In today’s Rangers Round Table we’re going to discuss what seems like New York General Manager Jeff Gorton’s plan for the upcoming 2017/18 Season. I’m Dave Rogers, I’ll be moderating the discussion. I’m joined by Phil Kocher, Ray Sarlo and Mike Valvano. Good evening gentlemen…
Phil: Hey, boys
Mike: Hey gents
Dave: For this first question, I think we’ll start with Ray since he said “Hello” first. The term we’ve seen thrown around is “rebuild on the fly”, and we’ll get into specifics of what’s been done already, but how do you see Gorton doing that, generally?
Ray: Gorton’s trade of Derek Stepan and Antti Raanta for a higher draft pick and a younger, offensive threat on the backend signals that he’s looking for any way [he can find] to re-tool the Rangers. He’s not trying to blow the whole thing up, but getting rid of Dan Girardi and Kevin Klein on defense while retaining Brendan Smith, signing Kevin Shattenkirk, and bringing in Anthony DeAngelo are keys to putting a new spin on the Rangers blue line. That’s rebuilding on the fly.
Dave: Phil, your take on that?
Phil: Assuming they actually sign Shattenkirk, sure. I’m guessing we’ll touch on that later, though.The way I see it, the terms are all interchangeable. On the fly, re-tool, tweak, what have you. It’s all part of the same acknowledgement that this group, at least as they were built from the core out, failed to get the job done. The “on the fly” nature of the change just signals that they’re not going to firesale the entire team to build a new one.
Mike: Yep, I agree Phil. Honestly, I think the term is really just a way to say they were cutting what they thought was dead weight while being as respectful to Stepan and Girardi as possible. If the return was greater, then maybe it’s a rebuild but, for now, it’s a [salary] cap dump. I tend to think they aren’t going to sign Shatty so, really, it’s a youth movement, at least on the blue line. The “on the fly” part will come into play when they sign a center to replace Step, so it’s a lateral move there.
Ray: Youth would certainly be an interesting way to improve the defense. There are, what, four or five players that can challenge for that 6th and 7th spot? We signed Neal Pionk and Alexei Bereglazov. Then you have Nick Holden and Steven Kampfer from last season. We have Ryan Graves in the AHL right now. Plus DeAngelo! Forgot him.
Mike: But I don’t know if you can call it a rebuild if you haven’t filled up Ryan McDonagh’s partner (phrasing). So it’s a cap dump, unless a youngster takes it, for now.
Ray: Yeah, I’m wary of what they have planned for that. Though anything would be an upgrade of Girardi.
Phil: There’s promise to some of them, but that’s more quantity than quality. And they’re all fighting for, in effect, the same one, maybe two spots on defense. All of this is fine and in line with Gorton’s rebuild, but it’s still really difficult to envision where this is all headed. The defense is surely getting remade, but they dealt their top-line center and their backup goaltender for a player who can maybe make the team this season but probably requires another year of seasoning and a defenseman we’re hopeful will be a top-four. Whatever vision Gorton has in mind is really incomplete at the moment, because there are sizable holes in the lineup to patch.
Dave: We’re starting to get away from a more general take on this, and we’ll get into it on a lot of these topics you’ve touched on, but for now, I think we should move on.
As to specifics, I’ll start off with a softball and everyone can jump in when they’re ready. Dan Girardi’s Buyout, we were all in favor?
Ray: Absolutely. The dude was a warrior, but he became a detriment. He’s a 3rd pair defenseman, if that, and you just can’t pay $5.5M for that [role]. Best of luck to G in the future.
Phil: 100%. He’s not an NHL caliber player anymore, and I’d bet good money that whatever team does sign him will regret it.
Mike: Yes, but with a qualifier. I don’t mind him as a third pair guy with a youngster like Bereglazov, but you can’t have him AND Marc Staal. I’m curious what the trade market was for either of them, but one had to go. I’m fairly indifferent as to which one it was. Considering the fact that we have no right handed defensemen, I probably would’ve preferred to move staal.
Ray: DeAngelo is a right handed defenseman.
Dave: I was going to move along, but that answer from Mike intrigued me, so this is just for him. Given our depth on the left side, would Staal have been a better buyout choice, even with the increased years?
Mike: I think so Dave. Not from a financial perspective, but just in terms of building a defense corps.
Yeah Ray, but the buyout was before DeAngelo.
Phil: Probably. But the Rangers weren’t wrong to buy out Girardi. Staal’s poor play doesn’t make Girardi’s good.
Ray: I wouldn’t be surprised if they had some sort of plan in advance. Indications were the Rangers and Coyotes were talking before the trade freeze.
Phil: The only saving grace, if you can call it that, to Girardi is that he’s right-handed. But given Alain Vigneault’s inability to not surgically attach him to McDonagh’s hip, Gorton made the right call.
Mike: Well, we’ve never seen AV with another good option, to be fair. Though I tend to agree.
Phil: Yes, we have. Smith, Brady Skjei, and even Adam Clendening were all superior partners.
Ray: Well, Smith getting bafflingly low amounts of ice time in the playoffs was evidence enough for me.
Phil: Evidence of what?
Ray: That AV was always looking to pair G and Mac.
Dave: I’m going to let Mike answer, since he got challenged by both of you, and then we’re going to move on.
Phil: Come at me, Mike.
Mike: Well I just don’t agree that any of those guys were a good fit with Mac. Skjei wasn’t ready for top pair minutes in his own end, Smith was strong but made a lot of mental mistakes, and I hate Clendo’s compete level. He’d get hammered taking a high % of defensive zone start against top competition. G at least was always where he needed to be…which is….something lol.
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