Musings

A long belated thoughts post on an interesting Rangers season

It's been awhile...

Greetings, BSB faithful. I know it’s been a long time since I’ve written (even The Suit has posted more recently!), but in my defense, the housing finance industry has been an absolute nuthouse the past 13-14 months and that has monopolized most of my time. Not to fear, however, as you are now able to read my unassailably correct takes on what has been a very interesting Rangers season.  Better late than never, I suppose.

Anyway, since it’s been a while, I’d like to center this post around big picture observations, and I hope to be contributing more frequently on more micro issues in the near future.  That said, let’s get to some thoughts…

1) The trade deadline came and went mostly as expected. There really was very little to deal from and any type of acquisition for a center would have to come in the offseason. I know the narrative about “having faith in the roster” and the message it sends to this group, etc., etc., but let’s be honest, pretty much everyone on this roster was selected to be there or needs to be for Expansion Draft purposes.

2) Honestly, I think this is the most fun version of the New York Rangers since the bottom fell out of the AV era. Those teams weren’t necessary fun, per se, but they had expectations. This current roster is more or less what the next contending roster will look like, barring some moves at center, and man are they a fun group.

The divisional re-alignment has made making the playoffs a long shot, even though as of this writing, they would be in a playoff spot in literally every other division in the NHL and have the 5th best goal differential in the league.  It would be fun to see this team catch the Isles or Bruins, but I think either way, the second half of this season has been a tremendous success. At least it keeps the Rangers season interesting until the end.

3) It’s no coincidence that the massive improvement in overall play has coincided with Mika Zibanejad’s return to form. After his huge year last season and his play of late, I think it’s a pretty safe assumption that lingering Covid-19 symptoms had a major effect on his game.

While there are still a few pieces to put in place, this group is ready to take the next step.  Back in March, Brandon pointed out that this team should be playing like a no doubt playoff team from there on out.  I agree with his assessment and the team has delivered.  Next year, there are meaningful expectations.

4) That said, I don’t think David Quinn should be at the helm for this next step. I’m not a huge Quinn hater, but like Larry David, I have my issues with him. I do think he has done the job he was hired to do (develop young players) fairly well.  However, I do think he has failed to coax consistency out of this group, and I think a more seasoned hand is necessary.

The next hire is going to be crucial, and I don’t know how much I trust the organization to make the right call.  The position with this roster should be one of the most attractive jobs in the sport, so the Rangers will have no excuses.

5) I just want to take a moment to talk about how many high-quality pieces the Rangers currently have in place for the next few seasons. Adam Fox has become a legit 1D and Norris contender; Kravtsov looks like his extra time in the KHL has really paid off; K’Andre Miller and Ryan Lindgren have exceeded expectations for their young careers; Buchnevich is blossoming and Kakko and Lafreniere are flashing their immense talent. This is all in addition to established players like Panarin, Kreider and the aforementioned Zibanejad.

6) As if that weren’t enough, there is also more talent coming. Nils Lundkvist should be heading state side next season; Morgan Barron, Lauri Pajuniemi, Brandon Schneider, Matthew Robertson and Zac Jones is already signed. There will be a log jam sooner than later and that is a very good “problem” to have.

7) As we all know, the biggest “hole” in the equation is down the middle. Like Dave, I have to eat some crow on Ryan Strome. I was never a big believer in him, but I think he has grown into some of his talent.  The question is whether the Rangers want to pay him.  When committing $7m+ per year to a player, I want to know that he is either, 1) a sure thing or 2) possesses a unique skill set that is difficult to replace (i.e., Chris Kreider).  Strome is neither of those things, so his whole situation makes me nervous.

There is also the question of how much Mika Zibanejad’s contract demands might be.  As great as Mika has been in NY, I don’t know if I want to be on the hook for $8m per year until his age 36 season.  It’s the downside of those great contracts that lock a prime player into a below market salary without including any decline years, because you have to buy most of those years to keep the player.  Mika is a great Ranger and a fan favorite, but his (potential) next contract scares the hell out of me.

