Some Friday afternoon thoughts

jimmy vesey
AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes

The Rangers are in the midst of a five game winning streak, and have stormed back to relevancy. It’s nice to see after that horrid start. Naturally, I have some thoughts.

1. It’s very nice to see some sense of urgency from this team. There are certainly issues, most out of the hands of the guys suiting up every night, but it’s good to see they sensed that their season might be over if they don’t get their collective acts together. I am still of the belief that a true 2C makes this team a legitimate Cup contender, but that is based on a few assumptions.

2. One of those assumptions is that Steven Kampfer eventually sits for Brendan Smith, the way it’s supposed to be.

At this point, there is no discernible difference between the two players. One is a spare part. The other was signed to a massive four year deal and has been identified as a solution to the defensive woes. Let Smith play through his issues. It’s the only true option. I get the issues in training camp. But it’s November. That’s the only fixable gripe I have with the blue line at the moment. The rest comes with time.

3. Speaking of things coming with time: Kevin Shattenkirk’s defensive zone play will improve. He’s not going to get to Ryan McDonagh levels, but he will certainly make fewer mistakes. Remember in 2013-2014 when the entire team had issues learning the new system? Same thing applies. If he’s still having major issues in December, then I get the complaints. But even with those issues, he’s a net-positive player with his offensive contributions, both 5v5 and on the powerplay.

4. That hunt for a 2C continues, and I wonder if the Rangers should begin exploring packages including Jimmy Vesey. His perceived value is sky high, and does not match his actual production on the ice.

Vesey, as of today, barely meets the fourth line winger average production. That’s not to say he won’t improve, but there are a lot of folks who believe he should be in the top-nine or higher. Don’t get me wrong, the kid puts in a ton of effort. But the effort doesn’t match the production. He’s fine as a 4LW for now, but in terms of pure asset management, he could be a huge key in landing a 2C. I wonder if Vesey and a defense prospect (Graves?) is enough of a starting point for a 2C.

5. Henrik Lundqvist seems to be getting a lot of heat. I get it. He has a big contract and the numbers aren’t sexy. He struggled last year too. I’m not overly concerned. He seems less shaky in net over the winning streak. Let’s see how he does when the defensive units are finalized and consistent. Some of it is likely age, but as Justin pointed out, it appears a lot is hedging due to lack of faith in his blue line.

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  • it is nice to see this team of relevancy again after this nice win on Wednesday night rivalry on NBCSN they actually played 60 and they looked good doing it

  • I just don’t see a TRUE 2C out there and ripe for the taking. Plus let’s not forget that unless that 2C comes in under $2m per, then a deal for Vesey and a prospect (like Graves) can’t work — not that I would want to see Graves go in a deal, I would much rather use one of our goaltending prospects not named Shesterkin.

  • Shopping Vesey/Holden/Kampfer is a grand idea. Regarding Hank, he said it himself. When there is structure in front of him and he knows where everybody is going to be he can be more aggressive with the shooter. When he doesn’t trust the process, he cheats and the other team puts the puck in the net. Not rocket science to think as the defense continues to improve Hank will improve as well. He’s never going to be as great as he was 4 or 5 years ago, but he can still get the job done.

    • Lundqvist is by no means an aggressive goalie. Quite the contrary. He plays a very shallow game. More shallow than the average goalie. That was fine when his reflexes were at its peak/best. At age 35, that style gets more and more difficult thus the need to guess more often. I am not in the view that he is washed up like may on this board think, but nor do I believe he will eventually revert to anything close to his prime years. The number of goalies 35+ in the NHL have remained relatively flat over the past 15-20 years. However, they were averaging 35-40 games then and now only about 25 games per season. How many you think he will play this year? His heir apparent best be coming more sooner than later.

      • You raise a valid point here. That was one of my big concerns at the beginning of the season—how much would Hank need to play. I like Pavelec but IMO, he is a big step down from Talbot and Raanta. Add to that the team’s awful start to the season, and the need now to make up points that were lost….AND the fact that the schedule is such that there aren’t many back to back games in the next month or so, and we may be seeing a lot more of Hank than was originally expected.

        It is more than fair to question how well a 35 year old goalie, even a future HOFer like Hank, can handle such a workload.

        • I concur, and frankly this is one of the main reasons I was hoping for a bit more inspiring backup choice than Pavelec. He’s not quite in the same mold as Talbot/Raanta in a few different ways, and I wondered if Allaire would truly be able to work his magic on him. The jury is still out on that, of course…but I won’t be surprised if what we’ve seen so far is what we get from Ondrej.

