New York Rangers First Round Targets: Forwards

klim kostin
Klim Kostin

Last week I covered the potential NYR picks if they decide to go defenseman in the first round. of course, there is the possibility that they want to draft a forward. The interesting thing about the forwards is that all the potential “game breakers” have a glaring issue, whether it be size or injury history. In this post, I will be covering four forwards who have been linked to the Rangers. These forwards do not include centers Lias Andersson, Elias Pettersson, or Nick Suzuki, all of whom would probably be a surprise if they fall this far. Suzuki is projected to go around 12-15, Andersson 14-17, and Pettersson some say can even go top-five. As previously done, I will be listing them in order of my priority.

Klim Kostin (RW, 6’3, 196 lbs)

Kostin is probably one of the most intriguing forwards in the group because he is likely to be available. Originally seen as a potential top-ten pick, Kostin dropped due to a pair of factors. The first is a shoulder injury, and the second is his lack of production in the KHL. To sum him up, Kostin is your big power forward with incredible hands around the net. He loves to be a force and when he causes a commotion he can easily get the puck to a teammate to score. His preferred way to score, though, is to power through the defense and around the goalie to tuck in pucks. He loves to simply dominate a defenseman or two and crash the net.

He is a fine skater and that is what makes him such a threat when he was playing in the MHL (KHL minors). Some people, however, are concerned about his 0 points in 8 KHL games this year. However in the KHL, he is playing against grown men who are hockey pros. Kostin, whose game is revolved around punishing the other team with a surprise stop and start and his powerful skating, likely won’t be a factor as a 17-year-old against 25-year-olds, yet. Kostin also played 4th line minutes because, as we saw with Pavel Buchnevich, unless you’re on a lower tier team, a teenager will not get ice time in the KHL. Flyers’ 22nd overall pick German Rubtsov had 0 points in 15 KHL games this year, then went to the QMJHL and had 22 points in 16 games on a poor team.

As mentioned earlier, Kostin plays an aggressive power forward game and his shoulder injury provides a major concern. Not only do we know nothing about his shoulder injury recovery, but we don’t know if that may change his game to be a little more timid. Fortunately, I don’t think that will be the case, as when interviewed at the combine, Kostin sounded pretty cocky (he also said he will be coming to North America this year). Usually the cocky players know why they are good and remain doing what they do.

My other concern with the shoulder injury is that if the NYR want to draft Kostin, I’d love him to be the game breaker we can use as an all around weapon. He has the power forward game, he has the nastiness, and he has the ability to set plays up when in close. But I’d really love him to get a better shot. A shoulder injury, depending on its severity, may prevent that. All in all, if the Rangers have had their doctors look at the shoulder –which they are allowed to do– I think it is hard to pass on a potential top power forward who has an attitude to be the best on the team. People love his “I am here to win and win only” attitude in Russia and is commonly viewed as a leader in international tournaments and his regular league team.

Kailer Yamamoto (C, 5’9, 160 lbs)

One of the more interesting prospects and knowing my luck, a future Islander, Yamamoto is an offensive dynamo. He is simply a point scoring machine. You don’t get 99 points in your draft eligible year by being lucky. The only thing that Yamamoto has against him is his size because honestly, the kid can do it all. He is a good skater that can dance around players or breeze past them. He has great vision to set plays up and he has a pretty sweet snapshot, especially in the slot. He isn’t afraid to get to the front of the net and look for tips (that I am unsure how that will translate to the NHL given his size).

Yamamoto’s Combine Results – Click to enlarge

As a 5’8 center, size is certainly a concern, but there are more small players in the NHL recently and Yamamoto did extremely well in the draft combine this past weekend, among the best in both agility/balance section and anaerobic fitness (showed above). The concern, of course, is his weight, which is honestly too light and may cause him to understandably drop. I usually don’t care about size, especially if the player is super skilled, but drafting a kid under 150 pounds is admittedly risky. That said, we can keep in mind that Kailer’s older brother Keanu is 170 pounds and 5’9, so there may be room to grow for a potential right handed Mats Zuccarello clone. I truly love Yamamoto and won’t be upset if we take him but taking him over Kostin may be difficult for me.

