To add a scoring forward, the Rangers will need to be sneaky

Photo: Harry How/Getty Images
Photo: Harry How/Getty Images

Talking to fans since the Rangers got eliminated, I’ve noticed a few recurring trends showing up in the discussions. The most prevalent is that Rangers fans have an absolute desire for a scoring winger on this team.

No matter what direction the Rangers go; Retool, Rebuild, or go for one more run, there will be a need for a scoring winger. Ideally it would be one who is young and can grow with the team. Pavel Buchnevich will be with the team, but he isn’t the answer to your scoring winger desires. This is by no means a knock on Buch, as he has the tools, but tempering expectations for a teenager is always a good thing. Plus, Alain Vigneault will likely shelter him initially.

An obvious way to begin our search for a scoring winger is to look into free agency. Unfortunately when the current crop of free agent wingers is less than appealing.

Shot data for UFA wingers (1)
5v5 data for free agent wingers

The chart shows each UFA’s shot/60 data. Included also is PSh% (the specific players shot%), G60 (player’s goals per 60 minutes of ice time), and PDO (a luck index formulated from adding shot% and on ice save %). If a player has a PDO of under 100 he is considered unlucky, if over 100 he is considered lucky, generally speaking. There are exceptions for highly skilled players, though.

Within the chart I also included the average shot/60 among these UFAs and the average shot/60 among all NHL forwards who played a minimum 200 minutes in the NHL this season (vertical line through the blue bars), the values for both are pretty similar. If you look at the chart you can see that for the most part there is a severe lack of players who generate a lot of shots at above league average, and in my opinion if you shoot above it I think it is fair to consider you a cliche “shoot first” player.

Among those who may interest some fans would also be too expensive for the Rangers in their current cap situation. Guys like David Perron, Kris Versteeg, and Jamie McGinn may each get a lot more money from a team like Florida who is on the rise, has money to spend and a spot in the top-nine. Other forwards that may interest fans is Mikkel Boedker who isn’t really effective 5v5 and due to the weak market may command at least $5 million. That simply isn’t worth it, especially when you look at his PSAM:

6%-6.99% would be a contract worth between 4.2 Mil and 5 mil while 7% to 7.99 would be a contract worth between 5 mil and 5.7 mil
6%-6.99% is a contract between $4.2m and $5m. 7%-7.99% is a contract between $5m and $5.7m.

As an aside, guy like Andrew Ladd, Loui Eriksson and Radim Vrbata may be too old for the path that the Rangers will be taking.

What does this all tell us?

The Rangers must be sneaky and must prey on other team’s mistakes. One of my main targets that fit this criteria is Minnesota Wild forward Jason Zucker. Zucker is a 24 year old who had his share of struggles this season with the Wild, leading to a few healthy scratches. It is worth noting that the Wild have been a little off lately with all of the coaching changes as well as players like Thomas Vanek not producing.

Zucker’s shot/60 is 8.57, putting him ahead of both the averages, as well as players like Steven Stamkos. Zucker is also a great goal scorer, so it could be a worthwhile risk. The only concern is that he is yet another left-handed shot. This shouldn’t be a stop sign, but adding a right handed forward kills two birds with one stone. To see the importance of this I suggest reading @ArikParnass‘ work on power plays and a good friend of mine @Iyer_Prashanth who is brilliant at breaking down plays for his Detroit Red Wings. More information on Zucker can be found here as well.

Another target, and I am sorry for everyone who wants a 6’6 player, is Cam Atkinson. We talked about Atkinson a lot on this blog as whenever the Rangers have scoring troubles somehow a rumor about Atkinson shows up. Atkinson is even more of a shot generator than Zucker (Shot/60 is 9.41) and is a right handed shot. Unlike Zucker who is going to be an RFA this summer, Atkinson is signed to a deal worth $3.5 million per for two more years. While I haven’t looked into what the Wild can possibly need in a trade, I think we have talked about the Blue Jackets enough to infer that they would want a defenseman in return.

If I were to tell you that the Rangers can have one of these players who would you want?

