On Prudence and Patience

Kevin Hayes, zen master.

New York City is about to combat its first heat wave of 2018 as NHL free agency begins this weekend.  Contrary to conventional wisdom, the Rangers will be involved, though perhaps not in the traditional sense of doling out multi-year contracts to players in their late-twenties.

Reports are beginning to surface that Jeff Gorton is active in the trade market and that nearly every current roster player is available.  Larry Brooks has reported on scenarios ranging from a Hayes-or-Zibanejad choice, to today’s mini bombshell that Gorton is exploring the possibility of taking on a bad contract to help anyone but the Islanders sign John Tavares. There are also rumblings that Justin Faulk and the remaining two years on his contract could be available in a trade from the Hurricanes.

This is an extremely tempting scenario for the front office.  The Rangers are asset-rich and flush with cap space.  It’s also not to be underestimated that there’s slightly less pressure on the organization now since they’re not expected to win anytime soon.  A bad 2018-19 season – “intentional” or not – most likely won’t get anyone fired.  All these factors point towards, and might even push Jeff Gorton into, trades and other maneuvers this summer.

But to reiterate something that was discussed earlier this week on the podcast, the Rangers do not need to make any moves.  They could credibly enter this season without making any additions (aside from re-signing their current restricted free agents) and field a competitive team.

it may go without saying, but this puts the Rangers in a position of strength.  For example, unlike the Islanders, Lightning, Kings and Blackhawks, the Rangers are not in a “window” of contention, up against the cap, or faced with their generational talent entering unrestricted free agency.  That’s why Larry Brooks’ Hayes/Zibanejad thought experiment rang particularly hollow to me.  Yes, Hayes is due a raise (hey, that rhymes!) next summer, and given the sudden organizational depth at center, there may be a logjam looming.  But so what?  That’s not a good enough reason to make a trade.  As hockey fans often like to point out, it’s okay to have more than one [insert good thing here].  For some reason, this concept often escapes the grasp of NHL front offices.

Now, if the right deal comes along for either player, of course they should entertain it.  If you can get Justin Faulk from Carolina (and re-sign him) for one of Hayes, Ryan Spooner or Vlad Namestnikov plus, do it.  But to make a trade simply because the market is active and you’ve got lots of assets to deal and it feels like the right thing to do would be silly.  A lot of people have lamented the Derek Stepan trade simply because it didn’t need to happen when it did.  And while I don’t hate that trade as much as most people, I totally agree with that sentiment.  The Rangers created pressure on themselves to make a move when no such pressure really existed.

So as July 1 approaches, here’s hoping the Rangers remain patient and act prudently.  The future is already here, and there’s no need to accelerate it.

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  • Again, there was a pressure to make the Stepan trade because his NMC kicked in last July 1st, whether anyone agrees with it or not, but that was their time pressure on that.

    The return was Andersson. The Andersson vs Mittlestadt debate is in full force. The consolation is that Andersson has stacked up well against him in international tournaments, so that’s a good sign.

    I do not like the idea of taking on cap space with “sweetners” unless it’s a no brainer to do so. Taking on Cally better bring the Rangers Pointe or Sergachev because getting the 30th pick in next year’s draft is not worth the effort, IMO.

    For once, the Rangers have the leverage, don’t give it up over something stupid. If a deal for a young player is there, then by all means.

    • I would take Cally if he came with Cal Foote. Realistically if the the Rangers are committed to this rebuild, a “bad” contract for two years is a perfect fit. And yes Stepan had to go with the NMC. Here’s to hoping ADA works out.

      • Foote is interesting because his name did come up a lot in this last trade discussions. But the Rangers were insistent on Hajek being apart of the deal, that’s why it went right down to the wire.

        But to your point (lol), if the young player or picks coming back have to be worth it. I was just saying that they do not “have to do it.”

        Interesting how Gorton is being so accommodating to try and get Tavares out of the division, lol.

      • So I just read up on TB’s top prospects and Foote is #2 behind Cirelli (spelling?).

