Finding the next captain

mats zuccarello

The Rangers are heading into next season having traded their last two captains to Tampa Bay. The players wearing the ‘A’ both have questionable futures in New York as well. Mats Zuccarello, a fan favorite and potential captain in his own right, only has one more year remaining on his deal. Marc Staal has the years on his deal, but has seen his game take a significant decline and is headed towards a buyout.

With the David Quinn era set to kick off next month, the Rangers are going to need a leadership group to help develop the kids and bring them along. It seems likely that Zuccarello and Staal keep their A’s, but the question becomes who the next captain will be, if there will be one.

Mats Zuccarello

The most obvious choice is Zuccarello. He’s a fan favorite. He always shows up. He’s among the top scorers and skilled players on the team. He’s been there before. And perhaps most importantly, he struggled to stick in the NHL. He’s a guy that has seen the ups and downs, and can coach some of the kids through it all. But if he’s truly headed to the trade market, is a one-year captain the best thing?

Marc Staal

He’s the longest tenured skater and has had an A on his jersey for as long as I can remember. He, at one point, had a reputation as a stud shutdown defenseman that played the game the way it was meant to be played. However his game has seen a significant downturn in the past few years. Perhaps it was Alain Vigneault’s system, perhaps it was a changing game. We won’t know until we see him in Quinn’s system. But with him headed towards a buyout (likely), is that the best plan?

Chris Kreider

Kreider is always showing up for big moments. Think about it – he’s always on the ice for a tying goal or a go ahead goal, especially in the playoffs the past few years. You want someone who can get to those dirty areas in crunch time to guide the youth. He’s signed through 2019-2020, so he’s not a flight risk just yet. That said, he’s a polarizing Ranger because people expect more of him. Will the fans support a captain that “only” puts up 25 goals and 50 points?

Mika Zibanejad

The 1C for now, Zibanejad is just 25 years old and signed for another four seasons. He’s locked in a top-six forward until the next lockout. However he’s never been thrust into a leadership role. Is it best he get an ‘A’ first?

No One

Perhaps the best answer is that no one has the ‘C’ this year. Let someone earn it, ease their way into the role. Let Quinn learn his players and who commands respect in the locker room.

"Finding the next captain", 2 out of 5 based on 3 ratings.

58 thoughts on “Finding the next captain

  • Aug 30, 2018 at 7:09 am

    Dave, you for got Shatty, do not discount him either.

    IMO, they go with 3 “As” until someone emerges for the C after this year, when the roster shakes out. Zuc and Staal likely gone after this year.

    • Aug 30, 2018 at 8:30 am

      Yeah I think Shattenkirk is definitely someone who will be considered. Especially because of his past relationship with Quinn. I think for sure Shattenkirk is getting a letter this season

      • Aug 30, 2018 at 10:32 am

        Shattenkirk has been here for 10 minutes…you cant make him captain

      • Aug 30, 2018 at 3:35 pm

        Respected player, accomplished vet, and you know he will stay a Ranger, Shatty must at least get consideration for a letter.

        • Aug 30, 2018 at 5:45 pm

          I could see a letter….but he does not strike me as a leader tho

          • Aug 30, 2018 at 6:00 pm

            I think he will be a Quinn “go to guy” which automatically makes him eligible for a letter.

            Every coach in every sport has “their guys.” Shatty will be one of Quinn’s.

            • Aug 30, 2018 at 6:54 pm

              Lol yep…like AV and Fast

    • Aug 30, 2018 at 11:29 am

      Agreed on almost everything (see next comment). Vegas did just fine without a captain. If there is no captain, the alternates step in and fill the leadership void. If there is a weak captain, the alternates cannot really usurp the role.

      I don’t have a problem with naming someone who won’t be around for long – as long as that person is totally committed to the Rangers as long as he wears the Ranger uniform. So Zuccarello is fine with me, BUT why not let Quinn get to know the team dynamics first.

