The Rangers have a clear choice now; trade as many players as possible and really rebuild
The L.A. Kings currently hold the last spot in the NHL with 37 points. After last night’s action that leaves the Rangers just 4 points away between them and a generational talent like Jack Hughes or Kaapo Kakko. New York also holds the tie breaker with 12 regulation and OT wins, the lowest in the NHL.
Last night’s defeat to the Islanders was their 5th consecutive loss and their 8th in the last 10 games. They have outshot their opponents only twice in that span and are a -66 in shots for. If we are honest, it looks like it is going to get worse. Something needs to be done and it needs to start now.
Commit to a Full Rebuild
Let’s face it, the Rangers put out a letter last season that they were going to rebuild and at the deadline it looked liked they were sincere about it. The truth is, they never fully committed and you are seeing it in their play every night.
When David Quinn was hired he said that his focus was to win. The truth is you can’t “win” and rebuild at the same time. While I didn’t expect him to say we are going out there to lose, winning and rebuilding are diametrically opposed. The simple fact is you can’t really develop younger players who are going to make a ton of mistakes and expect to come out on top regularly.
As the Rangers are currently constituted it is a bad mix of developing players like Filip Chytil, Brett Howden, Neal Pionk, and Tony DeAngelo along with veterans like Mats Zuccarello, Chris Kreider, and Marc Staal. It isn’t helping anyone and it is painfully obvious.
For veterans it’s unfair. Mats Zuccarello is miserable and it is impacting his play. Henrik Lundqvist looks like he isn’t really enjoying the season. As for the kids, Lias Andersson is in Hartford instead of getting developmental minutes here and Tony Deangelo is in and out of the lineup unable to get any consistent playing time.
None of this is working. The Rangers current course of trying to retool instead of making the hard decision to go with a young lineup that will be bad for a few years simply isn’t working.
Gorton, Open Up Shop Now
Jeff Gorton should now know that this path isn’t the way to go and he needs to open up roster space for players like Andersson, Libor Hajek, and Ryan Lindgren. Not to mention that he needs to play Vitali Kravtsov every game next season and if they are lucky to finish 1st or 2nd in the lottery, Jack Hughes or Kaapo Kakko.
That means he must move all his vets starting now! He can’t wait until the deadline where more players and rentals will be made available.
Mats Zuccarello needs to be traded like yesterday. Gorton needs to get the best package available for Chris Kreider and Kevin Shattenkirk. Players like Marc Staal and Brendan Smith must be moved either by trade or buyout if necessary. Also Cody McLeod and Adam McQuaid can be jettisoned as soon as today.
Those are the easy moves.
In order to open up center spots and minutes for young players like Howden and Andersson (and hopefully Hughes), Gorton must make a decision on who to keep for the rebuild, Mika Zibanejad or Kevin Hayes? My preference is Zibanejad because he’s a better offensive player with an excellent contract.
The Rangers can also explore what they can get for players like Brady Skjei, Jimmy Vesey, Jesper Fast, Vlad Namestnikov, and Ryan Strome. Although my preference is to keep them all for the long haul.
Finally, out of respect for one of the greatest players in franchise history, give Henrik Lundqvist an out option. Quietly explain what’s needed and if he wants to be here to mentor Igor Shestyorkin and retire a Ranger he can. If he wants to move on, then let him pick his destination and eat salary to make it happen.
Jeff Gorton and the Rangers made a decision to rebuild last season. They tried to do it while being competitive. It didn’t work. Now with a legit chance at the 1st overall pick and a generational talent there for the taking, they should commit to a full blown rebuild.
New York Rangers fans want this. They are more patient than they get credit for. It’s not a hard sell to anyone. Matter of fact, it’s an easy decision.