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Rangers final grades: bottom-six forwards

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Last season, the Rangers deployed Benoit Pouliot, Derick Brassard and Mats Zuccarello on their third line and Derek Dorsett, Dominic Moore and Brian Boyle on the fourth for much of the season. Needless to say, depth up front was a team strength.

Thanks to the cap crunch and some head-scratching offseason moves, the bottom-six just wasn’t quite the same this year. The team spent much of the season attempting to identify a third-line scoring winger and failed to support Dominic Moore on the checking unit. But though the sum of its parts wasn’t good enough, many members of the bottom-six did have terrific seasons.

Kevin Hayes

What more could you ask for from the prized former Blackhawks first-round pick after he chose to join the Rangers last summer? Hayes really turned it on in the second-half, when it seemed like he improved every single game. Hayes has an impressive combination of size, hands and wheels, and the sky appears to be the limit for the 23-year-old. Hayes was a little quieter in the playoffs, but it’s hard to fault him for that.

Grade: A

Tanner Glass

He’s not good at hockey – we all know that. But you can’t blame Glass for the asinine contract Glen Sather gave him last July 1, nor can you blame Glass for Alain Vigneault’s insistence on dressing him every night. Glass did his job, albeit poorly, without a complaint all season despite constant misguided vitriol from the fan base. And he did play better late in the season. But yeah, it would be better if he wasn’t going to be on the roster for two more years.

Grade: D

Jesper Fast

The Swedish rookie finally got a chance at significant minutes due to injuries in the postseason, and he quickly showed that he has far more ability than just being an extremely dependable checking line forward and penalty killer. It will be interesting to see how Fast is deployed next season and how he continues to round out his game, but if nothing else Fast represents a tiny contract for an important role, and one that fits the team’s identity quite well. Those are the types of players the Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks constantly unearth to supplement their superstar core.

Grade: B+

Dominic Moore

Once again Moore did an excellent job anchoring the checking line and penalty kill, providing a tremendous example and energy for his teammates, and filling in wherever necessary. Unfortunately, he didn’t have as many chances to shine this season on a drastically weakened fourth line with Glass, but Moore was still very solid for the most part. It could be very interesting to see how Moore would do in a slightly different role with more skilled players on the third line if Oscar Lindberg proves ready for the NHL in September.

Grade: B+

James Sheppard

It still makes no sense whatsoever that Sather shipped out Lee Stempniak to make room for Sheppard, only to not play him in favor of Glass. When he did play, Sheppard was very unremarkable. He flashed ability in front of the net a few times and paid attention to both ends, but for the most part, Sheppard’s brief tenure in New York was very forgettable.

Grade: C-

J.T. Miller

What do the Rangers have in Miller? He is one of the team’s few wild cards going forward. At times – especially late in the season and for some of the playoffs – Miller showed clear top-six talent with speed, skill and aggressiveness. But Miller’s development curve has also included long stints of invisibility and defensive lapses. Miller is still just 22, so there’s still plenty of time for him to put it all together.

Grade: B

Carl Hagelin

The speedy Swede is a restricted free agent, and it wasn’t long ago that many expected him to be a cap casualty this summer in order to retain Marty St. Louis. Times have changed, to say the least. Though he doesn’t have the most talent in the world, Hagelin’s skating makes him a crucial piece of the club’s identity. You basically know what you’re going to get with him every year: 15 goals, forechecking like a racehorse and consistently strong two-way play. There aren’t too many third-liners that bring more to the table than that.

Grade: B

Let us know your grades in the comments!

Check out Suit’s final grades for the defense here >

"Rangers final grades: bottom-six forwards", 4 out of 5 based on 15 ratings.
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28 Comments

  1. Over all a fair grade for the players listed above …….

    Walt says:

    Jun 24, 2015 at 8:23 pm

    I just read an article from Jess Rubenstein, on the Blueshirt Bulletin entitled “Nice Guy Fix Yourself”, which is a nice critique of AV as a coach, his system, and approach to the game.

    The thing I found interesting is that many of the points he is making are the ones I’ve made time, and again. Rather than me explain it to all, go to the site, read it for yourselves, and then form your own opinion. I find it fascinating, and it my run counter to what has been written on this page on numerous occasions.

    After reading it, any input would be appreciated, because some of the subject matter being discussed isn’t as motivating as it will get after the draft………..

    Last night I posted the above statement, interesting view from another pundit…………

    Rate This

    1. Yah, I read that article too & it summed up my sentiments also. AV does need a bit of Torts or Keenan in him instead of Perry Como. Fire in the kitchen and on the ice.

  2. Grades are adjusted as per expectations…

    Kevin Hayes: A+
    Tanner Glass: C+
    Jesper Fast: A-
    Dom Moore: B
    James Sheppard: C
    J.T. Miller: B+
    Carl Hagelin: A-

    1. Miller still makes to many mistakes to be a B+ Hayes needs too get strongeron his skates an meaner, solid B. Fast also a solid B the rest I agree on.

  3. Pretty fair, accurate evaluations. However, J.T. Miller had a breakout season (as far as) he has secured his future in the NHL and (most) likely with the Rangers, whereas before, he seemed destined to be traded and prove himself elsewhere. Plainly spoken, he deserves more than a B.

  4. You are very wrong about Sheppard. He has size, skating ability good hands. Most importantly, he goes to the net. He did not get a fair opportunity with NYR. Think about it Glass or Sheppard? However, AV has a bias on Glass.

