    Girardi deal–the length is obviously a concern, but lots of clubs have this problem. Let’s see what TB thinks of the Cally and Stralman deals 3-4 years from now.

    Cally/MSL–we’ve discussed this a lot. I have to disagree with those who say Sather gave it all away, or their should have been a better deal out there. This is not fantasy hockey. You have to take what is out there. Let’s remember where the two teams were at the time. Both teams were playoff contenders. Yes, there was a rift between Yzerman and MSL, but there was no way the TB GM was going to give away a team legend who was, and many seem to forget this, still among the leading point getters in the league at the time of the 2014 deadline. Cally, one of the least productive forwards in the game who was injury prone and a UFA asking for the moon, was not going to be flipped for MSL. The Rangers had a choice–sign Cally, which most of us agree would have been a mistake. Let him walk. If that had happened, likely we are out of the playoffs after the first round. Or trade him. To say there were all these better deals out there is just silly. Where? Who? What are you going to get for a player like that? That’s just Monday morning quarterbacking. Only SJ offered a package and that was for draft picks. Not what a contender does.

    Yes, it was a steep price, but it was what Sather had to do. The Lightning effectively flushed their playoff chances right there with that trade last season, so,of course it was going to cost the Rangers a lot.

    Kevin, I think your post is great, but I have to take you to the task on the comment about MSL–“two underwhelming post seasons”. He led the Rangers in goals last post season. If the Rangers had won the Cup, he would have been in the Conn Smythe discussion. That is just factually inaccurate.

    It was a steep price for sure. I will address the draft pick issue in a separate post because it would take too long to analyze here.

    Dorsett–agree, Rangers had a better 4th line last year, but there are always going to be cap casualties. Same for Pouliot.

    Glass is NOT the worst player in the league. But I agree the contract length seemed steep at the time. Have to believe we could have done a shorter deal.

    On Stralman/Boyle, yes this was a strategic decision. But remember, Straman wanted multiple years. There was no way he could fit into the cap long term. Probably would have meant waving goodbye to Zuc and Staal since they would likely not have been signed long term. The cap is why this happened.

    Look, no GM gets every deal right. No coach makes all the right moves. But there is a reason that both AV and Sather got nominated for Jack Adams and GM honors. They took a team that went to SCF last year, lost lots of key guys this year due to the cap, and did something rather rare–turnaround the next season and won the President’s Trophy. That is why they were nominated. Whether they win or not, who knows, but both did an outstanding job this year and deserve the recognition.

    • Great comment Eddie! A few thoughts:

      – Let’s see what Tampa thinks of the Stralman/Cally contracts in 3-4 years is fair, but this is year one of the GIrardi extension! Your take on the trade though is a reasonable one.

      – That’s the thing about Glass, why in the world if they had to have him was it not a one-year deal? Asinine!

      – You may be right that a shorter term in the debate between Stralman and Boyle was actually preferrable, haven’t heard that take much before. But if money committed to the D was the issue, pursuing Keith Yandle didn’t make much sense.

  • When Slata went out & got Gorton & Clark, he saved his ass because if the truth be known he’s not a very astute hockey man. He takes direction from Shonny, Gorton & Clark and I don’t hear anyone blaming them.

  • Much has been made of draft picks and their value. Perhaps Dave and his crew can do an article on this in a far more thorough manner than I have time to do. But I thought I’d at least take a stab at it!

    We all want draft picks. We know they are important. In the modern day NHL, if you don’t draft well, you can’t succeed. No question.

    But hanging on to picks is just as risky as trading them. You might say you are mortgaging your future when you trade them. I contend you are taking the same risk if you DONT!

    I went back and looked at all of Sather’s picks since 2000. I also looked at the first round draft classes from 2005-10 (a time period where, in theory, those picks would impact a team now), and then looked at the number ones we lost in the last two years.

    Just a few observations on this–

    In 2000, the Rangers number pick (8th overall) was dealt away, ironically enough to TB. It’s a shame we didn’t hang on to him. TB selected the memorable Nikita Alexeev, who wound up having just a cup of coffee in the NHL. I’m sure Rangers fans were furious at the time, and probably had no idea who Dominic Moore (3rd round) and some goalie from Sweden (7th round) were all about. The rest of that draft for the Rangers was forgettable, but that’s no surprise because that’s what usually happens.

    I wanted to look at 2005-10 and see what all teams that made it to at least the second round of the playoffs did in their drafts. The Rangers, during this recent run of success, have been top eight or better. So focus on picks 23-30. Number one pick. Would it have been better to trade the pick or keep it?

    Well, based in those years, roughly half the picks had average to decent NHL careers. The other half were essentially busts. But even the ones who made it, few became difference makers. TJ Oshie, Cogliano, Niskanen, Foligno (our own Chris Summers is now I guess a bust), Peron, Ennis, Carlson, Johansson, Palmieri, Despres, Hayes, Kuznetsov, Coyle, Nelson. Nice players for sure. But only a few are difference makers. (Oshie for sure).

