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The Rangers’ options in the wake of the Zibanejad injury

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There is no way around it; Mika Zibanejad going down with a concussion is about the worst case scenario for the Rangers short of losing Henrik Lundqvist (especially on a senseless, late hit like that).  With already severely compromised center depth, both the short and potential long-term blow to the lineup is massive.  When the season started there were serious concerns about the lack of qualified replacements for Derek Stepan and Oscar Lindberg.  The Blueshirts were left with a ragtag group in the bottom six, and now their depth will be tested even further.

Concussions are a tricky injury to begin with.  There is a significant scientific gap between diagnosis, treatment and prognosis.  Many times doctors just don’t know.  This makes it very difficult to determine the proper course of action from a roster construction standpoint.  If Zibanejad is out for a week, the Rangers can probably weather that storm.  If he is out for three months, the organization will need to do a real evaluation about whether they can contend without him.

The team swung a minor trade with Montreal for former Maple Leaf Peter Holland.  Holland has been in the AHL all season, and we have no indication if his acquisition is designed to cover the lost depth in Hartford from a call up, or whether the org considers him a legitimate option for the bottom six (he could be an upgrade on Paul Carey).

There are a bunch of different directions the team could go with lining up their centers, but here are the basic options the team can deploy:

1. Make David Desharnais the new 1C and keep everyone else where they are.

I can’t believe I even wrote that sentence, but this is a move I could certainly see AV making, at least in the short term.  Desharnais showed solid chemistry with Chris Kreider and Pavel Buchnevich and has veteran presents.  This would allow everyone else to stay status quo (with Hayes as 2C, Nieves at 3C and Holland/Carey as 4C).

2. Move everyone up a rung and call up a new 4th line center.

This could be Peter Holland or Steven Fogarty.  It could be moving Paul Carey back to his natural center ice position.  Hell, the organization could even reward Vinni Lettieri for this strong start.  So, in this scenario, we would have a Hayes/Desharnais/Nieves/new 4C down the middle.  Still gross.

3. Move JT Miller to center and have him slot in behind Hayes.

I’d be very surprised if AV was comfortable with this scenario.  He has never really looked at Miller has a legit center option.  However, this one keeps the depth most in-tact.  It would see Hayes/Miller/Desharnais/Nieves or some combination thereof as the four pivots.  There would still be some skill issues on the wing, but with the versatility of Fast and Grabner, the Rangers would probably be alright.  Miller would likely have to be sheltered defensively, but I think I may like this option the best.

4. Call up Filip Chytil and play him in the top 6.

After stumbling a bit during his early season audition, Chytil has found his footing at the AHL level, putting up 12 points in 13 games.  From all of our scouting resources, the indication is that he is dominating the level (which is exactly what you are looking for from a top prospect looking for a call up).

This would allow JT Miller to stay at the wing and the bottom six options to stay in the bottom six.  Hayes/Chytil/Desharnais/Nieves doesn’t look half bad, but I have some concerns.

First, you don’t want to rush a top prospect back to The Show just because of injury.  He should be called up when he is ready to be called up.  There did not see to be any rush to bring him back prior to the Zibanejad injury.  In fact, the general tenor was that the organization was pleased with his progress at the AHL level and wanted him to continue doing what he is doing.

Second, I don’t really have much confidence that AV will play Chytil in the top 6.  I could see him piecing together option 1 and option 4 and burying Chytil in sheltered minutes.  He may produce there, but I feel like if you are going to interrupt his progress in the AHL, it should be for meaningful minutes to re-acclimate to the level.

5. Make another trade

Now, I wouldn’t begin to forecast potential options in this space, considering this just happened.  However, the team has been (or should have been) on the hunt for a center upgrade for most of the season.  It’s never a good look to desperately overpay, but should the front office find a reasonable deal to add some depth, it was a good idea before the injury and certainly is now.

Those are really the options as I see them.  There is no question, these are bad options. The loss of Zibanejad for an extended period of time could be a serious blow to the momentum the team has been riding over the past few weeks. What do you all think the best road for the team to take is?  Did I miss any possibilities? Sound off in the comments below.

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  • I think your options are correct. I do think that there are players out there available. Look at what NJ just pulled off.

