Note: I posted over Dave by accident. Oops. Be sure to check out his post below.
The news that Jarret Stoll was waived on Monday afternoon should only come as a surprise because of Alain Vigneault’s perceived loyalty to his players however Stoll’s play (declining on a game by game basis) will have never won him any loyalty from his coach. As such the Rangers have started to make moves to address the worrying trend in results in recent weeks by severing ties with Stoll.
Stoll should only be the beginning. As I wrote several weeks ago, Stoll was a luxury addition by the then greedy Rangers. He was acquired in the summer because of his perceived added value (hello Stanley Cup rings) rather than his skill set being a legitimate need for the Rangers. He was always a square peg in a round hole especially when you remember Dominic Moore is still a regular in the line-up.
Fast forward a few months and the Stoll (or is it Erin Andrews?) era is over. The Rangers have a lot of talent up front, even if that has been difficult to believe in recent weeks. Part of the problem has been the way that talent has been deployed. Too many players are playing out of position. Players such as Kevin Hayes haven’t found a permanent position. Dominic Moore has been out of position, Jesper Fast has been on lines higher than his skill set demand and even relative success stories such as Oscar Lindberg and JT Miller haven’t cemented permanent places, or fixed roles, in the line-up. There have been far too many moving parts, far too many compromises found throughout the Rangers line-up.
In short, Vigneault doesn’t know his best line up even if it is an issue that is of course complicated by Derek Stepan’s injury enforced absence. While it will hurt many a reader’s eye, the following rings true; if Tanner Glass is the best option for the Rangers fourth line and provides some semblance of balance to the line then he should play. Just like if Kevin Hayes’ best position is 3rd line center that’s where he should play. Just like JT Miller should be given a role for an extended period of time that fits his talent (and ceiling) and let him grow. You can see the point here?
Vigneault needs to learn from the Stoll mistake. There was never a natural fit for Stoll in New York without it causing a negative knock-on effect to the rest of the roster (again this isn’t a knock on Stoll the person). Players should be put in their best positions even if it means less ice-time for player A or a reduced role for player B. This season we have seen just how important a cohesive line-up can be. How much influence a player’s ability to truly play another position can have on his teammates’ own performances.
The Rangers have a lot of talent but it’s not being deployed properly. There’s only so long an all world goaltender can bail out a jumbled-up roster of players not put together in the best possible manner. Jarret Stoll is no longer a Ranger and that’s not just because of diminishing talent but because no position was ever there for the veteran center. It’s time Alain Vigneault puts together the best possible line-up regardless of previous achievements.