Sunday Rangers thoughts

mika zibanejad

1. This offseason has been an interesting one for the Rangers. They addressed their defensive needs, to the point where they created a logjam on the bottom pair. Assuming Anthony DeAngelo is guaranteed a spot, then the Rangers are fine with Neal Pionk and Alexei Bereglazov starting in the AHL. That’s perfectly fine. But are they ok with Nick Holden or Marc Staal as the 7D? That’s a lot of money to have on the bench.

2. In addressing their defensive needs, the Rangers created a huge hole at center. Instead of letting Mika Zibanejad grow into the 1C role and Kevin Hayes into the 2C role, they are forcing each into those roles. It may work. It may not. But it’s still curious to say the least.

3. Speaking of forwards, something has to give, right? Matt Puempel is slated to start as the 12F, assuming neither Filip Chytil (unlikely) nor Lias Andersson (possible) make the team. I honestly think the club is penciling the Swede into the lineup on opening night. He has shown he belongs in the SHL, but to expect him to not need time in the AHL is something.

4. Even if one of the first rounders makes the club, there is very little injury depth. Perhaps they are waiting on waivers from Vegas? Or perhaps they look to address the logjam by dangling Holden for a 3C? I just get the feeling they aren’t done yet.

5. I still expect Zibanejad to sign a 4-5 year deal worth $5 million a year, give or take. That leaves the club with $3 million in cap space to address that center issue. It becomes more if they trade Holden to address the issue. An even more unlikely scenario: A buyout of Marc Staal in the second buyout window, which opens the day after Zibanejad reaches a deal, and lasts for three days. Unlikely, but a scenario nonetheless.

6. I find it humorous that the two positions fans are most worried about are center and goalie. These are the same people that, at least from the folks I recognize in my mentions, advocated for trading both Antti Raanta and Derek Stepan. You got your wish.

7. I’m going out on a limb here. If the Rangers can add a 2C, I think they have a legitimate shot at winning the division and coming out of the conference in May. Pittsburgh and Washington got weaker. As did Montreal and Ottawa. Tampa is still a wild card though. With a 2C in the fold, the Rangers –on paper– have one of the strongest teams in the conference.

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  • I fully expect the 3rd pair to be Staal and Deangelo. Staal’ contract is pretty much unmovable while Holden is a cheap contract with 35 point production. And honestly I would rather Staal as deangelo’s partner than Holden. Holden and Deangelo in defensive zone would be a train wreck.

  • Time to buyout Staal’s contract, NYG can use extra cap room to gain some significant help in top 6 or top 9 position.

    • NYG could really, really help the Rangers out by buying out Staal’s contract. What are the specific regulations on teams from different sports buying out NYR contracts?

    • Worst case scenario, really have to sit on Staal another season as the team really needs to stagger out those buyouts to have enough free cash next year. Also at that point the NTC modifies, so he can be dealt. Right now there aren’t any dance partners for Staal anyway.

      • Neither Staal nor Holden belong on this team they both suck in the d-zone and they can’t move Staal best case trade Holden and buy out Staal. (Toronto needs cap relief and would take Holden)

        • Whether or not they BELONG really has nothing to do with it. Whether or not they can be removed from the team in a fiscally responsible way is what matters. This is a salary cap driven league, not some recreational league where players can be added and removed freely with no repercussions. Marc Staal’s contract is large and he can still be a contributor on third pair minutes, meaning the Rangers should not use the nuclear option on him. This may even be a situation where Marc Staal gets upset at all of you guys getting so mad at him that he actually starts playing better as well.. hopefully the rumors aren’t true and he doesn’t have lasting head trauma.

          • Agree 100% – Staal may be still be useful in a sheltered role. It just doesn’t make financial sense to buy him out now. Plus they just subtracted 2 big pieces of their leadership group in G & Step. I also think pairing him with a solid puckmover such as DeAngelo? Pionk? may help cover up some of his flaws.

          • You would right if Staal’s play had not deteriorated to the point where he is sub-replacement level.

            In other words, having him sit in the press box (and allowing an average guy to play) would actually improve the team.

            His contract is *that bad*.

