Musing the Rangers: Busy season is approaching

Which D do you want to keep?

We’re approaching a significant few weeks in the NHL; for the Rangers but for the league generally. The draft, the Steven Stamkos sweepstakes, expansion (and all the fallout that comes with it), the World Cup of Hockey; all this promises to impact a busy and potentially landscape changing offseason. Let’s get into a Musings taking a look at both Rangers and league goings-on.

Do the Rangers have staffing issues?

So Rick Bowness stays in Tampa? You can’t blame the guy for staying in a good hockey situation (even potentially losing Steven Stamkos, the Lightning are well set) and I’m not sure what it says of Alain Vigneault’s ability to entice staff to New York anymore. It appears that Bowness won’t change employers unless it’s for another HC gig and the Rangers fanbase were never excited by this choice anyway.

Retiring 9

The sad passing of Gordie Howe has been well documented and well covered. A true Sporting Icon has departed. Howe perhaps had the greatest influence and impact of any hockey player not named Gretzky perhaps his legacy is even greater than Gretzky’s. Howe truly influenced several generations.

Wayne Gretzky is calling for the league to retire his number and that would be a fitting nod to someone who (somehow) played meaningful hockey across five decades. It would be an appropriate salute to Howe if he were to join #99 as the only other number retired league wide.

Stamkos please

I think I am in the minority amongst the writers here, but the Rangers need to make moves quickly that will allow them to keep Keith Yandle (of course) but perhaps most importantly, get Steven Stamkos.

Whether Stamkos is a realistic get or not; how often does a 50 goal scorer, in his mid-twenties become available at a cost of nothing but dollars? This isn’t the Rangers chasing an aging veteran, this is an opportunity to get a world class sniper with plenty of gas in the tank.

Remember this: free agency is getting weaker every year despite the costs only rising, movement restricting clauses mean (meaningful) roster changes are now minimal across the league and drafting isn’t an ideal option for a club that, in the case of the Rangers, are in perpetual win now mode and who are a club that rarely has a top ten pick where game changing skaters are to be found.

If the Rangers can move Nash for assets and replace his presence in the line-up with Stamkos it is a must-do (and I am an unashamed Nash fan). Think of the double effect: adding an elite talent and restocking the organisation with assets from a Nash deal; win-win, no?

My first summer prediction for next season: Derick Brassard will be a 30 goal scorer.

Coaching Carousel

Randy Carlyle is back and in the one spot (Anaheim) where his style may still work. The Ducks could again be dangerous next year if Carlyle has buy-in from his roster. Mike Yeo has joined the Blues as Head Coach in waiting. With Ken Hitchcock retiring in a year’s time that isn’t going to end well. Long drawn out changes such as this, they never work.  It appears Glen Gulutzan is taking over in Calgary. None of these moves really impact the Rangers.

Avs getting antsy in their pantsy

I really hope Jeff Gorton is taking aim at the Colorado Avalanche. The once powerhouse club is publicly so desperate for change it could be ripe for a trade theft. Everyone is in play, the coach and the president going public with their needs and the club being linked to every name under the sun… For any of you that concern yourselves with hockey played outside of the Garden, the Avs offseason will be one to watch.

Do not panic: Chris Summers is not Keith Yandle

Chris Summers re-signing is naturally an AHL depth move and nothing else. It’s important a team has depth, but also continuity to some degree. Summers will help the ‘Pack navigate through a summer and upcoming season of huge change. Don’t underestimate the presence of a solid AHL veteran.

Free Agency: we love you no more

Seriously, aside from retaining Keith Yandle and taking a run at Steven Stamkos there is precious little on the free agency horizon to get excited about. Big names? sure. Value to be had? Precious little.

Players such as Milan Lucic, David Backes, Radim Vrbata, even Loui Eriksson may all offer brand value and some immediate production but every single one of them will get contracts that will cause problems long term. If the Rangers cannot retain Yandle and cannot get Stamkos then as a fan, I want no part of the crazy auction that the opening hours of free agency has become.

