Can the Rangers find a young center?

ryan nugent hopkins

With all the work Jeff Gorton has done this summer, the last piece is another forward/center to round out the roster. There were rumblings about Tyler Bozak, who recently put his condo in Toronto up for sale. The Leafs are in a tough cap spot, and moving Bozak’s $4.2 million contract gets them off the hook.

While there’s smoke around Bozak –and perhaps James van Riemsdyk– it may not add up for the Rangers. They are a club that wants to get younger and faster. Bozak is 31 years old. JVR is only 28, but he isn’t a center. That can be fixed by moving JT Miller to center, but that comes with its own challenges.

Matt Duchene is a popular target, but the cost is going to be prohibitive. Let’s assume that won’t happen.

There could be a match with Anaheim and Andrew Cogliano, but he’s also on the wrong side of 30. He is a faster skater, but I don’t think that’s a fit if the Rangers are looking to get younger.

Nick Shore in LA could be an interesting target. The kid is 24 and projects to be a bottom-six center. He’s also pretty cheap, and LA could probably use some depth on defense. There’s no smoke there, just looking at rosters to see where a match could possibly be made.

The player I’m keeping my eyes on is Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in Edmonton. Good GMs identify the bad GMs and keep calling them, and Peter Chiarelli is a bad GM. He’s traded more than a few top picks for minimal returns, the most recent being Ryan Strome for Jordan Eberle. No one can forget about the Adam Larsson for Taylor Hall trade either. Not saying there’s a match, just saying he’s someone I’m keeping tabs on.

I stand by this though. If the Rangers add a legitimate 2C, which keeps Kevin Hayes in the 3C role, then the Rangers could be the top dog in the East. I think we are all intrigued to see how this unfolds.

"Can the Rangers find a young center?", 4 out of 5 based on 31 ratings.
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    1. I personally wouldn’t mind Bozak. He’s a great 2way C when healthy. Also wouldn’t have to rush Andersson if he’s doesn’t make the team out of camp or just doesn’t seem quite ready to assume full time control of 3C.

      1. 100% on your points. Bozak is similar to Stepan at a lower price. Puts DD at 4C and Andersson in Hartford.

        This is the best scenario as long as a major chip is not needed for the trade.

  1. You may be on to something with Nugent-Hopkins. After signing McDavid and with Draisaitl waiting in the wings They are going to be in a tough spot for cap space. And with the above mentioned Nugent-Hopkins falls to #3 on the depth chart.
    Only issue I see is 4 years left on his contract. I get the idea Gorton is looking for someone with just a year or 2 left on their deal. But he can always be traded later if necessary.
    I guess Chiarelli is due for a bad deal with the Rangers. He did one with the Devils and the Isles already…

    1. If Edmonton is willing to retain a bit or take back some salary, I can see a deal working here. Can’t see us taking on the whole $6m cap hit after we moved Stepan to ditch that much.

  2. Chiarelli has won a Stanley Cup, and though the Hall trade seemed absurd at the time it was a deal that helped Edmonton more than NJ this year. Chiarelli also brought the Oilers back to the playoffs after a 10-year absence…all this talk about him being a bad GM? Sounds like too much of Puck Daddy’s influence to me. Sure the Lucic contract is terrible, but Chiarelli’s tenure in Edmonton is off to a good start.

    1. Yeah, I think that people are looking at the Hall trade in a vacuum as opposed to the “fit” and the “need” the Oilers had at the time.

      Scoring was not their problem and is not now either even without both Hall and Eberle.

      1. That’s just it, scoring has been a problem in Edmonton. They’ve been consistently well below league average in total GF. Last year was the first year in almost 10 that Edmonton was at or above league average.

        Not saying defense/goaltending wasn’t part of the problem, just that it’s been a myth that Edmonton was a high scoring team.

        1. I have you to keep me grounded my friend. 🙂

          But they did need D in the worst way to be a serious contender.

          1. I agree that the Oil needed to revamp their defense group. Adam Larrsen isn’t a bad guy. For Taylor Hall though, they probably should have gotten Larrsen plus back for Hall. Shero heard Hall for him straight up and agreed before anyone could sanity check the proposal.

            Know how you absolutely KNOW a trade is bad….try it on EA NHL GM mode lol. Even a game wouldn’t let you execute that trade.

