Forwards

How the Rangers fix their grit problem

It’s no secret the New York Rangers roster was constructed with elite young, projectable skill. High-end draft picks and some savvy trades supposedly have GMs and fellow suits around the league envious of the talent up and down this roster. However, given where the Rangers  sit on the bell curve, they ended up lacking sandpaper and grit in their forward corps. There was nothing wrong with this per say, as the team has been in the process of rebuilding, and growth stage rosters typically aren’t flush with grinders and gamers.

With that said, the speculation around the firings of Jeff Gorton and JD intimated that Dolan wants to wrap up this rebuild and start competing for Cups. If the Rangers are to take that next step, this offseason and perhaps the next trade deadline would be the time to address the need for grinders and power forwards.

The challenge for Chris Drury is that the Rangers also have some decisions to make at the center position with Zibanejad and Strome both out of contract next summer. The issue gets compounded with the fact that most power forwards and heavy forecheckers play on the wing. Rarely can you grab centers that play that style of game without it costing an arm and leg.

For now, the focus will likely be on acquiring some meat in the middle of this lineup.

Barclay Goodrow (TBL): 28 years old / $1M cap hit UFA / 6’2 215 lbs

Other than the fantastic hockey name, Barclay Goodrow is the exact type of bottom six winger Drury should be targeting this offseason in free agency. While he has only put up 93 points in 300+ NHL games, he can play hockey.

Goodrow plays 14 mins a game in Tampa and was given 12+ a night in San Jose. He also doesn’t cost you puck possession. He has a career 52% CF at even strength despite getting most of his starts in the defensive zone. Cooper also deploys him on the first unit of their PK. That matters.

Zach Hyman (TOR): 28 years old / $2.2M cap hit UFA / 6’1 209 lbs

Zach Hyman is an extremely versatile player who has seen his ice-time and points production increase with each season. He has put up 0.75 pts per game the past two seasons and will likely get a hefty raise on the open market.

Given the fact he is one of the best forecheckers in the game, can play all situations, and will cost nothing but money, he could be prime target this offseason. Most in Toronto consider him to be the glue guy who digs pucks out for the Matthews’, Marner’s, and Tavares’. As a top line guy entering free agency at age 28, he surely won’t come cheap.

Josh Anderson (MTL): 27 years old / $5.5M cap hit / 6’3 226 lbs

Josh Anderson is a 2nd or 3rd line right winger who can pop 20 goals a season for you. He can also hit, forecheck, and get into the crease. He’s essentially a younger, cheaper version of Chris Kreider.

Montreal locked him up last year with a contract that runs through the 2026-27 season, which is a concern. However, the Rangers are the buyout kings and could play that card if they have to down the road.

The only question mark with trading for Anderson is that Montreal gave up Maxi Domi and a 3rd for him last October. They might not be willing to part with him this soon after his acquisition and extension. However, stranger things have happened in the NHL.

Matt Tkachuk (CGY): 23 years old / $7M cap hit / 6’2 202 lbs

Given his age and history of putting up points in this league (around 0.8 pts per game), Tkachuk wouldn’t come cheap. However, if there’s any player worth throwing the kitchen sink at, Matt would be it.

He’s one of the rare power forwards in this league that can hit, score, make plays, drive possession and scoring chances. He can play either wing at EV or on the PP, which is where we need him. He’s an RFA after next season, so perhaps that makes him slightly more acquirable.

Who can the Rangers trade?

The Rangers have an abundance of defensive prospects (Lundkvist, Jones, Schneider, Reunanen) that they can package and move for either a center or a grinder or both. Lauri Pajunemi (RW) put up almost a point per game in the Finnish league. He could either be trade bait or make Vitali Kravtsov available. Neither player projects to be a first line power forward, so I’d be comfortable moving either.

Filip Chytil didn’t take the major step forward I had hoped for in year three. However, I don’t think Quinn utilized him correctly. His average time-on-ice somehow went down this year, despite him putting up more points per game than last year. I also don’t think his future is at center given his inability to win face-offs or play two-way hockey. His best bet is probably on leftwing, which isn’t a position of need.

Final Thoughts

Obviously, the list of gritty players for the Rangers to target will be longer than this. Barring what they do with Quinn may dictate where in the depth chart the Rangers focus on. Either way, the roster as it stands needs upgrading if we are going to make a run next year. This is lining up to be a fun summer. Stay tuned.

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  • Excellent list… Another critical area of weakness is face-offs – addressing both should be a priority… TDA, Gauthier, Buchnevich, Chytil and Strome should be pieces to be used in the trades to address these deficiencies…

    • Surprised Buchnevich is suggested as trade bait. He is still young, showed he is exactly the kind of player Rangers need with his Capital aggression.

    • You trade Buch, Chytil and Strome and there goes the scoring. Strome had 49 pts in 56 games, Buch had 48 pts in 54 games, Chytil had 22 pts in 42 games but with far less ice time. Who will replace those guys? As for Gauthier, the guy never got an extended look but I believe that he will have a successful NHL career.

      • I totally agree with you on the scoring aspect. I would be cautious of trading/letting Gauthier go via expansion draft. He will have a successful NHL career, let it be with New York Rangers. Plays a North/South game and he’s young. Patience and developing his game, you won’t regret it.

    • Disagree, the only way to deal with TDA that makes any sense for the Rangers is the buyout route. Gauthier can be a valuable piece if given the opportunity…Quinn had him in his dog house… never understood why, think he deserves a chance to stick.

  • I hate to be “that guy” but a dearth is a shortage.

    That being said, good article. I am terrified of what we are going to give up this summer; talk about walking a tightrope.

  • 1. You don’t trade Schneider if you want to develop grit.

    2. Hard to evaluate Chytil. Was actually one of our better forwards til he was felled by Covid and then the hand injury.

    3. At least two of our young guys (Barron, Laffy) can play with grit as well at least one prospect (Cuylle). Don’t know about Richards.