This off season, all eyes will be on Jack Eichel.  I wholeheartedly believe he won’t be traded for nearly what he is worth because 1) Buffalo’s management is incompetent and 2) he carries a $10m cap hit.  That said, he is a true difference maker in a terrible situation.  He is far and away the best center realistically available until (if?) Aleksander Barkov hits the UFA market after next season.  My concern is that the Kings are also after Eichel and have significantly more center depth in their pipeline, which I assume the Sabres will be looking for.

The outcome of the Eichel saga could have a significant impact on the Rangers’ contention window, with both Zibanejad and Strome hitting free agency after next season.

8) Nothing to in-depth here, but I have been extremely impressed by the improvement in Jacob Trouba’s game recently. Statistically, he is still a bit in the red from his earlier struggles, but I have felt much better about his overall play. His play has contributed to this interesting Rangers season, perhaps as a future captain?

9) What would one of my posts be if I didn’t touch on something goalie specific? I was tempted to weigh-in after Larry Brook’s clickbait article about Igor Shesterkin, but a combination of being bogged down by work and some self-control to not engage with garbage like that helped keep me on the sidelines. It wouldn’t be an interesting Rangers season without a silly Brooks article, after all.

Brooks’ nonsense notwithstanding, Shesterkin is the Rangers’ starting goalie right now.  He has nothing left to prove at this point.  Between his fantastic cameo last season and his play this year, he is statistically no worse than a top-10 goalie in the league.

When Shesterkin went down with a groin injury several weeks ago, we saw just how dependent the team had become on him during his absence.  There are no real exploitable weaknesses in his game; his mobility, balance, angles and recoveries are all high-end, if not elite, and he controls the game as well as any young goaltender I have watched this season.  His poise and discipline are extremely advanced, and he should have no problem carrying the torch.  I would be looking to lock him up long-term ASAP.

Well, that’s it for me.  As I mentioned, I’m hoping to start writing more frequently in the coming months.  It should be a very interesting and entertaining sprint to the finish line for the Rangers and a fascinating offseason to come.  A big shout out to Dave and the rest of the staff here for keeping everyone in up to the minute, high quality Rangers analysis.  I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy!

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  • The Rangers are a competitive team, that is playing hard. Problem is, they are too dependent on guys like Panarin and Zibby at this point, making them a team that is somewhat easy to defend against.

    The kids are definitely “allright”. Now they just need to gain some consistency also. Shesty is their #1, making Georgi trade bait in the off-season.

    I would hate to have to wait until next year, as I truly think they could do some damage in the playoffs, if they made it. At least win a few games.

    All the defensive prospects will allow us to make a deal for a center. Gorton, let’s make that happen.

    • If we’re too dependent on Mika and Panarin, it’s partially because that’s how Quinn coaches the team. If Quinn had given the kids more ice time this season, more powerplay time, and more situational responsibility, we might not be relying so much on the top 2.

      Good article, Justin. I agree, this is developing into a fun team to watch.

    • “Problem is, they are too dependent on guys like Panarin and Zibby at this point, making them a team that is somewhat easy to defend against.”

      I don’t agree. Kevin Rooney is on a 10 goal pace and he is the #10 goal scorer among forwards. That is historically a lot of goals for a 4th liner. The kid line has already produced 21 goals, which is good production from a third line. Typically the bottom six does not score that much – limited by skill, playing time and lack of PP time. The Rangers are unbalanced, sure, but would be less than most teams except that the top six is so good.

      • The 3rd line often doesn’t get 3rd line time on ice … and the 2nd PP unit doesn’t get normal 2nd unit PP time, so their production looks even better per 60.

        • You can say stuff, but that does not make it true. I sorted all NHL forwards with 15+ games. The median ES ice time is 12:39. So one would figure third line ice time has to be below the median. We have Kakko (13:12), Chityl (12:31), Lafreniere (12:18). [Laf is 239th out of 427]

          Despite the BSB party line, the Rangers tend to balance their ES ice times MORE than average, not less.

      • Third lines usually do not have a 19 year old, a 20 year old and a 21 year old.