    May need to move a winger to make the deal.

    • if you can’t make the trade & win it, then you don’t make it and use what you have. if they play to their ability they can weather the storm.

    • I’ll give NJ GM Ray Shero this, he definitely has all the league’s suckers on speed dial.

      Last year he fleeced that clown Chiarelli for Taylor Hall, now he snags Vatanen from Anaheim’s clueless GM Bob Murray. Let’s not forget Murray is the guy that paid a 4th line winger, Carl Hagelin, a stunning $16M for 4 years and now he had to dump Vatanen because he made such a mess of his team’s budget and splurged on a bunch of players over 30.

      Speaking of Anaheim, is 30 year old Andrew Cogliano still an effective player? Him and his expiring contract might be a good fit for the Rangers for the rest of the season.

      • I’m not sure but he would be a perfect middle 6 pivot to help now and still fit down the road when Zibanejad returns.

    • I know I may not be too popular saying this but if the Rangers went the trade option to acquire a pivot for depth, not a top centerman. Then I would consider shopping Zuccarello. Not because he’s bad or I want him gone but because I think he has some value that other teams can and will want. His contract is favorable when compared to production and Hes a good locker room guy.
      Zuccarello is a small forward and although he plays with a ton of moxie, he seems to have lost the sand paper & grit he used to play with since taking that puck to the head in the playoffs.
      Again, I know what I’m saying is Sacrilegious or heresy but I’m just looking for a guy we can live without if a solid centerman became available.

      • I’m not in favor of trading Zuc. I’m also not in favor of labeling him an untouchable. To me, other than Hayes (because we have no center depth), Shatty (because he just got here) and Hank (because he’s untradeable), a good GM makes anyone on the roster available if there’s an opportunity to upgrade.

  • If they make a trade I don’t want it to be a band aid for the Zib injury. It needs to address the center issue that was here before Zib was injured.

  • I think you pretty much nailed it Justin. If it were me, I’d go with option 1 for now and see how things play out. Perhaps the Mika injury is short term. But if it’s not, and/or DD proves he can’t handle the 1C role (a highly probable outcome based on his history), then you look at other options, whether they be a trade, shifting guys, or, last resort, recalling Chytil.

    I say last resort because, as I’ve said in past discussions with Richter and others out here, I am very much against recalling AHL talent that truly isn’t ready for “The Show”. It’s much better for the player and the franchise to smooth out the rough edges in the “A” then it is to try to do so in the “N”. Unlike our other “prospects” who are actually more “suspects” in my mind, Chytil appears to be the real deal. He’s excelling at Hartford from everything we can gather. Maybe he’s ready, or will be ready soon. I just worry about promoting an 18 year old that fast. If he’s not really ready, bringing him up too soon could set him back and be a detriment to the player and the organization.

    • this season is not one on which I would gamble with Chytil’s development. Let him continue to develop his pro game for the time being. if they do call him up here, selfish and shortsighted decision by management.

      • You may be right wwpd. Perhaps the best option is JT at center for now. Hopefully, for his sake and for the club’s, Mika will recover fully.

      • I would say the decision should and most likely will be made on Chytil’s readiness. If he is ready to contribute on the NHL level right now and the belief is he can stick once called up, then sure, bring him up. But if he’s not ready and he’s just being asked to fill a slot regardless, that would be a mistake IMO.

    • The thing about that Eddie is if Chytil isn’t ready now, then it will most likely take him until next season to be ready. The 82 game grind is not easy for young players to get used to. Look at Vesey last season. I don’t think his play tailed off too badly but the D 2 D grind can get to a 18 year old kid. I would think Chytil will be better off feeling the Dog days in Hartford than on Broadway ? . I’m no scout and I don’t see Chytil very often in AHL so I don’t really have much opinion on what should be done with him. I just think he’s either ready now or he’s not going to be until next season.

      • Lace-

        I’m certainly no expert on prospects and the trends on readiness as it applies to young talent. My hunch is though that you might be looking at this in a very extreme “black or white” kind of way. Everyone is different. Some players develop slowly, some more quickly.

