How I Learned to Stop Worrying and #TrustTheProcess

The man with a plan (we think)

Just a few weeks back I was defending my own cynicism and giving Jeff Gorton an incomplete on his report card, but I’ve recently had a change of heart. You might find this surprising (I don’t, because I tend to be all over the place, but you all don’t know me like that) but I’m going to make the argument that such a shift in mindset is not without reason. Sure, there’s still good cause to be hesitant, but what was once skepticism can shift towards cautious optimism without sounding too crazy. Yes, folks, I’m saying it’s just about time to #TrustTheProcess.

Starting with what we know most clearly, it’s who’s on the ice that matters right now. Of course, a lot of the reason for the roster’s new look has been injuries, and the team is still playing Cody McLeod (although if you really think Gorton is playing 8 dimensional chess then maybe that’s an effort to get a higher draft pick), but the fact is that guys like Neal Pionk, Anthony DeAngelo, and John Gilmour are getting serious minutes on the backend. This is a crucial step in their development, breaking down the adjustment period that would exist if they first stepped into the lineup next year. The fact that they’re getting consistently big minutes means they can make mistakes without having their confidence shattered by a draconian coach.

Did somebody have a word with AV? Just this past game, according to Neal Pionk led the team in TOI at 20.88 minutes, DeAngelo logged 17.22 and John Gilmour had 15.87. Not exactly Erik Karlsson shifts but in those minutes the three newbies each had a CF% of 71.11%, 54.35%, and 68.75%. Not so bad I’d say for babies’ first Rangers/Islanders matchup.

Another cause for optimism is the above tweet. Jeff Gorton is looking to make this team younger and more skilled, by his own admission, but the fact that the word on the street is that he’s looking more for proven prospects who are near or at the NHL level means he’s also got his thinking cap on. Unless the Rangers wind up in the top three this draft and pick Dahlin, Svechnikov, or Zadina, whoever they’d be taking in the first round would be at least a year or two away.

Gorton is evidently aware that the quicker way to rebound as far as roster construction, and a way to avoid potential busts, is to seek out guys who are already seasoned to a certain degree and just need to make the jump. I could also see the merits of looking for draft picks more than prospects, but I think I prefer this approach, and I’m excited to see who Gorton brings home to New York.

Along those lines, one of the other reasons I’m cautiously optimistic and gaining a sense of trust in GMJG’s plan is the asking price for Nash – allegedly a first-rounder, a top prospect, and a lesser player/prospect (I know you can read, because you’ve made it this far, but in case you’re twitter averse here you go). Gorton is not going to sell low on his assets, and that’s a good thing.

Now, obviously a GM that plays too hard to get is going to wind up empty handed when other teams tell him just to take a hike, but I’m confident Gorton knows that you ask high and then show some flexibility as you negotiate down with a potential trading partner. If Gorton manages this return for Nash he’s a miracle worker, but if he gets even in the ballpark he’ll be getting fair value and prove his worth as one of the better GMs in the league. This is another thing I’m excited about – what Gorton makes of his highly-prized assets on the trade market.

Lastly, we’ve got this article from the New York Post, which, again, if you simply don’t want to click it I’ll summarize for you. Early on in the article Brooksie (who’s been really on his game lately, by the way) quotes Jeff Gorton as saying “We are not going to burn the first year off any contracts,” with regard to Andersson and/or Chytil. So while we may see them for the last few games of the season, Gorton is going to let things simmer and wait until next season before making any decisions on their ability to play with the big boys.

It’s a quietly savvy move, one that shows he’s going to be conscious of the varying timelines of contract status that develop over time through a rebuild. It shouldn’t be taken out of consideration when evaluating his skill as a General Manager.

There it is, my small, but I think convincing evidence that the Rangers front office is on the right track as far as planning for the future. Whether Gorton is actually able to execute on this promise is another thing, but things are looking good so far. Right now I’m going to place my trust in management, but even if you’re not there yet there’s still room to be cautiously optimistic. Earlier this season I gave Jeff Gorton an incomplete for his mid-season grade, and while his final paper isn’t quite done yet, the first draft looks pretty promising so far. Bring it home, Gorts.

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  • If we can get for Nash a one pick, top prospect and a “potential”….and add what we should get from Boston if McD is traded there in DeBrusk….PLUS a Donato/or top pick ( people here savaged me for Donato but if you watch USA Oly would see why I like him) this team would be a blast to watch and I will be happy once again because now I am miserable.

  • Think this is the best way to go with the kids. Bring them up to play when CK20 – Buchnevich – and Shaddy return just to see what we need for next year , or even if they are ready or need another year in the AHL. Only problem I will have is what 6 D finish the year playing time wise . This will go a long way to we have next year on the D moving forward . Steal is the biggest problem going forward B/O is going to ham string us going forward but what do you do, are you allowed to ask him to retire to the front office and pay him his hockey salary to be a scout in western Canada or where ever he wants to be .Don’t know if it is even allowed by CBA.