I’ll offer my opinion on the Vegas expansion and the Hockey World Cup next time but for now, let’s have Vegas kick off our Question Time for this week…

  • Do you think the expansion to Las Vegas will be a success and if so, why?
  • What is the most (if anything) you would offer Steven Stamkos on July 1st?
  • If you could keep only one: Derick Brassard or Derek Stepan – and why?
  • Early prediction request: who will lead the Rangers in goal scoring next season?
  • Is there any one specific (non-Stamkos) free agent you want the Rangers to go after and why?
  • (mischievous question alert) Will Alain Vigneault still be the Rangers coach a year today?


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  • As far as Vegas goes, success is measured differently by different people. The league gets $100M and Vegas gets a team. That is success. They lose 55 games. Is that success? If we win, it is to me.

    Stamkos – 8 years, 4 at $9M, 4 at $9.5M

    Keep Brass, move Stepan as you would get a better return and more Cap relief

    Milan Lucic because he is a stud

    I think we know by the 70 game mark if AV will be around next year. My guess is yes.

    • That’s a lot of money for Stamkos…and you’re still on the low side of what’s he’s going to get. It’s going to be a cap hit of $10M+.

      And don’t buy into Lucic, he’s not a stud, and has no fit whatsoever on this team.

        • Yes, but Lucic on our team or at the contract that someone is going to pay him is a bad opinion. If you like that player type- go for Okposo. He’s gonna have more left in the tank. Less snarl, but more skill and the same size or ‘presence’.

  • No, the Rangers do not have staffing issues. But, those within the game see things easier than fans: the Asst Coach position with the NYR is of high risk. Vigneault may not fill his term, and that leaves Bowness and others thinking this could be a 1yr deal before a new coach comes in with his own staff. Most candidates will simply say “No thank you.”

    I’ve no clue if Vegas can support a NHL team but I suspect it can and will. It is probably a better market than what the NJ Devils have available to them, for example.

    I have no realistic offer for Stamkos. Very, very enticing. However, the Rangers are not ready for Stamkos, in my view. We have deep restructuring needs that mitigate some of the value Stamkos brings to the club right now. Plus, it’s not as if there is no health/physical risk with Stamkos, either. Pass. Rebuild. Other big players will be available in the future.

    I would keep Brassard over Stepan. I think the Rangers are getting more from Brassard, as a player, and his contract in terms of $, term, and trade clause are all much better.

    UFAs don’t really interest me this season. Kyle Okposo and Luke Schenn intrigue me though.

    No, I do not believe Vigneault will be our Head Coach next season. I think Gorton has opted to retain him this season, let another year of his contract roll off, and focus on player restructuring. Next season will be time to focus on the coach.

  • I notice that some would rather retain Brassard over Stepan. I am not so sure. Stepan is only 25. Brassard is 29 and is at his peak. His market value after a career year is at its peak. He won’t get any better than he was last year. I believe the Rangers will get more in return for Brassard if dealing with a club that thinks it is going to make a run at the cup. Maybe get some good young talent in return.

  • Vegas will sell out and be a roaring success. With Online ticket trading, People will buy season tickets just to pick and choose their games while unloading the rest, just like I do at the Garden, even though I live in AZ. Scheduling may be an issue as how do you schedule soft games for locals. I gotta say, there are gonna be some grateful teams who play after the LV/AZ leg of the road trip.

    I offer Stamkos $7mm/ur for max term, tell him I need the rest of the money to rebuild the team. If he comes to NYC, it’s not about the money anyway.

    1? Stepan. Age, skill set, will need a player like him to span years.

    Goal scorer will be Kreider thanks to the DVD set I got him of Mike Gartner & Bill Guerin.

    No UFA’s worth a damn besides Stamkos.

    AV will not be coaching the team this time next year as the season will be over, but I feel another December swoon should be all she wrote.

