Thoughts in the dog days of….Fall?

The dog days of Fall have arrived. Late October and November this year will be comparable to late July and August. Usually we are getting into the swing of things, but this year we wait. The Rangers are more or less done with their offseason. There’s very little to expect until the season gets started. We can review what the NY Rangers have done this offseason, and what is left to do.

1. The only major item left on the agenda for the Rangers is what to do with Ryan Strome. It’s clear they want to trade Strome, to the point where walking away from his arbitration award is on the table. Let’s get straight to the point: Letting Strome walk for nothing is folly. Even if it’s a marginal return, get *something* for him. Or keep him for one more year and then let him walk as a UFA. But getting nothing for this year is a fool’s errand.

2. Brendan Lemieux remains unsigned, but I don’t foresee that being a long term issue. Lemieux held out a little bit last year, but this year he has arbitration. I highly doubt Lemieux gets to arbitration. Something, likely a 2 year deal, will be worked out. Lemieux shouldn’t be overly expensive either, as he simply doesn’t have the numbers to back up a long term and/or more expensive contract.

3. Both Boo Nieves and Steven Fogarty have departed the Hartford Wolf Pack. This leaves the longest tenured Pack players to be Brandon Crawley –who spent most of last season in the ECHL– and Gabriel Fontaine. That is a fairly significant amount of turnover. The Rangers need to get a positive atmosphere and winning team there. Maybe the turnover was needed. Let’s see how this plays out.

4. There has been a lot of discussion about where to play Tony DeAngelo if he moves to the left side. I initially thought he should play with Jacob Trouba, but I’ve been convinced otherwise. DeAngelo and Adam Fox were so good together when they played that they deserve to continue to play together. That would give the Rangers a legitimate second strong pair on defense.

5. That would leave Ryan Lindgren to play with Trouba. Lindgren had a great season last year, but there were some concerns that he was riding Fox’s coattails. That’s always going to be a concern, since Lindgren isn’t the best puck mover. He’s not a train wreck with the puck, he just has room for improvement. That said, Trouba has historically performed much better with a defense-first partner. If the goal is to maximize assets and put players in a position to succeed, then Lindgren-Trouba and DeAngelo-Fox is the best bet.

6. The goal should *always* be to maximize assets and put players in a position to succeed. A review of the NY Rangers offseason moves should keep this critical piece in mind.

7. As it stands today, assuming the Rangers do part ways with Strome, then the center depth is Mika Zibanejad-Filip Chytil-Brett Howden as the guys who will be on the NHL roster. After that it’s a competition between Patrick Khodorenko, Kevin Rooney, and Morgan Barron. Center depth wins Stanley Cups. That won’t cut it.

8. It hasn’t been talked about that much, but this is a big year for David Quinn. It’s his third year. He has great talent up front. He has a much better defensive assistant coach in Jacques Martin. This is the year the Rangers need to show improvement in all three zones. The first thing I’m looking for is giving up the blue line by design. If that continues, there’s very little the Rangers will be able to do defensively. That also plays into continued offensive pressure. That tactic needs to stop.

9. One last thing, and it’s a bit of a rant. I find it humorous that so many people here (yes, I read the comments) lambasted any defenseman that was all offense and no defense, yet get touchy when you point out Tony DeAngelo is all offense and no defense. These are also the same people who say defensemen in the NHL need to defend, but again get touchy when you point out DeAngelo can’t defend. I know I’m biased. But if you’re going to call me out on my bias, which again I readily admit, then admit your own bias that you don’t care about any of his faults, you just like the guy. If you fail to admit your own bias, I’m just going to ignore you. And yes, I’m talking to you.

10. DeAngelo is one of the best offensive defensemen in the game. He’s also atrocious defensively. Just for comparison’s sake:

I just want to see what the reaction to this is. I love carnage.

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  • I agree that this is a huge year for David Quinn. He has 2 solid lines of talent up front and at least 4 good defensemen. Now, this doesn’t make you a Cup contender, but it does make you a pretty good (above .500) team.

    He needs to find spots for the kids and let them learn from their teammates. His new defense needs to protect better. He also has a very strong goalie tandem.

    If by game 25 next year, we are not showing signs of being a better team, then we have to believe it is time for another coach.

    • The guy has only coached for 2 years and you’re looking to get rid of him already. Typical of people these days wanting everything fast as if life were like the internet and a google search!

