Ranking how (I think) the Rangers value their players

Chris Kreider led the Rangers with 28 goals last season

This list is my best guess at how the front office collectively views its depth chart now and looking towards the future. That means that age, contract, potential and position matter. Past performance holds less weight.

Note that though it’s a foregone conclusion Filip Chytil is going to win multiple Hart Trophies, I’m only including the players that seem to be in the mix for roster spots this season.

While I naturally assumed that Henrik Lundqvist would top my list going into the process, I came to a different conclusion upon further consideration.

I invite you all to share your own rankings in the comments as I think you’ll come to similarly surprising results. So without further ado…

25) Matt Puempel
Puempel is the least-discussed member of the Rangers – and for good reason. Perhaps the hat trick he netted just after arriving in New York is a sign of what’s beneath the surface, but at this point Puempel looks like a guy that could easily hit the waiver wire.

24) Nick Holden
He’s on an expiring deal and has been pushed down the depth chart to the point it’s very possible Holden spends much of the season in the press box, if he’s even still on the roster. New York would surely trade Holden for just about anything in return.

23) David Desharnais
Desharnais was plucked off the scrap heap, but given the team’s lack of centers he carries some importance for this season. That said, he’s a stopgap solution and has no future here beyond this year.

22) Ondrej Pavelec
It still boggles my mind that the Blueshirts aggressively pursued Pavelec and inked him knowing he may need to play 25 games this season. But apparently Benoit Allaire is on board and obviously his word is gold within the organization.

21) Cristoval Nieves
Nieves still hasn’t proven a thing as a professional, but he has several traits that make him intriguing. Speed, faceoff ability, two-way play – it’s easy to see why he’s still mentioned in the team’s plans even if Nieves will have to fight hard just to win a job.

20) Alexei Bereglazov
The KHL out-clause is a bit concerning, but also an indication the Blueshirts are confident Bereglazov is indeed ready for the NHL.

19) Neal Pionk
I have Pionk higher than Bereglazov because he was in much greater demand this spring and is a full year younger.

18) Marc Staal
Whether you agree with it or not, the Rangers value experience and veteran leadership, and Staal provides both in spades.

17) Michael Grabner
The speedster left his mark in his first season with the Blueshirts, as Grabner finished just behind Kreider for the team lead in goals and was a leader on the penalty kill and an ace on the forecheck. Of all the expiring contracts, I think Grabner has the best chance of re-upping.

16) Rick Nash
Obviously Nash has been far more valuable than this ranking over the course of his tenure on Broadway, but with free agency looming and New York ushering in a new generation, the writing is on the wall.

15) Jesper Fast
Fast doesn’t have much room to grow, but he’s an ultra-dependable fourth liner that can be moved around the lineup and is a consummate team player. He’s also on a reasonable contract for three more years.

14) Anthony DeAngelo
DeAngelo was one of the tougher guys to place. Obviously the organization holds him in high regard since DeAngelo was a key piece of the Derek Stepan trade, but DeAngelo hasn’t even cemented his status as an NHL regular yet. The character concerns also would make me very nervous if I were running the team.

13) Jimmy Vesey
The jury’s still out on Vesey. On the one hand, he started scoring immediately last year and was one of the team’s best players in the postseason, providing a glimpse of the dominant power forward he could become. On the other, he went through a brutal drought during the heart of the year and his peripheral stats are some cause for concern.

12) Kevin Hayes
What a difference a year makes. Hayes was blasted by the staff following his sophomore season and now he’s being counted on to pivot the second line and chip in all situations. Still, the Rangers haven’t made a long-term commitment to Hayes just yet…

11) Mats Zuccarello
Though he doesn’t look a day older than 14, Zuke will be 30 years old by the time the season starts. But in many ways he’s the engine that makes the Rangers go and the team is still benefitting from the bargain deal he signed in 2015.

10) Brendan Smith
The Blueshirts invested two high draft picks to acquire Smith, then doubled down and signed him to a four-year deal. He’ll be expected to play on the second pairing and provide the steady stay-at-home presence the Rangers have gotten for so long from Staal and Dan Girardi. Smith is a no frills guy, but he’ll be counted on a great deal.

9) J.T. Miller
Miller and Hayes remain on similar career arcs, but I get the sense the coaches are a bit more confident in what to expect from Miller going forward. J.T. is also a year younger than Hayes and has more room for growth. If he were to be successfully converted to center, he’d climb even higher on this list.

