From The Writer’s Desk

With the offseason kicking into high gear, the FullTilt writers give their thoughts on the 2016-17 season, as well as what to expect over the summer.

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1) Which Rangers had a good season?

Alissa Devine (@devinealissa) – The player that I think had the best season and had the biggest impact on the Rangers this year is Brady Skjei. He is our youngest defenseman and by far the player with the most potential. It was his first season on the team and since game one looked ready to play. He was a top defenseman for the Rangers this season and he will be a top pairing next season. In the playoffs, he played on an even higher level. He had four goals, including a couple of key ones, and played solid every game. He definitely took the weight off of the Rangers struggling defense including Staal, Holden, and Klein. During his rookie season, he had a total of 39 points and will be a huge factor next season. Being a young defenseman with a lot of upsides, the Rangers organization and fans are extremely happy to have him.

Another big name who came out huge this season was Michael Grabner. He surprised everyone. His speed was essential for the Rangers offense to get going and is a big reason for the Rangers hot start at the beginning of the year. Without his speed, the Rangers offense would have had a different look. He had countless breakaway chances and capitalized on plenty of short-handed opportunities. Grabner had 27 total goals last season, playing one of his best seasons yet.

When the Rangers lost Hagelin a couple seasons ago, the Rangers lost that speed factor. This was especially prevalent last year and against the Penguins in round one of the playoffs. When the Rangers signed Grabner this year, they got another speedy player, but also added a player that can score goals. However, I don’t think Grabner will have as many goals next season as he did this season. He was so good at creating space between himself and defensemen allowing for those breakaway chances, but he only finished on those chances half of the time. He is still a huge asset for the Rangers.

Rick Nash is another Ranger that I think came out and had another good showing this season. During the Regular season he played extremely well, and towards the end of the season, looked like the only player that cared to be there. Rick Nash has a lot of heart and that shows when he is on the ice. He works hard on every puck and skates hard for how big of a guy he is. He had 23 goals this season but was such a team player it was evident in most of the games he played. Of course, his presence weaned off a little bit in the playoffs, but that isn’t a surprise for Rick Nash. I think next season he will come out with the same heart and soul he did this season.

Dillon Horan (@NHLCouchCoach) – Since the day Brady Skjei came to training camp, he looked ready to start the season. It may have helped him that he was almost completely guaranteed to make the team, but he did not disappoint. You can say he may have had a few slumps throughout the season. You could also argue he was one of the team’s top two defensemen through the season at some points as well. When it mattered most in the playoffs, he looked great posting four goals and playing solid defense. I think he showed his true skills during the 2017 playoffs. He got confidence while playing alongside Brendan Smith. He looked very impressive and the Rangers will be glad to have him back next season. He posted five goals and 39 Pts and was a +12 in his rookie campaign. As a young defenseman in the NHL, this is a player that fans, coaches, and GMs smile about.

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Michael Grabner was a real quiet signing last summer. There was a lot of talks that he was done, not skilled enough and would hopefully crack the opening night roster. He came ready to go after leaving Toronto and showed up to camp in the best shape of his life. He posted 27 goals, second most of his career and not one, I repeat, not one goal on the power play. That is what is impressive about this guy. His speed is top tier. He changed the dynamic of this team right out of the gates. He brought what we lost in Hagelin and added a lot more goals. He also was fantastic for us in the playoffs. Also, he went from a -9 last season in Toronto to a +22 this season.

I may catch heat for my 3rd pick, but Kevin Hayes really impressed me this season. I know toward the end and the playoffs weren’t pretty, but to me, a young who had a bad season could really eat away at them. And let’s be honest; Kevin Hayes year two was horrendous. He looked like he didn’t work out prior to the season or really even care. Like he was kind of just there to party and hang out with the boys. Well, he caught a lot of heat that season and most of the fan base would have sent him packing. To Hayes’ credit, he worked his tail off in the summer and came to training camp excited and fit. Throughout this season, Grabner, Hayes, and Miller could completely take over full periods and games. They were great 5v5 and, for some reason, even better on the PK. Hayes had seven shorthanded points this season, which is incredible,  He had a career-high 49 pts, 13 more than the previous season. His ability to keep the puck away from the defender and find the open man is truly amazing. If he can stay consistent throughout the season he could find himself in the high 50’s to low 60’s range for points.

