More Musings: Full weekend slate ahead

brady skjei
Skjei (Photo: Blueshirts United)

Even though Kevin wrote a musings post on Wednesday, there is some stuff in my head that I wanted to get out. So, I’m writing a separate musings post. Bring it, Kevin!

Can the Rangers justify not keeping Eric Staal beyond this season? Does anything other than a Cup winning parade justify moving two second round picks and a legitimate prospect?  In my opinion Staal is getting better with each game but how do you measure a move such as Staal’s?

… and if you do keep him, what number ($) makes sense? Is there even a number the Rangers can afford?

Brady Skjei has done reasonably well in his cup of coffee with the Rangers thus far and you have to be happy his solid (albeit not rapid) development. That said, while the young blueliner makes solid, steady progress it would be a disaster if he doesn’t make the Rangers out of camp next season. That’s partly because it will mean his progression has stalled but with Dan Boyle retiring, Keith Yandle’s uncertain future, not to mention the Girardi/Staal ‘situation’ and a sticky cap scenario… the Rangers simply need him to be ready.

Rant alert: often in the past I’ve had to rely on NHL gamecenter. My lord is the new product substandard. Sometimes you need the condensed game highlight packages but the re-make is so inferior and not good enough. Will it get better next season? Would you sign up again based on the current product?

The best case scenario for the Rangers from a defensive (and cap based) scenario  is that next season Dylan McIllrath and Skjei force their way into full time positions from October onwards. If the Rangers (allowing for a slight salary increase for McIlrath) could get away with their bottom pairing costing under $2m combined it would have a huge impact on their ability to ice a deep team.

For all the inconsistencies the Rangers have gone through this year, it’s highly likely the team will boast (at least) twelve 10+ goal scorers. They already have ten and Ryan McDonagh and Viktor Stalberg should both pot another pair each to join the group. This team may lack top end production (Zuccarello will likely top the team’s charts with 60(ish) points) but this team has balance. The numbers would also be much stronger if the team’s core were performing up to expectations.

Hands up if you’re happy with the way the Rangers have (for the most part) played this season? I guess not many of you will be happy with the year to date. Yet only four (yes four) teams have more points as of March 10th and three of the teams ahead of the Rangers have played more games.

Rick Nash has barely registered on this regular season radar this season (harsh, but fair) but it would be ironic if this was the year where he was the difference maker in the playoffs.

Derek Stepan has been relatively free of criticism this season, yet despite missing a handful of games, Stepan needs to have been better. Stepan is a good example of the Rangers as a whole; does this team only get measured by its post-season performance now or does the regular season still mean something? Stepan should be putting up better numbers regardless.

JT Miller has obviously kicked on this season and should hit the 40 point barrier but is it a good or a bad thing that he is the team’s fourth highest scorer to date? I think it is a little of both.

Good: of the Rangers top ten scorers, five are 26 or under, seven are 28 or under. For all the concerns about absent draft picks, allowing for current production, there’s no reason the Rangers’ offensive core will change significantly in the next two-three seasons – at a minimum.

The Ducks, Kings, Sharks, Panthers, Bruins, Canadiens (in Montreal) and the Pens twice… The Rangers have a brutal stretch in March still to go. When games against the Wings (and the sad sack Canes) offer respite you know it’s a tough finish to the season. Would you be happy with a .500 finish?

Question time:

  • How would you judge the Staal trade: production, cup or extension and why?
  • How would you rate Derek Stepan’s season and why?
  • Beyond this year: Staal or Yandle?
  • Who is more important to the Rangers beyond this year: Skjei or Buchnevich?
  • Playoff opponent: would you rather face in the first round and why?
  • Who has the better Rangers future: Kreider, Miller or Hayes.


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  • it is good that the rangers had three days off you have a matchup with Detroit in Detroit then the pens on sunday at msg then the western swing after that then Florida here and Boston then Montreal up there let’s see where these games take them

  • Never been a Stepan fan who to me for his production is soft an not worth the money. Since the playoffs have not started, I do not judge guys until they roll along to see who is worth the money, an you keep an let go.

  • For all cap $$$ constrained teams, the business strategy that is evolving is that teams (think Chicago/Boston) have to unload high salaried and talented players who are in the peak of their careers and for which their is still a strong demand from other teams that have budgets to handle them.
    At the time, the Rangers didn’t know it but they did shed $ 5.5 million of potential cap $$$ when they let Ryan Callahan go – and haven’t really missed a beat without him. He’s still steady but even playing with Stamkos, he’s got 10 goals (a few empty netters) and is greatly overpaid for what he brings to the team.

