With Shattenkirk, the Rangers have the best top-four in the Metro

kevin shattenkirk

Last summer Jeff Gorton made the Rangers into one of the most dynamic scoring machines in the league. The forwards were vastly improved and they could seemingly score at will. But that dried up against the good teams in the playofs because the defense simply couldn’t keep up. That made Gorton’s for this summer goal clear: Fix the defense.

By buying out Dan Girardi, essentially replacing him with Kevin Shattenkirk, and re-signing Brendan Smith, the Rangers have what could potentially be the best top-four in the Metro Division. A potential pairing of Shattenkirk with Ryan McDonagh also gives the Rangers what could be a top pairing that is top-five in the league. No hyperbole.

Let’s go up and down the current defense pairings in the Metro:

  • Washington: Matt Niskanen/Brooks Orpik/John Carlson/Dmitry Orlov. Three of four are pretty solid, but Orpik is a Girardi-esque anchor.
  • Pittsburgh: Kris Letang/Justin Schultz/Olli Maata/Guy. Letang is elite. But the rest have significant holes.
  • Islanders: Johnny Boychuck/Nick Leddy/Calvin de Haan/Ryan Pulock. Great top pairing if Boychuck is healthy. But that’s a big if. The kids are good, but still relative unknowns, especially in top-four roles.
  • Blue Jackets: Seth Jones/Zack Werenski/Jack Johnson/David Savard (Ryan Murray). Elite top pairing, but Johnson is another anchor.
  • Flyers: Shayne Gostisbehere/Guy/Guy/Guy. I dunno.
  • DevilsNo one. Seriously, look at their defensemen right now.
  • Carolina: Justin Faulk is legit. Trevor van Riemsdyk is solid. But the kids are still question marks. Certainly great potential, but not proven yet.

Now let’s look at what the Rangers bring to the table.

Here’s what you’re looking at with McDonagh and Shattenkirk. McDonagh was weighed down by Girardi, but still has top-pairing scoring and shot metrics. There are certainly questions about whether Shattenkirk can handle top pairing minutes, since he has yet to be a true 1RD, but when paired with McDonagh, he should be just fine. Never under estimate just how good McDongh is, or how having a smooth skating puck mover who is good in his own zone can help.

Here’s Skjei/Smith. A perfect balance, as Skjei didn’t really start showing his offensive prowess until halfway through the season. His shot generation numbers should go up, and being paired with a solid if unspectacular Smith will help. Smith will do all the little things to push the puck up the ice, and Skjei will transition through the neutral zone with speed.

Jeff Gorton has done part of his job this offseason. He made a difficult decision on a personal level, but in doing so made the Rangers infinitely better on the blue line. He still has work to do –specifically finding a 2C and a 4C, and figuring out what the bottom pairing is– to fill out the rest of the roster, but so far so good.

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  • i see the ranger power play being better in this way Shattenkirk and Ryan first pairing and then Brady and Brendan as a second pair

  • But that dried up against the good teams in the playoffs because the defense simply couldn’t keep up .

    and the forwards were playing a bit over their heads and experienced major regression (and it started well before the playoffs).

    Fixed it for you.

    • No, I will not, at this time, allow this nonsense to happen! Are you kidding me guys?! Every move made thus far, is 100% what we have asked for, it’s ridiculous, to ask for something different. Once Again, and I feel the need to apologize, I believe that the NYR and JG are going to win the CUP this year!! Shattenkirk?, 4 years?, I feel like i am running the team. That is just a great signing! Smith?…kidding me?, just another awesome signing!

      My opinion?!…..and I know you guys think I’m nut’s, Rangers win CUP this year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      For you Walt!, Peace and Health E3

  • I think you getting ahead of yourself Dave when you state the Rangers have the best blueline in the Metro. Fancy stats are just numbers, I think we have to wait untill the puck drops to determine how the new defence performs.

    • So shut the site down until October then…..?

      In all seriousness, what are we to make of your post? The main takeaway is to bring to light just how much of a face-lift the defense got this off-season. No one is saying anything about winning games in October yet.

      And for all the people who may hem and haw when the Rangers don’t come out of the gate like gangbusters- see Nashville last year. It took them a while to get going. Do not take this as a SCF prediction, but more a reminder that things may take some time to gel.

    • I’m with you Bloomer, this stat stuff is good but like they always say: The game isn’t played on paper!

      • During the summer, it is actually played on paper. That’s when teams are constructed and potentials are theorized about. And that’s what this discussions are about.