Mike Lazzaro (@IMLazzaro) – The 1994 Rangers.

Christina Phelan (@sinfullysoft) – Brady Skjei, for one. I knew the kid had talent last season when he came up at the end of the year, but he really got the chance to prove what he’s all about this year. He was impressive, and I’m looking forward to seeing him grow more as he gains more experience.

Rick Nash is another one that stood out to me. Many people complain about his salary cap hit and how he doesn’t score enough to earn that paycheck, but they’re wrong. He is excellent on both sides of the ice and has a dominating presence that’s hard to ignore when he’s showing his fancy foot and stick work. He may not have scored a ton, but he certainly set up some real nice plays, and it *IS* a team sport.

Grabner is the last one that I think deserves mentioning. For a guy we got for a steal, he certainly proved to be valuable. His excellent skating and strength were something to behold on the ice, and I’m pretty sure he was just as exasperated as us fans when he failed to score on most of his breakaways (still exciting to watch though!)

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2) Was buying out Dan Girardi the right move?

Russell Hartman (@russellhartman1) – Buying out Dan Girardi was absolutely the right move. Yes, the Rangers will have some dead cap space for a while, but Girardi was not the same player he used to be and it was time for his departure from the team.

His contributions will never be forgotten. The man was a warrior and he became a fan favorite due to his relentless work ethic and shot blocking. That’s what made his decline hurt that much more.

With Girardi’s buyout, there’s space for another defenseman to join the team. Players like Kevin Shattenkirk, Brenden Smith, Neal Pionk or Alexei Bereglazov would be better fits for the Rangers at this point. Girardi was just making too many mistakes and management finally decided it was time to move on. It’s a business and it was the right decision.

Chris Aurigemma (@icehole25) – I don’t like the buyout of any player with more than a year left on his deal. Having dead cap space on the salary cap for six years is a black cloud and may cost us some players down the road. That said, I am positive Jeff Gorton tried everything to avoid this bitter pill. I am worried, going forward, with what they will do about Marc Staal.

Alissa Devine (@devinealissa) – Dan Girardi was an undrafted player who played 910 games over eleven seasons with the Rangers. Of those eleven years as a Blueshirt, he helped take the Rangers to ten playoffs. He was a selfless player with all heart and all grit. He was a warrior. In his 910 games, he had a total of 2,038 blocked shots, which just shows how hard he worked as a Ranger defender. He was the Rangers all-time leader in playoff games and most Blueshirt fans recognize how special Dan Girardi was to the Rangers organization.

With that being said, it was time for his excellent career to end with the Rangers organization. It’s tough for a lot of fans to see him go, but its time. He is getting older and the Rangers need to rebuild. The team needs to get some younger defensemen like a Brady Skjei. He poured so much into this organization that his skill went with it the last couple of years. He is not the player he used to be and the Rangers can’t afford to keep him around anymore, no matter how much of a warrior he is. The Rangers will miss him, but will hopefully get another younger or more skilled defenseman for next season.

Christina Phelan (@sinfullysoft) – Even though it pains me to say it, yes. I’m such a Girardi fan because he worked his way into the NHL and proved to the Rangers for eleven years that he was a true warrior. Blocked shots, sacrificing his body, and just being an all-around force on the ice led to his contract. Unfortunately, hockey is a brutal sport and by diving into it wholeheartedly, he shortened his career. He deserves nothing but the best and I really hope he continues to play after this.

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3) Was this season a “blip on the radar” for Henrik Lundqvist, or has he turned to the back nine of his career?

