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Thoughts on nepotism and the new NY Rangers front office staff

Yesterday, the Rangers formally announced some front office changes. While the moves were expected, as new President John Davidson was going to bring in his guys, they were met with a bit of criticism. JD brought in a bunch of guys he had been working with in Columbus, including his son in law. As per usual, I have some thoughts.

1. Nepotism is the word being used to describe the hirings by JD. Specifically with Chris Morehouse, who is JD’s son in law, and Marshall Davidson, JD’s brother. Hockey is full of nepotism, and one of the criticisms of JD in the past is his desire to keep those close to him as members of his staff. It is something to keep an eye on, especially since Morehouse will be the head of North American scouting. Let’s see how we do with North American players in the coming drafts.

2. It’s worth noting that JD brought in these guys because the Rangers did not previously have a formalized North American scouting group. There is certainly some nepotism here, but if the results are there and it formalizes a missing chunk of scouting, then I’m all for it.

3. Speaking of results, Morehouse and Davidson were scouting with Columbus since 2012-2013 and 2013-2014, respectively. Morehouse was the Assistant Director of Amateur Scouting the past three seasons. In that time, let’s look at their mid-late round hits, keeping in mind that basically anything after 2016 is too soon to tell for these kinds of picks:

  • Oliver Bjorkstrand (2013, 3rd)
  • Markus Nutivaara (2015, 7th)

They also hit on Zach Werenski (2015, 8th overall) and Pierre Luc-Dubois (2016, 3rd overall).

Suffice it to say – that’s not that much success in Columbus from a drafting perspective. They had three 1st rounders in 2013 and hit on just one (Alex Wennberg). That is certainly leaving me wanting. We will need to see how the 2016-2019 drafts pan out for Columbus to get a better read, but they do not have a good track record right now.

4. Summarizing points 1-3: There are some good points of view here, that the Rangers never had this kind of scouting group formalized. However the track record is lacking. Gordie Clark still has control of the draft, so we will need to see how his influence on the new guys pans out. Clark is obviously swinging for the fences with high ceiling players in the past few drafts. If that’s the trend, and this new scouting department finds high ceiling players, then perhaps the difference is organizational direction and drafting strategy.

5. One other thing to keep an eye on is Clark’s future with the club. He’s a Sather hire, and if JD really wants to have his presence felt, then Clark might be one of the Sather guys to move on. That said, Clark has had tremendous success in his role, and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. JD is smart enough to know that.

6. All in all, this is a move that is tough to evaluate until you see how these guys perform on the job. It’s like any new hire in your job. You think you hired the right people, but their results will speak for themselves. We may not have any idea how these guys do until next year’s draft or beyond.

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17 Comments

  1. I think that JD let’s Gordie stay for a while, training the new kids in his methodology. Whether Gordie lasts until the next draft is anyone’s guess.

    I do not have a problem with nepotism, if the hires have experience and merit. The past history of picks with their former teams do not make me think they are very qualified for the job.

    JB will change things over time, IMO including Gorton.

  2. “There is certainly some nepotism here, but if the results are there and it formalizes a missing chunk of scouting, then I’m all for it.”

    No. Nepotism is never good, no matter the results.

    1. Morehouse played in the Q, ECHL and went to college, so it’s not like he came into the gig cold.

    2. The world runs on nepotism, don’t be naive, and there is nothing wrong with it. You wouldn’t give your son a job?

  3. “That said, Clark has had tremendous success in his role…”

    Tremendous success??? I think not. Recent success??? Perhaps.

    Clark’s total body of work is NOT that impressive. I will go back to what I’ve said previously which is one measure of a big-picture perspective of his work with the Rangers:

    Since Gordie signed on with the Rangers as a scout in September 2002, just one player who was drafted by the NYR has led the team in scoring. That being Brandon Dubinsky who led the team with a whopping 54 points in 2010-11. Derek Stepan also led the team in the strike shortened 2012-13 season.

    Certainly this is just one measure and there are many other ways to view it. Also, Clarke has only had the helm since 2007 but was Head Amateur scout since but still there have not been a lot of studs coming through the ranks. No doubt there is some major talent queued up in the system now but much of the talent was acquired through the fire sale.

    Recent success??? Perhaps.

    Nepotism??? If those are the people he is comfy with and they do the job, then who cares? If they don’t do the job then that is a problem.

    1. While Gordie has had some misses, he has also drafted some very good players. One has to take into account that he hasn’t had first round picks in some years because the Rangers sent them elsewhere. I think his recent picks have been quite good. Swinging for the fences with Chytil and K’Andre Miller and Kratsov just may be rewarded. So, while Gordie hasn’t been perfect, he hasn’t been awful like some try to say.