      It is a problem if you name the wrong captain and he STAYS. McDonagh was not really captain material, but it would have been awkward to remove him.

    • Aug 30, 2018 at 11:42 am

      I don’t agree that Staal is likely gone after this year. For cap considerations, I think carrying him as an eighth defenseman in 19-20 (a bad idea admittedly) is better than a buyout in 2019. [2020 is a different story.]. And he did play well last year, far above Brady Skjei for example. He may be the best LH defenseman the Rangers have this year. And I suspect he will still be decent in 19-20.

      Now, if all goes according to plan and Hasek, Lindgren, Day, DeAngelo, Pionk all show they belong in the lineup, well then Marc is in the way even if he plays as well as they do. In that scenario, I’d guess Staal would retire or agree to play on a team that wants him (rather than the embarrassment of a #7 or #8 position).

      BUT some of the Ranger prospects are going to flop and some will take longer to develop. [Bet there is someone whose flop will really surprise you – and no, I don’t know who, just betting on the numbers.]. So whether I want Staal on the 2019-2020 team is still an open question.

      Of course, Staal will be in the way in two years almost certainly (and quite possibly Skjei soon after that).

      • Aug 30, 2018 at 3:39 pm

        Gorton definitely loaded up on D men with the idea that not all are going to make an impact, there’s no question. Better to have too many than not enough.

        Quite honestly, I can’t see Staal here past this year. If the current young prospects do not replace him, then the Rangers will get someone to replace him. They save approx $3M on the cap by buying him out after this year. I get them not doing it this year since it’s a “throw away” season anyway.

        • Aug 30, 2018 at 6:18 pm

          It’s actually $2.4M I believe.

          Compare a 2019 buyout to a 2020 buyout financially.

          The only plus for 2019 is it reduces the cap hit for 2019-2020 by $2.8M. The later buyout saves an extra $133K the following year, costs $133K less in 2021-2022 and completely avoids a $1.2M cap hit in 2022-2023.

          If you operate from the presumption that the Rangers won’t have cap problems anyway in 2019-2020, it just seems wrong to accept the cap penalties down the road that, while small, could be a nuisance. Also, you don’t really even save $2.8M the first year as you need to replace him and so it is more like $2M.

          I really think people are being distracted by their distaste for Staal’s play into making what is poor cap management,

          Obviously, if it looks like he couldn’t even make the team as a seventh defenseman, things become more problematic, but in that case, I suspect he would retire anyway.


          And BTW, this is exactly the same argument I would employ for arguing that Henrik should not be bought out at the end of this season even though the numbers are bigger (and you KNOW I personally think Hank is not worth anything close to his salary at this time).

          • Aug 31, 2018 at 6:23 am

            Actually, I did a cap friendly armchair GM for 2019-20 and the Rangers do not have as much cap space as you would think.

            They have to re-sign Buch and a few others who are RFAs. I had Staal bought out and I was able to fit Panarin for $9M per and really no one else as far as UFAs were concerned, even Hayes did not fit after signing Panarin.

            So while the Rangers’ cap is good for next year, it’s not as great as people think.

            • Aug 31, 2018 at 10:51 am

              There are lots of variables and I agree that there are scenarios where I would buy out Staal — certainly if one adds Panarin and someone else in order to seriously compete, the cap picture changes.

              Right now though, except for Buch, no RFAs are due a raise unless they impress this year. And of course it matters whether Hayes, Zucc remain on the payroll.

              My point was capwise, buyouts are good in the short term and bad in the long – and the current betting line is that long is more important.

    • Aug 30, 2018 at 4:51 pm

      money is on Chris Kredier my friend to wear the “C” by the Spring.

      • Aug 30, 2018 at 5:13 pm

        Maybe bro, but I can also see them go through this year and see how things shake out before naming a Captain.