  • Thanks again for your insight Justin. I hope we don’t have to wait so long for the next installment.

    I would not give a 7th rounder for Eichel. I just don’t believe he was worth $10M before his injury and we don’t know if he will ever be the same again.

    I don’t think it has been noted here that the Rangers are fifth best in goal differential despite not really having a particularly good year. What are the good surprises? From my perspective, Fox, Miller, Buchnevich, and Blackwell have exceeded expectations, but that’s really it (Hajek a little maybe, but he hasn’t been very good). On the downside, we can start with losing DeAngelo, Zib’s covid issue and eleven games lost by Panarin. Regardless of his future and talent, the contribution of Lafreniere has been almost unprecedentedly poor for a #1 overall. Kakko has looked good, but his production has lagged. To varying extents, I think Lemieux, Gauthier, Rooney and Howden have disappointed.

    While the future looks bright, 2020-2021 should have been better.

    • No, neither Panarin nor Shesterkin has exceeded my expectations. Re Panarin, I thought he was perhaps the best player in the league when he was in Columbus and did not consider last year unsustainable. This year isn’t really better. last year, he ended +36 and this year is +18 in half as many games. Last year, he was on the ice for 18 goals at even strength for which he got no points – this year it is only three so far. Both 1.38 and 1.53 are ridiculously good numbers of course, but digging deeper, the years are about equal.

      As for Shesterkin, of course he is not exceeding my expectations. I believed at the end of last season that, assuming he could stay healthy and keep his head on straight, Shesty had a reasonable shot to be the greatest goaltender of all time and I have previously said this here. Moreover, I don’t think anyone is better at keeping a goalie’s head on straight than Benoit Allaire. If anything, I have been disappointed as his second groin injury worries me.

      As for the defense, this seemed to me to be inevitable. I never doubted that once #30 was gone, the Ranger defense would vastly improve. Martin has done a good job however.

      • Hank wanted a net front D, other goalies were net side and those goalies were out performing Hank.

        The biggest difference this year is that the D is protecting home plate and not chasing outside that area. So even if there’s a breakdown, the back checking F is helping out, not replacing some D chasing butterflies out at the point.

        • Hank wanted a D to mark any forward in the crease, while other goalies wanted D on the weak side post. For a long time it worked for Hank, but the last 2 seasons it didn’t.

          As for home plate, it’s the zone between the face off dots and the funnel into the crease. The old D concept would routinely have D outside that area, man marking players outside the circle or both D below the goal line. Now that’s mostly a forward role. Allow low danger chances, limit high danger ones. A lot of low danger goals tonight.

      • Panarin – last year he was on the ice for 128 Ranger goals, this year 62 in about half the number of games (34/69). About the same rate of scoring when he is on the ice. The difference is that he is getting points on a higher percentage of the goals.

        Shesterkin – You completely miss my point. My opinion of Shesterkin is much higher than yours even though you like Russian players. I see him as ultimately the greatest goalie ever – so there is simply no possible way that I can see him as exceeding expectations this year.

        Two differences between Lundqvist and Shesterkin. When Lundqvist had the puck, he sent it toward one of his teammates. When Shesty has the puck, he passes it to a teammate. That is a huge difference. In one case, the teammate is immediately on the defensive, in the other he is skating down the ice. The second difference was that Lundqvist had a problem with screens. I don’t know if it was real or just psychological, but he did not like them and wanted the Ranger defense to be configured so that he faced a minimum of screens. This necessitated the Rangers adopting what appeared to be an inferior defensive structure – the result being a ridiculously high number of high danger shots coupled with an excellent performance against high danger shots (because he could see them).

        *******

        To be clear, facing identical shots, Shesterkin will never be as good at stopping them as Lundqvist was in his prime. However, Shesterkin and Lundqvist would not face identical shots with the same team because the former does so much more to blunt the attack.

        • First off, I apologize if I offended you concerning Russian players. You are certainly more knowledgeable about Russian hockey than the rest of us here and I thought I sensed a certain pride in really good Russian players. I certainly never meant to imply that you overrated such players. Truthfully, it is hard to interpret this because the Russian players on the Rangers are hardly a cross section of the team. Buchnevich is likely the least talented of the four and he is one of our best players.

