State of the Rangers

Stoll’s Rangers exit should be a lesson for Alain Vigneault

jarret stoll
Goodbye Jarret Stoll (Mark J. Terrill/AP)

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.


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  • one statement here i disagree with: “this team has a lot of talent” only 5 real established top 6 fwds going into the season. and so far no one has grabbed the other one. thin is what it is.

    • a lot of talent throughout the lineup, not just the top six. I don’t know who you consider the 5 established top 6 players are(Everyone is different). But Lindberg has shown great hockey sense and is not afraid to take a shot, perfectly 3rd line center. Etem will finally get a chance to be in the lineup regularly so we can have a better understanding of what he is and what he can be. Kreider and Miller are hard nosed players that can get in front or use their shot. Hayes has incredible vision and passing skills, I mean that’s a lot of talent even on the 3rd line. If you consider a mix of Hayes, Etem, Lindberg, and Miller.

  • Stoll was brought in to support a glaring hole, which was face-off wins. He did that, but brought little else to the table. He is not a winger, although was pushed into that role. Folks talk about putting a guy in position to succeed. Stoll was not given that opportunity either, nor did he shine in the role he had.

    This was an easy move. The next easy move is for Glass to go back to Hartford. After that, the season of tough love begins, with veteran D-men watching from the pressbox and so-called “top-six” forwards getting pushed down to 3rd or 4th line duties or even a stint in the chateau bow-wow.

    We need to right the ship and there is limited (if any) help on the farm.

    • Sal

      Great post, only problem is Glass hasn’t been the worst player out there as far as forwards go, maybe we reserve a room at the same Chateau for Kreider as well. Sorry, I have been a big supporter of Chris in the past, but all he has done so far this season is choke his chicken !!!!!!!!!!!

      • I didn’t imply Glass was the worst, I implied that any Glass move would be easy. The next move however would shake things up.

        Another move, albeit improbable, would be to send AV a message. This would entail cutting either Scott Arnel or Ulfie free, telling AV, this team is good enough to win it all – now go get it done.

      • Kreider, as much as I like the guy, needs to stop being so g dam tentative out there and start hitting!! if you’re not scoring, hit !!

    • Stoll was put in a position to succeed. He really wasn’t that good from the get go. His move to W was relatively recent.

  • I think this article is spot-on and, if anything, understates the unnecessary disruption to the team caused by Vigneault’s personnel/line decisions. This disruption was only compounded by more recent injuries but the lineup has been unnecessarily unstable since the start of the season, in my view.

  • Chris

    Agree 1000000000%, when reading your post, my thoughts were I could have written this myself!!!!!!!

    Just the other day I was bemoaning the fact that AV has been moving people around from shift to shift, or so it seemed, and that the guys couldn’t develop any chemistry in so doing……

    As good a coach as AV is, at times he makes my head want to explode with his moves, and his thick headiness………….

    Let’s go out there tonight and stop the bleeding !!!!!!!!

  • Nash Brassard Zuccarello
    Kreider Lindberg Miller
    Stalberg Hayes Etem
    Glass Moore Fast

    Should be the lineup. End of story.

    When Stepan comes back, Lindberg becomes the third line C/LW while Stalberg, Etem, and Glass fight over who wants to be the healthy scratch.

    Let Kreider and Miller play together, and build chemistry. LEAVE THE LINES ALONE!!!

    The problem is, not only that Stepan is out, it’s that we lost a couple with out him and AV panicked…. juggling lines literally every shift. He knows what his team should look like.

    • These are the lines i have wanted since the getgo. And now lets hope Shaji or how ever you spell it shows something to make it difficult on AV

  • A little kick in the ASS is needed. I’d said this before to many nice guys on this team.

  • Good Post – waiving Stoll starts to get folks back to their best positions.

    The next move should be Etem – play him or trade him. IMO – He has not shown anything and I don’t think the Ranger’s have the luxury of carrying him all season long just because he was a former first rounder with potential. if they are afraid of losing him to waivers then maybe someone will be interested in trading for him. We all miss Hags but he is gone – turn the proceeds into something useable even if it is for depth at Hartford.

  • Disagree completely. On a team that’s weak on faceoffs, Stoll was a necessity, even if as a spare forward.

    Annndd, again, Chris, you put far too much emphasis on the bottom three. The real problem is that the team is NOT as talented up top as you and others think it is. Also, Hayes spot in the lineup, on either the third line center spot or second line winger spot, is totally unrelated to Stoll; the latter’s role doesn’t impact the top six at all. Whoever is the 4th line center has ZERO bearing on whether Hayes can find the net.

