What Kerfoot To The Avalanche Means for the Rangers
It’s official. Former Harvard center Alex Kerfoot has signed with the Colorado Avalanche.
BREAKING: As per @adater the #Avalanche and forward Alex Kerfoot have agreed on a #NHL contract
— SiriusXM NHL Network Radio (@SiriusXMNHL) August 23, 2017
The 23-year-old standout would have been a very welcome addition to the bottom of the Rangers lineup. He produced 30 or more points in each of his final three years at the Ivy League school, including 45 last year while wearing the captain’s “C”. Had he signed with the Blueshirts, he would’ve most likely been the team’s third or fourth line center, playing limited minutes. In Colorado, he gets an opportunity to grow into a prominent role with a team that is in the midst of a rebuild.
Told Joe Sakic did a great job selling Kerfoot on his fit with the Avs. With trades likely, his role could be significant in near future. https://t.co/WSylXhgqcv
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) August 23, 2017
What Do The Rangers Do Now?
With the Kerfoot ship having sailed off to Denver, the Rangers need to find another center, or two, to add to their lineup. Mika Zibanejad and Kevin Hayes will be slotted into the first and second line roles, respectively; while David Desharnais will most likely be the man in the middle on the fourth line. So who can the Rangers bring in to fill out their center-ice hole?
Promote From Within
One option that Jeff Gorton has is to call up some of his prospects up in Hartford. Cristoval “Boo” Nieves is one player that the team seems to be high on. He possesses great size at 6’3″, is good in the faceoff circle, and has the ability to put up the points. Last season, his second as a professional, he had 18 points in 40 games. One downside to Boo’s game is his defensive abilities in his own zone. If he is to make the big club out of camp, he’s going to have to show the coaching staff that he is going to put the work in on both ends of the ice.
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Another player the Rangers can call upon is 2017 draft pick, Lias Andersson. The young Swede has looked impressive all summer long, both at the Rangers’ Player Development Camp, as well as during the World Junior Summer Showcase. At the WJSS, Andersson put up four points in five games playing against the world’s best young players. Last year, as an 18-year-old playing against men, he put up 19 points in 42 games with HV71 of the SHL. He has some tremendous upside, and if he continues to play well during training camp, we could see him break into the big club this year.
Finding A Free Agent
While there may not be any more big names left on the free agent market, there are still a couple of serviceable centermen that the Rangers could use on their roster. One guy is former Ranger, John Mitchell. Mitchell won’t be a major point producer, with his career high being 32 for the Avalanche in 2013-14. But, he is reliable defensively, good in the faceoff circle, and never takes a shift off. He isn’t the sexy choice, but he would stabilize the Rangers down the middle.
A second player is Daniel Winnik. The 32-year-old put up 25 points last season with the Capitals and is a more experienced version of Oscar Lindberg. He skates well, is responsible in his own end, and is a career 42.5% in the faceoff dot. He won’t harm the team in his own end, which is always good, but he won’t rack up the points in the other end.
The Rangers will be fine down the middle to start the season. Regardless of who is in the middle on the third and fourth lines, this team should be able to pick up points early in the season. But as the calendar turns from 2017 and into 2018, Alain Vigneault will need to be able to rely on whoever he has at his disposal in the bottom six.