Musings

Musing the Rangers: Looking back and ahead

Thanks for some good memories Brad.
Thanks for some good memories Brad.

For the low season there is a fair bit of news floating around and quite a bit involving the Rangers. It’s been a while since I mused, so let’s take a look at Rangers goings on and also some of the news from around the league.

Brad Richards announces retirement

News broke Wednesday night that Brad Richards announced his retirement via an NHLPA announcement. If you forget about the awful contract the Rangers gave him, Richards had a great NHL career (15 years, 932 points in the regular season) and was an absolutely solid Ranger. 151 points in 210 regular season games was no bad achievement in a league with ever dwindling offense.

Richards was a solid playoff performer for the Rangers, at least in his first year when he was close to a point per game and the Rangers had such a magical run. Again, the Rangers didn’t see the best of Richards but he was solid – including two seasons with at least 19 points on the powerplay. Richards can be proud of a fantastic, Cup winning career.

Reason to be excited: I cannot wait until Robin Kovacs is NHL ready. I can’t help thinking the Rangers have another mid round draft steal on their hands. With the lack of obvious, can’t miss young talent at Hartford’s disposal, Kovacs will be given every opportunity to load up on ice time and put up good numbers in the AHL next year.

Stop it with the Shea Weber bashing

I get that PK Subban is a stud, a popular superstar and a likeable personality and is generally deemed better than Shea Weber at this point in their respective careers. However its obscene that Weber is talked down as much as he has been recently. Happy to debate this, but Weber is still a top ten defenseman in the entire league and with a little luck, in the right situation he’s still a Norris Trophy contender. Contract aside, he’d be welcomed by all 30 teams in the NHL.

Addressing the Chris Kreider contract

Dave wrote about the submitted arbitration numbers on Wednesday. I have to admit, I’m pleasantly surprised how reasonable the numbers were. If the Rangers can re-up Kreider long term at around the $4.5m mark it could be great business. Even if Kreider ‘only’ hits 25 goals on a regular basis, in this day and age, a regular 25 goal guy for 4.5m is great value. Bear in mind that Kreider – so often labelled inconsistent – only needs to pot an additional 4 goals to hit 25.

If they have to, the Rangers should slightly overpay Kreider to get him on a long term commitment. We’ve seen teams pay for potential and for the upside and, Ranger fan bias aside, there are not many players in the entire league that have his overall potential package. Imagine in year three of a deal paying around the 5m mark and Kreider breaks out with a 40 goal season. Whether’s he’s flattered to deceive or not, he’s worth the commitment.

Kessel sense of humour

I absolutely love that Phil Kessel took the Stanley Cup to Toronto. I have a deep intense dislike for the Pens – like most Rangers (and non-Pens) fans – but you have to love Kessel for doing that.

Finally, sensible long term deal sighting

Obviously it’s signing season for restricted free agents. Tampa GM Steve Yzerman addressed another of his needs in getting solid top nine winger and playoff performer Alex Killorn on a team friendly 7 year deal with a cap hit of 4.45m per year. Too long? Sure. Too expensive? Not really. Like Kreider, if Killorn merely averages 40 points per season his deal will not be a bad one. Yzerman has become the best GM in the league right now. The Ryan Callahan contract aside, has he made a truly bad decision since assuming control?

Are you looking forward to the next lockout?

To contradict the above point, GM’s have once again tried to find loopholes to abuse the cap and to fill needs in free agency. Some of the deals dished out have been ridiculous and we’re clearly headed toward another lockout. The worst part? Players such as Henrik Lundqvist could be robbed of an additional shot at a cup.

Projecting Zibanejad

This coming season the Rangers could be enjoying a bargain year from Mika Zibanejad, particularly if he beats his previous career highs (21 goals, 51 assists). This offseason, one particular player worth monitoring for the Rangers and is Sean Monahan of the Flames. Monahan has put up better numbers than the newest Ranger up until now, with back to back 60 point seasons. Monahan is looking long term this offseason and is expected to get somewhere in the region of 6-7.5 million on a very long deal.

