Thoughts prior to “Glen Sather Night” in Edmonton

After a tough loss against Vancouver, the Rangers continue their west coast trip tonight in Edmonton. Between late games and a somewhat erratic, feast or famine schedule, I have some scattered thoughts…

1) Can you believe we are past the 1/3 mark of the season already? I am of the mind set that the first third is for evaluating your systems and personnel, the second third is for making adjustments and the final third is for making that push toward the playoffs. Injuries to Kevin Klein and Derek Stepan have thrown something of a wrench into that plan.

2) Speaking of those injuries, they have really wrecked havoc on AV’s deployment and line management. I understanding you are without one of your top-six centers and top-4 defensemen. That would be a serious issue for any contending team. The concern I have is that it seems like AV is putting a greater focus on trying to find lightning in a bottle with his line combo’s than he is trying to find a reliable balance.

3) The biggest issue, obviously, is that Tanner Glass is in the lineup and Emerson Etem is not. I get that Ryan Gropp and cap flexibility were the biggest assets in that deal, but come on. You traded Carl Hagelin for Etem and you put him behind Glass on the depth chart?

4) Glass aside, I feel like AV also miscasts Jesper Fast as a top-six player. This is not a knock on Fast; he is an incredibly intelligent, responsible player with quite a bit of skill. He is just much better deployed in a bottom-six role. I think Fast’s deployment, more so than anything else has been a reason for Etem’s press-box treatment. That, and keeping Jarrett Stoll in the lineup.

5) Dave already covered it, but Dylan McIlrath has been a very pleasant surprise. I don’t think he will ever grow into the talent reserved for top-10 draft picks, but he still has a ceiling to grow into a useful piece after being labeled a “bust” for the past few seasons.

6) We talk a lot around here about process versus results. Earlier in the year, the Rangers were getting tremendous results with a sub-par process. The metrics were a mess, but they were capitalizing on their chances at a much more efficient rate than their opponents. It is now swinging the other way. I’ll admit I did fall asleep during the Vancouver game also (we’re old men now, get off my back), but over the past few games, they have cleaned up a lot of the defensive zone issues and created more consistent offensive zone pressure. This is a good thing, even though they have been 2-5-1 since their stolen win against Nashville. If that is the storm they have to weather to get a sustainable winning model back on track, I’ll take that every day of the week.

7) I want to take a few minutes and talk about the future a bit. The defensive picture over the next few years looks like a mess. You have Yandle and Boyle as UFA’s this offseason. While Boyle is as good as gone, Yandle is a guy the team should look to retain. Kevin Klein remains under contract for two more seasons, and Dylan McIlrath’s RFA raise shouldn’t be too significant, since he is only getting his first NHL action this season. Ryan McDonagh is cost controlled for three seasons beyond this one, as well.

8) Then, we have the anchors. Staal and Girardi make $11.2m combined. That is almost 16% of the current cap. Obviously, Staal still has more value than Girardi, but it would still be a tough hit to move. Staal has a NMC and would most likely want a move to a contender, who usually have limited cap resources.

9) Looking beyond the current core, Brady Skjei is really the only defenseman in the system ready to take a full-time job, and while you might be able to get some cheap depth on the UFA market, it’s a bit of a tire fire back there. I’m not sure exactly where I am going with this, but the front office needs to take a long, hard look at the blue line construction going forward before Yandle signs elsewhere.

10) Staying with our future theme, and assuming the appropriate moves to allow for it were plausible, how top-heavy, cap-wise would you be willing to get to accommodate Steven Stamkos? Would you be willing to deal Derek Stepan? Rick Nash? How you would propose to fit a $10m cap hit? Or would you rather Kopitar? It is a rare off-season in which two prime-aged centers are hitting the UFA market at the same time. Stamkos is younger, which makes him the better bet for more prime years, but there is no denying Kopitar’s talent. Or would you rather watch some other team destroy their cap?

11) I don’t get to watch a ton of Oiler’s games (I already told you I’m an old man), but I am really going to miss the lighting at Rexall Place when they move next year. Every time I flip through the Center Ice Package, I can tell immediately when it’s a game in Edmonton by the way the ice looks. Gorgeous.

Alright, that’s it for me. Enjoy the game and your weekend, everyone. I’d love to hear your thoughts on my thoughts in the comments, as well!

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  • this should be fantastic night for Sather and both the ranger organization and the oiler organization and then the game I see a bounce back possibly

    • I just hope the Sather thing doesn’t pump up the Oilers more than the Rangers. Did you see where Cam Talbot has lost the starting gig?

  • As for Stamkos, yes, without a doubt in my mind, we should try to acquire him.

