DefenseLineup ChangesOffseason

Checking in on the defense

Happy Friday, BSB people. While the Draft and the madness of free agency have come and gone, for the most part, the Rangers appear to have more or less the same team that ended last season.  There are still certainly trades to be made and changes are still very possible, but the Rangers look to be heading into next season with an objective of getting younger players more ice time and committing to player development as a path forward.  This will be new coach David Quinn’s biggest challenge.

This is especially true on defense.  The Rangers sported a sub-par unit last season, marred by injuries, poor performance and a general lack of impact talent.  The organization amassed a small army of new draftees and prospects over the past few months and the future of the blue line looks promising with the likes of K’Andre Miller, Nils Lundqkist, Libor Hajek, Ryan Lindgren, Sean Day and Yegor Rykov looking to emerge in the next couple years.  However, the Rangers still have to ice a team in 2018/2019, so let’s take a look at the present state of the defense.

The Rangers currently have ten defensemen under contract with NHL experience and a few more options in the minors.  Those ten include Kevin Shattenkirk, Marc Staal, Brendan Smith, Brady Skjei, Neal Pionk, Anthony DeAngelo, Fredrik Claesson, Steven Kampfer, Rob O’Gara and John Gilmour.  Hajek, Lindgren and Day are going to be the higher upside kids pushing for a job in camp and throughout the season.

Let’s assume for a second that the organization wants to give the aforementioned prospects some bigger minutes in the minors to help their development and we are really going to be looking at the first ten as true NHL options.  Obviously, one of the kids could force his way into the conversation, but that’s not where we are going this morning.

I think it is fairly clear that our first pair is going to be Kevin Shattenkirk/Brady Skjei.  They are the two most talented defensemen on the roster and they slot easily into a LD/RD lineup.  Whether the organization is showcasing these two for a trade or if they plan to make them building blocks to help bring the kids along, it’s important for this pairing to eat the majority of big minutes for this team.

The second pairing gets a bit trickier.  Part of me wants to reward Neal Pionk for his consistency and poise last season. However, with the re-build in full swing, I’m going to go a different direction.  I think without the pressure of contention or even the expectation of icing a competitive team, the organization really needs to see what they have in Anthony DeAngelo.  I personally find his behavior distasteful, but it’s nothing that the organization wasn’t comfortable with when they acquired him.  He has elite offensive upside and they need to see what type of asset they have in a results-neutral environment.  For me, that is throwing him on the second pair, giving him 15+ minutes a night to control the breakout, quarterback the powerplay, to make mistakes and sink or swim.

DeAngelo will need to be paired with a defensively responsible partner who can help to positionally cover his riskier maneuvers.  I would be tempted to pair him with someone like Pionk, both in style and a desire to get Pionk more minutes, but I think that is a lot of responsibility for a young pro, plus there is the whole RD/RD thing happening with those two. For those reasons, I would pair him with Marc Staal and see how David Quinn’s new system helps Staal’s game. We know he can handle big minutes, so let’s hope he can be a guiding hand for DeAngelo and help prolong his own efficacy under the new coach.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I do like Neal Pionk quite a bit.  However, I think we all know that on a true contending team he is a bottom pairing/7D type player.  For that reason, he is going to occupy my hypothetical third pair with Brendan Smith, at least to start the year.  The organization has to hope that after spending most of the season in Hartford that Smith has re-committed to his conditioning and preparation to continue his NHL career.  Giving him some sheltered minutes and PK time early on can help him get back on track. Hell, you never know what team might be desperate for defensive depth at the deadline and may be willing to help get that contract off the books.  I think showing that Smith isn’t a total value black hole is important.

For me, Fredrik Claesson is your ideal seventh d-man to start the season.  You could plug him in anywhere in the lineup if someone falters and he is quality NHL depth.  You could certainly make the argument that he should get a full-time lineup spot over, say Brendan Smith, and no one could really argue.  It’s a nice player to have on a young team with lineup uncertainty.