        Things might not go according to plan. But for now, the hope is there.

  • It’s awesome how things seem to have fallen in place with various personnel decisions.

    Girardi buyout (how about that Tampa contract!?!? I’d be curious to know if this was explored: Girardi to Tampa for a 5th, 6th, or 7th round pick and we retain 2 mil in salary. Tampa actually has him for slightly less money and we have him on the books for 3 less years. The asset we get back is essentially worthless, but is an asset nonetheless for giving them the player at a lesser caphit).

    Klein retirement. That 2.9 million opens up a lot of doors for us.

    Stepan/Raanta trade. Cleared necessary cap space. I’m excited about DeAngelo and Andersen. Even if DeAngelo doesn’t pan out, which I do not think will be the case, Andersen looks like a sure bet to be a real good player for us.

    Smith contract- I like 4 years. Not too long and he does a lot for us.

    Shattenkirk contract- 4 years is a huge win. What a good shake we got there. I’m more than excited to see he and McDonagh playing together. I’m VERY interested to see how this moves the needle for McDonagh. For a long time, he’s been an under appreciated leader/captain/player for us. I hope this change helps him to show people they might not know what they’re talking about.

    Pavelec- I have my doubts but NYR brass has spent more time on this than I have. It looks like they got their guy as there were many other options out there. So I am cautiously optimistic, though surprised. Looking forward to seeing Allaire and co do what they do.

    All in all, a GREAT start to summer. Now must turn our attention to finding a couple options to slot in at center. Unfortauntely, for whatever reason, we couldn’t expedite the Stepan trade (Tippet perhaps?) so Lindberg was exposed. That, to me, is the biggest disappointment so far this summer. But small potatoes, given everything which has gone right.

    Dave- only comment on the depth charts above is that you forgot about Provorov in Philly. He certainly deserves mention.

    Happy 4th, all.

    • Don’t forget that Girardi had a NTC, and by let’s say refusing to waive it he gets extra $3 mln a year

      • Very well could have played into it. Though, my understanding is that his NMC turned into a limited NTC after 3 years (aka this summer). So he could block a trade to the teams on his list. I wonder if Tampa was on that list. In any event, I’m just surprised of the contract he got given the sentiment that there really wasn’t a market for him.

        • Of course there was a market for him. The problem was that the Rangers had to wait until July to trade him and were looking for certainty. From Girardi’s perspective, there was no reason to be cooperative since being bought out meant he would make more money, not less.

          Between the need for cap flexibility and the need to placate disgruntled fans, Gorton felt forced to act.

        • How do we know it was on Girardi for not waiving and not that Tampa didnt want the 3rd year of his contract? Maybe Tampa didnt want to help a team in their division with cap issues.

  • The gap between Pitts and us has closed significantly…….after 2 straight cups and lots of games played maybe they get a little complacent and tired this year and the door is open for us…
    Are there any good, physical centers we can bring aboard to round out this team?
    The heat is now on AV …..this is a very talented team, up and down the roster….

  • The biggest issue is that Staal has an albatross of a contract and he and Holden are a TERRIBLE pairing. For big guys they play weak and soft. Trade Holden for draft picks or an ice cream sandwich and let DeAngelo play with Staal. I’m guessing deangelo could anchor the second PP. As far as getting forwards the Rangers better have some up and comers because the market is dry.

      • Bobby B
        Cant decide who is worse Holden or Stall…..But since holden is a little younger and faster and can put up points and Fight…I might be inclined to put holden back to his natural left side , see if he is any better and if so pair him with deangelo for 3rd pair….stall out….
        Playing his off side aint helping him….

        • Fair point, Holden is not playing his natural position. I guess it depends on whether they think that they might get something more valuable for Holden rather than trying to get something for Staal. I Was fine with Staal on the third pair, but you are right, there are reasons to think that Holden belongs there. What I don’t want to see is DeAngelo ‘doing the Clendo’ in the press box all season and Holden and Staal as the third pair.

          • Agree!

            DeAngelo must play!
            Years ago we had a guy names mike mcewen who was not great defensively but was so fast as soon as the puck entered the zone he was headed up the other end of the ice with it, sometimes the best defense is a good offene.
            We lost him in the ill fated back trade!

          • Rich S, A blast from the past, Mike McEwen, the dude could skate, I gather you were not a fan of the Barry Beck trade???