Right now, Monahan isn’t a comparable for Zibanejad – Monahan has achieved more at a younger age. If the Rangers new number two center has another career year and eclipses 60 points next season (which all Rangers fans hope – and what seems at least in the realms of possibility) then Zibanejad could be looking at 6 to 7m on his next deal. It’s easy to see why the Senators got scared when projecting the money it will take to keep Zibanejad long term. He’s projecting up.

Next year’s Breakout Ranger?

When scanning the likely (and current) Ranger roster, I’m trying to be realistic with my expectations. Pavel Buchnevich could have an epic rookie campaign and Brady Skjei may make us forget about all the defensive woes that plague the Rangers, but who will be the next guy to really cement himself in the core?

If you can count a third year pro as a ‘breakout candidate’ I have high hopes for a bounce back season from Kevin Hayes even though I anticipated the team maybe using him as a trade chip, even going as far as advocating it in the right deal. IF he stays (which is looking likely), there’s no reason Hayes can’t give the Rangers his first 50 point season. He averaged less than 14 minutes last year, a paltry 1:30/game with the extra man. If Vigneault looks for more balance in his line-up and Buchnevich acclimatises quickly the Rangers should have three scoring lines. I think 50 points is absolutely within Hayes’ reach – with a more consistent effort.

It’s been a long musings today, for which I do so humbly apologise. I haven’t been able to contribute a lot recently so please excuse my ramblings. On to Question time…

  • What are your expectations for Robin Kovacs (Short and long term)?
  • How many goals will Pavel Buchnevich score as a rookie?
  • Who scores more goals next year: Chris Kreider or Rick Nash?
  • Over/under Rangers wins for the 16/17 season: 45?
  • This time next summer: are Marc Staal and Dan Girardi both still Rangers?
  • What is a reasonable project for Mika Zibanejad’s first year on Broadway?
  • Who is the Rangers best prospect not named Skjei or Buchnevich, and why?

 

"Musing the Rangers: Looking back and ahead", 5 out of 5 based on 9 ratings.
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  1. Here is my question. Would you trade Kreider straight up for Killorn? I know I would, so why does Kreider deserve more money?

    1. no sure Kreider deserves more per say but the tax situation between Florida and NY would probably Justify 10% more just to keep the players on par. From the players perspective.

    2. No I would not make that trade. I’m not enamored with Kreider by any stretch, but still prefer him over Killorn.

      1. Kreider, when he is on, can be a better player, but we all need to look at both players full body of work, including defensively. Kreider disappears for 10 games at a time. We continue to blame things like that on youth, but sooner or later, guys like Hayes and Kreider are not so young and become what their stats tell us, 30 point players with lots of untapped potential.

        1. Do you watch Bolts regular season games, or is this a case of grass is always greener?

          Points per game the last 3 seasons:

          Kreider: .561, .575, .544
          Killorn: .500, .535, .494

          Goals per game the last 3 seasons:
          Kreider: .258, .263, .264
          Killorn: .207, .211, .173

          Numbers are nearly identical. Kreider has the slight edge in goals, Killorn in assists. And that is coming from an “inconsistent Kreider”. SoI’ll go with him and if he ever finds that consistency, it’s all gravy. Many would agree that Killorn will improve but is less likely to do so to the extent that Kreider will.

    3. Sal – I would take Killorn – seen a lot of him – he’s consistent and he is clutch from an eye test perspective. No idea what the stat’s say though…..

      1. Hatrick threw stats at me, which looked convincing, but from the games I watched, Killorn looked to always come ready to play. Can’t say the same for Kreider.

        My point is NOT that the grass is always greener elsewhere – BUT I think we continue to give guys like Kreider and Hayes the benefit of the doubt here. There comes a time when they have to put up numbers and stop being potential stars. I feel this is the time, and contract, where Kreider needs to put up or shut up. Same holds true to Hayes. This is a year where he needs to improve his game. Put better numbers or give him a change of scenery.

