A few months ago, Rangers fans were left wondering what type of shakeup was going to happen at MSG for the Rangers. 1st year G.M. had left Sather's Rangers mainly together while bringing in forward Eric Staal at the trade deadline but coach Alain Vigneault didn't use him for what he was brought in for the same way as Keith Yandle wasn't used to replace Dan Boyle like he should have been used. Everyone knew that changes were coming, but who would go and who would stay was the question. With the end of August almost upon us, the Rangers 2016/2017 roster is coming a little bit clearer. The Rangers now have 47 NHL contracts signed out of the 50 alloted to each team. This summer Rangers G.M. made moves and purged the prospect pool letting go of players that he didn't think made the Rangers a better organization. There are now only 18 players out of the 47 that are still left from the Sather era that Gorton hasn't resigned are brought in.
Jeff Gorton, this summer has re-signed Antti Raanta, Kevin Hayes, Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller, Dylan McIlrath that will all play roles in the NHL this year. He made trades to bring in Mika Zibanejad and Nick Holden for the Rangers 23 man roster. Unrestricted Free Agents Jimmy Vesey, Adam Clendening, Nathan Gerbe, Michael Grabner, and Josh Jooris were brought in to replace the players let go. Free agent players Adam Chapie, Malte Stromwall, Michael Paliotta, and John Gilmour were brought in to bring the Rangers organizational depth. After looking at the long term projections of players in the minors and drafted picks, G.M. Gorton signed Pavel Buchnevich, Ryan Gropp, Brian Halverson, Boo Nieves, Steven Fogarty, Chris Summers, Nicklas Jensen, Matt Bodie, Tommy Hughes, Robin Kovacs, Sergey Zborovskiy, and Marek Hrivik. It seems that Pavel Buchnevich and Nicklas Jensen would have the best shots at NHL spots this coming season with Matt Bodie being the AHL Wolfpack captain(the captain's C was on a tweet from the Wolfpack about their new jersey this summer).
The New York Rangers pokes into the 2016 Entry draft, and July 1st free agent signing frenzy had all the force of a Pillsbury Doughboy belly slap. The draft pick poor, and cap strapped Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton pretty much accomplished all he could. Grabbing the still available Sean Day with their third round pick, was a stroke of luck and he just might turn into another Duclair, Buchnevich steal. The Rangers can thank their lucky stars for Gordie Clark's draft magic, but really should endeavour to get him some first and second round picks to work with. The Rangers also left the draft minus next seasons fourth round pick traded for right shooting defenseman Nick Holden from Colorado. With a cap hit of $1,650,000 over the next two seasons it would appear the Rangers have brought him in to play.
The free agent signing opened with a thud and nothing much has happened since. Lefty shooting Michael Grabner was brought into replace the ghost of Carl Hagelin, and the recently departed Viktor Stalberg. Personally I'm not so sure he's going to accomplish any more than Stalberg, who was effective down the stretch, and in the short playoffs. Grabner was signed for two years at $1,650,000 per which is $150,000 more per season than what Stalberg got in Carolina on a one year deal. Nathan Gerbe was also signed on July 1st to a one year $600,000 deal and along with Grabner should bring some more speed to the Rangers lineup. The Rangers also signed a pair of right shooting defensemen in Michael Paliotta and Adam Clendening, both adding some depth in the event of any trade movement of last years regulars.
The idea of the entry draft and more so the free agent signing is to improve your team. Player movement is at its season peak and opportunistic teams wine, dine and sign. Unfortunately Jeff Gortons hands are tied and his wallet is welded shut until he frees up some cap room. He's going to have to be patient waiting on a Girardi or Nash deal. Problem is there will be very little interest in Girardi if any, and rumour has it teams are low balling Nash. Make no mistake Gorton has to move Girardi and his contract, and the sooner the better.