          • We lost mcewen, pat hickey, lucein deblois…..too much speed and talent which was beginning to blossom and brought us to the 1979 finals…..for a player I liked a lot but not worth what we gave up……
            The real mistake was letting rod gilbert talk ownership into firing John Ferguson the gm who really put together a terrific team, until shero came and screwed things up……by that trade and others….

          • A few points here gentlemen…

            1). Why MUST DeAngelo play? That’s ridiculous. If he shows he’s ready, both in terms of skill set and perhaps in his case most importantly, maturity, then yes, play him. But do NOT play him if he’s not ready. This kid has talent but is still very much a work in progress with lots of red flags associated with him.

            2) Agree on the McEwen point. You can throw Sergei Zubov in there too. Not every defenseman has to be a defensive specialist to play the position. Both players were shipped out because they apparently weren’t “tough enough” or defensively responsible enough. We regretted losing both.

            3) Totally agree with you Rich on your assessment of the Beck trade. I was on the beat when it happened and it devastated the team’s psyche and morale in a way they never recovered from. Far, far too much to give up, even for a player as good as Beck was at the time. That was the beginning of the end of the Shero reign.

            4) BUT….COMPLETELY and VEHEMENTLY disagree with you on the your point about Fergie vs Shero. First of all, when Sonny Werblin came in, he looked around and saw the train wreck the Rangers had become. Ferguson was the GM that oversaw some of the worst Rangers teams ever. He trashed Rangers tradition by changing their uniforms. He treated Rod Gilbert like a piece of garbage, so why should Gilbert be blamed for retaliating when he had the chance?

            Most of all, it was Fergie that orchestrated arguably the worst trade in Rangers history and one of the worst in NHL history—Middleton for Hodge. I guess Mr. Tough Guy Fergie could trample all over a fading Gilbert but didn’t have the balls to stand up to Espo when it came to saying no to that one!

            After failing as coach, he hired Jean Guy Talbot! Nuff said!

            Yes, Fergie did help to build that emerging team. He gets some credit for that. But if you look at the core 22 man roster, 12 of them were either drafted or acquired by Francis or by Shero. So the majority of that building came from those guys, not Fergie.

            Sonny Werblin said it best….anyone can shop for the groceries, but it takes a real chef to make a gourmet meal. That’s what we got in 1979…a miraculous playoff run that never would have happened if Fergie or Talbot had still been around.

          • Gorton just traded his #1C for DeAngelo.

            Unless the kid ends up in serious disciplinary trouble, there’s no way he’s not our 3RHD.

            AV is going to play him because that’s why he was brought here. There was never any expectation of Clendening so it was easy to bench him in lieu of more experienced guys making big money and AV was never going to get overruled by management on that issue.

            DeAngelo is a whole different story. He’s young, but he’s way more talented than Clendening and he cost a whole lot to acquire. He’s going to be given every opportunity to perform. It’s his slot to lose.

          • You make a lot of sense. I think DeAngelo might surprise and come out hungry to prove himself. I agree, it would not make sense sitting him, and he is more talented than Clendo. It would be awesome if in DeAngelo and Lias Andersson they got two kids who can really play the game for Stepan.

    • Can Gorton find a way to package Staal (four years left) and picks and take back Orpik (two years left). I understand the money is not balanced and Washington is in cap hell, but they do need a D-man in 2017-18. Staal is a slight upgrade and 7 years younger. Get a 3rd team involved that can take the salary. NYR will need this cap space in 2019; particularly if they bridge Zbad. If this swap of bad assets can happen in exchange for a couple of 2’s and 3rd rounder I would do it. This could be $ neutral for Washington and they get a slight upgrade – IMO. From a NYR perspective this cleans up a mess which could be a problem in 2019.

      • I just don’t see the Caps and Rangers being bedfellows for bad defenseman, especially when an already hampered Caps blueline takes the cap hit. Barring a buyout no one will bite on a slow, weak and at times absent minded Staal

      • I just don’t see the Caps and Rangers being trade bedfellows for bad defenseman, especially when an already hampered Caps blue line with no cap wiggle room takes the extra money hit. The only Staal option I see is a buyout. No one in their right mind would pay that kind of money for a slow, weak and at times abesent minded defenseman

  • Repeating myself, but I’d like them to slot Lias Anderson for 3C and see how that works out. Perhaps try Boo at 4C, or find a serviceable 4C somewhere, perhaps by dangling Holden? If they would rather try JT at center, then slot Anderson as 4C.