Dashboard 1 (20)

Neither is perfect, but both would improve the Rangers immediately.

A wild card here Ahti Oksanen of BU, assuming the Rangers are able to sign him. I’ve spoken a lot about him, and he is a type of prospect that would become an instant favorite for fans. At 6’3, 210-lbs, he is a forward who is practically a semi automatic with a puck. He is one of if not the top shot generator in the NCAA. He has been to the Rangers prospect camp last year (they were the only team as far as I know who invited him) and he showed this season that he didn’t need Jack Eichel in order to produce. He likely wouldn’t make the NHL next year, but another prospect can’t hurt.

If the Rangers are going to add scoring depth, they are going to need to get creative. Limited cap space is going to hurt them unless they can shed a big salary. Even then though, the free agent class is pretty weak. They will need to make a shrewd move to fill this need.

"To add a scoring forward, the Rangers will need to be sneaky", 5 out of 5 based on 17 ratings.
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  1. They should have kept Stempniak. AV is an ass for not recognizing what he could do for this team.

    1. Right on Rhodork, and Stempniak reminds AV of that every time he plays against us, seems he scores 2 goals each time. The guy could always put the puck in the net. But all AV saw was a 4th liner not worthy of ice time.

      1. Now Bobby, you know what a great judge of talent he is, don’t start that again??????????? Not !!!!!!!!!

        1. Sorry I haven’t posted in a while. Been dealing with my brothers treatment.

          After reading this, I HAD to dig up some of the BSB archives on Stempniak and I found this from a game 2 days prior to trade deadline from 2015, basically the next game after these posts by us, Stempniak got traded 🙂
          “The Original Rob” on Feb 26, 2015 at 3:13 pm
          What is it about Stemp that you don’t like out of curiosity? You’re not the only one that has mentioned this over the past several days. In my opinion he’s a hell of a player and has all the tools. It’s hard for a player like him playing on the fourth line, and getting limited ice time.

          1 0 Rate This
          Walt on Feb 26, 2015 at 4:34 pm
          Agree on Stemp, plays both ways, and can score for you…….

          The only change, if possible is an upgrade for the 3rd pair D, leave the rest alone unless we can improve the fourth line without costing tooooooooo much….

          I’d be pissed if they trade Zucc, especially now that he is starting to shoot more, and his attitude is great. Let’s also not forget that Brass, Hags, and Zucc are the best of buds, and it may destroy the locker room chemistry…………

          Let’s start a dump Glass campaign, I’ll stand in line to sign first…………..

          3 0 Rate This
          marc2667 on Feb 26, 2015 at 5:03 pm
          I agree he’s a good player and I was happy with the rangers acquiring him. But he just doesn’t seem to be living up to expectations…some games I don’t even see him. The 4th line needs to do better. Having said that I’m certainly open to rethinking my position that what I’m seeing out of Stemp (and Moore) is the effect of having Glass on that line. I’d like to see what the 4th line can do without the ball and chain (but there’s no time before the deadline) and then focus on upgrading the 3rd pair D.

          0 0 Rate This
          “The Original Rob” on Feb 26, 2015 at 6:52 pm
          Yeah that’s fair. Just pay close attention to him and you will see how sound of a player he really is. Especially because he’s only getting 5-6 mins a night. He’s got speed, good vision, is strong on his skates and good along the boards. Quite frankly, he stood out to me in the second round last year against Pittsburgh…..Walt, I couldn’t agree with you more bud. Just leave the team be! If anything falls on Slat´s lap, that’s a different story but he shouldn’t force the issue in my opinion. I personally am content with our D as well, because I have confidence in J.Moore and especially Hunwick as the third pair, as I think he’s better then most people give him credit for.

          1 0 Rate This

          1. It appears that the peanut gallery may know a thing or two, and the boys in the ivory tower should maybe listen on occasion ?????????? Good work man !!!!!

        1. Is that a Double Jeopardy Question?

          “Okay, Alex: I’ll say, three more than Six-Million Dollar Man Rick Nash?…”

          Love it when you resort to the subtle rhetoric, Dave.

