ProspectsState of the Rangers

State of the Rebuild: Development

With the 2018 Trade Deadline now passed, the crew here at Blue Seat Blogs has decided to take a step back and assess the New York Rangersrebuild so far. We’re just over one year into this grand experiment, and in that time the Rangers have taken strides forward. They’ve turned over most of the roster, created significant salary cap flexibility, and stockpiled draft picks. But asset management is just one part of the intertwining process that is creating a contending hockey team. Wednesday, Rob assessed the coaching, particularly the appointment of David Quinn and whether he’s the right guy for the job. Yesterday Pat shared his take on GMJG’s transactions thus far. Today I will tackle player development

The Hartford Wolf Pack are a train wreck.

I could probably end this post there. But development is so much more than just how the kids in Hartford are going. You cannot look at how the kids are performing in Hartford and take it to be a true evaluation of their skill and talent. Hartford is that bad. The environment is that bad. And to be frank, the coaching staff is not doing what they are supposed to be doing.

But this isn’t just about Hartford, it’s about how the Rangers are doing in their rebuild, and how they are developing the guys that are being pegged as the future of the organization. There are now a whopping seven players currently with the Rangers on their entry level deals. I honestly cannot remember the last time the Rangers had that many players in their first three years in the league on one roster.

The transformation of Tony DeAngelo is the easiest positive sign to look for. Cast away as a forgotten first round pick on this third team and last chance, DeAngelo spent most of the first half of the season bouncing between third pairing defenseman who hasn’t put it all together and healthy scratch. Now he’s on an eight game point scoring streak and playing 26 minutes a night. Something DQ did clicked. If there is any optimism to be had about David Quinn’s ability to develop players, then look no further than DeAngelo.

Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider (development isn’t just about kids under 23 years old), expected to be the next phase of veterans to lead the kids, have taken the next steps in their respective careers as well. Both are showing they are top line players worthy of keeping around and of their contracts. Zibanejad has become the one thing the Rangers have lacked since Michael Nylander left, and that is a bonafide, no doubt about it 1C capable of 60+ points.

Those are the three clear cut cases of players taking the correct next step in their careers, and one would have to assume that DQ is at least partly responsible. But that’s it for the positivity, at least so far.

Pavel Buchnevich has still bounced around the lineup, but will now have a true opportunity to show he’s a top-six forward in the final 20 games. Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello are gone, so the Rangers will need Buchnevich to take that next step.

Neal Pionk appears to be a bit of a lost cause at the moment. That might be the first real blemish on DQ, as he forced Pionk into a role in which he was not ready nor was he qualified, and he drowned in top pairing minutes.

But if there is one test, one area for us to look at to truly judge how the development is going, we will be keeping watching eyes on Lias Andersson and Filip Chytil. The latter has shown flashes of brilliance, but is now a healthy scratch due to age-related consistency issues. The former looked lost in his first call up –and in Hartford– but has been steady since his recall. If the rebuild is to go as expected, it is on DQ to ensure both players meet their potential. However it may now be essential to keep them away from Hartford.

And that brings us full circle to the Wolf Pack and that tire fire. While overall prospect development is heading in the right direction at the NHL level, the Blueshirts have multiple prospects currently toiling away in Hartford trying to figure out which way is up. A strong Pack team is going to be critical to continued growth and success. Just look at how good the Toronto Marlies are. It starts with the coaching staff, and right now they just aren’t getting it done. Hartford’s mess will stifle any potential development.

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  • I’m of the opinion that we are on track for the rebuild, and that with all the kids drafted, and more to come, we will be good sooner, rather than later.

    Hayes, Zucc both weren’t going to be resigned, and we got a fair return for what could have been nothing had they walked. Zib, Kreider, Buch, ADA, Chytil, Andersson are now the core, and future of this organization. Considering that we have some fine talent, Lindgren, Rykov, Gratsov, the goalie, Miller, and Hajak coming up soon is very exciting, and shows that we are still a ways from competing, but when we do, watch out, this team will be for real!!!!!

    Now tanto tell me how this is all hyperbole!!!!!!!

    • We’re certainly ahead of where we were last year at this time with MORE draft picks coming in the next 2 drafts. I think Jeff has done well trying to balance keeping fannies in the seats and building our future. Anderson and Chytil should have bigger roles next year and the D should have 2 new faces. Though I didn’t know if Slats/Jeff/Quinn were all on the same page last month , it now seems they are. I’m thinking we get a Quinn kind of guy leading the troops in Hartford next year as we try and establish more consistency and culture. I for one appreciate the hustle and togetherness improvement this year. Like everyone else, we need to hit on the talent in the draft.

    • Walt, you know … if the shoe fits … 😉 In this case the slipper isn’t yours Cinderella!