    • That’s not even close to a smart Idea regarding shopping Vesey. Krieder has only 2 more points than Vesey and is making 4.8 mill. ZUCC is a -18 , Vesey has more points than Nash. Yet, let’s shop the 975k sophomore!! Time to shop Krieder who’s no trade clause kicks in Next year. He has no Defence and loses all battles on boards. Shop the UFAs, Grabner will walk next year. Trade Smith if ur NOT GOING TO PLAY A TOP D MAN.!! Problem is the Coach and management!! We need a TOP center, zibby is good but not a TOP center, comparing Tavy, Duchene,Mathews, Crosby e ct.

      • Great comments Greg!!!!!!
        In very limited playing time Vesey has shown how valuable he can be, yet many clueless fans and clueless coach cant see the obvious…..and at 975G!!!!!
        I would rather not start trading away our youth [miller, kreider, vesey, buch, zib , hayes and grabner[ not youth but valuable]…..BUT if we did….nash, zucc and smith if coach refuses to play him are expendable!!!!!!!
        YOU should write the next article here!!!!

  • Package up Hayes if you need to. He has been playing horribly. You could get a 2c with him in the package.

    • Sorry Mikeyyy, but that makes no sense. I’m not a Hayes fan, but given our lack of depth at center, you can make the case that he and Zib are our two most indispensable players at the moment, other than Hank. Can’t deal him at the moment.

      • Could you package up Hayes and a prospect for a 2c? Yes.

        You then need to fill a 3c hole. Which is easier to do than fill the 2c hole.

        We have some centers that can use some playing time.

        Call up chytil. Let him man the 3rd while desharnais mans the 4th. Or vice versa. Or use Nieves.

        We have options for the 3/4 c spot.

  • Good Stuff!

    These are exciting times! Let’s go MGT! make some moves now, get this team even better!


  • 1. There is no reasonable 2nd center on market… Bozak doesn’t show good game, Little is offensive underachieving center, RNH is too expensive.

    2. Don’t think need to hunt for 2nd line center before they try Nieves between Nash and Zuc or retrial of Chytil

    3. Even if it doesn’t work, this team is not contending by any means, no need to pawn the future

    4. Vesey has very low % of realization…. I wouldn’t part with him, not with any of our young players.

    • There are a couple options still within the organization.

      They could retry Zib/Chytil/Hayes/Nieves

      They could take a long look at Zib/Miller/Hayes/Nieves

      Alternatively, they could trade Vesey and a pick or prospect for Bozak, and slot him on the 3rd line:


      • Bozak highly struggles this season and this is his contract year…. wouldn’t go for it

        They could get Miller centring Nash & Zuc and Chytil to play wing, they could get center Nieves the same Nash and Zuc and let Lettieri center 4th line, there are plenty of options, and there is no much quality options on market.

    • Jesse Puljujarvi might be had, but Edmonton has been shopping RNH for the better part of a year, could get him at the deadline on the cheap if Oilers continue to stink.

    • Dave made some good points but I agree the search for this phantom 2c guy is not out there and I wouldn’t give up on V.
      The only other point of contention is when Dave says Shat will get better but not to the Mac D level> WHAT.
      Mac is no where near an above average Defensive Dman. If that is our expectation of what a good defensive d man is supposed to be , well, we set a low bar. Mac is a great skater and offensively skilled guy something that all teams want however he has never been that tuff, punishing guy and he is usually caught. His speed and skating covers this up sometimes but he loses his man on man coverage too much to classify him as a standout D man.


    • ANTHONY,
      I like your plan….especially because it doesnt involve the LUNACY of trading multiple young players [vesey, graves, miller etc] for a ”’maybe he will help us today”’center. Again NO MORE MIKE RIDLEY/KJELL SAMUELSSON FOR BOBBY CARPENTER trade!!!!!
      And besides like you said, we have two more coming!!!!!
      I love Veseys game and skill set and potential and someone pointed out Hates lack of production in last 40 games ……horrible, so as much as I like hayes I like your list of future centers!!!!!!!!
      BUT this year… stupid moves, we are more than a center away!!!!

      • Wasn’t it Ridley and Kelley Miller for ol Bobby C? But your point is well-taken. Selling future assets at controlled prices for older Vets is a huge mistake in the cap controlled era of the NHl.

