Mailbag: Rumors, defense, and coaches

Three questions for the mailbag. As always, use the widget on the right to submit questions for the mailbag.

Dave asks: We keep hearing about how Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello are going to be traded. Has there been anything legitimate on these rumors?

The short answer is no. None of the rumors are legitimate, at least not for any specific teams. It is safe to assume that the Rangers are at least getting calls about both, though.

The rumormongering is educated guessing. Winnipeg could use an upgrade at 2C. Most teams could probably use Zuccarello. It’s educated spitballing. Given the free fall, it wouldn’t shock me to get actual teams connected to rumors sometime soon.

Ray asks: What is going on with the defense? It’s like they forgot how to play all of a sudden.
Anthony asks: Does Lindy Ruff still coach the blue line? This has been terrible.

These are kind of the same question, so I’m going to group them together. For those that don’t know, when Alain Vigneault was coaching the Rangers, Lindy Ruff was really in charge of the blue line. They shared similar styles of coaching, so AV delegated.

As for the current issues, the major issue is that no one can seem to stop the easy passes from getting through. The good defense from early on, where they limited chances to the outside, is all gone. They are regressing to old habits. The weird thing is the defensemen aren’t chasing guys to the blue line, so that aspect of the defense isn’t a problem. It’s something else.

Part of the issue is personnel. As good as Fredrik Claesson has been, when he’s arguably your best defenseman, you have a problem. Eventually Brady Skjei will figure it out, of that I’m confident. But the rest of the blue line? I want Neal Pionk and Tony DeAngelo to stick and improve, but they are kids and only time will tell? Marc Staal has been better, but not great. Kevin Shattenkirk has been covered extensively here, plus he’s hurt. Adam McQuaid and Brendan Smith are just bad.

This is the difficult part of the rebuild. It’s going to get worse before it gets better. But in theory, the end result will be worth it.

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36 thoughts on “Mailbag: Rumors, defense, and coaches

  • Dec 18, 2018 at 6:06 am

    Kevin Hayes would probably love to go to Boston in free agency but does anyone else think we should keep him around a few more years? I mean it’s good to have a young team but you need veteran leadership to guide those kids too. Also big centerman that skate well don’t fall from trees.

    I wouldn’t part with Hayes for less than a 1st round pick.

    • Dec 18, 2018 at 6:26 am

      There would be enough vet leadership on the team if Hayes and Zuc were traded.

      You are correct, at least a first, if not a first and high level prospect. Hayes’ trade value continues to go up. Zuc should fecth a #1 as well.

      • Dec 18, 2018 at 11:33 am

        Hayes is a big center – relatively young, stock is rising – I just hope they don’t look back a year or two from now and wish they could have him here. On offense, we need a goal scorer badly, a game changer a la Panarin, we don’t have one, yet, hopefully he’s developing somewhere in our system as we speak.. On defense, we need to stop playing the puck in our own zone and just get it out – other teams fore-checking is costing us. Oh, and Brendan Smith is going to cost us many games – very bad. Claesson, McQuaid, Skjei, Staal and Pionk, have played steady for the most part, but I can’t wait for Libor to get up here.

        • Dec 18, 2018 at 1:35 pm

          If they trade Hayes then the assumption is that the cleared cap space would be for a big name FA like Panarin.

          If they trade and clear space and NO ONE signs here, then guess what? Full rebuild. Crash and burn.

    • Dec 18, 2018 at 7:04 am

      Hayes is having a banner year for himself, and he will want to bust the bank for it. Worse than that he will want a contract for some six-seven years, and I for one don’t think he is worth north of six million, for seven years. We are deep at center, trade him for at least a #1, and anything else we can squeeze out of any organization willing to pay. The guy is good, not anywhere near elite, why treat him as such.

      As for Zucc, I suspect we can get another #1 for him as well. With an up coming deep draft, assuming we get these two additional #1’s, we would have at least three, and possibly four based on what Tampa does, we’d be sitting pretty again. Then we start getting the likes of a Stone, or the bread-man, we have a winner.
      After the last two drafts, if we do the same again, Lord Stanley will be relocated to MSG, now that my friends is good management!!!!!!!!!!