          1. Hey Fotiu – Let’s get all the decimal points right – $7.8M for those 12 goals –

            But let’s be above board the record will show 15 – even though the goaltender was MIA (perhaps actually in Miami) on three of them…

        2. Stempniak scored a late 3rd period goal against the Arizona Coyotes to give the NYR a 4-3 win. I was at that game. It was a week or so before he was traded.

      1. I actually thought Tanner Glass’ 15/16 season was night and day from last year. He was an energy guy and when on his game was great on the forecheck. Very good skater for a 4th liner and was well liked in the locker room. I liked his season just thought Dom Moore has hit the end of his “prime years” and brought that line down at even strength. Moore looked like he lost a step this season and wasn’t winning the draws he used to win.
        We should replace Moore with Helm. Since Lindberg won’t be an option come the start of next season, a 4C will be on the check list. Helm can fly on the ice and plays every shift. Make the move and groom Lindberg to be his successor.

    2. to be fair on Stemniak half his points since he left have come against the Rangers…but your point is a good one…

    3. How about the other 7 NHL teams that moved on from Stempniak?

      Look, every one runs into a few goals. It’s clear there is something missing from Stempniak’s game. Over a quarter of the league had Stemp at one time and said ‘thanks, but no thanks’.

      There’s way more to hockey than just goals on the stat sheet.

      1. Since the start of the 2013-14 season, Stemps played for six different teams, and will probably be joint his seventh this off-season…

        It’s not like the guy can’t play, but he’s nothing more than a depth guy. Not a savior. If Stemp was still a Ranger, we’d still have been trounced by Pitt in the first round.

        1. You are correct. No chance we beat the Pens this year with our D and PK

          But we already had him cheap, gave him up for nothing and didn’t need to waste more picks/prospects on Staal.

          And could have used him last year when Zuc got hurt.

          If we have him on the roster we don’t go fishing for Stoll and Paille

    4. I agree about Stempniak in a way. He is right handed winger the NYR lack. They have 2 up front on the everyday roster (Fast-Stepan) and only 1 winger. I would love to have Zucker on the Rangers tho. He’s well built for the NHL and if I’m not mistaken was on that 2010 US gold winning U20 team with Stepan and Kreider. That kid can fly up and down the ice for his size and at 24, he’d be would trading for. Could probably pay off the rest of his RFA years in a 2 or 3 year bargain contract. I also think Darren Helm (tho lefty and a bit expensive) is a great skater and would help improve the NYR 4th line puck possession. I may offer him an extra year on a contract to sway him here.

      I still think Gorton should focus on the back end. Trade for Shattenkirk and sign Demers in free agency. Shatty will do since he’s a righty and can do everything Yandle does and is much better in his own end from the right side and on a bargain $4.25 mil contract for 1 more year. Which mind you, Right D was pretty weak for us this past season.

  2. The key to all moves this summer is cap flexibility. If we can shed some salary we can make some shrewed moves, otherwise only tweaks. The blueline seams like the obvious place, but Nash/Stepan/Brass have actual value. I think draft weekend will be interesting.

  3. Best case would be Ahti Oksanan, at 6’3″, 210 Lbs., would come in on an entry level contract, very doable, and with his size, I’d try my best to sign that kid. The worst case would be Atkinson, smallish, but the $3.5 mil per year seems a bit too steep for me, unless they take Danny boy off of our hands, or Staal for that matter. As for Zucker, I don’t know very much about him, could work, and he is still on the cheap. In 2 of the 3 cases, cheap works for us, Atkinson may be priced out of the deal unless one of the boat anchors goes the other way !!!!!!!

    1. C’mon paisan, Zucker killed it on “Green Acres”.

      Remember, he ran the grocery. Played a perfect foil for Oliver-Lisa, Mr Ziffle. Always hit his mark.

        1. You got a problem with Arnold the Pig, Swarty?

          Figure we get him in, PTO/tryout basis, put some lipstick on him. He gives us some backup insurance for 2K17’s new goalkeeping tandem, Anttii-Mack Skapski.

