Thoughts following a busy start to the offseason

The offseason isn’t even two months old, and the Rangers have been the most active team already. Let’s first recap everything they’ve done:

  • Glen Sather stepped down. John Davidson was hired as President of Hockey Operations to replace Sather.
  • The entire Hartford Wolf Pack coaching staff was let go.
  • Jim Schoenfeld stepped down.
  • Traded for Adam Fox.
  • Signed Russian prospects Igor Shestyorkin, Vitali Kravtsov, and Yegor Rykov.
  • Go the 2nd overall draft pick.

That’s a lot for six weeks, both in quantity and in impact. As expected, I have some thoughts.

1. I covered this over the weekend, but the front office shake up is just beginning. JD is going to bring in some of his guys, at least as advisors, and you’ll see more of Sather’s guys go. I don’t think we will see any more major moves like Gordie Clark or Jeff Gorton leaving, at least not yet. But I think others will be gone.

2. Don’t discount how significant it is that the Blueshirts are getting a new coaching staff in Hartford. That place has been a train wreck for years, and the atmosphere there has been atrocious. With such significant prospects coming, and likely to spend time in Hartford, getting an atmosphere conducive to learning and developing is priority #1. Don’t discount the Russians, specifically Rykov and his KHL-out clause in year two of his deal, and their comfort level coming over to the US. That’s a big deal. A good atmosphere goes a long way to keeping them here.

3. Trading for Fox signified that the Rangers are going to sacrifice some picks to get better faster. I expect them to make more moves like this, sacrificing more picks and roster pieces that are not part of the long-term future to address some of their needs. The biggest need is a top-pairing on defense. I still think the Blueshirts can get Trouba, although I honestly have no idea how to value cap space in any trade offer. If Artemi Panarin is the priority free agent, then someone like Jake Gardiner, whom I’ve mentioned before, could be a good fit on the left side.

4. Even before the Rangers go after defensemen in trades or free agency, there is a significant logjam. By my count, there are 17 defensemen vying for 14ish spots at the NHL and AHL level. That does include RFAs Fredrik Claesson, Julius Bergman, and Chris Bigras, so it may be fewer depending on which direction the Rangers go. There are nine at the NHL level, and that doesn’t include Rykov (it does include Fox and Hajek, though). Something has to give, and I think it will be more than one of the big contracts.

5. I’ve said this a few times, but I see no reason why the Rangers would trade Alex Georgiev — unless the offer was significant — to make room for Shestyorkin as the backup. Let Shesty play in the AHL and get a full North American season first before getting rid of your only insurance.

6. Shesty might be destined for the AHL next year, but the jury is still out on Kravtsov and Fox, and to a lesser extent Rykov. Again I stick to the “don’t rush them” mentality. I wouldn’t be shocked to see any or all of them start in the AHL. That doesn’t mean they are busts.

7. Something to note: JD green lit a significant analytics movement in Columbus. The Rangers have a one-man department there and, at least on the surface, appear to be woefully ignorant on this front. JD will change that. Specifically, as Alison Lukan noted, it goes beyond just using some of the publicly available information. A big part was using playing tracking provider SPORTLOGiQ. I’d expect that kind of movement in the right direction on Broadway as well. Gorton is the architect of this rebuild and has provided a fantastic foundation. Now it’s up to him and JD to fill in the role playing pieces and let the kids grow.

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  • I think that Clark “retires” sometime this year, probably after the draft.

    Clear cap space. Smith, Staal, Shatty, Names, Strome, and even Vesey, should all be considered for trades, buyouts, and demotions (for players that are allowed to be demoted).

    If Kreider does not have an extension in place by the start of next season then I think that he gets traded. I suggest 4 years, $7M per, meaning less term but more $$.

    Prime Ranger targets: #1 Panarin, #2 Trouba. Duchene and Hamilton as “Plan B.” NO KARLSSON. Again, NO KARLSSON. Didn’t even play in an elimination game. PASS.

    Prediction: Kakko, Krav, Hajek, and Fox in the lineup, Shesty and Rykov get some Hartford time to get used to the smaller ice surface.

    Trade Georgiev, as his trade value is high. Canes need a goalie. Trade Georgiev and Staal to the Canes for a bag of pucks to get Marc and his cap hit off the team, as Canes may be the only team that Marc approves a trade to.

    Buyout Smith.

    David, important point about JD embracing the analytics approach. It should not be totally leaned on but it should not be totally ignored either. Even Torts using them, from what I read.

    Exciting time to be a Ranger fan. LGR!!

    • Tony

      Great post, agree with everything but the Georgiev trade. I like the kid too much to let go, and we really don’t know how long it will take the Shesty kid to adjust.