    I’d like to see DeAngelo get the sheltered minutes on the 3rd pair with Staal. Staal should be fine on the 3rd pairing. DeAngelo should be the guy to quarterback the second power play unit. I don’t want him doing the Clendo on the bench, not with his skills and potential.

    Lots of good stuff can happen now. I am excited. ?

  • Kind of a quiet day today…and feeling SO much better. I have a few hours to kill before rehab. So thought I would chime in on a few things posted today and over the last few days. Go easy on me in your rebuttables…or not! 🙂

    1) First, since it’s right there above me, let’s start with Rich, who I know is doing cartwheels since his buddy Stepan was shipped out of town. :). I fear, my friend, that you are, once again, overstating our current situation. The Pens still have a couple of guys named Crosby and Malkin. Over the last few years, we lost Stepan and Brassard, the two guys singularly charged with limiting them. We’ve replaced them with Mika (still unknown) and Hayes (why does that idea send shivers of fear up and down my spine?). As it stands today, on those two key matchups, you can make the case we are weaker not stronger than we were a few years ago.

    Now, I do agree with you that the gap has been closed for other reasons. As Dave mentioned, there is a compelling case to be made that our top four could indeed be the best in the East….at least in terms of point production. But are we sure we have a shutdown defensive pairing that can be counted on to neutralize the likes of Crosby, Malkin and Ovie?

    The good news is the date is July 3rd, not October 3rd. Gorton has plenty of time to make needed additional roster moves. But to say the heat is NOW on AV is way premature. If the season were to open today, and you got exactly the same point production from each player on the roster, I’m not even sure we are a playoff team. My advice to you my friend is to NOT overrate our talent. There is good talent here for sure. It is still unclear whether any of our forwards have true greatness in them. Make the right acquisitions at center….have one or two of our supposed elite beasts take that next step, THEN the heat would and should be on AV. I do agree that Pit and Was look a little diminished but they are still better than us. We are still a work in progress.

    2) I did want to comment on Girardi signing with TB. I’m not meaning this to be belligerent in any way, but I found it curious that a guy like Girardi, who many out here said shouldn’t even be an NHL player anymore, was snapped up on Day One on a two year deal for some pretty significant bucks. Just like the double waiver of McIlrath last year, doesn’t this signing once again validate the thinking of AV and Rangers management in general–that Girardi was and is still a viable NHL defenseman?

    Also so interesting that Girardi goes to TB. All I have heard for the past three seasons is how much sharper and shrewder Yzerman and Cooper are compared to Sather/Gorton/AV (even though the record suggests that’s not so, but I digress), and yet the resident Florida geniuses sign a guy who should be in the AHL? Hmmmmm…..

    In addition, we kept hearing how AV had such superior choices to go with over Girardi–most prominently McIlrath and Clendening. All three in essence were available this summer to the entire league. Girardi got a two year deal at $3 mil per. Clendening, supposedly a far superior choice, winds up going to arguably the worst team in the league for yet another unimpressive one year deal that screams 7D all over again. This is his 7th organization in 4+ seasons. Anyone care to bet the over/under on how long he will stay in the desert?

    As for McIlrath, he signed, in his age 25 season, a two way deal that essentially says that the organization and the player agree he is a fringe player that will either be an AHL starter or a NHL 7D fill in type. Obviously, he and his agent read the tea leaves and they knew–there wasn’t likely going to be a one way deal out there worth taking–not after being waived twice last year and not claimed either time.

    So again, I ask, don’t these recent FA moves justify AV’s position and more broadly the Rangers, that Clendening and McIlrath were NOT better options than Girardi? Indeed, putting cap related decisions aside, can you think of any move since AV came on board where the Rangers decided to move on from a player, especially a young player, that went on to play elsewhere and shined? I can’t think of one.

    3) More on Girardi. He obviously struggled with injuries these past two seasons. He claims he’s 100% now. It will be very interesting to see how he does. I’d bet that, if he’s healthy, and given that he likely will not have to bear the burden of top pair minutes anymore, that TB will actually be happy in the end that they signed him. He’s a warrior and while we will obviously take the upgrade we just got, we will miss him more than some realize.

    Side note–I almost busted my stitches when Reena, who usually is as sharp as they come on many matters, made the silly statement that if Girardi does bounce back, that will prove once and for all that AV is a bad coach. Yep…no doubt that will be as true as the fact that Grabner’s turnaround I’m sure was ALL about Him getting away from Coach Babs and getting to play for a “real” coach like AV. 🙂

    (Just having some fun with you Reena…..but that was hilarious!)

