Mailbag: Kaapo Kakko; Ovechkin Fight; Islanders Hockey Systems

Four questions for the mailbag this week. As always, use the widget on the side to submit your questions.

Tommy Hockey asks (writes?): Generational talents don’t win on their own. Crosby has Malkin, Ovechkin has Backstrom. The Rangers will need secondary pieces, so all in on Artemi Panarin.

There was a lot more here, but I’m paraphrasing and getting to the meat of the point, which is the Rangers will need more than Kaapo Kakko and Vitali Kravtsov coming into what they have today. They may be elite potential, but they are still unknowns at the NHL. They will need an additional scorer, and Panarin is the proven talent. I 100% agree here that the Blueshirts do need to add another proven guy. Panarin seems like the easy answer.

Mikeyyy asks: What are your thoughts on the Alex Ovechkin/Andrei Svechnikov fight? Was the last punch and subsequent driving of him to the ice too much?

A couple things here. When I watched the fight, I didn’t think Ovechkin drove him to the ice or gave him an unnecessary punch. Svechnikov getting knocked out was on the punch prior, and it’s a little tough to notice a guy is out until he hits the ice. By that point, your body weight is already moving forward and you kinda just land on him. He didn’t Todd Bertuzzi him in any way, shape, or form.

I like fighting as much as the next guy, and I get that it’s a part of the game. But I’ll tell you what, I won’t miss it if they ban it. It’s causing too many injuries and long term effects. Just not worth it at this point for the 30 seconds of joy.

NYR4EVR asks: (I trimmed this a bit) How are the Isles this good under Barry Trotz despite losing John Tavares? Is it the system? Can you compare it to what David Quinn does?

So here’s the thing with the Islanders – they are being carried by their goaltending. Robin Lehner was phenomenal in the first round, and he and Thomas Greiss had out of the ordinary save percentages in the regular season. I’m not going to look at a four game sample, so let’s look at 2017-2018 compared to 2018-2019.

Their CF% from last season to this season is almost identical. Expanding on that a bit, the Isles average 3 shots fewer per 60 minutes, and allow 5 shots fewer. It’s a net of two fewer shots per game in favor of the Isles. That’s not enough to move the needle. But that’s just raw shots. The big difference is their xGF%, which jumped 5% this year to 51.57%. Breaking that down a little further, the Isles only average .08 xGF/60 more and .48 xGA/60 less comparatively this year to last. The half a goal less is somewhat significant. So they are allowing fewer quality chances.

Assuming Trotz runs the same system in Brooklyn that he did in DC (1-1-3 lock/1-2-2 forecheck and a zone defense), there’s nothing crazy there. The Rangers run something similar, but more of a 2-1-2 zone that focuses on limiting shots in front. I have absolutely nothing to support my next claim from the Isles side, but it’s well known that Quinn’s system was conceding defensive zone entries against by design. My guess is Trotz does not, but again I have nothing to support that claim. I’m intrigued to see how the Rangers do with improved personnel and what the Isles look like if their goaltending comes back to Earth.

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  • The question about adding Panarin to the list of Kravtsov, and possibly Kakko is a bit premature. First of all we didn’t land Kakko yet, let’s hope the Devils aid us in that pursuit. If we get the Fox kid via a trade, and somehow trade for Troumba, then, and only then would I consider signing Panarin, while holding my nose shut. I think another option, and less costly could be Eberle? Our first line is set with Zib-Kreider-Buch. Our second line could be Chytil- and the two K’s, not a bad top six, don’t you think?

    I have a sneaky feeling we will slide into the PO’s, maybe as an 8th seed next season. We have plenty of support players who can be valuable next year as bottom six players. Howden, Anderson, Lemieux, Names, Nieves, Strome, and possibly Vesey, who I think will be traded at the draft.

    Our problem is not the forwards, it’s the darn defense, which needs a major upgrade. Hajek, Lindgren, ADA, Skjei, Fox, Troumba, with Staal, or Rykov, as our 7th d-men, I believe would be plenty good to start with. How do we rid ourselves of Smith, Staal, Shatty, that’s the issue. Trade as many as possible, continue to develop the kids, and that is a winning formula!!!!

    • For some reason I have not been able to post under my regular handle name..Rocky Balboa Ranger….In regards to the draft…I would be shocked if the Devils do not draft Hughes and pick Kakko instead……..

      • #3 pick for Fox, or he signs as a free agent and Carolina gets squat.

        Give Jets back their #1, and throw in Strome, or Vesey, Name, and Pionk. Jets get a d-man that’s cost controlled, and one, possibly two players to fill in their roster. That my friend is not gutting the team!!!!!

  • NYR are 5 players away from the playoffs. We need 2 new defense men, an elite forward and 2 upgraded forwards to bump some guys from our bottom 6. To his is why Panarin is a must.

    • Hardly a must. One could easily argue that we should just stay the course. After all, the goal here isn’t to just make the playoffs, it’s to truly contend for years to come. There are other alternatives as well, for the price of Panarin you could get Zucc and Hayes back, perhaps … that would truly give us depth up front when you add them to all the younger prospects.

      Re: the d’, the problem isn’t adding as much as it’s subtracting. If you don’t clear out a few vets from the d’ you won’t open up the space for kids like Hajek and Lindgren to play consistently … or for adding Miller and/or Lundkvist next year.

