Last “thoughts” post of the 2017-2018 season

MSG in May (Deadspin)

Happy Friday, BSB people.  With last night’s loss to the Islanders, the clock continues to tick down on a lost season.  With one game to play, the Rangers currently sit in 23rd place in the league, just one point ahead of the Blackhawks and Oilers.  If those teams win their remaining game(s), there is a long shot possibility that the Rangers could drop as low as 25th.  With some moving parts still ahead for the Blueshirts, I have some thoughts…

1. If the Rangers do happen to fall into 25th place, they will have a 6.5% chance at the number 1 overall pick.  Slim chance there, even though the 31st ranked team only has an 18.5% chance.  The general consensus is that the talent drops off significantly after the top 9-10 picks, so the Rangers could use a stroke of good fortune when their lottery ball pops. 

2. On Twitter yesterday, I wondered aloud how awesome it would be if the Flyers had lost to Carolina last night and then missed the playoffs by one point as a result of losing to the Rangers in a shootout tomorrow.  Tanking plan be damned, that would have rocked.  Alas, it was not meant to be as the Flyers now only need one point to clinch a playoff spot.  Sure, the Panthers could win out and the Rangers could defeat Philly in regulation and still have the Flyers miss the playoffs, but it’s somehow less fun now.  That would have been poetry.

3. Larry Brooks wrote an article the other day wondering what would happen if John Tavares left the Islanders and signed with the Rangers as a UFA in July.  First, it would be the world’s most giantest middle finger to the Islanders, which would be just so great.  However, why would you head over to a rebuilding team after years of frustrating rebuilding?  I don’t see it happening, like, at all.  However, I got to thinking about how I would feel if it did.  Obviously, Tavares is a special talent, but his acquisition would have ripple effects through the rebuild as the organization attempted to make the team as competitive as possible, immediately.  I don’t know where I am going with this, but I think a meaningful pursuit of Tavares would run contrary to the current mission statement.

4. So, I am very curious about this.  After seeing the writing on the wall last year and the bottom falling out this year, there aren’t a lot of AV defenders around these parts anymore.  Most of the fan base is anticipating (expecting?) and requiring his dismissal when the season is over.  So, I ask you this.  What if he isn’t let go?  What if the organization feels that he is the best voice to lead the team forward?  How will this affect your fandom, general interest in the team or desire to see through the re-build? It’s fair to say that this is a watershed moment for the franchise in the Henrik Lundqvist era, and after years of heartbreak and almost moments, do you have the inclination to continue to live and die by this team under AV’s continued leadership?

5. It was announced that Joel Quenneville and Stan Bowman would be retained as coach and GM of the Blackhawks yesterday.  This is noteworthy for the Rangers because it was presumed that the Q-Stache would be a target for a potential coaching vacancy.  He is obviously very accomplished and respected around the league, but I was a little bit weary of bringing in a “hockey man” as the new voice for a young team.  I think I would prefer a younger coach with a progressive mindset who will look toward future trends in usage and skill set evaluation to maximize deployment and other cutting-edge strategy.  If AV is let go, the determination about the future of the coaching staff will be fascinating (or horrifying?) to watch as the offseason goes on.

6. I know the defense is a mess, but please, please, please stay away from John Carlson.

7. There has been a lot of debate about the labeling of first line players.  There is a significant difference between a first line player and an elite player.  By definition, elite players are in very short supply.  I liken it to baseball, every team has an Ace pitcher, but not every number one pitcher is an Ace.  Every hockey team has a first line, but not all first liners are elite.  It just is what it is.  That said, it takes elite talent to win a Stanley Cup.  I just hope Gorton can find some, because outside of Henrik Lundqvist, no one on this team is elite.

8. I’m also curious to hear who everyone would like to retain for next year’s defense corps.  Let’s have your 7 defensemen for next season.

9. Don’t bother re-signing Pavelec, just let Georgiev be the backup.  An AHL depth guy wouldn’t be a bad idea, though.

Ok, that’s it for my last “thoughts” post of the 2017-2018 season.  I wish I could say it’s been fun.  We have a super interesting offseason ahead, so keep it locked right here for all your Rangers related coverage.  Enjoy the finale and (Ranger-less) playoffs!

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  • We will need to add some stud defenseman and some “elite” forward. These two additions along with a strong draft can make us a contender.