        Brady Skjei two years ago was a good example. The Rangers decided he needed more seasoning in Hartford before making the jump to the NHL. He was there almost the whole season. Then, in the final stretch of games that season, they called him up, he played well, and he wound up starting every playoff game, delivering two assists in five games. He was ready when he was ready.

        Now, I realize there are differences here. Skjei was older. He had played NCAA hockey. Big difference from Chytil’s experience level (or lack thereof) at this point. But I suspect that the evaluation of Chytil’s readiness will be based on two things—if he proves he is ready in the “A”, and the Rangers have the need on the big club. When and if both are the case, they won’t hesitate to bring him up. If not, then they won’t rush him.

  • This is a tough situation, no doubt about it. I was not enthusiastic about a trade before because I was leery of the panic and desperation moves. Now, I am doubly concerned. Because I am cautious about spending assets by nature, I would opt either for JT at center or calling up Filip Chytil. My next choice would be-gulp-DeSharnais as 1C. Ouch.

    • Only a moron would describe a concussion, something that could possibly ruin someone’s career, as a “blessing in disguise”. What a class act you are!

      Do tell us, in your infinite wisdom, how does the Bizarro World view this as a “blessing”?

      • When somebody says a blessing in the disguise they’re not trying to say anything bad. Your mind is in the gutter just like your life. Maybe it means we will get better centers to improve the team.You take something and you put your impressions behind it and turn it into an evil thoughts. The only evil is you.

        • To categorize it that way is disgraceful, regardless of your intention. Anyone with half a brain would have realized that making such a statement was insensitive and inappropriate.

          Upgrading at center needs to be done with or without Mika. To try and tap dance this back is pathetic. Good try though.

    • RG—-Your lack of humanity in terms of Zibby’s brain injury is really inspiring. As is your fake piety. Do us all a favor and go haunt a shrink’s office.

  • Very good article, hits a lot of the points, I feel it is best if they are to go with option 3 and maybe call up lettieri to play the wing no matter how long Mika is out for ultimately this team is not winning a cup this Mika or no Mika, if he is done for most of the year then just ride it out an how for another top pick and come next year when hopefully Chytil and Andersson are ready the team will have 2 top 10 pick in the last two year and a guy who had he waited a year to come out would be a top 10. I rather chalk this year up and build for the future than waist picks/assets on a band aid fix that help the future.

  • Desharnais to 1C and Holland up playing 4C possibly 3C if Nievess chokes there
    No sense doing anything crazy since it looks like a bubble of a year

    If things go south, Gorton should resign Grabner

  • Don’t think anything complicated going to happen:

    1. AV loves his veterans.
    2. Holland assigned to Hfd.
    3. Ziba not on LTIR according to capfriendly as of today morning:

    This means centers are going to be DD, Hazy, JT, Boo, and most likely in this order at least for today if 1st line doesn’t play well, then JT,Hazy, DD, Nieves… Don’t expect any trades or recalls, at least not until Ziba placed on LTIR

    • There would be no reason whatsoever to place Mika on LTIR just a day after he was placed in concussion protocol. The whole point of it is to give him the chance to recover, not put an arbitrary timeline on it when no one knows what that time line is. He’s listed as day to day. I’m sure it is everyone’s hope and belief that Mika will be back soon. Obviously, if he doesn’t make a speedy recovery then decisions would have to be made about LTIR. But no way that happens this soon.

      Once they hit the road and the schedule gets more bunched up next week, they may have to recall someone just to have an extra forward available. Very well could be Holland.

  • very good analysis of the situation. Here’s hoping Mika is back very soon. It’s going to be challenging without him,but they need to go a game at a time. I agree with you that option #3 is the best for the time being, but we really need to bring in a more experienced 2/3 center at some point if we want to compete. Now may be a good point to do that. Would not mind seeing them make a run at bringing back Derick Brassard.


    Jokes aside, I don’t feel quite that strongly about it. That said, I also see no harm in giving him another game or two just to see if it clicks this time around. I’ll be the first to admit that he wasn’t lighting it up in his limited opportunity to start the season. I also will be the first to say that I don’t think he was nearly as brutalized and awful as some fans like to narrate the tale of his first few NHL games.