        So maybe the Rangers asked for Foote and had to settle for Hajek or the Rangers just asked for Hajek? Who knows.

        But then yes, Cally plus Foote will do it, good suggestion.

  • BTW, I am very much in favor of the Rangers re-singing Duclair on a one year “show me” contract. Why not? He’s only 22.

    • Because nostalgia acts are never better the 2nd time around; even for a guy who’s not even 23. The bad apple stuff is real.

      If you’re trying to build a culture of leadership & winning, Duke doesn’t make a lick of sense.

      • Really? Where’s the harm in that? First misstep Duclair makes you cut him. He’ll be making at or near the minimum so there are zero cap concerns.

        I think it’s a no lose situation. If Duclair is cut it shows the team is serious when it comes to dealing with bad apples. If it works out, the Rangers added a young middle 6 winger for nothing.

          • If that co-worker offered something unique, I may take a shot. It would really depend how badly Duclair burned his bridges in NY.

      • Reen, 22 year old with talent on a one year deal in a year that the Rangers do not care about winning.

        If it does n’t work then you cut bait, no harm no foul.

          • Did you know that there is an option to possibly have a lockout a year earlier than before the current CBA expires?

            I heard that the other day.

    • Tony

      We have a nice basket of young ripening fruit, why spoil it with some rotten stuff. He has been dumped three times, in a very short order, do we really need a cancer on this team? I suspect not, and JG will see it as well, and take a pass on the Duke!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Oh man Richter – I don’t know. The Duke is so-so and they’re rumors of him being a Ho-Sang personality-wise.

      I don’t want to give up Hayes, a towering face-off guy who can score and who is sound defensively for Faulk. Faulk just doesn’t do it for me – his the defense and 5 on 5 numbers are scary – all he has is the PP going for him – I’d rather get Pesce in a smaller deal (besides he’s from Tarrytown!)

      • I totally agree about Hayes and Faulk … even Pesce …

        Re: Duclair … I can think of worse things to do. He’s probably getting to that point where he realizes that he can’t continue doing what he’s doing … if not you can just cut him lose, again.

        I would like to see them bring back Jensen. He looked pretty good to me — not that I think he’ll set the world on fire, but he was a player with some “presence” on the ice and an appropriate amount of aggressiveness. Entice him back with a 1 way contract for $1m … if he doesn’t work out, waive his arse.

      • Same answer as to Reen, Carlos (lol)

        I don’t know what’s going to happen with Hayes. $5M per is a lot of bouillon.

        • Well, if an unreliable winger like JT Miller can get $5.25 out of TB I don’t see a problem with giving an accomplished 2 way C like Hayes $5M+ per year.

          Hayes is the far better player anyway.

          • I don’t think the question is whether Hayes deserves $5M per, because I think he does.

            I think the main question is whether it’s worth it for the Rangers. They basically are throwing this season away. So when do the Rangers play games where wins really matter? 2019-20? the following year? so if that’s the case then what good does it do paying Hayes $5M per for 4-5 years?

          • He’ll be a bargain at that price … if you want to trade him in a couple of years you’ll fetch more for him if he’s still under contract for a few years.

          • I guess my point is more specifically, if the Rangers will suck the next 2 years, why sign Hayes to a 4 year deal when half of the “investment” will be wasted?

    • I’m not touching any UFA for 3 years or when the pipeline doesn’t have a guy for a role, whichever comes first.

    • Memo from the Rangers: We are only signing low level vet contracts, no long term deals.

      That includes JVR and anyone else in his age category.

      It’s about young player development for 2018-19, we all need to get used to the concept.

  • I would take any rotten deal for 2 seasons or less and pick/prospect.

    I will trade for Faulk; extend him, Spooner & Namestnikov via FBLT with the solitary purpose of flipping them until the kids are almost ready to step up.

    If Hank gets hurt; I will LTIR him, then load up on every bad contract I get futures for that and keep him inactive because I’m against the cap and can’t make any roster moves that would clear the $8mm to get him active.

    Burn the ships.

