The Rangers need to sign a better “tough” guy before the season starts
The Rangers re-upped with Cody McLeod last week. The signing was met, and rightfully so with the appropriate moans and groans. This morning, Rangers fans are waking up to a scathing article by Larry Brooks in the NY POST questioning the move.
In one key point in the article, Brooks recalls how after 2 head shots to Marc Staal and Jimmy Vesey, McLeod failed to answer the bell. It was thought by many that head coach, Alain Vigneault’s reluctance for fisticuffs was to blame.
The only acceptable explanation would have been if Vigneault had instructed his players to stand down, but we’ve done some checking and have learned that was not the case. Indeed, we’re told the coach was upset over the team’s pacifism and raised the issue with the players the following day while reviewing the game video. Problem is that when the coach says “whistle-to-whistle” often enough, players tend to believe it. – Larry Brooks
So why sign him? To be fair, his contract is only for one year at $750,000 and can be buried entirely in the AHL with no impact to the cap. The logical conclusion is that McLeod is a backup plan, just in case the Rangers can’t score a legit tough guy that can actually contribute to the lineup at a good price.
Who’s Out There?
Jeff Gorton has remained out of the free agent feeding frenzy thus far and he hasn’t overpaid for a guy like Leo Kamorov in the process. So now that the waters aren’t churning, Gorton should try and obtain a legit enforcer.
The hulking forward is only 30 years old and has struggled to find a home playing just 54 games last season. In those games between Minnesota and Calgary he scored 10 goals and 16 points with 3 fighting majors.
Stewart’s 6’2″ and 228 lbs frame is intimidating. He is coming off a $1.15M contract and could likely be signed at a bargain. If the Rangers want a heavyweight in the lineup this is the direction to go.
Hartnell has been one of the most agitating players in the NHL for well over a decade. The 36 year old does not fit the “rebuild” concept but could play a key role on the 4th line with the ability to fill in on the 3rd.
The rugged winger is not an enforcer, but still throws the fists a few times a year. He is averaging about 3 fights a year now, which is a far cry from the 30 fights he accumulated from 2007-2012.
“Hartsy”, as his teammates call him is coming off a contract of $4.75M but isn’t garnering a lot of interest. He would cost more than Stewart but offers more than just toughness to a very young lineup. Hartnell scored 13 goals in each of his last 2 seasons while only averaging 12 minutes of ice time. Perfect for a 4th line role in NY.
Glass was one of the most polarizing figures during Alain Vigneault’s tenure between old school vs new age hockey fans. For the most part, Tanner Glass deserved none of the criticism he received for unjustly being a lightning rod for the two factions.
While he was here, Glass put in an honest effort every game and answered the bell every time (unlike McLeod last year). He was beloved and praised by his teammates and it wouldn’t hurt the Rangers to consider bringing him back on an NHL/AHL friendly contract.