On the other hand, Rob O’Gara and Steven Kampfer (especially O’Gara) aren’t true NHL options, in my opinion. Kampfer would make a fine 7th defenseman, I suppose, but between contract obligations and other developmental factors, he is an odd-man out.  Kampfer would have to pass through waivers to be sent down, but I wouldn’t sweat that too much.

Which leaves us with John Gilmour.  I feel bad for Gilmour, because he showed enough in his audition last season to be a real option for the big club this season.  If Smith or DeAngelo really falter, he could see his name in the lineup in a hurry.  I think he is a nice depth to have at the AHL level, as he can step into the NHL lineup at any time, plus he can be a “veteran” to help the kids down in Hartford continue their development.  Life isn’t fair sometimes for the waivers exempt.

Now, additional deals or big steps forward by prospects can throw a wrench into this hypothetical in a hurry. However, my Opening Night defensive lineup would look like this:





What do you all think? Sound off with your “state of the defense” thoughts in the comments below.

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  • With Gilmour & O’Gara not opting for arbitration and the depth that the Rangers have elright now, not sure the Club will take them to arbitration and let them. They’ll have until the 15th to find a better deal than their qualifying offer. If the qualifiers are one way deals, they’ll stay. If not, they’re scrambling to get a job in Europe.

    • I really hate seeing Staal out there. Good guy and a great teammate but he got that big contract from Sather and his play deteriorated. Maybe it’s his vision or something but every outlet pass he attempts is picked off or gets his forward creamed.
      Honestly, I’d like to have the same young players out there we did at the end of last season. Or at least one or two of them. Leave Staal in the press box watching in street clothes. Maybe after a few months of that, he and his agent will change their tune as far as the NTC/NMC go.

  • My prediction is only Libor Hajek will crack the lineup for the young kids.

    Skjei. Shattenkirk.
    Staal. Pionk
    Hajek. Smith/Claesson

    • You may be right, but I certainly can see both Lindgren, and Day be in the mix sometime this season. Day having the ability to play both sides is extremely valuable, and Lindgren has shown he can play with an edge, and did very well at the USA team, and college level……….

      • With Day, you can’t skate by him and you can’t skate through him. The only way you beat him is him beating himself by chasing or poor positioning.

        He needs to show that he has those basics mastered(whether in camp or in Hartford) before he can come up.

    • Since Staal didn’t get moved than this prediction is spot on. Hajek > Lindgren
      The kid has been cocky ever since they interviewed between periods after the trade deadline. I think it’s safe to say that he has sold me on making the club which I have know doubt about anymore. ADA will need to not only get a little better but come to camp with a 180 transformation to his game from last season.

      I feel like Skjei has no time to play keep up. His DZ needs to be at a high level or else the whole blueline crumbles or he loses his spot to a dark horse out of camp. Fans act like he was just bad during last season but he was terrible for team USA in the previous summer which magically played into 2017-18.

  • If this is the group that they are going to war with, then I would put Pionk on the 2nd pair. I guess I like him more than most, but I think the kid is a player and will thrive under a better structure than the previous regime.

    I like the Claesson signing a lot. Seems useful at a very low risk price.

    Hajek and Lindgren have to get legit shots during training camp. Maybe even Rykoff too. Day is talented but too dumb to play in the NHL, at least for now.

    Speaking of low risk, I would like to know the thinking on not giving Duclair a shot at $650K. Even if it was on a one way contract and he was a total bust, then so what? Low risk, high reward. Unless he did not want to come here.

    • Rykov is playing his last season in Russia this season, so he is out of the equation. As for the Duke, what can we lose, it sh*t, or get off the pot time for him. There aren’t too many teams knocking down his door right???????

      • I know that the Rangers spoke to AD’s agent, so maybe the Rangers were not willing to give him a one way contract like the CBJs did.

        I did not know that about Rykov, good info Walt.

    • I agree, and I’m tired of this narrative too.

      First of all, people make mistakes (gasp!!). Anyone claiming that they have never said or done anything stupid or ignorant is full of sh-t. Anyone claiming that they were never “mean” to anyone is full of sh-t.

