When the Rangers inked Taylor Pyatt to a two-year deal last night, there were more quizzical expressions than when the Rangers signed Arron Asham. The signing of Pyatt likely means that Ruslan Fedotenko is done in New York, like the way Asham’s signing meant Brandon Prust was done in New York. The swapping of bottom-six players isn’t all that uncommon, as players bolt for paydays and teams part ways for cheaper options.
But as we pointed out before, the Rangers downgraded (albeit slightly) in Asham over Prust to save some cap space. Pyatt’s signing of $1.55 million annually is a $155,000 raise over what Fedotenko brought last year for similar offensive production. While this isn’t a clear-cut substitution the way Asham was for Prust, there is still some comparison to be made between Pyatt and Fedotenko.
Much like the Asham/Prust comparison, Pyatt and Fedotenko’s offensive numbers are a wash. Also much like the Asham/Prust comparison, where Prust was considered to be a top penalty killer and Asham was not (although he has killed penalties before), Pyatt is not a noted killer of penalties the way Fedotenko is. But that isn’t the whole story. Let’s look at the advanced metrics for defensive play:
Just by looking at the table, you can see that Pyatt appears to be a downgrade defensively over Fedotenko. Pyatt faces lower quality competition, starts more shifts in the offensive zone, and although he has a marginally better puck possession metric (RCorsi), he is still worse in the standings based on PVT and GVT than Fedotenko.
The difference isn’t as bad as the Asham and Prust difference –which is still a marginal difference– but it’s clear the Rangers downgraded on paper here as well. However, Pyatt is a significantly better skater than Fedotenko, who was getting beat regularly late in the season and in the playoffs.
While we may not know what Fedotenko’s options –if there are any– will be, we can rest assured that the management team saw Pyatt as an upgrade over Fedotenko in terms of potential skill and foot speed. The numbers may not agree, and for all we know the salaries may not have agreed, but the Rangers made another move that saw the old guard move out for a new player that appears to be worse on paper. Note the keyword of “appears.”