  • Kreider-Zibanejad-Zuccarello



    Kampfer, Carey

    I build this roster on cap friendly and gave the following contracts:

    – Don’t want to buy out Staal/Smith. We have the room and don’t want dead space on the roster until 2023/24. Give Staal one more year than hopefully Day/Hajek is ready

    – Traded Namestikov for a 2018 2nd, 2018 3rd, and a 2019 2nd (not sure if good/bad)

    Kovalchuk- 2 yr. 10m – 5.0 AAV
    Nash- 2 yr. 8m – 4.0 AAV
    Hayes- 4 yr. 18m – 4.5 AAV
    Spooner- 4 yr. 14m – 3.5 AAV
    Vesey- 3 yr. 6m – 2.0 AAV
    Carey- 1 yr. 650k – .650 AAV
    Skjei- 6 yr. 30m – 5.0 AAV

    All in still have 2,333,056 in space

    • You’ll have to overpay for Kovy if you only give him 2 years. Still, that’s not too far from realistic. Pay less for Nash (or bring back Grabner instead), round down just a bit on Vesey and Skjei, use that remaining $2m in cap space and you could pay Kovy 2y, 16 million….if you wanted to.

    • Carlson is from my hometown (Woodbridge, NJ), and I liked his offensive game, but agree he doesn’t seem to be the guy we need.

  • Unlike a lot, I like AV. But a coach has to go if either the team stops listening or if the team changes radically and a new coach can grow a bit with the team or is better with the type of players they’ll have (or with youth). Maybe it’s that time. I don’t know. Maybe.

    The place in a draft can matter, but a few picks difference may not. I would love it if the Rangers could help eliminate the Flyers (fear of a 3rd happy day in Philly in 5 months is tough to think of), but I don’t want to sit down and get into something very unlikely to happen.

    • Serious question, not trolling – what is it, exactly, that you like about AV at this point? I’m not talking about his two President’s Cups; what has he done purely as a result of his coaching method and style the past few seasons that has worked out well in your opinion?

  • We need to lose to Philly and Chicago and Edmonton need to win a game. I hate to write this, but it’s in our best interest.

    I would pass on Tavares for multiple of reasons. The biggest being the Isles rooster, is not as bad as their record, year after year after year. They are a perpetual underachiever and he’s been their captain. He’s a great player, but something is just off with him. Can’t put my finger on it but not too interested. And let’s hope we learned something about passing out massive contracts with NMC and NTC.

    If AV does not go, the rebuild is in pause mode and/or stalled out as far as I am concerned. Mentoring young players is not his skill set. We need someone who can manage the young players and put them in the right situations. AV is in no way that someone.

    On D-Skeji, Shattenkirk, Pionk, De Angelo. I am fine with Bringing back Gilmour and I would keep Staal for one more season before I buy him out. I count 6 and I would not bring back anyone else. Hope Smith figures it out, but not going to count on that. Need a UFA, but a hard pass on John Carlson. Not what we need now.

    Georgiev or bust. He was decent and Pavelec is just a patch work backup. He should not be in our future plans in any way.

    • Agree on Tavares. Isles should be better if he was truly elite. I think that “something is off” that you’re looking for is his defense, or lack thereof. Not exactly a strong suit for Rangers right now either, so why would we want more of that?

  • Skjei / Shattenkirk
    Gilmour/ Pionk
    Staal / Deangelo

    ^ my guess at our 7 D next year. I’m sure they’ll be some moving parts though.

    Curious about Pavelec, though. He’s been pretty lights out for us. I know Georgiev could handle the role of backup tender, but do you think we’re best served by that? To me, as a rebuilder, a better option may be to sign Pavelec and let him play 30 games next year, hope he keeps up his level of play and look to flip him for assets a la Talbot and Raanta. More assets the better. Then let Georgiev take the back up role for a year in 2019-20, a year before our true succession plan arrives.

    • I don’t disagree on the asset management piece. However, Georgiev has proven he belongs at this level, so I think it makes sense to put him in a position to be a solid NHL backup moving forward, or perhaps as trade bait once Igor comes over.

    • Numerous problems with this. First, we did not get that much for Talbot and Raanta. Goalies don’t net that much. Second, Talbot and Raanta were young guys and acquired by Edmonton and Arizona to be #1 netminders. Pavelek is already 30 and not a goalie of the future for anyone. Third, Pavelek wasn’t exactly lights out. His save percentage ranked 34th out of 61 among tenders who played at least 15 games. That is fine for a back-up, but not someone a team is looking at for a starter. Finally, as Justin says, Georgiev is ready; why spend money you don’t have to. In fact, as yet, we don’t know Georgiev’s ceiling. He likely will be surpassed by Shesterkin, but we don’t actually know that yet.

      • Any asset is an asset. I don’t care if we can’t get a 1st for Pavelec. I’ll take a 3rd/4th. Goalies get injured and when the time is right we can send him to a GM who needs to bolster goalie depth. See Mrazek -> Philly this year.