    4) Richter….great call on Shatty! You’ve been saying it for months. But admit it…you and your sources were sweating it out there at the end, right? 🙂

    5). Bobby…you know you are my tag team buddy on all matters relating to Rangers history, but you continue to be off the rails on the “intimidation” issue. Sure, every team wants guys who can play physical……IF they can play. There is no such thing as physical intimidation in the modern NHL. And message sending is so overrated. The Rangers failed to fight in Dallas after Hank got run. It was wrong that they didnt respond, I agree. But what was the aftermath effect? Did their failure to respond have ANY impact on the standings or the outcome of the season? of course not. This league is all about high end skill now. Period.

    6) I am really excited about what’s ahead. Improve at center (a MUST…we are NOT as good as we were two weeks ago) and get some big time step up performances from a very good forward group…..if one or two of them breakout… out! This could be a really fun year!

    Sorry in advance for any spelling or grammar…and, if I don’t respond, I’m not ducking the conversation. Got much to do to get better. I will chime in when I can. But your comments and insight keep me going everyday. I should be 100% in about a month or less.

    Have a great 4th of July!

    • Glad to see you back, Eddie. I’m not sure what happened, just saw a few comments alluding to an injury. Looks like you’re feeling better, though. I hope for a smooth recovery.

      As to your comment, by and large, I agree.

      We are significantly weaker down the middle than we have been in a long time. Mika and Hayes can be very productive players, but they haven’t shown that they can handle top QoC minutes and be able to shut down the Malkins and Crosbys of the league. If that is our 1/2 punch –and it looks like that’s the case since there aren’t any high pedigree FA centers left– then we’re in for some struggles.

      To offset this, we’re going to need some real solid two-way centers to anchor the third and fourth line. Which is why losing Lindberg hurts alot more than some are willing to acknowledge.

      There’s still lots of time to make moves, and it’s clear Gorton isn’t done yet, but it’s going to be tricky to pull anything off that can significantly bolster this roster any more than has already been done. As mentioned, the FA market has largely been poached. And trade assets aren’t exactly in large abundancy. Staal and Holden could still have some value insofar as bringing back bottom 6 depth, but nothing extravagant. It’s going to require alot of creativity to ramp this roster up to where it needs to be, even with the additions of Shattenkirk, DeAngelo, and Andersson.

      I like Shattenkirk, Smith, and DeAngelo down the right side, and think that’s actually one of our stronger positions right now, so I don’t think the loss of Girardi is anything to lament beyond the emotional impact. However, if deployed correctly, he’s going to be just fine in Tampa serving bottom pair duties. I expect a nice rebound season from him.

      McIlrath and Clendening wouldn’t crack this lineup today, so no loss there either.

      All in all, we have a really improved blueline, and a wonderful combination of wingers. If JG can stabilize the middle, this team can be really good. My hope is that they sign Grigorenko and that Andersson proves he can transition directly to the NHL this season. If that happens, we’re in a good position, but if not, Gorton is going to have a tricky couple of months coming up.

          • Actually, per his agent, he’s agreed to terms on a 3-year deal in the KHL, but hasn’t actually signed the contract yet.

            He’s considering two offers from NHL teams and will make a decision tomorrow.

          • Can we get rid of the thumbs function again?

            F@#&ing juveniles continue to misuse it repeatedly.

          • I couldn’t agree more. Some idiots have nothing better to do with themselves after they choke their chicken!!!!!!!

    • Hi Eddie, nice to see you’re doing better. It’s good to see you’re back to writing your ‘essays’ again!

      I agree that we are going to miss Stepan, or more specifically, his defense. The team outscored the opposition 3-2 over the entire season while he was out there.

      People here seem very high on Zib… I just don’t know if he, despite having superior raw offensive talent, can take up the defensive responsibilities against the Crosbys & Malkins of the world.

      Same with Hayes, only his tendencies are even more exaggerated; he’ll easily put up 60-70 points under the right circumstances…. but follow that up with atrocious defensive play (and his patented refusal to hit something… or, perhaps he pays royalties to Stepan?).

      What worries me with Hayes is that he’ll do just that (have a 70ish point season), and the team (experiencing tunnel vision from staring at his stat line for too long) will reward him with a contract that is totally out of whack with his full impact on the ice; there’s a reason GAR models hate him – he plays no D…

      However, I disagree totally on Girardi. Emphatically. Just because he’s still capable of playing NHL minutes on a third pairing somewhere, and just because someone was eager to scoop him up… well, it doesn’t mean that dressing a player of his style is still the best way to go in today’s NHL.