      The kid played very hard before he got hurt and was actually starting to “get it.” He also was the first one to stand up for his teammates.

      People need to stop picking and choosing who to hammer and who to “forgive.”

      It’s like enough already. He/she who has not sinned shall cast the first stone.

      • ADA DZ game was on par to Gilmour. He just had more weight to throw around but basically looked liked that rookie’ s clone but with a ” edge ” to him. If he doesn’t raise to his game than he would really be hurt his chances to make the starting roster. We all know he doesn’t take demotion that well so from there I expect him to implode in the press box or AHL.

        The only good news for him is that Quinn was specifically talking about the smaller D man on the team after he was hired. He said you can be outsized down low in your own end and not waste alot of energy trying to take the body and still get the puck back. Imo somone like Pionk has already shown this skillset. It did sound like the coach is ready to work with him and guys like ADA but he will need to show up to camp and make a place for himself first. It won’t be to cute when you have guys who we already know won’t make the team ( Andre and that 12 yr old looking Swede ) showing you up at camp.

      • I don’t disagree that people deserve second chances and should be allowed to move past mistakes that they have made. However, since 2014 there are no less than 5 incidents that we know of, including multiple instances of abusing officials, both physically and verbally and verbal abuse specifically targeting race and sexual orientation. You can believe whatever you want about this behavior, but I personally find it distasteful.

        Now, I am all for letting him grow as a player and an person by moving past these issues and showing what he can do on the ice, but let’s not pretend he did not do these things and they won’t be a part of the perception of him, both as a person and a player. Until he proves he has matured and shows his abilities as a pro, these things are part of his resume.

        • To be clear, and I think that I speak for most, we do not condone any of the things that have occurred.

          But how many headshots are taken by star players who don’t even get a penalty for them, no less a suspension?

          Crosby is one of the most vile players in the league in how dirty he plays, with headshots and slewfoots with intent to injure. How vile is that? And disgraceful? I bet you those “incidents” are way more in comparison to DeAngelo.

          Again, as a society, we pick and choose our battles with no regard to perspective or context. There are assaults on the ice all the time and no cries to stop it nor penalize the perpetrators.

          • I don’t think that people aren’t angry/upset about the things you are describing. I know every time the Dep’t of Player Safety makes a ridiculously lenient ruling on these types of events, fandom general is outraged. Granted, it’s kind of like screaming into the void at this point, since the Department has shown no willingness to meaningfully address these issues.

            I think any behavior that seeks to outwardly hurt another person or player, be it verbally or physically, should be addressed in kind. This is a dangerous, physical game as it is and there is no reason for malicious intent.

          • Exactly Justin.

            My point is that it’s “ok” for Sidney but we want to blacklist DeAngelo (saying this rhetorically).

            Pick and choose.

        • The kid has a big mouth, I give you that, but how many of the incidents mentioned have occurred while being a Ranger?

          Like I said before, it time for him to show the world what he is made of, and if he doesn’t pan, show him the door!!!!!!!

          • Right Walt…
            Some kids take a longer path to maturity. If he was super prone to recidivistic, abnormal behavior then we would probably have seen it this past season with the way he was yo-yo’d around.

            What kills me is the way people advocate for the empathy and rehabilitation of the most hardened criminals, then turn around and vilify a young mistake prone athlete and basically don’t care if winds up on the street looking for another occupation.

            I’m sick of hypocrisy.

          • What exactly did D’angelo do to call hius behavior atrocious?

            I say things that liberals don’t like and I could care less like 4th of July I now call Happy 2nd Amendment day and liberal heads explode.

            What I heard was he supported Trump…if true then I say F you right to your face and crawl into your safe space with your blanket and pacifier. He has every right to choose who he supports.

            Did you know that adults are using pacifiers now, and you want me to support that free thinking? No I support your freedom to express your thought, but that doesn’t entitle you to the notion that I have to accept or support that idea.

            So what did he say?