        1. One more thing. I am not the biggest fan of Jesper Fast, but he ALWAYS comes to play. He may not have the talent of either Hayes of Kreider, but he is young and works hard every shift, both on offense and defense. Not saying he is a $5M player, but at least he gives you 100%, and his teammates recognized it too.

          1. Like I said I didn’t even look at stats but they are certainly telling.

            To me and I think a lot of us, Kreider is still trying to reach/live up to the potential that everyone has for him.

            Killorn seems more comfortable in his role and expectations and I think that shows on the ice. It’s tough to measure that though.

            I think giving a guy like Killorn seven years is nuts but the Bolts got him at a great $number. It’s tough to bet against Yzerman these days. Maybe he sees something in Killorn long-term that he wants to keep.

            Don’t forget the Bolts have a lot of forward talent and dwindling cap-space. Kucherov is not signed and did not file arbitration. Soon to be NY Ranger, Vladislav Namestnikov, did file but the hearing is not until 7/29

            Next year they have Johnson, Drouin, etc.

          2. SalMerc…if you are going to make statements like “Jesper Fast always comes to play” you may need to start looking at going back to the eye doctor because your eye test is really starting to fail you.

            He played in 79 games last year and had 75 shots on goal. He had the LEAST amount of shots on goal among players who played over a thousand minutes. He had almost 50 less shots than V. Stalberg.

            He and D. Moore were first 2 forwards in ice time on PK. The Rangers were 25th on the kill last year. So, if he wasn’t making less than a million dollars, I dont think he would be on the team. He had 3 goals in the 2nd half of the year. And for some reason he got some minutes on the top 6.

            In other words, get your eyes checked.

      2. “Swarty; I’m gonna need you to close the laptop; snuff out that spliff. Then put your hands on top of your head.

        “Now I need you to stand up, slowly, and walk backwards, towards the sound of my voice.

        “You understand why we’re here, Swarty?… Yup. I’m afraid so. That proposed trade of Sal’s.

        “We have an arrest warrant, signed by judges’ Original Rob and Hat-trick. I’m sorry, Swarty. If it’s any consolation, you’ll probably make bail tomorrow.”

    4. Not a chance I’d trade Kreider for Killorn. Frankly, I think Stevie Y goofed on this contract. It’s ridiculous. Seven years for Killorn? Lunacy!!!! As for Kreider missing 10 games at a time, that’s mythology. You could say the same thing about so many Rangers, but it’s always got to be Kreider who is MIA. Last year there were numerous MIAs.

      1. No, Dr. Paul: don’t mince words here. (Definitely not in your DNA; besides, I much prefer when you let fly.)

        Stevie Y’s human. The Near-Perfect GM blinked.

        Locking up Killorn for seven years is like blithely giving the keys to your coveted beach condo to Lenny “Nails” Dykstra and Mickey Rourke…

        That’s a mistake you’ll live with for years.

        1. Yep, Dr. Paul is just like his father Carlo, who was the King Of The Jungle, LOL!!! I guess that’s why my friend Salvatore in Thunder Bay calls me “godfather.” Imagine that, me who kisses his dog & cat every morning.

      2. No, not always Kreider, often times it was Nash or Stepan – the difference is is that those two guys add value on the defensive side of the ice when they are not doing anything on the offensive side. You cannot say that for Kreider. Unless he takes a bad penalty.

        Don’t get me wrong, Kreider can be a gem, but his head is not always into it. He and Hayes need to visit the same shrink.

        1. You see how Grabner, with speed to burn, came to love the PK. That’s why I said last year, “AV use some FN imagination & put Kreider out on the PK,” where his sole focus will be defensive hockey. The coach needs to develop their skills by throwing them in the deep end.