  • Rob

    “So as July 1 approaches, here’s hoping the Rangers remain patient and act prudently”.

    No smarter words have been written on this site in years. Why change course, we have direction, give it some time to work itself out for a change. I could see a bright future if we have a poor season, next years draft is also thought to be very good, and deep. Look, if we can get another two, or three very sound picks in the early rounds, to go along with the current crop of young talent, what’s not to like? Get me another pure athlete like Miller, another power forward like Vitali K, another soon to be stud like the Chytle kid, I’d be elated to say the least.

    We can field a decent, entertaining team that could play some 500% ball for us, just miss the PO’s and get a shot at Hughes, I’m all in. If I’m going to trade some of our centers, it better be a very good return. JT in my book is over-rated, yes get pissed off but it’s true. He is one dimensional, and soft, runs counter to what JG wants his team to be. I also am not a Justin Faulk fan, but the again many will disagree with me, and so be it.

    This is why I love this site, so many bright posters who have varying opinions, and make good cases for, and against , and points of view. Jeff, stay the course, and embrace the dive for Hughes!!!!!!!!!

    • just look what vegas did ! if you have good players that want to put the effort in, anything’s possible but you need the effort & desire. if you can get a gord gallant coaching effort , you just never know.

  • Justin Faulk would be the perfect example of the guy the Rangers do not need or want.

    I always used to blame AV for our terrible draft decisions…now, I know it is Gorton and Clark.

    This past draft…picking soft/small puck moving dman, was so typical of the Rangers. It is getting old real quick.

    I thought they wanted to be hard to play against….how are you going to do that…with Faulk and John Gilmour.

    • Nils is not soft, where did you hear that??? Hardly, he’s still 17 and already plays a 2-way game. According to some he’s fearless. Sure, he doesn’t have the size yet to move big bodies around now … let him grow. Did you complain about the Rangers drafting Brian Leetch? He was 5’11 when he got drafted (maybe even a tad less tbh). I’m not saying this kid is Brian Leetch, but it sounds like you would have suggested Leetch was a soft/small puck moving d’man when he got drafted.

      Nils is bigger than Hughes, Boqvist, Ty Smith, Merkley and Beaudin — all drafted before him.

  • Obviously the Rangers are looking to improve and get younger etc. And I know this has been kicked around before but it would still disturb me if they traded Shattenkirk, Hayes and Vesey. These guys literally chose the Rangers over the rest of the league. Am I worried about the message sent to other potential free agents in those positions regarding the dedication, sentiment and commitment of the Ranger’s organization to these FA’s? You bet I am.

    Vesey and Hayes are Boston kids and chose N.Y. , Shattenkirk gave the discount, if im Gorton, I’m thinking about this before I trade them.

    • I’d be fine with them trading almost anyone so long as they get a plus return, personally. And for a true can’t-miss fleecing, that extends to literally anyone. If it is Hayes or Shattenkirk, however, best be a solid plus return. Neither of those two has earned a trade via their play, and as it stands right now, both would be considered cheap.

      As for Vesey, his hype from day one was higher than his potential ceiling, but he’s got that hard worker label that The Fraternity of Good Hockey Men often favor despite the fact that the statistics just don’t support the narrative. I’m not super anti-Vesey, but he’s the one of these three that leaves the smallest hole if traded, for sure, and there’s a chance he could still fetch an overpay due to his reputation, earned or not.

      Regarding the free agent factor, hard to gauge that. I could see it raising some eyebrows if Shatty is traded, definitely. Could make FAs or extending players alike think twice about giving any sort of discount to NYR if staying would be their main prerogative to do so, plus they’d be bailing on him after he played injured most of the season. It’s not as though Hayes or Vesey just came in though; they have been given a solid chance to prove they belong. If you get a renowned college FA then flip him halfway through the first season, then yeah, that paints a bad picture. If your team is a contender and that’s the one guy you ship out for a bad return, also kinda paints a bad picture. I don’t think trading them now would be as problematic or should be held against the team in their situation, though.

