Have the Rangers found a keeper in Fredrik Claesson?
There’s no question that this offseason was relatively quiet for the New York Rangers. The majority of moves Jeff Gorton made was focused on retaining players from last year. However, on July 1, 2018 while the hockey world was being swept away in the John Tavares watch. Gorton made a small signing at the time that is starting to have a significant impact now.
Fredrik Claesson heading to NYR on a one year deal worth $700K.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) July 1, 2018
Blessing and Curse
Coming into the season if anyone said Claesson would be playing in 10 of the team’s first 22 games, many would sit there and say “the tank is going as planned”. As Lee Corso would say, “Not so fast my friends”. The fact of the matter is that the defensive core the team is rolling out every night has played so well that David Quinn would be forced to scratch one simply because. This just happened to Brenden Smith against the Islanders when he didn’t deserve to be scratched.
(Quinn talks defense – Fast forward to 3:01 in the video below).
#NYR Coach Quinn talks about Strome, Fogarty, lineup updates and more before the Blueshirts take on Dallas tonight @TheGarden. pic.twitter.com/u6vTbn95Ms
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) November 19, 2018
“There’s going to be a time where you tell a guy he’s not in and that will be because.” The key factor in this statement isn’t exactly the depth of the defensive core. Instead that certain players have played their way into being untouchable. Neal Pionk is one and Claesson is becoming the other.
He has been a solid defenseman that is smart with the puck, seemingly always in the right position and makes the right play more often than not. Is he the flashy name that everyone was expecting to be in the every day lineup? Absolutely not. Has he earned his spot in the lineup with his play? Absolutely yes.
Buy Low, Sell High
Claesson has been a smart stay at home blue-liner through his 10 games this season. While he only has 1 goal on the year, and his advanced metrics aren’t that impressive, the eye test shows a steady defenseman that makes the simple play often. Those heady decisions seems to be translating helping the Rangers in the standings as they are 7-2-1 in games he has dressed.
There really is no way to predict sports. If there was then I’d probably gamble all my money away. Yet, if we again go back to the offseason many fans wanted a guy like Anthony Duclair or Ty Rattie to don the royal blue jersey with diagonal lettering. The reason is because when you are in rebuild mode, that’s when you dish out one year “prove it” deals.
Granted these two forwards went elsewhere, but Claesson could be exactly what fans wanted. Essentially a showcase until February and then off to greener pastures. Come the trade deadline it could be “thanks for coming, we’ll take a prospect/pick back”. Of course the Rangers could keep him and sign him longterm too, as he is only 25.
Whatever ends up happening as the season progresses, so far Gorton and Quinn have rarely missed on the moves that they have made. Both have found the right players for the right situations. Claesson, right now at least, is a product of seizing the opportunity that is given to you.
Editor’s Note: Claesson turns 26 tomorrow. Happy Birthday Fredrik.