8) Pavel Buchnevich
Buchnevich had an up-and-down rookie year, but he provided glimpses of limitless potential. As a 22-year-old with years of team control remaining, he’s absolutely a key to the present and future.

7) Lias Andersson
The No. 7 pick was one of the trickiest players to rank. Obviously he’s cost-controlled and has terrific potential, but despite his summer highlights, he hasn’t actually done anything yet. That said – Andersson represents hope and looks like he could be a foundational piece.

6) Mika Zibanejad
I’m all-in on Zibanejad and I think the organization is, too. Giving Zibanejad a five-year pact when many others in his position have received bridge deals is a strong indication that New York believes Zibanejad will blossom into a bona fide first-line center and wanted to secure him at a reasonable cost now rather than wait for him to fulfill their expectations.

5) Chris Kreider
2016-2017 was the year Kreider finally put it all together. The team was very patient waiting for Kreider to harness his incredible combination of speed and power, but even while that process unfolded Kreider provided strong value. He looks poised to be a force going forward with a rare set of gifts possessed by few others in the world.

4) Kevin Shattenkirk
The hometown kid inked a team-friendly deal that soaks up his prime years. Not only will he be a weapon on the ice – he’s a marketing dream.

3) Henrik Lundqvist
It feels blasphemous not to have Lundqvist at No. 1, but there’s actually a strong case to be made for knocking him even farther down the list. He remains the man that will have the most impact on the team’s fortunes this season and next, but at age 35 the end is in sight for The King.

2) Ryan McDonagh
The captain had a tremendous season and remains New York’s unquestioned No. 1, but the rumblings about what he could earn as a free agent in two years probably has the Blueshirts a little unnerved. At his best, McDonagh is absolutely worth $7 million annually, but he’s had some trouble staying on the ice and is suddenly 28 years old. For two more years, he’ll be invaluable. But what then?

1) Brady Skjei
There’s a new sheriff in town! To be honest, I didn’t expect to put Skjei here. But he’s coming off an outstanding rookie season in which he displayed offensive ability that few expected. At age 23, he has a decade of his best hockey in front of him. Skjei plays a modern style and can skate like the wind. And, of course, he’s a cost-controlled asset.

Show More
  • Hell of a task here, Kevin. I applaud you for taking a crack at this one. Really enjoyed the read.

  • I guess Staal, Puempel and Holden have to be on the list, but I still think guys like the other young defenseman in the system are ahead of them.

  • Personally I would have ranked Nash and Zuke a spot or two lower (more valuable) than you have them and Anderson a little higher (less valuable). But overall I think you captured the big picture.

  • I see Hayes as the 2nd or 3rd most valuable forward as the season starts up. He’s been given the keys to the city as long as he takes advantage of his situation. He was very much of apart of the shipping Stepan to Arizona. He’ll get a chance to run a PP and probably be the go to on the pk. I think the Rangers timed this call awhile ago making him more valuable than you give him credit for.

    Nash being added the random extra “A” last season told me a different story. I think he’ll have a chance to buy himself another season in NYC like he did last year in his injury filled season while potting 26 goals.

    I’ve been very vocal about how I think Anderson is expected to make the team but don’t I think he’ll see top 9 minutes. I think he will be a 4th liner and maybe even a wing to start off at camp if Boo impress enough at center. I could see Anderson gaining AV’s full trust to be apart of a 4th line that shuts down other top 6 lines and a special cog on the pk, he’s ranked way to high imo.

  • Interesting concept and read. It is hard to argue with Skjei at #1, given all of the circumstances in play. I am pretty pleased with the direction this front office seems to be heading lately with the roster building, for the most part.

    What scares me is thinking about the coach’s views on such a ranking list, considering he lost Skjei and Smith on the bench for crucial moments of the Ottawa series, meanwhile his “lockdown pair” of Staal and Holden were on in those moments. The team (and we fans) paid the price for that unforgivable dumbassery courtesy of the chewing gum aficionado behind the bench. Maybe Smith and Skjei would have done no better…but, I find that very hard to believe, and at the very least, there was always a higher potential for Smith and Skjei to handle those moments better.