    Rick Nash falls into this category and the Rangers should easily be able to find a suitor for him this summer. Yes he’s a great hustler, super penalty killer, attracts the opponents best defensive pairings that takes pressure away from his teammates, but at a $ 7.5 million+ cap hit I guarantee you that he won’t be missed as much as most people think. 12 goals this season simply sucks and he has yet to prove that he can handle the pressure of the playoffs from a production standpoint.
    I’d love to resign Eric Stall for 3 years at $6 mill per – having Brassard, Stepan and Staal as your 3 centers is formidable and few teams in the league can match that. Strength at center is what wins Stanley Cups, period. (Messier, Towes, Kopitar anyone?)
    If we don’t keep Staal, then I have been one of a boisterous few that does not like Stepan and would trade him in a heartbeat, but he seems to be teflon with management, the fan base and media. Staal can cover for Step’s horrific face off %, weak shot and very slowfootedness in the 2C slot.
    I am also thinking that, if the Rangers cannot find a trade for Girardi or M. Staal, they will have to buy one of them out to stay within the cap space and resign their restricted free agents.

  • If you want to resign E Staal you properly need to keep M Staal on the roster . Think Lindberg Stalberg and Fast would be a good start as our fourth line for next year . Think if we keep E Staal he would be our first line center , and if so what do you do with Hayes , if as every one says he is better at center than the wing , then you need to trade either Lotto 21 or Brass to make this work .
    A trade with Edmonton for Hall for either Lotto 21 or Brass would work for me .A lot depends on or if Buch comes over and can play in the NHL or needs a season in the AHL if his agent will accept that if comes across the pond to play next year. Hopefully we know by July. Lot of ifs

  • Steal trade was fair for the deal, if he produces like he already is, keep him if we can.

    How would you rate Derek Stepan’s season and why?
    Never been a big fan of smiley, never criticized enough, paid fair market but I don’t think he has that extra something, like heart, gritty dirty heart.

    Beyond this year: Staal or Yandle?
    Staal, he is making more of a difference IMO

    Who is more important to the Rangers beyond this year: Skjei or Buchnevich?
    Don’t know enough about them to make a call

    Playoff opponent: would you rather face in the first round and why?
    Islanders, get it over with, tired of the fish stix fans, BURY THEM

    Who has the better Rangers future: Kreider, Miller or Hayes.
    TOO HARD TO TELL, I feel like CK will be better when he gets his next deal.
    But I think KH has more potential – SO HAYES

    • The Rangers gave up just as much for E. Staal as they did for the immortal Tim Erixon. Losing E. Staal for nothing at the end of the year will not be the end of the world.

      • I guess that’s a point, but, if this team doesn’t succeed with him, and he just leaves, Why not keep the 2 (two) second round picks and a legitimate prospect?

        I guess your right, its not the end of the world, but if we just lose him it is the end of the two second round picks and a legitimate prospect?


        • Yes, but you have to give to get, right? Turns out the Flames got Markus Granlund with one of those two Erixon picks. The other two pick looks like nothing more than a 8th or 9th D and Roman Horak (Rangers prospect dealt with the two picks) seems to be in the KHL.

          There’s a strong chance that Saarela and those two very late second round picks amount to less in the NHL than what the Rangers can get from two to three months of E. Staal.

  • ◾How would you judge the Staal trade: production, cup or extension and why?
    Production, especially in the playoffs. If he has a strong playoffs, but the Rangers still don’t win the Cup, the deal would still be a successful one. I’m not expecting the team to extend him, this was always a pure rental.

    ◾How would you rate Derek Stepan’s season and why?
    Incomplete. He’s been hurt for stretches and is now finally hitting his stride. His playoff performance (which is typically pretty strong) will be the final determination of the success of his season.

    ◾Beyond this year: Staal or Yandle?
    Yandle, and it’s not even close. The Rangers have a decent amount of forward depth, but not at all on defense. The Rangers have no other player that can do what Yandle does.

    ◾Who is more important to the Rangers beyond this year: Skjei or Buchnevich?
    Splitting hairs. Both are extremely important, but if I had to pick one, Skjei. As noted above, the Rangers need top 4 defensemen going forward, and if Skjei can develop into that, they are in good shape.
    ◾Playoff opponent: would you rather face in the first round and why?
    Realistically, the options are limited to the Islanders or Penguins. Mathematically, those are the only two likely opponents. Give me the Islanders. The Penguins are currently playing good hockey, they are deeper this year than in year’s past, and I’d still be more uncomfortable with Fleury in net than Greiss, even in Greiss is playing well right now (so is Fleury).