            To be fair to him, it’s not from a lack of effort. Injuries have ruined his career IMO.

          • I agree here with AWDS about Staal. Sit him, especially if Holden is on the roster come October. Staal should be the 7D in that case no matter what, Holden should be stapled to the 3LHD slot (and I mean STAPLED, outside of injury needs to move him up), and one of the young righties should be on the third pair with Holden. Holden + ADA/Pionk/Kampfer/traffic cone/mannequin wearing a Rangers sweater is superior to Staal + Holden, in my eyes. Especially after what I saw from that pair in the playoffs (which, to be fair, is largely on AV for throwing them in way over their heads, way too frequently).

            It doesn’t matter how much money is in the press box; the ultimate goal should be to put the best roster top-to-bottom on the ice. On this team, that no longer includes Staal, no matter how the kids look in camp. They almost literally cannot be worse. He gets paid either way, so nobody should shed too many tears for him – including the coach or the front office. It’s amazing how sentimental “good hockey men” can be sometimes when it comes to their roster decisions.

            Also of note, IMO, the reality is, we don’t know exactly why Staal hasn’t been traded. We could assume it’s for lack of suitors based on his recent play, of course, and we may certainly be correct in doing so. Even at half salary, he wouldn’t be the best value out there. But I’m not 100% sure that’s it…there still seem to be many front office folks around the league who place some value on veteran stay-at-home defenders, even the ones widely considered to be on the smarter end of the spectrum (see: Yzerman, Steve + Girardi, Dan). There are still teams who can look honestly at their roster and say “we aren’t contending any time soon, and need some vets to hit the salary floor for years to come”. There is a chance, however, that he will not waive his NMC and that is behind the lack of a move so far…and if that’s the case, then he REALLY needs to sit in the press box for a month and see if that changes his mind about that.

            It’s harsh, and I feel bad for the guy on a personal level. It’s a shame his play has deteriorated so much due to factors entirely out of his control. However, he absolutely should not be on the ice from the business standpoint, if at all possible. Even if it means all that money in the press box.

      • Add to the fact a buy after another one would might not give enough healthy time to give the NYR for a recuperation period by next summer to sign Kovy. This would turn out messy and we all know Kovy’s going to be a NYR next year when assuming he wouldn’t try to ask for all the bank in the word.

        Haha I’m still not a fan of Staal being around due to multiple reasons. I would go full retention and add a pick with Gropps name to it if that meant he’s a goner for us. I’m just assuming the best for this summer like when last year in the pre games where we had a strong showcase in talent and stiff competition. I have a feeling DeAngelo, Graves, Day and that Russian kid name will all be demanding a roster spot come October.

        • I wouldn’t worry about Kovalchuk so much now that the derbils lost his rights, as whoever signs him can’t give him more than 1 year at a time without it potentially biting them in the ass.

          It’s 35+ contract territory now, so he won’t be getting term IMO.

        • Staal has a full NMC for 1 more season, so unless you’re going to bury him in the press box to have him waive it, he’s going nowhere fast.

          • Staal in the pressbox? Hmmm…

            I think you’re on to something here….

            In all seriousness I wouldn’t have a problem doing that, especially if Day shows that he wasn’t granted exceptional status for no reason…..

  • Bereglazov has a clause in his contract which stipulates that he can go back to Russia if he is not on the Rangers roster.

    • Berezgalov will make more in 1 year on a 1 way in Hartford than he would in 3 years in the KHL at this point.

      The biggest question in Hartford is what will happen with Gilmour? I’m not sure he deserves to start the season with the Wolf Pack.

  • You won’t get a lot back for Staal. Concussions , eye injury. Nmc.

    Best chance is to put him on the third and use him in the top 4 in case of injury.

    He should have a bounce back season which will elevate his trade value. But still he is damaged goods. You might be able to dump his contract but that’s it.

  • Hey Dave when I come on here I don’t see it like that at all. I did noticed that the people who thought Stepan wouldn’t get traded are now the ones stirring the pot that the NYR are done for with the window closing (furthest from the truth imo).