    Similar to Gecko’s comment above, I suspect the organization may value Hayes a bit more than this ranking here would suggest. The season hasn’t started yet and all, so maybe this isn’t the final roster…but it sure looks like they are very comfortable giving Hayes that 2C role at the moment. We know from prior history that the front office collectively can be fans of bridge deals in general, so I never made much out of it that they inked him (or Miller) to those deals. If they are truly 100% comfortable with Hayes in the 2C role however, an argument could be made that they still value Hayes quite a bit more than #12 on the chart based on that decision.

  • Well, have you thought the Skjei ranking through!?

    He was the SECOND QB on the power play last year, and now could very well not see ANY PP time. Shattenkirk was bought to play the 1 in the 1-3-1 PP, and I assume that McD with his experience will be the second unit point man.

    • Value here takes contract, rate of production, skill level, etc all into consideration…I’d agree that Skjei’s production for his contract cost is pretty outstanding. He had the most impressive rookie season for a Ranger defender since Ryan McDonagh, and even McD only played half a season. Skjei was fantastic last year and should be recognized as one of the best young D talents in the East.

  • Might be a silly exercise, but where would Stepan or Raanta fit in this ranking?

    I think Stepan would be in the top 10, Raanta top 15.

    • Interesting question. I’d probably have Raanta behind Grabner since he was on an expiring deal, if not even lower.

      Stepan’s a tough call for me. I just don’t think he had the speed to keep up anymore and I think whether he got traded this offseason or not, his role was bound to change.

  • Nice list, good job……
    A few changes I would make….
    Switch our leading goal scorer, grabner with lunquist….big no brainer……
    JT miller should be right behind kreider…
    Everything else cant argue with…..

    • a) Grabner wasn’t the leading scorer this past season.
      b) at least you’re right in that switch is a no brainer. You would have to be pretty brainless to think Grabner has more value to this organization than Lundqvist.

      • +1 on all points. But then again Rich keeps calling Jagr a Russian, so there’s not a lot of swiftness there…..

        • Another genius,
          If you read my last reference to jagr, you should have seen it was said ‘tongue in cheek’…….Duh !!!!!

          But I’ll give you a chance to redeem yourself-

          Answer the question at the end…. over the past few years cam talbot, and anti raanta both statistically outperformed sievequist… this point he is nothing more than an average goalie and has been for years. And at what 7 million.

          Question…What makes him more valuable than a player with 27 even strength goals , game changing speed on a very inexpensive contract??? Gorton, would trade him and his salary in a heartbeat if there was any takers.

          • Make sure to watch this year when Grabner reverts to a 13-15 goal scorer (not a complaint about him at all), as he’s been for most of his career.

            And show some respect towards Lundqvist. Not to mention that you should also respect Jagr and not call him Russian. After all, Jagr wears 68 to commemorate the Czech revolt against the USSR in 1968.

      • a] leading goal scorer at even strength….
        b] over the past few years cam talbot, and anti raanta both statistically outperformed sievequist… this point he is nothing more than an average goalie and has been for years. And at what 7 million??

        What makes him valuable genius???????

        Where are you going to find a game changer with the speed of grabner who can score 27 goals for us????? at that salary???

        • Rich let’s make a bet. If Grabner scores 20 this season I will never post on BSB again. If he fails to hit that mark then you retire from here. Deal?

          • Spozo,
            What would be the point of that? I enjoy this blog as I am sure you do, so why should either one of us ‘retire’.
            The important question is why you feel the need to belittle/name call someone because they have a different opinion than you?
            The great thing about this bog is the different opinions , if we all thought the same it would be boring to read.
            That being said I stand be my opinion, a now average 35 year old goalie making 7 million is NOT as valuable as a 27 goal scoring forward with great speed and breakaway ability.

          • You viewing Grabner as being more valuable than Hank is just preposterous. No other way to say it.

          • How many teams do you HONSETLY think would trade for lunquist , given his age and price tag right now? Probably no one.
            How many teams would trade for grabner , given his price tag and the year he just had?
            Probably 31 teams!
            With lunquist salary you couldn’t give him away.

          • So this is your logic then–in a 12-year career Hank Lundqvist has had 1–merely 1!!!–season where he was not in the top 10 in the NHL as far as save percentage among starting goalies. Because of this one bad season and a large contract, he is now someone the Rangers “can’t give away” in a trade.

