No, that title is not a rip off from Brooks, it’s a call back to my post a month ago, where Jeff Gorton needed to go all-in on the sell. So far, so good for Gorton. He turned his four biggest assets into solid hauls that sets the Rangers up with seven picks in the first three rounds this year, including three first rounders.
But there is more work to do. There are still more trades to make, specifically with players like Marc Staal, who might not have a place in the future of the club. That just scratches the surface, though.
The biggest change needs to happen behind the bench. Thank you Alain Vigneault for the Cup runs, they were fun to watch. But every coach has a shelf life, and yours has come and gone. The Blueshirts need to shift to a coach who will develop kids to play to their strengths and creativity. That, based on past history, is not an AV forte. Only Benoit Allaire should survive the purge.
Expanding on that, the new coach will need to begin leaning on the new core of Rangers. Kevin Hayes, Mika Zibanejad, Pavel Buchnevich, and Brady Skjei should be the new leadership core (I’m assuming Mats Zuccarello is traded at some point). These kids need to play to see what they can do. This isn’t about 2018-2019. It’s about 2019-2020.
In the more immediate future, let’s give Henrik Lundqvist a break. He’s played in what feels like every game this season. Alex Georgiev was solid in his first two games. Play him some more. Build up his trade value. He’s not the heir apparent, that’s Igor Shestyorkin.
Get the kids some playing time in all situations. When there are seven games remaining in the season, call up Filip Chytil and Lias Andersson. Get them some NHL games, but stay below the nine game threshold so their ELCs still slide a year. Production on ELCs, something both of these kids can provide, is critical.
With so much focus on getting high floor, low ceiling players during the trade deadline, it’s time to swing for the fences at the draft. It may not work out, but elite talent is needed to win these days. There are enough middle-six guys. Get that elite talent who can control the top line.
What Gorton has done so far is several giant steps in the right direction. But stopping here is a half measure. There is more work to be done.