Ryan Poehling (C, 6’3, 185 lbs)

Poehling is a player that is projected to go right before the Rangers’ pick, but there’s always a chance he is available. Poehling is a big boy center that has a lot going for him investment wise. He plays a power forward game and is a strong skater that has a nasty wrist shot and desire to tip pucks. A lot of scouts rave about his intelligence in the offensive zone to set plays up as something that separates him, and although his stats of 13 points in 35 games can be concerning, we cannot forget that he is the youngest NCAA player this year. This kid was 17 years old and still was able to produce against players who may be 3-5 years older than him.

As a power forward, Poehling is most successful when he decides to control the puck, as he is difficult to knock off the puck. But I wish he could use some of his offensive zone intelligence to improve defensively and not lose his man as much. However that is a common concern with 18 years olds nowadays, and he likely will develop in that area while in the NCAA.

Poehling had a 46% faceoff percentage this year, which again is not bad for his age. For comparison purposes, great prospects and other freshmen like Henrik Borgstrom (FLA) are a little bit worse on the dot, but I think it is worth believing that he gets better in that department. Poehling also got off to a slow start offensively but began to pile points up later, suggesting he got used to the competition. That may spark a breakout year in the NCAA next season. I like Poehling but my heart doesn’t tug for him like it does for Kostin or Yamamoto, as they have a higher ceiling.

Shane Bowers (C, 6’0, 178 lbs)

Bowers has been linked to the Rangers by some of the NHL writers and Jess Rubenstein of Prospect Park/Blueshirt Bulletin. I think Bowers is a a player that shows the divide between how the NHL used to be and how it is changing. He is a good player, I genuinely like him as a hockey player. He does everything right, responsible defensively, faceoff ace, plays hard gets to the net and makes his teammates better.

But with all of that said, I really don’t know many first rounders who only had 51 points in 60 games. Now those aren’t bad stats at all, but for our first first-rounder in four years, I am more inclined to go with more talent over a safer pick. Some of his biggest fans say that Bowers will only improve while at Boston University, a great program that develops players. The Rangers obviously have multiple ties both management wise and player wise with BU, so their interest in Bowers can be expected.

Bowers is the perfect player for a team that loves to play the cycle and be responsible on both ends of the ice. He is smart and trustworthy and will obviously start filling out more as he gets older. My only thing is I personally, and once again this is just me, don’t see enough of those high end skills that can potentially make him a good top-six forward. He seems to me like a perfect depth option that can be a solid scorer on the 3rd line with the ability to move up a line here and there. He would also be a solid all-situation guy.

Again, Bowers is a solid 200 foot player, but he has a really low 5v5 P/60 in a high scoring league, and that to me is really concerning. If you don’t believe in stats that’s you but to me that is a pretty significant red flag.


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  • The Rangers won’t have to do their due diligence for the first round because it’s going to Vegas along with Staal. lol

    Thanks as always Josh. Always a great read.

        • Don’t think they go after Shatty. I think they Sign Smith, rid themselves of Staal and use Stepan to go get themselves a top defenseman from another club. The begin to bring up some kids and bring them along slowly. Meanwhile, Girardi is serviceable and eventually becomes a solid 3rd pair mate to a youngster. We get a PP cannon who makes our PP work and I believe in unicorns and rainbows…..

          • Sal

            You had me until you mentioned Girardi as a 3rd pair. Come on my friend, knowing the love affair with AV, Danny boy will get 1st pair time, it’s an addiction!!!!!!!!!!!