Michael Kaplan (@OfficialKappy) – The answer, in short, is Yes and Yes. I know that contradicts, but stay with me here. This was a tougher year for Hank than usual, he didn’t get completely comfortable until the playoffs, but I think that’s an outlier. Acknowledging, yes it is the back 9 of his career, simply because of his age, it’s inevitable but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. I’ve always thought that the reason backups have been pretty successful recently behind Hank has a little to do with Skaters Backup Syndrome. Inevitably, teams get a little spoiled with a dominant goalie behind them and when the backup comes in, they have to tighten their game a bit. I think you’ll start to see that for Hank going forward in his career. The team has already placed a mandate of building a better defense in front of him and I think with better defense along with Hank developing in his age a bit more – I haven’t seen any specific area of his game worsen from a scouting standpoint at all and usually the first thing to go in a goalie is the lower body… his legs seem as fluid as ever. So yes this year was a blip on the radar, the transition game isn’t the most conducive to Hank and Yes, he’s on the back 9 of his career solely on age, but not on skill. Hank reminds me of Mariano Rivera in a sense, where he’ll always give you that shot to be there.

Russell Hartman (@russellhartman1) – I believe last season was a blip on the radar for Henrik Lundqvist. He is still a superstar in the NHL, and a lot of his bad numbers this season correlate to the porous defense in front of him for a big part of the season. If Rangers management completely commits to making the defense better this summer, then Lundqvist’s numbers will improve as well.

This is not to say Lundqvist is perfect and of course, he’s not as young as he used to be. But he’s still entirely capable of stealing a game and making those all-world saves we’re used to seeing. I’d say we have at least two to three more years of Lundqvist before his true decline.

Alissa Devine (@devinealissa) – Simply because of Henrik’s age, I think this year was a “blip on the radar” for Henrik Lundqvist. He is on the backend of his career and that showed this season. Yes, it was in part because the Rangers defense struggled immensely this season and you can’t expect Henrik to carry the team; however, he let in a lot of “soft” goals at times. The Rangers for most of the season were able to put up a lot of goals, but the defense broke down and Henrik let in just as many goals that cost them some key wins. I do think the Rangers were too comfortable with “The King” in net this season. Then, when Anti Raanta was put in as the starter, the Blueshirts stepped up their game a little bit and gave Raanta an easier time. A lot of fans this season continuously stated that they would rather Raanta take the starting job, but a lot of fans also believed no one should take Henrik’s spot.

Despite Lundqvist’s apparent struggles this season, I was one of the fans who wanted to see the Swede as the Blueshirts number one goalie. Henrik also steps up his game in the playoffs and plays at an elite level. And in this year’s playoffs, that was the case once again. Next year, Lundqvist will most likely struggle for part of the season again because he can’t play at an elite level for the whole season. However, I think his play stays at his norm in the playoffs, if the Rangers do make it again next year. Henrik’s window is definitely closing in the next couple of years and I think the Rangers know that. I’m not so sure Lundqvist will win a cup as a Ranger, but like most, fans I hope to see it.

 

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4) Will Derek Stepan still be a member of the New York Rangers next season?

Mike Lazzaro (@IMLazzaro) – No. His hairline will further recede to Minnesota.

Dillon Horan (@NHLCouchCoach) – I honestly believe Derek Stepan will not be a part of this team come opening night 2017-18. If they are fielding offers for him, I’m sure he will be moved, especially with the NMC kicking in on July 1st. I’d be surprised to see him not moved by then.

What do you fetch for a Stepan? Who could be a trade partner? That I’m not sure. What I am sure of, is that there are teams willing to pay for Stepan’s abilities and playoff experience. I don’t think Stepan is awful, but I just don’t like the fit for him in New York any longer. I think because of the contract and tenure, AV plays him way too much on the PP, in which he has proven to us time and again that he isn’t offensively gifted enough to run a top PP unit. I would love to move him and his contract before next season when he has control of his destination and we lose suitors.

Side note: Stepan is a great two-way center, which is tough to find in this league. Oh yeah and I thoroughly enjoyed the game 7 OT winner against Capitals, So thank you, Stepan, for the most exciting moment as a Rangers fan thus far.

Chris Aurigemma (@icehole25) – I have my doubts as to Derek Stepan being back. Larry Brooks is reporting they want a first pair RD in return. If they could get Jacob Trouba somehow, I think he is a better defenseman than Stepan is a forward. And he would be more valuable to the team and would not be a financial drag on the team.