      These moves are all necessary, especially with Gordy, who I believe was in his position due to his friendship with Slats. There is plenty of room for improvement in the scouting department, analytics, but most of all the Pack, which already has been addressed. Bottom line, JD will do what has to be done, without all the fanfare, but behind closed doors. He is a damn good hockey man who is now at the helm of this team!!!!!!!

      • Bro,

        We can’t trade Talbot, we got Raanta.
        We can’t trade Raanta, we got Georgiev.
        We can’t trade Georgiev, we have Benoit Allaire.

        Where’s the real value? I say getting rid of Staal’s cap hit, once and for all. Shesty coming anyway.

    • I was reading a TSN article on the Jets and the Winnipeg fans’ comments believed emphatically that Trouba was getting traded for a few reasons including parsimony. If true, IMO that has 2 effects:

      1. Rangers are one of the favorites to acquire him… and
      2. Getting him would assuredly mean NO KARLSSON.

      • The Jets are a weird club.

        The guy who runs the partnership is a car deal/real estate speculator, while the guy who owns a big chunk of the partnership is a multi billionaire.

        Because of this, fans think they can spend up to the cap, but in reality they’re maxed out at around $70mm, but opened up the wallet to get to $75mm this year. The building is only so big, they’re pretty much maxed out on local revenue.

        Anything more means that they have to have capital calls and the MGP doesn’t ever want to get diluted down(or out.) Whenever the Canuck property bubble pops, his cut of the team will be his primary set of assets.

        Any moves in regards to the Jets have to be viewed through this prism.

        This is why(I think) you could get Byfuglien a heck of a lot cheaper than Trouba; taking his salary off their books does a lot for them a huge favor, works as a bridge until expansion for the Rangers.

        • Yep… that was one of the main pet peeves of the commenters, the fact that Winnipeg only spends up to 10% to 15% or more below the cap. The fans are aware of Trouba’s dissent and are seemingly ok with it. Byfuglien’s departure would cause the fans to really get teed off. Getting him (Buff), IMO, would be dubious at best.

      • The Jets HAVE to trade Trouba. They have to sign Laine, Connor, Ehlers, etc. They’re not getting bridge deals.

        Plus the Jets have D prospects that can step in. Start with the Jets’ first that we have and go from there. The Jets cannot take $$ back in the Trouba deal.

    • I don’t think it’s realisitc to expect all of those players to be gone in one year. It’s more likely that Namestnikov and Strome will be here to start the season. I think Vesey has the best chance to be traded.

      I think Shattenkirk will most likely be here at the start of the season. If they want to get rid of Smith I think they would probably bury him in Hartford instead of a buy out. Though he will most likely be the 7th defenseman/13th forward. Staal should be bought out no questions asked.

      Agreed on Kreider. If you can’t sign him to a reasonable contract then he has to go. Panarin has to be the target in free agency with Skinner as the back up.

    • Goalies don’t have trade value. The main reason you want to trade Georgiev is because he is better than Hank. It is time to stop reliving 1940 or whenever it was that Lundqvist was the top Ranger goalie.

      You do not buy out Smith. The total cap savings would be $2.3M and you can save virtually that much by simply sending him to Hartford for two years. The biggest advantage would be major cap savings this year when they should not need it. [And it would hurt down the road when they should have a competitive team.]

      You are in a hurry because you want to see Hank win a Cup. It won’t happen. There is not a team in hockey today that could win the Cup with the present incarnation of Lundqvist in net. The mental stamina it takes to win 16 games is simply too great.

      • It has nothing to do with Hank winning a Cup, it’s about ridding the team of players with dead cap space attached to them, and giving the roster spots to, and wait for it, YOUNG players.

  • By my count we need to open up 2 spots on the defense. Let’s hope that they save some Cap space and move out the right guys. I fear that Skjei might be vulnerable as he has value.

    Analytics is a must use these days. JD will see that we use more.

    Hartford needs an overhaul and will get it.

    Gorton will stay until we make a playoff run then he too will go.

    Fun fun fun at MSG.

  • Hell to the no on Gardiner.

    Nothing worse than a player with a wonky back, JD knows all about that.

    • Agreed, but even more so because the guy just isn’t 1st pairing defenseman material … what would be the point of picking him up and giving him a Staal-like contract? We’re overloaded with d’men, before we even think of grabbing more d’men we need to whittle down the number of the ones we have.

