So it’s been a couple of days to let the thought of no more New York Rangers hockey until October to sink in. Of course that doesn’t mean you the fans haven’t already put on your general manager’s cap to start planning what needs to happen for next season already. The thing is, not even the Rangers know what will be happening yet until a few things happen. Organizational meetings need to take place to assess where to go from here and the current season needs to end to get a clear-cut salary cap number.
For you “GMs” who think they know what needs to happen let’s relax for a moment and come down from the emotions of a disappointing season before we start saying crazy things. This is where we will see Jeff Gorton get his wings. This will be his first official off-season as GM (in case you forgot Glen Sather was still the GM until after the draft last year). The situation that has presented itself to Mr. Gorton is a challenge and this is where we will see what he is made of. After all other teams wanted him but the Rangers said no because he was next in line after Sather.
The first order of business is to address the Blueshirt faithful and let them know despite their deep frustration with how line up decisions were made that Alain Vigneault is NOT going anywhere. It seems a little crazy to let a coach go after three seasons where he led them to a Stanley Cup finals appearance in year one, an eastern conferences appearance in year two and 101 points in year three. In case anyone forgot but it is very hard to win in this league, point proven by a team like the Chicago Blackhawks who were bounced in round one. You cannot let a coach go based on a first round elimination when you have that type of credentials within the first three years. Maybe, just maybe if the Rangers start off slow next season he could be on the hot seat but it makes no sense to fire the guy.
Yes most of us are well aware of that article from the Vancouver newspaper when Vigneault was fired and how the situation is eerily similar to the current one with the Rangers but a decision cant be made by a newspaper article. A lot of Rangers “GMs” feel the defense core needs to be removed. You do have a point in some aspect but in a cap hardened world it would be difficult so that is a situation we’ll have to see play out because it would take some time to play around with that situation.
There is certainly going to be a debate made coming into this off-season of whether or not franchise goalie Henrik Lundqvist is beginning his down-fall based on the last three games of the dreadful series against the Penguins. He is 34 years old and has stood on his head for years so that the Rangers could be successful with minimal help offensively. We saw all too often the “soft” goals given up when it mattered the most and people may wonder will have anything left in the gas tank. It sounds crazy when you read that statement but it’s a question that will be made.
Prior to last season, I had shared with some people that the Rangers should have traded Rick Nash in that off-season to help deepen the team while his value was high. It probably was tough given the fact he has a $7.8 million cap hit but he stayed and played 60 games and put up just 36 points. Not for nothing you are a superstar you shouldn’t be getting just 36 points in a season. It seems for Nash like any other high quality player that comes to New York can’t put up the big numbers with the exception of a small few. There certainly needs to be a discussion to move him at the draft in order to create cap room to become more flexible going into free agency.
With every team comes flaws and we saw many of them this season. The defensive breakdowns in front of their own net, failure to compete a full 60 minutes, failure to stop giving up a goal in the final minute of a period. Many areas need to be addressed and it’s time to think younger and faster. The Rangers were exposed and were very slow in their series against the Penguins. A total retool needs to take place. These players have been here for much of these runs but it seems it has become stale. Establishing a bottom six group should be one of the many focuses in order to be a deeper team and balance the scoring. There is a few that should remain within the new blue print.
We can play GM but in reality all we can do is wait and see what sort of plan Gorton has going into this off-season. They will have time to gather whatever information they need thanks to the first round exit.
Joe’s Dump Em’/Keep Em’ Section
Alain Vigneault & Staff Dan Boyle
Derek Brassard Marc Staal
Derek Stepan Eric Staal
Mats Zuccarello Chris Kreider
JT Miller Kevin Hayes
Jesper Fast Oscar Lindberg
Ryan McDonagh Dominic Moore
Many may not agree but in due time you’ll know why I believe these players must stay and go.