Irresponsible Rumormongering

This is the biggest month of Jeff Gorton’s Rangers career

All eyes are on Jeff Gorton. Rick Nash is all but gone, having submitted his no-trade list. There’s considerable interest in both Michael Grabner and (yes) Nick Holden. Ryan McDonagh is already gathering interest from Tampa and other teams. With Derek Stepan and Antti Raanta already in Arizona for Tony DeAngelo and the pick that turned into Lias Andersson, the rebuild isn’t coming, it’s already in motion.

This is the one chance Gorton will get to make the team completely his. He took the reins in 2015, but there was still a sense that the team wasn’t fully his. It wasn’t until the complete remake of the forwards that we got the sense he had full control. But it wasn’t entirely his team. There were still remnants of moves by Glen Sather that Gorton couldn’t shake.

But now we are in a situation where some big names that are going to fetch pretty pennies at the deadline. Nash, Holden, and Grabner are the obvious guys to go. McDonagh has long been rumored to be on his way out, dating back to the 2016 draft. If Gorton is so inclined, Mats Zuccarello would fetch a big return as well.

The one thing Gorton can’t do is screw this up. He needs to hit homeruns on every single trade he makes this deadline. If he pulls three more Stepan/Raanta deals –where the return is significantly underwhelming– then he may not last much longer in New York. However trades are just one aspect of the moves to come.

While we shouldn’t expect Alain Vigneault to be fired midseason, a coaching change is on the horizon. AV may be a good coach, but he isn’t THE coach for this team anymore. It’s clear the message isn’t reaching the players anymore, and the execution on the ice is evidence of that. It is also painfully obvious that the system needs to change.

Perhaps the latter part is all that is needed, but we won’t know unless that actually happens. If it doesn’t, then we know what needs to be done. But if Gorton doesn’t, then it doesn’t matter what the returns on the trades are.

The next month (or more – depending on any coaching changes) will make or break Gorton’s reign in New York. Mess this up, and he’s likely shown the door fairly quickly. Strike gold and the Rangers might actually sniff a Cup during the Henrik Lundqvist era.

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  • Well he needs to do something. We can’t get screwed over again on trades while giving away our top picks for players like Eric Staal. For starters, how about firing the pathetic coaching staff that can’t seem to motivate the team?

    • Why does everyone mention the Eric Staal trade but no one mention the Zibanejad trade?

      • Tranquilo, Hat. Take it easy, man…

        Richter tells me Holden’s ticketed for either The Cleveland Barons–for Denis Maruk–or The Kansas City Scouts. If it’s the latter we get a 60-something Darcy Rota.

        What? Hold on.

        Big Walt’s working the phones. He’s got The Houston Aeros taking Holden for Marty Howe and a case of Lone Star.

      • Maybe because the Z trade isn’t looking like the slam dunk it appeared to be? Ottawa made the semis last year and beat the Rangers in the playoffs, Brass outplayed Zib by a slight margin in that series.

        After 1 1/2 NYR seasons it appears that Zibby is great when healthy, but is kinda injury-prone and it takes him a long time to find his groove again after returning from injury. Brass has had so-so regular season numbers in the same time frame, but did very well in the playoffs like he always seems to do. With the new contract Zibby once again can fairly be called a disappointment, his season this year has not been good. He’s been bad since his injury return (7 points in 20 games played, ooof).

        • Overly harsh. It might help if he had a coach that would stick with a good line combination instead of placing Buch on the 4th line whenever he hiccups. He might also benefit from a coach that plays Hayes as his second line center instead of exclusively as the shutdown center. Every team in the league knows who they have to shutdown offensively, Z and his line … that results in wins for them.

          • I like Zib as a player, but let’s be honest—statistically he’s in the bottom quarter of the league’s #1 centers in terms of performance this season. I thought he’d eclipse 60 points this year myself and make Stepan’s loss into a net positive for the Rangers. In terms of that trade though, I think Brassard has acquitted himself better than Zibby overall, solely based on Ottawa’s finish in last year’s playoffs and his good 2nd season production with the Senators. Their $$ amounts are roughly the same, the only clear advantage as a player that Zibby has is in his youth.