  • Dave, your point about Hartford is well taken. It has been a joke for many years. That said, the ridiculous and reckless trading away of our high draft picks, didn’t give the staff there much to work with. The Pack should be a place to train, teach, develope, grow, bond and have our young players acclimate to the pro game. Hiring that staff is one of the most important issues JD has to address.
    I know I’m in the minority here, but I still believe we are at best one or two seasons away from being serious contenders and therefore believe we should pass on Panarin. And please don’t even think about Karlsson.
    Trouba, is a bit of a different story. I’m not against acquiring him, but ONLY if we do not have to give up too much. All three of the three big names continually mentioned here will block some kid from playing.
    Look at the plethora of promising ‘D’ prospects we have yet some here think we should bring in Karlsson, a frail, oft injured, defensively challenged, albeit talented offensive D-man. We already have a defensively challenged overpaid offensive D-man in Shatty.
    We started this rebuild, and JG has done a GREAT job in getting us some young promising assets. And that is the purpose, plan and goal of a rebuild. The only way we can accurately evaluate the young talent JG has acquired, is seeing them play, and not being blocked by some big name free agent. Let us see what we have and then when the time is right add the pieces we need. In my opinion, straying from the rebuild course we have set upon too early, as in this year, will not benefit us in the long run.

    • Jerry

      Look at the plethora of promising ‘D’ prospects we have yet some here think we should bring in Karlsson, a frail, oft injured, defensively challenged, albeit talented offensive D-man. We already have a defensively challenged overpaid offensive D-man in Shatty.

      The above words sound oh so familiar to me, wonder where I heard them????? LOL.

      Your right on the money, and JD, unlike Slats is a smart enough man to realize we don’t need a marquee name just yet, let the kids make a name for themselves, it will pay off long term. June 21st can’t come soon enough for me to see who we get from the draft, and or trades!!!!!!

      • Walt, I think it was you echoing them same words relating to Shatty a couple of years ago. LOL
        I agree with everything you said, except, while I also look forward to the draft, lets not wish it here just yet. Summer is just beginning and I’d like to enjoy some time on the water before it is over. The older I get, the faster time goes, so I’m willing to wait and enjoy the time until the draft. For some reason, I’m sure you agree!

        Enjoy the holiday. weekend, everyone.


        • Joe

          How true it is that time goes by soooooooooo much faster as we vintage, like a good bottle of vino!!!!!!!

          As for this week-end, let’s remember what the occasion we’re celebrating it for, and that is for the fallen in defense of this wonderful nation. Enjoy as well my friend!!!!!!

      • For sure Walt. You and I and some others have been on the same page for quite a long time.
        Walt, I hope Maria is doing well. I think of your family situation often.

        • Jerry

          Thank you my friend for your concern, and thoughts. Maria is in full remission, and we hope to not have to treat her again for at least five years. Her form of leukemia is controllable, and we hope to keep her around for another 49 years, that would be our 98th anniversary together. Have yourself a terrific day Jerry……………….

          • I don’t see JD making huge changes to the Rangers front office. The place to start is Hartford. With the Rangers drafting so many quality young hockey players, it’s important they get quality coaching and development.

          • Peter

            Thanks for your kind words, you really can’t imagine how much that means to me, and my family. Again thanks to you, and everyone else who has been supportive of us in the past.

    • Sign Kreider, forget about Trouba, he’s garbage, he’s always on the ice when the other team is scoring and out of position reaching, the tapes don’t lie

  • For every reason people do not want Panarin, there is one looming reason to acquire him – take some pressure off of the kids at the NHL level and allow them to grow slowly. The fans still want to see a talented team, and you can still have the kids grow and learn with Panarin in the lineup. What we do not need are guys lie Names, Vesey and Strome to clog up that middle 6 area. This is where Kraftsov, Kakko and Chytil need positions.

    I do not think Karlsson is a smart move, but adding Trouba is a step up – but only if we can move out some of the Cap-constraining contracts we already have on the blueline.

    As mentioned earlier, July 4th weekend should tell us the team we will have in place for a few years to come.

  • 1) No jake Gardiner — he has no mid to long term future here.
    2) Get rid of excess d’men before bringing more in …
    3) Hell No to trading Georgiev, he’s young and has the potential to be a #1 or at least the guy that pushes Shesty in the future (if Shesty is the #1) … especially Hell No if he’s used to sweeten a deal that gets rid of one of our “albatross” contracts back on d’ — that’s the definition of a wasted asset …
    4) Hire a frickin’ AHL coach (assistant or otherwise) that speaks some Russian … and some Swede, etc. Add a little Euro flavor behind the bench … how can that hurt?
    5) No to karlsson, just NO.
    6) If we really need to get Panarin then make sure a couple of forwards are traded. Yes it’s good to have “insurance” both at forward and on d’ in case some of the young kids aren’t ready for prime time … BUT no it’s bad to have too many players without a future here in NY.

  • What this team needs is size and more size. Blue’s roll out tree trunks, line after line. It goes without saying that they know how to play. The Rangers should try to trade for Josh Anderson, maybe Jesper Fast, Pionk & 3rd/4th. Sign Ferland to a fair deal…anything more…then pass.