    4. Meta question: Any thought to the view that the game is evolving to a more skill game (including in playoffs)? If so, the grit needs to be strategically peppered through the lineup, not at the expense of high-level skill.

    • Agree about Chytil. Next to Panarin he had the biggest differential regarding even strength goals for versus against. He produced over half a point per game without scoring even 1 PP point … and this in ONLY 13:14 minutes of ice time per game. Yeah, that’s the guy I want to consider trading. lol

      • Chityl produced 2.5 points per 60 at even strength this season. Eichel’s career number is 2.186. Filip faded a bit at the end and dropped below Ovi’s career average, but is still ahead of McKinnon, Tavares, and many others.

        Essentially for every hour he was on the ice, the Rangers scored 3 goals and gave up 2. How is he a defensive weakness?

        In addition, I think of the four kids, Chityl likely has the lowest trade value. He wasn’t a top ten pick after all and his stats are not inflated by PP points. People here always want to keep the players with the highest trade value and that can be counter-productive.

        • Agreed ray. He faded some at the end because with all the injuries the lines were a complete jumble … but still, 13 minutes of ice time per game, 1/2 a PPG, no PP points and a good goal differential — give this kid 18 minutes with 2-3 of those minutes on the PP and he is putting up GOOD 2C numbers around 55-60 points (full season). That doesn’t even factor in playing with 2 TOP 6 wingers. I mean he’s 21, little quirks and flaws in his game can still be corrected … how good can he be by the time he hits 23-24? That’s what I want to find out.

          • I also think Chytil’s flaws can be corrected. Especially faceoffs. People need to look at the FO% for Kevin Hayes his first three seasons. They forget, he was awful.

          • Anybody can learn to be at least “competent” at faceoffs, it’s mostly a learned skill … instead of just shooting 1 million pucks this offseason, these guys should be focused on faceoffs.

      • That goal he scored deeking out the goalie close up was my favorite goal of the season.

        May be an issue of whether he ultimately a C or W, but I would not want to give up on him.

    • I think the issue isn’t “grit” per se as the ability to play the boards, play in traffic etc. The team needs skilled players who can alter their game as needed in the playoffs and based on the opponent.

  • Good list but being in Canada, Anderson/Tkachuk/Hyman are beloved by their teams so it will cost big time. Tkachuk worth pursuing because of his age…but he will need to be qualified at a 10% increase after next year which means $9.9M (his salary is $9M next year)….yikes!!! Got to think hard about that…I’d go after Goodrow and Blake Coleman….both fit bottom six, UFAs, won’t break the bank and Stanley Cup champs…4 year deals between 2-3 Million per year for each…

  • Without a doubt Matt Tkachuk is a player that would be a big plus for years with the club. Calgary would be crazy to let him escape. If he is available somehow, yeah they should pursue him.

    I don’t know Suit, if I am the Rangers I am thinking that I have all the wingers I need in the top 9. They got some big boys on the wings who need to learn to play up to their size and strength. It is the 4th line where I’d go for some big grinders and hitters on the wings. I have a feeling Barron slots into the 4th line at center quite well.

    What I think that I would be interested in is another center who is big and young, can win a damn faceoff and isn’t named Jack Eichel. Someone who might cost one of the Rangers’ assets in a trade but won’t cost them nearly as many assets as Jack and won’t be paid like Jack. Got a column about centers in your pocket, well dressed one?

    • Since Columbus is going to tear it all up, how about Boone Jenner? 54% career face-off wins and has some nice jam. 1 year left @3.75M. Shouldn’t have to part with too much to get him.

        • There you go, Boone Jenner might be the type of player to play center for you, especially if Chytil blossoms into 2C material. Jenner had about one 30 goal season; he hasn’t put up a lot of points but he’s a big guy and likes to win faceoffs.

          As for the present wingers in the top 9, I agree Suit, if the youngsters don’t learn to play say the way Torts would make them play, then they won’t be lifting a cup soon. They need to be schooled in playing the right way and it be required of them. I am not arguing for a Torts II, but I think they need someone like him whose passion is being aggressive in forechecking, battling for pucks and going to the dirty areas. That can be learned and their kid wingers certainly have the size to do it. What they need is the will to do it.

          • I seriously love Torts but I’m afraid he would turn our young Ferraris into HummVees. The league is changing and we have several blossoming high end talents. We don’t want someone that will blunt that future advantage.

  • I think you started off rather well with the Barclay Goodrow suggestion, but from there it all kind of went downhill. I don’t see Montreal or Calgary moving either Anderson or Tkachuk at a reasonable price — not even sure why Calgary would want to move Tkachuk as opposed to Johnny Hockey or Monahan.

    To suggest Pajuniemi is in the same ballpark as Kravs, well I just have to shake my head. Same goes for hinting that Reunanen has any real value in the trade market.

    You’re swinging for the fences when what we really need to do at this stage of the rebuild is fill out the margins properly with heavy players — especially a bottom big 6 Center that can win faceoffs.

    • I didnt want to write a post just about 4th liners. Had to throw a few swing for the fence type players. There’s been enough top player movement the past couple of years that I don’t think these are complete shots in the dark. But if you have other names, by all means…

      • Ok, here’s a shot in the dark. Maybe try to pry Boone Jenner from Columbus. He’s a career 54% on faceoffs and a physical presence up the middle. I would use him as a 3C, bump Chytil to 2C. Deal might not even cost an arm or a leg if we offer up Strome who could legitimately slot in as a 2C for the Jackets, they need to introduce some more “skill” into their lineup and he might line up well with Laine. Both have 1 year left on their deals.

          • Um, did you just ignore the wink. It was a tongue in cheek remark.

            He’s captain of their TEAM — that is an add on expense, not to mention he’s starting to get long in the tooth. Under different circumstances it would be an interesting “get”, but there’s no reason we should overpay to get what we need when there are some bargains out there to explore.