          You know, this unfolds once New GM Hatrick pulls the Henrik-to-Dallas blockbuster.

          1. You saw that trade today huh? I hear it’s a done deal – as long we get Nichushkin.

            Although I hear Toronto is approaching Hatrick and is dangling the #1 overall…

  4. it is time to get a sniper to compliment brass and zucc what is out there? I would like us to get Atkinson from Columbus he could help brass played with him

  5. Josh

    I was thinking about the Oksanan kid, is he the one I asked about a few weeks ago, whether he was soft or not, and you replied he played a solid game???????? The more I think about it, the more appealing this kid sounds!!!!!!

    On a side note, Matte Stromwell, played in Sweden last season, was just signed by us. He is a wing, and right hand shot, and that’s all I know. Any insight that you can share with us???????? Thanks………Just trying to see if any of our pieces could help????????????????

    1. Hey Walt,
      First, yea oksanen is the guy we chatted about. He’s a shootfirst powerforward something we definitely need in the system. Issue is he may not be ready for a top 6 NHL role. Also I know you like size but the NYR aren’t exactly in a position to stay away from a possible option because of size especially with how the NHL is changing, but I understand the concern.
      Stromwall is a sneaky puck handler and owns a nice shot, that said i think he needs at least a year in the AHL.

  6. It seems to me like scoring goals isn’t the problem that the 2015-16 team had, it’s good defenders that can play in AV’s system.

    We need to be smart in picking up D talent, not more wingers. We need another acquisition like Klein. Or Stralmam (and not let them walk two years later).

    1. Or, the coach can modify his defensive scheme to fit his players, right?

      Vigneault only has 2yrs remaining on his contract….are we to turnover the roster to fit his system when he may no longer be coach in 2 years?

      He is a Hall of Fame coach, this shouldn’t be rocket science for him.

      1. You do understand, AD, that the reason AV chooses to play defense the way he does is to cause turnovers which can spring the rush, right?

        If the Rangers opt to play a more passive D then we just go back to the Torts days and absorb pressure. That means overhauling most of the forwards, getting rid of the speed/skill guys that thrive in transition and swapping them out for big bodied cycle types that feast off dump and chase.

        1. I do understand that but even if I didn’t, it is irrelevant.

          When the system is not accomplishing its goals, it needs to be changed to fit its players. It really is an obvious and easy adjustment to make.

  7. These recent articles are spot-on: defense, speed, 4th line and offense. I am beginning to think we need a multi-year restructuring of the roster.

    1. and you may be right……….also we need new management, Sather has worn out his welcome !!!!!!!!!!!

      1. Yup, that’s what we need. Defense would be Stralman & McIlrath, Klein & Yandle and McD & Skjei

        Forwards would be
        Stepan, Hagelin, Stempenak
        Brassard, Kreider, Callahan
        Hayes, JT Miller, Fast
        Boyle, Dubinsky, Anisimov

        1. The actual Rangers roster might’ve looked eerily similar to yours if it weren’t for the cap. I guess save for the Dubi/AA for Nash trade.

          Oh, do I miss Dubinsky.

      2. Here’s how it fleshes out in this poster’s somewhat transrational transom:

        Ladies and gentlemen, Your Rangers brain trust, 2K16-17–

        Walt: head-coach.

        Bobby B./Paul Raunchy: associate coaches

        Hatrick: GM

        Eddie-Eddie-Eddie: Communications Sansei

        Ron Duguay: Lifestyle coach

        Carol Alt: yoga-kundalini

        Sean Avery: Theatre-cultural attaché

        Nicky Fotiu: special projects/smack-down liaise

        Captain Dylan McIlrath


          1. Indeed.

            But I already see a power struggle looming, what with Eddie’s displeasure over you/your associate coaches putting The Undertaker on the PP.

          2. now that’s a post for another day!!!!!!!!

            We can have Hatrick fire him if he acts up…….LOL

          1. I have my associate coaches, but you can be my defensive coach, we make room for good help!!!!!!!!!

          2. Soul Brother Swarty: Given the weight of your New Assignment, I needed to discuss the matter discretely. In complete confidence. Like over shots of 18-year old Macallans single malt.

