Tuesday Tank Thoughts

The Rangers are now in their grind to end the season, playing every other day –for the most part– until the first week of April. I haven’t done a full on “thoughts” post that wasn’t specific to an event, so I’m long overdue.

1. Regarding the schedule, how nice of the Rangers and the NHL to ensure the season ends before the final season of Game of Thrones and before Avengers Endgame comes out. We will have time to reflect on the season as we also get hyped for these two mega events.

2. The Rangers haven’t won since the trade deadline. That’s good (sorta)! They are hovering in the 8-11 range for the draft, and the fewer points they get the better. They are, as of this writing, sitting with the 8th pick. Three teams (Chicago, Vancouver, Anaheim) can feasibly pass them in the standings. The game against the Devils on April Fool’s Day might have lottery implications too.

3. The reason why losing is good is because the Rangers aren’t quitting while losing. Sure the loser point for OT/SO losses is incredibly annoying and doesn’t help their draft spot at all, but that’s not really the “point” here. The Blueshirts aren’t quitting. They are not giving up, the way they did during the tail-end of Alain Vigneault’s tenure. Instilling a fighting culture in the clubhouse is a good thing. All that credit goes to David Quinn, who has the players working. There are some pretty damning (about AV) quotes out there from the players about how the culture and atmosphere are completely different this year. 4

4. A lot of credit needs to be given to DQ for how Filip Chytil, Pavel Buchnevich, and Tony DeAngelo have performed in the second half of the season. His methods got through to them. The big difference is the healthy scratches seem less haphazard and without reason. The players, when scratched, know why they are sitting and what they need to do to adjust. There seems to be a method to the madness, even if it does result in dressing Brendan Smith at forward regularly. Next up on this list: Lias Andersson.

5. The Blueshirts are still statistically bad, they don’t drive possession at all, and concede the blue line regularly. Part of that is on the players, of course, but we’ve had some concerns about the defensive zone system being used by DQ, where conceding the blue line appears to be by design. I wonder if that changes next season. I wonder how much of this is on Lindy Ruff, who has never had good defensive play on any of his teams, ever.

6. There is still work to do for Jeff Gorton. The big decision he has is whether or not Chris Kreider is a part of this club’s long-term future. If he isn’t, deal him at the draft for maximum return. Dealing him at next year’s deadline would be silly. He also needs to address the players on the blue line. Kevin Shattenkirk, Marc Staal, and Brendan Smith are not a part of this team’s long-term future. Buyouts aren’t likely, but neither are trades. Gorton might be looking at this trio as a stop-gap until more help arrives.

7. Speaking of the blue line, the Rangers would be better off dealing Neal Pionk while his value is somewhat manageable. He’s really a net-negative out there. It appears to be clear that DeAngelo has surpassed Pionk on the depth chart, which is a good thing. But I’m still concerned about the Rangers giving an ill-advised long-term deal to Pionk. He’s a righty that moves the puck, there’s value there.

8. Libor Hajek sure has had a strong three games with the Rangers, hasn’t he?

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  • This “rebuild” goes one of two ways, either we “Tank for Lafreniere” so to speak by trading Kreider (maybe we can find a way to package either Smith or Staal in that deal) or we keep him (look to sign him to an extension) and try to sign a guy like Panarin over the summer and cobble together a 2nd line that can add some real support for Mika Z’s line. Knowing the fanbase and the FO, the latter seems a bit more likely. I don’t find the 2020 UFA market interesting in the least and it’s a shame Stone signed long term with Vegas.

    Re: #7, I agree as long as it doesn’t mean Gorton decides to make another McQuaid like deal over the summer. We definitely had 1 d’man too many this year.

    • Cobble together a 2nd line of bonus driven front loaded contracts of UFAs that you can flip for picks at the deadline.

      Also, offer sheet Kapanen for 3 years @ $4mm, front loaded and bonus driven.

      • First off, easier said than done … If the cobbled together 2nd line does well it hurts our chances of tanking for Lafreniere; it also doesn’t benefit us short to mid-term in the rebuild; it also doesn’t benefit the younger prospects like Chytil, Kravtsov, Howden and Andersson.

        An offer sheet to Kapanen sounds great, but only if TO let’s him go — and do you really believe they would for a 2nd rounder? If they don’t (they won’t) you’ve just pissed off all the other GMs. I’m pretty sure they could at a minimum get a 1st rounder for him over the summer … but I think they would be much more creative than that and dump a d’man like Zaitsev. Just don’t see that working, maybe if you went to $6m and the compensation was a 1st and a 3rd — but even then.

        • Oh yeah, just move a dog of a 5yr x $4.5mm contract, easy peasy!!

          That’s such a bad deal for so long that even Ottawa would have to think about it even for 3 1st rounders on a 50% salary retention and would have to give up a 1st to flip it after 2 years with another 50% salary retention.

          In the NHL, when somebody is drowning, you throw them an anvil.

          Even at $9mm for Marner they can’t slot Kapanen in at $4mm unless a guy with a NMC/NTC in Marleau wins a cup this year and waives his rights, they’re in rough shape.

          As for piecing together a 2nd line: I can go Brass, Zucc & Hags for shits & giggles on 1 or 2 year deals that are minimum paragraph 1 salary and wildly overpay (via bonus)as placeholders, like how the Sixers gave Reddick $23mm for 1 year so the could get to the floor without giving his teammates raises.

          Easier done than said.

  • Funny thing is we have not won since the trade deadline but we have played som e of our best hockey in the past 2 years. Washington twice and Tampa then Montreal and Dallas. Not an easy schedule either. But we gave those teams all they could handle. Came from behind a few times to keep it interesting. These teams are a lot better on paper, but in the games, we held our own.