      • Dec 18, 2018 at 9:48 am

        I can’t read minds, so I have no idea what it would take to re-sign Hayes. Edmonton proved that elite talent alone isn’t enough to build a wining team (4 first overall picks since 2014, including maybe the best player in the league, got them into ONE playoff series), so a player like Hayes is going to bring a good return. I’d hold out for a high first rounder, a second, and a prospect, or a low first rounder and a TOP prospect, or a draft pick and a young, but legitimate top pair, defenseman.

        • Dec 18, 2018 at 2:09 pm

          Can’t argue with any of your points!!!!!!

      • Dec 18, 2018 at 4:19 pm

        Bust the bank is correct – the problem at the moment is that salaries are escalating at a rate that is not commensurate with the skillset differential between players.

        Hayes will likely be a textbook case of this, unless he really turns it on and truly becomes worthy of the contract he will looking for. Get the picks and the prospects and continue down the re-whatever path….

    • Dec 18, 2018 at 7:38 am

      Hayes has really evolved into a great player. Unfortunately where we are at in the rebuilding cycle his best years of his next contract would probably be wasted if he stays with us. I know we believe we are close or 2 to 3 years away from competing. but I think we are more like 4 years away from really competing. And that’s why I think trading Hayes is better for both parties. Keeping Zib and Hayes, at this point, does not make sense from a player development stand point. I’m thinking playing time for Chytil and Howden. Hayes will get a first plus a good prospect and maybe more if a bidding war gets underway.

      I would be open to moving Zib instead if the return was better and resigning Hayes. I just don’t think we need both at this point and we have plenty of other holes to fill in the line up. Either one of these guys is going to have a lot of value.

      • Dec 18, 2018 at 8:13 am

        Mika is on a steal of a contract, he’s a righty shot and actually shoots the puck. He has been just as good as Hayes this year and has the higher upside. I really like Hayes and the way he’s played this year shows that his game has evolved. At the end of the day though I’d rather take the 1st and high end prospect and let Chytil play the 2C. Chytil is the future, Hayes is not. Plus I’m not actively rooting for them to lose but moving guys like Hayes and Zucc will make the team worse, which will hopefully bring us closer to the likes of hughes or kaapo.

    • Dec 18, 2018 at 10:52 am

      What I don’t understand is why would trade Hayes and then go out and sign the Bread Man, as is so often speculated? Hayes is a year younger too. I get that he’s a center and we are log jammed, but a) there is no assurance that all 3 of Chytl, Andersson and Howden will be great. Hey, just think about Blake Wheeler. Hayes can be him. A lot of years ahead. Trading Zucc is wise and I really like Krieder but he’s a year older than Hayes. I know, he’s a wing, but…

      • Dec 18, 2018 at 11:29 am

        Panarin will probably pick Chicago or another team. Maybe even Vegas? It’s going to be Kolvachuk all over again. The Rangers Russian player’s hold no political ties to why other’s would want to come here. There’s city life all over the map. Kuch is out there making videos of him sipping on gin and juice on the beach trying to win the Panarin sweepstakes. Tampa would find a way to clear out some with guy’s like JT and Cally so Panarin can sign with them.

        Btw Hayes was suppose to be the future with him for the Hawks. You put guy’s like that on a line together. If I was JG than I would start with Kreider or Buch and see how deep I would have to reach for Tarasenko.

    • Dec 18, 2018 at 11:16 am

      I see JG keeping him and Quinn advocating that he stays around for the next 5-6 years. If it’s going to be a blockbuster trade than it won’t pertain him and it’ll be crafty to move some money out. The FO should be adding to this core with the addition to subtraction method. If it took Buch/Kreider, Skjei and
      a pick or a prospect to add Tarasenko than they should do it. That’s how you win the Panarin sweepstakes when you don’t have a bright future with limited personnel. You want names like that next to Hayes. Hence why a team like Winnipeg would want him in between Laine and Elhers. I think he’s going to resign here very soon.