      • Team doesn’t have much game plan, terrible in deffence…. and there are more questions then answers there…. yes it`s legitimate to ask if DQ the guy who could help team jump on the next level

    • Joel Lundqvist with 2 goals and 3 points with Henriksson off his line. Lundqvist did this with Vesalainen a few years back, just won’t let rookies have the puck.

      Hopefully they can lend him to an Allsvenskan side as he’s too good for juniors.

  • The team, as it is comprised today, has many question marks. Who is our 2C? Will Kakko be able to step up? Is Chytil better at the wing? Is LaFren the real deal? Can Tony D play on his off side? Is the Staal replacement a worse option? Where should Howden play?

    Quinn needs to sort many of these questions out, and I am sure he will make some wrong decisions. To me, the biggest question is whether Quinn can handle real pressure. He is no longer in the honeymoon stage. He needs to show if he can be a winning NHL coach. He may not have a very deep squad, but he needs to pick and choose his spots carefully.

    Honorable Mention – Gorton has made some bold decisions by moving Hank and trading Staal. He needs to give DQ more depth down the middle. For us to move from pretender to contender, Gorton needs to do more as well.

    • I don’t think this evaluation takes place until after the 21-22 season or during if necessary. These guys, who are not JD men, have one more year without fear of losing the job, but then all bets are off. The team will need to show immediately improvement starting that year. There will be a short leash. Of course, just my opinion, but I believe the right path. It’s too early in the rebuild to change the process.

  • Good morning Dave. I’m not sure how you convinced yourself that the Rangers want out of the Strome business so badly that walking away from an arbitration award is really on the table in any serious way – unless the award is truly egregious. I don’t think they will get pennied out of their likely 2C and lose a cost controlled asset for nothing. Worse case the award is a little too high and they continue to work the phones and eventually Strome can be flipped as an expensive depth 3C for some modest consideration at the trade deadline. Though I may be biased as I’ve convinced myself all along that NYR were looking to keep both ADA and Strome on short term deals even if it meant paying up a bit in arbitration. Nevertheless I just don’t see any credible evidence that they would walk away from say a 2x$5M deal here.

    • Jeff Gorton said they were looking to trade him. I don’t know why you think it’s me. I’m literally quoting Gorton at this point.

      • Looking to trade a player and walking away from an arbitration award are not comparable. The perception I think is that Strome has actual trade value. Also Gorton’s words may help in the bargaining and arbitration phases.

        • All I said was that it was a *possibility.* If you read what I write, then you’ll know I’ve said letting him walk for nothing is stupid.

  • The centers are Zib, Chytil, Barron, and Kevin Rooney. Howden isn’t a center, I don’t care what anyone says, but he could play on the 4th line as a wing.

    Pairing Lundgren with Trouba may be a nice combination, for the reasons mentioned. ADA and Fox could be a nice combo as well. Johnson and Smith will have to do until Miller comes up mid season.

    It will be interesting to see the team play defense, and the team will improve under Martin being the D coach. There should be vast improvements going forward, with enhanced scoring, tougher defense, and more excitement!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Where will Filip Chytil play if he does not play center? Left side on the 4th line? Behind Kapo or Kratsov or Buch? So if he plays on the 3rd line Kratsov is on the 4th line?

    • Who says Kravstov is even playing with the Rangers this year? Even if he is, I don’t see any way that Chytil plays behind him, or behind Kakko, for that matter.

  • Re: Strome, they’re just keeping their options open as long as possible. I imagine they, like many fans, have mixed feelings about Strome. Everybody thinks we could do a little better @ 2C, but nobody is sure on how to go about it given the current state of the NHL.

  • At the risk at being repetitious, I will repeat it anyway: I doubt that Strome is going to be traded (although it is possible) but I think there is no way the Rangers simply walk away from an arbitration award and get nothing for him. Has there been any reliable information that walking away is actually on the table? The most likely scenario in my opinion is that they sign Strome for a year or two prior to the arbitration.

    Dave, you might be biased against Tony D., but you do admit that Tony and Fox played well together. That is the pair that I see happening too. I also see Lindgren with Trouba, which should work out well for everyone. Tony will never be great in the D zone, but I believe he is better than he used to be and his offensive talents make him a net positive player on the ice, both at even strength and on the power play. He also has balls and is willing to stick up for his mates. I think that is a realistic assessment of the player.

