Neal Pionk, Tony DeAngelo, and Fredrik Claesson all need to play *when the Rangers are healthy*

The Rangers’ blue line is a hot mess at the moment. Marc Staal still isn’t good, which isn’t as much a surprise as it is a disappointment for hoping the career Ranger would see a spark with a new coach. Brendan Smith went from preseason beast to healthy scratch. Adam McQuaid was never going to be a good option. That’s almost 40% of the blue line already!

Kevin Shattenkirk will be Kevin Shattenkirk. Brady Skjei looks somewhat okay so far. But then we have three guys for one more roster spot. Neal Pionk and Tony DeAngelo are the kids who should be getting long looks. Fredrik Claesson was the insurance policy and 8D. But here we are, looking at a blue line where all three really need to play.

Pionk and DeAngelo need to play for obvious reasons. The Rangers have a lot invested in them –specifically DeAngelo– and now is the time to find out what they can bring to the lineup. It’s not about what they are today, it’s about what they can be tomorrow and how they progress in reaching that potential. It’s a process with an end goal that can only be achieved through patience. And roster space.

Claesson is just 25 years old, but has been one of the more stable presences on the blue line to date. He’s certainly been better than all three of Staal, Smith, and McQuaid. Yet it took an injury and 17 games for him to get a steady spot in the lineup. He hasn’t been noticeable, and on this blue line, that’s a compliment.

Yet we as fans have a fragile psyche. We are used to veterans getting playing time as soon as they return from injury. So we are expecting McQuaid to come in for one of DeAngelo or Pionk (righties) when he’s ready. We are expecting Smith to come back to the lineup for Claesson at some point. It’s just what we expect, whether it happens or not. Pavlov’s dogs, after all.

However for the Rangers to truly take that next step, David Quinn will need to show he still has the boldness to bench the veterans for the kids. There’s the “trade value” argument, which is a bit silly for Staal, Smith, and McQuaid because none of them have any significant value. Keeping two of them out of the lineup doesn’t really impact what the Rangers might get in a trade. NHL GMs aren’t stupid. Unless they are in Edmonton.

I will forever state that the lineup in game 60 will mean more than the lineup in game 17. I stand by that. DQ is about 1/4 into his first season, and has seen enough of the three veterans to make his roster decisions. Now it’s about getting the two kids and Claesson –who is only 25 years old– their chance. They certainly can’t be any worse, right?

"Neal Pionk, Tony DeAngelo, and Fredrik Claesson all need to play *when the Rangers are healthy*", 5 out of 5 based on 16 ratings.

42 thoughts on “Neal Pionk, Tony DeAngelo, and Fredrik Claesson all need to play *when the Rangers are healthy*

  • Nov 15, 2018 at 6:18 am

    Hot take: Claesson has been the best Ranger D man so far this season. Yes, believe it.

    Look, Staal is going to play, we have to accept that, but Smith and McQuaid should never see the ice as Rangers ever again.

  • Nov 15, 2018 at 7:36 am

    Its terrible how you write write about human beings. And I’m not sure if you just jove your insulting Blog or if you really make our ou the Love for Hockey. I could write tons of Bullshit about how wrong you are abour certain Players. And I aggree with some views as well. But the linguistic tone of your LTI is terrible and insulting. Doesn’t Matter if a Blogger writes about Music or Sport. Most of the time it seems you Bloogers a kind of frustrated unsatisfies people who love to love to write bullshit about people who actually made Something in their Lives.

    • Nov 15, 2018 at 8:28 am

      Welcome to Dave’s world….. Just make sure to drop by after Kreider is traded away, he’ll be throwing some shade around.

    • Nov 15, 2018 at 9:05 am

      Jörg—are you for real? Do you know how much these guys are paid, or how elite their lifestyles are compared to average folks? If they can’t handle a little deserved criticism, they’re in the wrong business.

      Always love it when people defend rich people who would likely ignore your existence if given a chance. Instead of bitching at Dave for honest criticism of a substandard Ranger team, maybe you should ask yourself why you feel compelled to defend the elites of this world against one writer’s opinions. If you think the NHL or its players view any of its fans as anything other than cash machines, you’d be mistaken.