        Pavelec salary will not exceed much more than he’s making this year. We are not anywhere near the ceiling so the extra few hundred K to Pavelec over Georgiev will not be an issue in the slightest.

        He’s performed just fine. Better numbers than Mrazek this year who needed conditional 3rd and 4th round picks.

        • Any asset is an asset means you sign anyone you can; that can’t be right. And if you play Georgiev, maybe you can turn him for a first or second pick.

    • Skjei / Shattenkirk
      Gilmour/ Pionk
      Staal / Deangelo

      I don’t think so. I am guessing we will see wholesale changes, though I’m not sure exactly where. A few quick thoughts though. I don’t see Brendan Smith as #7. He has the talent and ability to start, but has an attitude issue. It seems to me that making him #7 allows his attitude to pollute the club without the upside. Shattenkirk is only 16 months younger than Zuke. If we need to trade Zuke because he is too old, maybe dealing Shatty is also in the cards. Finally, the starting six is just the starting six before DeAngelo went down (with Shattenkirk replacing O’Gara). That group was awful. Yes, the replacement helps, but more needs to be done. Personally, I think DeAngelo (-18 in 32 games) is odd man out, but I also suspect Gilmour, while promising, needs a little more seasoning.

      • I can see a new kid or two, such as Lindgren or Hajak make the team next year. The current list is weak, and permits too many SOG!!!

  • Justin, always enjoy your thoughts. I agree with your coaching thoughts. The next two-three years should be more about developing young talent than winning anyway and an AHL coach may be better suited. Or, one could experiment with a Messier, knowing it won’t cost you a Cup.

    I am not at all optimistic though. If the team continues to revolve around a goaltender well past his prime, the rebuild will only be half-hearted. And I have little confidence in Gorton. He got a haul at the deadline for obvious moves, but otherwise he dealt arguably the two best Rangers to Tampa Bay for a fair but not really impressive haul. And the acquisitions, like DeAngelo, Zibanejad, Namestnikov don’t indicate that he really is evaluating that well.

    • I think the overall assessment of the rebuild depends, Ray. If the re-build is rushed to coincide with the remaining years of Hank’s contract, your point stands. However, even a past his prime Lundqvist is going to be more effective than most of the stopgap solutions the team could utilize, especially with a clear successor on his way.

      I don’t disagree on Gorton. I don’t get the sense that negotiation is a strength of his and NHL level talent evaluation seems to be an organizational weakness, as well. I think if the rebuild ends up half-hearted, it will be much more because of a failure to clean house at the upper echelon of the organization than letting Hank remain in net.

      • It should be an unquestionable fact that the Rangers have been less successful at preventing goals over the last five years with Hank in goal than with the composite “other guy in net”. I actually analyzed this and the margin of error is large enough so that one cannot rule out bad luck as the cause and not inferior goaltending. Still, I think one can rule out the possibility that Hank is significantly better than the various alternatives.

        Now, there are two caveats. One is that the alternatives over this period have been good tenders. The second is that superior results and superior tending are not the same thing. Hank “appears” to be better – and you, who know this game better than I, are convinced he is.

        But we need to seriously ask the question, “Why is Hank ineffective?” I see three entirely distinct explanations, perhaps mutually contradictory. One is that Hank is uneven and though he can play at a high level, simply often doesn’t do so. A second is that we overestimate his strengths. Third, and most likely in my mind, is that this five year period coincides with AV’s reign. I suspect AV is tempering his systems to please Lundqvist and the Rangers are simply a much less effective team in front of him. If so, this should have been obvious to AV – and if AV, a seasoned coach in the midst of a relatively successful tenure couldn’t stand up to Hank, how on earth can a new coach do it?

        Hank is the elephant in the room. That seems clear. You are free to say that you like the elephant, but he definitely limits the options.

        • Net side vs. fronting, Ray. If that didn’t jump out at you as the biggest difference in Hank vs. backups, I’d contend you may be operating with a bias. The difference is not to be found in the numbers, and has less to do with the goalies in question than it does the defensive system, deployment, and style.

          • My contention is very simple. You can’t grade goalies on a curve. If goalie A playing with system A gets better results than goalie B playing with system B, then the team is better served using goalie A and system A – and it doesn’t make any difference which goalie is actually “better”.

            Now you can imagine that goalie B would get better results than goalie A with system A, but it doesn’t matter if you never use system A with goalie B.