          • Hey Leather, this isn’t a political thing. It’s not about Trump or Liberals. It’s about a guy who has acted like an asshole his entire career. If you think that behavior is cool or just “exercising his free speech”, that’s on you.

            Most people don’t want to root for guys who act like that or organizations who condone it.

          • How…I just looked him up and found nothing on him of significance. So he pushed a refs hand away during a scrum….couldn’t find video.
            So it comes down to point of view. It’s obvious he is conservative in his views and if it’s liberals bashing him then…there is no story and doesn’t make him an Ahole.
            So who was the messenger and what was the message?
            The kid has a ton of heart and he’ll battle for his teammates….enough said

        • Really way past time to lay off the kid Justin……I dont want to hear about it anymore!!!!!…Seems like you have a personal bias against ADA……
          You act likes he’s murdered someone….when I grew up in the 50′ and 60’s we told were ”sticks and stones….”
          Besides in this country we have FREE SPEECH so if you or anyone is offended take your purse and go to a safe space!!!!!

          • Free speech means you won’t get arrested for what you say.

            Free speech does not mean you are free from criticism if you are an asshole. It means the rest of us can show you the fucking door.

          • Well said, Dave. So sick of the Fox News crowd on this site and their dystopic nonsense.

      • Subconsciously you’re the one bringing up the old news. If you see someone down play his game than you run back to that narrative as if that’s why people don’t believe in him. I think most of the fanbase can see he’s lacking in alot of different ways to become a NHL defenseman. I would have been more confident if JG told the press that ADA will be join the camp as a forward.

        I just want to say since you brought it up, yes his true colors still aren’t pretty. He was old enough to go to the army, pay taxes and buy cigs. He’s lucky hockey doesn’t have to many African Americans skating by the bench. He’s a two time offender in that category of discrimination. From experience, once you hit 7th grade and up, that stuff will follow you and no you don’t grow out of that. ADA thinks he’s a bad boy lol, right now he’s just a racist who looks to be a fringe 3rd pair.

        • Thanks for that psycho therapy, you made my day!!!!!!!!

          It appears that your the only one on this site that brings up race on a regular basis, maybe you may need that therapy???

          • What? I tried to stay out of every political conversation on this site having to do with politics and race. The two times that I mentioned it on were replies to your undertone of your slightly racist remarks.

            Your stance on the Panarin by thinking that he didn’t say anything offensive about black women was bogus. So I said my input about that with a reply to you.

            I noticed the same pattern here ( no surprise ) with how you used the little boy of being young and dumb.

            If these two replies are considered to bring up “race on regular basis” than you are a closet racist who’s still scared to own up to it. I can tell I made your day with the excessive exclamation marks and the accusing of wrongful topics. That’s therapy 101 for you so please save the BS for your extremist conventions.

            As a African-American I can say not more than twice have I ever brought up race. I easily could have brought alot of heat towards certain subjects between last year and now.. Btw during those couple of times that I did, they were replies to you hint hint… I’m just saying I know when I see a scared cat who feels almost at home to let out his racism.

          • My man you read more shit into my post that don’t exist. I never made a racist remark on this site, or any other site, so I’ll leave it as your interpretation that doesn’t have any merit!!!!!!!!!

          • Good on you for calling this crap out, Mint. I’ve disagreed plenty with you before but you’re 100% spot on with your criticism here. And look at the people lining up to tell you what’s racist. What a freaking joke.

    • Like Bobby Ryan, Tony DeAngelo is a loudmouthed, regressive moron on social media. He is also an on-ice hothead who’s attacked referees and verbally abused his teammates. He’s been unpopular in various locker rooms too allegedly. Like it or not, this is the truth about DeAngelo so far as a pro. Big mouth, small results.

      • “Big mouth small results” That’s exactly what his slogan should be. Once he got interviewed here, he wanted to be that bad boy narrative. I felt like he was alluding to his past history of being a punk by saying that on his first day with the club.