    • Nov 15, 2018 at 9:11 am

      Can you please Mr. Wilbert point out where Dave, or any other journalist or Blogger has attacked or wrote horrible things about any hockey player as a human being?

      Stating that player ‘x’ is performing at a below replacement level, or a desire that player ‘x’ doesn’t play for the team is not “insulting”.

      Conversely, Mr. Kettle, meet Mr. Pot. Despite nothing of a personal nature being said, ever, about the team or players that these Bloggers on this site cover, you chose to type the line: ” you Bloogers a kind of frustrated unsatisfies people who love to love to write bullshit about people who actually made Something in their Lives”. This line is a direct insult to all the authors on this site that they are all, unsatisfied (to which you have no proof), questions their motivation for writing (to which you have no proof), and imply that they are nobodies compared to the people they are writing about.

      You chose to passive aggressively insult the authors on this site, for doing something that none of them have done, while at the same time doing what you complained about. I am willing to chalk up the fact that, based off your name, you are either not from the United States OR English is your seconadary language and as such nuiances in manner and forms of writing are often misunderstood.

    • Nov 15, 2018 at 9:22 am

      Whoa…I am sure in no way does any right-minded hockey fan mean anything derogatory to any hockey player outside of his play off the ice…..I know I don’t….If I say someone stinks on the ice doesn’t mean that I share the same view of the player off the ice……We are talking about putting the best team on the ice……I am sure many here share the same thoughts….

    • Nov 15, 2018 at 9:59 am


      this is the funniest thing I have ever read on this blog, you were trying to be humorous right?

      if not, the next thing I need you to do is pick up the phone and fire your current therapist.


      F-ing snowflake…

    • Nov 15, 2018 at 10:18 am

      Mr. Wilbert did you get beat up at the bus stop?

      • Nov 15, 2018 at 11:41 am

        Does Larry Brooks have an acct here? lol

      • Nov 15, 2018 at 2:05 pm

        And I also think he is thumbs downing everyone at record levels!

    • Nov 15, 2018 at 10:27 am

      What’s a blooger? A blogger booger? I just wiped my nose to make sure I got all the danglers. We good now?

    • Nov 15, 2018 at 11:26 am

      As you can see from the thumbs down, the people here are totally unaware of what they are actually doing, that ridiculing someone’s livelihood is ridiculing someone. And that won’t change.

      But take a deep breath. There are no good people in this world (well, perhaps a handful and to be clear not including me) and we just have to try our best – both in bettering ourselves and in celebrating the best parts of others and living with the flaws.

    • Nov 15, 2018 at 11:39 am

      “kind of frustrated unsatisfies people who love to love to write bullshit about people who actually made Something in their Lives.”

      Example #1 is your post

      BTW, I’m sure the millions the players make, whether they actually earn that money or not, gives them consolation for what is said about them.

    • Nov 15, 2018 at 12:02 pm

      Spoken to Dave before on other website’s & forums and it is clear he’s intolerant of other people’s views. He likes to bash comments that differ from his ideology. Thankfully, I don’t have a need to know him, did not realize Blue Seat’s was his blog, now I know what site to avoid.

      • Nov 15, 2018 at 9:55 pm

        I don’t post on other forums or sites….so you’re full of shit 🙂

    • Nov 15, 2018 at 2:01 pm

      It is not personal! I don’t care how bad Fasth is playing. If I said the coach has bad teeth and should fix it , is that personal? Maybe it is and I digress.

    • Nov 15, 2018 at 3:36 pm

      Wow. Please take an English class.

  • Nov 15, 2018 at 8:17 am

    Not sure what you expect from our defense. Some young players and a new system.

  • Nov 15, 2018 at 8:36 am

    Based on play alone, it is odd that STALL 🙂 is getting a pass while everyone else has been part of the press box rotation. I get that he has tenure and wears an “A”. But….Some really smart dude, I think it was Fotiu, once said “what is good for the goose is good for the gander.” This is the one deployment situation that DQ has not addressed

    Instead of fantasizing about trading for Nylander we should be clearing the dead weight which is holding back the youngsters starting with Mcleod and McQuade.