    1. Agree entirely with you. Sheppard really never got a chance to show his stuff and that makes it really hard to adjust to a new team. Late season acquisitions invariably have some adjustment problems, even Yandle did.

      1. It was ridiculous that Glass played ahead of him, but he did play 27 games and wasn’t memorable in the least. Glass goes to the net too, doesn’t mean he converts.

        1. Again Glass is not there to score goals, an people should realize that. He keeps the peace on the ice for the Rangers without taking too many stupid penalties.

          1. Keeping peace on the ice as a sole responsibility is not a viable skill set in the modern NHL.

          2. Well then go get a lucic or someone that can keep peace and then get rid of Glass. Until such time even in the modern NHL , i would prefer that guys like Zucc etc dont take cheap shots. Yes even in the modern nhl and even with the possession stats guys dole out the cheap shots when they can. I guy like Marchand for instance needs to be held accountable.. but sorry this group of Rangers (as much as i like them) do not tend to hold other teams accountable..and it adds up over the course of year.

      2. And when he got to play he had Glass on his line. Dominic Moore was not as offensive when Glass was on his line. And Fast too.

  5. Fair shake, Kevin. I also agree with Gary’s premise above of grades considering expectations. I think, simply put, our 3 rookies all excelled to varying degrees. Moore and Hagelin were as dependable as ever.

    FWIW- I’m still irritated by the whole Glass / Sheppard situation.

    What are the chances we resign Sheppard? If I’m not mistaken he’s making 1.3 mil this year. Assuming same dollars, I’m guessing our chances of being able to afford him are next to nothing.

        1. Fair point on that. I think with an actual look though that woulndnt necessarily be the case

    1. At the end of the day, him and Glass are redundant (albeit with differing results). As long as Glass is here, Sheppard won’t be.

  6. Thought the grades were appropriate. Love Hayes I believe he is first line material. Holds the puck well, skates makes unbelievable passes and is very calm in possession of the puck. Miller and Fast good size speed and skill set Miller could play top six with a little improvement so could Fast if he could show some scoring touch. Both good on the boards and make good hits. Hagalin definite keeper as well as Moore. Sheppard and Glass could go fly a kite for all I care, shouldn’t bee part of the club.

  7. Disagree 100% on the Tanner Glass comments … he is what he is, teams want him for a reason. That reason is not to be a contributor on the score sheet, that is a bonus. Every time he becomes a FA he has 4 or 5 teams come knocking with offers – why? Because he is consistently in the top tier statistically in hits per game. He fore checks, he blocks shots, he is intelligent on the ice and players and coaches respect his contribution in other areas of the game including the locker room – that is common knowledge. Shame on you supposed hockey guru’s for not being able to appreciate the abilities of a solid defensive hockey player. On the other hand – where were the goal scorers in the playoffs this year? Had they done their job as good as Glass did his, the cup would be in the hands of the Rangers. Have you ever been to an NHL practice and seen how much time is spent with the 4th line on Offensive Zone practice? Some teams – none. Have not had any info on this past year with AV’s practices. Glass was 11 hits behind team leader Girardi and played 16 less games because of the mumps that ran through the league this year. He averaged 3.2 hits per game over 66 games played, so using that if he plays the same as Girardi he ends up with 37 more hits than Girardi. Keep in mind a hit in the NHL as per their statistical definition, the player must cause a turn over, meaning for Glass or Girardi to be credited with a hit, the Rangers must end up with the puck. So does Glass getting the puck for the Rangers on 213 occasions in 66 games count for anything? Klein who played 1 less game than Glass had 87 less turn over causing hits. Is Glass worth anything? Hey stats are for losers, common knowledge, but that Ranger fans is why teams want Glass. I don’t mention the dropping of gloves for those Rangers who won’t do it for themselves, that is another facet of the game and one that I do not condone, but accept it is part of the NHL game just like different rules for the playoffs. Go Blue Shirts … Dr McCrakken you gonna help me with this?

  8. The Stempniak-Sheppard move is just not understood. Rightly or wrongly, AV decided on the twelve forwards he intended to use and Stempniak was not one of them. The Rangers would carry 13 forwards down the stretch, twelve starters and an injury replacement. Who was the better injury replacement – Stempniak or Sheppard? In hindsight, knowing that Zucc was the guy who was going to get injured, Stempniak was the better choice. But Slats did not know that. If Dom Moore had gone down, Sheppard could have filled in and the Rangers wouldn’t have even noticed.

    Bottom line: Sheppard was the right choice if a center went down, probably a better choice if a fourth line wing went down. I’d say it was a wash if a third line wing went down. But Stempniak was a better choice to replace a top six wing.
    Honestly, I would have made the trade even up, but with the throw-ins (Klingberg and a Ranger draft choice), I wouldn’t have. Of course, MSL’s collapse really made the swap look worse.

    1. I thought dumping Stemp was a mistake, he is very solid on his skates, proven point getter and smart player.

  9. Too much complaining about Glass. He is 12th forward and i know this is the “modern” NHL..but other teams have more size or at least more size that gets utilized. Now the Rangers have been successful and i doubt very highly that they would have been more successful putting Sheppard in the lineup. Next year a fourth line of Moore Fast and lindberg will not get it done… How about a few dmen that punish the other team or another forward that hits on the forecheck like Kreider?

    1. Go read my other post … Glass is top 10 in the league as a speed fore checker and hitter. Has been for almost his entire career and he plays less than those ahead of him.

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