  • Good article, thanks. However; interesting pairings, though some questionable. Skjei—Shattenkirk; agree first pair, balanced and NHL proven. Staal—DeAngelo second pair; scarily, an NHL proven his best days are behind him, if his stick can’t catch his opponents, he’ left behind. DeAngelo, proven to be a ticking time-bomb. The last thing the Rangers need is to put him on the ice and in the locker room. Show him the door, please, Rangers need stability. Rangers’ second pairing needs a youngster that is a NHL ready defenseman, paired with a proven NHL defenseman that brings balance and keeps up with the speed of today’s hockey using his skates, not his stick. Smith—Pionk third pairing is very interesting, would like to see them get the third pair opportunity. Claesson sounds like a good upgrade.

    • “proven to be a ticking time-bomb”


      For goodness sake, the kid should be given a shot to prove himself, and if he doesn’t pan out, trade him, but stop with the non-sense of branding the kid a problem child!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Suspended more then once, for involvement with other (players), and an official. Apparently, the young man has a temper. The Rangers are taking on a lot of young, unproven, but skilled youngsters. While risk their initial NHL exposure with someone who is problematic. I would not care if the team was loaded with veterans, But the Rangers are not.

      • Hey Walt go watch his first interview with Amanda B. He wants that brand and he wants to get flicked around between whistle. He’s about that Twitter life and spot picking fights like against people who have everything to lose.

  • If we are tossing this season to the kids, why not follow thru on the defensive side as well. Let Skjei/Shatty be the first pair, but Gilmour/Pionk/DeAngelo/Hajek should somehow be in the equation. Let Smith/Staal be a 7th man combo.

    If we are going with youth, let the defensive kids play too!

  • I think Pionk will develop into a very solid 3/4. Not sure why he would bottom out at marginal 3rd pair extra d man?

    • I said it last year and if he improved his game than I’ll keep saying it. His low center of gravity, active stick, good with the puck, mobile enough to be shifty and his compete level reminded me of Ryan Ellis from Nashville. Maybe by default he will earn a PP2 role but I could see him being out there defending a lead and during PK. His offense prowess should be a bonus because I think he has the skills to normally skate it out and make a play at the other end.

  • I am concerned with Skjei and Shattenkirk as our 1st pairing. Who plays defense?. Skjei had most giveaways on d and Shattenkirk would have, if he played full season. Against first line pressure they cough up the puck often. Skjei has very poor stick skills. We really need ashutdown defenseman. I also think Pionk has more potential than you give him credit for. Not a bottom pairing. Hopefully new system will alleviate the defensuve liabilities that were exposed under V’s flawed system!

    • Right now I’m guessing Brady/Shatty
      Smith/Tony D…. surprises of camp
      Pretty sure we’ll have a roster move at some point before here and opening night, so it’ll change. I’m really rooting for that 2nd pair, Smith with s comeback and Tony D improving on his pre injury improvement.

  • I agree with your thesis here and won’t be shocked at all if those are the parings to start the season. Not saying they should be, but I agree that this is most likely what will happen to start the season. In an ideal world De Angelo should go into the 3rd pairing. I believe he gets credibility within the organization over Pionk because of the fact he came over in the Stepan trade. Management justifying their decisions over giving out ice time based on results. I guess also trying to salvage value of a weakened assets. From everything I read Hajek is NHL ready. I’m fine keeping him in the minors to start the season to see if Smith can get going. Candidly if Smith does get going I would be inclined to try and move him. Again trying to salvage the value of a weakened assets. I also think Staal should be between 3rd pair and 7th D man. He has a high salary, but that is no justification for giving him more ice time. He will bring leadership too so I get that point, but his play is on the wrong trajectory.

    The most important thing this season is Quinn and the next D coach need to work a D system that fits with the players they have in the line up, not a system for the players they wish they had in the lineup.

  • Anyone have any thoughts on Justin Faulk?

    He is righty and he is signed for two more years at $4.83M. The talk is he is the odd man out in Carolina and he is only 26.

    I have no opinion on him – but it seems like he could be a good option IF we are looking to get a decent veteran to bridge the gap while the kids can get more development time.