    • Eg-

      Clearly, he wasn’t brutal. I think the conclusion that was drawn by Rangers management is that he would be better served getting valuable development time in the AHL rather than trying to make the quantum leap to the NHL and do it there, which clearly is no easy task for any first year player, let alone an 18 year old.

      If that was their thinking, then the decision to recall him should only be based on the premise that he has shown enough in the AHL that he can now make that enormous leap to the NHL and have a reasonable chance at success.

      Bringing a top prospect that you don’t think is really ready up for a game or two is probably not in anyone’s benefit. But bringing him up if the belief is he is ready to stick long term then in that case, I would say “go for it”.

      • We’ll have to agree to disagree. Injury is the only way a few-games-call-up is going to derail any player’s career, and injuries can, of course, happen at any level. There’s really just no tangible harm in it. Plus, I think he’s a lot closer to ready than much of the fanbase seems to, but of course that is 100% just my opinion.

        To disclaim: I do not, at all, expect Chytil to get a look here. Not yet, anyways. The only thing that would be less-AV-like than giving Chytil a look here would be if AV showed up to a game without a considerable supply of chewing gum in-pocket, or if he managed a press conference after a losing effort without uttering the phrase “good looks”, etc. I would love to be wrong about this assumption, though.

        (Also, to clarify – I literally meant “brutalized” in the initial comment…some fans made it sound like Chytil was getting rag-dolled all over the rink, left and right, in his debut audition. I believe those fans were a minority…but still, it was a claim I saw made by the generally-speaking-“NEEDZ MOAR GRITZ” sect of the fanbase.)

        • Av doesn’t decide who gets called up the GM does.

          Also how do you assess him after 9 minutes of nhl play.

          • Exactly. While AV is obviously consulted, the roster decisions are the GM’s call. IMO, they will not recall someone they don’t think is ready to help unless they are desperate.

          • I expanded on this further in a recent post, but I don’t think it’s as cut and dry as that. My opinion, in a nutshell: why would a GM call a developing player up if the coach will not play him? Hypothetically speaking, say the conversation goes like this:

            JG: “Sucks about Mika.”
            AV: “Yeah, he really was getting a lot of good looks. Our GL/60 is gonna fall off the cliff while he is out.”
            JG: “How do you feel about bringing up Chytil and giving him another chance to prove he should stick?”
            AV: “Not a big fan. Hey, ever had that Dentyne Ice chewing gum? I can’t get enough of it lately!”

            Or, say there is no conversation, because Gorton already knows AV strongly feels that Chytil needs to stay down without even asking the question, and that AV will not give him starter minutes regardless. What purpose would JG bringing Chytil up serve, in either of those scenarios?

            Granted, we have no idea what JG thinks about Chytil. I’d say we have a pretty good idea of what AV thinks though, based on his first stint with the team.

          • Amusing, but I would disagree vehemently with the last sentence. We automatically assume AV doesn’t think much of young players when there is no evidence whatsoever that that is true. You can site examples, and I can counter just about every single one. What there is evidence of is that AV and the Rangers (because this also happened during Torts reign), believe strongly in not rushing players before they are ready—hardly an unusual concept in any sport.

            As for Chytil specifically, the kid is 18 years old. He needs development time. I don’t see how anyone would make the leap that that such a conclusion, which is hardly unusual, means AV doesn’t care for the player.

            Now, I have no doubt that the GM and coach aren’t 100% in agreement on every decision. No management team is 100%. But I just find it so amusing that there is this subtext narrative that you and others go to that is along the lines of this…

            JG: (talking to Chris Drury) I just talked to AV. He doesn’t want Chytil.

            CD: What a fool. The kid is ready. What the heck is going on with our clueless coach?

            JG: I know. I know. But hey, I like the guy. He orders boxes and boxes of the best tasting gum I’ve ever had. Some French-Canadian brand. Gencive de PUR I think it is. I just shake my head at all the crazy inexplicable things he does. But he’s my guy!

            I mean, many of you seem to think that JG and perhaps the rest of Rangers management just rolls their eyes at disbelief at the things AV does. Yet, despite this, JG signed him long term. JG chose not to fire him despite the bad start. I mean the only time I’ve ever seen what you are describing is when Lou Grant would roll his eyes every time Ted Baxter made a mistake on the news (Mary Tyler Moore Show if that reference is before your time!). What your suggesting makes for a good sitcom script. It’s not the way a highly respected organization operates.