  • Nov 15, 2018 at 8:41 am

    The Mc Quade deal was a farce, Smith has been given a second shot, and he blew it, while Staal has been a pylon for three years plus. Why are we even having this conversation, they all smell, and should be history. Send Smith back to the AHL, sit Stall until the tar stains from the pine ruins his uniform, and put Mc Quade on waivers.

    If the front office has any guts, they do as suggested, play the heck out of ADA, Pionk, and Claesson, and go from there. There is nothing to prove, the kids are better!!!!!!!!

    • Nov 15, 2018 at 2:12 pm

      Man, you are so mean. I like it. “they all smell, and should be history”.

  • Nov 15, 2018 at 9:25 am

    McQuaid signing was puzzling indeed and as Richter mentioned to me the other night…to give up a draft pick for McQ was not smart…and pretty sure it was Gordie and not Gorton who plugged that deal…..

  • Nov 15, 2018 at 10:03 am

    But can we beat the Isles in Brooklyn? A 3-0 win would be the highlight of the young season.

  • Nov 15, 2018 at 10:32 am

    Whatever Pionk and ADA evolve into, they’re both playing well enough (despite the hiccups) to be in the lineup all the time — especially ADA who has been surprisingly good (even defensively) since he got back into the lineup.

    Re: the McQuaid trade, he was gotten for two reasons, one is his character and the other is insurance against either Pionk or ADA failing … since they haven’t so far, it makes the trade look worse than it is.

    • Nov 15, 2018 at 11:28 am

      I think your assessment of the McQuaid trade is spot on.

      • Nov 15, 2018 at 12:41 pm


    • Nov 15, 2018 at 6:32 pm

      yo may be right about the McQuaid trade except for the fact there are a million vet D men that could have been signed without trading a pick for.

      it was dumb, plain and simple.

  • Nov 15, 2018 at 11:52 am

    McQuaid has character, plays with an edge, and is a respected team leader. He is also one of the most feared fighters in the league. He needs to be the 5th or 6th d-man when healthy. Before everyone puts him out to pasture, lets wait and see what happens when the Rangers start getting man handled by the teams that feel they can push our younger players around. That will not happen if Adam Mcquaid is on your bench. Yes he is slow, but he is a banger, clears the front of the net, and does not allow any teammate to be taken advantage of.

    • Nov 15, 2018 at 12:21 pm

      Except that it has happened, with him “on the bench” and uh…on the ice this year.

      Eagerly awaiting proof that deterrence works in hockey. Repeatedly saying it works, is not proof

    • Nov 15, 2018 at 1:00 pm

      Yes Bobby, I agree that McQuaid is feared and is a banger. But, not 5th or 6th defenseman. 7th Dman most nights is where he should be. If the Rangers find themselves continually unable to respond to rough stuff from other teams, then bring him out and play him a while, probably replacing Claesson most of the time because Claesson is not in need of the development that Pionk and DeAngelo require (and even though Claesson has played quite well.) I think Tony D plays with that edge, he just isn’t a big dude like McQuaid. But Tony D is a 23 year-old who the Rangers need to make decisions regarding his future. McQuaid is in a far different place, having eroding skills and seeing the end of his career fast approaching. So, I don’t believe McQuaid should be on the ice instead of the young players who need to develop and need to be evaluated. He should be insurance and on the ice perhaps at times when playing a team known for their chippiness.

    • Nov 15, 2018 at 1:48 pm

      …. and yet it seems to me that they’ve handled the “man handling” as a TEAM … Quinn, and I know this will be misunderstood by some here on the blog, has brought back that team toughness lost under AV — and I say brought “back” because it was here when Torts coached the team.

      That said, I don’t have a problem with Quinn rotating McQuaid or McLeod through the lineup — and when I say rotate I mean just that. Every player on this team should get a night off, not just the fringe players. It’s all based on the same principle I would want to apply to Hank … let georgiev get 2 or 3 games in a row.