    • So they give up assets during a rebuild for a guy who can have one foot out the door by the time the team would get good if they just kept what they had.

      Hard pass.

        • New coach on a rebuild, you have to let him see the assets on hand for himself before doing anything.

          You play the kids, you coach em up and you push them until they find their level. Then a couple of weeks later, you see if they exceed the prior level.

  • Staal should be the 7th D




    • That’s on Skjei head. Shatty can provide the offense but at times his two way game can become suspect. Skjei right now isn’t amazing at what he’s suppose to be good at which is playing good positional D. If he didn’t improve than soon enough he’ll look like the elephant in the room. I wish Pionk could play that side so they could try him up there with Shatty if Skjei still looks bad.

  • As far as Tony D’Angelo’s past sins, we can all agree that they were not the kinds of things that should be tolerated. But, that being said, he did not do those things last year with the Rangers. So, I think it might be time to change the narrative a bit regarding him unless he reverts to the same behavior on the ice or in the locker room.

    The kid stuck up for teammates when he was on the ice, mixing it up with much bigger opponents without fear and on his own. That is something that people have been crying for on this team. I think that was likely appreciated in the locker room.

    In my opinion he was handled very badly last season when he finally made it to the big club, being shuffled to different pairings up and down the D-man list with different partners almost every night. He was also quite obviously told not to carry the puck out of the zone when that is one of his greatest strengths. His decision making was slowed by that and unfamiliar pairings I am sure.

    So, I think they should do as Justin suggested, and put him out there for a decent amount of minutes, let him learn the system and sink or swim. Having seen him a number of times when he was with Arizona I know that he can be a very capable and even exciting offensive player. Whether he will come into his own or not is still a question mark to my mind. I don’t believe that the small sample size with mostly limited minutes under AV’s bizarre system last year to be a good indicator of what he can do. So, they should give him a shot and see if he can get it done or not. If he can’t, they have other people waiting in the wings.

  • Some have mentioned that Quinn has converted some offensive D into forwards. Thoughts on making SeAngelo a Foward and PP 2 pointman.

    On his past issues, politically who cares but abuse of officials and racial slurs are not good but lets let the kid grow. We have all done stupid things we regret.

    I’m ezcited to see the kids grow. There are a couple Swede frew agents as well I wpuld like to see

  • Your pairings make a lot of sense. I’m perfectly fine leaving the prospects to toil a bit in the AHL. Give them lots and lots of ice time (PP and PK) and get them adjusted to the new defensive system. There’s no need to rush them. When they’re clearly ready find a way to bring them up.

    Hopefully with a new system in place the D will show better this year and if possible, when the trade deadline rolls around look to move B Smith and Staal for some reasonable assets, even if it means retaining half their salary (better than buyouts in every case). Smith at 2+m could be pretty attractive to a playoff team looking for some snarly defensive depth. Staal might be a bit harder, but a more limited role and a cap hit of less than $3m might be attractive as well — obviously he’s a d’man with a lot of playoff experience.

    Lastly, this is the time to see whether Skjei, DeAngelo and Pionk are going to be part of the future or part of some trade bait … how many of these 6 d’men should be traded during the course of the year will in part be dependent by the development curve down in the A of the prospects.

  • Justin, you are usually insightful but I think today you are way off the mark.

    I think we as fans have a certain level of ignorance and we give far too little credit to the guys in charge. You say that it is time to find out what the Rangers have in DeAngelo. Based on 32 games played as a Ranger, often jerked around with different partners, we feel we don’t have enough information.

    Here is reality. The Rangers also saw DeAngelo 29 times in Hartford — and in plenty of practices. They knew what they were looking for. And, as for being jerked around, sorry. ADA is a right defenseman and those are in short supply. Basically, he played every single minute on the ice as a right D in the same AV system. Talk about consistency.

    The New York Rangers know exactly what they have and they do not have to give him ice time at the Garden to find out. And it is silly to throw someone out there only to let the fans figure it out as well. The joke is that your plan wouldn’t work anyway. If Staal-ADA flops, all it proves is one of them can’t handle it and we won’t get agreement then anyway.