Michael Kaplan (@OfficialKappy) – The question isn’t “will” its “should.” Stepan is currently signed through 2021 at $6.5 million per year. So they have him until age 31. That’s a decent deal considering the fact that the cap is rising and you should see a bump in salaries going forward. Stepan may not be your top of the league first line center, but he’s a two-way center. So prototypically, he does slot in better skill wise as a second line center. Last year the Rangers went out and traded for Mika Zibanejad, who’s 23 years old. They also have Kevin Hayes and JT Miller. So they’re deep at center, similar to the 2013 Boston Bruins. With that said, the question becomes can Mika Zibanejad be the prototypical first line center in a 1a/1b type of situation.

So looking around the league at the second tier of first line centers, which includes guys like Ryan Johansen in Nashville, Ryan Getzlaf in Anaheim and Kyle Turris in Ottawa, you land yourself in the territory of needing a 25-30 goal scorer and 35-45 assists ranging between 60-70 points; which puts a center into the 10-20 range of the NHL Center leaderboard. (75-80 points puts you in the top 5). In ’14-’15, Zibanejad put up 20-26-46 (.56 pts per game) and in ’15-’16, he put up 21-30-51 .629 points per game), playing 81 games in each season. In his first season with the Rangers, he flashed 14-23-37 in 56 games (.66 points per game and a 54 point pace over a full season). The high end of that spectrum I noted before of 10-20 in the center leader board, 70 points, is roughly .85 points per game, which will be the jump Zibanejad needs to take for the Rangers to be able to be “elite,” and justify keeping Stepan in my view. So can Zibanejad at age 24 take a step from his career high of 21-30-51 to 25-35-60 and be at the low end of that top 20 range? Yeah, he’s within striking distance. With that said you can field a center group up the middle with Stepan who’s a low 20 goals/high 30’s assist guy (60 points), Zibanejad (60 points) and Hayes, who put up 17-32-49 last year, should make that jump into the 23-40-63ish range, you’re now fielding 3 centers with 60 points each which is pretty deep comparatively to the league. So to keep Stepan, you need Zibanejad and Hayes to take steps forward, in which case you’re fielding deep Centers. If the Rangers don’t believe in that group then they will have to go “top heavy” at Center and land a top 10 guy, but that would be an upheaval of their core philosophy at forward. I don’t believe that trade is out there for the Rangers though unless they’re willing to part with a guy like Brady Skjei or one of Miller/Hayes/Kreider in my opinion. So I might be wrong here, but from looking at the landscape across the league of who’s available and who isn’t, I just don’t see the right deal out there where the Rangers are able to trade Stepan and not deplete their forward group more than they strengthen their Defensive Corp. considering that’s the ask.

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5) Should the Rangers go “all in” on Shattenkirk, or spend the money on multiple players?

Dillon Horan (@NHLCouchCoach) – Go “all in” on Shattenkirk. This is the question that Rangers fans love to ask at this point of the season. I think we find ourselves looking for that piece who can help our dreadful powerplay.

To me, Shattenkirk would be a great fit on this team. You have to look at the intangibles of every team and the Rangers have gone very far into the playoffs for a while, even if we don’t have the top talent in the league. The Rangers don’t always get credit for how good they really are without having a “go-to guy” on offense. We have built a winning structure of having many good pieces, but not great pieces. I think four good lines is better than two great lines any day. You look at the Capitals and people will say “he was on the Caps and they didn’t get any better.” The problem was that Washington was adding a piece to a PP that was already one of the best in the league. Had they went out and traded for a top defensive defenseman, we might have seen Ovi lift the Stanley Cup this season.

This is where I think Shattenkirk could help us. They’re already a deep team and have those two-way forwards that the Caps don’t have. One of the things missing is our powerplay. If we can get someone to shoot from the blueline, this could cause issues for other teams. Other than the Keith Yandle experiment they, have not had a true shooter from the point in recent times. Right now, it is just over cycled until Stepan usually loses the puck or overpasses it to the defenseman. At this point, the Rangers lose momentum when on the PP, but usually gain it on the PK. If we can score on the powerplay, and the PK like we did all season, Most teams will not be able to keep up with that, style. It will wear down the other team’s defense.

