It’s not an accelerated rebuild if you don’t play the kids

What's the point of having a rebuild if the rookies don't get ice time?

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.

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  • What the heck is going on?
    Staal is horrible but gets top minutes.
    Smith is not a forward, why play him there?
    What the heck is McKegg & Haley, a law firm? They are not NHL players.
    Bring up Chytil and Kravtsov and let’s see if Quinn is the coach he was advertised to be.
    They are losing anyway – Play the kids!

    • I have to agree about the firm of McKegg and Haley. While I am a pretty good lawyer, I am not a good hockey player.

  • Dave

    This is by far your best post of the season. I’ve written just about the same words as you, and got laughed at for doing so.
    I could care less if we lose, we are a lottery team, but if it’s with the kids playing, then it’s a learning experience. DQ is over his head, in spite of the BS fed to us daily by him. I think the team needs to right the ship ASAP, or the season will be shot for all practical purposes, other than pray for the #1 overall pick.
    I read an article where the Kakko kid is getting frustrated, and why not? Kravs could be going back to Russia, bad move, but understandable. He out played many, but got sent down to the farm just the same. Howden is a square peg, being pushed in a round hole, 2C, and he can’t perform. Andersson, Lemieux, ADA, and Buch could do no right, while the old goat Staal keeps chugging along.
    Sorry to say, I’m losing faith with the entire coaching staff, and the FO for letting this get out of control!!!!!!!!

    • This isn’t out of control, it’s a rebuild. Remember, Patience!. A lot of times, my friend, pushing kids into big time minutes they are not ready for could set them back significantly if they lose the confidence they can play in the NHL. We have to play Staal, He is making big money and is a veteran influence. Yes he doesn’t always play well, but he does sometimes. And I’m sure the kids are learning from him via his league experience. Seriously, do you really think just benching the aged, and throwing the kids to the wolves of the NHL is a good idea? Personally, I think it is the worst idea in the world. Clearly you and a lot of others don’t agree.

      However, and Dave I would like you to pay attention here, I don’t ever recall the Rangers Org.declaring that an accelerated rebuild was now in effect. This is something invented by all the blogs and main stream media. Which is why your vocation is what you do, not manage NHL clubs.
      I love you guys, I really do, but what you are suggesting is not a good course in a rebuild, slow and steady.

  • Meh, its definitely not an accelerated rebuild for sure. The kids are playing. maybe not the minutes you want them to play, but they’re playing. Unless you are a McDavid or Mario, lots of youngsters sit the bench and watch with the parent club – it is not unusual for them to break out years later – that’s a rebuild….and it will continue till next year.

  • Guess who’s playing 4th line Thursday? Lias

    Guess who won’t be getting sheltered 4th line minutes Thursday? Lias

    Guess why? Except for Eichel, the Sabres centers aren’t much bigger than Lias and Mittlestadt is a soft C.


    • Lias and Howden are over-rated. Send them both back to Hartford until they learn to play hard every shift. Smith and Fast are about the only players to work hard every shift. Time to change things up.

  • DQ has about 4 forwards and 3 defensemen he trusts ( and 1 is a defenseman turned forward) . He either needs different players, or have other players step up, or change the way he thinks. Not so sure which is really viable.

    Guessing that JD and Gorton have to be discussing things. They are up against the CAP ceiling but are a bottom of the pack team. Not the greatest ROI. I have to believe something will happen here soon, whether it be a coaching move (not DQ but Oliver or Ruff) and some player movement.

    As mentioned previously, this would be more acceptable if more kids were in the everyday lineup. While it is early in the season, you never want to dig yourself such a huge hole that the team stops caring. Gorton and JD are too smart to let that happen.

  • I gave DQ a pass for virtually everything last season, but this season is another matter. I just don’t agree with how he utilizes players on this team, especially the younger players. DeAngelo gets benched if he sneezes funny, Staal on the other hand could be a plague carrier and he would still get trotted out to play important minutes. He’s overplaying guys like Zib, Panarin and Trouba, he’s underplaying guys like Andersson … plus Kakko and Hajek to some extent (and yes, I like Hajek). Yeah, there will be nights when Zib, Panarin and Trouba need to play 22-28 minutes, but we’re 7 games in and we’re not talking about shortening the bench in the 3rd period of one or two games out of the 7.