    I’ve been calling them insecure this whole time for those exact reasons. People need to understand that our idea’s to transitioning this team has zero leverage to the NYR community and JG. I don’t think they care about what the top posters on this site has to say. I could have been a big Stepan fan and I still would have known that he’s a goner sooner rather than later especially with how he performed in his career high season in 2016 (slow clap). His 2016 performance and Worlds Cup tourney presence in that following summer next to names like Kane and Oshie must have brought his stock down. Then the emerging Mika/Kreider duo and Mika’s arrival didn’t help. Hayes game and Stepan not really being apart of that October-November runhad to help Stepan get canned. Peoples emotion of wanting to see something and then take it back is a worthless topic to mention in your great write-ups. I think I need to find some underground betting on what the next moves are for the NYR’s and trust me, I wouldn’t go by reading other fans opinions on what’s next.

    • TJ Oshie!? He shot a league high 23% this year with his highest goals and his lowest shot totals. Big money for long term, and we could see a real nice 18-20 goal season from him.

      • Yeah the Oshie deal is insanely idiotic….. I don’t know what the hell that GM was thinking.

        Also mint, Stepan’s demise as a Ranger began when he had that 44 point in 48 game season in the last lockout.

        Everyone thought he was going to replicate those PPGish figures, but it never happened. Instead of being an elite 1C…. he was just a regular/low end 1C.

  • Staal’s numbers were actually better than a year ago. Not saying they are good just not as bad. He could be a decent third pair guy. QoC and all that.

    If Hayes isn’t ready to be the 2C, he’s never going to be a 2C, so this is a defining year for both he and JT. AWFUL second halfs for both. Hayes had 6 goals in the 2017 portion of the schedule. Miller had 6 in his last 32 games. Both Hayes and Miller have not shown an ability to score playoff goals. Very troublesome. In a combined 74 playoff games in their career they have 3 goals. I will wait now for someone to blame the HC.

  • I think you are super optimistic. As constituted presently, the Rangers are not a playoff team. Sorry. As you note, there is a weakness at center and forward depth is simply not there. There is however not a glut at third pair defense. I expect some moves to address the forward depth problem, but not the others.

    Who are the third pair dmen exactly? Steal, Holden, DeAngelo, Pionk, Bereglazov, Kampfer, Day, Graves. Well, that is a long list. But — Graves wasn’t even an April call-up, not in the plans. Pionk (remember Gilroy and Bodie, top undrafted college players don’t just slide into the NHL) Day (a bit early don’t you think) DeAngelo (yeah, right, a defenseman with an attitude problem who is not responsible in his own end. ******* So in the end you have Staal and Holden starting with Bereglazov and Kampfer competing for the #7 spot. Adam Clendening would have been the fifth best defensemen on this team.

    • I don’t understand why you would even say this. It makes no sense, Ray.

      Relative to last year’s team…. what changed?

      Stepan out for replacement level/Andersson is immediately offset by swapping G for Shatty. Hell, I think the team may be better overall… not because Stepan sucks, but because the Girardi situation was the epitome of a square peg being shoved into a round hole (with predictable results).

      As for the third pairing defense, at this point… to say that at least SOMEONE from that small platoon of prospects wouldn’t be capable of filling in on the third pairing (ESPECIALLY considering who the 2nd pairing was last year) is kind of insane….

      If anything, this is an entirely moot point, because the pairings are essentially preset – McD/Shatty, Skjei/Smith, Staal/Hodor….. where are these dreaded ‘rookies’ fitting in? I don’t understand the concern, other than the fact the third pairing is still ‘a thing’.

      Lastly, DeAngelo > Clendo. Mind you, I’ve been an ardent supporter of the latter, but IMO you’re letting your personal hatred of the guy cloud your judgement. Also, Kampfire….. he’s easily 9th or 10th on the depth chart. Solid emergency defenseman, though.

      • Maybe my personal hatred does cloud my judgment (and make no mistake, that hatred does exceed my fifty year love for the Rangers), but I don’t actually think so. Tampa Bay didn’t want him. His +/- did suggest he was the Coyotes’ worst player, and he has a rep as a poor defensive player. How does a guy with a bad attitude learn to play in his own end?

