The Rangers lost last night. They were laughed out of the building in the first period when they allowed the Arizona Coyotes to walk all over them. If not for Alex Georgiev, it would have been 5-0 after the first. If not for Tony DeAngelo, it would have been a 2-0 shutout. The Rangers are bad, we knew this was coming. But no one expected them to be this bad in an accelerated rebuild.
When the Blueshirts inked Artemi Panarin on top of trading for Jacob Trouba, the rebuild was initially rebranded to an accelerated rebuild. We all bought in. The Rangers would have those two and Kaapo Kakko to join first round picks Lias Andersson, Filip Chytil, Brett Howden, and possibly Vitali Kravtsov in significant roles up front. Adam Fox would join Trouba and Tony DeAngelo to revamp the right side of the defense. They may not make the playoffs, but they will be fun to watch.
Then training camp happened. Chytil earned his demotion. Kravtsov maybe not so much, but it was a numbers game and he hasn’t done much in Hartford yet to earn a recall. With those two being sent down, the Rangers had huge holes at 2C and 3RW. The coaching staff was so set on trading Vlad Namestnikov to the point where they inked Micheal Haley after the preseason, opening up a wing spot on the fourth line as well.
This is all well and good if the process is to play the kids left in camp in a significant role so that when more kids are recalled, they have others to lean on. Howden keeps being shoehorned into a 2C role which was clear from last season he couldn’t handle. The kid can barely handle 4C minutes right now and arguably should be in the AHL over Chytil.
Andersson, for reasons that elude all aspects of logical thought process, can’t move off the 4C role despite being the best non-Zibanejad center on the team to date. Ryan Strome didn’t work as the 2C. We’ve seen Howden fail as the 2C. The next and only logical choice is to let Lias play in that spot until Chytil is recalled. The time to do this was last night, even if it was late. Better late than never.
Yet David Quinn shortened his bench, inexplicably gluing Andersson and Kakko to the bench in favor of Brendan Smith, who received more ice time than both kids combined. This is no slight on Smith, who has been a trooper for this club, but let’s be real and call a spade a spade. Smith is not a part of this team’s future and is likely Ottawa bound after the Rangers pay his signing bonus next July. The onus is on the coaching staff to get these kids ice time to help them develop. You only learn by doing.
And that is where we stand today. The Rangers are a train wreck upon a train wreck and it has nothing to do with any of the guys under 25 years of age. For a team that is in a rebuild, kids should be replacing non-producing veterans in the middle of the lineup. Otherwise this isn’t an accelerated rebuild. It’s a team trying to contend with veterans and leaving their high draft picks to pick up the scraps.