    ◾Who has the better Rangers future: Kreider, Miller or Hayes.
    Good question. I guess I’ll say Hayes because he is more well rounded than Kreider, plays a tougher defensive position (when he actually plays center) than Miller, and has shown good playmaking abilities (as inconsistent as it is).

  • Q1– The price was good with not removing a roster player & there appears to be some gas left in the tank but I think he gets 6 mil per which I doubt we will be able to afford without moving somebody out.
    Q2–Stepan has been adequate but count me as one of the guys who think he’s vastly overpaid. I think he’s a 5 mil guy like Brass & I would not be averse to trading him.
    Q3–I’d have to say Yandle because of the position he plays & esp. if Buchnevich makes his way over which appears up in the air.
    Q4–Buchnevich. He has the potential to be Malkin Jr., a real All-Star. Skjei will be an NHLer but I do think he is somewhat overhyped.
    Q5–The way the Rangers are relying so much on Hank, they will all be tough & I think a sever game series with Isles, even if we win, will take it’s eventual toll.
    Q6–Miller, He has it all, speed, skill & physicality which makes the ideal forward. Kreider has that too but it doesn’t always translate on the ice.

  • Cup….To me, if he’s asking 9 mil per you don’t bat an eye at an extension. Given the cap situation, I’m not too enthused to keep him in the fold, but his playoff line could change that. In any event, term should be short.

    So far underwhelming. But a productive post season changes everything. I’m looking for a bounce back next yr.

    I’ll assume this is a D question. If so, Yandle > Staal.
    I’ll assume this is a UFA question. If so, Yandle > Staal

    Buchnevich. If he continues to develop anything like Tarasenko or Kuznetsov then…. let’s just say Kuznetsov has progressed so well that nobody really seems to care that WAS gave up Filip Forsberg for Martin Erat. That’s saying something

    Of realistic options, would rather face NYI than PIT, though I’m probably in the minority.

    Miller. Been pretty consistent on this on the past few years. At one point last year I ranked them Hayes, Miller, Kreider- which could very well be how it plays out. At the end of the day, I like Miller’s completeness. To me he should project to be a Brady Schenn/ TJ Oshie type player.

  • I think I might go for both Staal and Yandle, jettisoning McDonagh to rebuild the future – something I mentioned in response to Justin’s post.

    Not sure between Miller and Hayes. I think Kreider is gone. I think both Kreider and Hayes have the same obvious talent as Etem (not so Miller) and so, like Etem for Anaheim, should bring top dollar in trade, perhaps long after it is reasonable. As Kreider moves into a higher income bracket before Hayes does, he seems the one to go.

  • 1. I have been pleasantly surprise by E. Staal – not sure how you resign, unless the team loads both of the terrible defensive anchors.

    2. Love Stepan. Exactly what we need to go with Brass, ie. two no. 1/2 centers in relative primes. No, he is not Tavares or Toewes, but more than good enough.

    3. Yandle – anyone who advocates for M. Staal needs their eyes checked. Even Girardi is more valuable. Shame that injuries did him in, but can’t change that now. It is only by Hank that Staal isnt

    4. Buch – Skjei has more positional value, and should be a great no. 2 def for the next decade, but Buch is a star.

    5. Pittsburgh – for whatever reason, Rangers just seem to play them well, whereas Isles give the team fits.

    6. I see Hayes as having the best career – though Miller is so fun to watch play and grow. I know advanced stats love Kreids, but I see a guy with two physical tools (size and speed) with no hands whatsoever. I also think he would bring back the most in trade value.

  • ◾How would you judge the Staal trade: production, cup or extension and why?

    I’m happy with it. This team has been in “Win Now” mode forever and during that time they have not had a legit #1 center. Staal would have fit that bill in the past and time will tell if he can regain that level of play. If he plays strong down the stretch and in the playoffs, especially if he has the chemistry with Nash to return him to an elite level winger, the extension answer should be obvious.

    ◾How would you rate Derek Stepan’s season and why?

    The Rangers have two #2 centers. Step is what he is and judging him as a #2 center I’m fine with the way he has played. Just because the Rangers have no one else to fill the #1 C slot doesn’t mean he should be judged in that role.

    ◾Beyond this year: Staal or Yandle?

    That’s a tough one. See question #1 for the answer. If Staal returns to his former self, even at an advanced age I say keep him over Yandle. If he doesn’t find the fountain of youth, then you keep Yandle.

    ◾Who is more important to the Rangers beyond this year: Skjei or Buchnevich?


    ◾Playoff opponent: would you rather face in the first round and why?

    The Islanders because I’d like to see them sent home for the summer by the Rangers without winning a game.