      The FO should understand that if we make the playoffs, fine … if we don’t, that’s fine to. It’s about how we play … but it behooves us to rest guys like Shattenkirk, Hank, etc. in a season where an expectation that we can win the SC is unreasonable. So why put the extra mileage on these older players (even players in their late 20’s)? I would prefer them fresher for next year, when the expectations are greater. I just don’t see getting a few more points here and there is worth stressing the graybeards. lol

      • Nov 15, 2018 at 3:11 pm

        Hot take: the Rangers are operating at the same general level of aggression/assertiveness as last season. The “soft” narrative was blown out of proportion against AV, and it is being blown out of proportion the opposite direction in favor of Quinn. They weren’t losing games last year because they were being pushed around; they were losing them because they were playing in a broken system and the coach was too hands-off to coach players up and too egotistical to change his system to fit the roster better. They aren’t winning games this year because they are pushing other teams around; they are winning them because the system actually makes more sense for the roster at hand and the coach is actually coaching the players up as much as he can.

        • Nov 15, 2018 at 3:33 pm

          I don’t think anyone is implying that they’re now pushing other teams around, but they do have more bite to their game — especially around Hank’s net and in the defensive zone as a whole.

          • Nov 15, 2018 at 4:42 pm

            It is easier to work on holding your ground and keeping the net front cleaner when you’re not chasing your man all over the damn place and constantly trying to figure out when to go into and come out of the overload. I honestly think what we are seeing is more attributable to system changes than any immeasurable concept of bite/snarl/sandpaper/etc.

  • Nov 15, 2018 at 11:55 am

    Certainly agree with your idea that we want those three guys in the lineup – but a few quibbles.

    First of all, Marc Staal has the toughest assignment on defense. He is playing against top lines, first pair defense on penalty kills, and he is serving as a safety net for Neal Pionk. What he has been asked to do is nearly impossible. Yes, he has been on the ice for a lot of goals against, but he has stuck to his mission and has some accomplishments. First of all, I think he is making Pionk feel good about his game and giving the youngster confidence. I hope is helping the youngster play defense better. I have no way of understanding Pionk’s mindset, but Quinn thinks the way to build him is to not make him part of a struggling pair of kids, but pair him. with a veteran who lessens the pressure.

    But please understand. Staal is not trying to be the best defensemen he can be; he is trying to be the best Pionk partner he can be — welcome to the rebuild.

    I don’t care how much the Rangers have invested in DeAngelo and I hope and expect that Gorton and Quinn don’t either. The Stepan trade is history; it can’t be changed. DeAngelo is who he is. IF he has bright future ahead of him, the Rangers need to make that happen – or trade him for a lot. IF he is destined to be a washout, the Rangers should get what they can. In short, he needs to be managed like any other asset. There is a good reason there is an expression “throwing good money after bad”. You do not prioritize DeAngelo over Pionk because you paid more for ADA. You make all decisions based on talent, future expectations, and trade value. [Please note this paragraph is not inconsistent with either “ADA will be first pair some day” or “ADA won’t make it”.]

    I believe (I hope not misguidedly) that injuries are no longer a major factor. I believe, as Tanto said above, that McQuaid is insurance and that he will not play (except for the odd game) when he returns. The real problem is that Brendan Smith should be playing and you just can’t play seven guys.

    The limitation on the present Ranger team is not that the defense is crap. The limitations are that they lack true first units at both the forward and defense positions and that their fourth forward line is not NHL caliber. It is hard to build a competitive team without a single elite player.

    • Nov 15, 2018 at 4:14 pm

      Glad to see someone saying something half way positive about Staal. I don’t get the hate….. I was hoping for a new and improved Brendan Smith. It is still early but….he sure as hell needs to stay out of the box.

  • Nov 15, 2018 at 11:56 am

    I don’t I don’t understand the widespread dumping on McQuaid. Surely he is here because of his size, which should help two priorities of the Rangers, Hank the old gem and the young players we hope includes some new gems. He is not taking another Ranger’s place on the team, because no other player they have offers what he does. What player is actually not playing for the Rangers because McQuaid is? There are players doing that, but he is not. I think it’s fair to suggest Hank is afforded crease clearing he hasn’t had, ever. And the young players (some 18-19 years old) have to be more relaxed if he is on the ice when they are.