    Target Raphel Lavoie/ Mortiz Seider/Tom Harley/Brett Leason/John Beecher/Nathan Legare/Sam Bolduc with late 1st and 2nd picks

    • I’ll tell you one free agent I would like to see us sign, Justin Williams — say a 2 year deal @ $4m per. The guy is a leader, he plays the right way and he’s got fire in his belly. I’m hard pressed to think of any better qualified forward to teach the young kids HOW to play. Of course that means jettisoning another forward or two.

    • We definitely need some size and some heavy players B.Lemieux seems like the right type of player, get rid of the softies

  • It’s like playing chess: IF we draft Kappo, AND we get Panarin, that makes a forward expendable, maybe Buch (leaving Kravstov-Mika-Kreider; Panarin-Chytil-Kappo, or some other combination thereof), so them MAYBE we can get Trouba (Trouba-Fox, Skjei-ADA. Hajek, Rykov, Lindgren), BUT, if we draft Hughes, then we don’t want to trade away a scoring winger, so maybe Chytil becomes trade bait (K-Z-B, Panarin-Hughes-Kravstov), or moves to wing, but then do we get Trouba? And, of course, if Shesterkin is the real deal, then does Georgie become a trade piece, too? No matter how I look at it, it works out pretty well. JD and JG are going to have fun, aren’t they?

    • Trouba,is not the answer, how do you know Shesty is the real deal, hasn’t played one lick of NHL, do not trade any young player especially Buch, you sound crazy imagine him Panairin,& chytil, are you crazy, Trouba is a no go for me always on the ice when other team is scoring, the eyes don’t lie,if you think they do check the tapes, I think Lindgren,& the young d that hurt his shoulder when he scored his 1st goal are ready, put some of the young guys on the farm, let them Excel there 1st

  • Acquisitions will change the calculus of course, but I do not believe the Rangers have a logjam at defense at this time. The Rangers showed no interest in Bigras and I presume he will be gone. AFAIK, Bergman is headed back to Sweden – so the number drops to 15, which is 14ish. Raddysh I believe is basically a warm body and Crawley seems to be headed in the direction of AHL goon, so I don’t see a problem with the right guys getting into Hartford games.

    Now, as to the 9 NHL guys (which does not count Rykov and Lindgren and probably should not at this point): Pionk is not an NHLer. Smith can be sent to Hartford or converted to wing if he is in the way. Hajek (and even Fox) are unproven.

    Obviously if the Rangers are going to bring in 2-3 new defensemen, everything changes, but if the number of significant NHL-ready additions is 0-1, radical action is not called for. The Rangers should resign Claesson and, while trading guys not in the Rangers’ future is quite reasonable, they should not conduct a fire sale.

    Agree on most your points Dave. Patience. The team should decide when the rebuild is over, not the fans or the front office. And it certainly would not hurt if Shestyorkin, Rykov, Day, Lindgren and a few others learned at Hartford what it was like to play on a winning team.

    • JFTR. Bergman did sign a two year contract with Frolunda HC on May 8, so he is definitely gone though I think the Rangers can still offer him a contract and retain his NHL rights if they so choose (in case he wants to come back in 2021).

  • I have a crazy idea, trade Hank, he already indicated that he may be open to ring chasing. Start Georgiev. Let Igor play backup. 50/32. “Let the kids play!”

    • Radical, but certainly not a crazy idea. Doubt, very highly, that is the in the plan. But interesting….

  • So, I wonder–is a bad contract worth a top ten pick for both the holder of the contract and the team receiving it? The Ducks and Oilers are at 8 and 9–and both have some dog contracts. How many more years do Lucic and Kessler have left on their contracts? Is it worth it to take one or both contracts in stead of Panarin? In two to 3 years both are gone along with some of the Rangers’ current bad contracts and they could leave the draft this year with Kakko, Podkolzin, Broberg and Seider. Thoughts?

    • now the off season juices are cooking, I like this out of the box thinking. Problem is, the cost is too high and no-one past 1 and 2 in the draft are a sure thing( even they are not), thus not worth the cost.

  • The overhaul in Hartford is key and I am glad it is finally being done. I hope they bring in the right people and make that part of the organization one that expertly develops young talent. After years of starving their minor league team of talent they are going to have a lot of young talent to develop so it is important to do it right. Once in place a solid development system will pay off in having young players ready to slide into spots on the big club when needed.

  • JD on Michael Kay Show

    Dolan said to JD “get who ever you want in free agency and trading ” JD will evaluate everybody and will make decisions . Will talk to Mark Messier to gauge his interest .

  • So…I just watched today’s JD presser. I’m so glad to have him at the helm! The best thing I heard him say was that “patience” is required to do it right.

    That what I have believed since the “letter”.

    Best of luck, JD and family

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