I also like this move as it could free up McDonagh from playing those minutes on the powerplay. This guy currently has to play every team’s top forwards, every PK and every PP. You add up all those minutes throughout an 82 game season plus playoffs, and it takes its toll. I also think Skjei will be able to help take some of those minutes off next year as well, but adding Shatty would definitely decrease some playing time for Mac, who you could tell was tired by round two against Ottawa. Not every player is built like Erik Karlsson, and Duncan Keith so you can’t always compare players minutes like that.

Listen, if the price tag is high it high and we walk away, but if the reports are true of this guy taking a pay cut I scoop him up right away no questions asked.

Michael Kaplan (@OfficialKappy) – I think it makes sense for the Rangers to go all in on Shattenkirk and this ties into a bit on the Stepan question, along with the next question of what the Rangers need to do to be competitive with the top teams in the league. Every top team needs an identity and something that makes them stand out. Nashville had deep D, Pittsburgh had speed and transition as well as two of the best centers in the league up the middle, Ottawa played as a complete team and bought into a system. In 2012, the Rangers were the grittiest team in the league. In 2014, the Rangers were the fastest team in the league. This year, the Rangers were “complete”…ish. They were at their best in the speed/transition game, but Pittsburgh is better. They weren’t the grittiest by any means, but they played a gritty series to knock out Montreal in the 1st round. They had the span in the beginning of the season where they led the league in goals per game, but that didn’t last as it came to be that the roster lost its balance due to injuries once Zibanejad went down.

So going all in on Shattenkirk really comes down to what kind of team do the Rangers want to be in 2017-18. Personnel wise, we can already tell they won’t have the best top six in the league, but can they have the deepest forward group in the league? It’s possible if Miller, Hayes, and Kreider take another step towards being 25-30 goal guys. And if Vesey develops a bit more, as well as the two wild cards in Buchnevich and Puempel. If those two can be top nine players, then the Rangers can challenge for having one of the better forward groups in the NHL. Playing a transition/speed game though, they need fast D who can move the puck. They’re very bare there, as right now it’s really just McDonagh and Skjei. Even if they bring back Brendan Smith, who is more of a stay at home defender, they may get 10 – 15 goals from McDonagh, and the same from Skjei. But where do the rest come from? That’s where Shattenkirk comes in. Do a top four of McDonagh, Skjei, Smith, and Shattenkirk rival a defensive corp such as Nashville? It does. Nashville’s group of Josi, Subban, Ellis, and Ekholm put up 150 points last season and 41 goals among them. That’s a lot of offense from your blue line. If you take McDonagh, Skjei, Smith and Shattenkirk’s numbers from 2017 their points total adds up to 146. The difference being 26 goals among them versus 41. Josi (12 goals), Subban (10 goals) and Ellis (16 goals) scored 38 goals amongst them. Now can McDonagh and Skjei be 10-15 goal guys? Absolutely. So adding Shattenkirk AND Smith to the defense does give the Rangers as strong a top four defensive unit OFFENSIVELY, as you can get in the league. The question really becomes, where can the Rangers truly differentiate themselves from the rest of the league? Or are they confident enough to go up against any team and any style of play and match it?

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Russell Hartman (@russellhartman1) – Yes they should and it’s really simple why they should: Ryan McDonagh has never played with a defensive partner with Shattenkirk’s ability. McDonagh is one of the best defensemen in the NHL and has spent 65% of his career with Dan Girardi as his defense partner. Girardi was a solid defenseman earlier in his career but had a steep decline and dragged McDonagh’s game down a bit because of that.

Shattenkirk is a high flying and smooth skating defensemen who knows how to run a powerplay. Imagine him and McDonagh on the same pair? They would be ideal partners with one being right-handed and one being left-handed. Both are extremely good skaters and Shattenkirk wouldn’t drag McDonagh down in the slightest. Shattenkirk could help unleash the true talent within McDonagh.

Shattenkirk would also help the Rangers anemic power play. He has a great shot and his passing ability is spot on. The Rangers haven’t had a powerplay quarterback like that in a long time and when Keith Yandle was here, he wasn’t really given the chance. Shattenkirk would do wonders for the Rangers and they have to do everything they can to get him. Will he automatically make us contenders again? Not by himself. But his signing would be a step in the right direction.