          • Who said it’s all AV’s fault for playing Girardi over there? This topic has always had the same boring narritive that it’s all the head coach’s fault. I say it starts from the top to bottom with Sather who I think would personally love to win the cup with Hank and one of the twins like with Girardi at all cost. If AV is being the true shot collar from behind the bench then he basically owns this club and I don’t agree to that. I think there are other ways to deciding why someone like Girardi seemed to have full immunity on this roster. Glass was the only addiction used by AV but we all know that was a gifted toy due to taking the team to the Finals in 14.

          • Seriously? Who deploys the players? I guess it’s Sather from the press box, your right!!!!!!!

          • Shatty is a done deal as long as the cap space is there and that’s why Gorton is feverishly working to rid himself of Staal.

      • Yamamoto would have to put on 30 lbs(and be a UDFA) to be another Zucc. He’s got skill, but he’s getting boxed out by John Gilmour. He dropped 10 lbs during the regular season which helped is combine testing, but is murder on his game. An old draft year kid(Sep. 98) tells me he ain’t getting much taller. Also, I’ve been really down on Spokane’s player development the last few years. He’d project out to be a mid teen goal scorer, poor man’s Tyler Johnson.

        Poehling is interesting is that his production was at a 3rd liner in college, he just needs to bulk up.

        Bowers is a bottom 6 guy. Saw him at a tourney in Omaha; does all the little things right, but didn’t exactly jump out.

        • As a comparison, Jaret Anderson Dolan is almost a year younger(draft eligible by 4 days) than Yamamoto,

          Similar goal scoring this season, but compared to Yamamoto’s prior season A-D blows him away.

          He’s also 5’11” & 190 lbs.

          • As a bonus, he could play in the AHL in 2 years as he played in the W as a 15 yr old.

  • Klim Kostin (RW, 6’3, 196 lbs), that’s all I need to know!!!!!

    As stated, he skates well, soft hands, and passing skills, has power moves, I’d be willing to take a chance even if the shoulder isn’t currently 100% right now.

    If healthy, this kid sounds like the package we are lacking. Kreider is that size, and has much more muscle mass, which can be added to this frame. What Kreider lacks is the killer instinct, and this kid sounds like he posses it. If Klim is that dedicated to winning, I want him. Sorry folks, I’m tired of all the Daisy’s we have who won’t force themselves on others, and WANT TO WIN!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Kreider who? Oh yeah that winger who dresses for the Rangers every now and then. Or is it that he dresses every game but decides to play a perimeter game and NOT use his god given size and speed. That guy.

    • Kostin had a great Ivan Hlinka tourney, hasn’t produced at any other level to show elite talent, just size. Kristain Vesalainen with a bum wing.

      All Kreider needs is a coach that knows what he’s doing. If he would keep his stick on the ice when he’s net front, he’d score another 5 goals.

      • Reen

        According to some, AV is great at developing young talent, and they are knocking down our doors to get to play under his stewardship, but this simple problem can’t be solved with Kreider?????? Makes you wonder doesn’t it????????? Just asking!!!!!!!!!!!

        • Didn’t Kreider do the same thing under Tortorella?

          Didn’t you accuse Tortorella of ruining Kreider at various points of his tenure?

          What’s the common denominator here? Walt blaming the coach for a players lack of something.

          • it should be obvious to all. NHL head coach’s job is to train players to drive to the net when they are built like a freight train, and to keep their stick on the ice when they are crowding the crease.

          • wwpd

            Joining your boy Spozo as another cheap shot artist, have fun will you!!!!!!!!!!!

          • in this case, I have to agree with Spozo. Kreider is 26, he’s played over 300 regular season games and almost 80 playoff games in the NHL. he’s been to the stanley cup finals and two conference finals under two different head coaches and half a dozen assistant coaches. so to me, it’s hard to swallow that the problems with his game are AV’s fault.

          • wwpd

            If you, or anyone else identifies a problem, and your in charge, or in this case a coach, and don’t resolve it, then who’s fault is it? According to your thought process, it’s the fans fault!!!!!!!!!