  • 1) Success by winning- who knows? Depends on mgmt in place and how the expansion draft goes. Given the draft set up, they should have a sound hockey club off the start.
    Success by attendance- don’t think it’ll be the most packed house but it’ll do fine. If they win, the seats will be warm. If they lose, don’t think they’ll be empty given all of the promos that the team will run with all of the goings on in that town. So mediocre to good.
    Success by dollars- probably won’t blow the doors off, but who cares. That is why revenue sharing exists. TOR, MTL and NYR are responsible for something like 84% of all monies earned in the NHL. Add the next 3 earners and 6 teams are responsible for 90% of league revenues. In other words, it is a very top heavy league and many teams actually lose money. Minnesota for crying out loud is in the red. So to me, it’s irrelevant if they are financially viable from a stand alone point.

    2) If you’re not paying him $10m /7 yrs, then you’re not in the ballpark. So it’s gonna be 70 mil or bust. (You can’t sign him 8 years unless you currently have him under contract).

    3)Brassard is a good guess. Maybe Kreider breaks 30? Nahh, who am I kidding.


    5)Barring the Rangers sh1tt1ng the bed, yes he will have 2 more years and coach the life of his 5 yr deal. Hopefully we will enjoy better personnel decisions the next 2 seasons than we did during this last disappointing campaign.

  • Btw, Stamkos is not in his mid 20’s. He’ll be 27 next year. Coming off a major injury. He’s looking for Kane money. Not happening in NY, and certainly not as one poster said for 7 million max term.

      • Hey, Red Sox Fan, why don’t you answer the questions instead of just commenting and thumbs downing others comments?

        • What’s wrong with commenting on posts, isn’t that the point? We all have opinions, right?

          By the way, I rarely thumbs down comments. I’m pretty sure I’ve ever thumbs downed any of your comments.

          And, nice little jab there with the Red Sox fan comment (I’m not, for the record).

  • 1. It’s worked in Miami, Los Angeles, Dallas, et al. Until the Raiders pull something off, NHL will be the only pro sport in town. They’ll be okay.

    2. I’d offer Stammer as much money as we had available to get him.

    3. Brassard, he’s the actual 1C. And, if you’re going to trade Nash in a cap dump, you don’t want to trade away your leading goal scorer, too.

    4. Pavel Buchnevich? That’d be sweet.

    5. Keith Yandle.

    6. Yes.

  • Stamkos is 26 until February, that’s his mid Twenties by definition beyond Roger’s splitting of RCH’s with a tunneling electron microscope.

    As for him not coming for $7mm/yr until he’s 35, as I wrote above: if he’s coming to NYC, it’s not about the money. $8.5mm in FL goes a lot farther than $10mm in NYC. And if it’s not about the money, why give it to him? Same goes for paying over the odds for Shattenkirk. Just front load the contract for the 1st 4 years, especially heavy in the 1st so his financial planner can take advantage of the future value of money.

  • Even if the Rangers are able to trade Nash for assets to clear up cap space, wouldn’t they still need to shed either Staal or Girardi’s contract in order to clear up enough space to sign Stamkos and Yandle?

    I like the idea of targeting a team like Colorado – they need a serious shake-up and they have some valuable assets. I would guess the only untouchable player over there is MacKinnon.

    Best case scenario – buyout Girardi, trade Nash + Staal for Barrie + assets, sign Yandle and Stamkos

    Defense: McDonagh-Barrie, Yandle-McIlrath, Skjei-Klein

    Forwards: Kreider-Stepan-Stamkos, Zucc-Brass-Miller, Buchnevich-Hayes-Stalberg, Glass-Lindberg-Fast

    • Moving Nash’s contract would be enough bring back Yandle (assuming no other big contracts come back in any deal).

      The Rangers need to find ~$4M to sign Yandle (My guess is his cap hit will be around $6.5M. His cap hit this past season was around $2.6M for the Rangers).

      Boyle’s $4.5M, Dom Moore’s $1.5M and Stalberg’s $1.1M all coming off the books gives them some more cap space to work with. They need to allocate money for raises to Kreider, Miller and Hayes also, so that eats into the $7.1M coming off the books.

      My unofficial Cap Situation:

      10 forwards @ $31.M
      6 defensemen @ $20.3M
      2 Goalies @ $9.5M
      Total: $60.9M
      Cap: $71.4M
      Cap space assuming the cap does not go up: $10.5M

      Included in the above are the previous cap hits for Kreider, Miller, Hayes and McIlrath. All should be re-signed and will need raises.