          On Panarin and Shesterkin, simply put I said that I did not think the guy who should have won the Hart Trophy last year and the guy I expect to be the greatest goalie ever did not exceed my expectations because frankly what I expected from this duo was to carry the Rangers to the Stanley Cup this year.

  • Good read Justin, welcome back!

    I guess it comes down to possibly replacing Mike with Jack Eichel. Thing is that I believe Zibanejad to be a more exciting player than Eichel, especially regarding scoring goals. Mika has wonderful hands. The age difference of course speaks in favor of Eichel, while his $10 million per annum salary and the acquisition cost in young prospects speaks against him. There is also Eichel’s herniated cervical disc at such a young age that must be considered–it also seems that he mopes.

    I’d rather that they gamble on Zibanejad and use their extra young defenders to land a young center with potential, and try to sign Strome to a reasonable deal that will make him tradeable when Chytil and that added young center are ready. It is risky, but I believe Eichel to be risky too.

    Regarding Trouba: Thank you, it seemed that only me and Tanto were noticing his play in the second half. He also brings the physical element big time which the team sorely needs. I have no problems with him. That defensive corps for the Rangers is going to be monstrous!

      • Yes tanto, he just does not seem worth the cost to me, and his health status just makes the risk too great.

      • I wouldn’t be surprised to see him score 90+ points (full schedule) with this team, he’s come close to that rate in the past with inferior players, but Mika can do that and cost less. Only argument in his favor, his age … but after a herniated disc injury that factor seems diminished.

        Is he better than Strome? Yeah (and again, younger), but the distance between the two isn’t so great as to pay him 50-66% more in salary and move 3 first round assets (or 4 as some have suggested). Plus Strome seems to be more durable.

        PS: Eichel isn’t even good at faceoffs.

    • Market value is what it was, we can’t cry over spilt milk now. He is only 27 and with 4 more years on his contract the Rangers have bought his prime years. I think he is going to be the rock of the defense for the next four years and expect that his point totals may increase a bit if he gets any power play time. Be that as it may, his physical play translates into a big leadership quality for the club and should not be discounted.

      • The Rangers don’t really have a cap problem. I don’t see ‘more valuable players’ being traded because of Trouba’s contract. If it were a couple of million less it would not make a real difference.

        • I think that many others are wrong 🙂

          I don’t think the Rangers need to trade Buchnevich, especially if they want to make a strong move for the playoffs next season. He is their 2nd best forward. Some want to trade him for a center. I don’t think that is necessary. There may eventually be a log jam at wing, that might be a reason to trade Buchnevich eventually–or someone else.

      • I sincerely doubt that. You’re proposing a doom and gloom scenario where none really exists, After 2023/24 both his and Kreider’s contract become modified NTCs — so there is always that option.

        I agree Trouba isn’t an $8M d’man, but he isn’t so far off as to make that contract look bad … overpaid based on his usage and point production, yes … but he’s been a rock and a leader this year since he came back from the injury. Last year? Another story. He’s not a buyout candidate, not a Shattenkirk, a Wade Redden, a Boyle, an old beat up Girardi or an injury diminished Marc Staal. It’s just we bought him to be a 1RD and 1st PP unit PP QB and Fox surpassed him, quickly and unexpectedly (should have taken more time).

        • There is a strong contingent of doom and gloom fans that look at a cap hit without fully understanding how it specifically impacts the cap going forward. Absolutely no cap reason to not sign Buch or give long term contracts to players like Fox, Shesty, even Lindgren and Chytil should they wish. We’re not in cap hell, we’re not even in cap purgatory.

          A perfect example of this lack of understanding is as follows. How much do you think Kravs or Kakko fetch salary-wise if we have Buchnevich and they have to duke out who gets to play as the 2RW —- versus how much do you think they fetch if they’re fighting it out for 1RW and 2RW? Having Buchnevich as our 1RW will naturally depress the salaries of both Kakko and Kravs (I mean you know neither one will play as the 2RW all year long, not with DQ lol).

