What Kerfoot To The Avalanche Means for the Rangers

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It’s official. Former Harvard center Alex Kerfoot has signed with the Colorado Avalanche.

The 23-year-old standout would have been a very welcome addition to the bottom of the Rangers lineup. He produced 30 or more points in each of his final three years at the Ivy League school, including 45 last year while wearing the captain’s “C”. Had he signed with the Blueshirts, he would’ve most likely been the team’s third or fourth line center, playing limited minutes. In Colorado, he gets an opportunity to grow into a prominent role with a team that is in the midst of a rebuild.

What Do The Rangers Do Now?

With the Kerfoot ship having sailed off to Denver, the Rangers need to find another center, or two, to add to their lineup. Mika Zibanejad and Kevin Hayes will be slotted into the first and second line roles, respectively; while David Desharnais will most likely be the man in the middle on the fourth line. So who can the Rangers bring in to fill out their center-ice hole?

Boo Nieves

Promote From Within

One option that Jeff Gorton has is to call up some of his prospects up in Hartford. Cristoval “Boo” Nieves is one player that the team seems to be high on. He possesses great size at 6’3″, is good in the faceoff circle, and has the ability to put up the points. Last season, his second as a professional, he had 18 points in 40 games. One downside to Boo’s game is his defensive abilities in his own zone. If he is to make the big club out of camp, he’s going to have to show the coaching staff that he is going to put the work in on both ends of the ice.

Age Season Team LGE GP G A P PIM +/- PPG SHG GWG SH%
21 2015‑16 Hartford Wolf Pack AHL 8 2 4 6 0 2 0 0 33.3
22 2016‑17 New York Rangers NHL 1 0 0 0 0 -1 0 0 0
22 2016‑17 Hartford Wolf Pack AHL 40 6 12 18 10 -7 0 1 2 10.9
AHL Totals 48 8 16 24 10 -5 0 1 2 13.1
NHL Totals 1 0 0 0 0 -1 0 0 0

 

 

 

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Another player the Rangers can call upon is 2017 draft pick, Lias Andersson. The young Swede has looked impressive all summer long, both at the Rangers’ Player Development Camp, as well as during the World Junior Summer Showcase. At the WJSS, Andersson put up four points in five games playing against the world’s best young players. Last year, as an 18-year-old playing against men, he put up 19 points in 42 games with HV71 of the SHL. He has some tremendous upside, and if he continues to play well during training camp, we could see him break into the big club this year.

Finding A Free Agent

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While there may not be any more big names left on the free agent market, there are still a couple of serviceable centermen that the Rangers could use on their roster. One guy is former Ranger, John Mitchell. Mitchell won’t be a major point producer, with his career high being 32 for the Avalanche in 2013-14. But, he is reliable defensively, good in the faceoff circle, and never takes a shift off. He isn’t the sexy choice, but he would stabilize the Rangers down the middle.

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A second player is Daniel Winnik. The 32-year-old put up 25 points last season with the Capitals and is a more experienced version of Oscar Lindberg. He skates well, is responsible in his own end, and is a career 42.5% in the faceoff dot. He won’t harm the team in his own end, which is always good, but he won’t rack up the points in the other end.

The Rangers will be fine down the middle to start the season. Regardless of who is in the middle on the third and fourth lines, this team should be able to pick up points early in the season. But as the calendar turns from 2017 and into 2018, Alain Vigneault will need to be able to rely on whoever he has at his disposal in the bottom six.

8 comments

  • A couple of center upgrade options
    – Trade with Colorado , Boston or Toronto
    – pick up 4 th live free agent C like Mitchell or Winnick
    – go with NYR C youngsters Nieves or Anderson
    – let Miller play center pick up free agent wing like Vanek or Jagr

    • The same fans who criticize AV for playing vets over rookies are the same ones now wanting Vanek or Jagr? Can anyone who blames AV for not playing young guys explain to me why you would want a 46 yr old who hasn’t scored a playoff goal in his last 40 playoff games should play on this team? I know it’s August but come on. Vanek has played himself off 5 teams in 4 yrs…. the verdict is out….. he’s done being a productive player.

      • I’m glad you said it !ike. Some of these comments crack me up. That one on the other article about AV where he was saying AV punishes kids for bad play. It seemed to work out pretty good with JT and Kreider and even Pouliot back in 2014 when he made him sit in the press box for a while. It turned his whole season around. He does rely on his vets a lot and maybe too much st times but most coaches play their vets and when you’re in a tight race right from the start it’s hard to take chances with kids for too long.

      • 46 and hasnt scored in last 40 playoff games on a line with someone half his age who has 1 in that same span. How can that not work lol.

  • Jagr wants 3.7 M and that is from the flames God only knows what he would want from the Rangers and besides we don’t have 3.7 to spend anyway on Jagr. We also don’t need yet another winger like Jagr or Vanek. Neither of them are impressive anymore, while they can still play it is nothing like it once was and without a doubt not worth the amount of money that we can’t afford anyway. Moving Miller to the center spot is a very bad idea, Miller point productions evaporates when he plays center. We need a number one true center something the Rangers have not had in years! We need a 50% plus face off winner. This will put a dent in our prospects but I don’t see any other option at all, we can’t win a Stanley Cup without a true number one center. I think its a big gamble to move Zibanejad and Hayes up a notch. I just think it is either to soon or the combination of moving both that will come back to bite us in the azz!!!

    • I’m actually surprised that they’re leaving all these questions at center really. To me it’s pretty much every line has a question mark at center. We don’t know how Zibanejad and has will do moving up a line. We don’t how Desharnais will pan out in this team at 4th line center and we don’t even know who our 3rd line center is. That’s all besides our new back up goalie that’s coming off a pretty lousy season. I know we got the great goalie coach and all that but why did they get a guy that’s gonna be a work in progress. I’m not saying none of this will work out and maybe it all works out. I just think that’s a lot of “maybe’s” and I’m very surprised they left so many.

  • I expect Gordon to find a 3rd line vet center, no one special just a bottom 6 center who is on an expiring contract. While Id love a number 1 that isnt happening.

    I feel they put themselves in the position to see if Zibanejad/Hayes can handle the promotion. Thats what the play the kids crowd wants. However if they dont get an insurance center for injury they are taking a huge risk. If Zib/Hayes goes down for a couple of weeks our mystery 3rd line now becomes our second line center. Thats alot of pressure for a guy like Anderson/Boo.

    Im fine with seing what Zib/Hayes can do over sending young roster players(Buch/Skjei) for a number 1 center because thats what it will take.

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