  • As someone who tends to think materially less of Gorton than you Pat, I will gladly state this is an excellent article. However, one could make the point seeking predominantly near-ready prospects is a major concern, in that the organization may be charting a quicker path toward solidifying a league position somewhere between 8th-12th (and assuring playoff ticket $), rather than a structural path toward the Stanley Cup. In short, winning a Cup cannot be as easy as trading off impending UFAs for near-ready prospects. It requires a longer runway that includes accumulation of draft picks; otherwise, the flexibility and depth any GM needs to truly move a club into top 3 or 4 is never at his disposal.

    Anyway, very good article. I’ve been waiting for this multi-year roster reconstruction and Head Coach replacement for a while; glad to see its beginning signs.

    • That’s partially true in my opinion. If you have been a bottom feeder like Edmonton or Toronto for years, then maybe a full rebuild as such is necessary. However, the Rangers already have a good core group of players. In adding young players with ELC, Gorton will have the cap flexibility to make a trade from a position of strength or to dabble in the FA market. I have been a believer in what Gorton was doing from day one. I may be in the minority here but there’s a new regime in the NYR front office. The days of Sather and his ideology are gone.

    • Good point but I’m with Pat. I think that the Rangers have enough of a young to in prime core to justify a prospects over picks strategy. I think it was said above but getting CK 20 and Shatty back in top form are key. That said, if DeBrusk is the centerpiece of a MacD trade, all bets are off.

  • Hopefully that will at least stop the people constantly calling for them to call up Lias and Filip. No, it’s not a conspiracy by a AV to try and make the playoffs and save his job by playing whatever veteran centers he can cobble together.

    • The Rangers decided that they did not want to burn any years on their ELCs. I do not think this really had anything to do with AV. This time.

  • I get that deals do not get done 3 weeks before the trade deadline, that’s not realistic. But it’s getting late early.

    I can’t help but think about the Talbot overplay where the Rangers could not get even a first round pick for a starting goalie, because they jerked around too much, and identified the Oilers as really the only team that they were going to deal with.

    Nash, Grabner, Holden, and DD are UFAs anyway, so you get what you can get, at what will appear to be the peak return that you can get for them.

    McD and Zuc are different conversations. The Rangers DO NOT have to trade them right now if the return is not to their liking.

    Overall, if done correctly, the Rangers will be a playoff team next year with a much better chance of competing than any other year of recent memory except for 2013-14.

    • Sure they screwed up the Talbot deal but you have to admitt that JG was able to flip Raanta basically for that 1st rounder. Add to the fact that Raanta played less sharp as a backup goalie than Talbot.

      Word has been out the past couple of days that the FO wants NHL roster player’s or high end prospects ready to play in the big leagues.

    • I’m still not sure how that concept got started that a first-round pick was ever in play It seems like right before the trade that rumor started going around. Goalie trade is usually a weak market, just ask the Kings 🙂 I don’t think the Rangers were ever legitimately going to get more than 2 second round picks for Cam.

  • I am trying to be optimistic that the process will work. However, traditionally it’s been the Rangers who overpay for an aging big name veteran hockey player.

    • I wouldn’t worry about that to much but if Staal, Smith, Mcd, Zucc and Nash aren’t Rangers by next season than expect a transition in leadership even if 2 names from that list remains a Ranger. The people who get anxious about JG resorting to old ways like signing over the hill vets aren’t accounting a power shift. Player’s like Klein, D Moore type for the bottom 6 and a Nash type of player for the top 9 is very much needed to start a new cultural wave imo.

  • Anyone see Mikael Backlund’s extension? Hayes has already proved he can put up his numbers as a 3c, pk specialist prior to this season. He’s shy of 3 points and that’s a career high for Backlund who had to play top 6 to obtain that. It should be interesting to see how negotiation goes between the two sides. People like to call out JT and him for dry playoff production but his agent might have leverage for that 2015 run. There’s a good chance that if he didn’t score the OT goal vs Pitts and the regulation goal to give a chance for Stepan to pound home basically a empty netter in the Caps series than that post season could have ended much earlier. Beating out names like Mess and Leetch to setup new NYR records on shorthanded points/assist could be in his favor as well.

  • Never bought the idea that playing in the minors counts as proper development if you’re at everyone else’s level. Playing against better competition is how you get better. Nice to see some players getting that experience, albeit not by choice but by the necessity of injury.

  • I’ll trust Gorton and always have, but I want each deal to be the best deal. Go with high quality value and don’t box yourself in with trying to get NHL ready prospects in every deal. I mean if you gather enough assets you can always trade down to the top 3 picks.

    • Survival kit contents check. In them you’ll find: one forty-five caliber automatic; two boxes of ammunition; four days’ concentrated emergency rations; one drug issue containing antibiotics, morphine, vitamin pills, pep pills, sleeping pills, tranquilizer pills; one miniature combination Russian phrase book and Bible; one hundred dollars in rubles; one hundred dollars in gold; nine packs of chewing gum; one issue of prophylactics; three lipsticks; three pair of nylon stockings. Shoot, a fella’ could have a pretty good weekend in Vegas with all that stuff.

  • They should sign Grabner before the trade deadline you can’t develop speed like him that can finish and bury empty net goals. Give him the five mil per year for 3 years.

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