A quick review: Holden providing value, Kreider breaking out

chris kreider

The Rangers have been incredibly up and down the past few weeks. Which version of the Rangers is the real version we can expect to see down the stretch?

There is no way of predicting the end of the Rangers’ season. I truly believe the blueline will look significantly different come February and we do not yet know how the top nine forward set up will shake out when all are healthy.

How will this influence the team’s ability to match up against the Caps, Pens, Habs and yes, the Blue Jackets?

Reading back that first comment – only the Pens scare me. Even the Pens however have their flaws, their warts. There is no perfect team in the East. That’s why Rangers fans should remain optimistic.

Asset management is a topic I’ve written about a lot. Kevin Klein has became an example of poor asset management. I think, had the Rangers ‘sold high’ on Klein, they could have got a strong return a year ago. Now, he’s regressed so much he’ll be a throw in or a makeweight in any deal. Klein has lost a step and his decision making with the puck has become a huge issue.

Kevin Hayes is, one cold streak aside, having a very strong year. However, when everyone is fit I am still not sure almost three seasons in if the Rangers know how best to utilise him and where he should line-up. Is he a C2? is he a C3? is he best deployed in the top six as a winger?

When Mika Zibanejad is healthy you have to assume he slots straight back into a top six role which means Hayes is a third liner flirting with a 60 point season. That’s a good thing. It’s also a problem the Rangers need to solve: how to maximise his ability and get him good ice time.

Prediction time: Chris Kreider will score 35 goals and Jeff Gorton will look like a genius. Kreider genuinely has the chance to be a 40 goal scorer in this league and if he reaches that level on this contract the Rangers will be giddy.

I’ve been really impressed with Nick Holden. I wasn’t as down on him early in the season as some and I’m not as high on him as some right now but I think he’s a really nice depth defenseman for a team that has some offensive punch. He seems to be growing in confidence, makes good plays with the puck and he’s absolutely willing to get involved offensively. If he has a competent season defensively and gives the Rangers 30 points he’s a success. We always talk about cap era, value for money and Holden is a bargain thus far. With that said, if he could be sheltered somewhat I think that benefits everyone.

The Rangers should/could have 12 players who score 10+ goals this season. That’s outstanding depth. That’s assuming Pavel Buchnevich and Zibanejad actually get back on to the ice of course. The Rangers should also have three defenseman who break 30 points.

I can’t help feeling that Jesper Fast will be a player the Rangers flip for some defensive help or as part of a bigger deal toward the deadline. He’s quick, can play up and down the line-up, is defensively responsible and is cheap. He’s exactly the kind of depth player that teams covet. He should be retained but the Rangers can afford to move him if he helps improve the blueline.

Question time:

  • How many goals will Rick Nash finish the season with?
  • How many wins will Henrik Lundqvist finish with?
  • Who has been the biggest positive surprise thus far, this season?
  • Would you be willing to move yet more draft picks if the Rangers could add a legitimate (non rental) blueliner?

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    • Another thought on Hayes, why is it an issue if he’s the 2C or the 3C? Maybe he gets a minute or two less as a 3C but he faces far easier matchups as a 3C.

      Also, on the 13-14 team that went to the Cup finals Zucc led the team in scoring with 59 points …. playing on the 3rd line. It’s almost as if having a high scoring 3rd line is a key to success in the modern NHL (Look at the idiotically named HBK Line in Pitt as further evidence).

  • I hope not but think Nash will only get 24.

    Henrik – 30 maybe even 31

    Raanta & Brady Skjei

    Stephan – 1RD straight up

  • Nash gets 30. Hank gets 35 wins. Grabner followed by Holden are biggest surprises. Don’t trade draft picks – we have forwards we can deal including JT (ducks…).

  • 1: I think Nash will score 30, unless he sustains another injury that keeps him out multiple games.

    2: Lundqvist will win at least 35 games this season.

    3: Hayes. He has played better in the second half in each of his two seasons and I anticipate he will do so again. I think he has a chance to score 30 goals in a season where I was hoping he’d score 20.

    4: I would not move more picks UNLESS the Rangers were getting a good defenseman for the proverbial “bag of practice pucks” (such as Vatanen for Lindberg, Fast, and a 1st rounder). Most of the 1st and 2nd round picks where the Rangers will be picking will take 4 — 6 years to get where Miller and Hayes are this year, who will be around 30 then.

  • Nash gets 27
    Hank wins 31
    Grabner probably the biggest surprise(can he hit 30 goals again?)…Hayes a close 2nd. The 10% improvement in face offs is a big jump on top of everything else.
    I would move draft picks before a good young forward who is establishing himself, for the right piece. It sucks that we have not had a first round pick in 4 years, but getting Hayes and Vesey, and trading Brass for Zibanejad really helped smooth that over that problem. Also being able to find guys like Grabner who you can sign cheap and reclamation projects like Brandon Pirri have helped.

    I don’t disagree that Fast could be moved as a piece in a bigger deal. But I think I would prefer to keep him and try to move Lindberg instead. I like them both but feel like Fast overall is the better asset for the Rangers.

      • Not sure I would say Stepan, Zibanejab and Hayes is not much depth at Center. And you have Boo Nieves in Hartford who had a great camp to come in as a fourth line center. Brandon Pirri is also a center/wing. JT Miller came up as a center but he mostly plays wing. Don’t get me wrong I like Lindberg and Fast, but I think Fast has more versatility.

  • Nash nets 27 due to limited number of games.

    Hank wins 33.

    Grabner, Holden and Hayes three way tie for surprises. Grabner has been just excellent. Holden has been both steady and productive. Hayes is finally back on track and fulfilling his potential.

    I want only to deal older/marginal players and mediocre draft picks. I would rather stand pat than trade the good young forwards or the best picks.

  • I’ll go Nash 27, Hank 35 (as points get tighter hell be used more). Id say Holden is the biggest surprise for me, although I feel is he is playing above his level. Im not as surprised by Grabner simply because this system fits him. While hes a streaky player as my Isles buddies have told me, his speed creates alot of chances.

    Picks and Prospects are the currency of hope, you hope they pan out. If it means helping this team win I trade them.

  • Nash could finish with 33 if he doesn’t get hurt again.

    Hank gets his usual 30+, if he continues to play like he did vs Filthadelphia

    Grabner is by far the biggest surprise, how many UFA come along at his age, and have that blazing speed, is defensively responsible, and has decent hands. Really a nice signing !!!!!!!!!

    I hate to say it, but it would be Stepan for several reason. He is on a high paying contract, relative to his return, will be going into a NMC category next season (?). He also is rated too high, but can get a good return, and we are deep at the center position, probably the deepest area for quality players. Having said that, I still would like to keep him around until Hayes gets a little more experience, but we can’t have our cake, and eat it too !!!!!!!!!

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