(Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
When a new head coach arrives at a club it’s not just coaching staffs that tend to follow. Players who have built relationships often do the same, and with Maxim Lapierre approaching free agency, the opportunity to join the Rangers seems a logical one for all concerned.
Lapierre is a hard working hockey player that adds depth to the bottom six and is exactly the type of hockey player that the Rangers need when you look at how they were eliminated by the Bruins. He adds size, grit and a solid work ethic. All these traits would help address multiple needs on the Rangers, and this is without considering the relationship he has developed with Alain Vigneault in Vancouver.
Vigneault will surely want a few of his own in New York and the opportunity to grab a player with a solid playoff background such as Lapierre’s, without giving up anything but free agent dollars, seems an ideal situation. At 28, Lapierre is not an aging veteran and, after a relatively modest regular season and a quick exit in the playoffs, it’s not likely he could command big money on the free agent market – no matter how thin it appears this summer.
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Image Credit: Mark Messier Project
While Mark Messier has revealed he has already interviewed for the Rangers head coaching job, the likelihood all points to Alain Vigneault being awarded the job. In all honesty this would be not only the less risky option, but the right option. First time coaches rarely succeed in major markets such as New York, even if you’re a Mark Messier type character, but especially when you have little to no coaching experience.
That said, could Messier be an option for the Rangers long term? Absolutely. The Rangers could look at an alternative plan. The potential is there for Messier to be an assistant coach. He could learn the coaching side of the game while the incoming head coach could benefit from the leadership, demanding personality, and likely face-off coaching skills Messier could bring. Could Messier be groomed toward a head coaching role? The potential is there.
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Pioneer Press: Ben Garvin
Bryan Bickell will surely be a man in demand this summer, assuming he doesn’t get an offer from the Blackhawks to remain in Chicago. The danger for any team pursuing the big hawk is that he’ll be coming off an impressive playoff performance individually, and his production –throughout his career– isn’t overly significant (albeit improving). Remember Fernando Pisani? He had one strong year, followed by a dominant playoff and turned it into a good contract which he never lived up to. There is always that danger in a weak free agent market.
A weak free agent market means Bickell stands to absolutely cash in. That said, the Rangers may need to look at Bickell if he makes it to the July open market. With size, a scoring touch, and a winning pedigree in Chicago, Bickell brings a lot to the table. At 27 with a huge frame –6’3, 230+ lbs– Bickell is also far from an aging veteran and isn’t your standard type of player that is approaching free agency. With a 17 goal season on his resume and a strong (abbreviated) season fresh off the bat, Bickell’s offense should only get better.
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Rick Stewart/Getty Images
With this summer’s free agent market perhaps the weakest in recent memory, and with the Rangers having multiple holes to fill, nothing would please the organization more than a prospect (or two) stepping up and forcing their way onto the 2013-14 roster. With the Rangers needing more of everything – scoring, depth, size, physical presence, face off ability, special teams upgrades – there are plenty of prospects close to making the jump.
The problem for the Rangers is timing. They already have a slew of bottom six forwards who could be moved, and should they spend cap dollars on forwards in the offseason they are, to an extent, committed to inserting the new recruits into the line up regardless of how the rookies play pre-season. That said, players such as Jesper Fast, Oscar Lindberg and the usual suspects – Chris Kreider and JT Miller – are surely close to securing roster spots. Let’s consider the merits of the Swedish pair who so many Rangers fans are eagerly awaiting.
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Del Zotto needs to improve, and he will be given the time to do so.
Michael Del Zotto is a whipping boy for many, and his underwhelming season hasn’t helped him convince certain groups of fans –and media– of his long-term future being in New York. That said, Del Zotto is here to stay for the foreseeable future. Depending on how the offseason plays out, the Rangers are not exactly blessed with a ton of offense from their blueline, emphasizing the need for an in-form Del Zotto. Unless John Moore’s development is a lot quicker than anticipated, Del Zotto remains the number one offensive blueliner in New York.
Then there is the relatively painful, drawn out contract situation that went on last offseason. Glen Sather doesn’t go through such a protracted –at times public– negotiation if he doesn’t a) believe the player is the right fit for the Rangers, or b) he doesn’t have viable alternatives. Del Zotto should factor into both aspects, as there are a clear lack of alternatives at any level of the Rangers system. Should Del Zotto find some consistency, his game fits well with the Rangers current DNA.
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Zuccarello scores pretty goals, will he be kept?
