State of the Rangers

Poll: the Rangers’ deadline approach

(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

As the Rangers approach the half-way mark the season, they find themselves in an interesting spot.  They currently sit in the first wild-card spot, three points from dropping out of the playoff picture entirely, yet only four points from home ice advantage in the first round.  They have a soon-to-be 36 year-old franchise goaltender with more three seasons remaining on his contract at $8.5m per year.  They have several attractive soon-to-be UFA forwards on the roster in the form of Rick Nash and Michael Grabner.  They also have a surprising amount of young talent at the NHL level for a team that has been in full stop “go for it” mode for over a decade.

The team plays a counter-punching style, focusing on creating high-danger scoring chances, and relying on quality over quantity in the shots department.  This has created a difficult analysis in determining whether they actually have a sustainable profile as a contender.  There have been ups and downs in performance so, far, creating a “will the real New York Rangers please stand up” scenario over the season’s first half.  There are deployment issues and a fan base looking at a coach with a razor thin margin.  There is no question there are depth issues, personnel issues and coaching issues when determining whether this team is capable of making a run.

Yet, the front office does not go out and sign Kevin Shattenkirk unless they believe that they can do just that, regardless of hometown discount.  The team also is tied for the fourth best goal differential in the conference.  Their perception of this team will drive the asset management that will take place by the trade deadline at the end of next month.  The way I see it, there are five scenarios we could see play out.

1. Go for it. These are the Rangers, of course they are buying to load up for a run.  The team could focus on improving their forward depth (a center, please, in this scenario) and defensive issues and prepare for another march toward spring.  This would involve further depleting an already thin farm system, but the organization could get creative with roster players, as well.

2. Hold tight. Basically saying “We aren’t giving up on this season, but we aren’t going to mortgage the future, either”.  This would be the middle-ground option.  Understanding that the team as currently constituted is an unlikely, but possible contender and allow the players to take this group as far as it can before reassessing for next season.

3. Strategic selling.  Maximizing the value of guys like Rick Nash, Michael Grabner, Nick Holden, David Desharnais, etc.  This would allow the kids to take a more meaningful role down the stretch, but let’s be honest, subtracting Nash and Grabner would basically cripple any contention plans.

4. Strategic selling and strategic buying.  This scenario is far more complicated and unlikely.  This would require the Rangers to simultaneously go forward with the “strategic selling” plan, while replacing those guys with longer-term pieces.  Prices may not line up, palatable options may not be available, etc.  This one would be tough to realistically pull off effectively.

5. Full tear down.  The organization could believe that this roster is staring at a window that is closing and needs to look toward the future.  Maybe it’s with an eye toward getting back into contention during Lundqvist’s contract, maybe it’s looking toward Igor Shestyorkin.  This would involve looking to maximize everyone’s value from McDonagh to Zuccarello.  Brady Skjei, Pavel Buchnevich and Mika Zibanejad would probably be the only foundational players to survive this option.

Now, we know what the front office will do.  They will at minimum stand pat, while likely to add some pieces to give the team a better chance at proper contention.  There are a couple teams already firmly ready to sell, so they can begin shopping.  That’s not what I’m interested in, though.  I want to know what you think the organization should do.  That’s why I’m putting a poll at the bottom of this post.  I want you to tell me the direction the organization should take and let’s air it out in the comments section.


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  • With expiring contracts, get what we can for them, and see what happens. The upcoming draft is deep, why not get as many #1’s as possible, and really build with YOUNG quality kids, for the long haul?

    People will say Nash loves NY, if that’s the case, he will sign with us after this season, as a free agent. Grabner, same thing, if he likes it here, he can come back. As for Holden, and DD, even a 125th round pick is OK, as long as they are gone. See, we get the cake, and eat it too!

    • totally agree Walt and with a strong draft this year, it’s the time to pull the trigger and collect some draft picks, open up some spots and restock the pipeline. Let’s see what the kids can do.

      • We may all want the Rangers to do that but the fact remains that bad teams don’t fill seats in NY. If the Rangers were sure the fans would still come, they might just do that. It boils down to money and revenue.
        More than likely Gorton will be asked to build on the fly. That is most likely coming down from Dolan. It costs money to run a team in the center of Manhattan.

