The inevitable future of Alain Vigneault

Alain Vigneault at practice (BlueshirtsUnited)

The Rangers are going to attempt to rebuild, of that we are certain. In a surprising move yesterday, the organization made that public by first sending a letter to season ticket holders, followed by a press conference.

Change is Coming

“As we approach the trade deadline…will be focused on adding young, competitive players…this may mean we lose some familiar faces.” Those words from the letter clearly spell out the Rangers intent and the raising of the white flag for this season.

Of course, the Rangers unofficially announced this intent on Monday when they made public Rick Nash was asked for his no trade list. The next series of moves were both intriguing but consistent with the plan they set forth.

Placing defenseman, Brendan Smith on waivers (he cleared), putting Marc Staal on IR, and calling up young blue-liners Neal Pionk and John Gilmour to replace them sends a clear signal for what’s coming next…trades.

On the Move

Rick Nash will fetch a decent return featuring a late 1st round pick. Michael Grabner may get a 1st round pick, but a high second seems more probable. Nick Holden will likely see a mid to late round pick, and David Desharnais a late pick as well. All are UFA’s and considered rentals, so teams won’t overreach for any, even Nash. Remember, Evander Kane is also available, as is Max Pacioretty. This hurts Nash’s overall value, making what the Rangers did yesterday all the more important to start a bidding war early.

The real sign that this is a rebuild and not some retool, will be the trading of Mats Zuccarello at the deadline. If Zuccarello is moved, then you know that this is serious. Also, Ryan McDonagh is their most valuable commodity and will speed up the rebuild clock.

The tricky thing is this, unless a team like Toronto is willing to give up a proven young offensive talent like Mitch Marner or William Nylander, it is best to keep McDonagh. His value would likely be much higher at the draft and could be a centerpiece in trading up for the 1st overall pick, depending on who has it.

The Future of Alain Vigneault

After the Rangers loss to Boston, I had heard from decent sources that it was the last straw.   In essence, Alain Vigneault and this Rangers team were done.

Then news broke that the Rangers were holding a press conference and I was certain that AV was done. Instead, the Rangers did something much bigger. They announced that this team wasn’t good enough and that they are going to rebuild. If you read in between the lines and their refusal to comment on AV’s future beyond this season, you realize a change behind the bench is imminent too.

So why not let him go now? Maybe the better questions is, why let him go now? There’s really no point. Firing AV and replacing him with Lindy Ruff on an interim basis doesn’t help the team in any way. There is the outside chance that they would like to see how Vigneault handles the kids on the roster now and after the deadline, but it’s well known that AV is a veteran’s coach.

Now let’s look at it from his standpoint? There are likely to be some big job openings next year that he may want to pursue. If the rumors in Chicago that Joel Quenneville is done are true, AV may want to go there. AV is looking to win a Cup himself and may not be interested in a rebuild. Did anyone ever think of that? I assume many did not.

The Rangers know that if they really want to rebuild, a new, younger coach is likely the answer.

Who Mans the Helm?

McCambridge (AHL)

You hear names like Dave Tippet and Daryl Sutter all the time, but for what the Rangers are looking to do, it may behoove them to bring in fresh blood. Let’s take a look at some of the names we expect to compete and make the roster next year.

Lias Andersson, Filip Chytil, Anthony DeAngelo, Neal Pionk, John Gilmour, Sean Day, Ryan Graves, and Ryan Gropp. What do they almost all have in common? Playing for Hartford coach, Keith McCambridge. His philosophy is simple enough that success with young players shouldn’t be a problem. He wants each and every player to put in the work every time they take the ice, and that includes practice.

“My coaching philosophy is to have a team that plays with a lot of structure,” McCambridge said. “I want a team that plays with pace and energy. And my expectation is that my teams will have work ethic in place from early in the year. Those are non-negotiable even in practice. … We are here to get better every day.” – Hartford Courant

When it comes to kids, he gets it.

“With youth comes excitement,” McCambridge said. “The majority of teams across the league are comprised of young prospects. Our job is to develop those players for the parent club. I thought we had a really good group of young prospects, but obviously our record wasn’t where we wanted it to be. But again, the energy and excitement that comes from first- and second-year players is something you want when you walk in the dressing room.”

The Wolf Pack are 22-20-4 in his first season as coach. This doesn’t seem great, but last year the Pack were an atrocious 24-46-4. Much of this credit goes to McCambridge and he deserves it.

I am only mentioning McCambridge because many of the Rangers younger players are familiar with him, but there are a plethora of choices to be had. What needs to happen next is both Jeff Gorton and Glen Sather must start their research and line up candidates to interview as soon as the season ends.

The rebuild is about to begin, and with that the end of Alain Vigneault as the Rangers head coach. It’s inevitable.

Anthony Scultore has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL since 2014. His work also appears at... More about Anthony Scultore

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