    Cap issues are complex but if we could off-load Nash for prospects/picks, then we could sign Stamkos with loss of Nash’s contract and the $3mm increase in the cap next season. There would still be maneuvering to do but it would be manageable.

    I would also be working RIGHT NOW to trade Stepan for Johansen. We need more goal scorers, less passers. I am fully aware of everything Stepan brings to the team and I do not dislike him at all; it’s just a hockey decision I think needs to be made.

  • 1. we are on pace for 111 points. We had 113 in 14-15 (president’s trophy) and 96 13-14 (SCF).

    2-3. I haven’t seen much reason to keep EE in the lineup. Constantly loses 50/50 puck battles and very little offensive upside.

    4. Agreed. Quickie is a very good 4th liner. His defensive positioning is his strongest attribute. Still is good in a limited, defensive role. He had an excellent game shadowing Tavares.

    5. Agreed here too. Didn’t think he’d get a chance to play but he has been a responsible defender.

    . . . (got to go to work)

    10. I freakin wish but Stamkos has done all but move to Toronto so far.

  • Yesterday, Brooks wrote an interesting article about the Oilers, and Sather. I had no idea that there was a feud between the two, and what Sather stated was quite interesting. It appears that Glen was in an odd situation where the ownership was quite snug with the money, and there were some 30+ owners who were all trying to have some say in team matters. Glen resigned, joined the Rangers, and has been a very loyal solider to us. This special recognition of Glen will be interesting to say the least, and to be honest will you all, I’ve gained a load of respect for the man!!!!!!!!!!!

    As for your questions:

    We came out of the gate like gang busters, and now are slowing down some, we had better pick up the pace, the rest of the division has already.

    Etem deserves a shot to prove himself, if for no reason other than to see if we can move him for other assets…..

    I like quickie, but he should stay on the 4th line, he is solid defensively, and he solidifies that line………

    DM, well the jury is still out on the kid, but he has made some major strides, and is proving he belongs in the big’s every game he plays…….

    I would move Nash for Stamkos in a heart beat. The guy scores, plays solid defense, plays with emotions, and has demonstrated some grit, where Nash won’t even hit you with his purse. We could fit him in the existing cap if Step is moved as well, and I would do that. We still would be deep at center, Stamkos-Brass-Lindberg, and Hayes, with some kids in the system coming up……..It’s a no brainer now isn’t it??????????

  • Lindberg has made it possible to move one of our overpaid Wing or Center if we can some how Aguirre Stamkos . IMO Hayes plays better at center that the wing he just needs to move the puck quicker and not play keep away , playing keep away is also keeping it from his line mates JMO.

  • I feel that everyone’s points are valid. I too would want Stamkos. I feel that salary cap relief has got to come from the blueline. Some way, somehow, we need to move either Stall or Girardi, otherwise, we will have this problem for 3 more years minimum. Yes Boyle is a goner, but Yandle and Klein are the type of D-man we need, but the contracts of Stall and Girardi hinder or flexibility. McD is solid, and McIlvaine can at least be a bottom pair. This tell me Skjell better be ready next fall.

    While the “D” is costly, the “O” goes dormant for games at a time. People love Kreider, Hayes and Stepan, but to me, it is time them actually have 55+ points each. May be time to cut our losses and gain some flexibility.

    Etem only plays when AV feels he earns it – translation – next year.
    Fast stays on the 4th line. Oskar is a keeper. I disagree with the Nash being soft. He goes hard pretty much all game. He just isn’t a sniper.

    Can we practice taking shootouts? Every other team seems to have 3 guys with moves, while we send old man Boyle out to try to put the goalie to sleep.

  • 7. I’m willing to drop a 5 year deal on McIlrath if the cost is slots as a number 5 Dman or less. You can’t re-sign Yandle because of the contracts of:
    8. However, with expansion on the horizon we can lose one and the NMCs will be expiring to trade the other. Either one who stays in the interim can be slotted down in the pairings. Which leads to replacement by:
    9. Skjei has accelerated the learning curve, while Graves can slot in as a #6 right now.

    So what should the D corps in 2016-17 look like?

    Skjei(has played on right @UofMn) can rotate with Graves or Staal on the left, Klein or Girardi on the right.

    By 2017-18?
    Graves-(Zborovskiy/fungible replacement)

    And before the Greek chorus strike up the “we’re in win now territory”, they’re not. The albatross contracts preclude the front office from making a trade to put the Rangers OTT unless you deal Klein or a ton of prospects(which we don’t have many) to take Staal or Girardi off our hands. So you have to work with what you got and coach em up.

      • Saw them at TC, a weekend in HFD and most games via AHL live(which isn’t as helpful when watching them reading the play once they make the out pass.)