            1. Yes, getting Larsson “plus” is another issue and they could have easily gotten a high pick included.

    2. Chiarelli didn’t bring the Oilers back to the playoffs, Conner McDavid did.

      So besides getting lucky with ping pong balls in the lottery, what has he done? Remember this is the GM that traded Tyler Seguin because he “didn’t fit in the culture”, whom he traded Phil Kessel to draft along with Dougie Hamilton who he also traded, and traded for Wade Redden. He also comes from the Glen Sather school of “We don’t need any draft picks”.

      Yes, he’s a bad GM.

      1. So….because he made 2 stupid trades in Boston while winning a Stanley Cup, that makes him a bad GM with a different franchise. A different franchise that had a decade-long playoff drought that ended immediately after he took over the team. Got it.

        I bet Chiarelli wishes he was as good as the guy in Phoenix. Or George McPhee. Or as good as Jeff Gorton. Those guys with empty trophy cases are always envied by executives who actually won championships. I wish the Rangers could have a GM that was bad enough to win a Stanley Cup.

        1. So the crux of your side is, he’s won a Stanley Cup so therefore he’s good.

          I raise your side of the debate one Glen Sather. Won 4 Stanley Cups. Would you want him back in charge of the Rangers?

          1. The crux of the argument is that Chiarelli’s team made it to the playoffs after 10 years without an appearance. He was rightly hammered on the Lucic contract but looks ok on the Larsson-Hall swap after 1 year, considering Edmonton had a nice run in the playoffs too.

            Chiarelli robbed Toronto in the Kessel trade and won a Cup as Boston’s GM. Titles count for proof of skill at the GM spot, sorry. Luck plays a role too of course–Sather is a shining example of that–and the Seguin trade is a huge blot on his record. Its harder to win than fans like you think anyway–just ask Ray Shero, who won with Pittsburgh but ultimately was outdone by Jim Rutherford. And Rutherford got canned once too after winning a Cup. All I’m saying is that “bad GMs” don’t end up with championships.

            1. “…but looks ok on the Larsson-Hall swap”

              No. Just no. Easily one of the dumbest trades I’ve ever seen made. Unjustifiably terrible, especially considering Jason Demers was available as a FA.

              Hall + Demers >>>> No Hall, some space, and Larsson….

              ” All I’m saying is that “bad GMs” don’t end up with championships.”

              Lol, yes, they do. And they have before. And they will again.

              1. Not sure of what universe you guys live in, but when someone attains the pinnacle of their profession it means they’ve done something better than their competitors. There’s fewer than 75 people who’ve been the GM of a Stanley Cup-winning team. That’s pretty much the definition of an elite group of people.

                But please, go on and tell me how lousy winning a championship is. And how it’s proof of a lack of skill at the job.

              2. Like John B said, Sather won four with the Oilers. Lombardi has (through some insanely idiotic signings) hamstrung the Kings to mediocrity for the foreseeable future; even the guy on CHI just traded Panarin for Saad…. Ever hear of a guy named Neil Smith?

                I could keep going.

                What’s your point? That because a GM’s *team* wins a championship, that they too must be great at what they do?

                Because no one’s team succeeds because of the players, which even Dave’s draft Potato** could have picked out if given the draft picks & time to do so?

                Do you mean to imply that you (or anyone else reading this, quite frankly) couldn’t have won a Stanley cup as the GM of, say, PIT or CHI over the past decade?

                Because that is pretty ridiculous IMO.

                [** Go read that article he wrote if you don’t know what I’m talking about – in short, a potato would have outdrafted the Rangers (and much of the NHL) simply by picking only the best consensus available CHL forwards with each draft pick.]

              3. “but when someone attains the pinnacle of their profession it means they’ve done something better than their competitors.”

                No it’s called Nepotism. How many times has Brian Burke gotten a job? There is a laundry list of people in almost every sport who owe their job solely to nepotism. Proof? The Arizona Coyotes hired a young outsider as their GM, and others were rooting for him to fail.