          • I agree, just worried about the price … think there may be slightly better fits out there that could cost less. That’s really my only objection here.

          • Price to obtain him … if it’s a simple deal, a couple of draft choices, fine … but if it requires giving up any of the prized prospects, pass … again I would rather trade one of our prized prospects for someone else’s (a Center of course).

          • Ha … yes! I really think he fits the mold of what we need … and he’s still youngish.

  • I am sorry this just cracks me up. So thank you for the laughs! I really appreciate the quality content on here. This is just another top notch in depth analysis of the NYR needs. Good Job The Suit.

  • First things first. They need to decide which top 6 Forwards they are going to keep. (IMO we have about 9 and only need 6) And that will have to include anyone they bring in like Eichel ( Which I am not a fan of this idea) After they do that, they will know who they can trade.

    After the expansion draft I would move Rooney, Howden and Blackwell. (assuming none of them are taken by Seattle)If that means to Hartford, so be it. They were and are fine in their roles, but we need a bigger and better 4th line and they are in the way.

    I like the players you proposed, in your article. If you look at our cap space next year and factor in that Fox, Lafreniere, Kakko, Kravtsov, Miller and Barron will still be on ELC’s , at least for next season we can actually afford to spend some money on the 4th line for one year. I would also add Jordan Martinook to the list.

    There are also opportunity to use the expansion draft and our cap space to take advantage of a few teams. Tampa would be my prime target there. They are already $3.5 mill over next years cap. And they have a lot of good players.

    Vegas is place to go shopping and with a year left on his deal Ryan Reaves would be fine by me. It would send a message to the Capitals too. I would also look to St. Louis, I like Barbashev as well.

    I think very highly of Jones and Lundqvist, but they are too similar to Fox. If we want a bigger gritter D is having 3 guys under 6′ and 180ish lbs get you there? They have great skills, but not enough diversity. I would imagine they will bring back big returns. Regarding Tampa, I would see if one of them plus something could land us Sergachev? Can Tampa afford $4.8 mill for a 3 LD?And a move like that accelerates the rebuild.

    Lots of folks are happy to trade Gauthier. I would not be so quick to do that. A 3rd line with him and Barron and a gritty center would be very intriguing.

    Lots to think about that’s for sure

    • I think with the right coach, Goat, can score 20 goals, be hard on the fore check and kill penalties…Quinn isn’t the guy for him…that was made pretty clear.

      A 3rd or 4th line of Goat – Bennett(type, if not him) – Barron, would do wonders in wearing out the other team.

      I believe Panthers will be in a tight cap space position and maybe Zac Jones and next years second would get it done. That is what they basically gave up to get him.

      • Bennett makes sense for 3C. I’d swing even bigger and see what it would cost for Bennett and Barkov? Even if the starting point was Zbad, Jones and Chytil. You have to give to get.

        • i’d be over the moon if we obtained Barkov AND Bennett! And i’ve zero problem moving the three players you mentioned if that was the cost of doing business.
          Zibanejad, Jones, Chytil, Barron (presumably they’ll need two C’s coming back the other way) and a 1st for Barkov, Bennett and a 2nd.

    • Hell, I dream every night of having 9 Top 6 guys in the lineup.

      I would think at least one of Jones or Lundkvist should go. Schneider and Robertson, if being hard to play against is the goal, are the two keepers.

      Re: Gauthier, have supported him all along. I think if he’s exposed Seattle would be crazy to pass on him. We literally wasted a year or two of his development — we as in DQ and DQ alone. If he had 2 heavy players to play with, even the 4th line could be a good spot for him — if the 4th line got 10-11 minutes a night.

      • ES, Gauthier was on the ice for 3.4 goals/60. And remember he is a fourth year pro that didn’t excite Carolina. If I had to choose Rooney (low ceiling but useful) or Gauthier, I would definitely choose the former. Gauthier has a higher ceiling, but it is extremely low probability and the likelihood of any usefulness at all is relatively low.

        Hopefully Seattle will think as you do.

        • Disagree and here’s why. At the time of the trade he was in his 3rd year. We gave up a young first year ALL-STAR AHL d’man and they were looking for depth on Defense. I think they figured Gauthier wouldn’t crack their top 6 and he started out a little on the gentle giant “soft” side, plus the waiver eligibility issue … Keane was still exempt. That doesn’t mean Gauthier can’t be a very useful bottom 6 winger with some pop in his game — he’s evidenced over the last couple of years with us that he’s learning to play a more aggressive and assertive game.

          Again if I’m Seattle I’m looking for a few youngish players that can still develop into decent players — there are plenty of Rooney’s and a few Blackwell’s out there for them to pick already.

          • Gauthier might be Seattle’s “Alex Tuch”

            I would keep Rooney if I were the rangers as he matured into a great penalty killer he plays with tenacity and spunk. And while he isn’t an enforcer he will drop the gloves. He also plays all 3 forward spots. For cheap he’s a good player to have.

            The problem with gauthier is, we still have kreider. And at some point some players are going to have to go in order to infuse the grit and veteran types. I just can’t imagine a lineup that had Kratsov kakko chytil and Laf but needs players like Boone Jenner Martin oil and/or Matt Martin but then also has kreider strome buch gauthier howden.

            We need to consolidate, and unless drury can unload kreider then it’s going to be tough to keep gauthier. He’ll prob have a better career in Vegas anyway.

            Also to add, I’d prefer buch over kreider as buch is an amazing penalty killer now. Plays a great top 6 game, and is younger.

            Mike and Buch seem like the second place tandem to bergy and Marchand. And that’s pretty dam good

    • while Sergachev would be a highly decent acquisition, he is considered unmovable in the eyes of Brisbois (Tampa GM) along with Kucherov, Point, Hedman and Vasilevsky.