      – Raises to the 4 RFAs
      – 2 bottom 6 forwards
      – Roster filler (presumably AHL and/or cheap pickups)

      Yandle can be resigned right now if the team wanted to just based on Boyle’s cap coming off the books.

      The team isn’t in as bad of shape as people make it out to be, BUT, they are still hamstrung from vastly improving the team with Girardi and Staal’s cap hits sitting there.

      • Forgot to add Buchnevich’s $925k cap hit.

        My revised Cap Situation:

        11 forwards @ $32M
        6 defensemen @ $20.3M
        2 Goalies @ $9.5M
        Total: $61.8M
        Cap: $71.4M
        Cap space assuming the cap does not go up: $9.6M

        – Raises to the 4 RFAs
        – 1 bottom 6 forward
        – Roster filler (presumably AHL and/or cheap pickups)

        Buchnevich really helps here. Again, because this situation isn’t as dire as it’s sometimes made out to be, and IF the team can find some way to move Girardi or Staal (not sure it’s even possible at this point), I’m all for the retool and take another crack at it. Most of the Rangers’ players are tradable, so if management feels they need to mix it up, it shouldn’t be prohibitive to do so.

  • The lightening reportedly offered Stamko 68 million over 8 years which is a cap hit of 8.5 million. Since he didn’t accept this it tells me he either thinks he can get more money, or thinks he has a better opportunity to win outside of Tampa. If you resign a player you can offer a max contract of 8 year. A UFA deal maxes out at 7 years. So that means as a UFA, the bidding starts at 68 million, over 7 years, or just shy of 10 million per year. So the above stated offer of 7 million per year is a complete joke. The second part of this, does Stamkos think he has a better shot at winning in NY? This tells me that to get him to come to NY you are probably going to have to outbid other teams on a contract that starts out at 10 million per year for 7 years. That scenario flat out scares me with a player with a history of blood clots. Of course I don’t know the guy or have heard anything about intentions on where he wants to play but this is my honest assessment of the Stamkos situation.

    • The blood clot was the result of a blood vessel rubbing against a rib and the rib was removed. The doctor said this is not uncommon and presents no risk in the future. There is no medical issue to worry about.

    • As per the CBA, “Year-to-year variability in compensation (each year’s Salary and Bonuses) will be limited to 35% of the compensation (Salary and Bonuses) in the first year of the SPC. For example, if a Player earns $10 million in compensation (Salary and Bonuses) in Year 1 of his SPC, his compensation (Salary and Bonuses) cannot increase or decrease by more than $3.5 million in any subsequent year of the SPC. b) The lowest year’s compensation (Salary and Bonuses) cannot be less than 50% of the highest year’s compensation (Salary and Bonuses) of the SPC. For example, if in the highest year’s compensation (Salary and Bonuses) of a Player’s SPC, he earns $10 million in total compensation (Salary and Bonuses), he may never earn less than $5 million in any single year during the term of his SPC.”

      Translation….. you can’t do that.

    • There’s leaving some money on the table to play where you want. And then there’s leaving 20+ million on the table. That’s not happening.

      • I just think it’s pretty funny how fans are talking about how we need to dump this guy or that guy to free up space. Almost every guy other then Nash was just resigned a year or so ago and now we’re saying to move him. It all keeps coming down to Girardi mostly and then Staal. Those are the guys that are making good money but not producing. Brassard has been kicking ass since we resigned him and Step had a better year in his first year of new contract. I never like messing with the chemistry of a team and especially when it’s guys that just got us real close to a cup. We had an off year cause our D stunk. Fix that and an awful lot changes. I highly doubt Stamkos is coming here and even if he did do we want a giant contract like that. Lets face it all it tales is one year to not produce goals in the playoffs and he will get the Nash treatment. He don’t do any of the other stuff Nash does either. He’s either scoring or he’s not and he’s had his share of drouts in playoff series. I say if were talking about getting younger and clearing cap space then stick to that plan. Signing a 10 mill plus guy is not clearing cap space. I’m not saying he’s not worth the big bucks either. I think he’s great but stick to one plan and let’s not panic either. We still have a good core here. Find a way to fix the D

  • Deal Nash to STL for Shattenkirk + picks/prospects
    Let Yandle walk as far away as possible
    Get Girardi to waive NMC and deal him to CBJ for TBD
    Buyout M. Staal
    Promote Skjei and McIlrath to full-time
    Deal Hayes
    Promote Beuke to Coach D

    • I agree with everything but patting Yandle go. It’s funny how fans either think he’s great or seem to hate him. I really hope everything else you said could happen though.

