Thoughts on injuries, prospects, and trades

lias andersson
Photo Credit: AP / Bill Kostroun

It’s been a slow few weeks for the Rangers. A weird schedule will do that to you, I guess. We aren’t without news, as Kevin Shattenkirk is done for 2-4 weeks. Mats Zuccarello, Pavel Buchnevich, and Adam McQuaid are all returning tonight. Kevin Hayes has been mentioned in trade talks. So let’s dive right in.

1. The Shatty injury is the cap on what has been an underwhelming stay in New York for Shatty. He played through a knee injury last year, and in doing so may have lost some of that speed and skating that made him so dangerous. As many have pointed out, he’s not the same player anymore. He’s only 29 though, so it makes you wonder if he can heal with time off. Three weeks off to rehab a knee while out with a shoulder injury sounds like good timing to me.

2. Zucc, Buch, and McQuaid are all back in the lineup tonight. Two of those players will make a positive impact. The Rangers struggled mightily without two of their top-six. We should expect to see better and more consistent offensive play, which will hopefully show up on the score sheet, but at the very least will show up in steadying a tanking xG metric. McQuaid goes back with Brady Skjei to form one of the worst performing defense pairs from the start of the year. So there’s that too.

3. Elliotte Friedman mentioned in his most recent 31 Thoughts that Kevin Hayes may be a good fit in Boston. Their window is closing, Patrice Bergeron is always hurt, Zdeno Chara is shrinking. It all adds up to one last gasp. Hayes is from Dorchester and went to BC, so he’s familiar with the area and the team. As for the fit – there’s always room for Hayes, who can play C or W. He’d be a great fit on their top-six, but would make their third line one of the best in the game.

4. As for what to expect from Boston, he’s no Rick Nash. However a 1st and a non-roster prospect (so no Danton Heinan, Ryan Donato, Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, or Urho Vaakaneinen) is probably market value. Unfortunately that doesn’t leave the Rangers with much to choose from, as I’m assuming Jack Studnicka (Nico Gross’ teammate) is also off the table. I can see the Rangers targeting Wisconsin center –and K’Andre Miller teammate– Trent Frederic. He’s not the best skater, but has great vision. He’s also the same size as Hayes. There are a lot of similarities between the two players, actually. Hayes for a 1st and Frederic? Sounds right in the ballpark.

5. There is a lot of talk about Lias Andersson being a bust. First things first, the kid has played 23 games. Slow your roll. Second, the kid is 19 years old. Just because he didn’t produce Connor McDavid numbers right away doesn’t mean he’s a bust. He will take time to adjust. He will be a healthy scratch. He will play the fourth line. He will move up and down the lineup. He will be fine. There is a very valid argument whether the Rangers should have taken him at 7th, but that won’t impact the player he should become. At the very worst, he will be a solid middle-six C. Patience is a virtue.

6. Let’s take a pause and appreciate some of the terrible goaltending contracts in the league. Carey Price, the guy who was supposed to be elite forever, has been horrible (.902 SV%) and has 7 (!!) years at $10.5 million per year on his contract. Cory Schneider is just atrocious (.862 SV%) and has 3 more years at $6 million. Meanwhile Henrik Lundqvist is quietly smiling and doing his thing (.916 SV% on a non-contending team) with two years and $8.5 million left. His cap hit won’t even impact the Rangers during these rebuild years.

7. Henrik Lundqvist. Still an elite goaltender. You can’t say the same about some of those others though.