      • I’d call you a schmeckel, but that would be a compliment……………We can go at it as long as you want!!!

  • I feel that the drafted players hone their skills elsewhere and then come to the AHL to get accustomed to NHL play. For that, I have to give the rebuild a D. We are not preparing players there. They are just floundering. Maybe when the next crop of kids get there, they will be better, but they are not doing the job.

    As for our draft, we are doing pretty much what any team can do when you draft 10th or so. Get the best and keep searching for that guy that goes unnoticed. The acquisition of more picks is the only way to better your odds at choosing a star. The problem with trading away players for picks at the deadline, means you are going to only get back 20th selection or worse. We need to either tank or buy very soon.

  • We all want a winner and a playoff team so bad we can taste it. That doesn’t change the fact that even if all the kids are on the NHL roster in the next 2 years, we will be a good team. This will be a slow process, augmented by free agents. I think you need strong middle six, home grown players that do not cost you more than $5M per year. Then you can have the $10M elite player on your top line and (perhaps) a $9M defensive stud. If the Russian goalie is as good as advertised, we should be in good shape there.

    We have added talent, and dare I say as much as can be expected through the draft when drafting between 9 – 15. THese 18 or so remaining games should allow the team to play some guys in an everyday role to see their value. Lias and Chytil need to play. Libor is up. Not sure there is anyone else at the AHL level that could use NHL minutes to show value.

    I think we need to spend some real money soon on a real great player. Whether that is Panarin, I am unsure. I just want to once again know the buzz of a Ranger playoff game.

    • I’m not sure that we will tender a contract on a star player this season, but I suspect that at the end of year three of the rebuild, that will certainly be the case………

      • If there’s any star player on the open market. This would have been a good year if Stone had stayed in the mix. 🙁

        • Not sure I understand the down votes here, I’m simply questioning whether there will be any true ELITE STAR players (especially ones that are young enough for a 7 year deal) available next year. This summer we know Duchene (pass), Panarin and Stone (now gone) were available … next season?

  • Pionk got buried by 1st pair matchups because he’s a 3rd pair talent who hasn’t been advance scouted.

    Teams have a book on him now and it’s short: will get out of position to make a hit, can’t handle size in a net front position.

    It seems like players have progressed between call ups even at the ECHL level once they got minutes. They get it right after exploring every other possibility, but it’s hard to have club depth when they didn’t tender the likes of Morrison, Mantha & Iverson(even if they’d only be depth AHLers.)

  • Re: Hartford, it’s with some irony that if you took away Georgiev stats Hartford would be in the middle of the pack (see what I did there?). Regardless, the coaching staff has been a disappointment now for a number of years. Think the FO should almost totally revamp the WP staff.

    • I believe part of the problem with the Pack is LOFT. Lack of friggen talent. As the Rangers continue to restock the cupboard with players that they acquire through the draft, the Wolfpack should improve.

      • Thing is they’ve had some talent there and still they can’t seem to consistently win games. The record with Georgiev, the BETTER goalie, and without though is still somewhat striking. He’s 2-9 with a rather abysmal sub-900 save percentage.

        Of course we could also say that some of that talent is currently in the NHL as opposed to the AHL. Guys like Andersson, Chytil and Howden on good contending teams would all be playing in the AHL at this point getting tons of ice time and honing their skills.

    • JFTR, the record without Georgiev is 21-17-6 and that would be 5th place, not in the playoffs. It is also true that Georgiev played in Hartford during weaker stretches, so Tokarski or Mazanec would likely have struggled a little in the same games.
      Only a softening of your comment though – the Pack was worse with Georgi than without. Ironic – as the Rangers are 10-10 in games started by Georgi and 17-26 in games started by Hank (despite the fact that Hank has a better save percentage and GAA).

      Concerning the coaching staff, they had done reasonably, given the talent, up to 2016. 2016-2017 was a train wreck and Gernander and company got the boot. A whole new team came in and we have gotten two years of crap.

      • True, I think that record with out Georgi has them something like #16 or 17 overall — middle of the pack pretty much. Like I said the last few years the staff hasn’t done a good job. They were adequate through the 2015-16 season although I was never a big fan of Gernander even when they were a winning team, thought he got the job because of his long term relationship with Hartford as a player. They should pluck a good development coach, young or old it doesn’t make a difference.

  • It would be nice if we had a series of articles on development at Hartford written by guest posters. I know a few of the regular commenters (Reenavipul, Walt, others?) have seen the Pack play a number of times — and you may have a number of your twitter friends also well-versed in the subject. Focusing in NY is a recipe for looking at the bright spots.

