The Rangers are losing. They are somewhat competitive, but they are losing. The scores are close, but the mental mistakes –the 14 million too many men penalties– are piling up. Clearly this team knows what they are this year. Larry Brooks said it best, even if there is a subconscious acceptance that unknowingly sets players into personal agenda mode, it’s time to cut bait.
There is a risk with this though. The Rangers kept or acquired some players to create a certain atmosphere in the locker room. Say what you want about Adam McQuaid, he was acquired because even as a part time player, he has a reputation of not taking nights off. The kids probably know what this season is, but does going into each night knowing you’re going to lose help? I ask because I honestly don’t know. I’ve obviously never been an NHL prospect.
But with risk there is reward. Filip Chytil would get time in the top-nine to work through his scoring schneid. Perhaps we actually get to see Tony DeAngelo get regular time. Perhaps Neal Pionk gets some stability in his defense partners.
This isn’t to say that players are taking nights off, but there are a lot of mental mistakes that show the team isn’t entirely there. Perhaps it’s because they are learning a new system. Perhaps it’s just because some guys know they are goners. Or maybe they just never passed kindergarten.
One last advantage to starting the process early is that trade value would be higher now than later, when players like Mats Zuccarello, Kevin Hayes, and others would be pure rentals. That said, there might be more value in keeping players in the AHL to develop, instead of getting them to the NHL just to lose and perhaps stunt growth.
It’s a difficult decision to make, even in a rebuild year. The question that needs to be answered isn’t when to sell, but what the impact is when selling early.