            The reality is, if we were all flies on the wall at organizational meetings, I would bet my bottom dollar that JG and AV are on the same page probably 85-90% of the time. If that wasn’t the case, the coach would be long gone by now.

          • E3, I’m not sure why you drew so many conclusions from my last sentence )or even that last post in general), other than you know I think AV is merely a decent coach who holds himself back from being great with certain recurring habits that I consider to be flaws. To clarify, all I meant is that based on the first stint of Chytil with the NHL team, AV does not seem to feel at all that Cytil is close enough. Two games totaling less than 15 minutes TOI before AV decided that was enough for him to see what he needed to. So, no matter what JG thinks about Chytil, the coach made it clear what he thinks for this year. There would be no point to JG calling Chytil up unless that has changed.

  • I’m glad they are being cautious with Mika. He should sit until he is 100%. The guy was beginning to show us how much talent he has and it is a ton….

    No one should be surprised we have a problem at center. We didn’t get here by accident. We had our eyes open when we traded Stepan (our #1 center) and Raanta for Lias Anderssen and D’Angelo. And truthfully my beef is primarily with AV not Gorton. It is easy to use 20-20 hindsight. Shattenkirk was brilliant – Brendan Smith not so much….

    I think AV ‘gets off’ on presenting a new lineup card every night. I mean he’s been pulling this delicate genius BS for three years. He has to go. We have 10 solid offensive players and three high quality defensemen. Plus we have the King. Why does he make this so complicated?

    Granted I am old school but I simply believe that the new school of tinkering is way overrated. Ok, Chytil and Anderssen are too young at 18 – so be it. But is Desharnais and Carey really our future? I say lets bring up a couple of centers in our minors (young 20’s ok?) and give em a shot. See who sticks. Like it or nor we are rebuilding; lets just acknowledge it.

    One of my favorite movies of all time is Moneyball. And while that showed another ‘new’ approach (baseball), there was a great scene between Brad Pitt and the Head Scout. Keep it simple. Forecheck and put away rebounds.

    AV doesn’t have a crystal ball either. LGR.

    • I don’t believe the Ranger organization have long-term deals in the drawer for Desharnais or Carey. They are stop gaps until the kids are ready. Shattenkirk has been very good on offense, but don’t kid yourself he is still an adventure in his own zone. MCD is back in lineup tonight and couldn’t come at a better time. The cough drop blueline corps could use some help.

      • You and I are the only ones that believe we miss Girardi. I have no doubt in my mind our defense would be better if he were still there, fancy stats be damned!

    • Spot on comments Playground9…….
      This team is not playing up to its talent level !!!
      Like you said……..How many teams can dress , 10 solid offensive players and 3 quality defensemen???? Not hte devils , not the islanders to name just 2 but look at how they are playing!!!!!!
      Usually AV’s teams wait until the playoffs to underachieve, but this year its happening since day 1 of the season……..
      I think its better long term to bring up chytil and andersson next year…..but no one really knows what the best way to handle it…..

      • So let me get this straight. Over the last 10 games, in a league filled with parity, the Rangers have won 7 games. No team has won more games in that span. Over the past 14 games, they are 10-3-1. I don’t believe any team has a better record during that stretch.

        This has all been done with their best defenseman McDonagh trying to play through an abdominal injury or out of the lineup all together. And of course, the last game, a rare loss, was played with McDonagh AND Mika, their best forward, both out.

        10-3-1 under those circumstances. That’s your definition of underachievement? Yep…sure sounds like a record that would get any coach fired—in some bizarre alternate universe.

        Captain Hyperbole strikes again!!!!!!!

        • Last time I looked, that stellar run you cite still doesn’t even earn us a wild card! Pretty pathetic in a sport where half the teams make the playoffs. Setting the bar mighty low there Eddie….

          • Tight race….we are a middling team in a league where most of the teams are middling—playing in arguably the toughest division in all of sports. News flash— A good solid team will miss the playoffs this year out of the Metro. The Rangers have had a remarkable run of making the playoffs year after year for like 12 seasons now. AV has personally made the playoffs nine years in a row with two different teams. Both are pretty rare feats in the cap era.