  • What’s buchnevich’s value in the trade market? My feeling is sell high; take away his empty netters and how productive is he really? Strome ruins too many panarin plays and sucks in the circle. 2 top six slots open right there. I believe krav has the skills, iq, and motor to be a top 6. Give him an opportunity with the panman. What’s the russian word for highlight reel? Ultimately, I don’t see Mika leading a team to the cup as 1c. 2c, great.

    • Pretty productive … and he was a beast on the PK. 4 EN’s still leaves him with 16 on the season and 44 points in 54 games. which averages out to 67 points in a full season — besides, EN goals aren’t unimportant and means the coaches TRUST you to be out there in the last minute or two of a close game.

      • Do you watch the games? lol He was our best or at worst our second best PK forward — and that’s on a highly ranked PK. So sue me for using the word “beastly”, but he was “excellent” this year on the PK.

    • If the team is planning to compete next year, it means Buch needs to stay. Kravtsov and Kakko are both top 6, but also both young and still have some maturing to do and that is going to happen over a couple of years. It’s a tough decision.

      • That’s the conundrum here. Top 6 guys that aren’t quite ready just yet to be prime time guys night in and night out — this is why you keep a guy like Buch until the younger kids force you trade him.

  • While I do agree with your assessment, I think we need to go big. Tkachuk is the guy you go for. He provides scoring depth and strength. I also would like to add a strong defenseman, who is strong with great +/- numbers. I like Weegers from Florida.

    I also think our 3rd and 4th lines need to be the PK units. Enough of using Zibanejad and Buch on the PK. Too many minutes wear these players out.

  • I have been pushing for Grit and Toughness for Years. I remember posting the following players who were available but we never came close to getting. Milan Lucic, Evander Kane, Wayne Simmonds, Shea Webber, Dustin Byfuglien. From the current list , I would love to have Matthew Tkachuk. I would include Zac Jones in any trade to get more grit.

    • I don’t think they have to do something that drastic at this point…I mean, I would love either Tkachuk but on a smaller scale to start, I would take Brett Ritchie and I would target Keegan Koleshar from Knights, Reeves is still a legit heavy but he is getting old and last old fighter we got was Brashear and that has scarred me since.

    • Tkachuk is a LW, explain how you fit him in …

      Lucic isn’t worth half his contract, you think Trouba got crap for being overpaid … I can only imagine the furor over Lucic if he were here.

      Simmonds is 32 and declining fast.

        • So who do we move to the the 4th line on the right side, Kravtsov? Kakko? Buch? We have the wings, we need to be tougher up the middle and grab 4th line wingers that are both tough and hard to play against. The top 3 wingers on BOTH sides are filled up — unless you want to move Kreider, but he’s on an NMC … or Buch, who has finally blossomed into the player we all wanted him to become. Decisions decisions.

          • We should give Kravtsov time at center. He held hs own laying there in the World Championships.

            His is big and strong and will gain more strength as he gets older.

            He will be a beast in a 2 years

  • Excellent list Pal. Not a huge fan of Anderson but dont hate him either. My number 1 target would be Mathew Tkachuk without question.

    Goodrow, Coleman, Hyman and Oleksiak would be my targets. I would add Sean Monehan to the list too as a player who wont cost nearly as much as Eichel but might be a very good fit here. He is still in his prime and can produce like a true 2nd line center.

    • Tkachuk loves NY and Blue horseshoe loves Tkachuk. However, it would cost a plenty for his services….Very difficult, but not impossible.

  • Short term…
    1C:
    Replace Mika with Barkov/Nugent Hopkins. I doubt Barkov gets moved for anything less than a pirate’s ransom. So he is a pipe dream. But Nugent Hopkins is a good replacement maybe looking to get out of the shadow of McDavid and is a ufa this off-season. Done. Mika gets traded to the highest bidder and gets us some center prospects and draft picks.
    2C
    Strome stays and maybe you move him at the deadline. I would just keep him for the chemistry he has shown with and without Panarin. I think he and Chytil with the right leadership group and coach could be positive assets. But essentially I give them both to the deadline to prove themselves in either direction.
    3C
    I would sign Bonino. He is arguably one of the best defensive centers out there and he is a UFA. If you think I am wrong just check his stats. It is a no brainer if the asking price is right. If not….. you see what the asking price will be for Foligno. Or I like JJb idea of Sam Bennet also. Good grit. Definitely hard to play against. These are the prototypical 3C centers but if the asking prices are too high you stay within the organization.
    4C
    This is where I believe we need to add a Veteran presence just like Toronto. A spezza, a Jumbo, a jeff carter, guys that have been in the trenches and know what it takes. A guy that the kids will lean on and respect what they have to say. Also a guy who can win a faceoff when it is really a must win. I really don’t care who you add here. As long as it is a veteran with a lot of playoff experience and games under his belt for dirt cheap.

    Now Chytil gets mixed around the lineup. Barron and Howden same thing. If they are not thriving you either trade them based on their ability to be sent down or they go down. It gives players like Chytil and Barron a easier transition into the big time. A lot less pressure on the off wing instead of being the guy responsible for driving the play. And this gives us the much needed center depth.

    I am honestly happy with our D core as it stands. Trouba is here to stay. Fox is a PP specialist. I would see if we could add Matt Niskanen as he is going to be a UFA. But as always if the price is too high then it is a big no. And slot in Schneider in this spot.

    Left side we have Lindgren, K’Andre, Robertson, and Nils and Smith. Pick the best out the bunch and the rest either trade if you have too…or send to the minors. Nobody is taking Smith and having a vet on the left side still has it value. The options for free agency are not exactly any better so I would keep him.

    Winger wise, we have all the depth and talent one team can handle. LW has Kreider, Panarin, Lafreniere, …probably too much depth here but what are you going to do? RW you have Buch, Kravs, Kappo, and Blackwell. Mixing in the vets I recommended at center in their off wing positions makes us a very deep team. Centers can almost always play wing but very rarely have you seen a winger play center.