                An aged but lovely read:
                “The data presented suggest that it is very difficult for a “proven winner” to leave one organization and replicate that success in a different organization; i.e., moving from one NHL team as the GM to another NHL team as the GM. A “proven winner” in one organization develops a skill set that is specific to that organization. In fact, as Jay Barney suggests, some of these skills “… are so taken for granted, so much a part of the day-to-day experience of managers in a firm, that these managers are unaware of them.”[19] It is possible that these skills develop because of tacit characteristics that managers take for granted. Some of these characteristics are innate to an organization’s culture (Jason Farris’ book describes the culture in the California NHL team in the late 60s and early 70s – there is no doubt it was very different from Montreal’s culture during the same period). Examples are teamwork among top managers, relationships between suppliers and customers, and relationships among employees. Barney argues that an organization’s resources and capabilities may be such socially complex phenomena “… that although a particular leader may be able to transform the socially complex resources and capabilities in one firm, this same leader will be unable to transform the socially complex resources and capabilities in another firm.”[20] Winning a Stanley Cup is very difficult. Owners who hire GMs and GMs who hire coaches need to remember that spending money to get a “proven winner” from another team is very unlikely to buy their team the big one – the Stanley Cup.”

            2. You’re kinda talking out both sides of the mouth, you have to admit. Sather was “lucky” with the Oilers, but Chiarelli is “good” because he lucked into McDavid. Do you not see the hypocrisy of that?

              “All I’m saying is that “bad GMs” don’t end up with championships.”

              I believe Craig Patrick, Jay Feaster, and Brian Burke would like to have a word with you.

              1. We will agree to disagree here. In the real world, winning a title means you’re better than most GMs at their jobs. It certainly means that the GM of a Cup-winning team can actually put together a Cup-winning team. It also means that they’ve entered into the elite club of GMs, like them or not. People were laughing when Rutherford replaced Shero in Pittsburgh, deriding him as a has-been despite his Cup win with the Hurricanes. I think it’s been borne out that Rutherford is pretty good at his job, by virtue of winning three championships. Chiarelli may not be a genius, but the foolish don’t win Stanley Cups…..

                You can take whatever abstract point you wish to make in response; I’ll stick to counting the trophies in the cupboard. I’m not a person to devalue the worth of winning championships, so I’ll conclude my part in this discussion.

              2. No one said Rutherford sucked. We would, however, say he sucked if he couldn’t do something with what he had.

                See the difference?

                You’re assuming all GM’s are on equal footing; the truth couldn’t be further from that.

                Here’s my point, put another way…..

                What GM job (of the three following teams) do you think is the easiest – Calgary’s, Anaheim’s, or Boston’s?

                CGY & ANA are obviously the two more difficult choices, each for different reasons. ANA operates with an internal budget & is in a state with very high taxes (~45%ish IIRC). Compared to FLA/TB’s high 20’s and you can see why FA’s who go there must be paid a premium over market price to account for the tax differential.

                Ditto for CGY, except that it’s very cold & the team earns Canadian dollars there (thus limiting their internal spending power more relative to US teams).

                That, in conjunction with the fact that some markets naturally have more pull than others for FA’s (where would you rather play; Boston, or Columbus?), and that all high end lottery draft picks are not created equally (McDavid being worth far more than RNH, Hall, and that other guy, for instance), it’s pretty obvious that you cannot solely judge GMs & their performance relative to each other.

                It doesn’t tell the whole story, and it belies the fact that some teams truly have the odds stacked against them no matter what they do or who their GM is.

        2. lol… you’re kidding right?

          Their playoff drought ended thanks to McDavid & Draisaitel…. not the other way around.

          A trained monkey could be the GM & still get a squad featuring talent like that to the playoffs.

          I’d be impressed if it (getting to the playoffs after a decade) happened on a team where RNH was the ‘star’……

          1. How many #1 overall picks did Edmonton have over the 10 year-drought? But sure, Kevin Lowe is better at the job than Chiarelli. If the job was so easy, why’d it take 10 years between playoff appearances? It’s a results oriented business, not an abstract theoretical contest.

            1. First of all, McDavid is worth far more than the other #1 overall picks they had combined. That alone speaks for itself.

              Secondly, I never said Lowe didn’t absolutely SUCK as a GM, nor did I ever say that Chiarelli wasn’t better than him (despite that dumbass Hall trade he made). You’re making a strawman argument there.