  • A few weeks back, when we were looking at whether Derek Stepan was truly a top six forward, I also looked at Stamkos. I obtained the following:

    Points per minute of ice time over the last six years in succession

    .0334, .0329, .0438, .0385, .0445, .0415

    .0550, .0537, .0539, .0534, .0453, .0421


    Conclusion: Stamkos WAS a superstar. He has fallen precipitously over the last two years and is now comparable to Stepan offensively, though a shade better. However, taking defensive responsibilities into account, Stepan was the better player over the last two years.

    Now, maybe playing with Zuccarello will transform Stamkos back in to the player he was 2010-2014. But it is a big IF. And sadly, the Rangers never seem to win these high stakes gambles.

    • Skip the slow clap and lets get right into the full applause. Very well done, Ray. Stammer (aka Stammer’s production) is not the same as he (it) was pre leg injury and with MSL as a linemate.

      Yes he got 60 goals…but that was a long time ago. Honest opinion, I’d bet against him ticking 50 again. I may be dead wrong and it definitely depends on situation, but I’d take the under on that bet.

    • Stepan comparable to or better than Stamkos the past 2 seasons?

      if the two players had the same exact contract terms and could be drafted today, how many league GMs would choose Stepan over Stamkos?

      I do not want the Rangers to sign Stamkos, as I posted earlier, but I cannot even discuss Stepan in the same zip code of Stamkos. not even close

        • No.

          These are not advanced statistics – just points divided by time on ice.

          Now, all statistics can be misleading without context.

      • Two points. The fact that perhaps all GMs would prefer Stamkos over Stepan, if true, provides remarkably little information. These people tend to think alike. They are knowledgeable, yes, but often when wrong, they are wrong in unison.

        Second, GMs don’t care about the last two years. They are interested in who will be the best players in 2016-2017 and beyond. There were lots of players more valuable than Connor McDavid last year because he missed half the season due to injury. But I’d take him over anyone for the coming year.

        It is possible for Player A to be better than Player B and for Player B to perform more successively in a given season.

        Personally, I think the facts are clear. Stamkos was an elite player in 2010-2014. He is only 27 and it is reasonable to hope, perhaps even expect, that he will be an elite player again. Stepan will never be an elite player. However, the Stamkos we saw in 2014-2016 was not an elite player and I believe was outplayed by Stepan.

        It is important to put numbers in perspective, but it is also important to not just deny those that don’t fit your narrative.

  • Open Question to the Masterminds

    You are the GM of the NYR’s. Your team won only one more playoff game than any team that DIDN’T even make the playoffs. You do not have a first round pick. You do not have a second round pick. You are up against the Cap. You have at least 2 aging defenseman with lengthy contracts that are somewhat of an albatross around the teams neck. You have a very expensive aging goalie and a very expensive forward, who is not putting up scoring numbers anywhere close to the value of his contract.

    You can only do one of the below

    a) – Begin a Cap cost reduction program that moves high priced talent off the club and begins to accumulate draft picks and young (not-NHL ready) talent

    b) – Tweak the roster, leaving the main pieces in tack, hoping that the youth you have and a small move or two can make you a viable contender again

    c) – Make 1 big roster move that dumps future salary from the backline, netting no real return, but gives you some flexibility next year and beyond.

    • Amen!

      JOBU get my Rum.

      You know how in GOT they say “winter’s Coming”

      In RANGERTOWN they should start saying “DARK DAYS A HEAD!”

      I would also include this “AV” coach in the issues… he is not our coach!

      • Slowly I turn, step by step, inch by inch, heading into the cold, dark days of winter, the winter of my discontent.