Alissa Devine (@devinealissa) – I do think the Rangers should go “all in” on Shattenkirk to be a member of the New York Rangers next season, but only if the price is right. I do think the price will be right because Shattenkirk wants to be a Blueshirt and wants to be in the Big Apple. His motivator as a hockey player was Brian Leech and his dream can finally come true. With that being said, he would especially help the Rangers on the blueline and on the power play. All Rangers fan know how much the team needs to improve on the power play. Shattenkirk has an exceptional passing and skating ability on the blue line. A lot of fans want Shattenkirk in New York because of the experience he will bring to the back end. I think Shattenkirk would be a perfect pairing with Ryan McDonagh. I think the last couple of years a lot of defensemen brought Mac’s level down and Shattenkirk would be the perfect fit to raise his level back up to what it was when the Rangers made deep playoff runs. Keith Yandle was a defender the NYR lost to the Panthers that had a similar ability as Shattenkirk, but I don’t think is as much of an asset. Signing Shattenkirk would be a big step for the Rangers and if you put it in perspective the Blueshirts would have a dominant top pairing of defenseman. With Ryan McDonagh and Shattenkirk on the first line and Brady Skjei with Brendan Smith on the next line, the Rangers would have a much more dominant defense. That is if the Rangers are able to keep Brendan Smith for next season.

A lot of fans want Shattenkirk in New York because of the experience he will bring to the back end. I think Shattenkirk would be a perfect pairing with Ryan McDonagh. The last couple of years, a lot of defensemen brought Mac’s level down and Shattenkirk would be the perfect fit to raise his level back up to what it was. Keith Yandle was a defender the Rangers lost to the Panthers that had a similar ability as Shattenkirk, but I don’t think is as much of an asset. Signing Shattenkirk would be a big step for the Rangers and if you put it in perspective the Blueshirts would have a dominant top pairing of defenseman. With Ryan McDonagh and Shattenkirk on the first line and Brady Skjei with Brendan Smith on the next line, the Rangers would have a much more dominant defense. That is if the Rangers are able to keep Brendan Smith for next season.

Signing Shattenkirk would be a big step for the Rangers and if you put it in perspective, the Blueshirts would have a dominant top pairing of defensemen. With Ryan McDonagh and Shattenkirk on the first line and Brady Skjei with Brendan Smith on the second line, the Rangers would have a much more dominant defense. That is if the Rangers are able to keep Brendan Smith for next season.

6) What do the Rangers need to do to compete with the NHL’s top teams next season?

Michael Kaplan (@OfficialKappy) – A lot of people will give you the quick answer of “sign this guy or trade that guy” and that’s all well and good, but I can’t recall in recent memory a team becoming a cup contender solely in the offseason. Championships aren’t won in free agency, but they are won in the offseason by the players. The Rangers were in the top half of the league last season in terms of the youth on their roster. They have core young players in Kevin Hayes, JT Miller, Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider which rank among those guys who had good seasons last year and are settled in the NHL game that each need to improve. A player’s stats should progress each season until age 27-28 when they hit their prime.

Then there’s the Jimmy Vesey and Pavel Buchnevich’s of the lineup who had up and down rookie seasons. If those two guys can become mainstay’s in the top nine, I think the Rangers look pretty good as far as competing with the top tier of the league. It’s a known mandate now that Jeff Gorton needs to and will re-tool the blue line. He’s already bought out Dan Girardi and Kevin Klein is rumored to be retiring. As of now, the Rangers have Ryan McDonagh and Brady Skjei as far as shoe-ins on the blue line. The other four spots are highly TBD, but the thought is that it’ll be younger and quicker on the puck than last season. You have to trust that Gorton will give AV the tools he needs on defense, whether it’s from within or by bringing someone in from outside the organization. The blue line, as far as personnel, was the team’s biggest weakness last year and exposed the overall erratic defensive zone play by all five skaters. That’s on AV to touch up and address. All in all, the Rangers just need to get better all around, and I think we’ll see a team that’s competing for a top two spot in the Metro next season.

7) Which Rangers prospect(s) will make the team out of training camp?