              In reality, I think the best GMs, as I’ve said before, are the ones who make the fewest mistakes & do the most with the least. None of them are close to perfect. The man who essentially built Chicago, Tallon, has done rather poorly thus far in Florida. Boston doesn’t win without Tim Thomas doing a Superman impression with his .940 whatever SV% in that playoff run.

              And, the PIT thing goes without saying – you or I could win a cup (or three) running a team which featured Crosby, Malkin, & Letang locked up reasonably cheap if given 8-10 years to do it.

              1. All I said was that Chiarelli is not a “bad GM”. As evidence I used his Cup win in Boston, added to the fact that he helped break Edmonton’s 10’year playoff drought last year. And for those 2 achievements he deserves to be considered at least better than average at his job.

                Any executive with these two accomplishments can certainly offset the terrible trade of Seguin (who hasn’t won anything in Dallas) or the lousy contract bestowed upon Lucic.

                I cited Rutherford because the snarky crowd of writers & fans didn’t think he was a worthwhile choice as Pens’ GM (retread, too old, etc). After doubling up on “modern GM” Ray Shero in Cup wins in a much shorter time in the job I think it’s clear who the better GM is. Rutherford was considered to be cut from the same old school cloth as Chiarelli by the slide rule hockey “fans”, yet has won more with Pittsburgh than the supposedly modern hockey minds of Ray Shero & Dan Bylsma.

                So tired of the willful blindness of some people. Give credit where credit is due, the Cup is not easy to win.

              2. “All I said was that Chiarelli is not a “bad GM”.”

                “And for those 2 achievements he deserves to be considered at least better than average at his job”


                No…. he would deserve to be fired if he couldn’t field a playoff team sporting the likes of McDavid and Draisaitel.

                Drafting McDavid is not an “accomplishment”. It’s winning the lottery of lotteries. Ditto for Draisaitel at 3rd overall.

                Getting to the playoffs doesn’t justify giving away Hall, either. Larson isn’t on the same level as Hall.

                Like I’ve said, were RNH their top dog, I might be more willing to look past his comical trade history.

                As for Rutherford… yes, I agree, he has clearly outdone Shero. But as I said before, again, with that roster…. it’d be more of an indictment against his abilities if he COULDN’T produce a perennial contender there….

              3. And Lowe couldn’t do anything right in Edmonton. Even with all the #1 overall picks. Even with McDavid and Draisatl. And Boston has continued their downward spiral with Chiarelli’s successor. Your point is a stretch at best, and it’s not backed up by results. Have a nice day, I’m done.

      2. It’s amazing to see people giving props about another teams GM for putting together a solid team together. Then on the NYR side of things Stepan who isn’t even a Ranger anymore gets mad love for “basically” getting Shatty to sign here.

  3. Edmonton has to trade Nugent Hopkins, but they don’t have to trade him now. McDavid’s 12m per does not start until next season. That is when the Oilers Cap Crunch hits. I think he would be a good fit for the Rangers, By the way he has a 6M cap hit. They would have to buy out Stall to make that work.

  4. Another option?
    Andreas Athanasiou anyone? RFA. unsigned, Detroit is in Cap hell, the guy can fly and the guy can score. COMPENSATION FOR A CONTRACT UP TO 5M 1ST AND A 3RD

    1. I’d say go for it. But, I think that the Wings will look to shed someone other than their 22 year old speedy center with a scoring touch.

  5. Excellent comment Dave….’good gms keep calling bad gms’…..but ryan nugent hopkins will be costly……
    I am looking forward to seeing how good JT Miller performs at center……if he can match his wing numbers at center we are set at center for the next 7-10 years, assuming zib signs and rookie can get it done…….I am betting he can!
    Only things we need to do going forward is to somehow convince stall to go…retire, trade etc…….and maybe resign nash at half his current salary , or say adios after this year…..
    Rest of this team looks very solid to me and with pens stars aging and tired form 2 back to back long runs…..maybe….

    1. Yeah, JT Miller and his 1 goal in 40 playoff games are really setting the Rangers up for future success. Especially by asking him to play a position that he’s not suited for. That’ll set the Rangers up for “7-10 years” indeed.