    I fully realize that the kids will make mistakes, I fully realize they will be inconsistent in terms of effort and production — but that’s ok with me, for now. That’s how you learn, by going through ups and downs, by making mistakes, being shown those mistakes and then going out and trying to correct those mistakes. That is the PROCESS, the process doesn’t always have to be about punishment, limited ice time, and scratches. Guys like Staal, Strome, etc. have peaked (and in Staal’s case declined) to the point where they shouldn’t be making the same mistakes over and over again. A vet on this team has to contribute to the maturation of the younger players and that means having a positive influence in games, at practice and off the ice — if you can’t do that you need to be benched or scratched … or traded.

    The first clue that something was wrong was in sending down Kravtsov who did nothing but earn a spot on this team. I have no objection with sending him down to the AHL for extra games or if he got off to a very rocky start, but he was sent down despite earning a position — and sorry, that’s never a good message to send to the kids especially when they see guys like Haley and McKegg win jobs. I still believe Kravs would have learned more and felt better about himself had he stayed in NY the first few weeks of the season getting lots of practice time at the NHL level, instead he gets sent off to Siberia (Hartford) to get practice time with the B squad.

    In conclusion, I’ll take a deep breath, do some yoga and meditate — I’ll hope for the best, but expect something worse.

  • I firmly believe that expectations were raised when we couldn’t help ourselves and signed Trouba and Panarin. Even with those two excellent players, we aren’t a playoff team, and we all should have realized that before the first game. Not only are we a young team, 8th youngest in the League (remove Hank, Hailey and Staal and see where we rate) we are a team with many first and second year players. And we have a second year head coach. Yep he’s made some mistakes. Some of his own doing, and some which may be dictated by who he has to play as to showcase them for a possible trade.
    I’ve been a Ranger fan for a VERY long time. I have zero problem admitting this once again, this is a rebuild year. In spite of Panarin and Trouba, this is once again a step in the rebuilding process. And I didn’t expect to be a playoff team before the season started, and I don’t see anything to change that view. So, I for one am not disappointed. I’ll just enjoy watching my Team, mistakes and all.

      • Good point Tanto. I love the game, and absolutely am crazy for the Rangers. Let me put it this way. I tolerate the mistakes by the vets because I’m not privy to management’s overall plan. I’d prefer to see seasoned experienced players see the bench or the press box when continually making the same mistake, not putting forth effort each and every shift etc. but I’m just a fan. Management makes those calls.
        But I do get your point……… frustrating for sure.

    • Hey Jerry some good points without a doubt., I do enjoy watching, Even when mistakes are made because I expect such things from a young team.
      I am happy that Lias has improved, that Adam Fox looks like he will be a keeper, and that Chytil is in Hartford for a little while getting his game down right and making a case to come back and claim the 2C spot. I am happy that Tony DeAngelo plays defense at least some of the time and still makes passes that others can’t, and can score some goals. I hope that Hajek improves some more and I think Georgiev will be a NHL caliber goalie. I am delighted with Zibanejad, Panarin and Trouba.
      I have some concerns about the ‘system’ only because the team looks incoherent at times and wonder why it sometimes looks like they are not well coached and not aggressive. I have concerns about sitting out the kids in the 3rd period in favor of guys like Smith for no real good reason. They have to learn to win by doing it themselves.
      Finally I think DQ needs to have a more positive public face. He is going to lose a lot this season, he should deal with it now.
      But, I do have patience for the rebuild. I want it to work and that is why I guess I have concerns. But, it is early in the season and perhaps they’ve just gotten off to a bit of a slow start. So long as progress is made I will be very happy and totally enjoy the games!

    • Win or lose, it is great to see the Rangers playing again.

      That said, get Chytil and Kravs up here immediately.

  • give the kids more minutes, bring up filip and kraz. sit stall he is shot. Hey DQ looking over your shoulder??