      • In deference to the “other BSB” Vesey will get every opportunity to succeed this year.

        Don’t be surprised if he’s in the top 6 and gets PP time.

  • A young team I can handle. A non-competitive team I can’t. We need to be sure our young guns are not just young, but their talent makes them dangerous to the competition. Putting our kids against the oppositions best night after night will make them better, but also kill morale. We need a veteran or two to stick up for these kids, and go into the dirty areas. Not sure we have that player on the roster.

  • I’d go after Skinner if the price isn’t too steep. I know Caulk is one of the better Dmen in the League but it’s gonna have to be a deal with Hayes and Spooner as the main Live a on our end if I were Gorton. I’m not willing to give up Nemestnikov or Zibanejad.

  • I like the article. But JG does not seem to know how to use leverage appropriately. He should be maximizing that leverage to twist the screws on other GM’s to WIN on the moves he’s making.

    He’s had leverage before. You don’t offer even deals when you’re in the drivers seat. I don’t like any of these bad contracts coming here even if it makes sense… because I don’t believe JG will get above fair value for taking them on. He will settle for less and make a deal that’s fair for both sides, which is a WASTE OF ASSETS! He traded JT for Namestnivkov, and now we don’t really want him and can’t seem to trade him. So WTF was the point of throwing JT into that deal?

    The teams we trade with tend to be overly happy when dealing with JG. And we seem to be underwhelmed most of the time. We come away having to convince ourselves that it was a “good” deal, but it never seems to be obviously good or even…. gasp….a great deal. Same thing with the draft. I can get over the first pick, but that 2nd round goalie was awful.

    The players themselves may turn out fine. My issue is with JG’s management of these situations. It’s like watching a guy with 4 aces win a $5 pot cause he doesn’t want to raise the bet on anyone. Yea he won the hand, but….

    • A lot of fair points made. Gave Tampa Bay a boatload of talent for guys who have become expendable after 20 games? Gorton needs to make the right moves that will help us today and tomorrow. Taking some teams bad contract will only help us if we get another first-rounder.

      • Gorton is not a very negotiator…he gives more than he gets more times than not…to give up a 2nd to move 4 slots and then watch a team move up 4 slots and only give up a 3rd should be all you need to know about how good of a negotiator he is i sense a lot of desperation out of him

    • I did not like JT MIller being sent to the Bolts either.

      The only reason I can see is perhaps the Rangers believed that they were not going to be able to sign him. But, he just signed up with Tampa for a reasonable price, so that might not be a plausible reason.

      • betcha @ the time he wasn’t sure he was getting rid of av. and we all know he didn’t use him correctly.

    • He’s been a mixed bag for sure. The Stepan situation, he didn’t have much leverage since basically the worst-kept secret in the league at the time was that Stepan would be moved for whatever the best offer was. That’s what happens when you give players below superstar status NMCs though.The TB trade was definitely not what I was hoping for, and I’m guessing by now maybe JG has some regrets about the value he extracted for what he gave up as well. I thought he did well enough with the Bruins regarding Nash and Holden. Aside from trades, his acquisitions from the “garbage heap” did produce Grabner, but a whole lot of really questionable choices aside from that. Devils were silly enough to think Grabs would work in any approach other than balls-out north/south offense, and that ended up being a good trade for Gorton since he found a GM not smart enough to realize that to deal with. The draft move to get Miller was indeed objectively an overpay, but I suppose can live with it given the specimen that Miller is.

      JG hasn’t yet gotten completely hosed nor has he completely fleeced another GM, IMO…but yeah, he may not be quite as savvy as we thought/assumed he might be after he joined the front office from the Bruins. That said, maybe our draft this year will end up like the 2006 draft he ran for the Bruins. Kessel may have been a surefire NHLer, but Lucic and Marchand turned some heads. While neither of those latter two are my favorite type of player in today’s NHL, they did end up paying big dividends for BOS.

    • Sorry chrisqct but wait at least two years, then come back to me with this post, and you’ll see how wrong you are.