            Tomorrow you’re en route to Romania, The Czech Republic and The Baltics.

            Bring back 12 hotties.

            Don’t sweat the passports. (Canadian Paul Raunchy has a counterfeiter colleague, a Turk in Berlin you’ll liaise with.)

            Your girls will scrape the ice–in Catholic school uni’s–at MSG. We’ll call ’em Swarty’s Not-Angels.

          3. Given my propensity for living underground I think its a perfect fit.

            One question – I am good with the hotties – but while I am over there any interest in Right Wings, Left Wings, maybe a D-man or two?

          4. Okay, okay: “Swarty’s Fallen Angels”?

            And yea: scoop up a nasty-snarling, stay-at-home D-man, a la Philly’s Gudas.

            Someone with a sub-100 IQ. Menacing unabrow. Grew up downwind of Chernobyl. You know the profile, bro.

            Yo, Swarty: Before you go through Customs in Antwerp, don’t forget to grab some good Belgian beer. We’ll see you at JFK.

  8. Sign me up for Cam. I like that kid — he shoots, scores and plays bigger than his size with a lot of energy. I’d sign Oksanen, too, for the future.

  9. Seeing more Drama with Nail Yakupov in the world championships…Giradi or Staal for Yakupov? Maybe have to retain some salary, or ad in a sweetneer. I realize this guy has been a mess, but maybe a change of scenery will help. and he can help Buchnevich’s transition as well. He’s a wild card, but he has a decent skill set and a reasonable salary. I would take Cam or Zucker over him, but if you can move one of the 2 D men this may make some sense. Vrbata could be an interesting bridge player for next season on a 1 year deal. Shots right and after last year may not draw a big salary. If we can figure out a way to keep Yandle they also played together in Phoenix.

    1. Would Girardi/Staal waive their NMCs to go to Edmonton? I’m skeptical.

      1. that’s a fair question…they can face buy out or trade. Buy out leaves them maybe more team options, but maybe not good options. They will also get paid the full contract if they accept a trade vs a reduced payout over a lot more years on a buyout. These guys won’t be seeing contracts like this again. Staal is from Thunder Bay so geographically not so bad for him. And if the team does not want you…they don’t want you.

        1. FYI, Thunder Bay is on the north shore of Lake Superior in Ontario, CAN. Staal wouldn’t be any closer to home in Edmonton.

  10. Been watching our kids play in the IIHF World Juniors and I’ll tell ya, this Vinnie Hinostroza and Auston Matthews is something else boy!!!

  11. There are a tremendous amount of clubs in the same boat as the Rangers. Look at the Wild. Only one year left for Vanek, but Parise has started his decline at big money. Big holes in the defense too. They probably would have been better off not making the playoffs last year! Bruins are similar. And take a glance at the LA Kings. Just paid Kopitar 10, and still have to raise Lucic. And only have 4 D under control. Dustin Brown And Jeff Carter had decent years but are both at the decline stage at bigger money. Gabby too. No first round pick this year. Great corsi’s but missed playoffs and first round exit in last two years.

    Icelanders have Johnny Boy at 6. Lot’s of holes to fill

    Zucc at 4.5 remains the steal of the century.

    I think a whole mess of teams thought the cap would continue to rise instead of stagnating when some of these deals were made.

    If you were looking at the east and the problems some teams have, who do you think would be the teams outside the playoff picture for next year right now? Will Montreal be as bad? Columbus in Tort’s second year? Bruins? Will Rangers be a bubble team as opposed to a solid 2 or 3 in the setup?

    1. Roger That – It is definitely ALL ABOUT The CAP and the team’s ability to stay competitive while managing that cap.

      When will these GM’s understand the danger in long-term, high-priced deals that for the most part contain some sort of movement limiting clause???

      Can you say STALL, Girardi, Nash, Richards, Redden, Holik, Gomez, Drury, and dare I say Hank?

      If you are going to do one of these 7 or 8 year deals you better do your homework on the make-up of the player and you better get them young. Giving 28, 29, 30 yr. olds these kind go deals and then letting them dictate where they can or can’t go is insane.