            Either you fix the problem, sit the player, or subject yourself to criticism, it’s that simple……….

          • Walt, that’s fair as far as it goes. But this team or any team always have players that underperform their apparent natural gifts. If there is a coach who can suddenly make each of our players score 5-10 more goals a year and play better defense, I wish we would find this person. Until then we can only speculate – and blame the coach I guess 🙂

          • I yelled at Kreider to keep his stick down @ Anaheim this year, actually did it for a spell.

            Maybe they should make me the special teams coach.

      • I couldn’t agree more. Kried’s has a world of talent along with size. He can be a prototype power forward. And as you so skillfully stated, all he needs is proper coaching.
        I couldn’t agree more.

        • Coaching? He doesn’t need coaching, he needs some self-discipline and self-motivation, some call it heart. Your coach can’t make you dig in the corners or go hard – or play like Zucc. Why is it the coach’s fault.

          This is like it is always the manager’s fault when an emlployee does not perform. Sometime it IS the employee who just does not want to work hard. Is it the govenment’s fault that so many are on welfare, or is it possibly because so many CHOOSE to take the easy way out and just accept a check? Maybe Krieder needs to take ownership of HIS game and it isn’t the coach’s fault, ever think of that?

          • Sal…
            I am not absolving Krieder of any of that. HE is the employee. It’s the employer’s job to get the best productivity out of each and every employee. AV has not gotten the best from Krieder on a consistent basis. SO yeah Sal, it’s most definitely partially AV’s fault.
            And as far as your welfare comment, this is a hockey board NOT a social-political board.

          • Again, this crowd doesn’t like the “it’s the players fault” mentality. Apparently the Rangers are a team of superstars, held back by one of the winningest head coaches in the league, if not for AV, we would have won the last three CUPS!

          • Not true Joe, I won’t make excuses for the players, and have been critical of them on too many occasions. Then when I do, well the hate directed at me for not calling them the politically correct names for let’s say the Twins, or Daisy. When they deserve praise they get that too!!!!!!!!!!!

          • Joe, do you blame the coach for any of the team’s playoff failure?

            In my estimation, the coach cost them at least 3 playoff game losses. That’s a lot.

          • I believe, like E3, that the main reason for all of the Rangers playoff losses, is that they are a good, but not a great team. Coaches are human and make mistakes, as do the players. In a seven game series, if you don’t make it through, that is totally on the players! They had over 100 points this season and won a lot of games playing AV’s system. In the playoff, the players failed, not the coach. Again, only great teams win CUPS! The Rangers are good. Having said that, I always believe they will win because I always expect them to turn the corner to greatness!

          • Logic interrupts this debate with breaking news.

            The Rangers had 96 points. Over 100, barely if you include the losers points of the 6 games they lost. A loss is a loss and the losers point does nothing but promotes fake playoff races.

            Only “great” teams win Cups? The Carolina Hurricanes and Boston Bruins were far from great teams. Or are we classifying them as great cause they weren’t the NYR and it runs counter to your assertition that ONLY great teams win the Stanley Cup. Of which Nashville is 2 wins away and did substantially worse than us in the regular season. To the tune of around 12 less points when you remove the losers point.

            Back to your regularly scheduled narrative now.

          • Sorry Joe, but, tossing out the same usual suspects at crunch time (only to continually see the same results) falls on the coach.

            Girardi, Staal, Glass….these are NOT names you want to hear Sam announce when there’s less than 3 minutes left!!!!!

            We lost three (!!!) games this postseason alone thanks to that BS. How he wasn’t fired on the spot is still beyond me.