            Michael Grabner has had 3 seasons out of 7 1/2 seasons where he eclipsed the 20-goal mark. Before the last 2 seasons his goal totals had declined for five straight years, and Grabner’s 27 goals was his highest total since his first full season in the NHL. In other words it was a total statistical anomaly for him to score 27 times, and it ain’t happening again.

            Additionally, Hank won one playoff round by outperforming Carey Price, considered by many to be one of the best goalies alive. That’s Hank’s 11th series win in his career, which is a team record.

            I don’t know what you base your wild statements upon, but it certainly isn’t backed up by looking at career stats for Hank and Grabner.

          • But Grabner will not be a 27 goal scorer this upcoming season. That’s the whole point of my post. I know it. The writers on this blog know it. And most fans know it. Hell, even Vegas knew it when they passed on him to add a 4th line center instead.

            And if you read this post you may have learned that the point of this article is how much the team values its players going forward. Not a ranking of this past season.

          • Spozo,
            1. vegas passed on him because he is almost 31 years old, where as oscar was 23, 24 ?
            2. Your initial point was that lunquist is more valuable than grabner, which I disagree with and said why. [I would bet close to 31 teams would not trade for him]
            3. will grabner score 27 goals again? probably not but he should get 20+ and more depending on linemates, minutes played, power play opportunity.

          • Oscar will be 26 by he second week of the season. He likely is what he is at this point.

          • Rich-

            I love your posts man but sometimes you are totally off the rails how you go to the extremes on people you like (Grabner, Miller, Hayes, Kreider) vs people you don’t like (Stepan and now I guess Hank).

            If you took salary out of it and no trade clauses, it is not even close. Hank is still a high end NHL talent, his off year not withstanding. Grabner had a remarkable year which he has virtually no chance to come close to repeating. (Really, it was a remarkable half-season but I digress).

            If both players were available and salary were not an issue, Hank, a future HOFer, would CLEARLY have more value than an unremarkable player like Grabner. You are totally kidding yourself, just like you did with Dylan (waived twice and now on a two way contract that screams AHL player) McIlrath.

          • Ha Spozo, no need for such drastic measures!

            Grabner’ production will depend largely where he ends up in the lineup. I pointed out on the other thread that during two seasons in his career he shot at almost 15% and last season at over 16%. During last year’s playoffs he shot at over 15% against a couple of top goalies.

            So, he is quite capable of shooting at almost 15% again next season, if he plays enough minutes with linemates who can help him get quality chances. Under such circumstances he will likely score about 20 goals. If he does not get fed some good passes and the line he is on doesn’t help him create chances or his minutes are limited, then he might not.

            He may not be #1 when the team evaluates its players, but he is definitely a valuable player on a very reasonable contract.

  • I know it’s more work, but it really needs to be done as a 50 man roster. Assets are assets and attempting to do the Kremlinology of the front office could even go so far as to value draft picks in there, present and future(ex: does John Gilmour have more value than a 2020 3rd pick.)

    Is one in the hand indeed worth two in the bush(especially how GMs value picks?) Inquiring minds want to know.

    • I can understand that criticism. Frankly, I think that’s a near impossible task since I’m not a prospect expert and would be completely guessing as to how they rate these guys internally.

      In my eyes, a few prospects including Chytil, Day, Shestyorkin, Wall, Huska and Graves would knock guys on this list out of the top 25 pretty easily. Beyond that, I really don’t know

  • At this point, if you are valuing Rangers as assets, then Hank(as a view of age, contract and whatnot) would have to be bottom decile.

    Not about his true pecking order inside the club, but between age, salary and NMC he has zero value to other teams. If things went horribly wrong and he waived his NMC you could value him probably higher than where he is.

    • I hear you. I do think that Lundqvist still holds the keys to the franchise for at least two more years – and possibly more. He remains the 1 guy that, if subtracted, sends this team into the lottery. So I put a ton of weight into that despite the fact his future with the team may not extend quite so far into the future as some of these other guys.

    • Def still the best fwd .. But his value is pretty much limited to this season. (Barring dark magic accounting this summer)

  • while there is substantial disagreement on upwards of a half dozen or so projections, there was more right than wrong, so thumbs up

    Nieves is severely underrated
    so is Gropp
    Staal goes to like 22-23
    Miller up a lot
    Hayes up a bit
    if we are being honest, Hank to middle of the pack
    McD yes at 2 IF they don’t sell him high
    Nash also 15-20 won’t last TD

    not spot on but overall good on balance

  • Back to top button