      There’s a reason why he sits at the absolute bottom of every single statistical category among NHL defensemen (save for +/-) for the past four or five years. It’s because his style of play was best suited for another era which has come & gone.

      That being said… sorry Eddie, only a bad coach would continue to trot out the ‘corpse of Dan Girardi’ as stubbornly as he did. We had better options, even if much of Girardi’s bad play was due to injuries.

      As for the maligned cast offs you mentioned, assuming Clendenning can continue what he has done thus far….. you are going to see him turn some heads in ARI. Chayka likes fancy stats, and he’s going to get a much longer leash than he did here. Furthermore, given that he’ll likely be paired with OEL, I’m sure he’ll do fine.

      Anyways, I do agree that we may not be better than we were (only because of the aforementioned defensive concerns at center).

      • Dog,
        Where did you get this stat from [ The team outscored the opposition 3-2 over the entire season while he was out there. ] ?
        was it overall or did it breakdown PP and even strength?
        I could not find it .

        • It includes EV only. The website (corsica hockey) is actually down for the summer, but, here is an alternative link.

          If you click that, a page resembling a wall of numbers will come up showing many different stats of how Stepan performed versus the entire league. The stat you’re looking for is a buried a bit to the right (which you can observe by scrolling all the way down to the ‘left/right’ scroll bar at the bottom, then to the right until you see the category ‘GF% Stepan (without)’ at the top margin).

          If you can navigate through the page despite my convoluted directions, you’ll see that Stepan’s GF without% versus every player in the league hovers at around 59.5, which is implicitly, in other terms, the same as outscoring the opposition while you’re on the ice 3 to 2. And, to reiterate, this is ‘Even Strength’ only.

        • It includes Even Strength only. The website (corsica hockey) is actually down for the summer, but, here is an alternative link.

          If you click that, a page resembling a wall of numbers will come up showing many different stats of how Stepan performed versus the entire league.

          The stat you’re looking for is a buried a bit to the right (which you can observe by scrolling all the way down to the ‘left/right’ scroll bar at the bottom, then to the right until you see the category ‘GF% Stepan (without)’ at the top margin).

          If you can navigate through the page despite my convoluted directions, you’ll see that Stepan’s GF without% versus every player in the league varies, but it averages at around 59.7. In other words, while Stepan is not on the ice, opposing teams score about 60% of the total goals.

          Also, if you’re willing to keep digging, you may notice that his GF% while playing with his most frequent linemates (such as Nash) reciprocates the above numbers; very high 50’s GF%’s.

          In other words, we might miss him.

          • Dog, I give you credit for finding this table and for understanding it even more! I cant understand it. I couldn’t find the average 59.7% you spoke of. My only question is that it seems to me that if stepan plays 20 minutes a game or 1/3 of 60 minutes he should average being on ice for only 33% of the goals against not 40 %…right?
            A better argument for his positive performance is that I think stepan was 3rd or 4th on the rangers in plus-minus stat which is good and I use to evaluate players…..
            Either way we will see how the rangers do without him and how he does on his new team.

          • I’m sorry for not having the raw numbers – I’m not sure where to even get them myself.

            I think a better way of explaining the stat I used is this; while he was on the bench during any given period of time, the opposition scored, on average, ~60% of the total goals scored by either team.

            And, while he was on the ice, the opposite was true – the rangers scored about ~60% of the goals.

      • Thanks Dog!

        It seems you and I see the Stepan/Zib/Hayes dynamic much the same way. I think we are going to miss Stepan more than people realize. Hayes scares me and Zib to me remains a total unknown. Certainly, as the roster is currently constructed now, we are too weak down the middle to compete. But the season is still three months away. The house is still being remodeled so we can’t judge it yet.

        Where we disagree is on Girardi and AV, and hey, that’s ok. Look, NO ONE can predict what WILL happen with any certainty with any athlete. Girardi could have a bounce back year and be quite effective in TB. Perhaps on teams not expected to compete for the playoffs, guys like Clendo and McIlrath, both at the no longer young age of 25, will finally show they are capable of more playing time on an NHL roster.