    • Dec 18, 2018 at 2:03 pm

      I think we should all be well-braced for a lackluster return on Hayes if they trade him. We all like to dream of a nice first round pick plus a cherry prospect, but most of the teams who have those nice first round picks aren’t in the rental market. Colorado comes up since they have Ottawa’s first, but did they really trade Duchene for Ottawa’s first just to turn that into a plus-but-not-elite talent like Hayes? I’m guessing not, but I suppose you never know. As Dave mentions, Winnipeg comes up, but their pick probably is going to be among the last few in the first round. Without an extension in-hand, teams are likely going to be hesitant to depart with a true blue chip prospect…and if I was Hayes, that’d have to be a nice extension and in a city I like to skip free agency.

      Personally, I don’t think Gorton is very charismatic in the trade department. He would have extracted a true top prospect from someone for McD if he was. I think we better hope that if they are hell-bent on trading Hayes and he will go to the best offer on the table regardless, two other GMs decide to lose their minds in a bidding war against each other. Otherwise, I fear we may be looking at a return that may provide quantity, but not any blue chips of any kind. (To note – I’m not sure at all that they are hell-bent on trading Hayes…but if they are, fingers crossed.)

    • Dec 18, 2018 at 4:14 pm

      Your last sentence should have a period after …part with Hayes. I would trade Zucc and resign Hayes. He is young enough to be part of the rebuild.

  • Dec 18, 2018 at 7:12 am

    At this rate we won’t have any healthy bodies to trade. I said it over a month ago and will say it again. DQ needs to realize this is an 82 game season and you can’t maintain this type of intensity throughout. College was a 35-40 game schedule and next man up was pretty close in skill to the man who got hurt.

  • Dec 18, 2018 at 8:41 am

    If Gorton can get a haul for Hayes go get it! But if Gorton really loves Hayes, I think there’s a much better than 50/50 chance Hayes re-signs here. There’s evidence that he loves NY, and seemingly was the guy who convinced Vesey to come here. But here’s the paradox… getting the haul benefits the rebuild but does re-signing Hayes with his cap hit hinder it?

    • Dec 18, 2018 at 9:16 am

      Your last sentence is the central problem with the Hayes issue. Does he help the team more in a trade or with a 5-year $35 million deal? For me the answer is to trade him, which is tough, because he’s a good player—but 3 years from now will that salary be justifiable? I don’t think it will.

      • Dec 18, 2018 at 10:42 am

        Plus reports are that he wants a NMC. No thanks.

        • Dec 18, 2018 at 2:50 pm

          Seems like all sorts of players want an NTC/NMC these days. Byproduct of GMs handing them out waaaayyyyyyy too easily in the last decade. I feel like the GMs are trying to reel it in a bit now but can’t because it just got too common for even fairly average players to get them. Neither Girardi nor Staal were ever the caliber of players that should have even been sniffing an NMC even in their absolute peaks for example, but yet they got them.

          My hope is that if they do retain Hayes, they can get him to go modified NTC for the last 2-3 years. No qualms here about full NTC for first leg of the contract; I think he fits great into the rebuild, frankly. But gotta be able to send him down if shit hits the fan. Since his game is not built on speed, not much of an injury history, and he doesn’t really have that many NHL miles on him, I’m not actually concerned about him declining much in the next six years, frankly. However, if I was an NHL GM, you better be getting up into the PPG range before you come asking me for an NMC. If I was Gorton, I’d rather try to pay him a little more to get him to agree to a 10-team trade list at the end of the contract, just for general flexibility’s sake.

          • Dec 19, 2018 at 6:30 am

            Hayes spurned the Hawks to come here, so, obviously, playing where he wants to matters to him, like it does most players.

            If teams are willing to hand them out, then why shouldn’t players ask for them? But the Rangers should not in this case. Modified no move? Fine, so at least he can be traded at some point.