          • You are right IMO Walt and I’m not disagreeing with you but I’m speaking from Dolan’s POV. I would guess that Gorton would have torn it down already and started to rebuild in 95% of the other cities. NY is a totally different animal. I would think that being a Cap Guy Gorton would have liked to sell bad contracts and start with younger, more affordable players but his hands are tied. I don’t think it’s the owner either because there aren’t many people in the world that could afford to own and run the NY RANGERS. Money is never a restraint with Dolan so we should live with his shortcomings. I just think it’s the reality of the market we live in.

          • And at some point during those “dark ages” Sather changed his approach and began to build on the fly. He stopped trying to put band-aids on everything with bad UFA signings. That’s what the Rangers are going to do now. I like Gorton and trust he will consider all options.

      • What is in this years draft? Excluding any right handed wingers of course. The Rangers don’t waste their time with those. I haven’t looked much yet at the top prospects yet.

        • First of all there is a generational defenseman, Dahlen to begin with!!!!!!! He is the consensus #1 overall pick from all I’ve read…………

          • I read a little about him but the Rangers aren’t picking first overall. I want to know what or who will be available beyond #10 overall. There is another Tkachuk kid in this years draft. The older brother is a nice player, wonder if there’s any nice young defensemen the Rangers can look at. Righties not withstanding. The Rangers don’t bother with those.
            And what is next. You said “first of all.”

    • That would never happen …. It would be the smart thing to do. Instead they will give Nash a big contract and see what they can squeeze Grabs for . Nash is a great hockey player but the numbers don’t match . I know E3 will say I’m wrong and why is it always about $$ .. Well it is , we pay the guy a big contract and doesn’t produce the numbers.

    • You are not going to get a #1 pick for any of the players you mention, Walt. Maybe a 2 for Nash or Grabs. Maybe a 3 for Holden or DD.

      • So? You make the best deal possible because this team isn’t winning a CUP. Please stop your sounding like Jesse Jackson with the keep hope alive. One cup in 75 plus years. See the Yankees changed approach and how they are now set up. Do the homework on the young players draft smart, development of said talent and trade for young skilled chips. One cup in 75 plus years keep hope alive.

        • I think that’s what Gorton is doing. It doesn’t happen in one season. He didn’t trade Grabner last season but if he does this season, he may look like a genius for it.
          Sather was GM for a long time and this team never went into full rebuild mode. Opting to rebuild on the fly. That takes time to do.

          • Pretty sure leetch was a rebuild tear down move. And I am not certain but Sather was the GM at the time. looked it up and he has been GM since 2000. So they did rip it down and do a complete rebuild.

        • When where how did I say keep hope alive? I think you have me confused with someone else. I’d like to see what we can get for Nash and Grabs. Walt made the statement that you get #1’s and that ain’t happening unless you trade McDonagh or someone else not mentioned in Walt’s post.

          • Trade McD he isn’t the Norris winner we all thought he would be. Doesn’t he have his contract coming up? I agree with stop the patch work and go all in REBUILD. We do have some nice young skilled talent on the way. Build a young talented skilled team and people with come. People will want to see the young players develop and one day really challenge for a cup. See New York Yankees. Who had cap space, young chips to get Giancarlo Stanton. Still have a top 5 farm system.

      • I suspect we can get a #1 for Nash, and whatever we get for the others, so be it. We get to sit at the table for the draft in the first, possibly twice like this year, twice for the second if Grabs gets that back for us, and who cares about what we get for Holden, and DD, it’s still a win!!!!!

    • Walt…..
      You got me rolling again!!!! 125 th Pick….I love it!!!!!!
      Qualifies as one of best comments ever……

        • Joe

          I did say 125th round, intentionally, knowing it doesn’t exist. Glad to put a smile on both your, and Richter’s faces!!!!!!! We have to laugh, the weather is so wonderful, that I’m freezing my tail off…….

          • Sorry Rich, meant to say your name instead of Richter, but he will laugh as well I hope!!!!!!

          • Yes Walt …. I did read ”’round pick”’ …….. which means you and I would likely be drafted ahead of him!!!!!!!!!
            I am 62 ……!