    My opinion (and I have no way of knowing if my opinion dovetails with Ranger brass) is that DeAngelo is an extremely talented washout (-18 in 32 games among other things). Assuming the Rangers agree, they have a simple course of action. Put him in Hartford and hope he can figure it out, keeping their ears open for a possible deal. My guess is that if they wanted to trade him today, they could get a 5th round pick, but could not get a 2nd round pick. In their shoes, I would not take less than a 3rd and I doubt they would either.

    • Ray, with all due respect, you need to see how a young player handles the NHL level over a larger sample than 32 games. Especially as the deployment changed based on the coaching staff’s comfort level, they owe it to themselves to determine if his talent can be salvaged. Especially in an environment where winning isn’t the top priority anymore.

      I will also never find myself trapped by the appeal to authority fallacy. NHL front offices make too many asinine, logic-less decisions for me to ever believe they are there by the graces of their intellect. It’s a nepotistic old boys club too afraid to entertain new ideas. This also isn’t a stats position, it is an internal management logic position. If you are looking for me to give them more credit, you are looking at the wrong guy.

      • DeAngelo’s 2nd stint was better as they allowed him to lug the puck out of his own end, but his D(along with everybody else) was problematic.

        But wipe the slate, let it all play out in camp. In case of a tie, preference goes to guys who aren’t waiver exempt. Let them show what they can do, build em up then move them.

      • One must make a distinction between information and intellect. I honestly believe Justin that you are smarter than the average member of Ranger leadership, maybe smarter than all of them. But I also believe that they have much more information than you have. They watched him play 29 games at Hartford, where he was relatively unsuccessful – as he always has been in the AHL. Or at least, that is how I look at the numbers, which is all I have, but not all they have.

        And they can interpret mistakes differently. For example, you can have a talented offensive defenseman and encourage him to pinch, hoping he will learn when it is too risky – and you have to expect mistakes. But if you tell him “Don’t do X”, the tenth time he gets burned doing X, you have to understand what you are dealing with. When we as fans see a mistake, we simply don’t know the full story behind it.

        I may be dead wrong about DeAngelo. The Rangers may really like him. BUT I am absolutely convinced that if they do not see him as an NHLer at this time, they are acting with much more information than you or I. [or if they like him likewise]

        That said, a good organization manages assets. It was obvious a year ago that Gilmour was a flop. Still, the Rangers had him on an ELC and they tried to do what they could and he really upped his game. They will try to do the same with DeAngelo. There is just no necessity of letting him play in the NHL. In fact, in general, I don’t buy this idea that making players work to get to the NHL is discouraging. And since ADA tends to the arrogant side I think, humbling experiences are more likely to be beneficial.

        And finally the games do matter. Lundqvist, Zuccarello, Staal, et al care whether or not they win and the Rangers owe it to them to care as well.

        • I have to disagree. The kid did work to get to the NHL. He put in time in the AHL at Hartford despite having been in the NHL with the Coyotes.

          I am not privy to the thoughts of Rangers’ management. I think that if he looks like he belongs in camp then he should get a shot with the big club, unless of course others present themselves as better players.

          Then, play him and if he does well, we have yet another player who we either can keep or deal. If he stinks up the joint then maybe he will never be a NHL player or will have to work in the AHL until he gets his game right.

          You might be right about him. I remember what I saw before but maybe he was a flash in the pan. I am of the opinion however that we don’t know for sure yet.

  • Factual correction: you omitted Chris Bigras, who has played about as many games as Gilmour and Pionk combined. At the start of last season, the Avalanche thought he was going to be a regular starter but he disappointed.

    I also note both Brandon Crawley and Vince Pedrie have a full year at Hartford under their belt. So the 50 man roster has 11 NHLers, 2 AHLers, and three truly exciting newcomers. IMO, all but Pedrie have at least a glimmer of hope of playing for the Rangers this year.

