On rebuilding, tanking, and Jack Hughes

The Rangers won again last night. That puts them in second place in the Metro Division, something that I don’t think anyone foresaw or predicted. This Rangers team was supposed to be a bottom feeder all year and contend for that #1 overall pick (Jack Hughes). They aren’t supposed to be in second place. And it has all the tankers and #LoseForHughes folks in a tizzy.

The Rangers are not going to lose games on purpose, so the #LoseForHughes thing is more of a joke than anything, at least from my point of view. Instilling an atmosphere of losing doesn’t help anyone. Developing the players they have now is more important than trying to land the #1 pick, which isn’t even guaranteed with a last place finish. Also, for every team like the Penguins, that has won from top picks, there’s an Oilers.

The most important piece of the season this year will be developing players like Filip Chytil, Brett Howden, Lias Andersson, Tony DeAngelo, and Neal Pionk at the NHL level. It’s about getting playing time for Libor Hajek, Ryan Lindgren Ty Ronning, and Tim Gettinger in the AHL. It’s about figuring out what they have in them and developing them to their full potential. Putting in a losing culture is not one of those development paths.

Tanking is usually a mentality that comes from the front office and works its way down. It starts with the GM putting together a questionable roster. The coach knows that the roster can’t really compete. The players know they are supposed to lose. That’s not what you want to see.

While the Rangers’ roster isn’t one built for a Stanley Cup, it is one that isn’t exactly designed to lose either. The forwards have enough skill to put up goals in bunches, even if it isn’t overly consistent. Henrik Lundqvist is still here, is still a leader in the locker room, and is showing he’s still an elite goalie. Those two alone propelled the Rangers to the playoffs in more than a few seasons. It’s also the reason why the Rangers can’t “tank” in the traditional sense. There is too much skill.

The Metro Division is a train wreck right now, but you figure teams will figure it out by the dog days of winter. When that happens, the Rangers will begin seeing losses pile up, and the #LoseForHughes train will be in full swing. While the points in the standings now are banked, there were great lessons learned in coming from behind, in learning what wins feel like, and knowing/trusting that the coaching staff and front office staff are invested in them as players, not just as losing machines.

There is some “doom and gloom” that the Rangers are going to sneak into the playoffs and screw up their draft pick. I find it a little humorous that making the playoffs is doom and gloom, but that’s where some of the fanbase is. For the long term, missing the playoffs and increasing their chances at a top-three is probably in their best interest. But there is value in creating trust in the coaching staff and management that they still want to win.

One final note. Players don’t tank. Front office leadership tanks.

"On rebuilding, tanking, and Jack Hughes", 5 out of 5 based on 23 ratings.

24 thoughts on “On rebuilding, tanking, and Jack Hughes

  • Nov 13, 2018 at 1:25 pm

    I agree 100% that tanking is not the way to build a winning culture. Players should be asked to give it their all every night. With the youth on this team right now and Hank playing as well as he has, there may be a borderline playoff team on Broadway but we can still continue to draft well with top 15 draft picks. For every #1 pick like Crosby or McDavid, there is an Erik Johnson mixed in there as well. So having that top pick does not guarantee a franchise player. Better off developing a working culture now and hope that one or 5 of these young players develop into a new core or foundation.

    I’m wondering about Lias Andersson. He has only played 4 games right now but Zuc will be returning soon and Howden is back. Would he benefit from going back to Hartford now and to return if/when needed or down the stretch after the trade deadline we have a full roster now. Wouldn’t we (Rangers) benefit from not burning the year off his ELC when he isn’t fully ready for NHL roster spot. I only say that because he’s a future (fingers crossed) top 6 centerman playing bottom 6 mins right now. The coaching staff must feel they have better players for the top 6 right now.
    Any thoughts on Andersson??

    • Nov 13, 2018 at 2:52 pm

      My only thought on Anderson is that if he’s ready right now, then we can trade Zuccarello for non-Nhl-ready prospects and/or draft picks.

      • Nov 13, 2018 at 5:50 pm

        If they traded Zucc to Edmonton than I’d opt for Zack Kassian and higher draft pick.

  • Nov 13, 2018 at 2:53 pm

    Agree that Lias should be back in Hartford and not burn off a year. Another reason is that he clearly, at least to me, is not a winger. His best, perhaps only, shot as a top 6 forward is as a center. If so I suspect his development will be better served as a 1st line center in Hartford rather than an out of place winger here.

    While I agree that long term the Rangers will be better served with a high draft pick I still think they should try to win every game. As is Quinn is playing the young guys in all situations. Howden seems to be his favorite in crunch time. Pionk/Staal his go two d-pair in crunch time as well. So I would say it’s somewhat of a soft tank as is. If somehow throwing the youngins’ leads to success – who could complain.

    • Nov 13, 2018 at 3:04 pm

      Agreed. If Lias is going to make it in the NHL it will be as a center. If they don’t have a spot for him to get regular playing time, then send him to Hartford and let him develop. He just turned 20 last month.

  • Nov 13, 2018 at 3:06 pm

    Letteiri will be the odd man out, unless they do the right thing and move Spooner

    • Nov 13, 2018 at 4:00 pm

      As things stand you would be lucky to get a 3/4th rounder for Spooner. I think he’s re-establishing himself as a headcase this season after looking so slick/promising at the end of last season.