  • Aug 30, 2018 at 7:34 am

    I think no captain is the best option until things shake out a little more. Most of the the players you mentioned would be fine as captain, but other than Zib no one is under contract beyond 2 years.I would not be surprised either if none of the 4 mentioned players were a Ranger 2 years from now. I think they need a long term view for whoever will be the next Captain.

  • Aug 30, 2018 at 7:54 am

    I think they give Shatty an A and Hank the C (like Roberto Luongo)

    • Aug 30, 2018 at 3:31 pm


      NHL rulebook 6.1: No playing Coach or playing Manager or goalkeeper shall be permitted to act as Captain or Alternate Captain.

  • Aug 30, 2018 at 8:04 am

    None should be made captain until the season opens, and Quinn sees first hand who realty has the leadership qualities. Start out with 3 A’s, then go from there. I’d let the players pick the person who will wear the C, they are the one’s following him!!!

    • Aug 30, 2018 at 8:11 am

      James Dolan thinks that the Rangers didn’t have great leadership last season. Maybe that will put some pressure on the front office to find and establish a leader or figurehead to help the team transition in the rebuild. The only time that the Rangers played a full season without a captain was the 2005-06 season — the year after the lockout and two years after Messier’s retirement. So, it’s a little unusual to the Blueshirts start the season without a captain. But that still doesn’t mean that they need one.

      I found this quote to be interesting!!!!!!!!!

      • Aug 30, 2018 at 10:34 am

        Yeah that was with McD still being around along with Nash. I thought that was a bit rough to drag the former captain name like that..

        • Aug 30, 2018 at 8:03 pm

          Dolan is a slime, what can you expect

    • Aug 30, 2018 at 11:00 am

      No, I will pick the captain.
      Captain Kreider!

      • Aug 30, 2018 at 2:30 pm

        Only in EA sports

  • Aug 30, 2018 at 8:07 am

    Here’s my bold prediction for 2019-2020… under new coach Quinn, Jimmy Vesey takes a big next step and will be a in-your-face player that will get his hands dirty and score a few dirtier goals. His hockey sense and IQ will emerge and while he won’t be the flashiest player, I think his game will be steady, he will have his teammates’ backs and he will get their respect.

    • Aug 30, 2018 at 8:34 am

      I think we will both catch flak for this but I see the same player in Vesey.

      I think any young player that has gone through the AV’s spin cycle will look and play different this year. Buch and Vesey being the two likeliest candidates.

      Damn i miss JT Miller!!!! He would have been the ideal ‘C’ for this young team over the next couple years.

    • Aug 30, 2018 at 9:59 am

      It is certainly a bold prediction. Unfortunately, I do not see Vesey as anything more than a middling player. My prediction is that despite an NHL career into his 30s, he never crosses the 50 point barrier.

      • Aug 30, 2018 at 10:45 am

        Haha that’s more like reality Swayze. If you went by his interviews than seemed like he’s alright with the production that he put up. He’s closer to being a straight up bottom 6 forward. He saw alot of time on the PP and with top 9 names which helped him scoring goals.

    • Aug 30, 2018 at 10:38 am

      I hope you’re not alluding to the idea of VC becoming the next captain. He’s a grinder for right now who might have a touch for the puck around the lower slot.

      • Aug 30, 2018 at 11:02 am

        That’s exactly what I’m saying, you got any better candidates? With guys departing and rookies remaining, who else you got? What other Ranger got his nose dirty, was willing to push back and go to the net & mix it up in the crease?

        Yep, he’s a grinder who is going to escape AV’s tether rope and play a game his teammates will respect. He doesn’t need to break 50 points to be a captain, 20-20 will do just fine with some intelligence and snarl.

    • Aug 30, 2018 at 11:22 am

      I agree that Vesey could surprise on the upside this season and be a bit more aggressive with AV gone. I have no problem with him taking advantage of playing with more highly skilled players last year in getting his points. He has one of the better instincts (or Hockey IQ) in and around the net. Nothing wrong with that as his goals still count the same as a Zib wrister from the circle. Every single young player we have had from the last couple years under AV have a clean slate so it should be interesting to see any changes in the likes of Vesey and Buch.