    • Dec 18, 2018 at 3:03 pm

      I honestly don’t think trading Hayes instead of extending him benefits the rebuild a ton if it’s just another scenario of a super late first rounder (or worse) and a B prospect or even two. The money is one thing of course, but in a vacuum, the chances of Gorton extracting the on-ice value that Hayes will provide to the rebuild for the next few years from an underwhelming return package like that is quite low IMO. The time to trade Hayes for whatever Gorton could get would have been last season, if he was gonna do that. Gorton has already not played this situation well with the one year deal, frankly…and it will only be worse if he can’t manage to get something truly blue chip, be it a pick or prospect, in return. Top 1/3rd first round pick or true A level prospect is what Gorton needs to get for Hayes if he is traded for it to be a true win IMO, and I have my doubts if he can/will get either of those things. Keep in mind, this is a GM who’s judgement was that Adam McQuaid was worth two draft picks during a rebuild. I’m not sure Gorton is tough to swindle, frankly. He seems to look at some players in other organizations and way over-value them, and of course we can’t be sure if that’s because of his own evaluations, or he is easy to fool. He’s made some good moves, but frankly also some real head-scratchers. What he hasn’t done yet is floored me by fleecing another GM, so I’m not holding my breath on that happening this deadline, either.

  • Dec 18, 2018 at 9:22 am

    Hayes may fetch a # 1, but Zucc is not that good. Look for a mid-level prospect for him.. To me, this team is so far away from having playoff talent, we need to gather picks so we have enough money to make an impact when studs are available. The blueline is atrocious . We need a few great defenseman before we think we are any good. I would move Skjei if there is a market for him. We need to make wholesale changes there

    • Dec 18, 2018 at 10:44 am

      “but Zucc is not that good. Look for a mid-level prospect for him..”

      Sal, I would be shocked if the Rangers do not get either a #1 or a top prospect if they do not get a #1 for Zuc.

      • Dec 18, 2018 at 11:26 am

        I think Zuccarello will sign a reasonable contract with the Rangers going forward and is a valuable player. The Rangers should not want to trade him.

        WHAT THIS SHOULD MEAN: Either get a good price or keep him. Like you, I would be shocked if the Rangers don’t get a 1st or a top prospect. And if they don’t. they should keep him. Also, you get your best price for commodities you don’t want to sell.

        • Dec 18, 2018 at 11:35 am

          Zucc sees the writing on the wall. JG has said it so the public could hear ( choose to believe it or not ) that he doesn’t want to get tied up in long term contracts. But Hayes is someone that he’ll make a exception for to sign long term and move on. Zucc knows his time is up which is exaclty why he said he’s waiting to get dealt.

        • Dec 18, 2018 at 1:37 pm

          Agreed Raymond.

          Zuc is playing, like he said himself, “waiting to be traded.”

  • Dec 18, 2018 at 11:36 am

    I have not had a chance to see many Ranger games, but I wonder exactly what Quinn is doing with Neal Pionk. Pionk is playing first pair with Marc Staal and they are struggling, mostly because of Pionk’s mistakes. Does Quinn think Pionk is going to grow into the role and is willing to tolerate errors short term? Or does he think, as bad as Pionk appears, he is the best defensive right dman the Rangers have? It is hard to believe he is just throwing Pionk under the bus. [In defense of the Staal-Pionk pair, they play against guys whose job it is to make defensemen look bad.]

    I do think it is right to keep DeAngelo off the top pair. He is a major talent, needs to work on his defense, and also needs to develop confidence in his own defensive play. [But I am not concerned about the psyches of the other possibilities.]

  • Dec 18, 2018 at 11:39 am

    Keep Hayes unless he’s looking for more than $6.5m per … and give him a limited NTC. 5 years would be ideal. Of course if the haul offered is greater than a 1st and a TOP prospect (and I mean TOP) that would influence my decision on whether or not to trade him. I just see no point in developing players like Hayes only to trade them away when they hit their prime. Same for Kreider and Mika, after all there’s no proof as of yet that Chytil, Howden or Andersson can handle Top 6 minutes at center just yet. We can revisit the Hayes trade issue next season or the season after that.