      • Don’t discount the fact that Gorton might be fighting for his job under a new President, and a trip to the playoffs could cement him in as GM. If you look at the dreaded Islanders, they have a team of players who work hard and a few guys (like Barzal) that are extraordinary players. Leave our first line intact, but get me a stud to take pressure off of the kids. Add some real defensive skill. Rid ourselves of 2 defensemen and coach the defense to be tenacious at allowing shots. THis is the recipe that works in the NHL. Not everyone has to be under 25 but everyone needs to work hard all the time.

        • The Islanders have long been a team with talented players that could never put it together long enough to be a contender — and their coaching over those years was, shall we say, sub-par.

          As for a new President, I assume he knows what the situation is and what the current plan entails. Given the nature of the Rangers’ higher ups (Dolan advised by Sather) I don’t see them bringing in anyone whose views are clearly antithetical to that of the rebuild. Maybe $11-12m for 7 years and a NMC just doesn’t fit the plan (and who could blame them?) … and maybe getting rid of 2 d’men as you suggest isn’t as easy as it should be (assuming you’re talking about Staal, Shattenkirk and/or Smith).

          We’ve been handed a gift (the 2nd pick), that doesn’t mean you should alter your plans just yet.

      • The defense problem is 100% an addition problem and 0% a subtraction problem. Staal and Shattenkirk are not playing ahead of better defensemen; they are playing ahead of worse defensemen. Hajek and Lindgren did play consistently – in Hartford – and one need look no further than Edmonton to see that players develop better in the AHL than they do making fools of themselves in the NHL. Maybe some of these kids will be truly ready next year and DQ will continue to play lesser veterans, but maybe we should give him the benefit of the doubt and suggest that he will stop playing veterans when they no longer deserve to play.

        The actual problem is that it is just not clear that a true top pair will emerge from the current cast.

        Let me make clear the difference between the Rangers and the Oilers. Ranger fans are trying to run Marc Staal out of town. Oiler fans did run Justin Schulz out of town. Veterans sometimes can live through criticism. Youngsters who are not ready cannot. And make no mistake, Ranger fans are going to rag on somebody. It’s better to rag on veterans and you can’t do that if there’re no veterans.

  • Walt, barring a disastrous showing by Hughes in the upcoming tournament or whatever else the kids have going…we will be drafting Kakko……Gorton has already stated that he is not taking any shortcuts in building this team.

  • I disagree on Panarin I think that plunging into the free agent market right now is premature. I’d wait at least a season and see what the Rangers have in the pipeline before diving in.

    • Kakko and Kratsov will be in the pipeline, but both will be very young with no NHL experience this upcoming season. There is simply no guarantee that they will be ready to make the jump. So Panarin will help but cannot make them contenders by himself next season.

      Panarin will be 28 early next season. He will command a seven year deal at $10 – $11 million per annum and a NMC. He would be 35 at the end of his contract. Meanwhile the Rangers will have burned his 28 and probably his 29 year-old years while still assembling a team. He’d be 30 by the time they are ready to be serious competitors.

      So, even though he is obviously an excellent player, I’d pass on him.

      I’d rather they go after younger forwards in the draft and in trades and see who is available via free agency in a year or two.

      • I’d love to see the Rangers have the gonads to just say, if you want to play here, don’t even think of a NMC. If you don’t want to move, play to your contract.

  • Bring Zuccarello back,

    Artemi Panarin 28/59 – 87
    Mika Zibanejad 30/44 – 74

    we got bread and we love our z-Bread!

    grow these kids, there’s bread in the ovens!

  • Hmmm,

    I say we already got bread baby!

    Artemi Panarin 28-59-87
    Mika Zibanejad 30-44-74

    bring back Zucc, maybe Hayes, all while developing the next loaf!

    Mike will keep pace with the bread man, keep the dough… get it!

    ya see what I did there!


    #2 in the draft, WHAT!!!!

    • This Zucc and Hayes stuff—-they are a cut below what we need. They do not help a rebuild. I think the plan is to bring in a stud–Panarin—develop a stud—Zib—and draft a stud—-KK—-and Kravtsov is the enticing possibility of a 4th stud. After that, defense.

  • Svechnikov needs to learn to tuck his chin. Stand upright like a tree in a fight and when you go down, you fall like a tree.

    Between Kakko & Kravtsov puck possession & xGF numbers should climb just because they’ll have the puck on their sticks for long stretches. These are the definition of guys where a good O is your best D.

    • Exactly. Better forwards wth better possession will make the team better defensively. The two defenders on the ice are not the only players who matter defensively.

    • my guess is they will be. DQ will be sick of the lack of scoring talent. That is really why we lost a lot of games. Scoring talent might have let us prevail in some of the close ones. Shooting the puck into the goalie’s chest or missing the net can be frustrating to watch. We all know we need D. But that was obvious. He tried to put a bunch of overachievers out there. But they could not quite overachieve. Or maybe they did and it was not enough

      • I agree my friend, especially for the fact that the elite talent will come, if at all, from the young guys.

        Zib is the only elite talent that they currently have up front. Kreider is close but he can’t seem to be consistent enough to reach that level.

  • Hayes racks up another 11 minutes last night as the Jets lost to the Blues, 3-2. He’s put on a good team and falls down the depth chart rather quickly from 2C status in New York. Is this really considered a building block to contender status?

    • … and yet he scored quite the pretty goal … besides, who cares what the player does on another team, I care more about what he did while he was on OUR team. Chemistry is an often overlooked factor in any player’s performance — and it isn’t just about who you play with, but the relationship of the player with his city, his coach, etc. He’s a good player, nothing is going to change that assessment IMO.

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