      As for Captain, I’m not so sure about that as he still needs to mature a bit. Damn I miss JT Miller!!!!

  • Aug 30, 2018 at 8:21 am

    4 A’s, no C until someone steps up and earns the respect of the locker room. Age, tenure and contract length shouldn’t matter.

    • Aug 30, 2018 at 3:36 pm

      NHL Rule book 6.1: No co-Captains are permitted. Either one Captain and no more than two Alternate Captains, or no Captain and no more than three Alternate Captains are permitted (see 6.2).

  • Aug 30, 2018 at 8:46 am

    All 4 of those guys are on the trade block

    • Aug 30, 2018 at 10:59 am

      You already know TR, neither of those boys made the cut for the untouchable list. Brooks has come out plenty of times mentioning about how Kreider could go back on the trade block. Zib could get traded for a couple reasons. If he continued to be injury prone and not taking his game to the next level which then could be a wrap for him in the management’s eyes.

      Hayes could explode with the more time during 5v5 , PP and leading the league again in shorthanded goals/points. That payday that they would get could affect one of those two. Quinn is team Hayes along with JG so the idea is definitely there. I could already see another Stepan scenario going down with his NTC kicking in soon.

  • Aug 30, 2018 at 10:03 am

    Zibanejad is not on the trade block. Doubt Kreider is either.

    Look at the Flyers. They certainly bottomed out for a few years but never to the extreme. They never sold Girioux, Voracek or Simmonds during their lows for futures, despite the facts they were accumulating draft picks and building their prospect pool. Now I realize Girioux & Voracek >>>>> Zibanejad and Kreider, but I think the Rangers keep those players along for the ride and use them to compliment the younger high ceiling guys coming through the ranks.

    Rebuilding/Retooling teams do not sell everyone over 25. I think the brass has every intention of keeping these two around. Hayes on the other hand…..

    • Aug 30, 2018 at 10:34 am

      No way you extend Kreider in 2 years….he is so gone….Zib maybe…but he is not a Captain

      • Aug 30, 2018 at 3:39 pm

        Kreider definitely going to break aging curves because his skating is elite and the rest of his game is age resistant: net front presence and goals that even Boo Nieves can score on.

    • Aug 30, 2018 at 1:19 pm

      I don’t think anyone is on the trading block at this point. There’s really no reason to trade anyone NOW. Spend the next few months developing talent and assessing the future. Let Quinn learn the personnel. Then make decisions as the trade deadline approaches and veteran values are highest.

      If Andersson, Chityl, Howden all look like they are ready to be your top three centers, then Zib is expendable. In many other scenarios, he is an extremely valuable component.

      As for older guys, well Chara is still playing. It isn’t just about age. Who is slowing down and who isn’t? Hasek and Plante were great goalies in the 40s — but Brodeur wasn’t. You need to read guys, not follow simple rules.

  • Aug 30, 2018 at 10:35 am

    No Captain at the start…Season has to play out

  • Aug 30, 2018 at 10:56 am

    I say either Zucc or no one. Kreider is a bad pick imo. I feel like he’s similar in personality to Leetch and McDonagh where he’s just not the right personality for the C. I feel it would drag him backwards with all the weight on him.

    He’s very smart, and a really good player. But I’ve never gotten the impression he says much in the locker room or speaks up in a leadership capacity. He still looks uncomfortable giving interviews in between periods. Some guys are just not outspoken, type-A personalities… and Kreider to me looks like he would find it somewhat uncomfortable.

    • Aug 30, 2018 at 11:09 am

      He’s soft spoken and that’s a no go when you don’t show up every game like Kreider. I wish he played every shift like it was his last. Than again he would be getting as many breakaway’s as Grabner. He would also be looking like a wrecking ball leading the league in hits while ranking in the top 15 in goals scored. Quinn already shutdown the idea of him receiving the captain role, he’s going to let the team sort it out as a entire unit.