  • Dave, you could have replaced this post with a single sentence, “I don’t get what is going on?” If someone does something differently than you would, it means you don’t support their reasoning – and a common reason is that you don’t understand their reasoning. And the reason you don’t understand is the same reason most people don’t understand the reasoning of the others – because you don’t want to.

    Just go to NHL stats and look at the Hits, Blocked Shots, Giveaways, Takeaways page for the Rangers and look at the defensemen. These are real stats and they paint a totally different picture from the party line.

    For Staal, DeAngelo, Fox, Trouba, Skjei, the average number of giveaways is 8.2. I’be read here that Staal is a giveaway machine – he has 8. The leaders in takeaways and blocked shots are Trouba and Staal. DeAngelo basically never blocks shots. In hits, Smith and Trouba are the stars with Staal third; the others basically don’t hit. It’s like you guys are watching some other team.

    You interviewed someone who told you what is going on in Hartford. We know the story there. Chityl is tearing it up (finally becoming the star we expected – bravo management), Kravtsov is the worst forward on the team but is still playing ahead of Meskanen because of the commitment to the rebuild, Lindgren is not as good as AHL lifer LoVerde.

    • Bravo.

      You’ve given yourself a win-win scenario.

      They have so many hits, blocked shots, and other random BS stats you threw out because they’re in their own zone chasing the play trying to get the puck, bleeding high quality shots and scoring chances against being saved by goaltending.

      You get to call them “good players”, a win as you are literally One of maybe five people in the global hockey community who thinks amongst others Marc Staal is good.

      When the goaltending falters and all these shots start going in, you’ll get to lay the blame on the goalie.

      So when it’s Lundqvist you’ll be able to blame him. A win for you.

      Bravo Sir. Bravo

      • Actually Lundqvist has not been the best Ranger goalie since Tortorella was coach. [except for when he shared duties with Pavelec]

        And let’s be clear, good is a relative term. Dawson Leedahl, currently confined to Maine and not to be renewed come spring is a really good hockey player, likely better than anyone contributing to this blog as a poster or commenter. He just does not measure up to NHL standards and is not very good by AHL standards. Considering that, you should understand that there are relatively few left defensemen as good as Marc Staal. I will not deny that every single legitimate first pair defenseman is better than him. however. I would also be surprised if there were not a number of teams with three left D’s better than Marc. There might even be some with five. But he is a helluva lot bette than a guy you pick up off the street and sadly a good deal better than most of what the Rangers have presently.

        Also, as you deride stats, please note that blocked shots is a thing, high quality shots is a perception. When year after year, Hank faces more high quality shots than his backups do with the same guys in front of him against the same quality of opposition, you realize that this is not a real stat.

        More to the point, if you subscribe to the notion that there are good stats and bad stats (and yes I am guilty of this too), you should not ridicule decisions made by people you don’t worship the same stats as you do.

    • Hooray!! Right on Ray! That’s exactly what I’m talking about. Very nicely done!

      My belief in why it’s like they are watching another team. They are too distracted by their tech. They don’t watch games, too busy reading fancy stats. and they say”…………..”

  • This is a great assessment. One issue I am seeing here too is the coach trying to push players into a role that does not suit their style, in a system that more often than not seems chaotic. We were always a bubble team at best. We are clearly becoming a lottery team. Considering the draft talent next year I can live with that. But what I can’t live with is Kravtsov in the AHL and Smith on the third line. I get that Kravtsov has struggled in Hartford. But he was decent enough in camp to earn a shot at the big team. Does management think we are a better team with Smith on the 3rd line vs Kratsov?I am also concerned about Kakko’s development up to this point. As for the D our left side (other than Hajek) is just awful. I would rather see Lindgren getting a shot and Staal in the press box. Ditto Skjei for a night or two. (Let Skjei and Staal rotate out of the press box and send the right message to the entire team)Fox and Lindgren played together in the US team. Let’s see what they can do. The coach wants toughness, try Lindgren. Staal is an anchor to Fox or ADA. And Skeji is just lost.

    This coach was brought in to develop these kids. But they all seem to have taken a step back. Chytil has been good in Hartford. He had a tough camp, but he’s shown great improvement. But when we he get a call up? It’s not like the 2C role is solidified. And I guess my idea of development is rewarding players for good play?