    • That’s all well and good but I don’t think any player the Rangers would be willing to trade will get them a 1st round draft pick.
      Teams don’t throw those around unless Gorton is ready to move on from McDonagh.
      This team just needs a little more depth on both ends. They aren’t winning anything this season so why blow it up. Nash Isn’t going to resign here for beans and his $7.8 mil contract leaves a good amount of meat to retain some salary and still clear $4-$5 mil in cap space. Toronto used to be on every players “No Trade” list. Bad Cap management may keep him from going there but the scope of the nhl has changed.

    • I will buy you dinner if it happens.

      I sound like Trump, promising you something that will never happen.

    • I largely concur. If Gorton could pull off a sure-fire fleecing to get a young reasonably-priced true top-6 type forward or top-4 type defender, I wouldn’t ever be against that type of move, at any point in any season. Other than that, I would prefer they don’t do anything drastic this time around in the acquisition department.

    • Hey guys, I have an off subject question. How is Chytil allowed to play in Hartford? I thought 18 & 19 year olds were not allowed to play in the AHL? Is there an exception that Chytil met?
      Also if he did turn pro, how is he able to play in the WHC?

  • Lias Andersson scored the second goal for Sweden and had two shots on goal in their 4-2 win over Team USA.

    Sweden advances to the World Junior Gold Medal Game against the winner of Canada/Czech Republic.

    We now get to see our future play one another in that game. See what drafting in the first round can get a team! Play the kids, they are more fun to watch…..

  • The Post reports Duclair wants out of Coyotes, send pick(s), don’t go crazy. Whatever is happening in the desert, might explain why the Rangers sent Duclair there. But, young talent and forward depth is needed.

    • We need someone to pick up the scoring slack from the loss of Kreider (who may be out for the season), but I’d shop a bit before going for Duclair.

      • From the NHL website:

        “New York Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton announced today that forward Chris Kreider will undergo surgery to have his rib resected. Following the surgery, he will remain sidelined indefinitely.

        Kreider has skated in 37 games with the Rangers this season, registering 11 goals and 11 assists for 22 points.”

    • Rangers needs more pure shooters on the roster for the 2nd half so giving Duke another cup of coffee might be worth it….he’s not going to cost much in terms of a trade and a free agent at the end of this year.

      • Can probably be had for cheap……and had no chance playing for that team…….nothing to lose……..we certainly need a couple more snipers

  • Boston has done it….basically dumped the old roster and is now loaded with young, assertive assets who skate, hit and otherwise play with relative abandon. With Marchand and Bergeron, Chara…and the new young coach…this is a team making the transition and are fun to watch.

    • When you have a legitimate first line, like Boston does, it is much easier to rearrange the rest of the pieces. Our whole system and style is based on the fact that we don’t have one, that we need counterpunch goals set up by playmakers like Zuc and Miller. Therefore, where Chicago, last game, for instance, was trying to get Toews away from Hayes’ line, we have no such line that the opposition has to particularly worry about.

      As an aside, when you look at legitimate first lines around the league, it is remarkable that the Flyers keep missing the playoffs with one of the better ones. What does that say about their GM, coach, and system?

      • Our whole system and style is based on the fact that AV will blame anything but his system and anyone but himself, and he refuses to do much to address problems except shake up his lines and continue to try and ram square pegs into round holes to see if something sticks. He’s far from the first coach to do this, and will be far from the last. Still doesn’t mean it is the best way to run this/a team.

        Losing Kreider sucks; hopefully Miller can slot in there tomorrow night and be as good or better. Pavel back where he belongs. If Miller looks good there, LEAVE IT BE, ALAIN.

    • But Marchand and Bergeron, Chara are the old roster……they hit on a few youngsters and I believe McIvoy was a very highly rated player when they drafted him……. and coaching does matter!