          1. I kind of agree with you but knowing AV, the only time he would use Kreider on the PK is down a goal where his focus would be jumping a D to D pass for a breakaway or 2 on 1.

      3. Completely agree. Kreider is a rare talent. He forces D-men to curtail pinching and lay back. Krieder and Hayes as well sometimes appear to be drifting or out of position because their reads are not always great at the O-line or picking up a check in the D zone. Neither of these guys spent meaningful time in the AHL. Cap space is the biggest asset for a team like the Rangers. I would have no problem committing $5MM to Kreider for 5-6 yrs taking him up through age 32.

    5. “Sal; I’m gonna need you to close the laptop; snuff that blunt out. Then put your hands on top of your head.

      “Then I need you to stand up, slowly, and walk backwards, Sal, towards the sound of my voice.

      “You understand why we’re here, Sal?… I’m afraid so. That proposed trade.

      “We have a warrant, signed by two judges: Original Rob and Hat-trick. I’m sorry, Sal. We’ll give you a moment with the kids once we’re outside.”

    6. There isn’t a single player in the NHL with Kreiders package of size and speed. There’s a few guys that are comparable like Saad out there but even the closest are not quite as fast and not quite as big. Killorn is good top 9 forward but not for Kreider. That trade makes us slower.

      1. Oh, I get it, we’re playing CLUE on BSB. I say it was Dave in the kitchen with a one-timer.

  2. Chris: I’d love to see Kovacs in Hartford next year, but unfortunately he is under contract to play in Sweden during the 2016-17 season. His ELC is complete and I’m guessing he’ll be pushing for a job on the Rangers during 2017-18’s training camp.

      1. I think you’re right. He signed his ELC and will probably get time with his old teammate Stromwall, who we also signed

  3. First of all I want to say congratulation to Brad for a very good career, and the productive two years with us. I wish you the best in the future………..

    Now having said that, I remember people coming down on me for being vocal against the Brad signing, as usual, we had defenders of the aged saying he was wonderful, and we were lucky to land him, and he deserved more time to get his game together, ect.. Two years after leaving us, the man retires, and the organization will be paying this guy well into the 2020’s, REAL SMART MOVE????????????

    Let this be another example of why we don’t sign these old farts to long term deals. Sather was terrible at this, and Jeff will be dealing with the likes of the twins, the insanity has got to stop, PLEASE……….

    I’m excited for the upcoming season for many reasons. First of all the Z trade. I loved Brass, and wish him all the success in the world, but as many have posted, we got younger, faster, stronger, and a #2 draft pick, which excites me more than anything else. We will be at the table early, and not have to rummage thru the trash can at the next draft. Our future looks brighter with the likes of Z, Buch, Skjei, the new kid from the Flames, all positive moves. Jeff, continue with the well thought out moves that you’ve made, and I look forward to more kids joining the team !!!!!!!!!!!

    1. I could care less if they are still paying him because there is no cap penalty!

      I fully believe that they signed him to that contract with the knowledge that they had the escape plan in the back of their mind that if BRs production went South that they could just pay the guy off with zero cap hit.

      1. Spozo

        If that was the case, then that is proof positive that Dolan is a moron, giving away that much company cash away for the results he got in return.

        Hay, I can understand that you could care less, no cap hit, but the next time you buy a beer, hot dog, tickets, whatever the case, remember those prices are grossly inflated because of piss poor business decisions made, that you could less about. This is not an attempt to be a smart ass……….

        1. The economic impact of Brad Richards on Jim Dolan’s pockets is a lot more convoluted and confused than that excess cash still being paid.

          How much margin did MSG make off of Richard’s merchandise? How many more playoff games is Brad Richards responsible for getting the Rangers through, or into?

          Heard somewhere that any post season game in NY is worth at least $1 million to the org. Richard’s contract was front loaded, so most of the dollars have been paid out.