  • Aug 30, 2018 at 11:30 am

    Hot Take: It doesn’t matter if they have a captain, or who it is. Letters on sweaters do not affect the product on the ice. I think the concept of captaincy in general in hockey is blown way out of proportion. You don’t need a letter on your shoulder to be a motivational factor. It’s tradition, nice recognition for the players who receive them, and the guys sporting letters deal with the officials as needed. Having a captain or not will not affect the W-L record or scoreboard either way. A great motivator can’t turn sub-par natural skill into high end natural skill, nor should grown men being paid handsome sums of money to play a game they love need that even if it did work that way.

    • Aug 30, 2018 at 12:21 pm

      You speak blasphemy. Don’t you know that McDonagh being Captain cost the Rangers multiple consecutive Stanley Cups?

      • Aug 30, 2018 at 12:33 pm

        Absolutely. A better captain would have turned Tanner Glass and Cody McLeod into Crosby-like performers!

        • Aug 30, 2018 at 1:02 pm

          he he he

        • Aug 30, 2018 at 6:43 pm

          100%. If McDonagh was a real Captain Nash’s shot wouldn’t graze off that stick shaft. He woulda motivated Peter Holland to be better.

          All because of the Captain. I mean if we had a real Captain the dark ages woulda never happened…..oh wait.

          • Aug 31, 2018 at 10:17 am

            Pretty sure the only reason Tampa has been at all good in recent years is because they’ve acquired our two recent captains. They even added one of our former alternates for good measure. Thieving scamps, entirely bereft of real talent but stealing the true key to victory – the guys with letters! They acquire a couple more former captains/alternates from other teams, and watch out – the Cup will definitely be theirs.

  • Aug 30, 2018 at 11:43 am

    4 A’s this year….then Lias Anderson, at least he will be at some point in the future. I remember an interview Chytil did and when asked a question he replied with “ask Lias, he be captain in three years”….he’s getting respect from the younger guys already

    • Aug 30, 2018 at 12:06 pm

      Lias has to make the team first

  • Aug 30, 2018 at 12:52 pm

    Got an idea… Until they find their Crosby/stamkos/tavares/ovechkin

    Don’t name a captain

    • Aug 30, 2018 at 3:41 pm

      Does Jack Hughes qualify?

      • Aug 30, 2018 at 3:49 pm

        possibly. Gotta get top 3

        • Aug 30, 2018 at 5:14 pm

          Pettersen is the other guy in next year’s draft.

          • Aug 30, 2018 at 5:25 pm

            Sorry, ignore that last post, lol.

  • Aug 30, 2018 at 1:21 pm

    Zuc is it. No other option. Even if only for a year. No one else shows up and plays game in and game out like him. I mean it is such a easy pick. He such a likeable player/person. I don’t really see the debate. Look at the players those 2 got to play in norway for their charity. You think krieder or Shatty or staal or whatever other names you want to run out there could pull off that game? Hank and Him are the franchise right now. Whether we like it or not. No debate. I mean the guy has won the Steven McDonald award three times.

  • Aug 30, 2018 at 5:11 pm

    No Capt! Wait until the kids get here and one of them will likely be capt. Zuc has got to go and we will miss him but we need more assets. The Russians are coming !

  • Aug 31, 2018 at 10:08 am

    You all talk as if a Zuccarello trade is a done deal already. But when did the Rangers say they’re going to trade him? NEVER.

    Here some news for you, a few days ago a Norwegian journalist talked to Zuccarello’s agent Craig Oster. He said they’re going to have talks with the Rangers in the near future about their plans for Zucc and his role on the team going forward.

    Doesn’t sound much like trade talks to me, in fact it sounds more like captain talk…

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