2019 Rangers Player Report Card: Fredrik Claesson

When the Rangers signed defenseman Fredrik Claesson to a one-year deal, it was viewed as a low-risk, high-reward move for a 25 year old defenseman. The consensus was that Claesson was undervalued, and probably already better than most of the blue liners the Rangers had on the roster. While we weren’t necessarily wrong in that assumption, Claesson still had trouble cracking the lineup regularly. In the end, he finished his first, and likely only, season with the Rangers with a line of 2-4-6 in 37 games.

Claesson was never going to be a huge offensive driver. His role as the 7D was to fill in when needed and play a steady defensive game. He did just that, as he was one of the better puck movers on the club, especially under pressure. Claesson excelled in making the quick first pass to start the transition to offense. In those 37 games, Claesson finished with an xGF% of 47.88, which was behind only Shattenkirk and DeAngelo. His splits were 1.95 xGF/60 (last on the team) and 2.12. xGA/60 (best on the team). So the expectations were met by reality, as Claesson was a non-factor on offense but was the best defensive defenseman on the team by a wide margin. For a 7D, that’s better than anyone could have hoped for.

I love these shot heatmaps because it shows how effective any player is, and in Claesson’s case, these heatmaps for shots against show how good he was. He did so with noted black hole Neal Pionk as his primary defense partner (61 minutes). He also spent significant time with Tony DeAngelo (53 minutes). For reference sake, Claesson had 568 minutes of even strength time, and Pionk/DeAngelo were his two most common partners. Suffice it to say, he was bounced around the lineup a lot.

There isn’t much else to evaluate when it comes to Claesson. He’s a defensive defenseman who excelled in one aspect of the game. For the price and the role, it doesn’t get much better than that. I usually don’t like to give grades to players who played fewer than 40 games, but given his role, I think he met the games minimum.

Grade: B+

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  • He’s the best defensive D-man we have, so he’s definitely worth keeping. To my mind, that still leaves us shorthanded on D. At best, we seem to have 4 NHL caliber players left (Skjei, ADA, Freddie, and Shattenkirk(?)). I love Smith’s attitude and energy, but that’s not enough, and Staal is just too slow, while Pionk’s play last year exposed him as a real liability. Either some of these prospects turn the corner real soon, or we’d better start looking for an alternative, maybe packaging a young center (if we get Hughes, which is looking more and more likely every day) with the 20th pick to draft Byram, or making another deal of some kind. It doesn’t have to be for a superstar (no Erik Karlsson, please), just a good, solid, NHL player. Trouba would be a good fit, if the right price can be negotiated.

    • We’re loaded with defensive prospects, we need to subtract d’men (Smith, Staal, Shattenkirk and/or Pionk) not add them.

      PS: Byram is going top 5, if not Top 3, so trading the 20th pick for that is going to require a HUGE sweetener (like Chytil at least).

        • I firmly disagree. They have elite talent in Chytil, Kravtsov, and Kakko/Hughes on offense. They don’t have any bonafide elite talent anywhere in system on defense. The highest ceiling guy is miller but he’s only been playing the position for a few years and is no guarantee. Defense is still this organizations biggest need by far.

          • We have maybe Trouba coming…Skjei Hajek ADA Lindgren Rykov maybe Crawley and Fox now…with Miller Nils Ragnarsson Gross Ruennan and others in the pipeline ….We had Connor Brickley play as a forward….We need to draft Forwards more than D in June

          • You can’t expect to get elite players further down in the draft. So while an elite defenseman would be nice, it won’t happen. But you can maybe get capable players – and the need there is for forwards.

  • For Claesson, who played well, it is going to end up being a numbers game. Right now I think he is unlikely to stick unless something changes.

  • Freddy served his purpose, that was a cheap insurance policy in case of injuries, and or poor play from the left side. We have too many very good prospects who play on the left side, so with the addition of Rykov, that’s the straw that breaks this camels back. I don’t see him offered a contract unless it’s a two way deal?????? Good luck to you Fred!!!!!!!

    • He is an RFA who should have trade value. It seems obvious he should be tendered, if only to trade.

      • Ray

        Are you sure? He signed with us as a UFA, on a one year deal, so why would he be RFA, I don’t understand that!!!

        • Yes there is a way one can end up a UFA before age 27….Duclair signed with CBJ as a UFA last Summer and now is a RFA

          • Interesting, I didn’t know that. We learn something everyday, thanks…………

          • No prob my friend….I looked it up…Freddy and Duclair were not given qualifying offers by their teams last Summer so they became UFA’s but because they are not 27 yet they became RFA’s with their new teams….If we don’t qualify Freddy he becomes a UFA again…I hope Pionk becomes a UFA this Summer lol

    • Claesson would be a great depth addition but as a regular dman he doesn’t really move the needle. The Rangers now have enough defencemen depth in their organization to call the kids on the farm if need be.

      • I’m ok with him being 7th D, but then don’t put Staal and Pionk in the line up ahead of Claesson.

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