        I have no doubt whatsoever that DeAngelo cannot be a good hockey player unless he learns humility. I personally do not think that he is capable of learning that – there I may be wrong. However, unless the Rangers have him penciled in for Hartford, there is no chance. If almost anyone here were coaching, it would be a lost cause. It may be that AV and Ruff fare better.

        And compared to last year, the only good news is Shattenkirk. The other changes are negative and there is no addition by subtraction anywhere.

        • Well, that’s my point – having Shatty over Girardi negates the loss of Stepan for [someone].

          G was really *that bad* the last two/three years.

          As for your new favorite defensemen, well (if the prior discussion of his acquisition right before the draft is any indication), I don’t see us agreeing too often about this kid.

          Anyways, I have a strange feeling we’re gonna see another trade…. there’s too many NHL-ready defenders on the roster (& not enough centers).

  • Because I believe him likely to be immovable, I expect Staal to be on the third pair with DeAngelo most nights. It could be Holden with DeAngelo or a rotation on the third pair if the Rangers do not trade Holden.

    Gorton wants to develop DeAngelo and sees him also quarterbacking a power play unit so I don’t think he sits and does the Clendo in the press box much. His defensive zone problems can be fixed with instruction. His skating ability and shot are talents that cannot be taught. He also can learn to behave properly.

    Because Andersson’s skills are pretty developed I believe that he has a real shot at making the club. I think that Gorton may not go to great lengths to get a center. He may instead go for a winger.

  • Trade Holden and a pick for Anisimov and buyout Staal if you can’t trade him:



    Winnipeg Guy

    Looks pretty good to me.

    • It does look good assuming all (or most) of the following:

      1. More improvement and consistency from Kreider, Hayes, Miller
      2. Vesey steps up to justify a top six role
      3. Buch is allowed to, you know, play (my one dig at AV)
      4. Desharnias is not a total bust or Andersson makes the team in his place or is brought up from Hartford (Sweden?) to replace hm
      5. Grabner doesn’t regress too much
      6. The goalie whisperer does something with Winnipeg Guy
      7. The bottom D pair is adequate.

      • all very valid points rr. I would say that for the simple reason that the new D corps will allow the Rangers to actually come out of their own zone without performing root canal, I think that alone will make the forwards better and will produce a better speed game, overall.

    • I would welcome Anisimov back with open arms. But the guy has a NTC. Would he waive it to leave Chicago to come to NY?

    • Richter: That does seem like a realistic scenario and it is possible that the Rangers go that way. However, I suspect that Gorton has different plans and might not spring for an Anisimov, instead trying DeSharnais and Andersson as centers if they decide to keep Miller at the wing. I also think that they brought DeAngelo here to play. That being said, I could be totally wrong. It is not like I haven’t been before! 🙂

      • lol, hey pal. I would really hate to see Deharnais as our 3rd line C and Andersson as our 4th line C. 2 unfortunate scenarios IMO.

        I think Andersson needs to start in Hartford to get used to the smaller ice surface, at least for the first 3 months of the season. And then bring him up if his play warrants it.

        Desharnais as 3rd C? Yuck. That would water down the upgrades in the D IMO. Getting a top 9 C will do wonders for this team.

        And I agree with you, DeAngelo was not brought here not to play with the big club.

        • Ha, yeah DeSharnais as 3C is not something I’d want to see. Hopefully he is this year’s Brandon Pirri. Gorton has said that the club thinks of JT as a center, but AV has said that he is more productive on the wing. I guess that will determine whether they seek a center or a winger. They were impressed with Andersson at the development camp. I am betting on him as 4C with DeSharnais as his insurance. We’ll see how prescient I am!

  • On the 2nd thought, Stall hasn’t been offered a buyout from the NYR could possibly mean Holden is still on the trading block. If Holden is going to be traded then NYR may need Staal to stay put. If Holden isn’t traded it then NYR might offer Staal a buyout.

  • Toronto newspaper says that the Leafs aren’t interested in Holden at all, so Holden to leafs and Bozak to NYR trade is pretty much dead. Unless Leafs desperately need the cap space Holden trade provides.

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