    What was in Hartford? Well, Hajek, Lindgren, Day, our three exciting defense prospects — all with higher pedigrees than Pionk. Andersson played most of his season there. What about some of the lower profile prospects – Meskanen, Gettinger, Fontaine, Running, Crawley – anything there? Remember the Rykovs and Millers are just the Hajeks and Lindgren of tomorrow and if the Rangers can’t make anything of the latter (and I am not taking a position here), they likely will also struggle with the former.

    Personally, I like what the Rangers have done with ADA, bu that is about it for positive development news. Yes, Zibanejad seems to have made a breakthrough, but I don’t view that as really a development issue.

    One sad commentary: Last year, Colorado and NY exchanged reclamation projects – Ryan Graves and Chris Bigras. Graves is playing in the NHL. The Rangers seem to have never even taken any interest in Bigras.

    • True about Bigras — but I never understood why they gave up on Graves. The kid played pretty well and looked like he was developing, his shot is over 100 mph and they just traded him for a guy they never seemed all that interested in.

      Re: Miller, his ceiling is higher than all those other d’ prospects —- a lot higher. I assume he’ll stay one more year in Wisconsin and Lundkvist one more year in Sweden, so Hartford may be irrelevant to their development for at least another year.

      • Two quick thoughts:

        One is that you may be right that Hartford is not so important next year – BUT bringing in McCambridge and company was supposed to right the ship. Well, it isn’t working and there is no guarantee that a new group will work either. So get new guys for next year and you get a second bite at the apple for 2020 if they do not work either.

        The other is that I am disturbed by the fact that the best prospects always seem far away. Lundqvist and Miller and Rykov look brighter than Hajek and Lindgren and Day — but it is a familiar pattern. We had been excited about the current group once and, if history is a guide, the generation following Miller et al will supplant them. Yes, yes, maybe this time will be different.

      • That last year with Germander, something went horribly wrong to the point that Graves wasn’t even called up as a black ace for the playoffs.

        A development failure.

    • Players drafted in 2014 should be in the last year of their ELC.

      Only one in Hartford is Halverson. Shesty on deck, but that’s it. 3 non tendered, 1 on his 3rd college, the other had a cup of coffee in Greenville.

      2015: Gropp the only player in Hartford. 1 back in Sweden(and doing rather well), 1 on a Swedish milk carton(torn hip labrum that still might not have been cut on 2 years after the fact) 1 dealt, 1 non tendered 1 in college and 1 with a cup of coffee in the AHL before getting sent down.

      That’s why Hartford sucks. The sheer number of non tendered junior players speaks volumes on how their development program had/has issues. That Hartford didn’t have a dedicated goalie coach until this year speaks volumes.

      That a organization that does everything at the NHL level in a 1st class fashion shouldn’t be skimping in the minors: if anything, they should be using their cash to make sure they develop their draftees and UDFA signings into quality hockey players so that they can play on Broadway or be dealt for someone that can.

      7ths into 3rds, 3rds into 1sts, 1sts into lottery picks. Buy up all their productive years on front loaded deals after the ELC or flip em for picks.

      • Reenavipul

        It’s obvious your knowledge of the AHL is much greater than myself, but I can state without any hesitation that the Pens do a bang up job with their kids up in Wilkes-Barre. It’s about 120 miles north of where I live, and on occasion if the Pack is in town, I’ll go up there to see a game. Mario, and the boys know what they are doing!!!!!!!!!

        • I watch the Wolf Pack on, try and catch a game in Hartford, Bingo or WB if I’m in town.

          But I spent time working for an IHL team, you get to see how players evolve or look like they’re going to fall short. The funny thing was that Toronto had a bunch of guys in the system, they couldn’t break through there, went to Phoenix and did pretty good for themselves when they went up to LA.

          For some reason they worked better when not on Newfoundland.

  • We have a crop of middle 6 forwards and middle pair defensemen. Other than maybe Kraftsov, we do not have anyone in the fold who projects to be a top 3 forward or a top pair defenseman. To me, this is not going to allow us to make the playoffs anytime soon.

    • Not true, the ceiling on Miller is as a top pairing d’man and there’s also Shesty who may or may not live up to the title of The Czar or Prince or whatever we’ll end up calling him. Elite is a funny tagline, there are quite a number of guys who come into League and are suppose to be “good”, but instead they quickly surpass good and become elite — and vice versa. You don’t know until they play a few years. That’s the TRUTH.

      • It’s the Alexander Daigle conundrum Tanto. Never count your chickens…..until they crack the lineup.

        • True dat … Nail Yakupov, Erik Johnson, Patrik Stefan, Gord Kluzak, Greg Joly … I could go on and those are just the first overall picks. Then you get a Pavel Datsyuk, Kucherov, etc. etc.

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