            Ultimately it takes awhile for the winners & losers of a trade to become clear. Gorton might soon be considered a genius if Andersson & Chytil become good NHL players.

          • I noted earlier that Desharnais has more even strength points than Mika does. (Hayes is first among centers.). Oh sure, MZ is the better player, but when the comparison with DD is not a slam dunk, there are problems.

            Sure, Mika is great on the power play and has a ton of potential, but the jury still should be out on that trade. Likewise, Andersson and DeAngelo are still young Rangers. We really don’t know how well the Stepan trade will turn out.

          • Of course! It’s always the coach. It’s never, ever the player….ever.

            It’s too soon to judge the Mika deal. I said that last year when I debated with someone (you perhaps?) whether this was the slam dunk steal everyone said it was. Clearly to this point, it is not. But we shall see.

        • Fully disagree with you, other than your point on Zib getting back up to speed after an injury.

          This year, Ottawa is just as much a dump as NYR, One big difference is that Brassard at his age is more a piece to trade off in order to recoup futures while Zib at his age is a player you identify as a piece to cement a rebuild/retool around.

          • Again, it’s hard to swallow, since Zib is an interesting player in terms of his ceiling. But it’s indisputable that he’s having a poor year in his first year as #1 pivot. It’s also indisputable that Brassard outplayed him in the playoffs last year. Instead of replacing Stepan, Z’s become a slightly worse version of Step—and that’s a disappointment. He’s got the skills to be a better player than he’s shown this season. At this point it can be argued that Ottawa knew exactly what they had in Zib just as much as NYR did in Brassard. At this point it also looks like the semifinals are a long way away for both teams.

        • Maybe I am missing it. I just hate Zippy. He is soft and weak on the boards. Hasn’t lived up to the hype in any way. And in the playoffs board play is really important.

          Don’t forget my point that the Rangers went 8-1 without him this year. Krieder being out is when the true colors of this team started to show.

          I agree you can’t say for sure who won in that trade at this point. I would say it is even but leaning toward Ottawa as the winner.

          I just think ottawa got raped in that trade with Nashville and Colorado. That put them in the dumpsters.

  • See, I disagree that the Stepan trade’s return was underwhelming. And if it was, I think that says a lot more about our perceived value of Stepan vs what the market actually dictated.

    I think Chytil and Andersson will be good, useful players. Also, getting rid of Stepan before his NMC kicked in gives the team real flexibility (full disclosure: stats be damned, I always felt Stepan was overrated. Easily overpowered, sloppy turnovers at bad times, can’t win faceoffs, missed the net badly on shots, when he actually DID shoot, etc).

    Okay, downvote away!

    • Chytil wasn’t a part of the trade. So he doesn’t count.

      Stepan trade is a complete loss. Right up there with the Hagelin trade in my mind.

      And this is how you get downvoted!

      • Touche on Chytil. My bad. How is Stepan a complete loss, though? Doesn’t the fact that he fetched so little in return, despite being widely regarded as “so good,” prove he’s overrated? Besides, I pointed out my case in my original post. Washington OT winner aside, he was nothing special. That he was ever regarded as a first line center despite putting up meh stats is baffling.
        (Stepan’s putting up crap numbers in last place Arizona, BTW.)

        Ranger fans in general overrate their team, FWIW…look at all the fantastical dreams of first rounders for Nash. Ultimately the market decides.

      • If the Stepan trade was about making the Rangers better this season, than I agree with you, the trade is a bust. If it’s about the future, and ADA and Andersson become important pieces of the puzzle going forward, than it is a steal.

        The jury needs further time to deliberate before reaching a verdict on this one.

  • Let’s just hope he does not wait too long or over play his hand. There should be some decent offers out there for him to take. Also not crazy about trading inter division, but after the Hagelin debacle take the best deal, don’t worry about the trading partner. If you’re going to help an arch rival..make it hurt

    • Agreed, trades should be about what YOU want and not worrying about what the other team is getting.

  • Dave. Your comment

    It’s already in motion, made me think and come to the conclusion that Gorton is brilliant. He traded away step and a capable backup for prospects.

