For Rangers to be successful, David Quinn must adjust player usage

For the Rangers to surprise this season, a lot of things need to go right for them. One of those things is continued development from young players and prospects. These guys not only need to develop, but need to begin hitting their ceilings. Part of that is being put in a position to succeed. The best coaches get the most out of their players but putting them in positions to succeed. Player usage has been a concern for the Rangers and David Quinn for some time, and it will need to change.

The Rangers do have a potent offense that could swing things in a shortened season. But many models have the Rangers around hockey-.500. Sean Tierney managed to get the Rangers there by modifying the lines and with top-heavy usage. The lines aren’t that far off from what we might see on opening night either. MoneyPuck is a little nicer, but not by much. It’s going to be about David Quinn and the proper player usage.

Even Strength

One of the many concerns last year was using Libor Hajek in a spot where he could not possibly succeed. He was put on the top pair with Jacob Trouba despite being woefully unprepared for the competition he would face. He struggled mightily before his injury, and spent the rest of the season in the AHL.

The same goes for Brett Howden, who was forced into an NHL role to help justify the returns of the Ryan McDonagh trade. Howden was one of the worst statistical forwards last year. He too belonged in the AHL. Ditto Kaapo Kakko, who was unfortunately paired with Howden for most of the season on the third line.

Kakko did massively improve in that quick August run, and there are signs that separating him from Howden will do wonders. There are some fundamental concerns that we’ve addressed, but getting him some actual NHL talent will put him in a position to succeed.

The same will go for Filip Chytil, Julien Gauthier, and Alexis Lafreniere. All three are young players that the Rangers are counting on to improve. There’s a chance those three wind up on a line together. That may actually be ideal, since they’d be a very skilled third line going up against weaker competition. But there’s also a chance all three wind up getting less than ideal linemates for extended periods of time.

*-Note: A short term benching/healthy scratch isn’t a big deal. It’s the longer stints where they can’t possibly succeed that are the concern.

Special Teams

With PP1 set, the focus with the man advantage will be on PP2’s ability to be effective. They won’t be nearly as dangerous, and that’s expected. Adding Lafreniere to Kakko, Chytil, and one of Adam Fox or Tony DeAngelo certainly goes a long way in that regard.

The penalty kill will likely improve structurally with Jacques Martin. But the personnel take a hit by losing Jesper Fast. Perhaps this means we get Pavel Buchnevich, who is much better defensively than people realize, on the powerplay. What we can’t see is more Brett Howden on the PK, because as noted, he’s not good in that role.

Rangers player usage is going to be on the forefront of everyone’s minds heading into the season. It’s a key component to any success the team might have this year. It’s also a key component in proper player development. David Quinn is here as a developmental head coach, so the eyes are on him. The status quo won’t cut it anymore.

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  • Well, we need to see what the prospects bring to the table, and then try to put them where they can do the most good. I can see moving Buch up to take Fast’s position, and Kakko playing with Kreider and Zibanejad. That would put Lafreniere and Chytil together, maybe with Gauthier. I can live with that, as a start. On defense, I’ve given up on Hajek, so we really need to hope that Miller can step in quickly.

  • Thank you! You are being kind in your analogy of coaching situations. What youngsters were not misused by DQ?

    • For starters Lindgren, Fox, DeAngelo, Chytil and Buchnevich weren’t misused. Z-bad and Strome have clearly benefited from playing under Quinn. Andersson, Howden and Hajek should have been in Hartford and were all pushed to the NHL too soon, and that is not all on Quinn. As for Kakko he could have been better utilized and would have benefited from time in Hartford. The team reached out to Tuomo Ruutu to mentor Kakko and he played a bit better after that. Not sure how much mentoring was done after the initial contact. The organization as a whole needs to work on player development. Yes Quinn too, but it’s hardly been all bad.

      They should go into this year with the idea the kids are going to play, whether it means making the play offs or not.

      • I would have to disagree with you on Fil. He played better when he got his opportunity. I don’t see Butch as a youngster anymore. His sour facial expressions tells of a different story. There is an other story that most don’t see. We lost that first round pick Anderson and we will lose Kratsov also because of this coach.

        • If we lose Kravstov, it will be because we don’t have a spot for him, not because of the coach.

        • Development is about improving year after year. Chytil has done that. Maybe not fast enough for you, but he’s been better each season. Buch is not old either. Z bad has developed each season under Quinn. He’s not “young” or “old” and he’s still developing. Players don’t turn 24 and stop developing. Coaches don’t just develop young players. I mentioned Andersson as a failure. You aren’t going to hit on every prospect. And if they fail it’s not always the coaches fault. The players still have to go out there and play.

        • every team makes draft errors, and Anderson never displayed the play expected from a pick that high…can’t blame Quinn for that, he actually gave Anderson a chance to earn a spot…I don’t understand what you are demanding..another Vignault who would sit a kid who made a mistake? I prefer the staff as it is today, especially after luckily jettisoning Lindy Ruff and picking up Jaques Martin..I expect a better PK and better defensively overall. It will make this a fun team to watch

  • Ask me why I do not give more than an “8” in the fan confidence poll? This is why.

    Well, DQ and the suspect D corps for this year. In fairness.

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