          I’m not saying I liked the signing or the deal, or even that it was worth it. Just that there is a lot more going on behind the scenes than player X is being paid till year Y, thus it’s all lost money.

          1. Fair enough, but the point I’m trying to make is we went after a guy well beyond his prime, and that seems to be the ongoing record of the Ranger organization, hence we have to stop the insanity remark !!!!!!!!!!!!!

            As you, and anyone who post on this blog, I hate going after retreads, just because we need marquee names, that is the worst reason in the world to go after them. Once in every 76 years we get lucky, and acquire a Mess, who lived up to all the hype, and we won.

            I believe that Jeff Gorton will be smart enough not to repeat this behavior !!!!!!!!!!

            1. Agree, Walt. And now that the consensus is that our window is passed, the trend will likely stop. Until a window opens again. It’s cyclical.

              One thing though, Gorton was part of the brain trust when Sather was in charge and Sather is still part of the brain trust now that Gorton took things over. I don’t think it is as cut and dry as Sather did this, Gorton did that. Likely an organizational leaf has been turned by all parties due to the current landscape of upper tier NHL teams and the fact that the Rangers aren’t among them, thus this is the necessary step. Few people realize that we are actually in a GREAT spot after the recent run of throwing everything at a cup. Going back as far as Richards signings, to Clowe deadline deals….which out dated the MSL move. In any event to walk away without a cup us tough but look at our players under 27 currently in the fold:

              McDonagh, Stepan, Kreider, Miller, Hayes, Zibenejad, Skjei, Buchevnic, Lindberg, Fast. Zucarello also, though a year or so older. That’s our new core. It used to include guys like Callahan, Dubinsky, Hagelin, Boyle, Stralman. Not every decision was perfect, but overall we came SO close to winning it, enjoyed a plethora of post season games along the way, all and still have A LOT to look forward to. Couple tweaks to the back line and I think all in all everyone (who is sane) can agree that the post cup run hangover, so to speak, could be much worse. Enjoy the summer, my man.

              1. I like the way you think Hatrick!

                The only glaring problem with the upcoming window versus the one we are transitioning out of, there is no “Hank” in that next window. Hank was a big part of what made that first window possible.

                Maybe the Russian prospect is the next stud goalie, that would go a long way towards making this upcoming core a success.

              2. Yup, I’m with you Chris. We’re usually on the same page. Let’s hope 2 things:

                1) Hank can hang on for another 3-4 years to help us get there

                and

                2) said Russian prospect brings the goods with him when he comes West

          2. Hat, you and I both know Brad Richards wasn’t the same player after his tryst with that otherworldly sex-creature/goddess, Olivia Munn.

            Remember that Gap Band single, “Baby, You dropped a Bomb on Me”?

            Richie was vaporized, man. Collateral Damage.

              1. More importantly, Dr Paul, she wreaked havoc on Brad Richards’s game.

                The circumstances, the blowback, if you will are not unlike what Your Gal, Kate Upton did to Justin Verlander.

                I mean, didn’t Swarty hit for the cycle the other night against The Tigers’ ace?

        2. Those prices are inflated because the fans pay them. The team payroll could be only $40M and a hot dog and beer at MSG would still be over $15.

          The Rangers flexing their financial muscle never bothers me. It’s an advantage and they should use it.

      2. I care about the teams ability to put a competitive team on the ice. The Brad Richards contract did not negatively affect that. He was overpaid and they eventually bought him out. That buyout did not affect their cap hit and therefore did not stop them from adding players to the team. Therefore I don’t care how much of Dolans money was spent. They have the excess cash so they might as well use it.

        And your opinion that these contracts are what cause the inflated MSG prices? Did you honestly say to yourself “crap, they just bought out Brad Richards. Now my nachos are going up by $1.50. I really can’t stand Dolans spending!” There’s no way to prove this but honestly just think of things in a vacuum. Take away payroll and operating costs of a franchise. Are they going to charge more for a Budweiser in New York City or Pheonix Arizona?