      • Nov 13, 2018 at 10:09 pm

        Spooner was on fire when he first joined the Rangers. But like Skinny Smith his play dropped off as soon as he cashed in the first cheque of his new contract . I do believe coach Quinn can help get the above players back on track. It will just take a bit of time.

  • Nov 13, 2018 at 3:27 pm

    can not move Spooner now need to wait until he is playing better sell high.

    Zuc is the forward to move now if there is a deal out there. Don’t wait until he gets hurt and we get nothing for him.

  • Nov 13, 2018 at 3:58 pm

    I have to disagree. The losses will not necessarily pile up come the dog days of the season. Yes, there will be mini-stretches where this team will lose a few games, but there’s too much skill and mental toughness to suffer a long drawn out season defining losing streak — at least that’s what I think.

    3 things to note:

    1) They’re just starting to really learn/understand the system;
    2) Chytil and Andersson have contributed much in the way of offense so far, I expect that to start changing; and
    3) Namestnikov and Spooner have been ghosts, more so the latter — surely that can’t continue all year long.

    This team probably doesn’t make the playoffs, but I won’t be overly surprised if they find a way to nab a 7th or 8th seed — I also won’t be surprised if they end up with a Top 10 pick this summer. I will however be surprised if they end up with a Top 5-6 pick — unless a ping pong ball wills it.

  • Nov 13, 2018 at 5:05 pm

    Oh it will be worse than making the playoffs. The FO will be delusional that this group is good enough to make the playoffs and do stupid moves and/or non-moves with the intention of going for the playoffs.

    They just miss the playoffs, have players on the roster that they shouldn’t, and they pick 20th in the draft.

    THAT, is the definition of a lost season.

    • Nov 13, 2018 at 5:59 pm

      Chris Kreider – New York Rangers – He has a year left on his deal. The Rangers are rebuilding and could trade him for a younger prospect.

      ^See they’re still sticking to the rebuild

      • Nov 13, 2018 at 6:01 pm

        I would say it is a possibility that Kreider gets traded, yes. I don’t think that the Rangers want to pay his next contract.

    • Nov 13, 2018 at 6:10 pm

      Thing is its early …. do I like the effort? Sure do Pal.Some teams aren’t playing well and we seem to be as of the last 7-8 games.Hank stole a couple.If they are still like this in March? Is Nylander still on the radar?If only they would take Staal in a combo deal.(I can dream).Them picking 20 is where we’ve been the past 10 years.Only difference is they usually have traded those 1 and 2 picks away.St Louis trade still kills me along with a few other bonehead moves!! I wonder how JT would have faired with Quinn and this group?

      • Nov 14, 2018 at 6:47 am

        Bro, we had this record last year at this time of the year and look what happened.

        Every year, I’m like a broken record, talk to me in Jan and Feb to see where the Rangers are for any given season.

        Remember when the Rangers were scoring 5 goals per game this time of year 2 years ago? I was not impressed nor did I think that they would continue that trend. They didn’t. And they ended up losing to a bad Ottawa team in the playoffs.

    • Nov 14, 2018 at 3:28 pm

      Come on Richter, the FO will not make any deals for a run at the Cup THIS year … in fact no matter what, they will at least trade a forward and a d’man. They clearly understand we’ve been “closer” to a contender in the past, regardless of how well this team might do — so no, they won’t do anything foolish and will stick to the rebuild, although the rebuild plan may be tweaked (read as “sped up”).

      • Nov 14, 2018 at 6:21 pm

        I hope you’re right my friend but this is the same team that gave up a 4th for McQuaid and is now pursuing a player in trade that they should have drafted in the first place (Sprong).

        Nothing is impossible with this FO.

        • Nov 14, 2018 at 10:11 pm

          I think that’s in the past buddy. Once Gorton got the green light to “rebuild” I think the nonsense deadline trades to put us over the top (read Eric Staal, etc.) ended. As long as JG doesn’t feel his job is in peril, he’ll stay the course.

          Re: McQuaid … like it or not … believe in it or not, it was just a move to change the atmosphere in the room. I highly doubt JG makes that trade thinking the Cup is ours. 😉

          • Nov 15, 2018 at 6:30 am

            A good friend of mine has told me that the Rangers’ FO think this team could make the playoffs and Sather is always one to go for the playoffs.

            I hope that Gorton has the clout to stay the course. I’m scared.

            • Nov 15, 2018 at 10:20 am

              Can’t live your life scared, even where Sather is involved … in the final analysis, once the salary cap was introduced, he did produce a pretty damn good team despite a few hiccups. 😉

  • Nov 13, 2018 at 5:21 pm

    Reminds me of the discourse regarding the Yankees getting under the salary cap. It was pretty clear that they were committed to it but many refused to believe it.

    The Rangers front office is committed to the rebuild. Everything they have done indicates it but some will refuse to believe it. And while it is exciting to be on this run, and they are exciting to watch, let’s be honest, Rangers record is better than they have actually played. They have squeezed out wins in most close games and are 4 and 0 in shoot outs; not sustainable. Have they even won one game convincingly? This team will probably start falling off a bit; more so when they trade off some vets at the TD.

  • Nov 14, 2018 at 1:38 pm

    Zuc is the heart of the team and most popular Ranger besides Lundqvist. Its silly to trade him unless the offer is one that can’t be refused. This team is one good defender and one scorer from being a contender.

    • Nov 15, 2018 at 3:46 pm

      If Zucs and Hayes are both resigned…You can ask Richter1994 about the consequences…..

      • Nov 15, 2018 at 4:44 pm

        Hayes yes.

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