Welcome to the musings. It’s not a game day, it’s the offseason and that depresses a lot of us. Let’s see if we can collectively raise some spirits shall we?
The way the Bruins are absolutely controlling the Penguins – probably the most skilled and talent laden team in the league – makes you wonder about the Rangers Bruins series doesn’t it? Maybe Tortorella wasn’t the (main) issue. In terms of execution, the Bruins are the best team in the league.
Here at the site, we’ve already begun to touch on free agency, internal movement and candidates to bring in. Looking at the free agent list, it’s incredibly underwhelming. The Rangers need to move forward and try to win while they have Lundqvist, of course they do. However, they really shouldn’t chase name players and throw money around because they have a sense of urgency. That would be suicide.
Assuming they make it to free agency, here are some players I’d consider under the right circumstances: Clarke MacArthur, Tyler Bozak, Viktor Stalberg and Bryan Bickell. There’s a chance none of them get to free agency but all address needs on the Rangers.
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(Winslow Townson/Associated Press)
This week Dave has already touched on Mike Ribeiro as a free agent possibility. He certainly makes for an appealing candidate who has had a productive career. I’m going to discuss why the Rangers should stay well clear of players like Ribeiro.
Once again the Rangers will likely have a hole in the middle of their line-up this offseason. If speculation is true and Brad Richards is to be bought out this summer, the Rangers will have plenty of cap space to play with. While they have to address their own roster first (McDonagh, Stepan, Zuccarello, maybe Clowe, etc) there should be some money with which to enter the free agent market. This is where it gets dicey.
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Did the Rangers forwards play up to their ability?
Deciding on grades for the Rangers top six forwards is a bit tricky given John Tortorella’s penchant for mixing his lines and moving players up and down the line up because of his almost infamous lack of patience. Who knows, maybe his propensity for constant change had a part to play in his dismissal. That all said; with another Rangers season over (in underwhelming style) let’s look at the Rangers offensive producers.
It’s probably not in my best interests to admit this when hoping you read to the end, but I have no idea what has happened to Brad Richards or how to explain his startling fall from grace. Richards was brought in to remedy the Rangers depth issues at center and to help improve an under performing powerplay. He’s done anything but in either aspect. Richards followed up an acceptable first year as a Ranger with a disastrous second.
His regular season was full of scoreless streaks, a lack of confidence (that got worse as the season progressed), and his mere presence on the powerplay became enough to worsen the unit. Richards’ game has disintegrated to the point that every beat writer has already written him off as a buy out this summer. What makes Richards’ season somewhat puzzling is the hot streak of sorts at the end of the regular season that offered one final slither of hope that he was rebounding. It was a false dawn. It’s highly likely his last days as a Ranger were spent in the press box. Grade: F
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Who will replace the temperamental Tortorella?
Here at Blue Seat Blogs we feel that when we bring you Rangers information, particularly our own analysis, you guys benefit from well, our differing of opinions. As a group Dave, Justin, Kevin, the Suit and myself don’t always agree and that can lead to fresh ideas and interesting perspectives. The Rangers vacant head coaching role is no different.
With news of the Rangers approaching Alain Vigneault and Dallas Eakins as they begin their search to replace John Tortorella we have varied opinions on the HC role. We thought we’d share what we think with you.
For me, it is either Vigneault or Eakins. Vigneault has run some very offensive minded schemes in Vancouver, and his personality is the exact opposite of Torts. You don’t follow up Torts with Lindy Ruff. They are the same personality, and you will get the same result. If the Rangers are set on being more creative and less north-south, then Vigneault is their man.
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JT Miller and Chris Kreider could have a huge opportunity next season
It is never good news when a player as crucial (and popular) as Ryan Callahan goes down with a serious injury, even if the timing couldn’t be much better from a recovery stand point. The same goes for Carl Hagelin who despite consistency issues has proven to be a good find for the Rangers and who is a core piece moving forward. That all said, where this is a hole to be filled there is an opportunity. Step forward Chris Kreider and JT Miller.
The appearance of the New York Rangers roster next season depends on so many factors; the coaching decision, the draft and free agency to name a few but the Rangers already have viable candidates to step up with Kreider and Miller being the obvious choices.
Sometimes a club needs to be forced into a situation and a decision taken out of their hands (aka can no longer afford to mishandle a prospect like Kreider) or a player needs to step up without fear of fourth line minutes or demotion and the opportunity is there for Kreider and/or Miller to grab a spot and run with it. This could benefit the Rangers enormously.
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