          • John-

            To your points. Let’s compare the SC Champs Hurricanes and Bruins, and compare them to the Rangers–

            2005-06 Carolina Hurricanes

            Top scorers (Reg. Season/Playoffs)

            Eric Staal. 45-55-100 / 9-19-28
            Cory Stillman 21-55-76 / 9-17-26
            Justin Williams 31-45-76 / 7-11-18
            Rob Brind’Amour 31-39-70 / 12-6-18
            Erik Cole 30-29-59 / (only played two games)

            Cam Ward (playoffs only) 2.14 .920

            2010-11 Boston Bruins

            Top scorers

            David Krejci 13-49-62 / 12-11-23
            Milan Lucic 30-32-62 / 5-7-12
            Patrice Bergeron 22-35-57 / 6-14-20
            Nathan Horton 26-27-53 / 8-9-17

            Brad Marchand 21-20-41 / 11-8-19

            Zedeno Chara 14-30-44 / 2-7-9

            Tim Thomas 2.00 .938 / 1.98 .940

            2016-17 NY Rangers

            Mats Zuccarello 15-44-59 / 4-3-7
            JT Miller 22-34-56 / 0-3-3
            Derek Stepan 17-38-55 / 2-4-6
            Chris Kreider 28-25-53 / 3-1-4
            Kevin Hayes 17-32-49 / 0-3-3

            Ryan McDonagh 6-36-42 / 2-5-7

            Henrik Lundqvist 2.74 .910 / 2.25 .927

            When we compare output, looking at each team’s best players, we can conclude the following–

            1) The Hurricanes had TRUE offensive stars, with four players hitting the 70 point plateau, and Eric Staal having arguably one of the finest seasons we have seen post-lockout. The Rangers, at the moment anyway, have no players anywhere near as good as the top guys they rolled out.

            2) The Bruins, true enough, did not have a roster of forwards that was significantly better than the Rangers. I would rate their top end guys a little better though. And, they had Chara, who in my view was among the top three defensemen in the league at that time, and a defense that clearly was better than the one the Rangers currently have. And as great as Hank is, Tim Thomas was the Vezina winner that year.

            3) What matters more than points 1 & 2 is that their top end guys were tremendous come playoff time. The Hurricanes’ top players averaged anywhere from 72-112% point per game production in the playoffs. The Bruins top players, other than Lucic, averaged anywhere from 68-92%. And Tim Thomas had hands down the greatest post-season of any goaltender post-lockout.

            Bottom line–Those teams won because their best players stepped up big time.

            4) The Rangers, meanwhile, got production from their best players to the tune of a pathetic 25-58%. Our best player (Zuc) wasn’t even as good as their “worst best”. That’s just not going to cut it. Not even close. So who is more to blame? The players or the coaches? The answer is probably a little of both, but to me it is far more about the players.

            5) The only reason the Rangers even got by the Habs was because Hank stood on his head. But he wasn’t as consistently brilliant vs Ottawa. And when our so-called stars don’t show up, we get the expected results.

            As for Nashville not being a great team, I differ with you on that. They have a superb defense and a great goalie. And, while yes they were a 16 seed, that was because they badly underachieved expectations during the season. A lot of folks had Nashville coming out of the West in the pre-season. I don’t think anyone other than the most blindly avid fan had the Rangers playing meaningful hockey from mid-May on, let alone June.

          • Just stop comparing two totally different teams at two totally different times. It really makes you look desperate.

            1- 2005-06 there were a lot of 100+ point scorers in the NHL. A lot. Heck you might even recognize there’s a NYR on that list by name of Jagr. It is impossible to compare the 05/06 Hurricanes to ANYTHING but teams in 05/06. Same for Boston. Want imperical evidence of this? How many 100+ point scorers in 16-17? ONE!!! The 2005-2006 Hurricanes were NOT “great”. The Bruins were NOT “great”. The asseration was made that ONLY great teams win the Stanley Cup. That is 100% false and that’s just since the canceled season. If ONLY “great” teams won the Stanley Cup the Oilers would have won the Cup every year that Wayne Gretzky was in Edmonton and then the Penguins every year with Lemieux and Jagr etc.