            Most everyone had the Rangers pegged as a borderline playoff team. Exactly what they are at the moment. No surprise at all—especially with the injury to McD and so many key guys from last year’s team gone. They are a team in transition. Again, record is no surprise to most objective observers.

        • Eddie Haskel…….
          Get this straight……over last 7 games the rangers lost to the two best teams they played- CBJ and Blackhawks and the lowly Panthers!!!!!!! STELLAR!!!!!!!
          We did manage to beat the Hurricanes Twice…WHO …are next to last in division….and Detroit who is LAST in the division……and Vancouver who is a mediocre team at best picked to finish way out of the playoffs!!!!!!
          AND we are still not in a playoff spot, or are we mr genius??????? AND didn’t the Penguins win a stanley cup with LeTang , top 5? defenseman missing entire playoffs….NO EXCUSES……every team has injuries…
          What a great coach , notice how the team is so prepared to start every game….The rangers were picked by many experts to finish AHEAD of both the islanders and the devils…….thats underachieving…..

          • Penguins won without Letang. Wow…and somehow you forgot to mention they are probably the only team capable of doing that since they have two future HOFers in Crosby and Malkin (not to mention a great player in Kessel), the likes of which we have no players even remotely close in talent to. But sure, why not omit that minor fact. Oh, but I forget. In your world view, we have “elite beast studs” who are right there with those guys. Please.

            Pick apart the schedule all you want… this league there are no easy games. That is a stellar record over the past month with a less than stellar roster regardless of opponents. Credit where credit is due.

            The Islanders have Taveras and the Devils have Hall. Two players that are also light years ahead of our “pretend” stars. Taveras certainly is a future HOFer. Our future HOFers, other than Hank, are who now ?

            Despite everything, we are currently IN playoff position, not out Mr. Genius. But in fairness to you, that changes on a daily basis. The Rangers moved ahead of the Caps tonight. They are just a point behind the Pens, a team that is far better than them on paper, and have a game in hand on them. And to futher counter your absurd point, they are right within striking distance of catching the Isles and Devils. It is a long, long season, and the division is as tight as a drum. At least one very good Metro team is going to miss the playoffs. That’s reality.

            How the Rangers are “underachieving” in your mind is beyond explanation. I guess if they are, then the Caps and Pens must be the biggest underachievers of all time, given their place in the standings and their rosters.

            Try to get real…chill out…enjoy the season. No one is getting fired. Your elite beasts are neither elite nor beasts. They are what they are…a good but flawed team that battles hard, shows great resiliency, especially most nights in 3rd periods, with an elite goalie that gives this team a chance to compete every night. That’s what they are at the moment. No more, no less. What they will become as the season unfolds? To be determined?

            Eddie Haskell? Seriously? You can do better than that. But ok then, I’ll sign off by saying, “You make some very well thought out points there Mr. Rich. Thank you so much for inviting me over and discussing hockey with you!” 🙂

          • I believe Rick Nash will be heading into the HOF……that makes two…..
            BUT , answer me this 3E…..When the rangers lost to the kings in the finals, we had 3 HOF’s Nash, Lunquist, St Louis…….kings ? maybe Kopitar? Using you own logic, we shouldn’t have lost…..or maybe it was the coach…..
            AND DO you think the devils and islanders rosters are really better than the rangers?
            We need to do what the Penguins did 3 years ago when they fired their coach, near mid season and brought in mike sullivan……its gotten stale here and it shows every game when we fall behind in the first period, over and over again!!!!!!

          • You blame the coach for the bad starts but give him no credit for the almost game in game out come backs. Seems very unfair and just a typical “i hate the coach” tired narrative to me.

            So we got outcoached vs the Kings? So, by that logic, did AV “outcoach” the Flyers coach (was it Holmgren?), a SC winner in Bylsma and then Therrien? Just wondering. Or is it the usual “players win the games, AV loses the games” narrative? AV may well be the only coach that I can think of that vanquished the loaded Pens two years in a row in the playoffs in the post-lockout era. THAT is impressive.