    That was the first sign. All expectations in Rangerland was that they were going to try to make a run. But they didn’t and he knew it. Nash is playing well , perfect time to trade him. I’m hopeful

    • “He traded away step and a capable backup for prospects…”

      Because that’s all that Step was worth, really.

    • He got 1 pick. Where is prospects? DeAngelo had a reputation and couldn’t make it onto a team with their best defenseman being a negative 75 on the season in plus/minus. If you can’t make it onto Arizona’s lineup what does that say about you. They can’t win a game if it is given to them.

      They forced that trade cause they wanted a top 10 pick. It was a bad move.

        • I agree 100%! But it was only one and I feel it was a forced short sale cause they didn’t want to get stuck with Stepan and his contract. That is very narrow sighted. They didn’t see that they wanted to get rid of him til the draft and to get that in return is not the best return possible for those 2 players.

          Talbot got 57th, 79th and 184th. That was just Talbot. Raanta didn’t have the same level of hype surrounding him, but still everyone knew he would be a #1 Goalie just like talbot. Raanta by himself should have atleast returned 2 picks. A second rounder and maybe a much later pick.

      • Point is that’s when the fire sale began. Too many ifs for the season to be successful.


  • Hey Dave, what’s this love you are showing for McD to the Bolts….you keep associating them together….I surely hope he doesn’t go there

  • Staal is now an all-star, and looking every bit of it with a different coach, different system, eh?

    • Pony

      So what does that tell you? I have been calling for AV’s job for sometime now, and may well be rewarded for it sooooooooooooooon!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Sorry…that’s absurd. Staal was hurt when he was with the Rangers. he had only a handful of games with the team. To claim that it was about the coach is patently absurd. He was medicore in Carolina that year too.

      So if that’s the case and Staal’s failure as a Ranger was all on AV, then I am sure you are therefore prepared to give AV full marks for turning around Grabner where Coach Babs failed with him right?

      Again, the same old song. Things go well….players. Things go badly…coach.

      The AViHaters are in the air…launching bombs from everywhere!!!!!!!

      • Staal is a center, but AV forced him to the wing, like a fish out of water! Another misuse of his assets…………

        • I agree with that….and why? Because AV believed too much in Hayes and thought it would be better to keep Hayes at center, even though Hayes was struggling. Which kind of debunks the whole notion that “AV hates the kids”.

          The real issue for E. Staal that year was he was not 100%. He wasn’t producing for Carolina and that continued in NY. Regardless of position, coach or team, he wasn’t good that season.

  • Aside from the NTC players, is there anyone else on this roster who can be legitimately labeled “untouchable”. Give me two #1 picks and a decent prospect and you can even have Gene Carr, I mean Kreider, great player (when he wants to be!) maybe someday he can develop some true hockey acumen. I’m so tired of this demoralizing season. If you’re going to blow it up, then DO IT!

  • Great article Dave. Your thoughts, combined with Brooksie’s column today, pretty much says it all. Brooks laid out how the Rangers got to this point with several personnel decisions made by Gorton over the past year or so that have, to this point at least, not panned out.

    Your article is mostly spot on. To this point, Gorton has done little to distinguish himself as Rangers GM. Some out here harp on how we’ve been “outcoached”. The real issue is how badly we have been “out-GMed”. I’m not ready to say “Fire Gorton” just yet, but no question, if assets are going to be sold off, our GM needs to get substantial returns here. And if those returns are high draft picks, then we need to nail them this time and not continue to draft more “good but not great” players, or complete busts like McIlrath and other would-be saviors that failed to pan out when Sather was the GM.

    The draft has been around for 55 years now. The Rangers have never drafted a HOF forward. Not. Even. Once. They’ve drafted two HOF defensemen (Park and Leetch). They drafted a future HOF goalie in Hank but that was pure luck. To the best of my knowledge, that’s it. Modern Rangers management has proven that they do a good job finding and developing the “B-level” guys…the Callys, the Dubis, etc. Those players are useful pieces but you need some star power to realistically have a chance to win a Cup.

    If Gorton fails to land difference making talent, all this ballyhooed rebuild will accomplish will be a reset that allows us to recreate the 2007 Rangers again. That will mean another era of good teams that will contend and compete, but it won’t be enough. So I agree, Gorton MUST come through here.