    • Laughable ideas for center solutions. Bonino can’t skate well enough to play for the Rangers. Plus he’s 33 and a 12-year veteran.

      Nugent-Hopkins would be a terrible first line player. He’s a 2nd liner all the way and will be much more expensive than Strome. He’ll want term also. He’s already a 10-year veteran with little playoff experience. Hard pass on RNH.

      And then you want ANOTHER old-timer at center for this team? Gimme a break.

      • You are so right what was I thinking. Looking back I must have had my head in the sand. It is imperative we sign mika to a long highly lucrative contract! I think we trade kappo Laffy and chytil for Tkachuk. It makes the most sense. And calgary would totally do it. I totally think Mika for 10 million and 7 years is absolutely the best idea out there. Or Eichel for that matter and his 10 million. It is not like we have 1/3 of our available cap tied up into 3 players already. What is another 10 million? Right? We are the Rangers! Who cares if 36.1 million of a possible 81 million is tied up into 4 players. We can just add depth pieces everywhere for really cheap. I mean it gives us roughly 45 million to sign roughly 19 other players on the roster. That makes complete sense and then trade away our only elc contracts so we can have a guy like Tkachuk. Totally in on this.

        • Let’s get Joe Thornton, Jason Spezza, and coax Justin Williams out of retirement. Then dig up Bun and Bill Cook. I think the ghost of Jean Beliveau will sign for 3 years/$18 million.

          • No no no, all we need to do is coax Joel Otto out of retirement … put him on a 4th line with Joey Kocur and Chris Nilan.

      • I found it funny you post a article about needing center depth, but then you go on to list nothing but wingers that would all need to be traded for. Doesn’t make any sense. I assumed it was a joke since your last post was about how this team needs center help and depth. And everyone chimed in and agreed with you.

        Then you followed up with this? Really? Who are you taking at center? Are you keeping Mika and Strome and CHytil and Howden? Who are you replacing them with? We have at best 4 natural centers of NHL quality on this roster right now. This is the bread and butter of any cup contender. Center depth is yeast to winning. And you go on a post about filling up our wing depth?

        Are you joking or not? I can’t tell.

        • The article is about needing/targeting gritty players, not centers. The Suit mentions “decisions involving Mika & Strome” as a secondary angle in the article.

          Did you read the article or not? I can’t tell.

          • Why? I can’t understand the thought process.

            In your mind we are lacking winger depth? So having Kreider, Panarin, Lafreniere, Kappo, Buchnevich, Blackwell, Kravtsov, is the main issue with this roster? Not the issue that we really only have 4 natural centers with 2 of them essentially playing the same exact style of play?

            I am sorry but I don’t agree. Could our 3rd and 4th lines use a little bit more grit and strength? Yeah definitely. But none of these players he mentioned are going to come here for minimum contracts or trades. And we need 4th line players not top level depth.

            Take a minute and look at cap friendly.com and just see the depth a team like florida or toronto have down the middle. How many natural centers do they have on their rosters? Honestly. Look. Then go to our roster. Most of these centers are playing the wing. Which give the head coach a ton of versatility when certain teams present match up problems or players are just having a rough stretch.

          • Your initial post about the centers you’d go for is bad. Trading mika isn’t a good idea since he’s a legit top center. We made the cup with stepan who was slower and even worse at faceoffs. Mika is a real offensive threat and he’s one of the better pkers in the league. Rnh would command just as much money to leave Edmonton. Reports are he’s rather play wing for Connor than center for someone else. Anyway the point is to add to the center depth by keeping Mika and adding another center.

            But either way your opinion is your own. I just find your response to criticism alarming. You posted a novel with your opinions and when people didn’t agree you turned to attack them and insult the author of the post.

            Are you really a rangers fan? Being a fan of a team is also about loyalty to some players. Rooting for the guys you have to win. Not just hoping you can get other teams stars, or trying to tear down the whole roster for a fantasy hockey team.

          • Well-said, Lou—this taffy guy is a full-on clown who’s probably an Islander fan.

          • There are those on here who can say much better then myself. I admit that whole heartedly.

            Mika stats against elite teams are bad. No, if, and, or buts about it. The player style is not suited for NA Hockey. European or Russian …he would dominate the league. But these rinks are too small for him and his game.

            He is not worth the cap hit. No matter how you try to spin it. Logically the smart move is to trade him at his highest possible value and get the most return for him. It is not a likeable idea. It means suffering for a few more years. I get it. But it is the smartest move we could make because of the cap. And his implications against it merged with Panarin and Trouba and Kreider. (Read down lower I break it down.)

            Are we a serious cup contender in a year or two? If not then he has to go. We need to continue to develop from within the organization and temporarily fill in stop gaps like panarin and strome. There is nothing wrong with that.

            But the goal of a complete tear down,(Which we completely did under Gorton/Sather) is to create a competitive team for years to come. Not to trade away assets to get players like Tkachuk.

            I am not suggesting anyone get traded in my original post. All the players I picked specifically because they are all UFA. And I noted that if the asking price is to high or to long a term….. on to the next one. There are alot of free agent centers this summer. And with a flat cap we could build a real team from our relatively low cap hit with mika gone.

            I get that this a hard decision as was selecting Laffy first overall when our roster clearly lacks centers. But that is why I conclude Dolan is going to go after a big name center and Mika’s days are numbered. His performances in these so called games dolan watched were not good. And he was a major contributor to our poor performance.

            I understand that you might feel a certain way about what I wrote. I get it. If it offends you good, cause the train of thought around our fans is pathetic. We have had Sather for almost 20 years now and to this day he is still messing up the organization. But yet there he is sitting right next to Drury on the day we fired one of the best ranger’s players and front men in our history after only 2 years.

