Is a Barclay Goodrow rotation needed?

The Barclay Goodrow role on the Rangers has been a topic that doesn’t seem to have a straight answer. It’s hard to discount the emotional boost he gave the Rangers with his unannounced return to the lineup in the playoffs, just like it’s hard to ignore any significant offensive input, with last season likely an anomaly as opposed to a new norm.

For Goodrow, his role on the team as a leader is clear. But when it comes to his role on the ice, he seems to be the every-man. He can play all three positions and can, for the most part temporarily slide into a middle six role, as opposed to his ideal bottom six role. But where should he play on this year’s iterations of the Rangers?

The ideal Barclay Goodrow role

The ideal Barclay Goodrow role hinges on luck, as we usually see Goodrow move up the lineup when there are injuries to manage. As we saw in the playoffs, the Rangers were very well balanced and at their best when they had Goodrow on the fourth line, which was more of an energy line in the playoffs.

Goodrow has had success in Tampa in a shutdown role, and that is ideally how he is used on the Rangers going forward. His style of play suits this role, as he’s in on the forecheck and is good along the boards. He does the dirty work needed to keep the opposition pinned in their own zone.

Given how the Rangers are currently constructed, with the top-six more or less set and clear depth and shutdown options, the ideal Barclay Goodrow role is on that fourth line. The Rangers will need a true shutdown line to match and hopefully exceed last year’s results, and Goodrow’s style of play and flexibility in the lineup makes him a critical part of the shutdown line.

The most likely role for Goodrow

However, again given how the Rangers are constructed right now, the most likely Barclay Goodrow role may not be on that fourth line. If we are to take Gerard Gallant at his word that both Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko are going to play in the top-six, then that means a LW gets moved to RW, and given past successes it will be Lafreniere.

This means the top-nine is going to look something like this:

Chris Kreider-Mika Zibanejad-Alexis Lafreniere
Artemiy Panarin-Vincent Trochek-Kaapo Kakko
??-Filip Chytil-Vitali Kravtsov

Naturally this may change, but the players here aren’t going to move around dramatically over the long haul. Many have penciled Sammy Blais in for that 3LW spot, despite Blais not playing LW at all in his career. It could work, and Blais will be in the running for that role, but Goodrow will also be looked at for the 3LW spot.

In the grand scheme of things, there isn’t much difference between Goodrow and Blais on the ice. But given the projections of Chytil-Kravtsov on the third line, the most likely Barclay Goodrow role may be as the veteran presence on that line. In this scenario, Blais, Dryden Hunt, Ryan Carpenter, Ryan Reaves, and probably Gustav Rydahl will rotate on a shutdown fourth line.

Nothing is set

The lineup the Rangers dress in October will not be the lineup they dress in April. This I promise you. Just because the Barclay Goodrow role is most likely going to be on the third line in October doesn’t mean he will have that same role in the playoffs.

The 3LW spot on the Rangers may also have a dark horse in Brennan Othmann. It’s highly unlikely Othmann breaks camp with the Rangers, but stranger things have happened. It’s likely between Othmann, Blais, and Goodrow, with Goodrow most likely having the inside track.

Goodrow’s role is actually small potatoes compared to some other questions in the top-six. The forward depth is solid right now. The bigger question marks are in the top-six, and whether or not the Rangers can find enough offense from the kids. But that’s a conversation for a different time.


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