Quick Hits: Grabner is the Best, Melnyk is the Worst

Phil Kocher
@ me

Phil Kocher

Managing Editor at Cleared for Contact
I believe in Nate Silver, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Christopher Hitchens, and hockey analytics.
Blogging between diaper changes.
Phil Kocher
@ me

Welcome to a new feature (well, an old feature made new again) here at ClearedForContact: Quick Hits. Each Sunday, we’ll cover some of the recent happenings, statistics, and anecdotes from the previous week’s games, as well as touch on important goings-on around the NHL as a whole to cap off the week and to get your Monday mornings started.

Beast Mode

I see your falling-to-your-knees-but-still-scoring-anyway, Alex Radulov, and I raise you.

Chris “Beast Mode” Kreider

The Price of Excellence

I know it’s difficult to turn down the opportunity to trade for a superstar, especially one the caliber of Erik Karlsson, but let’s be honest here — is anyone really prepared to sacrifice a package of Brady Skjei, Mats Zuccarello, a first-round pick, and an additional, likely conditional pick, or something similar? Because that’s what it’s going to take to get a foot in the door on negotiations. It may even cost more given the fact Karlsson has an additional year remaining ahead of UFA. Martin St. Louis, a similar scoring leader in his own right when the Rangers acquired him, ended up costing the Blueshirts two first-round picks on top of rental-turned-re-signed Ryan Callahan. There’s little reason to assume Karlsson, a decade younger at the time of the would be trade, won’t cost the same, if not more.

Karlsson is a total game-changer – arguably the modern prototype for an elite NHL defenseman. There’s no team in the league who wouldn’t be better for having him, but not only is the cost of acquiring him going to be incredibly steep, but so too would the cost to keep him around. Remember, too, this is a player who won’t be taking any discounts on his next deal that probably baselines at seven years, $87.5M.

If you thought building a contending roster around an $8M elite goaltender was hard, try doing it with a $12.5M elite defenseman to boot. Besides, if the Rangers feel like making the big splash, pulling the heist of the century by convincing John Tavares, an unrestricted free agent in July, to agree to an Isles-for-Rangers backstab would be much more preferable given the long-term needs of the franchise.

Taking the World by Storm?

Great to see the New York Rangers releasing Filip Chytil to compete for his Czech national team in the 2018 World Junior Championships. For the 18-year-old Chytil, who has 12 points in 15 games with the Hartford Wolf Pack this season, the experience of playing in this tournament should only benefit him as his development continues. Especially if the 11-12-3 Wolf Pack team misses the playoffs as they project to. A recall to the Rangers doesn’t appear to be on the horizon either, so competing in high-intensity, playoff-like tournament games is certainly the next best thing for the youngster.

Hope or Wins – You Can Only Sell One

Earlier this week when Larry Brooks penned a column suggesting the up-and-down Rangers begin a team fire sale in order to rebuild, it was rightfully met with scorn. But it’s the timing, not the logic, that was off. The pace the Rangers are playing at isn’t an inspiring one regarding the playoffs, or their chances should they make them. It’s difficult to envision an in-season course-correcting trade that would dramatically reduce their 2.9 GA/GP average or their propensity to fall behind early in games due to poor starts.

Perhaps fire sale isn’t the right word, but the Rangers are precariously perched on a fence in which either side offers only temporary respite. Strategically selling their assets for picks and prospects or pushing for the playoffs in an Eastern Conference, in which they’re unlikely to advance, both assure short-term disappointment. But only one comes with the potential for long-term hope.


So, after reading Ottawa Senators’ owner Eugene Melnyk’s comments about his own team the night before they were scheduled to take on the Montréal Canadiens in the NHL 100 Classic from TD Place Stadium, does anyone still want to make the case that James Dolan is the worst owner in hockey? Didn’t think so.

By the Numbers

  • Michael Grabner, who has two goals in his last three games, is tied for first in the NHL in goals since October 26th with 15 and is also tied for second in the NHL in even-strength goals this season with 16. Moreover, according to @NYRStatsInfo, Grabner is tied for second in the NHL in even-strength goals (42) with Nikita Kucherov and Vladimir Tarasenko and only trials Auston Matthews (43). What a unicorn!
  • Kreider’s assist on Buchnevich’s goal against the Senators was his 200th NHL point. He also scored his 100th goal against the Kings on December 15th.
  • It’s sure nice to see the goals going in again for Rick Nash, who scored two this week on a team-leading 11 shots.

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