            That is unacceptable. We should be calling for Sather’s Head like the islander fans called for Snow’s head and went out and bought a billboard to show there overall displeasure. Instead the leader of this site just posts garbage thought after garbage thought. Blaming the team failures on everyone but the man in charge. There was a post about Howden and how bad he is like he was the reason we didn’t make the playoffs this season. Are you kidding me? Howden is a spec in the grand machine of the organization. He will be a blip on the season. In 4 years no one will remember he played for us.

            I have been saying for 4 years that SAther needs to go. We are never going to win if that clown is around.

          • I think Blackwell shouldn’t be plugged into any equation regarding this team … he was a nice little story here for about 5-6 weeks when he got to play with Panarin and Strome, but he shouldn’t be part of our future plans except as a depth forward in case of injury. Replace him with a big heavy tough winger.

          • Like I said…. my roster is short term …like 2 or 1 year worth. Nothing more. I don’t want RNH for 7 years. I don’t want any of the players for any length of time. I want them as stop gaps til the roster fills out. Blackwell just happen to be a good stop gap at his present cost. And he happens to be signed for another year. After that he is gone in my eyes. If he can even make the roster to begin with.

  • I would go at this with a much more open mind. I try to build a team from the ground up. I start with Panarin, Kreider, Trouba, Fox, Shesterkin – the first three having NMCs and the last two for obvious reasons. I want to keep Zibanejad (and he is hard to move). Next I am inclined to keep players that I feel are undervalued because they are worth more to the Rangers playing than as trade chips. Likely this includes Lindgren, perhaps Georgiev as goalies rarely get you much, a few others depending on how the Rangers value guys.

    Then I seek the add-ons to create the team I want. Anyone is available in trade for the right price. Strome likely is the wrong player for the team – everyone else is fine but some need to go anyway. One definitely keeps some of the young cost-controlled players, but not all of them.

    I am definitely inclined to trade Alexis Lafreniere. You don’t really want to tie up over $25M at left wing. And I presume his trade value is astronomical. You couldn’t deal him for Connor McDavid or Austin Matthews even up probably, but I presume he would at least net Eichel (not that I want Eichel). I am not saying he must be traded, but it is insane not to consider it. Of course, you don’t want to back yourself into a corner in such a way as to lower trade value.

    When Whitey Herzog first took over the St. Louis Cardinals, he put everyone on the trading block more or less – and then kept the guys he wanted to keep in the end. You can let it be known that all four of the young forwards are available – with every intention of trading one or two that you have preselected and keeping the rest.

    ******************

    The Rangers did not really have any really good reason to trade Derrick Brassard. Why did they do it? Because they could use him in a trade that made the team better. The best trades are often those where a player we like departs because only then are we sure management will get good value.

    • Ray … you didn’t notice how well Lafreniere played in the last 20+ games? That’s Krazy! Plus hardly any quality time on the PP.

      • The argument here is whether you act rationally or irrationally. You and everyone here support irrationality. It really is that simple. I am not advocating dumping him. We are talking about a player who will bring back a king’s ransom if we trade him. I don’t want Eichel but there was a discussion about how much we would need to give up to get Eichel. Well, we could trade Lafreniere for Eichel and expect Buffalo to kick in some extras. I don’t know that he would net Barkov, but it might not require too much more than that.

        Lafreniere is a 19 yr old kid with a lot of talent. He can be a useful player for the Rangers in the years ahead or he can be a valuable trading chip now. Deciding how to use this asset should be approached rationally not with a “he’s too good to trade mentality”.

        Assuming he is going to be very good, it is still true that the Rangers don’t need three stellar left wings. Surely we want to keep Panarin (and he has an NMC). And Kreider is one of the grittier players the Rangers have (and he has an NMC). I think both are more talented than Laf though Kreider has never fully realized his talent and both are considerably older. But the point is to trade from strength.

        There is a huge plus to trading him. OTOH, I don’t know how things will play out. It is quite possible that he doesn’t facilitate the trade the Rangers need to take them over the top. You don’t trade him for assets you don’t need.

        Certainly I noticed his point production picked up down the stretch. +/- did not improve though and he was playing with better teammates. He mostly played second unit PP but he was truly abysmal. Over 70 minutes, no points and a staggering 2 GF, 2 GA. How many people have done that ever?
        [Have you noticed that whenever he is on the ice for an opposing goal, he is never near an opposing player?]

        I actually looked at even strength performance for the sixteen forwards drafted #1 overall this century as rookies. Jack Hughes was clearly 16th. 15th was either Lafreniere or Rick Nash. Laf was a bit more productive and had a better +/- but in comparison to teammates, Nash had a better +/-. I think Laf was more productive than Stamkos and maybe one other — though +/- was a weakness for Laf. OTOH, Lafreniere came in clearly behind Nico Hischier, Nail Yakupov, and Ryan Nugget-Hopkins. And of course, if we include PP, Laf is superior only to Hughes – not close to anyone else.

        What does this mean? Well, in juniors, Lafreniere was a kid whose performance outstripped his talent. [That is not an indictment when your performance matches Crosby.]. However, that strikes me as indicative of someone who is going to start strong and Laf certainly had a weak start for a #1. It is not unreasonable for me to think that he will never be an elite player and it is not unreasonable to trade such a player if many think he will be elite. [The only elite Ranger forwards of the last twenty years are Jagr and Panarin.]

        ***********

        The willingness to trade someone is rarely crazy. It is simply a matter of whether or not you can get back what the person is actually worth or more. Plausibly an Adam Fox for Connor McDavid trade might help both teams (would have been more likely without the TDA fiasco). Rangers would have to throw in a little extra I suspect, but it might work.

        Obviously we don’t want to see the guys we love disappear, but one can really only criticize after the fact when we see the particulars of the trade and notice we did not get enough.

        • There is no logic in anyone on this site. It is what I have learned.

          I am against trading Laffy, only because why did you draft him in the first place when Byfield was right there behind him? And Byfield fits a very specific need this roster lacks with all the qualities we are looking for now.