          On a team with no other option but to play their good young prospects in the Top 6 all the time they will score more (and lose more).

          On left wing we have the same situation with Kreider and Panarin blocking Laffy from playing in the Top 6 consistently. Up the middle Strome blocks Chytil. On weaker teams these guys probably play more in a bigger role … and when their contract is up, they will demand more in salary.

          • Slightly overpaying a player that’s still extremely useful and blocks a younger player from a Top 6F or Top 4D position has the added benefit of depressing the latter’s salary. Simple as that. If the Trouba or Kreider contract was more like a Girardi or Staal contract, that would be of little consolation … but Trouba’s and Kreider’s K are nowhere even remotely close to being that bad — they are both EFFECTIVE players, on and off the ice so there’s an ancillary benefit — and when the time comes that we MAY need more money (post flat cap), they are tradeable contracts that will return value.

            … and before someone states that that neither is Top 6 or Top 4, look around the League — Kreider would slot in Top 6 on most teams (like an Anders Lee), Trouba would be Top 4 as well, if not the Top RD on some teams.

  • What does Strome have to do to win favor among the bloggers? Plays top minutes; trusted in all situations; one of the best passers on the team; has proven that he’s not merely a Panarin appendage. Perhaps they should stop reading each other’s blogs. Sharing ignorance is not a recipe for respect.

    • Each one of us has said “we were wrong.”

      What more do you want? A shrine? What material? Gold? Silver? Platinum? Carbon?

    • I remember people expecting Strome to revert to his Edmonton shooting percentage after putting up a unrepeatable year, I would bring up that while it will drop, his ability to read the play and get to the net at the right time would keep his Sh% elevated. That’s pretty much what happened. It was there without Panarin, it’s just amplified now with Breadman.

  • I watched Florida/Columbus last night. I wish the Rangers had traded for Bennett. He was an assist short of a Gordie Howe hat trick.

    I would like to see the Rangers use some prospects like Jones, Skinner and Robertson to get some high end center prospects (At least 1) and ore trade for a top ten draft pick and take two centers this year. Look for center talent that should/very realistically could be ready in two years.

    It is cap smart and extends their compete window.

    Eichel could be a top 5 center for many more years but their are serious red flags. Between what they would have to give up and the cap hit–big gamble to take when their are smarter and safer options, potentially, available.

  • The NYR are over-performing. Time to look towards the summer and next year as we are not going to be a playoff team this year.

    We have guys who do not factor in, so lets move them for some center depth. Lots of hype for Chytil, and I do not think he is that good.

    We can be happy that there are games to be excited about in mid-April, but that is about all we have in this year.

    • They needed to make the playoffs this year. Anything less is a failure.

      Wait till next year is an all too common theme for losers. We are no better than Buffalo. Just another young team, with some overpaid superstars who do not have playoff hockey. Now we get to play the Isles, who can’t beat anyone else but us.

  • I find it funny how everyone always says if not for divisional play the rangers would be in the playoffs!…. majority of their wins are against the devils and Sabre’s minor league teams. How would the season have gone in a normal schedule. Future Is promising but don’t fool yourself by thinking Trouba and this defense wouldn’t get absolutely torched deep in the playoffs.

      • We got a raw deal because of one extra really good team … the other divisions have SJ, Anaheim, Detroit, Columbus, Ottawa and LA — pretty similar to NJ and the Sabres.

    • … and many of those games we led going into the 3rd and ended up losing by 1 goal — something a more veteran team might have avoided a few times.

  • One just has to wonder what this season would have been like if Panarin hadn’t been targeted. I’m not talking about what the season would have been like without the scheduling problems, injury or Covid-related issues (Mika’s subpar play for the first 25+ games), those things have affected every team in the League. The Panarin hit job is a true aberrational effect that no other team had to deal with.