    • 3 or the Rangers 5 other regular centers are winning faceoffs at a 50% or greater rate. That’s a huge improvement and makes Stoll redundant. Also, Stoll’s legs are gone. He can still play in the NHL, but not for the Rangers. He’d be a good fit on a crap team like the Devils or Bruins.

      Funny, last year all Rangers fans would do is complain about losing faceoffs and the team went on to win the President’s Trophy. This year, they are one of the better faceoff teams in the league and fans can’t stop complaining about this team in general. It just goes to show you how ultimately insignificant faceoffs are in the NHL.

      • That 50% or greater rate is, as you would say about other stats, unsustainable. In fact, at the beginning of the year, Stepan, Hayes, and Lindberg were dreadful in the circle.

        And the more I think about it, last year was a farce, a mirage. The team padded its point totals winning a long streak of games against garbage opponents. Face it – this team is overrated.

        • Why is it unsustainable? Players can improve at certain skills. Brassard has improved and Moore and Lindberg have always been strong on faceoffs.

          Hayes isn’t great at taking draws and Stepan isn’t much better. How many faceoff specialists do you want on the team?

          As for the team being an overrated mirage, you’re certainly entitled to an opinion, but the results over the last 5 years say otherwise.

          • If faceoff % was at like 60%+ for these guys, then yeah, that’s probably unsustainable. 50%ish for Brass and Lindberg and 55%ish for Moore shouldn’t be considered unsustainable at all though, in my opinion. These numbers aren’t like someone shooting 25% for 1/3 of the season where you know it absolutely just has to level out eventually over time and shot attempts. Faceoffs are definitely a fundamental task more related to technique and physical aspects than reliant on sheer talent, therefore they are something that is easier to improve on than, say, one’s shot. Not saying faceoffs are easy of course, just that they’re easier to improve on than many other aspects of hockey.

  • Stepan’s value to the team has been vastly underrated, or else the different outcomes pre and post his injury are a coincidence of almost unbelievable proportions.

  • Square peg in a round hole?!!! He’s done EXACTLY what was expected and more. Stoll was NOT brought in to play wing or register points or to usurp Dominic Moore’s job. The Rangers were abysmal – utterly ABYSMAL – on draws last year even WITH Moore in the lineup. Meanwhile, not only has Jared been dominant on face-offs *as predicted*, but it’s no coincidence that Brass, Step and Hayes have ALL improved their face-off numbers since Stoll got here. Those same 3 players, along with the already dominant Moore, combined for the Rangers to be 28th out of 30 teams on draws last season. 28th?! This year with Jared around? A marked increase up to 17th team in the league. Not Jared’s fault the team’s defense has completely left the building or that AV has put him on the wing more than at center. In fact, the real reason Stoll was waived was to clear cap space for rookie Brady Skjei to be called up, which was gloriously announced today. But to act like Stoll has contributed nothing to this otherwise schizophrenic team is absurd.

    • He’s a spare part. He was nice on face-offs, great, but wasn’t very good otherwise. Guys like this get waived all the time.

  • Chris,

    Sorry but I have to disagree with you when it comes to, who to blame for this as I don’t believe this is on AV.

    Unless, I’m uninformed, AV wasn’t the guy that signed Stoll, I believe Gorton was.

    However, even with that said, with what our line-up consists of, just where was Stoll supposed to fit?

    Also, as far as AV’S propensity to shuffle lines alot….I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. A good shuffles/juggles his lines in the early part of season, not towards the end.

  • Totally disagree with the premise of this whole article.

    First, as Rob said, last I checked AV’s the head coach, not the GM. While I’m sure AV has plenty of input, Gorton ultimately makes the decisions as to whom to sign, not the coach.

    Secondly, the Rangers were weak on faceoffs last year. Also had depth issues and were perhaps not as strong as they’d like to be on the 4th line. Why was signing Stoll such a huge mistake? Did they pass on a better option?

    This was a low risk move. Tinkering at this time of year is fine.

    Frankly, you’re totally overreacting.

  • Eddie,

    You and I my friend, we’re on like the same frequency, its scary :-).

    Going to the game on the 5th, and would live to meet up sometime between periods. Thats if you’re going bud.

    • That would be fun! But I don’t live in the NYC area anymore, so rarely get to MSG. I’m hoping to get in sometime in March, but we’ll see if a Rangers game can be fit in or not. 🙂

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