    • The problem of playing DeAngelo and Fox together is that you cripple Fox’s strengths(like getting the puck out) because of all the sheltered starts. You turn 2nd pair into 3rd pair and now your 3rd pair is put in lousy matchups.

      The Rangers absolutely walk away from a deal above $4.5mm. Look at how constipated the FA market is right now. Nobody in the league is sold on Strome as a play driver, Rangers offer likely the best deal on the table when arbitration over.

      • Except of course the pair seemed to play quite well together–as they actually did play together. They both excel at getting the puck out, and they won’t be playing sheltered starts.

        I also disagree on Strome, except agree that there isn’t a big market for him. I think the prospect of playing with Panarin and boosting his own numbers will make Strome want to sign too, as his career will benefit in the long run. Unless they are sold on Chytil being ready for 2C, they are going to sign Strome.

        That is 2 for 2!

          • What I said was: ‘they won’t be playing sheltered minutes’. Which spoke of the future, not the past.

          • Peter, you might be on to something even if ADA/Fox is not an intuitive pairing. Trouba plays best, or at la minimum maximizes his offensive value, when playing with a defensive d-man. Probably why he played best with Smith last season. So the Lindgren/Trouba pairing makes sense with ADA/Fox the other top 4 pair. Presumably in the years ahead one of LHD prospects will emerge as Trouba’s partner and Lindgren will move down to 3rd pair where he may be better suited.

    • I was also the first to suggest Tony B move to the left side, otherwise there really was no spot for him on the roster.

      Suggested that in January. Nine months later, everyone is talking about it.

      I’m a trend setter and a trailblazer.

      • Ha Ha – at least you got that going for you Dave. Of course some of this board (blog – whatever it is) might opine that even a broken clock is right twice a day.

        BTW – I was in early on ADA to the left side also. Just sayin’

        • I’m never right. Except for when I am. Like saying it was time to trade Brassard.

          Nailed that one too. I guess that’s twice though. Not allowed to be right anymore.

          • Dave – not sure you should be breaking the 4th wall to this extent. Exposes the illusion – kinda like what happened to the Wizard in the Wizard of Oz. We need you to rise above the fray.

      • I’ll give you credit for going along EARLY with the thought of moving ADA to the left side, but NO, that “thought” was being proposed prior to January.

  • We are looking at another terrible defensive team. Our “D” goes 4 deep and we do not have any defensive forwards. We better outscore teams 5-4 because we are going to loose quite a few 4-0 games.

    All the opposition has to do is stop our top two lines and rest until they hit the ice again. Our 3rd & 4th lines bring nothing to the table. We probably will be sub .500 next year.

    • We likely won’t be a great defensive team next year. But we have about 5 excellent D prospects a year or two away (along with some Grade A forward prospects as well). So this year will be about development as much as anything else. JD has pretty much said as much. He has the long view in mind as much as the more immediate future. No team has more excellent young players and prospects than the Rangers. Just need some time to jell. Could come faster than expected or not – but the future is amazingly bright.

    • Look for steps in the right direction. Better DZ coverage from the centers (losing Strome helps there, actually). Better blue line defense. Less leaving their man alone in front.

      Martin should be good on that aspect. However the blue line thing is on DQ.

    • TruthHurts

      You really aren’t serious with the remark that the 3rd line will bring nothing?

      I can see Lafreniere, and Gauth starting the season there, and then possibly Kreider moving down when Lafreniere moves up mid season, centered by Barron. That is three decent players at any given time, and that line will be like Brass-Zucc-Pouliot were as a line. Barron is defensively responsible, and gives the others plenty of ice to skate on, while Alexis likes to dish the puck as well. Sorry my friend, your dead wrong on this one!!!!!!!

      • Walt – perhaps time to ease off on Barron a bit. He’s a promising prospect. Not clear he can skate well enough to be a center vs. a wing. Time will tell but writing him in as the 3C seems aggressive.

        • Orland

          He was drafted for that position, and they made sure they signed him!

          I went to a Cornell game this year, and the guy is big, gifted with soft hands, plays a physical game, and just looks real comfortable out there. I’ll wager that he plays center long before Howden does once the season starts……………..