  4. Agree on Kovacs, Chris. Looks like a stud in the making. He is progressing unlike St. Croix who just came to a dead stop once he got to the Traverse tourny here. Kovacs seems to be getting better and better.

    Kreider, 5 years, $4.5M to $5M per, seems to be where it will land.

    I am 100% convinced that the Rangers are all in on Shatty, basically waiting for him at this point, either getting him this year (now or at the trade deadline) or next year when he can sign as a FA. Either way, 6 years for $36M is the $$ that will get him signed, as he has indicated that he would take less than market value to play here.

    Good write up Chris, touching on several things.

  5. Chris your comments about Weber are absolutely correct.
    1. He has the chance to be a 20 goal scorer.
    2.Buch scores 15 if he isn’t demoted to the 4th line or press box by our head coach after he makes a couple of rookie mistakes
    3.Nash
    4.45 is a good number, so many variables I’ll pass on this question
    5.No, but I hope G is retained in the Organization as a d-coach with the pack.
    6.25 goals and lots of frowns from AV when he misses a back checking assignment
    7.Goalie Shesterkin (sorry if I messed up the spelling) he has great positioning and quickness.

    1. Mika is a four year NHL veteran and a Swede (all Swedish forwards are responsible defensively, it’s a big part of how kids are taught to play hockey in Sweden). I would guess that he is currently one of the most responsible forwards on the current roster, right up there with Nash, Fast, and Stepan.

  6. Weber looked gassed in the playoffs. Now he’s going to play on an overall weaker team, is losing some great D partners, and is going to be the lone man on the Montreal blue line, that’s a lot of negatives for him to overcome. And let us not forget the heaps of pressure that are going to be piled on Shea in Montreal, a complete 180 from Nashville.

    There is a decent chance Weber completely bottoms out this year. And I will laugh because it couldn’t happen to a more deserving franchise. For a team that hasn’t done jack in over two decades, the Candiens are still riding a little high on their horse for my taste. The only thing that I would enjoy more than Weber bottoming out would be Taylor Hall incredulously posting a 30 point season across the river.

      1. It’s not hate. The advanced stats for Weber when he doesn’t play with Roman Josi aren’t promising. Not sure who Weber is going to be paired with in Montreal, but whoever it is will be a serious downgrade from his D partners in Nashville.

        If Weber was showing any signs of decline in Nashville, that will get exacerbated playing on a poor Montreal team.

        As for the Hall comment, that was pure hate. But it’s the Devils, does anyone actually like the Devils?

        1. My brother is a diehard, so I kind of have a soft spot and root quietly for them on the side. It is not reciprocated though….. goes to show who the nicer one of us is.

          Btw…. don’t tell anyone I said that

        2. I’m with you here Chris A. It’s not like detractors are singling out Weber because he’s a hated villain of some nature. It’s about numbers. His pure defensive metrics – suppression and possession – simply put, are no longer elite; they actually have declined to a bottom pair level. He will be well above average offensively for a defenseman as long as he has his ridiculous slap shot in top form, of course. But there is no way I would ever, ever have made that trade if I was Montreal. Not in a million years. I also don’t feel like you can just say “contract aside”. If Marc Staal was making 2.5M a season instead of what he is, Gorts would have moved him by now no problem. It matters and in Weber’s case would severely limit other teams’ interest in him. I don’t consider him a Norris contender anymore, but as this year’s award illustrated, apparently name recognition can still mean quite a bit there.

  7. 1. I don’t know much about Kovacs, but if he’s being signed, then management feels like he has a real shot, then I’d anticipate him breaking into the league in a few years.

    2. In 58 KHL games this past season, Buch has 16 goals and 21 assists. I’d anticipate similar, but lower production in his first NHL season. I think he tops out at 15 goals, realistically, I’d expect like 12. I think he’ll get a lot of assists though.