    Compounding the issue was the ADA affair. We will never know whether this had a negative, a neutral or a positive effect on the team … but I’ll go out on a limb and suggest it was somewhat negative, on the whole. The positive effect was in elevating Fox’s role on the PP and in general, the negative effect was in the lack of offensive production from the 3rd pairing (one might argue that defensively we’re slightly better — how that balances out is anybody’s guess).

    In the end though I think we can all agree that without those 2 big distractions this team would be on the literal cusp of the playoffs, if not technically in the playoffs. To me this season has been nothing short of a positive — we’ve seen all prospects take a step forward (Kakko, Chytil, Kravtsov, Miller, & Lafreniere), we’ve seen the emergence of Fox as a perennial Norris candidate, we’ve seen Shesterkin prove his “level” of play, we’ve seen Buch blossom and we’ve seen that Panarin is definitively one of the Top 3-4 players in the League.

    Other positives from the season (although some might disagree), Strome is a player, a late bloomer and not fully dependent on Panarin to produce, Mika is more the player we saw from the second half of last season than the first half of this one, and Trouba is … well he’s just better than he was last season. We can debate whether he’s worth $8M per (he isn’t), but at least he’s playing well enough that isn’t a gross overpayment (he’s no Wade Redden, no Shattenkirk, no Boyle).

    A number of people here worry about the contracts coming up for Strome and Mika, I’ve heard a lot of high numbers and long terms for both. Well you never know. I wouldn’t be surprised to see anything between 4 (Strome) and 7 (Mika) years, between $5.5M (Strome) to $8M (Mika). I may be optimistic, but I think both players want to stay right where they are — the grass is pretty green here, the future is bright … and the chances for team friendly deals exists. That said I won’t be surprised if one stays and the other gets moved, we have plenty of assets to move in trade — but the FO will be cautious (as I think they have been over the course of the last year), it has to be the RIGHT deal — not an overpayment and not a depth killer.

    In conclusion the future is so bright, I’ve got to wear shades — so let’s not blow it up with impatience, knee jerk reactions or the lure of bright shiny objects (Eichel).

      • True … as I said: “we’ve seen all prospects take a step forward (Kakko, Chytil, Kravtsov, Miller, & Lafreniere)”.

    • Trouba signing at 8 mil not as bad as redden, shanty or Boyle? We watching the same guy ??? For every bomb he throws, he get burnt and turns it over three times

    • Actually Shesty’s injury had NOTHING to do with someone running into him … and it was a hit job on Panarin — I didn’t say WHO, if anyone, ordered the hit job; it makes no difference whether it was someone high up in the government or whether it was just Nazarov being a “crazy” guy.

      • I don’t see the connection with Shesty’s injury, he was fine those few minutes after … this looked like a simple groin injury. I suggest Yoga. 😉

        Re: “hit” … I’m using the expression idiomatically, but I would hardly characterize what was “reported” as idle gossip, these were HARD accusations made by someone who “should be in the know”. It was also a little more “detailed” than simple gossip. As to whether it was purely Nazarov initiated or someone else directed him, at the time the accusations were made no one could know for sure. Panarin has been one of the few Russian athletes to speak out and support Navalny 100% — so never say never. Russians can be subtle and devious when they want to be, it isn’t always blood and guts (I would say that about any nationality by the way). You take what is given.

    • I think that if he remains with the Rangers, Strome has a chance to have his number hanging from the rafters in Madison Square Garden. Centering Panarin, the can put up fabulous numbers for years. {hopefully some Cups as well}

      That glory will not happen here or elsewhere if he leaves.

      Put yourself in Strome’s shoes. Is that worth $2M a year? Thinking with my current mind, it would be to me. It’s not like he needs the money.

      • I think $2M is quite the stretch … but this has ZERO to do with Communism or Capitalism, it has to do with the pursuit of HAPPINESS, which for Strome might be playing with Panarin, being coached by DQ, taking a legitimate shot at the Cup and feeling at home and at peace where he is. Only he knows the value of the above.

        • tanto,

          “I think $2M is quite the stretch”

          Did you understand me correctly? I was conjecturing he might take $5M from the Rangers rather than $7M elsewhere, not suggesting he take $2M.