  • Dec 18, 2018 at 12:30 pm

    Has anyone seen anything good out of Brett Howden the last 10 games? He has disappeared! . This is why I am thinking Hayes will have to stay. No real replacement for the #2 center role out of Chytil, Howden or Andersson. We lead the league in bottom 6 forwards

  • Dec 18, 2018 at 12:54 pm

    As far as the blue line is concerned, if the team was foolish enough to have me as their GM, I’d bring in more of the young defensemen, such as Hajek as soon as is reasonably possible, and I’d jettison guys like Smith and McQuaid and hopefully get some picks or an undeveloped prospect back. Staal is likely with the team until his contract runs because of the size of the contract and his work ethic. So be it.

    Skjei needs to be coached. He has the talent and is young, so unless there is a knock me over offer or he is part of a package to bring someone with top level skills, he stays. There are going to be huge growing pains of course with a very young blue line. D’Angelo is a work in progress who is showing promise, and Pionk has obvious pluses and minuses, but is also young. It is suprising that many seem tto be surprised when they make a lot of mistakes, because they are going to happen. The coach’s job is to teach them as they learn to play the game.

    Zibanejad, Hayes, Kreider are all still young enough and talented enough to keep around. I don’t feel any real need to trade Hayes. GM Pete would try to sign Hayes to a reasonable contract, though I’d listen to offers for him and decide whether they are good enough to make the trade. I would not feel compelled to trade him because he is a very good two-way player.

    Chytil, Howden, Andersson all need to play as much as possible to develop. Less than 10 minutes a game for any of them consistently is coaching malfeasance. Buchnevich needs some coaching to realize his potential and maybe some attitude adjustment. Vesey would stick for now unless he is part of a trade package for a talented player.

    It would be sad to trade The Mighty Zuccarello, but if they can get a prospect or a young winger or decent picks for him, they should consider it. I do find his lack of scoring recently to be of some concern. The caveat there is that they might not get as much for him as some folks think, and the Rangers also don’t have a lot of wingers to replace him at the moment. He might be more valuable to the team than what they can get for him in a trade. For example, Kravstov probably would need at least a year in the AHL and to fill out some because he is only 18 and 6’2″ and only 170 pounds, and Lettieri has shown little so far in the NHL. So it is possible that Zuccarello sticks around albeit on a short and reasonably priced contract.

    While none of the players on the team would be untouchable except Hank, who would play out his contract before yielding to the two Russian kids, all of the young kids on the roster and Zib, Hayers & Kreider would probably stick around a while.

    • Dec 19, 2018 at 10:59 am

      The KHL site now has Kravstov listed at 85 kg … that translates to 187 pounds. I’m somewhat confident that the weight is a bit inflated, but I doubt he comes to camp next year at less than 185-190. Let’s also remember that he has played against MEN the last 1.5 years so he must be somewhat comfortable in his weight range.

      I suspect that his weight/strength won’t be that great an issue, but like Chytil he will only get better year after year by adding a little weight and gaining strength. I don’t see him spending any significant time in the AHL.

  • Dec 18, 2018 at 1:36 pm

    We need to move anyone who can bring back a #1 pick, if it is a position we have depth in. Any center can go, but no top 4 wingers. Any 2 defenseman can go too.

    The sooner we stack this team with #1s and Panarin, the sooner e will play more that an 80 game season. I do not think anyone on the farm is a prospect from the forward side of the ice. We are doomed I tell you, doomed!

    • Dec 18, 2018 at 4:41 pm

      This is why management needs to make the tough decision and simply trade for assets. They traded away so many years of 1st round picks that they simply have no depth in the minors and it even bleeds into their NHL roster. Even if we acquire an elite player, they do get injured once in awhile and that is when great teams shine with their depth. I think it’s got to be another year of players for picks/prospects.

  • Dec 18, 2018 at 9:49 pm

    Kevin Hayes for the boys. This is the best kind of win to roll into Tornoto with.

    • Dec 19, 2018 at 7:59 am

      “Tornoto”—nice job with that one. And it figures you’re excited about a win where the Rangers were horrible, all because your boy continued his hot play. Let’s see how he does against Toronto.

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