        My point is that the thinking of the Rangers coaches and management on both players is not the aberration here. You are saying that a “better coach” would have not played Girardi over either guy. I’m simply saying that recent events (waivers, UFA, etc), seems to pretty clearly suggest that today, most every GM and coach would in fact make the same judgment that AV and Gorton made here. The worst AV can be accused of here would be that he didnt break out of the accepted way of thinking and perhaps think out of the box. But based on what we’ve seen, it is reasonable to conclude that regardless of who was coach or GM, likely the same decision would have been made regarding Girardi, Clendening and McIlrath. There is no evidence to suggest this was an evaluation unique to AV and the Rangers, while there is plenty of evidence to suggest the reverse is true. Only the fancy stats community seems to see it differently.

    • Welcome back Eddie. We were wondering what happened to you. I thought maybe you switched over to the Blue Jacket site. Still room to hop onto the John Tortorella band wagon ;).

      Girardi, former New York Ranger heart and soul defenceman and the go to scapegoat on this site, after receiving multiple offers, Dan signed with Tampa Bay. The 3 time Stanley Cup winner and longest serving Detroit captain Stevie Y must of seen something left in the old warhorse as Girardi was a unrestricted agent in less then a New York minute. Or perhaps, Yzerman saw something in Girardi’s fancy stats that compelled him to scoop him up.

      You have to give something to get something. Derek Stepan who has impressed me ever since he led the USA to a gold in the World Juniors, was moved to clear capspace and restocked the Rangers pipeline of young talent. While I think in the long-term it was a good move by Gorton, it leaves a chasm to be filled at center ice in the short-term.

      Anyhow Eddie hope you have a smooth recovery.

      • Thanks Bloomer! I appreciate it!

        You and I are in agreement on Stepan and Girardi. They got way too much abuse out here. Who will be this year’s scapegoat? Staal probably. As it stands right now, we are a weaker team today without Stepan…no question. But no worries, still three months to go.

        As for the Torts bandwagon, I thought about it, but then I remembered how the team barely made the playoffs when he was around, how he chased our one true sniper out of town because he wouldn’t be a shot blocker, and then banished Kreider to the minors after Kreider probably saved his job in ’12. All of a sudden, those “good old days” became a lot less appealing when I realized it was the least successful segment of the past 12 Rangers season. Maybe if Renney makes a comeback, I’d consider hopping on that bandwagon instead! 🙂

        But hey, I do miss Tort’s post-game rants!

    • I don’t know if Jagr would be willing to come over for anything less than what he got in FLA…

      Which might make him too expensive

    • I agree – it’s no-brainer for the right price.

      He made $4M + incentives last year in Florida.

      No one is knocking his door down – offer him $2M + incentives ands see what happens.

  • 3E,
    Lots of interesting points, esp. girardi value to league……I was thrilled with the signing, I think it makes tampa worse!
    YES I am still celebrating over stepans departure…..I thought we did ok with the return, DO YOU think we got enough back?
    As far as crosby….years ago we had [ I am sure you remember] Jan Erixon a ‘Jesper Fast’ type forward…..great defensively, so so offensively….His task every time we played the pens was to shadow Mario Lemieux and he was somewhat effective at it …Why cant we do that with crosby…..
    Good point on center comparison…..Hated to lose Brassard but I like Zib….and hoping hayes returns to early last seasons form before the injury….will miss Lindberg.
    Stay healthy!

    • To be fair, Rich… Stepan was ‘that guy’.

      That’s why he ended up the de-facto 1C – he plays the strongest defensive game of all our centers. Or did, rather.

      Personally, I’m hoping Andersson can be ‘that guy’ this year. Or, at the least, take a step towards becoming that player. He was the 2C on Sweden’s championship team this summer for a reason.

      Here’s the way I look at it with him… if Fast was able to put up 30 points playing 4th line minutes (while showing gradual offensive improvement as his tenure has unfolded), what might a kid who played in the same leagues a year earlier, while performing better at a more difficult position, do here if given the opportunity & quality linemates?

      • I like your thinking on Andersson, Doggie.

        I have read nothing but good things about him, and he was playing in a decent league on a good team at a key position. That seems to be what the Rangers saw in him to make him a #7 overall pick. Sure he is young. So are McDavid and Matthews. I bet this kid can make the jump.

      • Stepan is no Jan Erixon.

        “Nicknamed “The Shadow,” he was an excellent penalty killer and had evolved into a very versatile forward, able to play either wing or center. Bottom line – any team’s top offensive players playing against the New York Rangers would have to face Jan Erixon, their top shutdown player.