          I personally would do this in a heartbeat if it was necessary to get to play with Panarin, not change teams, not move, play for a contender, and build a long term legacy in NY.

          – unless of course I didn’t like my teammates and NYC, then I’d take less to leave.

      • No, I don’t think the Rangers need anything to win the Cup. In fact, I think that with Lafreniere in Hartford, they would have won it this year.

        And they are going to get better as law, Kakko, Chityl, Krav, Miller mature and guys like Nils are added. It’s about holding the team together as the salary needs increase, not about making it better.

        As for money, this is not about Mother Teresa or communism. It seems to me that players have four natural objectives – competitive success, glory, money and fun. The goal should be to balance your success. It seems clear to me that if a player knew for certain that he was choosing between $2M AND a Cup or $3M and no Cup, he would choose to win the Cup.

        Beyond a certain point, money is not really needed. In fact, a player may choose $8M over $7M not because of the money but because of the prestige (glory) of the higher salary.

        For a center, there is perhaps no job on earth better than being Artemi Panarin’s center. For competitive success, glory, fun, this job is off the charts. If he was really smart (and few under 50 are that smart) and it were necessary, he should take the job for the NHL minimum salary.

        I imagine he will, but it is poor judgment for Ryan Strome to price himself out of NY.

        *******

        And looking back at your life, would you rather be Mother Teresa or Wade Redden – poor and revered forever, or rich and derided.

        • Your statement about the Rangers winning the Cup this year—and blaming Lafreniére for the fact that they won’t—is worthy of an ocean of derision. You once again win the Broadway Hat of preposterousness. You should probably keep it for awhile.

          • I’m not blaming Lafreniere. I’m blaming the decision to play him in the NHL. He is young and it is not his fault that he is not yet very good.

          • It was a Covid environment where if you sent him back to a league he had already lapped the field, he would’ve played 39 games.

            If you sent him to Hartford on “conditioning assignments”, he would’ve started a month late and been lucky to play 4 games every two weeks.

            The only place he could go was Broadway. It might not have been the best idea, but it was the least worst one. Anything else is a bunch of nonsense.

        • “So in my view when players take significant less in money making without seeing how they recover the loss of their earning gets you to communistic ideas”

          As tanto says, Strome’s goal should be happiness. He is already rich. He doesn’t need any more money to buy everything he really wants I would imagine. The idea that he should sign his next contract with the team that will pay him the most money no matter what is a surrender of his freedom to the almighty dollar.

          My suggestion is that he trade salary for other benefits.

          For the record, I believe greed is both evil and a powerful engine for economics that needs to be utilized. So both communism and laissez faire capitalism are absurd.

  • Agreed on that this is such a fun team to watch and easy to root for.

    Disagree on all the anti-Quinn nonsense – Howden’s usage aside, he has developed players (albeit gradually) into 2-way players. Who ever thought Buch would be killing penalties?

    Trouba has been very solid and more physical and engaged recently.

    I don’t think Pajuniemi has signed yet , he’s still playing in Finland. Perhaps you are referring to Reunanen?

    • DQ can’t take credit for this one. It was not his idea. Buch came to him himself and told him he used to kill penalties back in KHL

      • Interesting, didn’t know that! Buchnevich just seems to be totally confident and engaged. With his skills, that is very good to see.

        • Kravtsov will be next … let’s see how many years pass before they try him out killing a penalty. Based on what I’ve seen so far, he looks like he will be capable.

      • Beat me to it …

        Some players respond well to additional responsibility and trying to do things they’re told they can’t do, some players crumble and confirm that the preconceptions are valid.

  • Hopefully the Kings trade for Eichel. Then we can trade one of our D prospects Jones, Robertson,Schneider for whichever top C prospect they Didn’t trade to Buffalo Turcotte or Valardi. I am sure Q.B. Is considered untouchable

  • barkov and horvat ( for face-offs, both of them ) are the only centers i’d be looking @ now. i think they need to stay away from eichel. the rangers either next year or the year after will be able to run 4 full lines and 3 sets of d-men, all being exceptional players and of course shesty. biggest thing i think they need to do is get ALL skaters on board as penalty killers and power play guys, they certainly have enough talented players, some are being left out as special teams players, look @ BUCH, who would have known, SPECIAL TEAMS WIN GAMES !!! they all need to be interchangeable. by the way great article !! being 74, i need another win or two, yes !!