According to Cap Friendly.Com the Rangers have $12,450,000 left in cap space to sign Kevin Hayes, J.T. Miller, Chris Kreider and Dylan McIlrath. Add in the anticipated run at Jimmy Vesey on August 15th and General Manager Jeff Gorton's calculator will be working overtime trying to keep all the players happy. It would appear Gorton is slow playing the signings until he gets all or most on page. In particular I'm guessing Kreider and Miller will be signed first. Problem is who knows when. Summer is now officially here, enjoy it more
Many are the New York Ranger fans, bloggers, forum posters and unpaid experts calling for big roster changes before the next puck drops. Big, when you consider most are hoping Rick Nash, Kevin Hayes, Marc Staal and Dan Girardi are all on the other side of the rink, when the summer ends. Indeed a monumental task for Mr. Gorton, when you consider contract effects on teams salary caps, no move, and no trade clauses. So monumental the afore mentioned experts will be disappointed when reality kicks in, and maybe Nash and Hayes are the only two moved. If Gorton is able to move Staal and Giradi and their cap gobbling contracts, for any nugget of note, then just give him the "Executive of the Year" already, he will have earned it. Realistically there will be a market for Nash, he's had his ups and downs, usually, season ups and playoff downs, but teams will be calling. He's been a goal scorer most of his career and hopefully a couple three teams will think he can do it again. The problem for those who want him gone is replacing his 104 goals in 248 games. For the stats geeks that's 35 goals over a 82 game season for three years. Certainly respectable numbers and in the park for his salary range. If they trade him, they better get some scoring back or the offensively challenged Ranger attack might be positively anemic without him. Kevin Hayes is another often mentioned trade candidate who seems to have fallen out of favour in his two Broadway campaigns. Trading 6'5" 230 lb skilled players averaging a point every two games, including and during what most would call a sophomore slump, is risky business. Many's the sorry team that traded a player to early and watched his career takeoff elsewhere. Personally I think he's not getting enough direction from the coaching staff. His game has to much soft indifferent play without the puck, and a little to much dipsy doodle with it. If he could be convinced to play a lot more straight line and physical going after the puck, and taking it to the net, he could be a force indeed, and a power forward X 2. The Rangers would be foolish to trade him before they figure out his ceiling, which could be as high as a solid number 2 center. It's up to the Coaching staff to figure out how to motivate players to get better, and reach their potential. The Rangers need to be careful of big moves this off season, and should be thinking more of a 20 game assessment period next season, to evaluate young players development, veteran player rejuvenation, and coaching performance, and then decide the direction. Right now its to easy to blame last season on certain players more
I'm more than a little surprised some of the New York Rangers local newspapers, and pundits, haven't been more critical of Coach Vigneaults body of work this season. Since the Rangers 2014 Stanley Cup finals appearance the Rangers have been on a decline. Culminating in this springs embarrassing toasting by the Pittsburgh Penguins in a five game blowout. 113 regular season points last season 101 this season, another 12 point drop off next season and the Rangers won't make the playoffs. This off season is not geared around adding players to compete for the Stanley Cup, its about adding players to make next seasons playoffs. You take away Henrik Lunqvists scintillating start to the season and the Rangers would NOT have made this seasons playoffs. Let that sink in, this season was a disaster only masked by Lundqvists early season dominance.
Compound that by delving into the overall poor team play and poor special teams play and there is certainly subject matter for debate. Five on five play was a inconsistent adventure usually preceded by seemingly nightly forward line shuffles. The top lines appeared to be more of a who you are placement, than what have you done lately reward. The compete level and battle intensity level just wasn't there most nights, as it appeared the plan was to win with as little effort as possible.
The once vaunted defence was a shell of its former self. Individually the veterans all struggled, and looked confused in their defensive zone responsibilities. Some more so than others, yet quality minutes were handed to some who were struggling enough to make most observers wonder why they were even in the lineup. Instead of being recognized as having a physical style that could impact games in a way no other defenseman could, Dylan McIlrath sat far to often. McIlrath and late season call up Brady Skjei both showed potential and promise, the lone bright spots in the underachieving defensive group more
I'm not sure anyone following the Rangers realistically expected a much different first round playoff result, than the whupping the Penguins put on the disorganized Rangers. It was ugly. The last two games in particular showed just how unprepared and unmotivated the Rangers were. For whatever reason the Rangers mailed it in against the Penquins. But as mentioned it should not have been a surprise based on the regular season performance of the Rangers.
How could such a promising start to the season end in such a free falling thud in the playoffs? The great start was on the back of Henrik Lundqvist who's play had the Vezina Trophy talk going. In front of him, it was apparent all season the rest of the team was struggling. Lundqvist was left exposed to a nightly barrage of high quality shots the team seemed incapable of stopping. For a team with visions of a Broadway spring parade, the Pittsburg series was a stinging notice its retool time more
Why do I envision A.V. going down with the boat, standing next to the drain hole with the plug in his hands when this series is over. I guess because he's done it all year. He's talking about making changes for the second game in Pittsburg Saturday, and thats exactly what it will be is talk. Who will he sit? Hayes? Giradi? Moore? No chance! The only one with a degree of possibility is Hayes, because AV's done it before. Even though he's a good candidate, based on his no hit, no battle style of play, he likely won't sit. Why on earth would coach put in Oscar Lindberg and his energetic, competitive, physical style of play?
Moore? Please, he's had a pass all year, except for the earlier game or two he sat, so the Rangers could evaluate and then ultimately make the wrong decision, on keeping Jarret Stoll or Moore. If the Rangers move on that mistake will be more and more apparent. Moore has a reputation of stepping it up in the playoffs, that stepup was not seen in game one. In fact he was standing holding a anchor for AV's sinking boat, most of wednesday night, while Tanner Glass and Viktor Stalberg did their best without him. Pretty much a continuation of his season long effort. I've never liked players with that reputation, your supposed to bring it every night, not when you feel like it more