  • Though I hate his defensive attributes, I don’t have a strong opinion on Kreider’s overall value to the team but there was something about Wednesday night’s game that made me feel we didn’t have any dangerous players on the ice. We looked stifled against an ordinary team defensively and its only going to look worse in the playoffs. If Kreider doesn’t come back I am clearly a Seller here of pending FAs including McDonough (for a younger version of the same – Trouba?). I want to see some youth playing and added to this team more sooner than later. The more I watch NJ Devils play the more I am convinced that the game is getting too fast for the majority of 28+ aged players. As for Lundqvist, bring DeAngelo and Pionk up and let them play their game. If we give up 4-5 per game and let Cranky Hanky know this is where we are heading then perhaps he is willing to move to a contender. Perhaps Chicago needs a goalie down the stretch?!!? Plenty of youth to be had from that team though doubt their Cap can take on Henry unless we eat something large!

    • Definitely, it’s pretty much what happened with Stamkos. His health is far more important. Here’s to a full recovery CK

  • My personal opinion? Sell and go young.

    What will really happen? Hold tight and see what happens.

    • I’ve been pretty vocal on my approach.


      Keep the core, and have the potential for a bright future.

      • Yep I agree with you Jerry. I have beaten the same drum stating that this team is not good enough to win the Cup.

        There is a big difference between our personal opinions and what the Rangers will do in real life.

        As long as the Rangers are in a playoff spot, they will look to make the playoffs. In the past, that meant first round picks for rentals. I do truly think those days are over.

        I think they will look for cheap acquisitions and use players within the organization to make a run. They will keep their core assets including the vets like Nash and Grabner, IMO. They want to make the playoffs, there’s too much money to be made.

  • Awful news on Kreider. Any of us who have had a rib injury will tell you they are painful, so I feel for the guy, that is for sure.

    With Kreider out a long time, with Zibanejad trying to shake off the rust, and DeSharnais playing too much, I continue to think that you trade guys like Grabner (who I admire) and Nash (who I also admire) for picks or young people, and consider doing the same with McDonough and even my favorite player on the club, the mighty Zuccarello, and Holden too, because there is a strong draft apparently coming up and this club is not showing anything to make anyone believe they have a cup in them.

    Bring in youngsters from Hartford for the rest of the year. Then draft well, and fill in with your young talent next season, making some trades if necessary. Andersson could be ready to make the jump next season, while I think Chytil needs his body to mature further.

    In any event, I think they would be foolish to pass up the opportunity to sell some assets and use them to acquire younger assets. Problem is that they are likely to not only pass it up, but now panic with the loss of Kreider and make some moves that hurt the future while attempting to salvage the season. I hope I am wrong because I admire Gorton, but fear the cigar chomping old guy who is his boss!

  • I am a little more optimistic. I do not believe we know what Gorton is going to do.

    I think the moves he made last spring hurt the team’s 2018 chances and I think this was not a surprise to him at all. Acquiring DeAngelo, Andersson, Chityl was about the future — and replacing Girardi with Shattenkirk was replacing a 33 year old with a 28 year old. Considering Shattenkirk’s defensive limitations, this move was far less advantageous in the short run than many expected, but should pay dividends over time.

    And replacing Stepan and Lindberg with Desharnais is hardly all-in behavior.


    I don’t see Gorton going for the Cup this year in a serious way. Yes, he’ll want to field a team that doesn’t look like he’s giving up. He’ll want to field a team that can actually win the Cup if Lundqvist played like the 2003 Giguere or the 2011 Thomas. But he isn’t expecting to win.

    He doesn’t want to get rid of anyone; the Rangers have good players. You have to give to get, but it isn’t about tearing the team up. He’ll make deals that strengthen the team in the long run and he won’t compromise the future.

  • I dont know about a fire sale. But I believe it is not a bad draft. I would try to get a number 1 pick say for a package of free agents to be. It will be a 20 to 32 pick but if you pick the right contender you might get it with say an option for a second round pick the year after.

    No one is going to trade a number 1 pick for anyone on the rangers with the exception of Mac. and Miller or Lundquist.
    If you package Nash and Holden Or Nash Grabner it is possible to get a 1st rounder.

    Really this team needs a high quality number 1 center. Plain and simple. Is there one is this draft? I dont think so. So a fire sale to try and get a number 1 pick is not the smartest move. I am not hearing any hype like people did when any of the greats were draft eligible.