      • Exactly there is no reason to move a player like miller or vesey for a one year thing even if you don’t move Hayes your still in better shape next year with zib, hayes chytil and Anderson as your centers, the future is bright you just have to be patience

  • To my mind, Zibanejad Hayes Miller Nieves makes the most sense at the moment. DeSharnais can fill in when needed. They could bring Leitierri up to play on a wing if necessary. No need to go spending for a center when Chytil might be ready soon and Andersson likely to be ready next year. Patience.

  • Dave,
    Reasons why we DON’T need to trade for a 2C center.
    1. Kevin Hayes is too young and talented to think he wont improve and has shown glimpses of being a #2 …
    2. JT Miller SHOULD be kept at center, in the opinion of several former coaches, he is a true center and seemingly our best puck carrier entering the zone!
    3. We have TWO highly rated centers due up by next year.
    4. Some former rangers traded away or let go ….rick middleton, mike ridley, kjell samuelson, strallman, lindberg, stempniak……..I dont trust management to screw this up!

      • Exactly Spozo. Kreider too. I think this is a big year for both to prove they can still progress, especially in Hayes’s case with his contract expiring this summer.

        • And when I say they likely are what they are at this point, that isn’t a bad thing. But people assume our “kids” who are in the latter half of their 20’s are going to get much better than they currently are. It usually doesn’t work like that.

  • Not trying to be negative towards any of the people who post blogs here, but your entire paragraph on Vesey is exactly why no NHL team will trade a 2C for him and a minor league prospect. You seriously think that you might be able to build a pacakge around him for a 2C? Come on. You say it yourself…”His perceived value is sky high, and does not match his actual production on the ice.” GMs are not fans. They do not perceive his value to be sky high. Fans do. GMs look at the stats and realize exactly what you say….that his production is that of a 4th line winger. They aren’t going to give you a 2C for a 4th line winger and a borderline prospect.

    • A player on an expiring contract for a cost controlled player still on his ELC is well within the realm of possibility. The question becomes what you have to do to sweeten the deal. With somebody like Bozak, you could probably just do a long date draft pick and not take anybody off the current roster.

  • We have a #2C, the coach just refuses to use him in that role.

    I think Shatty is playing in the D zone at McD levels, unfortunately, lol.

    Henrik saves = “60 minute team effort.”

    Get Bozak on the cheap and then we can start talking meaningful playoffs.

    I can’t believe that Kampfer vs Smith is still an issue at this point.

    • Spot on comment Richter……
      ”’We have a #2C, the coach just refuses to use him in that role.”’

      And if I may add a potential #1 center in JT Miller who …..if the lunatic AV…..would leave at center has the potential to be a star!!!!! IMHO……
      Same with Vesey……he needs to play consistently , with the same linemates and be left alone and given time to develop!!!!!

      • Good Morning Captain Hyperbole (aka Rich!)

        We’ve won how many in a row now with a “lunatic” coach? Five. So he should scramble the lineup why now?

        Vesey played more than Kreider and Buch the last game. He is playing consistently for most part. AV sat him the back half of the prior game and he had his best game the next game. That’s what is called coaching. This is not pee wee hockey where everyone must play exactly the same.

        Now, as for Miller, I think it is more than fair to question whether he would be better at center or wing. The same debate was had with Hayes. (And please, don’t bring up his college or tournament experience as an example. This is the NHL. No coach or scout has ever, as far as I know, said he is an NHL center.).

        The point is, it is certainly NOT a slam dunk he should be a center. Right now, he is playing well in a swing role. Given the lack of forward depth options at the moment, if you move Miller to center full time, what do the lines look like? Doesn’t that break up what is working at the moment?

        There could be a whole number of reasons for the lineup to remain as it is. We have no idea who is being showcased for possible trades. Maybe they can deal DD and/or Carey for a low level draft pick, and they will recall Chytil when he is ready.

        What I do know is, if AV is a “lunatic” for not playing Miller at center, then guess what, so are both Gorton and Sather since they almost certainly support AV’s decisions here.

        Last thing, I would say based on his track record in NY, AV’s personnel decisions have been mostly spot on, and validated by other organizations time and time again when those players moved on. Don’t forget your “favorite player” McIlrath, who you KILLED AV for not playing him enough, even though it was AV who actually showed more faith in your boy than any other NHL coach or organization has.

