Which Ranger Has The Most To Prove In 2019-2020?
Last week I sent out a tweet asking my followers which Ranger they thought has the most to prove in this upcoming season. Let me first say thank you to all of you who took the time out to respond and go through this thread. The tweet went somewhat viral making its way through Rangers twitter where I saw a number of people talking about it. So again thank you to all who responded, liked, retweeted, and helped get it out there.
As you can see in the tweet below, I personally felt/feel that defenseman Brady Skjei has the most to prove in this upcoming season. Let’s take a look at what I think, and talk about some of your responses.
When Skjei broke into the league in 2016-2017, he had an extremely impressive rookie season. He played in 80 games, compiling 39 points. As a 22 year old, Skjei took on the “1A” role behind former captain Ryan McDonagh. Skjei was a rock for the Blueshirts and helped lead the time to a first round playoff victory against the Montreal Canadiens.
In his second full season with the Blueshirts, Skjei played in all 82 games, but had a down year. He compiled 25 points, but was a -27. When the Rangers traded McDonagh at the deadline that year, Skjei was now looked upon to be the next “guy” on the blue line. Skjei struggled down the stretch for the Blueshirts in the number 1 dman role. In the summer of 2018, Skjei was an RFA. Instead of giving him a bridge deal, GM Jeff Gorton elected to lock him up long term. Skjei got a 6-year deal carrying an AAV of $5.25 million…..which was 100 percent the right move.
Heading into the first year of his contract, Skeji went in 2018-2019 with the expectations of being the number one defenseman for the club. After having 25 points in 78 games, Skjei finished at a -4, a drastic change from the previous season. Skjei was much improved last year, but still needs growth. After the acquisition of Jacob Trouba a couple of weeks ago, Skjei now again becomes the “1A” again, similarly to what he was when McDonagh was on the team. Skjei will anchor the top pair on the left side with Trouba, and he has a lot to prove in 2019-2020.
The person that I found most of the responders felt had the most to prove in 2019-2020 was Lias Andersson. Many of you felt the reason Andersson had the most to prove was because of how high he was drafted (7th overall in 2017). I understand where you are coming from with this in that he was a high pick, therefore he should be developing, but where a player gets drafted does not always entail their development.
To say that Lias has the most to prove this season is a bit of a stretch. He is just 20 years old, and has only played in 49 career games. For those of you unaware, when Mat Barzal and Mark Scheifele were 20 years old, they hadn’t played an NHL game. It is very difficult for me to agree with this take because of how young Lias is. I personally think that Lias should have played in Hartford the entire 2018-2019 season playing top line minutes, and playing on both the PP and PK. If Lias stayed down in Hartford the entire year, this conversation would not be happening, and we would be looking at Lias in the same category as one of the NHL’s top prospects, Martin Necas. Just to give you an idea of what I am talking about, below is a chart from Stat Boy Steven.
In simplest terms, the chart shows that if Lias stayed in Hartford all of last year, we would not be having this conversation. I expect Lias to make a significant jump this year, and a lot of that rely’s on what Coach David Quinn does with him. I do not believe Quinn did his best with Andersson this year, and I am very hopeful that changes in 2019-2020.