||10-13-2013 07:29 PM
Depth or Dearth?
The Rangers are in a very strange spot in terms of their personnel. With the upcoming UFAs and players perceived to be ready in the AHL combined with the uncertain direction I wanted to take a little closer of a look. I understand tensions have been high but its as good of a time as any to look in the mirror. As a preface I will say that in a salary cap era, teams cannot afford to overpay, and general managers need to proactive to replenish assets. Also these don't need to happen over night.
Upcoming UFAs Forwards:
Callahan, Brassard, Boyle, Pyatt, Pouliot, Asham, D. Moore, Powe, Haley.
I am going to talk about Callahan and Brassard a little later.
Asham, Powe and Haley will certainly be gone. For the record I might take Haley over Dorsett at this stage but I digress.
Boyle and Moore as well as Pyatt and Pouliot were redundant signings. I think one of the major problems with the Rangers since their run two years ago if that they had been getting away with 3rd liners on the 2nd line, 4th liners on the 3rd line, etc. Boyle and Moore are both 4th liners with no legitimate upside at this stage. Boyle is obviously a very polarizing figure on this board but when push comes to shove, he will be in the ball park of 2.75-3 million cap hit to resign, which in the face of at least a minor rebuild seems foolish. Pouliot has seemed like a nice player but there is a reason he has bounced around. Also he is another player who is an offensive misfit being in the top 6 by default basically due to injury. Pyatt is in the the same boat. he had a couple of nice games last year but they were few and far between. Again, the question is are either of these players a lock to be on the team next year? I would hope the answer is no.
Yes I am aware I just banished 2/3 of our bottom six. However as I mentioned in another thread I would look at the example set in SJ. They made the commitment to get younger, faster and hungrier in their bottom six and that team has really catapulted on the upswing. Also they are certainly sustainable. How often can a team faced with losing a Thornton and a Marleau in the off season and have a legitimate shot to be BETTER next year if they stay the course. But how does this relate to the Rangers? Counting Jesper Fast, they have 5 or 6 players that could absolutely be useful in re-energizing the roster. if you were to switch out the Rangers current bottom six, (mind you this doesn't have to be overnight) for example Kreider-Miller-Kristo, a fast forechecking line that can grind and finish, and Hrivik-Lindberg-Fast, which is certainly capable of puck possession and strong two way play. Is this not an example of zone matching? Not only that but a lot of those players are interchangable with each other. In this scenario relegating Dorsett to an Asham role in this scenario makes the team able to match up when necessary. The Rangers need speed and energy, would this not help in that area? This brings me to the next section
Upcoming RFA forwards:
Zuccarello, Kreider, Mashinter, Bourque, Jean, Wilson, Missanen, Kristo
I am only going to discuss the bold players. Mashinter might get a shot with the big club every one else, I don't see it. Kreider and Kristo are two very important players because by the deadline, they need to assess if either are worthy of the roster. A shot in the bottom six with a chance to move up is the only way to determine it. Everyone expects them to be up with the roster at some point this year, and I am not sure what benefit there is to delaying it in favor of players that you already know what you have with, particularly those mentioned above. Personally, I do not see the point of keeping Fast up if his line mates can neither skate with him nor get him the puck. Obviously I think Fast's best possible NHL linemates are in the AHL but I am not sure how much sense that makes. Zuccarello to me is a great 13th forward for extra offense. I just do not see how he holds up in a top six role over 82 games. However I think MZA is at his best in small doses. He can be a spark plug over a couple of games at a time but he is not a guy I would want to rely on over a full season. At least one of the three bolded players I think are destined to be trade bait. Which brings me to my next point...
Callahan, Brassard and Hagelin:
These guys represent the best trade bait on the Rangers. Only Hagelin is contracted past this summer. I like Hagelin as much as the next fan, but the question comes to mind; do I think he is good enough to score enough to justify being in the top six going forward? It is a maybe at best, however he has value and is a piece you can move. Also, Fast seems to be his replacement anyway in my opinion.
Brassard is a guy I would definitely trade. I just do not see any scenario in which he can be statistically worth what he would demand in his next contract as a youngish 2/3 center with offensive talent. However as a center, you should be able to trade him for a similar wing or defenseman, since people love their centers. While I am a proponent of keeping Richards at LW, if Brassard was traded Richards could slot into the center role, that is before he is amnestied due to the necessity of the cap recapture. The irony of that is sickening.
Callahan I would love to keep. However I do not think he is a keep at all costs player at least anymore. If he wants Dustin Brown money, I think you really need to look at possibly moving him. Anything over 5.25million is ludicrous for Callahan and personally I wouldn't go over 5. In a salary cap era, the biggest mistake you can make is signing players to contracts that are too long and too expensive relative to their talent. Girardi you need to trade if he wants more than McDonagh, and I would trade him anyway because he is another guy I can't see being worse the money required to sign him in an imminent bidding war. The same with Henrik. I would have a very hard time giving him more than the 8x8 deal Kessel got.
Summing up. The Rangers in theory have depth players to rebuild the team out in a more modern way, however if they choose to go this route it is neither impossible nor without president. I am not guaranteeing the big 6 prospects the Rangers have pan out, but they certainly can create minutes without sacrificing too much. If they can get 2 of those six players to evolve into top 6/top 3 players the team should be ecstatic, but with either way they have the players to try it out. Either way they need to find some 1A/1B talent. Need to swing for the fences in trades to find these players, Glen just has to get creative. I have some ideas about how I would go about this and a more than willing to discuss at some juncture but as for now remember kids, no half measures.