  • Panarin vs. Pitt 3-7-10 (-3) Isles 2-2-4 (0) Boston 0-1-1 (0)
    Buf 3-6-9 (+9) Dev 4-8-12 (+8) Caps 2-7-9 (+4)

    Mika vs. Pitt 2-1-3 (-7) Isles 1-2-3 (+3) Boston 0-2-2 (+1)
    Buf 1-2-3 (+2) Dev 3-6-9 (+2) Caps 2-2-4 (+2)

    Buch vs. Pitt 1-5-6 (-4) Isles 2-1-3 (+4) BOston 2-1-3 (+2)
    Buf 1-4-5 (+1) Dev 6-4-10 (-1) Cap 3-3-6 (+4)

    Fox vs. Pitt 2-6-8 (+1) Isles 0-1-1 (0) Boston 0-2-2 (-1)
    Buf 1-7-8 (+3) dev 1-7-8 (+8) Caps 1-5-6 (+6)

    Strome vs. Pitt 3-3-6 (-3) Isles 0-1-1 (-2) boston 2-2-4 (-1)
    Buf 1-3-4 (+5) Dev 4-7-11 (+6) Caps 3-5-8 (+4)
    Quick seasonal Split stat display.

    Only surprise on here for me is Strome. But in all honesty I agree with Justin in that there is really nothing that separates him from the next center. That is not me saying that I feel that Rooney could fill in for him and do as well. But take a guy like William Karlsson on Vegas who was a 20 point producer on Columbus. Then goes to Vegas and then explodes for 43 goals and 35 assists. And since he has tapered off but Columbus was happy to have Vegas take him. In my eyes paying him more then 4-5 million is stupid. But I can totally see us doing that.

    I think everything with these players such as Mika, and Strome should be solely decided on their playoff performance or lack thereof. Cause honestly who is on Pittsburgh right now? Name a center outside of Crosby and Malkin. Yet they dominate us. To the point they can score at will like we just did against the Devils. My point is don’t forget that bitter taste that was in your mouth after we gave up game after game to Pittsburgh. Just cause we beat the teams we should beat at this point in our rebuild…. doesn’t mean that guys like Mika, and Strome, and Buchnevich are the answers long term. The real question is can they beat anyone in a playoff series and can they play consistently enough to even get to the playoffs. We have yet to see this team in a real playoff series. And most likely we are going to have to wait another year.

    Overall point is if you can’t make the playoffs with probably 2 of the top 10 forwards in the league, a norris trophy performance defender, and arguably one of the best goalies. What will it take? This isn’t the first go round. This is the coaches 3rd year. We should have made the playoffs this year. And while we still have a chance, we should be on the inside looking to fight off boston or the islanders, not praying we can sweep the islanders and hope the caps do the same. Now this is not all on Quinn. But something needs to change. And I don’t see signing Eichel as a win in anyway shape or form. We need a guy like Nugent Hopkins. But his asking price is probably going to be to high. But he is the best fit.

    • A lot of those games against Pitt were early in the season when Mika couldn’t score to save the life of a dog at the ASPCA.

    • point is not to sign anyone long term til they prove themselves to be playoff producers. Arguing whether or not a guy like Buchnevich is worth whatever money is pointless on a team that can’t make the playoffs.

      Islanders are turning up the heat and as usual we are folding and our elite players are nowhere to be found. We get a goal from smith of all people. The guy who was so bad we had him playing forward last season.

      This should be a statement game from our best forwards and all I see is them turning over the puck constantly.

      I would like to see in games that matter mika have a dominating performance. I don’t care that he can trash philly or the devils or whatever garbage team is against us. Til he does it in a game that actually matters I would let him walk.

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