        As a defense 1st player, IMO Graves is at a more advanced state. All the junior seasons & Memorial Cup runs make a difference. He’s a D 1st guy who can more than chip in from the point. As a bottom pairing guy I would feel comfortable having him up today.

        Skjei has the higher ceiling on O & D, but needs the minutes in HFD playing top players in the A and the tutelage from Beuk.

  • For the Stamkos question, if you’re trading for him, a true 1C, Stepan becomes expendable and must be included in that deal. But Steps isn’t enough alone, so I’d try to offer Girardi in there, but Tampa probably would want either Buch or Skjei if not both.

    Yzerman isn’t going to give up Stamkos for pennies, he has to retain him as long as he can to try and resign him. Thats said, the further this thing gets, Yzerman will have to pull the trigger on something.

    My guess is Gorton would part with nothing more than Stepan and Buchnevich.

    Also, you don’t make any deal without Stamkos signing an extension.

    Realistically, I think he stays in Tampa, though.

    • For Stamkos, nobody is untouchable; goalie included IMHO. Top 5 player who makes his everyone better. Can’t say that about Nashed Potato
      Graves and Skeij provide defensive replacements to Girardi and Staal in 2 seasons. Doesn’t Girardi’s NMC drop off then?
      If Kreider or Miller or Haze (to a lesser extent) were more defensively responsible, Fast would slot to bottom 6. Smart but undersized, just like Moore – do we need 2 of those in the playoffs?
      Zucc – Brass – Nash (these guys shave to get going)
      Kreider -Lindberg – Etem (a lot of heavy lifting for Lindberg)
      Miller – Hayes – Fast (this line will posses and maybe even score)
      Stalberg – Stoll/Moore – Moore/Glass (rest the vet centers if need be)

        • If Yzerman’s trading Stamkos, he’s not in a position to acquire someone like Nash. In fact, he’ll be in the worst position a GM could ever be in. He’ll pretty much have to take the best offer, and I doubt most teams will offer star players. A generous package, something like what we gave Columbus for Nash, is more likely to be what Yzerman can fetch. If this things gets to the point where Stamkos is traded, it’s because Yzerman has no choice but to trade him. Remember, no team has to give up anybody to get Stamkos. They can just wait until July.

          I think if Yzerman can’t get Stamkos resigned, that, coupled with trading away the franchises greatest, most admired player, won’t look too good for him moving forward.

          • I meant MSL there at the end, in case I was too vague. Brought the cup to Tampa, Stamkos stunk up half the playoffs then lost in the Finals. MSL is their greatest.

  • No doubt that Stamkos is an elite player and I’d trade Nash & Stepan for him, no questions but not Buchnevich. As for Etem, I can’t see why Jarret Stoll is in the lineup at this pt. Sure he can win faceoffs but frankly I think he’s done. That is the trouble signing guys like this to win now, when they don’t guarantee you’ll win anything and hinder the development of younger players. Stalberg seemed like a good signing at the time but frankly one can see why Nashville let him go.

  • With the way Krieder looks on the ice we should throw him in package for Stamkos. He just does not play like a power forward. He does not finish with his speed by cutting to the net. Yes, he may be taken down but he will draw penalties as well. Please tell Chris to stand IN FRONT of the goalie not off to the side. Sometimes I think he plays not to get hurt. Extremely disappointed with his play!

    • Inverse VH sorta limits power forward net crashing, needs to combine Gartner or Guerin at even strength and Guerin/Tim Kerr on PP

  • Ugh, STOP. Etem being scratched is not the reason for the team’s struggles.

    He’s. Not. That. Good.

    “Hey look, Kreider whiffed on another shot! Damn you Glass!” – The Ranger blogosphere.

  • Nice comments as always Justin, but two points of disagreement.

    I see nothing wrong with not playing Etem. If you trade for a Jesper Fast or a Dom Moore, you want a guy who can play. There isn’t all that much upside and so you should demand a player you can count on. Etem, OTOH, is immensely talented and could be an excellent top line player. How do you get such a player on a low salary in return for a third line player? The answer of course is risk. Etem may be a star or he may be a washout. I don’t see a problem with trading for such a player. Unfortunately, the trade is almost certain to be lopsided – we just don’t know which way. However, it does not make sense to play him if he is a washout.

    I question your assessment of Skjei as the only ready Hartford Dman. I suspect either Bodie or Graves would be better now (and AHL +/- says that also).
    Since Graves is less offense minded and so plays a less complex game, I would expect him to develop quicker. And of course Bodie is just more experienced at the professional level. Of course, the conventional wisdom is that Bodie is the least talented of the trio, but sometimes people do get this wrong.

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