Rangers focus on multidimensional players is prominent throughout this rebuild
More than thirteen months into this re-build or whatever fancy name you want to call it, the Rangers attention on the type of player they want to bring into the organization has shifted. Jeff Gorton and company have decided to go after different types of player that is a far cry from what they’ve gone after in previous seasons.
What does that mean exactly? This isn’t a knock on any player they’ve drafted that’s done well for them, it’s just that the organizational philosophy of what they want in a high end player has shifted. The Rangers generally in previous instances have gotten players who have one strong asset of their game, essentially one dimensional players or players who have overachieved. Here are a few examples of what I’m talking about:
Chris Kreider: Elite level speed, stickhandling skills subpar and inconsistent effort (although, he’s one of the few that’s actually gotten better at all 3 levels later on in his career)
Derek Stepan: Great passer, two way center, not the fastest or sleekest skater.
Michael Del Zotto: Offensively minded defenseman, inconsistent defender.
Evgeny Grachev: Big, hulking power forward, failed to live up to moniker.
Dylan McIlrath: You already know where this is going
J.T. Miller: Good faceoff guy, inconsistent game all around.
Some others include Christian Thomas, Danny Kristo, Ethan Werek, Ryan Boruque, Hugh Jessiman, Roman Horak and a ton more that I won’t name here for time purposes. All good players in their own right but not ones that made a huge impact on the big club. Many of the players listed above had one or two strong parts of their games but not enough to stick around long term.
So what exactly are the Rangers looking for?
In a chat with fellow 4B contributor Stat Boy Steven, on the Forever Blueshirts podcast recently, he noted to Russell, Kevin and myself that the Rangers are now picking up players who can trend upward. What does he mean by that? Players who have higher ceilings with massive talent along with ones who have trended upward in their numbers through out their younger years. So, in a nutshell, players who haven’t peaked yet.
Another thing the Rangers are looking for are players who are strong on the puck with good hockey sense and can skate. Nothing against Oliver Wahlstrom but it seems like he’s a one dimensional type player. This isn’t saying he won’t have a strong NHL career but his play style doesn’t fit what the New York Rangers are looking for.
When you look at players like Lias Andersson, Filip Chytil, Vitali Kravtsov and potentially Jack Hughes or Kaapo Kakko, they all have a strong command of the puck and have strong hockey sense. They all are competent passers, elite puck handlers and responsible away from the puck. Yes, I know I mentioned Lias Andersson and I know people have soured on him BUT he’s only twenty years old and his play over the last few months of the Rangers season has trended upward with a huge improvement in all facets. Here are some examples of what I’m talking about.
Watch this reel of Kravtsov take command of the plays he’s in. He generates the offense for the most part and gives his teams strong chances to score with his strong puck moving ability, vision and skating.
Lias Andersson gets a lot of flack for not coming out of the gate on fire, but what many seem to forget is that he is a competent hockey players on all facets. Andersson has played with 3rd or 4th line players with limited playing time but when he gets the chance to play with higher end players, he displays a lot of what the Rangers want in a player.
Filip Chytil, when given the chance to play with top end talent, showed us he can become a top end talent on his own right, displaying a lot of his skill the Rangers are hoping can shine through more and more in the upcoming seasond.
On the defensive side, with Nils Lundkvist, Yegor Rykov, Adam Fox, K’Andre Miller, Libor Hajek, Ryan Lindgren, Nico Gross, Joey Keane, Tarmo Reunanen and Brandon Crawley, just to name a few, are a welcome breath of fresh air after years of sub-par defensive talent in the system. Just like the forwards, these guys are strong on the puck, defensively sound and are strong skaters in their own rights. This is a far cry from the days of Dylan McIlrath, Bobby Sanguinetti, Matt Gilroy, Tomas Kundratek and so forth. Here’s a few examples of what I mean.
Libor Hajek was the crown jewel of the Ryan McDonagh trade. Blessed with strong skating ability and a strong all around game is something the Rangers hope can stabilize the back end.
The recipient of the Jim Johannson College Player of the Year, Adam Fox dazzled his way through the college ranks with top end offensive ability, strong skating and solid defensive skills that can hopefully be a catalyst for many contending Rangers teams down the line.
I can sit here and do one on every single recently acquired prospect, but I think you can get the idea on what the Rangers are looking for. The NHL is a different game now than it was ten years ago, and the organization is looking for sleeker, faster and smarter players in the draft.
The hiring of John Davidson as Team President echoes this, as his track record of looking for top end talent for both St.Louis and Columbus has proven to work. Players like Pierre-Luc Dubois, Jaden Schwartz, Vlad Tarasenko, Alex Pietrangelo, Seth Jones, Zach Werenski and Colton Parayko have boosted each of their respected teams, all in part to the oversight of John Davidson.
The Rangers shift in what they want in a player is looking like it’s beginning to take shape. With Kravtsov coming soon, the emergence of Filip Chytil, the upcoming emergence of Lias Andersson and others, it seems that that they are setting up the franchise with core players that will stay for a significant amount of time. The NHL has shifted in style and now looks like the boys in blue are following suit. The Rangers were able to go ten years of sustained playoff success, just think what kind of success the Rangers can achieve with players who are far more talented and skilled?