            You can not compare a league now where 25+ goals is considered an excellent season and 60+ points is considered excellent to anything other than past 2 or 3 years.

            2- thank you for proving my point that any other team that wins is “great” because they’re not the NYR.

          • Wow, someone’s testy today! 🙂

            Upon reflection, your point about individual point totals from that year is more than fair. But you ignored the fact that the Canes and Bruins top end players produced come playoff time, while our guys this year did not. That’s the broader point.

            Yes, you are right, Joe’s “literal” statement that ONLY great teams win the Cup is overstated. But I still believe his overall premise I believe is spot on.

            I think the Hurricanes were a great team, certainly right there with the best in the East year. Would they have gotten by Dallas or Detroit that year if they hadn’t both exited early? Who knows?

            The Bruins may prove your point that it CAN be done, but ONLY if the good players they have raise their game. They had EXCEPTIONAL performances that Spring, and an all-world goalie who performed better than anyone in the past decade. So sure, if you have those things working, you have a chance.

            I’ll still take my chances with a team that has high end stars all day any day, and that I believe was Joe’s broader point.

          • Joe, the Hockey Gods were extremely kind to the Rangers: Their path to the ECF was through the Habs and the Sens, certainly 2 teams that are not considered elite. The Rangers should have breezed through those 2 teams.

            Now, do the players take responsibility? Of course. But the coach’s insistence on playing stiffs instead of players that can actually play cost them 3 games.

            And who knows? Maybe they beat a beat up Pens’ team as well?

          • Why should the Rangers have “breezed” by two teams that were essentially their equal. Those series were pushes. Why we insist on making the Ottawa Senators into the Washington Generals is beyond me. And I’m sure that you noticed that the “Generals” pushed the mighty Pens to the full seven games. Maybe it’s time to admit that they were a lot better than people thought they were, and this whole narrative that the Rangers should just cruise by the “weaklings” in the Atlantic was bogus.

            Can AV (and also let’s not forget Beuke) be held accountable for the blown games at the end? Of course. But I still say the whole deployment narrative is overblown, since three different deployments yielded the same bad results.

            And again, look at the stats above. The BIGGEST issue was the sub-standard performances from our best players. When you get that level of output you shouldn’t even win one series, let alone two. The only reason we even won the first series was because Hank was superhuman again. He was not quite as brilliant against the Gens…I’m sorry I mean Sens. 🙂

          • Thanks E3 for taking up the cause, you are far better at the analytics than I. My point was that the teams were great when they needed to be, in the playoffs! That, John, can not be disputed as they raised the CUP! That’s what great teams do, rise to the occasion. Do you get it now?! I stand by what I said, in a seven game series, if you lose or win, it is about the players not the coach, only a fool would believe otherwise.

      • Hey Reenavipul, I like Kreider and I think that a certain player’s coach could get that untapped talent out of him to be a regular 55-60 point player. I also think that a certain player’s coach could ruin him and be another Torts for him like by not believing his 2 way is solid enough. Imo Hayes and JT could add a extra 6-8 goals caused by deflections and garbage goals as long as there’s a solid upgrade that would bring a couple of D men who know how to create from the blueline. Kreider doesn’t have the hands or vision to be a Simmonds or Hornqvist, if he wants to tax on more goals then he’ll have to trust his shot in alot more different situations like on the breakaway. Someone like Hartnell would be more dangerous in the high slot but tbh Kreider doesn’t have that kind of nose for the puck.

        • Not to nitpick, but if your right that Kreider doesn’t have the nose for the puck as you stated, why the hell is he out there on the PP? I guess Sather is calling the shots on that as well, never AV right????????

          • Walt-

            You have a valid point. But just like the discussion we had about the defense, the better option over Kreider is who exactly on the current roster?

            That’s the problem here. This is a very good team with good to very good players. But without great players, certain guys are called upon to do things that, on a stronger team, they might not be asked to do. That expose them to an extent. Then, we start dumping on these guys (and I admit, I’m a culprit here too) because they are not the high end stars we need them to be.

