Quick Hits: Cue the Opening Bell

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.

Liquidate For Leverage

In and of itself, last Thursday night’s 4-0 loss to the Leafs was just a hockey game. But the Rangers’ listless effort and subsequent loss—their seventh in their last ten contests in which they’ve been collectively outscored 39 to 26—was more than just a game. It was a microcosm of this seemingly lost season. It was the most recent example that management need not have any reservations over whether this roster is a contender or a pretender when asking itself the tough questions regarding the trade market and their place in it ahead of the February 26th trading deadline.

One need not overly value the draft to recognize the cold reality staring the Rangers in the face, either. They can either foolishly pin their hopes to a severely flawed roster that would require a great amount of outside help to go deep in the playoffs, or they can take a poetic cue from Toronto and strategically sell the assets they still have to rebuild—emphasis on re—even if it is “on the fly.”

As I wrote about in late January, with a deep draft to look forward to, the assets the Rangers can no doubt acquire at the deadline and/or perhaps the draft floor should help them to move up the pick order. This will give them a golden opportunity to draft the game-breaking talent they desperately crave.


A Peak at Tomorrow?

Speaking of Toronto, perhaps the Rangers got a real good look at a couple of future Blueshirts during that drubbing on Thursday night? It’s pure conjecture, but in exchange for Ryan McDonagh’s services for the remainder of this season and next, one can’t help but wonder if that Leafs’ victory wasn’t something of an audition for, say, oh, I don’t know – Mitch Marner and their choice of Andreas Borgman or Connor Carrick? Mix and match the loose change as needed.


Nash-ville

One last one on trades.

Can we just agree that not only would Rick Nash—renowned for his two-way prowess—be a great fit for the Preds where he could slot in anywhere in their top-nine and not look out of place, but that neither club should pass on this brilliant marketing/PR opportunity?


The Heart of the Matter

Not that you needed a reason to question the integrity of Henrik Lundqvist or his desire to win, but for those who may still, you can unequivocally put your concerns to bed.

In speaking to the New York Post following practice on Friday, the King left it all out on the table in spectacular fashion:

“The competitor in me wants us to have the best team possible right here and now. I’m not hoping we have a contending team in two or three years,” Lundqvist told The Post following practice Friday preceding the club’s two-game trip to Nashville and Dallas. “But at the same time, even though it’s hard to say because it kind of goes against myself, I feel so much for this organization, that whatever path they take, I’m in.”

Players have used strong language in similar situations before, but that shouldn’t take anything away from the impact of Hank’s unwavering dedication and his desire to ride down the Canyon of Heroes a hero. And like that the onus once again shifts to Jeff Gorton, who owns the difficult task of making right on this rebuild on the fly sooner rather than later; specifically while his stalwart starter and future Hall-of-Famer is still on the right side of father time. Tick tock.


Like Father Like Son?

On Friday afternoon, Sportsnet and NEWS 1130’s Rick Dhaliwal reported “hearing positive talks” between the Rangers and Ty Ronning – their seventh-round pick from the 2016 Draft. That’s been followed up with a report from TSN 1040 Sportscaster, Brook Ward, who suggests a deal might, in fact, be in place, though not yet announced:

As Ray Sarlo wrote about, the 20-year old is small in stature but has been dominating the WHL with 46 goals in 51 games with the Vancouver Giants. He also had two goals and three assists in 12 games with the Hartford Wolf Pack last season, playing on a PTO. It’s early yet to speak to his NHL viability, but getting a productive prospect like him under contract now is just good business. His unique blend of scoring potential and playing style, should they translate to the pro level, might even justify comparisons with similarly young, diminutive players like Vegas’ Jonathan Marchessault or even Montréal’s Brendan Gallagher.


Who Do You Play For!?

The Olympics issue may still be contentious for the NHL, and the ratings will suffer for the lack of star power (not to mention the time zone difference), but don’t tell any of that to Brian Gionta. I doubt he cares to hear it. Certainly not after Friday night when the Olympic captain drew chants of “U-S-A” after scoring a goal for the Amerks:

Despite all the problems between Pyeongchang and the NHL’s refusal to send their players, you can’t tell me as a hot blooded American that this doesn’t tingle your inner patriot.


Redeeming Ranger

Lastly, a stick tap is in order for Darren Dreger, TSN, and Paul Ranger—the Lightning stalwart who abruptly left the game in 2009—for this well-timed interview that aligned perfectly with the annual #BellLetsTalk Twitter campaign designed to shed light on mental health.


By the Numbers

  • There’s still plenty of work to be done to turn the Wolf Pack into a playoff contender again, but it’s great to see Alex Georgiev—5-0-1 with a .965 SV% in his last six games—coming into his own. Extra thanks to @JRNYR for the update on this one.
  • While we’re on prospects, how about this wealth of great news on Filip Chytil? According to @NYRStatsInfo, Chytil has posted three multi-point games in the last five contests (one goal, six assists over the span). He’s also tallied 20 point in 24 games this season and ranks sixth among AHL rookies in points per game (0.83).
  • One last prospect update – since being assigned to the Wolf Pack on January 19th, Lias Andersson has two points (both assists) in four games.

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