      Hajek could be a starter this season on defense, and Hayden as well. Then look at the #1 pick, we got another defender Nil, and next years #2 at least. Name will be used, or shipped out for another asset, while Mac Truck will be going downhill fast due to injuries, and over use, will get a huge contract. Then JT gets a $5 mil contract for some 5 years. I am a Miller fan, but he didn’t really live up to the hype, and according to many, dumb as a stump. Again, come back in two years, then see who won on this trade!!!!!!

  • I really want the ranger to sit tight until the trade deadline. Next summer will be the time to wheel and deal. Hold your card close to the vest let some GM blow you away.

  • per Larry “On Friday, following the first round of this year’s draft, Clark said the team had Kravtsov rated as the second forward on the board behind Andrei Svechnikov, who went second-overall to Carolina. He reiterated that on Wednesday, stating the Rangers would have taken Kravtsov even if the highly regarded Flip Zadina (sixth-overall to Detroit) had been available.”

    This scares me, especially with the last decade of drafting (although yes it is really a crapshoot) . it seems to me 30 other scouts would take Zadina first , but not Gordie, seems like some ego going there, 30 others wrong are flat out wrong(?) …..

    • I have absolutely no faith in him anymore. His draft record is pretty atrocious if you actually look at his picks. He can’t even BPA, let alone meet needs too.

    • I did not read Larry’s column but if this is true….WOW…..says all you need to know about the rangers ”’brainless trust”’…….
      After seeing Jt Miller signed to a reasonable contract , the trade now angers me even more than it did then….we gave up a fast, young, 220 pound , guaranteed 20+ goal scoring battering ram for a guy we cant trade now in nemchinov………
      Sporting news comment regarding Gorton—Winners and losers……
      Loser: Jeff Gorton
      The Rangers’ general manager entered Friday with three first-round picks — three more than five other teams — and the way he used them was a bit puzzling. Such ample ammunition could have helped the Blueshirts move up from No. 9 in pursuit of a blue-chip player the organization lacks. Instead, they stood pat and selected Russian forward Vitali Kravtsov, whom most draftniks had rated farther down the draft board. They passed on more well-rounded prospects such as Oliver Wahlstrom and Noah Dobson (who both went to the rival Islanders a few picks later). Gorton then parted with the No. 48 pick to move up four spots in Round 1 and draft K’Andre Miller. The pick was fine, but then Rangers fans watched as the Blues spent only a third-rounder to trade up four spots with the Leafs a few picks later. In general, Gorton did a poor job managing his assets.
      Could it be we have gone from terrible [ sather] to horrible [gorton] ???

    • Imagine the “fun” of Gordie passing on Zadina to draft Krav?

      Krav is a great pick but Gordie scares the crap out of me.

      Question for Gordie next draft: “Gordie, can you explain your thought process when you passed on Jack Hughes with the #1 overall pick?”

  • Rangers need to be patient and tanking a season is not a bad thing. Play the younger guys and the tank will happen on it’s own naturally due to mistakes. The blessing is experience and a great chance at the ping pong balls falling our way. However we need to draft the right way too. Going BPA route only is idiotic.

    Many Ranger fans believe the Rangers blew it in this draft and I agree.
    Gordie Clark lost me, in Gordie we trust is no longer viable for me. This drafting from Europe pretty much or USDP must stop. We need scouts in Canada too. My biggest beef is draft management. They fear to trade down but overpay to trade up? Like WTF man. How does Clark miss the boat on right handed shots? This draft could’ve clearly fixed that but no.

    I listened to Clark’s interview and Lundkvist was picked because of a tournament and same was said about Miller, if this is true then he needs new glasses because Miller was brutally awful in the U-18. Miller was a 2nd round pick on skill set, 1st round talent for athleticism.

    Now I don’t want Miller to fail and wish him all the success, it’s not his fault where and how he got selected. This is on the Rangers. I will not sell my house to place a bet that Miller will be a 1st pair (I hate numbering pairings) D man, I personally think he will be a bust….toooooo raw to succeed.