            Until the talent is either upgraded or upgrades on its own as they mature, we will continue to have guys that are in rolls they perhaps should not be in.

          • E3

            Tell that to Spozo, another guy who has all the answers!!!!!!!!!! Or at least all the questions, and then lobs grenades………….

          • Kreider is the closest thing we have to an elite forward (other than Buch). We’d be nuts not to try to maximize his playing time at this point.

            This is despite the fact that he’s not physical enough at times for his size.

            Besides, power forwards are notorious for having long development curves. Look at Joe Pavelski, for example.

          • Dare we introduce some more facts into this.

            Kreider scored 28 goals last year. Amongst all NHL Left Wings, that has him tied for 10th amongst all NHL Left Wings. Tied for 10th despite playing the 2nd fewest games among those in the Top 10.

            The leader had 39 for an average G/game of 0.49(Marchand who gets an automatic 39 deducted for being a world class D-bag). So, in perspective…the NHL LW goal scoring leader, scored a whopping 0.12 more goals per game than Chris Kreider (0.37 G/game).

  • Walt, Gorton cares about one thing: ridding the team of G, Staal, and KK to make the Rangers a Cup contender for 2017-18.

  • I could see Stepan and if not both them then one of the twins gone so then Gorton would use the 1st round pick on a forward. The idea would be to sign Shatty and use Stepan to bring back a decent 2nd pair name. His fans can claim that he’s worth more all they want but in reality he’s not and taking advantage of a team like the Canes to trade for Faulk would be a steal for this club so they could play him next to Brady on the 2nd pair. I’m prepared for similar moves like that and then for Gorton to go get a 3c or even Thornton and use him there while probably giving him more of the offensive draws. This would allow AV to continue to give Hayes the tougher defensive assignments with a increase of offensive faceoffs. We use Thornton on the top PP, Nash will play a part in this along with Sather’s fetish for older elite names. Vesey and either Nash or Buch would probably play next to Thornton or whatever real 3c they decide to get. I think Hayes and JT get the bump up in the lineup , especially by being in a contract year so it would make perfect sense to try and draft a top line forward and upgrade the D through free agency, trade and within the club.

  • I like Kreider alot and think he is an asset and a solid overall player. He is a talented skater (with basically one move to the outside cutting around the defense man with his speed)with good size and a decent shot. He has proved he can be good in front of the net blocking the goalie and getting garbage goals. That is his skill-set and not really much more, but it works at times. At this point in his career, I think it is silly to blame the coach for his mental lapses, he’s a big boy now. He is a professional that has been in this league long enough to take responsibilities for his own actions. Maybe he is somewhat of a head case or maybe he isn’t in the shape he needs to be. We all keep talking about all his potential, but maybe he is what he is, which overall ain’t that bad. I’ll take 28 goals every year.

    • It’s the simple default to blame the coach, craig. I remember the same things being said about Kovalev. It was Colin Campbell’s fault, it was the fact he was paired with Ray Ferraro. Rarely is it the player’s fault. At this point, yeah, he is what he is. Good solid player who can dominate games at times but isn’t truly great enough to do it on a more regular basis.

      I’m fine with keeping him, and would also be fine with trading him for the right return.

      • Good point Eddie. The really great players are great on a consistent basis, that’s where true greatness is. Maybe we can land a number one draft pick for him and or something else. It would take a really great deal to trade him. Make us a deal we can’t refuse. I’m anxious to see what moves Gorton makes.

      • Yet Kovalev went on to rip off above average goal scoring seasons immediately after he left New York that time.

        So maybe it *is* the coach’s fault.

        • Or maybe it was because he was playing on the same team as a couple of guys names Jagr and Lemieux, proving once again that truly great players make the good ones that much better.

          • What? Seriously? You usually make more informed comparisons than that.