      1. There are some good recent picks in there Peter – but all in all – not that impressive. But the trend is good…

  4. Big year for development on and off the ice, I hope all front office evaluations are neutral. Gordies legacy should go up ( we hope ) in the next few years but remember how many 1st and 2nd rounders we traded. He’s probably an average NHL head scout. As with most things in life “ More Will Be Revealed “.

  5. And the dog days of summer continue..no real news…just created controversies and potential problems. Whats next, the catastrophic idea of bringing back the ‘Liberty” jersey? No……… how will we survive that?

  6. Just wanted to get my Pronman lite talent pool evaluation by tiers.

    Not ranking in between tiers and each tier is about NHL potential, not how they slot(or don’t) in the Rangers org. Goalies at bottom of each tier for form. *Has a chance* means that they might/might not turn in to something, but still a lot of runway to take off. *Depth* means they ran out of runway or there ain’t a runway long enough to clear the trees.

    *Elite* (top 15% of league)
    Kaapo Kakko

    Igor Shesterkin

    *High End*(1st line/PP1/starter)

    Adam Fox
    Vitali Kravtsov
    Filip Chytil
    Pavel Buchnevich
    K’Andre Miller

    Alex Georgiev

    *Very Good*(top 6/top 4/ 50-50 backup)

    Tony DeAngelo
    Matt Robertson

    Legit (3rd line, occasionally moving up/3rd pair/ occasionally gets a start)
    Lias Andersson
    Morgan Barron
    Tim Gettinger
    Brendan Lemieux
    Sean Day
    Yegor Rykov
    Libor Hajek
    Brett Howden
    Nils Lundkvist
    Joey Keane

    Adam Huska

    *Has a Chance*

    Ryan Lindgren
    Ville Meskanen
    Tyler Wall
    Zac Jones
    Karl Henriksson
    Tarmo Reunanen
    Calle Sjalin
    Nico Gross
    Hunter Skinner
    Riley Hughes
    Adam Edstrom
    Eric Ciccolini

    *Depth*
    Ty Ronning,
    Vinni Lettieri
    Lauri Pajuniemi
    Simon Kjellberg
    Leevi Aaltonen
    Jacob Ragnarsson
    Olof Lindbom

    1. I’ll add a lot about Lindbom because there’s been a little talk about him, his injuries and his game on teh interwebz and the twitter machine.

      His new club played Belfast in a friendly over last weekend, he gave up 3 goals in a 4-1 loss. Belfast ain’t a bad team even if the league is, while Mora got relegated and will likely be bad going into this season. 2 of the goals were as much about his D running around like headless chickens, but the 1st one(and one that should’ve been) were the ones I would have grave concern about. YouTube “Belfast Giant Mora IK” and look for #30

      1st goal is 2 minutes in(to the game, in the video 00:10), puck is brought across the crease, Lindbom goes butterfly and stops the 1st shot. Defender has the forward tied up as the puck goes below the line. Lindbom stays in butterfly, had zero ability to push off and scrabs over to the net right about the time the forward shrugs the defender off puts the puck in. Any sort of recovery to get over, VH and that puck has a minimal chance to go in. That was as bad a goal to give up that I’ve seen since Halverson got torched on a wrap around in Traverse City.

      The one that go away, the forward splits the D, then takes it outside, undresses the D & Lindbom; slides it through the wickets only to put it off the pipe.

      He wasn’t that good in his draft year(except when playing with stacked national teams) he missed most of last year and was wildly inconsistent with a stacked J20 steam when he did come back, His one game in the WJSS was a dud(3 goals on 20 shots) and he can’t handle 3rd tier competition.

      He’s on year 2 of his draft clock and I just don’t see a runway long enough to where they would even need to sign him. I know Benny’s good, but he ain’t no miracle worker.

      1. That my friends is our #39 overall pick in one of the deepest drafts in years.

        Thanks Reen for the details.

    2. And I’ll add a little on Calle Sjalin.

      He hasn’t got a lot of games or a lot of minutes since he was drafted and is looking to play 3rd pair this year with a newly promoted side, but the shifts I saw of him today made me think he could be a 3rd pair at the NHL level when he fills out.

      He got to his spots quickly, used his stick, boxed out pretty well, didn’t chase above the dots. Didn’t show any O beyond 1st pass out, but when has he?

      In his favor is that Leksands will be shedding some lefties going into the last year of his contract(and of NYR retaining his rights) so he should have a chance to get top 4 minutes and show his worth.

      1. Reen

        I love reading your up dates, and evaluations of the kids, your a very good scout in my humble opinion.

        Without revealing too much info, what level are you scouting. I won’t put you on the spot by asking what organization though!!

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