          • The cap issue with Barron’s signing bonus is a real problem. His cap hit would almost be what Jesper’s would have been. Unless he blows everyone away in the preseason he will start in Hartford. Brace yourself.

  • I think it is clear that Lindgren-Trouba should be the top pair. This is a pair that can play against anyone. And it was pretty clear that Fox did not carry Lindgren.

    As for DeAngelo-Fox, this looks promising but I am less convinced by the numbers from last year. I did not analyze usage, but the obvious time for DeAngelo and Fox to play together last year was after a penalty kill – pairing 2 RD made sense when all the LD were tired from the PK. Fortunately or unfortunately, this was also when the opposing team was least likely to use their big guns since those guys had just been out on a power play. Potentially this inflated their numbers. Still, the numbers were great and it is definitely worth a shot.

    As for the changes on defense, well I am less excited about the departures of Ruff and Staal. First off, Staal was much better than he was regarded here — not worth anything near his salary to be sure – but a solid NHL defenseman. And as for replacing Ruff with Martin, well, for better or worse, Martin got us Jack Johnson. The problem was never Ruff; it was always Lundqvist.

  • Dave, you said that Boo Nieves was gone. Do you actually know any details? He is still a UFA I believe. At one point, I read on howlings about some injury concerns, suggesting perhaps that Nieves might be done.

    Anyway, do you have any information here? The Rangers still might sign some players – only 45 on the 50 man roster so far.

  • Then love fest with Quinn is over. It’s put up or shut up time.

    Just a reminder: JD did not hire this coach. And the Rangers got him Martin to run the D. There’s no more safety net any more.

  • I admit it, I really just like the guy! The reason is because I think he has just the right attitude to win in the playoffs. That makes me very happy….winning in the playoffs.

  • I don’t mind displaying my ignorance, and I’m very good at it. Can someone explain the theoretical benefit of letting the opponent gain the blue line as a strategy?

  • I do not understand that is is a big year for Quinn. This team has taken a step back from last year. They lost Staal,
    Fast, and possibly Strome and replaced them with no one.
    Adding Johnson to replace Staal makes the D worse. Also they did not add any grit like they said they needed to.

    • They added Lafreniere and you get a more mature Chytil and Kakko. You get Buchy playing on an expiring contract, same for Shesterkin (who will get to play ALL YEAR and not just 12 games). That makes us better. Staal may be addition by subtraction, Strome isn’t being replaced by NO ONE (if he’s being replaced at all) and Fast, as much as I like him, was blocking more ice time for guys like Kakko and Gauthier. Plus I’m pretty sure they’ll have Lundkvist in the fold to play the 3RD … and moving Tony to the left side and giving Trouba a decent defensive partner. Those all sound like positives to me.

      Doesn’t mean they can’t take a step back, but they shouldn’t.

  • It has been several years since I have lived in Ranger country. My only question about DeAngelo is this… His he worse then Zubov on defense? His he in the same league as Zubov on offense,? That would tell me something. I would love for JD to win a cup with the Rangers. Met him once in 94. What a good guy and a guy who is turning out to be a great executive as well. LET’S GO RANGERS!!!

  • Expected improvement? Yes.
    Stanley Cup? No…not yet.

    Playoffs mandatory? I would say yes, but JD scares me a bit with this we have to be patient

    Towes or Kane? No….We have no money for big time names…..Ranger insider Boomer E….stated this morning that Rangers have no money to pay top dollar….and I agree with Boomer…who is spot on when he speaks or knows something……

    Is Quinn the right coach to lead the youth? This is suppose to be his strength….I don’t think his job is in any jeopardy unless the team blows up next season…

  • Exactly who are these ppl who are saying “oh but xyz d cant defend” ? Like I literally don’t see these ppl. Ie if we had Erik Karlsson in his prime I could give to fs about his defense. If you are referring to trouba, ppl knock his point production so far, ditto shatt here. If a defenseman is supposed to be defensive or two way and doesnt bring that .. then there is a problem bc then hes utterly useless. See skjei, or staal of latter years. Brendan smith.

    obviously you just wanted to conjure up a shot at TDA … any way what else is new?

  • Couldn’t agree more about Center depth. After all the drafts and the trades, that remains a huge gaping hole in this roster. I’d be OK with keeping Strome around for a 1 year deal just to plug the leak. But they have have something more down the middle.

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