    ◾Who has the better Rangers future: Kreider, Miller or Hayes.

    Miller. I could envision both Mass boys under-achieving and still expecting top dollar come contract time. I think they’ll both end up with Boston and have fine careers wherever they go.

  • Staal Trade- to me, it’s a great trade regardless. We didn’t give up a lot here, at least not assets that can’t be easily recouped this summer or next in other deals. He clearly makes us better in the here and now, and that’s all you can ask.

    Stepan-clearly, he’s been disappointment, relative to his contract and what was expected. But let’s not forget this is a guy who had major oral surgery which clearly had an effect on him for a stretch of games. And then, he suffered the broken rib injury and missed more games. He came back sooner than what was projected, and he clearly struggled for a lengthy stretch of time. However, since the Dallas game back on January 5th, over the last 28 games, Stepan has 9 goals and 13 assists. Project that over 82 games, and that’s 26 goals/38 assists for 64 points….the goals and points totals would both be career highs. I’d think we’d have all signed up for that.

    I understand those who say that Stepan is overrated and overpaid. I just don’t agree. Most likely, if we had not signed him, we’d have had a lot of difficulty finding his replacement to fit under the cap. To me, he’s a good bargain, still young, and has good upside. Could easily be a 70-75 point player next season.

    Yandle vs Staal–I’m assuming you mean Eric Staal. Wow, that’s a tough one. In my view, both of the deals have a similar purpose–give up part of your future to acquire a star player at half his contract for one or two cracks at the Cup. The Yandle deal involves two cracks at the Cup, therefore, the price was extraordinarily high. The Staal deal was more reasonable because it’s just one shot. It’s very possible, even probable, both will not be resigned. I know some people will say that means they were bad trades, but I totally disagree with that. There’s nothing wrong with rentals. You then have the financial flexibility to move on and reinvest the cap space in other ways, so you really don’t lose them for “nothing”. Cap space is very much “something”!

    But to address the question….it really depends on so many variables. On the one hand, Yandle to me is a priority, because the skills he brings to the table are so rare, we’d have difficulty replacing that. But, the counter to that is that in Skjei and Graves, you have up and coming young talent that will be ready soon. If you sign Yandle, and M-Staal won’t agree to be traded and/or the team probably won’t want to trade McDonagh, then the kids are blocked for the foreseeable future. But maybe that’s not a bad thing if one or both kids can be packaged for picks or prospects that address other needs.

    I like E-Staal and would like to see him stay. But how? Is it time to see if Nash can be unloaded to another team for prospects? Maybe Kreider has worn out his welcome and the Rangers will deal him for futures so as to avoid having to give him a big raise. Just a total unknown. Given the choice, I’d like to keep Yandle.

    Skjei or Buchnevich–to me it’s easy, it’s Buch. As mentioned, we have a glut of LH defensemen, and as a result, even if Skjei is as good as we think he can be, the numbers game may make him expendable. To me, they made a decision last year that they could afford to trade Duclair because they knew Buchnevich was coming. To trade him a year after trading Duclair, unless the return was enormous, would be incompetency at the highest level. The only way I would deal him is if I got the sense he doesn’t want to come to the NHL. But in that case, I doubt anyone would want him.

    Playoff opponent–no easy answers, but despite our struggles with the Islanders, I think a playoff series with them would be fabulous and I’m confident we would win.

    Better Rangers future–Miller. I think Kreider will be gone this summer. I think Hayes will be gone next summer. Just a hunch.

    This team is on pace for 103 points. Yes, they’ve been uneven and there are legit reasons to be concerned, especially with the dismal PK, but we’d have all signed up for this at the beginning of the year. If they finish .500 the rest of the way, I’m fine. The key is to get everyone healthy, figure out what line combos work best, absolute must–get the PK working, give guys rests where possible…..and then be ready when the bell rings for real in five weeks.

  • I hate the Staal trade. The young Finn the Rangers traded had an awesome World Junior Tournament and potentially will be an impact player in the NHL. I am watching the Hawks get their butts kicked by Dallas. Seems their trade deadline pickups didn’t pan out as well as many had predicted either.

    Stepan isn’t having the most productive season in his career. He has the rib injury and watching him play, it appears to me that he has only in the last month or so return to form.

    Yandle and only for the right price. Staal is a falling star.

    Skjei is more important as the Ranger lack depth on defence. This is what happens when a organization continually piss away their drafts.

    I like to see the Rangers meet and beat the Fishsticks in the first round. But the series could go either way.

    I like all three, but going with JT MIller as I have a soft spot for him due to how AV jerked him around.

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