      The only guys I see are even close to being worth these kind of deals are Kane and Towes and even they still have SEVEN more years to go.

      The other exception being Stamkos. This offseason should dedicated to doing whatever we can do to shedding the Cap while remaining competitive enough to sign him. It won’t be easy but it can be done.

      Also sign the Oksanan kid – If Josh likes him then I am all in

      1. The NHL is doing to itself what the MLB continues to do to itself, just without the hard cap. Teams strap themselves with ridiculous contracts for absurd money, only to cry when they start to lose, attendance falls off, then ask the city to buy them a new stadium. The catch for baseball has the luxury tax – something that I think will occur in the NHL at the next contract. Big market teams can’t help themselves, so why not penalize them and spread the wealth to the small market teams? Let the Rangers buy a Stamkos, go $20M over the Cap and have to pay $10M in penalties to a pot that gets split up among small market teams.

        We get the superstar we want. The small market teams get free money and other big market teams can choose to do the same – or, do the route of good drafting and youth and rebuilding and have a few down years a decade and then compete for a few years. At least everyone gets a choice. Is it fair? Probably not. I don’t want fair, I want a Stanley Cup.

        1. The owners shuttered the league for almost two seasons so they could implement a hard cap. I can’t see the NHL letting that go in favor of a luxury tax anytime soon.

          Anyway, the NHL already has some revenue sharing. Most likely, the league will come up with an excuse to give teams more compliance buyouts (what the Rangers used to rid themselves of the Redden and Richards contracts) if they feel too many teams are capped out and the resulting lack of player movement makes everything seem stale.

          1. Yep – and soon enough we will see that history does indeed repeat itself. The owners will be closing down shop again because they have heaped these idiotic contracts on their players.

            Who is going to save these guys from themselves???

          2. Nah, the league is actually pretty healthy for the most part. The next CBA negotiations shouldn’t result in a lockout/strike.

        2. Seconding Chris A’s thoughts. The owners will hold as tightly as they can to that hard cap. They put everything on the line to get it. The NHL has the only real hard cap of the 4 major sports (NFL is a joke with non-guaranteed contracts), it’s not going anywhere.

      2. Players get deals that the market dictates. Everyone is aware of the risks of long term deals, it’s a balancing act when trying to win now and retaining/acquiring the best players vs. the long term ramifications. It’s understood with long term deals you pay for decline at the end of them, you just hope to win in the interim.

        Stamkos is the exception until he isn’t. He’s just like all the other top tier free agents where if you want him, you pay for it, and then possibly regret it 4-5 years down the line. That’s the way it is when these guys are free agents and GMs/owners want them to play for their teams.

        1. Agree, but if the owners get wise, which they won’t, they’d put a limit on the terms of any contract, say 4, or 5 years. This then will get the players needed, while still playing at a high level, and not be saddled with that same player when he needs a powered wheelchair !!!!!!!!!!!!

          You see, that is too simple isn’t it ???????????? If players in question are still at top form, well they can resign with whomever they want, everyone wins then, or not, who knows………….

    2. Great post, and my justification for never giving out huge contracts, with long term, for older players. This cap has become a nightmare for us, and a load of other teams. Thank you Gary Buttman!!!!!!!!!!!

      There are plenty who believe that the opposite is true, pay big names big money, with long term, well my question to them would be, ” if it’s money coming out of your pocket, would you be so cavalier “?, More times than not, the response would be no, if that were the case !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Count me in, Maz.

      Though only if we get Dallas Jim Nill to up the ante with either one of Val Nichushkin or Brett Ritchie. Plus the young banging D-man, Stephen Johns.

      Antti gets upwards of 50-55 starts. The remainder go to Mack Skapski, Hellberg and Swarty.

  12. Stop doing bridge deals, max out term for kids, front load contracts on AAV so when you extend you can use last cheap season to lower AAV.

    Future value of money and free cash flow gives Rangers ability to maximize value of cost controlled assets by allowing team to abuse salary cap controls to their advantage.

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