    Do we need a Pionk with 28 with Veleno there? Really? Do we need a goalie with McLeod there? Do we need to trade up and draft a Miller with Miller, Samuelsson and Wilde there? I trust my instincts that when they retire Wilde will have played more games in the NHL than Miller and more prominent. So trade a 2nd here? Whatever

    The rebuild and this draft had to meet needs too and this draft provided that. We failed. The trades were great, Howden and Lindgren but the draft just utter waste.

    So to the ;point of this post I see patience falling apart, and it only falls on JG and GC for screwing it up if they maintain this trend via the draft. They need to correct this quickly. Put scouts in Canada too. Enough on the Euros

    • Miller was excellent in the U-18. Are you sure you are thinking of the right guy, seriously? Mitch Brown ranked him as the most well-rounded defenseman on the US squad during the eight games he tracked, and Mitch Brown knows his stuff. Also, think what you will of the cost to trade up – I think it was a bit steep as well – but the Atlantic reported that the Ducks were going to take Miller at 23. The Ducks also know their stuff when it comes to drafting young defensemen; I don’t think I have to reference all the fawning over Josh Manson that has appeared on Rangers blogs the past couple years. Hampus. Fowler. If the Ducks org likes a defenseman, he’s probably a good gamble. For someone who loves the idea of big, tough players, I’m rather astounded you are so convinced that arguably the toughest defender in the draft – but who has the skating background of a power forward – is going to flame out. I’m not shocked you bemoan the Lundqvist pick…but honestly, I would have assumed you’d have been thrilled about Miller.

      • Real good chance the Wild was going to take him at 24 as well. The Rangers did what they had to do to get their man. We could argue all day whether it was worth moving the 48th pick to get him instead of just drafting the best available at 26 but I suspect if Miller develops into a top pairing or even a real real good Top 4 d’man everyone will forget the price.

        • I feel like he won’t….Yes Not many players named K’Andre….he was brutal…I have since watched a couple of the games….just ughhh

          • I’m not sure there’s a statistical breakdown or U18 beat that would agree with you, but to each their own.

          • I watched….I don’t believe in stats as the entire basis…it’s not even 40% of the data needed…. fumbling pucks…bad passes…awful one on one coverage…pinching at the wrong time….he did score a goal…yipppeeee

            Nah not impressed

            Year before Lindgren was lights out….noticeable in every way

  • I believe you try as hard as possible to trade away the assets you want to trade … not trade away assets you covet. In that vein the only players I’m looking to move right now are Namestnikov, Spooner and Zucc (just because of age). Throw ins could include guys like Gilmour, O’Gara, etc. Get what you can — if not players you want, then draft picks which can still be used as trade chips.

    That said I would be wary of summer deals, the trade deadline generally tends to provide more assets.

    No moves for the sake of making a move.

  • Something to consider for those second-guessing using the 48th pick to move up four spots in the first round to pick Miller.
    Question: Name the player picked 48th and higher in the 2013 draft with the most NHL points.
    Answer: Anthony Duclair

    • I would give him another shot for one year, but the community here stoned me after my suggestion, lol.

      • Rather sign him to 2 years than Leo… he maybe goes 20-20, then you trade him for a second rounder or pair him with somebody and get a late first. Jeez, worth a shot.

        • They will use cheap vets for fillers. I do not think that Zuc, Hayes, Namer, and Spooner will all be here.

  • also just heard that goalie we picked in the 2nd round did NOT get drafted in the CHL….. wtf is goin on people…

    • That means NOTHING. The kid is going to play in Sweden (it is known), it’s not like he’s Russian, Eastern European, etc. or anything and might actually come over and play. Look at the list, have you ever heard of any of these kids?

      • Ah cool, didn’t know that, I’m never sure about what some of these kids are gonna do right after the draft, although I’m wary of him being a second rounder when you usually don’t see that with goalies and other good prospects being passed up with the possibility of getting him later, I’m assuming Benny sees something there thx

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