        There was no secret to Erixon’s success. His work ethic was respected by teammates and opponents alike. Though he was far from a bone-cruncher, he was a very physical player, always outworking opponents to turnover the puck. Once he got the puck he was more than capable of making strong plays. He just rarely scored goals. He was almost too unselfish.

        Skating was the key to his game. Blessed with great balance on his skates he was hard to win battles against. He tirelessly pursued the puck with good speed, and uncannily understood when to zip into a an opponent so that his momentum made up for his lack of size.”

      • Agree with the Dog here, and yes, I like the Erixon comparison. But we didn’t win a Cup with Erixon. Rich, I don’t think your approach would be enough to compensate for the loss of Stepan at the moment. As I said, still months to go yet. But today, we are a WEAK team down the middle.

        • In 2013-14 and 2014-15 we BEAT the penguins in successive playoff seasons. Why? Callahan? Brassard? Moore? Maybe we need to get a couple of Physical centers who can handle crosby and malkin…..we are better at wing and better on defense so whats missing?

          • Callahan wasn’t on either of those playoff teams Rich.

            You do make a valid point though. Again, this team is work in progress. I’m just saying that, if we play the season right now, we don’t have the personnel to get this done at center at the moment. I expect that will change.

  • Haven’t heard much chatter on Anisimov, seems he would be a pretty good 3C and he may help Buch reach his potential in North America. No?

  • So what’s next? We still have yet to address either of the two holes at center. Even if Miller does move to play 3C, we still don’t have a 4C. Gorton gonna get on that?

  • LOL! Man oh man, did we not learn ANYTHING from being portrayed as the “better” team vs OTT? smh

  • Anyone know much about Marcus Kruger?

    Recently dealt to Vegas by the Hawks. Rumor is Vegas is finalizing a deal to send him to the Eastern Conference. I have no idea if it’s the Rangers, but he is a bottom-6 center, so…

  • More importantly, please remember the millions who sacrificed a lot to give us our freedom and protect us every single day. Happy and safe July 4th everyone.

  • My offseason predictions so far:

    G, KK, and Staal gone = incomplete so far (but 2 out of 3)
    AV on the hot seat this year with Gorton more involved = Ruff now an assistant
    Lindberg selected by Vegas = done
    Stepan traded for either top pair RH D or center upgrade = well…..
    Shatty signed = done
    My next one is Miller back to center and Rangers sign/trade for someone like Kovy, Jagr, or Vanek.
    Andersson takes the 4th C spot.

    • You are on a roll. But I totally disagree with your take on Ruff and what that means. It was Gorton who wanted AV signed to the extension, something he did not have to do back in January. That deal screamed “long term play” vs “win now”. Indeed, it was rumored that when Torts was canned, it was Gorton who pushed Sather away from the crazy Messier idea to go with AV. What you are implying here is that somehow Gorton is “more” in charge now than he was when he signed AV to the mega extension just six months ago? Sorry, I ain’t buying that.

      I think the Ruff thing is pretty simple. Last year, they lost a trusted AV ally in Ulfie. They took almost all summer to find his replacement. The best option available was our untested defensive “guru” in Hartford. I suspect AV really didn’t want him, and my sense is that Beuke was a bit overmatched in his role. I think AV probably went to Gorton and said a change was needed.

      My further understanding is that Ruff and AV are friends. There is no reporting out there at all that suggests this is something that was forced down AV’s throat. Whenever you can add one of the winningest coaches of the past two decades to your staff, you jump at that all day every day. I think it is ZERO about Gorton sending a message to AV.

      Sure, if the team totally craps the bed like the Blue Jackets two years ago, then of course, AV, in his 5th season, could be vulnerable. But until we see what this roster looks like, there is no way AV should be on any hot seat until he has a roster that is “hot seat worthy”. As it stands right this moment, this roster is barely a playoff team. Let’s see what happens when the roster is complete before we decide if AV will be on any hot seat.

      • Hey bro, glad you’re feeling better.

        What I mean that “Gorton is more in charge” is that I guarantee you after AV’s fiascos during these past playoffs, that AV does not have “carte blanche” in rosters and player deployment any more.

        Will Gorton dictate minutes? Of course not. But wanna bet that a guy like DeAngelo plays? Regardless of the mistakes he makes? In the past a guy like this would get the “AV doghouse” treatment. I think now DeAngelo gets every chance to play in spite of the coach’s “wants and desires.”

        E3, your guy is on the hot seat, make zero bones about that. Gorton has given him a defense that is now the envy of a lot of teams in the NHL. No excuses now.

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