    • Nov 15, 2018 at 1:12 pm

      McQuaid has not played for several games and the Rangers have been winning, playing quite well without him. The reason for the dumping is that he is not a very good hockey player. He is slow and is often out of position. Yes, he is good at clearing the crease and no one in their right mind wants to fight him. But when he plays, a young player who needs experience and needs evaluation sits. That is why playing him is being criticized by many.

      • Nov 15, 2018 at 3:30 pm

        Has anyone noticed the infrequent elbow smashes to the head of Lundqvist unlike the previous years under Inspector Clousseu?..Thanks Geno for personal post on this subject…mmmmmmm..McLeod, while not the best fighter in hockey, has done enough enforcing to prevent that sort of cheapshot crappola on Hank and Chytil as well.

        • Nov 15, 2018 at 4:37 pm

          I was at the game @ BUF back in October when Chytil got blasted by Berglund. It was a punishing and questionable hit away from the puck. BOTH McQuaid and McLeod were skating that game. They prevented/deterred absolutely nothing. McLeod fought Beaulieu earlier in the game, and it achieved absolutely nothing in the way of deterring Berglund. It achieved absolutely nothing in firing up the Rangers (McLeod lost, to note, as he quite often does).

          At the end of the day, dirty players are going to play dirty. They’re gonna sneak in that slash in when they think the refs won’t see it. Punishers are gonna punish. They’re gonna lay someone out when their head is down regardless of who is waiting to get in a fight on the other bench. The types of players who have built their reputation in these ways are not afraid of any other player in the league challenging them to a fight or trying to lay them out. That’s just the plain truth of it. Tom Wilson doesn’t care. Matt Martin doesn’t care. Radko Gudas doesn’t care. Neither Cody McLeod nor Adam McQuaid scare players like them, and they are not gonna change their game one bit when the Rangers are in town, because they aren’t gonna change their game when any one team is in town.

    • Nov 15, 2018 at 3:31 pm

      Part of the reason folks aren’t super keen on McQuaid is simply that Gorton should have never given up what he did to get him. Kampfer alone should have netted McQuaid. One pick added was questionable. Two picks added was facepalm-inducing. The fact that McLeod was already on the roster for face-punching makes it yet more of a head-scratcher for why they’d even trade for McQuaid in the first place no matter what he cost. That’s perhaps not fair to McQuaid, but it is what it is, and there is nothing wrong with fans questioning the logic behind bringing him on.

      The Rangers are 2-6 in games McQuaid has played this season. That’s not to say it is all his fault, of course. That would be an asinine claim. However, if he is lifting them up in the locker room or intimidating the other team in any way, it isn’t being reflected in the W-L record/scoreboard for the games he has played yet.

      He’s only played 8 games due to injury. He only played 38 games last season. Injuries are a concern for him, these days. You can’t clear the crease or defend your teammates if you are watching from the press box or at home.

      He can no longer truly keep up with the speed of the game. He has to cheat by picking his angles very wisely, and hanging back when he can. That can make up for some of skating speed deficiency, but not much. Very luckily for him, Quinn does not run a man overload (probably because it’s a silly system unless you have a fleet of true 2-way D) like AV did. Even in Quinn’s less agility/speed demanding system, McQuaid has regularly been behind the pace. His size is definitely intimidating…but unfortunately, you have to be able to catch someone to be able to hit them.

      The only way McQuaid should be in the lineup regularly is if Staal and Smith are the ones cycling out for him. I’m sure McQuaid is a great teammate/great guy. No doubt, he is a formidable and reputed pugilist in the league. What he’s not so great at these days, unfortunately, is effectively preventing today’s highly skilled and speedy forwards from scoring. So, those are the reasons. Nothing personal to him at all – it’s just about the product on the ice.

      • Nov 15, 2018 at 3:36 pm

        like my buddy Geno says, “Dan Girardi just grew his eyebrows back after getting burned by Chytil’s speed late last season”…lmao!….The game now is all about speed……..and talent of course…

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