          But people like Gorton and Sather and JD can’t make that decision, just like they couldn’t go against the league with Dolan.

          Now if you place Jarko in the GM slot and we get that 1st overall pick again and he knows this roster…. he trades with LA to get the second overall pick and gets more in return because he is jarko. Or he just simply selects Byfield first overall and takes the initial backlash with the foresight to see the outcome.

          This is not the fate of this franchise. Our fate gives us the first overall who is the most talented winger coming out of a draft since Nasher. And instead of getting the first overall pick when Hughes was considered the 1st overall we get the 2nd overall pick and grab Kappo another winger.

          But you are entirely right. If the option presents itself, Laffy or for that matter anyone on this roster is tradeable for the right return. I just don’t think anyone involved in this front office has that kind of sight. Or gawl.

          I would trade Laffy and Kappo right now for Barkov. And I know that is completely insane. But, I still don’t think Florida would do it. I think there truly is nothing they would move him for that we have to offer in a trade. Just like if your edmonton…. you don’t ever move McDavid. That is a gretzky level trade. And how did that work out for them? Huh Sather fans? What is that? I didn’t think so.

          But a very good logical argument. Just doesn’t work with this crowd. Emotion trumps logic everytime. It is what makes the world the place it is today.

          • “I want to remind you the Rangers won in 94 because of very same Sather but you would not probably know it either.”

            Here is a amazing fact. Not opinion based at all. Definitely all fact.

            “The same way when we will win with Mika, you would not recognise his contribution either.”

            Fact without a doubt. I would never eat my own words like those who told me what a idiot I was for saying lias was a bum and would never make it in the NHL 4 years ago. And was the stupidest 7th overall pick in the history of the franchise.

            “You can’t defend any of your position when faced the facts.”

            I have on multiple occasions you just have nothing to respond to them. Bylsma was coaching the Pens and 1 year after his dismissal they won the cup 2 Times to boot. That is a fact. Not opinion. while yes the roster had some turnover…as all do… they didn’t trade away letang, and malkin to do it. Unlike Sather and his greatness.

            Mika is a soft perimeter player and have posted multiple times his stats against the elite centers don’t look to great. I shown you how he has the same goal differential as Howden at even strength while howden is only managing 3 less minutes of even strength ice time a night. Fact …again not a opinion.

            So where are your facts? Oh that is right Sather won the cup a year after…it wasn’t just the fact that had arguably the most stacked roster in the history of the NHL and could afford to lose the great one for literally nothing. Who is the great player they got in return that was the deciding factor in that cup win??????????????????? Oh right that is another fact I didn’t mention. I am sorry. You are such a weak troll.

          • So you are stating that it is a fact that sather drafted these players and without him doing so the rangers never win a cup? Can’t see how that is a fact.

            Lets us define the word. So we are clear.

            Fact: a thing that is known or proved to be true.

            This isn’t a proven. And if you keep reading you will see how I make that point.

            That is a bit of stretch on the truth/facts don’t you think? I mean I know you don’t, but I repoint your mind if you will let me…couldn’t it be possible these players would have been drafted by other GM’s and other franchises. And also assembled by the monster known as Mike Keenan. Just so happens that while yes Sather did draft them…they would have done the same in their respective careers regardless of Sather? I don’t think players are successful or unsuccessful based on a GM. And I don’t think that is a argument of fact. Definitely leaning toward heavily in the opinion column.

            Nothing on Lias?

            Nothing on Mika?

            Nothing for Bylsma?

            So where are the facts as defined by the english meaning of the word?

            FACT
            Mika stats against elite teams are not good.

            Fact
            Mika and Howden have the same goal differential with only 3 min. a night difference.

            Fact
            Sather hasn’t won a cup in 31 years. While also paying some of the worst contracts in league history.

            Fact
            Bylsma was coaching Pitt up until Sullivan took over and then won two cups in a row with essentially the same core of players.

            Fact Letang, Crosby, Malkin, all still there.

            Fact Sather traded stephan, Mac, and Miller, Zuc, Hayes, Staal, Callahan, and Brassard. Yet I dont see the stanley cup playoffs in our foreseeable future or over the last 3 years.

            Where are your facts? LOL I get you are troll and live on here as much as I do, which honestly is pathetic. And fact …I realize it. You don’t see how sad your life is? We are fans of the same team and you are having fun with semantics? Do you have a life? Cause I don’t. Remember you can’t fix stupid so why are you trying?

          • Are you trying to say that without Sather these players don’t succeed to the level they did in their Careers? This one I can’t tackle. Either you will figure it out or you won’t. Sather is not the cause or even the wind in Gretzky’s sail. And that applies to all of them. They all went on to have successful careers outside of him and edmonton. And would have done the same thing had he never drafted them. I get this is speculative in its nature. But players are great because they strive to be great. Not because of the team they got drafted to. If McDavid was apart of the Penguins today…how many cups would they have won at this point in his career? Do you think McDavid is great because he got drafted by the Oilers? That makes no logical sense.

            Are you trying to imply that Sather didn’t have anything to do with the destruction of the 2016-2017 roster? That all of this was simply Gorton and Gorton alone? When every single presser Sather was sitting right next to Gorton.

            You keep saying your response 4 posts ago was enough. But that response just noted that they got Hagelin, and Kessel and someone else. Like this was a massively different roster from when Dan was the coach. It was literally one year later. He gets fired. Sullivan gets hired. They acquire some pieces and go on to win 2 cups. But they also lost some pieces in that time frame.

            But what you are missing isn’t that I am saying all of Gorton’s faults to make my point more valid. I am saying it to show you how a professional team retools and stays competitive in the process like the Penguins.

            I attack people because there is no logic used in their thought process. And they are too lazy to look up even the basic stats on a player/coach to see what is truth and what is false. I.E. you saying Bylsma is a good coach. If he was such a good coach why couldn’t he win 2 cups with the same roster essentially that Sullivan had? You made it seem like this was a completely different team. When that was the furthest thing from the truth.