    Lindy Ruff or Rough? How did he survive the AV purge? And more importantly why is he still here?

    The only bright spot for our organization is Hartford. And Ironically it’s a whole different coaching staff. I don’t dislike Quinn, but the more I am seeing his decision making the more I am wondering if he is the right guy.

  • Simplistic and shallow.
    Sensationalized and dismissive of common sense.
    A complete mis-understanding of the process and a intentionally misconstrued concept only ever mentioned by bloggers now being passed as management quotes and facts. Regardless of how many times you’ve been told otherwise, JD being the last, the word “acceleration” is a lie. it’s down right misleading. No one person in management has used this term to describe this past summer. As a matter of fact you were told the complete opposite, “you can’t rush these things”.
    Your bias “know it all” attitudes stink. Your concepts and excuses are laughable. As well as how you justify these ideas with your numbers. It’s very entertaining. So keep it up CNN style. this site and a few of your regular posters make the morning sports talk with this office the best ever in a life time. Your opinions are not aligned with the masses. It seems to us, your fake news.

  • Don’t really understand all the crying out for Chytl and Kravstov to be called up. Chytl wasn’t good last season nor was he good in camp & preseason. And Kravstov looked like a high school kid out there playing amongst men. How many kids can we have on one team? That’s not the issue anyway. It’s that these Rangers are chasing pucks for entire periods…entire games this season. The system that DQ is trying to implement sounds simple to a hockey layman, like myself, but the issue is I don’t see any system in any of these first 7 games. It doesn’t matter if you have one 18 yr old or ten 18 yr olds on the squad. Without a system or structure in place it’s just chaos out there. And in this year’s Rangers case, it’s a lot of north/south chasing. That’s all they do. I don’t mind the rebuild, but I do mind boring hockey games where my team doesn’t control the puck for any sustained amount of time. These past 5 games have been boring…and that’s the worst kind of hockey to watch.

    • 1. Like Strome was better……
      2. If the system “play hard”, which sounds it is, no progress is going to be happenning in this highly strategical and tactical league

  • Watching Dvorak just glide by Strome, who not for lack of effort was flat footed and couldn’t keep up. Not for lack of effort if one keep banging his head against a wall it’s just stupid at some point. Staal should be sitting because money shouldn’t be blocking the development of a young kid. Marc Staal is done and Strome isn’t that good and Howden isn’t 2C. Stop with the banging ones head against a wall. What’s with this BS about oh the kids aren’t ready. Maybe not today but that’s how you learn you play up. I hear how hockey players are so tough so why the oh if they’re not ready it will hurt him, BS maybe they will learn and be better for it next season. Are they wimp asses or hockey players? I’ve seen 13/14 kids get crushed playing basketball against 16 year olds. The next year they play 16 and under and are crushing teams. Play up and learn and in two years you have found yourself tougn, skilled players. Strome shouldn’t be playing more minutes than Lias. Hajek is a keeper and will only get better. I think DQ had lost the room already.

  • I did not expect this to be a playoff bound team. It is a rebuild and there are a lot of holes to fill in the team. But if we are going to lose wouldn’t it be better to watch the kids play. If they are not going to play meaningful minutes in the NHL they should go to the AHL, like they did with Chytil. DQ’s justification for sending Chytil down doesn’t make sense with what he is doing with Andersson.

    Watching the kids make mistakes and lose is a lot better than watching veterans make mistakes and lose. DQ is turning into AV 2.0

  • Guys, you can discuss all this 1000000s times, it doesn’t change the fact, this coach doesn’t have working NHL level strategy, you can not blame all on players and the team is too young, also you can not blame this team is lazy.

    Let me remind you players winning games and coaches loosing, and this one is only increasing frustration of the young ones, they are loosin, they don’t have enough ice time, some of them sent down….

    You can change it by winning, if the young one have less ice time and winning it’s motivating, just basic psychology, and this coach is not able to create such a system, it was his 89th game as an NHL coach, I don’t see any positive change so far, and most likely it’s not going to happen, not untill they hire the coach who knows how to win in NHL in consitent level

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