    Who did the Rangers draft number one in those years? 2005, it was Marc Staal. Very good pick. Indispensable? Not sure. Number two Michael Sauer might have been good if not injured. 2006? Bobby Sanguinetti! I wish we had traded that pick! Number two was Artem Ansimov. Solid, but not great.

    2007? Cherepanov died tragically so we will never know what we lost there. Number two was Antoine Lafleur (bust). Number six, however, was Carl Hagelin!

    2008? Michael Del Zotto….the next great savior, and a cautionary tale why you can’t count on prospects, especially on defense and on a contending team. They can flame out and get overwhelmed. What if we had traded that pick? We might have done better than Kevin Klein. But number two we got Stepan.

    2009? Kreider…if he lives up to his potential, he could be the number one stud pick we’ve been waiting for. So far, very good. Waiting for great.

    2010….McIlrath. Likely bust. Imagine if we had traded the pick years ago. But we got Fast in the 6th round.

    Also, looking at 2004, that year was unique because we had compiled picks. Two number ones and four number twos. Should have been quite a haul. What did we get? Al Montoya, Lauri Korpikoski, Darin Oliver, Dane Byers, Bruce Graham and Brandon Dubinsky. Only Dubie proved to be useful. 4th round we got Cally. Would be have been better off trading perhaps?

    So the last two years, we have not had top picks. They became Kerby Rychel and Gabreyel Pacque-Boudin in 2013. Why do I think we will never hear of these guys in any meaningful way? But we did draft later–Tambellini, Buchnevich, DuClair, Graves and Skapski. Pretty good chance that Tam, Buch and Graves have a chance. 2014? We may regret trading that pick to TB (oh wait, TB may regret it too…they traded it to the NYI!). He became Joshua Ho-Sang. Hearing good things about him. But we got Halverson and Shesterkin who are supposed to be real good.

    Now, I have no idea at what point trading away too many picks cost you. I do know that picks can always be recouped in a number of ways down the road. Are they important, of course. But let’s not lose site of the fact that picks can give you pieces that can help you win now. And that is the game Sather and the Rangers can and should play at this point in time give the talent they have and the window in front of them.

    Which is why I wouldn’t go crazy on Slats for including picks in the MSL trade. It likely won’t matter in the end of the day.

    • This is also very well thought out, but I think one major factor you’re overlooking is the cost control that comes with the draft picks. Years of Entry Level deals followed by RFA right make it much, much easier to assemble a competitive team under the salary cap. Really, that’s what Chicago has mastered. Commit to the select group of stars you can’t afford to lose, jettison the others when they get too expensive, and replace them with talented young players you can rebuild quickly around. We’re in Wave 2 of that brilliantly executed plan right now

      • I agree Kevin. Definitely didn’t overlook the cost control benefits though. Clearly, that’s a plus of having young players. But how many can you carry on a contending team? How long does it take for them to mature? How do you balance the need to win now when you have that window with the need to be patient and develop.

        No question, no team does it better than Chicago.

      • True, but we’ll see how Chicago does when both Toews and Kane’s cap hits reach $10.5M each next season. Unprecedented territory there.

  • Dan Boyle was brought in to replace Brad Richards on the point on the P.P. and he was an slight upgrade. Stralman had his chance there and did squat.

    Girardi is my kind of dman plays with heart-but yes the Rangers overpaid for his services. The same can be said for Lundqvist- Captain 5 hole in game seven.

    Zuc, Brassard and Staal were good signings as was picking up the Hayes kid.

    I would of kept Boyle over Glass, keeping the big pivot would of made a huge difference in the Tampa Bay series especially on the kill.

    I wanted to see Slats go after Yandle at the trade deadline and he delivered. When healthy the Rangers have the best blueline in hockey, the hell with what Dave thinks.

    Cally again my kind player- but he got greedy bye bye Cally.

  • Rangers had some bad luck with the draft when they drafted Alexi Cherpanov who would have been a great offensive player on this team. Unfortunately had a tragic end in Russia. He could have been the missing piece of offensive talent that has been lacking.

  • Talk about johnny come lately; what a bunch of arm chair nit picking!. Cut to the chase- this team was a better team than last season and last years team was much better than the team that Torts had. That being said, if you look at the Tort’s years you will see the team got better each season and one must not forget that all the emerging starts now were young and mostly inexperience guys four or five years ago.

    Had they scored a few more goals vs Tampa this wouldn’t be a discussion well that is until after the finals if they lost. Who said Stralman is a top NHL D man. He is good and has become better but on the ranger depth chart he would be the third pair which does not get him close to a TOP NHL D man.
    Any of you experts have the triple in the Belmont or will you have it after the race? Give the Slats some slack!

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