            It is a fact Mika is not at his best and often times get shut down against the elite teams of the NHL. Just basic stats tell you the story. And when you get into fancy stats it really doesn’t look any better. He was the second worst possession player we had that first game against the islanders when we got shut out back to back. He had the lowest or second lowest expected shots for and goals for. It was really bad. The only player worse then him was Hajek. And when the best center on the team is worse statistically then Brendan Smith …you have a real problem on your hands.

            But you don’t have a counter argument nor does anyone else. But instead of agreeing and moving on from it. There people here saying I am crazy and need to change my meds. That is insultive. I am not insulting anyone who uses logic. I respect them. Peter Richter, Ray, andy, Triple E. These posters use logic. I may not always agree with them but I respect their opinions because most of their opinions are based on facts. They do the homework.

            I have done the homework. There is no team period in the last 40 plus years with a center like our number 1 that has won a stanley cup. The game doesn’t allow it. It is like those russian teams playing those exhibition games against the canadian teams in the early 80’s. The canadian teams were ruthless and physical because the Russian’s were faster and more skilled. If the games were clean the Russian’s dominated the Canadians. So they went to the dirty areas. And physically dominated the russians.

            I am not saying in today’s game these players don’t have a place. I think they certainly do. They just can’t be your leader. It just doesn’t work. And when you have 2 or 3 of those players it really gets exposed and you get the results we saw against the Islanders. Who then went on to lose the next 4 or 5 games to the sabres and devils. Which would show anyone that things needed to be changed. But we are all shocked that Gorton and JD were fired immediately after the Washington game in which they lacked their secondary scorers on top of not having ovi. We got beat by hagelin and their 4th line. That loss was a lack of will or heart loss. We didn’t lose because they were the better team talent wise. We lost because we didn’t want to compete as hard as they did. And they physically imposed their will on our players and our players folded. That starts at the top and works its way down the lineup.

            I am sorry if I offended you, but you said something I couldn’t believe anyone on here would say. Do I think Dan Bylsma would be a upgrade over Quinn? That is like asking if I think a Mercedes Benz is a upgrade over a Kia. But is he a winner? I don’t think so, and most of the league thinks the same way otherwise he would have gotten hired somewhere after the Sabres. There have been multiple positions opened and closed since his dismissal from the Sabres. And it looks likely he never coaches again. Just as I see the same fate for Tortorella. This was his last shot and it ran aground.

          • Look I appreciate your candor. I do. Just think about what you said with Sather and those 7 players.

            Gretzky…the greatest player ever in the history of any sport. Would not have been Gretzky if it wasn’t for Sather. Am I right? Is that your thought process? I don’t want a reason why you think this, I just want to make sure this is your thought.

            Simple yes or no.

          • “He would have been likely. Would he have been as good player? Not sure and neither do you.”

            There is nothing more to say. I can’t help you here. That is just beyond reasoning.

            1669 in 9 seasons.
            1188 in 12 seasons.

            The first stats are his points his whole time in edmonton. While amazing those rosters were stacked with arguably the best players in that generation.

            The second is what he did outside of Sather. He was still the leading scorer in the league in those 12 years combined. No one and I mean no one did better point wise then him. Yzerman was a close second in that he was a 115 points behind him during those years. And Yzerman had more games played by 30.

          • Messier was the captain and undisputed leader of those Oiler teams.

            Gretzky was an amazing player but he never won without Messier so calling him the best ever seems a little over blown

          • “I want to remind you the Rangers won in 94 because of very same Sather but you would not probably know it either.”

            Uh, no, it was Neil Smith. Unless of course you are referring to Sather as Edmonton GM handing us Messier, Tikkanen, Glen Anderson and I believe MacTavish on a platter.

  • One more time! Why would Florida trade their franchise center ? He is still young and one of the top 5 players in the league. They are not trading him for anyone! Only chance is if he asks to be traded and he has t so he isn’t going to be moved.

    Barkov is a pipe dream.

        • With Czech on this one. Unless someone knows something we don’t, I can’t imagine Barkov is “touchable”. I mean the first bit of success for the Panthers in God knows how many years and they’re going to trade their #1 STUD? …. and if he was unhappy before with the Panthers, hard to imagine he’s unhappy now.

  • Laffy is clearly the man going forward. He is Bread but with grit and in terms of how the team responds to him.

    He is untouchable IMO. He can score, he can distribute and he plays 200 feet. He is good on the boards. And as I stated earlier, he is clearly very popular with his teammates — tough for a rookie.

  • Great article. Must agree totally that Matt Tkachuk is the man. I see him as a hard driving but a cleaner version of Tom Wilson. It may take a lot to get him but it will take more than one power winger to make this team harder to play against. Tkachuk with Panarin and Strome would make a great line.

  • As has been stated on the other BSB, Chytil’s pts per 60 is in the top 10 in the league. I believe only 6 other players are ahead of him in this category.

    This is the Buch situation all over again. Buch got more cumulative pts because he played more minutes. Do the same with Chytil, and, lo and behold, all of a sudden, he’s a pretty good player.

    It’s as simple as that.

  • Lets just hope Drury is his own man and Sather is not pulling the strings, if not get ready for us to trade skilled youth for guys at the end of their careers.

  • can’t believe so many people want to move Strome… i’d be willing to bet that Bread prefers him centering his line above anyone else currently on the team… plus i think he’s a behind the scenes glue guy. I’m more than ok with Strome as a 2C.
    if we’re going to move a centre, let’s start with soft un-elite Mika.

    • Always makes sense to trade your top center when your team is thin at center. Guarantee for future success there. You should pitch that idea to Dolan, maybe trade Zibby for someone like Sam Morin in Philly. Or Jarred Tinordi.

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