            The Kings were man for man a MUCH better team than the Rangers—on their way to their second Cup in three seasons. Blaming the coach is absurd and is a lazy, lazy narrative.

            If you believe firing AV in and of itself transforms this team into a SC contender, I’ve got a bridge to sell you. This team is NOTHING like that Pens team. NOTHING.

            Now, that being said, I said this last year, I would NOT have offered AV the extension at that time. But I don’t at all agree that the team has gone stale. Not at all. I’m seeing a team that is still very together…battles back under adversity (even if it’s self-created at times). That’s not a team that has gone stale.

            But, as I said, I would have waited until after the season last year and then assessed if there was an opportunity to upgrade the coaching position. Obviously, JG quickly came to the decision that the answer was no. So AV’s staying…for now. And I suspect barring a complete unraveling, he’s good at least through this season and probably into next season before a change would be realistically considered.

            I just watched the Flyers-Bruins. Hakstol is the poster child for that “new age, young modern thinking coach” that some advocate for out here. He appears to be a dead man walking. How have the coaching changes gone in Buffalo? In Florida? Those organizations look like they are being run by monkeys who make knee jerk fan boy reactions, which just set their franchises back even further.

            Unless the team is in dire starts, which it is not, you don’t fire one of the best coaches in the game (because yes, that’s what the record says he is), unless a better option is out there. If it’s Coach Q next summer—then I’ll pack AV’s bags for him, how’s that? 🙂

  • Trade should have already happened & this is why, now other teams in the drivers seat in making a deal & they know it…

  • I don’t get why people are so skittish about Miller.

    He’s naturally a center and by leaps and bounds is the most talented, logical filler option in this scenario.

    Given the choice between Miller or DD as a top-6 C, I choose Miller every single time. I’d actually put him on the 1st line alongside Kreider and Buchnevich.

    That line would not only be dangerous, but have incredible energy.

    Miller has progressed so much and done everything asked of him. He deserves the opportunity.

    • Could be, but are you then robbing Peter to pay Paul by moving him from wing to center?

      My sense in reading quotes from him and stories about him through the years is that he prefers to play wing, and obviously the coaching staff feels that way as well. But in an emergency situation, he certainly is more than capable of filling in at center.

      • Meh.

        I think center depth is more important than winger depth, and we can afford to steal from the winger pool to stabilize the middle (at least on this sort of emergency basis).

        Also, JG said something this summer along the lines of “not if, but when” in response to whether Miller would be considered to slot back into center at some point, so it would appear that has been something the FO has wanted to do for awhile.

        AV recently praised Miller’s performance at center, and Miller himself mentioned that while he thinks he can produce more on the wing, he’s more than willing to play center if that’s what the team needs, and said that the reluctance he had earlier in his career to play center in NY came from a more selfish, less mature iteration of himself.

        The kid ain’t a kid no more. He’s mature and competent and deserves the opportunity to be leaned on more heavily in Zibanejad’s absence.

    • Agree 100% Chris F,
      Then Letteri could be brought up to play wing……
      Some on this site dont realize how good a player Miller is……..I cant figure out what they are watching……in fact his name and grabner are always mentioned in trade talks , yet Miller will likely score over 20 and grabner maybe 30……Last year the same people wanted to trade kreider and Buch….and keep Stepan……GO figure…..

      • From all accounts, Lettieri has not been particularly effective in Hartford. If true, expecting him to contribute in a meaningful way in NY is a real long shot. Miller you constantly overrate. But at least you aren’t claiming he’s a great elite beast anymore, so you are making progress. :). I agree, he’s a good player. That’s it at the moment.

        I have to give you props on Grabner. He has far exceeded my expectations once again. He’s arguably one of the top “bottom six” players in the league. Great value signing. Worth every penny.

        • 3E
          Miller has really disappointed me with his point production!!!!
          He looks good each time he is on the ice, but he NEEDS TO START SCORING GOALS !!!!!!
          Vesey also has looked terrific on the ice BUT he too has to start scoring more goals!!!! Needs good , consistent center…
          Hopefully, like Buch they will figure it out.
          As far as Grabner his ”’empty net goals”’mean nothing to me, but he does lead the team in +/ -……which is an important stat to me. Miller, hayes and fast also in positive……Zib, kredier , buch all in negative……..interesting……and I think they get more offensive zone starts…….