      1. JT’s style of play does not lend itself well to post-season hockey
        Every year it seems he has a nagging issue towards the end of March
        I haven’t looked as his stats to check this theory

      2. The goals will come…….it took Barry bonds how many playoff at bats to finally hit a home run, and he was an all time great!
        Being the type of player he is, going into corners , carrying puck over blue line and passing to teammates rather than shoot lends itself to assists rather than goals… a center he will be in slot more often and better suited to score……
        His skill set is ‘Exactly’ what you want from a center—– speed, quickness, puck carrying ability, aggressiveness, passing and stick handling ability, vision and courage to ‘Not ‘ throw the puck away at first sign of an opponent.
        He didn’t score 20 even strength goals and 50 even strength points by being lucky!!!!!!!!
        He is replacing a guy who despite playing most minutes of any forward only scored 13 even st. goals and 37 even st. points!!!!!

    2. He did terribly when he was switched to center after Hayes went down, he had 1 decent game through that stretch. Then him and the team went through the worst losing streak of the season until he exploded in that Nashville game after moving back to wing. I doubt JT touches the center spot, he’s a winger and most importantly AV views him the same way

    3. Get rid of a 55 point center to switch a 55 point winger to center with the hope that he can put up 55 points while leaving a hole on the wing where those 55 points came from. And this sets us up down the middle for the next decade?

      1. Not just to you Spozo, but just more doom and gloom from the off season pundits on this site. Nobody is ever optimistic. Just be more of the same, until the doom and gloom of the pre-season pundits start, and then the in-season ones light the lamp. HAHA!

      2. Spozo
        JT Miller scored 20 even strength goals and 50 even strength points as opposed to stepan who despite playing most minutes of any forward only scored a measly 13 even st. goals and 37 even st. points!!!!!
        Thats 7 more goals and 13 more points than a player, stepan, who played many more minutes than Miller!!!!!
        Given stepans minutes, power play time and zucc and kreider feeding him pucks….his numbers will far surpass Daisy’s !
        With zucc and kreider feeding stepan from the wings … or I could manage 13 goals!!!!

        1. Far surpass Daisy’s point totals?

          So Miller is a 70 point center if given Stepans playing time? Fantasyland must be pleasant!

  6. I think the Zib contract really will tell how the rest of the cards fall. If he opts for arbitration, I think the team knows he is looking for a huge payday and a long contract next year. You have to believe Gorton knows that he has to go out and get a young stud center, as he may not be able to bring Zib back. He may have to dangle guys he does not want to right now. That could mean Hayes, or Skjei or that first round pick in next years draft.

    If Zib does sign a bridge contract, Gorton can breathe easier for another year.

  7. in thinking a little more. What if you trade Miller, Holden and a 2019 first for Duchene and a 2019 2nd? Maybe we throw in Neil Poink and/or they add something else. Duchene is only 2 years older than Miller.Then you have Duchene and Zib as your #1 and #2 center.. Duchene is signed for 2 more years. You end up with a shorter term deal for Zib. Then see how it goes and if you can’t afford both trade 1 before UFA 2 years out. Also 2 years out hopefully Anderson and Chytil will be close to making the NHL if they are not ready by then. Losing Miller would suck, but you gotta give to get.

  8. Who exactly is their 1C? I’m still wondering…

    And while it’s laudable how young the team is getting, Cups are not won by youth alone. With Step and Girardi gone, Staal gone soon, Nash soon to be a FA and Hank not exactly a spring chicken, this team has gone from having too much older dead weight to having very little vet leadership to be a true contender. A solid player or 2 in or around 30 -and ideally at center – would not be the worst thing for this team.

  9. Duchene is not that good. He is overpaid. He has good speed but he is not a high end finisher. Joe Sakic has whipped up this frenzy for a player that is a) not the best player on his team (McKinnon and Barrie are better) b) is not a #1 center (is he a kopitar, is he a getzlaf, is he a toews not even close) and c) does not have much upside to become a player like that. The only players worth trading for in Colorado are Barrie and McKinnon. Remember this is a team that finished last in the league, has made the playoffs once in the last 5 years, gave away ryan O’reilly and traded the number 1 pick (that became Filip Forsberg) for a goalie (varlomov) that beats his girlfriend and was third on the Washington depth chart when they traded for him. Beware of Colorado bearing gifts.

    1. Duchene has averaged 56 points in the last four years (on an average team), and he is only 26 years old and fast. Not to shabby

      1. Duchene has been trending downward in play over that time as well. His point shares, relCF%, xGF% have all been trending down since his “monster” year.