    My pairings:

    7. Kampfer

    I think this is the default alignment (though most will no doubt reverse the top two pairings). I believe that Quinn will be open to Day or Hajek or someone else forcing his way into the lineup. I do not believe that Kampfer is necessarily better than the other eight guys, just that you want a veteran in a non-playing role.

    Two additional thoughts: I hope my lineup is wrong because that means something good has happened. Second, I don’t know if Quinn will play the same six guys night after night. If Quinn is open to juggling his 5,6,7 guys for example, then the 7th D will get lots of playing time and it won’t be Kampfer.

      • I accidentally reversed the second pair. I do intentionally have Smith on the wrong side where he often plays, but I thought Pionk was right and Claesson left.

        I would put Claesson as #7 (and Kampfer in Hartford) if I had a third pair replacement. I certainly hope one of the young guys emerges to take that role – and I would even play someone not quite as good as Claesson if I thought he would not embarrass himself and would grow in the position – but so far the individual candidates, taken one at a time, seem less likely than not.

  • Skjei—Shattenkirk




    Think Smith is coming back big this year, gonna see the old Smith again which will be refreshing.
    But also see Day and Hajek cracking in the line up soon midseason

    • Lindgren
      This kid is going to be a stud….crazy to me so few miss on this guy.
      I will say it again, in my opinion he will have a more productive career over Miller.

      Lindgren is the one I will be keeping tabs on

      • Honestly haven’t even seen the kid, just post regarding him. will do some research. And I hope your correct.
        Just additional info, think midseason also were gonna see major changes in the back end.
        Semper Fi Leather

      • Leather

        That’s two of us thinking the same way. If only we had Adam Fox skate side by side with him, they would make a great duo!!!!!!

          • The “confusion” with Lindgren is that he’s not an offensive D man and he plays physically, so fans “assume” that he’s not a good skater.

            But the fact is that he’s a very good skater and his offense is starting to come around.

          • Offence out of the D is supremely overrated.

            The Rangers got goals out of Klein & Holden merely by putting them on their off hand and setting them up at the top of the circle instead on just blasting from the point.

            D who actually have more P1 than P2 are exceptions.

  • I think u pretty much nailed down the Rangers starting Blue Line when the puck drops on opening night. However thats barring any trades or signings. I really do hope Brendan Smith comes to camp ready to go. I like the moxy he brings to his game. We should also see some of the younger Ranger dmen bounce up and down between Hartford and New York.

  • Listen folks, this is professional hockey……its not little league…….I loved Sean Avery and what he brought as a player…..I WANT SKILLED PLAYERS WHO ARE NASTY, PHYSICAL AND ANGRY AND PLAY WITH AN EDGE!!!!!!!!!

    • Rich

      Don’t we all? I believe that JG is putting together a team that will have some sandpaper to it!!!!! They should be fun to watch……..

  • Rich S, Walt, we keep passing on toughness/grit/sandpaper. Ryan Reaves, Matt Martin, were ready to be taken, Gorton & Rangers were in on both, but decided to take a pass?????. Now watch Martin ( who we have to play against in the same division a bunch of times) line up the baby Rangers and send them to Concussion City, with no fear of retribution.. Every team needs a Matt Martin, Ryan Reaves, Tom Wilson.. I hope Gorton pulls the trigger and get one or more of the following players: Milan Lucic , Darnell Nurse, Patrick Maroon, Adam McQuaid. They way the Rangers are built now, they are the softest team in the NHL

    • Bobby

      Of the players mentioned, the only one I’d make a move for is Nurse. He can play the game well, while the others are questionable, especially Lucic. Talk about a pylon who can’t skate!!!!!!!!

  • Youre mistaken on Pionk… he will be much better than ADA…. yiu can see in the eye rest…. ADA has no clue how to play defense. Pionk, while undersized like ADA, knows position, leverage and can see he just cares and trues harder. He is faaaar more than a 7th D. He sure to be a fixture in the top 4 for years to come.
    Honestly its quite silly your comparison and difference in opportunity you hand out between Pionk and ADA.
    Pionk has clearly outplayed and derserves 2nd pair.

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