    The rangers went after Lias with serious contention ideas with him in the lineup. It didn’t pan out. They 28th pick had a better chance to stay on the team. So he was a bust. I dont think this kid will make the team next year either. To go from a known player to an unproven player just shows how little they thought of Stepan. Or how highly they thought about Lias. And if it was the latter then boy did they mess up. I don’t care what anyone says…A great 1C generally makes the team the first year and never misses a beat. He might have some growing pains in the season but for the most part he starts his career not in the swedish league but in the nhl.
    Look I hope I am proven horribly wrong. I hope said player dominates the league next year. I hope him and chytil are lights out. But my belief is just that my belief. The rangers rolled the dice and crapped out. It happens. In the next 2 or 3 years if there is another McDavid then fire sale the whole team.

    • You’re ridiculous. Lias and Chytil are busts at 18 years of age? Be reasonable. Generational talents maybe have success at that age.

      • I was reasonable. Read again what i stated. The team traded a known 1C and a goalie for a unknown, unproven, rated at low 1st to early 2nd round pick with the 7th overall pick. I know stepan is not the best 1c but he is a 1c. You dont make that trade as a GM unless you truly believe this kid can play at the NHL level at that moment. Or you are getting something else after you clear the cap space. Rangers did none of these. The pick is a bust. No other way to look at it. Gorton or who ever drafted a Center with the 7th overall pick. It was a obvious attempt at replacing stepan. Instead of the kid up here we have a guy playing on our number 1 power play who no other team in the league would give him a offer. Think about that. He would be in the swedish elite league if things didn’t work out for him. So essentially a guy no one wanted is better then our number 7 pick.

        • No, you are dead wrong. Andersson was not thought to be a 1C. He was thought to be a sure thing as a 2C or 3C and someone who could be ready soon. He is all of that. The kid has been playing very well with Frolunda and has been terrific in the World Juniors. Your premise is faulty. He will be with the big club either this coming season or next. He was a pick for the future, not an immediate Stepan replacement. They would have gladly slotted him this season but it was not the real plan.

          • My premise is faulty then who is your replacement center? You are a GM of the rangers and your answer is? What? What did they have in line to fill the void at 3c or 4c? And if you say D.D. then you are a perfect fit for a rangers management position! Sign you up in a hurry. I mean you lost Dominic and Stepan. Your answer DD and whoever AV can slot in there for the given night? Come on that is no contender.

            No GM is saying …yeah I will trade my 1C for the 7th overall pick and draft a center to see him..1.) Not play for my NHL roster. 2.) Not play in my affiliate in the states so he can get used to a smaller size rink and the physical playstyle.

            Get your head out from inside that dark deep hole it is in. Just cause everyone is a fan boy wishes the kid the best …it is and was a stupid move to make that trade. It was and still is a bust in every sense.

            If the kid came to camp and played well enough to outperform a guy who no NHL GM wanted to offer a contract to then I might not be saying this. But no the 28th pick the rangers had actually made the team out of camp. LOL …

            Stop being a blind fan boy and look at facts. Til the kid makes the roster and plays more then 15 games in a row…it was a wasted pick. The draft is a crap shoot. It happens.

            I honestly hope this kid proves me wrong. I hope in 2 seasons he is lighting up the league and undressing players like matthews. Not very likely. But I hope i am wrong.

          • You’re tendency to lace your posts with insults is childish. Grow up.

            The kid is, in my opinion, be a very capable center for the Rangers. You have nothing except for derisive comments to back up your alleged points. He has played quite well in Sweden, and in the tournament. Credible analysts, not ‘fan boys’ have watched him and are impressed with his abilities. Sure, nothing is guaranteed, but as a prospect he looks to be a good one. Your referring to him as a ‘bust’ and a ‘wasted pick’ is nonsense. If he flops like the young defenseman, Dylan, then he’d be a bust.

  • Today is today. The NHL msy never be more of a crapshoot than this year. Caps and Pens look very beatable, Bolts are the biggesr obstacle. Add some pieces (Pacioretty?) and go for it.

  • I would like to see Gorton sell so he can buy. Sell off a player like Nash to clear cap space for a hockey trade. Something that will help now and going forward. Maybe even still clear some money from what Nash was getting paid.

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