            Instead, ask yourself why the Rangers use the wrong system with Lundqvist. I see two possible explanations. One is that system B minimizes Hank’s weaknesses and emphasizes his strengths; i.e., he really wouldn’t be a good goalie with system A. The second is that he insists on the team playing system B and no one will stand up to him. There is no remedy for the first and appears to be none for the second either.

    • I’m so glad that the haul from Tampa has already been fully evaluated and found to be lacking — including the player we’re drafting in a couple of months and the guy we get next year, whomever they might turn out to be.

      • Agree, Tanto—the amount of pessimism around these parts with some posters is really getting tired. After next season when McDonagh’s next contract comes around, Gorton and the Rangers will have dodged a bullet. And let’s see if JT Miller can turn his abysmal playoff career (1 goal in 40 career playoff games) around before calling this trade a bad one.

        • You got to give to get. I’ll miss Miller (although it’s true he has stunk in past playoffs) and even McD (although in all honesty his game has slipped some in the last 2 years, whether through injury or wear/tear) — funny but the people most dismissive of what we got back probably know the least about the players received.

          I’m sure Miller will do better down in TB, as long as he plays consistently in the top 6 and especially if he plays with Kucherov and Stamkos — then again whose game wouldn’t improve with consistent Top line minutes and those 2?

      • I agree that we can’t truly evaluate the TB trade until all assets involved get a look. That’s the “luxury” we have as fans who like to chop it up among ourselves; everything, to us, is in the rear-view mirror. We didn’t have to make that decision with hours to spare.

        In fairness, Ray did not say that it was a bust or Gorton got fleeced, though; just that the return was fair but not a clear win. That is also as I see it, personally. I could have lived without losing Miller in the deal for my personal tastes as a fan, and not getting Vlad in return. Vlad is not a scrub or a throwaway, at all…but Miller is capable of a higher ceiling, IMO.

        I also tend to judge a player by more than the games they play in the second season, because you don’t get to the second season without the guys that do it the other 82 games. Joe Thornton comes to mind; for a few years he was a “bum” in the playoffs. Yikes. I think a lot of GMs would take his bum playoff years as a happy trade-off for the rest of the package. While JT’s postseason numbers might be outlier-level-almost-confusingly-bad, I guarantee you TB was well aware of that in taking him on and giving up more as part of the deal. Not a huge factor.

        • Except the trade wasn’t Miller for Vlad, that would mean McD brought in two very good prospects, a 1st and a conditional 1st/2nd and I highly doubt it. Whether it was Howden and Vlad for Miller or the 1st and Miller I don’t know, but it had to be more than Miller for Vlad. Sure, the trade wasn’t as great as the Nash trade for Spooner, a 1st and a real good prospect … but that’s just because we gave up less. Still, we gave and we got …

    • I am jumping in here guys and I hope no one minds. I have made this exact point about the rebuild and hank as a detractor from the rebuild except if his games are limited to a back up role and he schools the new kid/s. But in this capacity and only this area is hank useful going forward for this team. All the rallying and chanting and fandom can’t save hank from the fact he is getting worse with age not better.

      His contract is a behemoth and you should never see a goalie get a contract like that again. All the goalies that make hank’s money have all been moved from there respective team that offered that type of contract or they are in the cellars of the league. It is not a coincidence. Goalie’s are not as vital. There is not much difference between goalies in this league. However there are large gaps in talent on the forward and defensive sides. The only team that does retain a high paid goalie and not in the cellar is Nashville. But who is there on the forward group who stands out? Forsberg? Their defensive corps is amazing. But look at Soros…is he really that different stats wise from Rinne? Talent and skill level at the goalie position is equal across the board. Lot different from the days of Richter. just my idiotic opinion.

      I will also agree there are systems at play with hank playing vs. the backup, clearest example was the 2 games skapski got in a season or 2 ago and got a shutout in 1 and limited to 1 goal in the other. Team defense was completely different. So comparing goalie A to goalie B stat wise is hard to do. all this aside

      Now gorton could be looking for that type of team since he is limited with hank. I believe hank deserves to go out the way he wants and with the team he wants so I am not calling for his head.

      So gorton goes to this draft and just takes all defenders with his first picks, that says he is looking to copy nashville. We could be looking at super high end defense with a rat pack of free agent forwards with some rookie centers. Not the worst idea out there. Atleast til hank has retired or left. I mean he looked pretty centered on defensive players in the deadline deals as far as the non nhl ready players he got.

  • What about Montreal and Claude Julien, he has a past with Jeff Gordon, are the Habs finished with him coaching up there yet?