        And I find it doubly amazing that we traded a 27 year old 55point center, to sell more assets to acquire a…wait for it…..55point center.

        Oh, and Matt Duchene quit on his team each of the past two years. If you watched any Colorado games, Nathan MacKinnon was playing hard throughout the year, Duchene’s effort at times would make Nik Zherdov look insanely good.

        1. His decline last year could have been a number of reasons;Injuries, conditioning (Like Hayes problem was) discontent for personal reasons or whatever. Maybe the change, right organization and people can get him going again. At 26 I doubt he is finished and he could skate circles around Stepan if you want to compare them. Given the right wingers and chemistry, he could score 70 points again. I would try and get him and take that chance if we could make the right deal.

    2. Duchene is talented, much more so than his recent point totals have let on. Look back at his first few seasons.

      That being said, in light of the rumored asking price for the guy (they turned down an offer of Hamonic & two 1st +++ IIRC), it’s clear COL values him as a hands-down 1C type.

      Which he’s capable of being….. but let someone else get ripped off in that trade IMO. He’s either lazy/indifferent, or in total physical decline (at the ripe old age of 26). Hard pass on this one IMO.

  10. Get Van Reimsdyk Gorton! He will help out with scoring. It gives Rangers flexibility for Nash deal and also Fast is still out at beg. of season. I think center will fall into place. Not sold on Bozak. For Nash, its his last season anyway in NY when you look at salary increases coming for current roster and cap space.

  11. I’m trying to figure out the allure of Nugent-Hopkins. There’s a 6 mill. Cap hit, he sucks on face offs, he’s regressed since his very good third and fourth years. He’s been a perpetual minus player since he’s been in the league (I know the team stunk). What am I missing? Did I mention he has a 6 million dollar cap hit?

    1. I’m not huge on him. Not a bad player IMO; not saying that – but I’m not sure he has too much more of a ceiling to him at this point. However, if he was to be had for a low enough outgoing trade package (no blue chippers, no 1st rounders, etc.), I wouldn’t necessarily mind that too much. Some more money would have to come from somewhere, though, and just not really sure how Gorton would pull that off without a Staal buyout.

      $6M may seem a lot, but it seems it is rapidly becoming just about the going rate for quality 2nd line center performance, unfortunately.

  12. Chicago has a need for a puck moving LHD.

    We need a Center. They have Anisimov.

    If I were JG, I’d be calling.

    1. I have said this before as well though it appears like Anisimov may go to the Avs for Duchene.

      But I could also see Anisimov coming here for Holden to clear cap space for Duchene too. Hossa gets LTIR’d and then Duchene fits cap wise.

  13. Maybe the Rangers could trade Del Angelo and a first round pick for a two way scoring center and a up and coming backup goalie. Nevermind..
    no Gm would be dumb enough to make that deal

  14. Rangers EVENTUALLY need C for depth, but at min zib jtm + hayes w/boo at 4C gets it done

    do NOT want to spend assets on stop gaps like Bozak

    do not want Stepan II in RNH unless Staal goes which is not likely

    I maintain
    Buch+Zib + 3 5ths
    Sam Reinhart + 3 2nds + cap savings

    allows zib to bookend at 1RW w/Kreider at 1LW, speedy Miller 1C pivot, an awesome to dominant 1st line

    Reinhart 2C

    Hayes 3C

    Nieves 4C

      1. Lol yeah, that’s absurd. I’m all for trading a draft pick + winger prospect to acquire a #2 center, because i’d rather have a winger problem than a center problem, its an easier hole to fix as there are so many good wingers out there. But Buc and Zib for Reinhart? Hahaha. I wouldnt even do Zib for Reinhart straight up.

    1. Awful idea. Give up to soon to be super star players and 3 2nd eound picks!? For one star player? No thanks…

  15. I’d really like to see us get a solid 2 C & Andersson make the team out of camp assume 3C role and Hayes be put on the wing! I just see Hayes being much more productive on the wing if we’re able to do that with him. Can’t wait to see how everything unfolds!

  16. I wonder what it would take to pry Couturier from Philly… JT straight up?? Anybody think that would possibly work with a division rival??

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