        A winter full of 3-1 losses. A winter where we are 28th on the PP and 16th on the PK. A winter where we become cellar-dwellers at a very high cost. All this can be yours – IF – the price is right!

  • In re Vegas, I don’t see a business model based upon bringing in enough people to root for the visitors as a cornerstone for success.

    • Yeah, I’m with you. It’ll be hard to build a home fan base in that type of market, and I’m not really sure hockey is the first option (let alone second, third or fourth) for folks visiting Sin City.

      Why is Seattle still not considered for a team?

  • 1) Eh, maybe. At best, they’ll be another McFranchise that can make a deep run out of nowhere, ah la the ’96 Panthers. At worst, another Vegas distraction that will be kept afloat merely by visiting team fans.

    2) 5 years, $7 mil. But, that obviously means the next question…

    3) Brassard. I like Stepan, and I understand how, in terms of analytics, he’s a good player, but he’s easily outmuscled in traffic, too slow and deliberate, is lousy on faceoffs, and doesn’t shoot (and goes high and wide habitually when he does). Brassard is, IMO, better overall.

    4) Brassard with 25+

    5) Nothing interests me, TBH.

    6) Barring a slow start, yes.

  • 1Vegas once again exposes the stupidity of the NHL, much like Nashville, Arizona, 2 teams in Fla, Carolina etc. It’s ant raking in 500 mil(!!!!!!!!) than it is about what makes sense. Too many distractions there for hockey to be successful. VIsitors there will be more interested in shows and gambling than hockey.
    2) I’d offer Stamkos 10 mil for 6 years. WHat people forget is how much more money Stamkos will make I NY on endorsements. HE’ll be high profile and make millions on endorsements.
    3) I’d keep Brass mostly because of the cap savings and because there isn’t much of a difference in that Brass is superior offensively and Stepanbetter defensively. Stepan will bring back a good package of prospects and picks from Minny.
    4) Rick Nash playing wing with Stamkos.
    5) UFAs are ALWAYS way overpriced for what they bring. Couple of lowcost D for depth if anyone worthwhile is there.
    6) My guess is no, because I really thought team moral and chemistry were not good and I put that on the coach. I just have no confidence in AV and think his ability as a coach is not as good as his record suggests. I believe coaching is paramount to success and Mike Sullivan proved that. And you’d have few people thinking he’ better than AV.

  • LV has no fans to support the team, and the seats will be empty unless it’s a give away, which does nothing for the cash register……….

    I wouldn’t even attempt talking to Stamkos,, why get into a pissing contest, we can’t win, so why frustrate yourself????????????

    Brassard is the better player scoring wise, but Step is better all around. Step then should get a better return, and I wouldn’t be too surprised if he is history…….

    Nothing out there is worth the money, and term, so I’d look to trade to fill needs…….

    AV gone by year end, I sure hope the hell that is the case !!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • 1. At first, sure. Long term, not really. I don’t know as it will be a complete bomb, but also will not be surprised if five or ten years down the line this is firmly a bottom third team in attendance. I feel Seattle was a vastly better option in nearly every way.
    2. I don’t think I’d go after Stamkos in this current position. He’s a great player, and that I will not deny one bit. However, I do bristle at paying what I believe it will take ($9-10MM per, maybe more) for him. If the farm was a lot stronger and I could securely rely on several positions in the next few years to be filled from there rather cheaply, and front load the contract as much as possible, this would be an entirely different scenario.
    3. Step. Younger. Forget the fact that I think he’s just as good as Brass pound for pound (albeit they have differing styles, no doubt)…younger is important. Also, I prefer the spelling Derek to Derick (kidding).
    4. I’m gonna say Zucc. Frankly, because he’s the only guy out of the top 5 options for this question that I’m almost 100% certain will be back.
    5. Keith Yandle. Otherwise, meh. Not really.
    6. I sure as hell hope not, unless he is a different man next year and wants to coach the team according to the roster available to him and their strengths, instead of his stubborn definition of what the process should be despite the roster being a terrible fit for it in a few different ways. Don’t really see that happening.

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