  • 2. Personally, I will have much more satisfaction in potentially moving up a draft spot than spoiling a Flyers playoff appearance. The Rangers don’t get to draft in the top ten much these days of course, and I want a high-upside real-deal-blue-chip prospect as my consolation prize for this putrid season. One spot better is one spot better, and all; lose away, Blue!

    3. I only see it happening by virtue of Sather and Dolan loving themselves a big name for the marquee, and Gorton either following suit or being strong-armed into it. It’s not a matter of who would want Tavares on their team; anyone would. As noted, just doesn’t seem to be the right fit, right now.

    4. I will lose a lot of respect for the front office if he isn’t dismissed. “Well, who, then?” Don’t care, so long as it isn’t Ruff or Arniel. Hold a raffle to select the next coach if need be; addition by subtraction at this point IMO. (With my luck, AV would enter and win said raffle, to note.) I like to joke about things like leaving a flaming bag of dog shit on Gorton’s porch and ringing the bell and running away if he is retained…but I will probably just be really pissed off and hate-watch until he is fired.

    5. Agreed.

    6. Agreed.

    7. This is why I cringed at every win since the deadline. No scouting report is infallible, but this draft seems as good as any to pull an elite prospect well past the usual top 1-3. No guarantee elite prospects become elite players, but it’s a start.

    8. Well, my ideal lineup would potentially involve a trade and/or non-Carlson FA acquisition, but with just who we have now…Skjei, Shatty, Pionk, Gilmour, Staal, DeAngelo, and whoever looks best in camp of Sproul/Lindgren/Hajek. While I don’t rule out Smith getting his shit together, I also won’t count on him until he does. I no longer think a Staal buyout is in play.

    9. Agreed

    Thanks, Justin! Appreciate another season’s worth of thought-provoking posts from you.

  • On defense you have to give Smith a chance at redemption and hope Lindgren and Hajak make a case for themselves

    • I concur. It is in the best interests of the organization to give Smith some rope to hang himself with, if that’s his prerogative. I do believe he should be given every chance at redemption before the games that count start, though.

  • Hi all and Happy Holidays, I hope that all is well with everyone.

    My thoughts:

    The Rangers’ offseason wish list: Top 5 pick (Thachuk or Zadina), Kovy, Tavares, and Trouba or Karlsson.
    Pionk is just scratching the surface, wow.
    Andersson and Chytil belong, eh?
    Georgiev is the back up next year, book it.
    Howden, if no one has noticed, is tearing it up.
    Day, if no one has noticed, is tearing it up.
    AV is gone. Period. Who replaces him? No clue, but I imagine a younger coach who actually uses analytics as a basis for performance.
    Hayes has cemented his spot going forward unless the Rangers make a trade that they can’t refuse.
    Kreider for Captain? Depends on who they obtain during the offseason.
    RESHAPE, not REBUILD. They are going for it next year, but in a methodical way.
    I can’t wait for the offseason to start, starting with the draft. Though Kovy could be signed now. 🙂

  • For the stat lovers
    King – 62 (26-25) , 2.95 ga , .915 sv 8.5
    Talbot – 66 ( 30-31) , 3.05 ga , .907 sv. 4.17
    Raanta – 46 ( 21-16) , 2.24 ga , .930 sv. 1.00


  • #3the current mission statement is the current mission statement because we don’t have players like Tavares.

    THE mission statement is to win the cup. Would this team have a better chance of winning with Tavares or rolling the dice on some kids?

    That being said, I don’t even see it being remotely possible.

  • Thank you Hank for your greatness Your number will deservedly be hanging from the rafters one day However your time has passed with this team Yes you have a contract that will be honored This team now needs to see what it has Georgiev showed that he belongs Now we need to play him as a #1 to start the new year to see what we have The NYR are rebuilding and it’s youth must be served! Hank has stated he wants to retire as a Ranger and he has earned the right but his contract does not guarantee him a starting spot especially on a rebuilding team

  • Going forward this team CAN NOT bring back Stall or Smith unless the NEW coach uses a system that brings them back to the players they were. Not the players they became.

    We also need to shed both Zuc and Krieder. I would keep Nemestnikov over both of them. And I would go after Kane or JVR before I signed Nash again. Cant bring back players that were a part of a team where everything was going the wrong way.

    Was it AVs fault HELL YEA IT WAS. Do you know why I blame AV the most? Because when players were not living up to their contracts or commitments to this team. He never once did anything to change that.

    And I will say it again the SYSTEM failed this team. Not the Def. There is no way in the world that a team that has one of the top 7 PK units in the NHL. is all that bad at playing Def. So if they are that good at killing Penalties. Why were they so bad at giving up shots on goal??? IT WAS THE SYSTEM that’s why.

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