        So I think AV has more than earned the benefit of the doubt on these things. Not saying he’s perfect—no coach is. But he’s been proven right time and time again.

        I suspect Miller is exactly where he should be at the moment. My advice to you is cut back on your morning caffeine, chill out, and get ready to watch the hottest team in the NHL in a big matinee today! 🙂

        • What makes the coach a Lunatic is how he places the team in a position to lose when everything is on the line!
          What a Lunatic!

        • 3E….
          You are correct vesey played more minutes the LAST game however…..
          For the year he is averaging only 14 min, while kreider is at 16min, nash is at 17, zucc is at 19…….
          BUT an interesting point…..WHY is AV playing buch 15 min, grabner 13, vesey 14…..and they all have better +/- and collectively have 18 goals between them while zucc, kred, nash have only 12!!!!!!!!!!! without the benefit of much, if any PP time!!!!!!!
          So its clear the lunatic AV gives more ice time and almost all PP time to [ except hayes] arguably his most unproductive forwards up to now….{and you know i am kreider fan}
          The team usa/north america coaches I forget their names-commented that Millers best position was at center, he was a natural center and they [NHL] coaches played him there. ….
          3E- A case could be made that Sather was as clueless as milbury as a GM…..17 years here, many with unlimited spending [before cap] , 17 drafts…..nothing to show but one losing trip to finals!!!!!….lets not forget bad decisions on…..Strallman, stempniak, yandle, hagelin, talbot, raanta, lindberg, hugh jessiman, chris drury, scott gomez,holik, redden……… get the point!!!
          As for McIlrath ….Really is Kampher any better?????
          Only thing i cant argue with is the hyperbole part!

          • Ok Mr. OTT (as in Over The Top…that might be a better moniker for you!) 🙂

            You (and others) are WAY too focused on avg TOI. Every game is different. It depends on a myriad of factors. How many times on the PP? How many times on the Kill? What are the matchups? Who’s feeling it that day? Maybe you ride the hot hand or maybe someone who is working hard but is struggling gets some extra time to get going.

            People questioned Torts’ deployment when he was here. Every coach in the league has their usage choices questioned. But you seem to think that this is Pee Wee Hockey, where every player must play the same. Do you think AV is looking at some timepiece that says “oh, no! I haven’t played Vesey or Buch enough today, I better get them in or their mommies might yell at me?” Come on!

            Again, there is nothing that definitively says Miller is a center. He’s doing well in his role. We need to see a lot more before a judgment can be rendered.

            Sather is a HOF GM. His early stages as Rangers GM were a disaster and he should have been fired for it. But his stewardship for the past decade has resulted in one of the best teams in hockey over that period. So in fairness, it’s a mixed bag.

            Yes, there were bad decisions. Gomez, Drury, Redden, Holik, Jessiman and the rest of the horrible draft busts, Stralman. All true. But what about all the good decisions he made. Hiring AV :), trading for McDonagh and Klein. Recent drafts for most of the past decade have been good—except for the McIlrath disaster when he could have had Tarasenko. Every GM has a mixed bag of successes and failures.

            Stempniak? Seriously? How many teams has he played for? Journeyman player. Not worth getting into a lather about. Yandle? What’s the issue there? They took their shot when they were close, like any franchise would do. And Duclair is looking like a bust. So again, a nothing burger. Talbot and Raanta? Huh? What were they supposed to do? Those were cap decisions and goalies don’t fetch much on the trade market.

            Is Kampfer better than McIlrath? The answer is obvious. One is in the NHL. The other is not. Case closed.

            Always fun discussing with you my friend!

    • Agree. It shouldn’t be an issue at all. The Rangers have won five in a row and have been WAY better defensively with Kampfer in the lineup and Smith sitting. So why change it right now?

      Smith, by all reports that are out there, is apparently out of shape. We have no idea how much he is and how long it will take for him to get back into prime playing condition. So, the Rangers are forced to go with their 7D at the moment.

      This issue is 100% on the player, who signed a huge deal, took the company’s money, and then didn’t fulfill is end of the bargain by coming to camp in top condition. The coach is simply managing the situation in the only way he can at the moment. It’s up to the player to show he belongs back in. It will happen, but the timetable TBD.

      • That’s the only thing I have heard, that Smith is not in good shape. If that’s the case then it is on the player.

        But that still doesn’t mean that Kampfer is the best option, because he’s not. Play the kids and see what you have.

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