    Moving up in the draft would be great, but even at the 8-10 range there is some really good talent. There’s also the lottery. I’d rather have Hughes than say Kaliyev or Zegras, but Kaliyev or Zegras, for example, would certainly be nice conciliation prizes.

    Player development has been a net positive for the team. Agree with all your points and would also like to add that Quinn has done a good job managing Hank and Georgiev too. Not easy with Hank’s history, but there is no need for Hank to play 60 + games. Phasing out long term veterans is also part of player development.

    I’d like to see us sign Kreider and make a run at Panarin. I’d pass on Karlsson. No need to go into cap hell so quickly. Agree it would be near impossible to get rid of Smith, Staal or Shatty. I’d be loathe to buy any of them out. We’re still absorbing cap hits from Girardi and Richards. But I would trade any of them and retain half the salary. I know Walt hates that idea. But for Smith as an example. If we send him to Hartford we only get about $1mill in cap relief. If we trade him and retain half salary we get $2.3125 mill in cap relief. So although it’s distasteful it frees up the most cap space. It’s the best worst option. I would also hope we make a run at Adam Fox in August 2020 if he becomes a UFA. Which leads to your idea of trading Pionk and why I would avoid Karlsson if he’s available. Think 3 years from now; Fox, Lundkvist and ADA as your right side? Hajek, Skeji and Rykov on your left with K. Miller on the way. So yes our D sucks today. But there is hope. That hope is just being blocked for 2 years by 3 crappy contracts. This too shall pass.

    • Andy

      Your post was excellent until,

      “We’re still absorbing cap hits from Girardi and Richards. But I would trade any of them and retain half the salary. I know Walt hates that idea.”

      Why would you put us in a cap hell hole again, don’t we ever learn? Your own words should make you think twice about retaining salary, how much dead cap space is enough? I say right now is too much……..

      Remember this name folks, Vasili Podkolzin, a very young Russian unknown, but may well be a sleeper in the upcoming draft.

      • The thing with retaining salary at least with Smith is we free up more cap space and unlike a buy out it’s done in 2 years. I don’t like retaining cap space either, but no other way to move those folks out. I would definitely not buy any of them out. that is not worth it.

        Podkolzin has been in the top 5 pick projections for a while now, but lately I have seen him slip down towards 8 or so, on concerns about whether or not he will come to North America. At #8 he’s a big win and I imagine if he’s available when we draft that we would take him.

        • I agree Andy, retaining salaries sometimes make a whole lot more sense than burying someone in the minors or trying to buy them out — plus they have the added advantage of producing some assets.

  • My wish at the start of this season, was the Rangers playing competitive one goal losses, to get in that top 2-3 pick area.

    • Welll they are playing competitive with many 1 goal losses.

      But too many of them end with the “loser point”

      I would be nice to finish in the bottom six and hope for the ping pong ball to bounce the right way.

      • Yeah those pts are killer, but it’s also a testament to their unwillingness to quit.

        A double edged sword pal, for sure.

    • Should have traded zuccarello last deadline then, return be damned . he doesn’t put us over the top, does enough to keep them in mid pack.

    • The problem is that there are 10 (or more) teams in a similar situation, and they refuse to win, so they’re keeping us from falling down in the standings.

  • We are not a very good team, but playing competitively. Kind of what we thought was going to happen. I still think all of next year is in the hands of Gorton. He needs to come up big at the draft and decide if this is the year to get a stud. He needs to tell Quinn to find a new defensive coach and needs to make the Russian kids happy, but protect them at all costs.

    I think this team has 10 keepers – and 10 guys who are bottom pair or bottom 6 players on every other team. We need to add to the talent level and see if we can bring in more top 6 talent. None of this will be easy. IMO, there is too much to do in one off-season to make us a playoff team next year.

    I think we also need to look at teams who are in salary CAP hell, as maybe we can take on some salary for more picks.

  • My want is Cozens in this draft. Podkolzin is gonna go in top 3 and yet as low as 6 to 8. Cozens will fit better than Pokolzin buth both would be a great pic.

    • Cozens should be the 3rd pick. He’s got size, speed and a shot. I liken him to Mark Shieffle, he’s a 200 foot player. The lowest I see him falling to is 5th, I’m guessing we end up at 7th. Maybe the ping pong balls will be in our favor.

      • You would think just ONCE the ball would fall in our favor — look how Carolina lucked out last year. Alas we’re talking about the New York Rangers, lady luck is more like a 90 year old man for us.

  • Trade Kreider AND Skjei. While they have talent they lack heart and the desire to prove they are the baddest mf’ers on the ice. Both were neutered by AV and we need to ditch the last bit of his taint. Try and package them with Shatt-on-Kirk and or Staal.

  • If we were gonna tank it should have started 60 games ago. That 10 game run we had long ago killed our draft spot!

  • I don’t think Lafreniere is eligible for 2019 draft. And from what I read, we shoot ourselves in the foot if we play Kravtsov at all this year; even less than 10 games. Just can’t remember the reason…..

    I would not trade Kreider. Why get cute?

    Trade Pionk. Fire Lindy. Get one more proven scorer.

    DQ is the man. He is going to win the Cup; just hope it is in NYC

    • And what you read was wrong. Kravtsov is 19 under any of 4 articles of the CBA. The only way he burns a profession year this season is by playing 10 games at any pro level of pro hockey after signing an ELC, his contract doesn’t slide if he plays 11 NHL games.

      Everything else is baloney.

    • I believe the reference to Lafreniere above was that it doesn’t make sense to “cobble together” a second line next season because it would hurt our chances at drafting Lafreniere in 2020.

        • So, not only do you want them to tank the rest of this year, but you are also touting another full tank next year. That is a loser mentality and will hurt the franchise for a long time. This isn’t one of your best moments, Tanto. I’m disappointed.

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