          • I sometimes use +/- to make a point about something. I don’t think it is valueless as some do, but I also wouldn’t consider it a “very important stat”. I doubt many in decision-making positions do these days. I’d advise you to look at +/- with a healthy skepticism.

            But hey, on this one, you and I are mostly on the same page for a change! 🙂

    • I preface by saying that I am a huge Miller fan and have been since he was selected by the Rangers.

      The skittishness stems from his lack of goal scoring this season, IMO. Yes, it’s the usual “he cannot defend” BS mantra, but he just doesn’t look right based on how he played last year. Last year he was a force during games he didn’t get a point. Now, he’s not noticeable and that’s a bad thing.

      Hence why he was being shopped prior to the Zib injury.

  • Option 5:

    Jim Benning: Glen you old dog!!! How hell are you
    Glen Sather: Jim!! Long time. Eh, not to well eh.
    Jim: Yea tough break on Z-bad buddy. Really sorry for that
    Glen: Yea, is what it is. Anyway I called to see what you had available.
    Jim: Glen we’ve got nothing for sale that I think can help you
    Glen: Really? I know you guys have a bit of a cap crunch coming with your twins though
    Jim: Glen they don’t want to move east, I’ve tried to talk them into it. I’m really sorry
    Glen: Damn. I already had Buch, Chytil, Miller, Kreider, and the papers for our next two first round picks and a conditional 2nd this year for both of them
    (Silence on the line)
    Glen: Jim you there? I lose you?
    Jim: No!! I was on phone with my secretary telling the twins pack their shit.

  • December has arrived. AV is on his last stretch, if he doesn’t do extra well,
    he is gone. Trades will happen!

    buckle up

    time waits for no one!

    • I totally disagree. Unless the team totally unravels, the Mika injury if anything gives AV a significant hall pass for now.

      As for trades, maybe. Only if there are deals to be made. There’s no realistic way to replace Mika if he is out long term.

  • actually, there should be only two options to start… and see what happens (assuming long term situation – if zibanejad recovers quickly, makes this all moot)

    option 1. use desharnais with 1st line — worked very well last game — and think — if this new line combo works well, then when zibanejad returns, he can center a different line — like nash and zucc — get them going —- put hayes back with miller and grabner — nieves, fast and vesey would be a pretty good 4th line on any team. would give you 3 very potent lines. THIS OF COURSE ASSUMES DESHARNAIS WORKS WELL WITH BUCH AND KREIDER)

    if desharnais does not work with first line…
    option 2. trade for a 1a or 2 center … going to have to do this by end of season, unless you believe chytil will eventually become that center, or unless rangers are out of contention

    • Bring up Anthony DeAngleo and play him on the wing while JT centers. We saw how well that worked earlier this season.

  • Well if he ends up being out long term [Please God don’t let it be severe for his sake and the team’s sake] We can prerty much kiss our playoff hopes good bye. Unless we’re able to swing a good trade for a proven top 6 center. Brian Little from Winnipeg comes to mind. So does Galchenyuk and Stastny. Don’t want to rush Chytils development he needs to be left alone and continue working on his game in Hartford. Not against bringing Lettieri up to see if he can make a positive impact like Nieves did. But we def aren’t doing much with DD as top Center don’t care how good he was against Florida the other night his play isn’t going to consistently stay at that level obviously or we wouldn’t have signed him for dirt cheap and we wouldn’t be having this conversation lol. All I can say rn is God help us and please let Mika make a speedy complete recovery!

  • not big on Desharnais, esp as more banged up over season.
    Move him for a pick, even if a low pick; he cost us only $. Move on.

    Pretty much everything seemed covered, but this was not emphasized.
    They can experiment with both Hayes and Nieves taking turns 1C w/Kreider LW prob Buch at 1RW

    Say Nieves fits. I have been pushing him as complementary pivot with Kreider-Zib such a great pair bookends – Zib righty shot.

    Nieves 1C by virtue of his Ws,

    eventually Andersson/Chytil next yr, but can do 9 games each w/o activating elcs

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