    3. I think Nash returns to form, leading the team in goals.

    4. Honestly Can’t say how many wins/losses, too many unanswered questions about this team right now.

    5. I don’t think Staa and G are going anywhere.

    6. I expect Zibanejad to take quite a few games to acclimate, and I don’t think he emerges as a real presence this season: 22 goals, 30 or so assists. Productive, but not dominant.

    7. Ryan Graves.

  8. 1. (Short) Solid player at AHL level with averaging 0.6 points per game. (Long) I think he plays out similar to a PA Parenteau type situation, plays about 20 games for the rangers with okay production, isn’t resigned, plays for another team where he is a middle 6 forward, becomes a okay player but not a difference maker.

    2. 15

    3. Rick Nash by 4-6 goals.

    4. Over (53)

    5. One gets bought out next summer.

    6. I expect he scores 20 and finishes with around 50 points again. I wouldn’t be shocked if he scores 30, Zucc can dish just as well if not better than Bobby Ryan. This Rangers group even with this awkward year coming up is still more talented/well rounded than the Sens in my opinion.

    7. Igor Shesterkin. I think of the rest of the prospects, they can all project to be good or decent but none have the potential upside of Igor. I think there is a chance he could become the next Lundqvist for the Rangers. So good so young, when goaltender development can take much longer.

  9. Kreider had a great second half of the season goal scoring wise this past year. 15 goals in his last 38 games is a pretty good return. Lock him up.

    I say Kreider gets 28 and Nash gets 27.

    13 Goals for Buch.

    I think we will be a bubble team so 45 wins is probably 2-3 too many. 45 is what we won when we went to the finals.

    YZerman? Nah, I think the most valuable GM in Florida is the tax man.

    Mika had about the same number of shots as Brass last year and shot a more reasonable 11%. I think Mika will get 20 again. Brass won’t match his totals.

    There is nothing anywhere that show a defenseman with that dramatic of a decline turns it around again. So that means no one will take either off our hands. We will be stuck with them untill it becomes palatable for us to buy them out. This year wasn’t the time.

  10. 1. Hard to say – need to see him at the AHL level. However, I think he has a natural nose for the net and a decent ceiling. Short term, no expectations really – just develop, dude. Make forward progress consistently and I’ll be happy. Long term, I’ll say middle six (but with top six certainly not out of the question, it seems.)
    2. 15 (Note: I can’t wait to see what he does for Hayes’ game and vice versa, assuming they will both be on the third line. I think it could be spectacular if they click.)
    3. If health blesses them both and they play comparable game totals, Nash by a small margin. That’s a big “if”, though.
    4. Over. 46. We’ve gotten better offensively but worse defensively IMO, so I’ll call it a wash and sit at last year’s total.
    5. I want to believe Gorton sees what the problem is. I can’t be sure though, because both – especially Girardi – are still here. AV is not off the hook here either, though – his D system/approach is just moronic for the personnel we have. Seriously, what he is trying to make our mostly slow-to-average-at-best-skating D corps (McD and Skjei as the exceptions) accomplish is akin to entering a minivan in a rally car race and thinking it’s gonna be brilliant. So for now, I have no choice but to say yes I do think they will be here, although I prefer otherwise. Maybe AV will adjust his system/deployment to shelter the anchors better next season, but I won’t be holding my breath because he’s been stubborn so far. Maybe Beuk will press the issue with him and/or provide some solid coaching to those players to eliminate some of the same mistakes we saw over and over last year, but that’s also a wild card. And if Gorts is having a tough time trading Staal now, another year like last year certainly won’t improve that outlook.
    6. 25/35/60. I don’t put as much stock into him needing to find his way with us or find his fit as others do. Plenty of off-season acquisitions pick up right where they left off with their new team. Z has plenty of NHL experience so he should be fine and not really miss a beat. I hope, in any case.
    7. I’m gonna go with Shestyorkin. Immense ceiling and has made rapid progress towards it.

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