            Lafontaine was in the final year of his career as a Ranger. Still good, but nowhere near what he was. Same for The Great One in his final three.

            Jagr was at his future HOF best when Kovy was there and was light years ahead of those guys at that point. Lemieux came back from retirement and had two more special years. It’s not even close which duo was more effective when they were teammates with Kovalev. That makes a HUGE difference.

            And the bigger picture that you seem to be missing is that once he left Pittsburgh, he was for the most part the same enigma wrapped in a riddle he was in NY. So was it about coaching? Or the talent around him? Clearly, he proved he was not good enough to put a team on his back on a consistent basis. Much like Kreider, at least so far.

          • Considering Gretzky had 67 apples, I don’t know where you’re going with that line of thought.

            As for Kovalev, he was past his prime when he left Pittsburgh, your argument doesn’t really prove anything.

            Who were his coaches when he broke out? Herb Brooks & Ivan Hlinka.

            I guess sophists gotta sophize.

          • Gretzky was good as a Ranger. Jagr during those years was on another plane of excellence. Combined with Lemieux, they were dynamic. And THAT is what helped to bring out the best in Kovalev. It was not coaching. It was the talent around him. Brooks was a mediocre NHL head coach. Hlinka? Barely remember him. So again, that proves the point. Great talent around him brought out the best in Kovalev.

            As for post-Pittsburgh, I guess it’s true that 30 year old players who tease the notion of greatness but aren’t really great could be considered over the hill at that age. But the truly great ones are still great at age 30. Kovalev was, like Kreider thus far, a very good but wildly inconsistent player who was not truly great.

      • the huge frustration is, we’ve all seem him drop his shoulder, plow through a bunch of guys, and drive hard to the net and create scoring chances. he’s a beast when he gets up a head of steam to do so. just – why won’t he do it more often? like maybe 1 in 20 times does he even try it rather than peeling off to the side boards and looking for a pass that winds up as a turnover.

        • Maybe, just maybe since this is a team wide issue with every player doing this; i.e. Peel off and look for a pass instead of going to the net….

          That maybe that is what’s being instilled in them to look for the low quantity/high quality shot vice the high quantity/low to medium quality shot?

          Wouldn’t that point to the system the players are playing or being instructed to play? If it was just Chris Kreider doing this, 100% in agreement with you. Being that every NYR forward 7 times out of 10 passes when everyone is saying shoot, indicates a system.

          And we all know, there isn’t anything wrong with the NYR system right?

          • It could be. Not sure. But certain players build like Kreider strong and fast – but not known for epic playmaker ability – I look for this more than others.

          • Ok and I agree with you. More players on the Rangers like him need to drive to the net and stop peeling off to the outside to look for the pass.

            However, if I teach my dog to turn left every time we reach a certain point over and over again because that’s the system I’m instilling in him, I can’t get mad at him for NOT turning right more often.

            “We” can’t say he needs to do x more often, if the system tells him to do y. While I am in 100% agreement he, and others should put the puck on net or drive the net more, the simple fact that NONE of them do it except once or twice a game, indicates that they’re being instructed not to do it. It’s inherit nature for a hockey player to want to shoot. Even one of the greatest passers of all time like Gretzky or Coffey still wanted to shoot the puck. To stifle that nature to the point that an entire team defers the shot, even defenseman….I’ll leave rest for others to figure out. I’d hate to suggest that their might be something wrong about the Rangers offensive strategy or that it doesn’t equate well to the personnel we have.

          • It could be, but again, we’re just assuming. I’ve never heard a player or coach say “we need to peel away from the net more” but plenty of times say “we need to go to the net more” so – to me anyway- it’s too big a leap to conclude AV, Tortorella, all these assistant coaches have been telling these guys not to go to the net with the puck.

    • Seems like a well researched article, but misses the elephant in the room: From mid-December on, Stepan was not playing against the other team’s top line most nights.

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