Dillon Horan (@NHLCouchCoach) I think Ryan Gropp and Neal Pionk should definitely get a real good look in camp this season. Not sure how many people watched UMD this season, but Pionk was something to watch. His ability to shoot off the pass is something the Rangers desperately need on the blueline. He may not be the biggest fellow in the prospect pool, but he skates well and can move the puck. He posted a +24 rating in a division that includes the national champion Denver Pioneers and North Dakota Fighting Hawks. He also put up seven goals and 37 points from the blueline this year. He has progressed every year since high school, never producing less than the previous season. That is something to look for in a young player. There is a reason 20 or more NHL clubs were looking at this kid.

As for Gropp, he is a player who, if the Rangers were to lose Stepan down the line, he could be the player chosen to make up for those 50pts. I know that may seem a little high for a player who only played in the WHL (possibly the easier of the Major Junior leagues). All I’m saying is take a few minutes and watch this kid, he can flat out play. He has a knack for finding the back of the net. He has a great release, leading to him putting up 30+ goals in each of his last three seasons with the Seattle Thunderbirds. He posted 70 points last season, and 84 points this season. Like I said, you have to take those numbers with a grain of salt because the WHL isn’t the most difficult league to play in. Look at Nail Yakupov. Never mind, I take that back, let’s hope it’s not that bad.

Chris Aurigemma (@icehole25) – This week, the Rangers put out video highlights of Sean Day on social media. This makes me think he will get a long look in TC. I envision an Anthony Duclair like run to make the team, and I could see him making it and lasting at least 9 games, with his play determining if he stays or gets sent back to Windsor. The Windsor Spitfires lost coach Rocky Thompson to a coaching job in the NHL. This may also have an effect on him staying on Broadway.

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8) Does Jeff Gorton need to change his coaching staff?

Christina Phelan (@sinfullysoft) – I simply don’t know. I think AV is good in lots of ways, but his stubbornness when it comes to young players kills me. They need a chance to play, to develop, and to learn that we all make mistakes, and need to learn from them. But instead, he benches them in favor of more experienced players (who sometimes make even worse mistakes). I think if this coming season is the same as the last few have been, it might be time to shop around because there’s only so much one coach can do. When players fail to respond, it’s not a team problem anymore, it’s a coaching problem.

Zak Chiger (@zakftnyr) – For all the “Fire AV” talk on twitter from the living in the moment Rangers fans, Alain Vigneault has done a very good job as the Rangers bench boss. He has guided his team to the playoffs in each of his four years on Broadway, including a Stanley Cup finals appearance in his first campaign with the Blueshirts. So for me, the problem isn’t AV, but it may be his assistants.

Jeff Beukeboom did a pretty good job in his first year coaching the defense. He helped develop Brady Skjei into a top talent and improved the Rangers penalty kill from 26th in 2015-16 to 19th this year. As for Scott Arniel, his role as “PP Czar” has not really done much. It has shown glimpses of what it can be, but it has been woefully inconsistent over the last few years. He has been with the Rangers since the 2013-14 season, but it may be time for the Rangers to look at finding a replacement.

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  • Kevin Hayes had a good year? What? I swear some Ranger fans do not watch the entire season. Hayes completely disappeared off the radar and went missing the entire 2nd half of the season. I was a fan of the Hayes signing but he has played nothing short of gutless for the Rangers. The bigger the game the smaller his production gets. I hope the selection of Hayes was a joke. Hayes shouldn’t be anywhere near the discussion as to who had a good year for the Rangers.

    I can’t wait for all these people who love Shattenkirk and his 6.5 million+ per year salary. Because within the 1st half season if he signs her these same people will call for Gorton’s head. Has any of the people above who say he fits perfectly with the Rangers actually seen him play other than the games vs the Rangers? Of course he fits perfectly bc this team is a disaster in their own like like Shattenkirk. His defensive play makes Girardi and Staal look like perennial Norris Trophy candidates. This guy is truly one of the most overrated players in hockey. Was never a 1stvpairing candidate and his offensive doesn’t make up for his defensive liabilities. This signing will be one of the worst moves this franchise could make.

    And for the AV plays his experienced players over young players crowd, name a successful coach who has won in any sport that has won as many game as AV and played younger players over his experienced players who’ve been in those situations many times before?

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