    As for AV, I’m not so sure he is definitely a goner after this season. I understand the points of some of the “AViHaters” (my new term for the verbal dive bombers), and some are valid. But the fact is the record says this coach has been pretty succesful here. This will be his first sub-100 point season since his first season, likely his first playoff miss as Rangers coach since he arrived, and his first post-season miss personally in nine seasons. That’s a pretty solid record with players that, at least in his stint as Rangers coach, are hardly going to find their way up to the rafters one of these days other than Hank.

    I understand that fans get tired of coaches pretty fast. But I’m not so sure management or players feel the same. We can use Sather’s firing of Torts and even Renney before him as a guide. In Renney’s case, there was a chance to upgrade with a better option in Torts—plain and simple. In Tort’s case, his record was no better than Renney’s as Rangers coach. Yet, I don’t think Sather had any intention to can him until it became clear that, a) he lost the room (pretty solid reporting on that rumor being true) AND b) there was an opportunity to upgrade when both AV and Ruff became available. Thus, the move was made.

    The fact is AV has compiled a far, far better Rangers resume than Torts. So, IMO, AV will only get canned this summer IF it is determined he has lost the room and/or a better option (Quenneville?) becomes available. I do not believe a change will be made for change sake. I predict AV will be back to start the season. Then, like last year, his fate will be decided at mid-season. Play well, he gets another extension. Play badly, they make a move mid-season to replace him. No way management will tolerate back to back non-playoff seasons.

    Should be an interesting next few weeks, that’s for sure!

  • Can’t believe people are calling either of the Stepan or Brassard trades losses. The Stepan trade, because we don’t really yet know what we have in either Lias or DeAngelo, at this point, can’t be called anything but a waiting game. The Brassard trade, while seeming to blow up in our faces in last year’s playoffs, is clearly not a loss. One, for it to be a loss, Ottawa would have to have won the deal. What did they achieve since the trade, essentially nothing. Now, they’re a bottom feeder worse off than we are, and Brassard is likely to be moved. What becomes of the return they get will go a long way in defining the overall outcome of this deal. Either way, still too early to say. I know this isn’t among the better times to be a Ranger fan, but, on the horizon, I see a lot to be optimistic about. So why all the pessimism?

    • Sad part is you do know what you have in both. Only way these players change in my opinion is if they go to another franchise. I feel kids improve when they play with or against better players and are surrounded by a winning mentality. Which neither Hartford or the present Rangers are doing.

      Just take one look at all the high quality picks and players that Arizona has taken. And look at how they are all doing. How many of those players do you think would be allstars on a team like Pitt, or CHicago, or LA of past years?

      Just look at Stepan’s stats …he is doing exactly what he did here just now instead of being on the winning side of the goal differential… he is on the losing side. And his shot percentage is down a bit. But that right there is the difference between winners and losers in the NHL. It is that winning mentality. Which I really think started with Cally and has slowly regressed back to those first years of Sather’s GM reign. And until you get another Callahan type leader this team is going into the dumps.

  • Your point about the draft made me look. So spot on for that. But something I also noticed as I was looking was since 1963 the Rangers have had one 1st overall Draft pick. Pens had 3, Montreal had 5, Tampa is at 3, Edmonton is at 4. Seems we might need to consider going into a deep dive for a couple of seasons. And with the lottery system we still wont get the first pick overall.

    But that is why I made that point that draft picks are nice but it is like throwing darts while being intoxicated. The first overall pick has a 60% success rate at becoming a NHL player let alone become a hall of famer!

  • I have a question, if you say the system and the coach need to change as the current rosters does not have the players to play his system (I agree) that means we will have a new coach and new system.

    Wouldn’t they have to consider getting in a new coach and knowing what system they will play should happen before you start picking up other players that might not be suited for the new system? Or will they be so young that it would not make an immediate difference? Don’t they also play AV system on the AHL team?

  • He’s just as complicit for this tire fire as AV is. They should both be fired into the sun. There is zero reason for us to not be competitive this season. I know we’ve had injuries recently, but the first half of the season was an abomination.

  • if the rangers bring some of talented kids to show them what to expect for next yea, would they get a chance to play under alain?

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