Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Right Direction

It is easy to look at Jeff Skinner of the Kitchener Rangers and say "Boy he would be a great addition to the Rangers." It is easy to see that Skinner between the OHL regular season playoffs put up 70 goals and like that too.

See Jeff Skinner could be a really good scorer in the NHL for some team but not the New York Rangers.  The Rangers are building their team, their system, and their prospect pool with players who are very good skaters and bring speed to their game.

Skinner is not a good skater and that makes him the wrong direction for the Rangers to take. With the Rangers already having a Chris Kreider, a Derek Stepan, and a Ethan Werek along their prospects; then a player who does not skate well would be a poor match for what the Rangers are trying to do.

The Rangers need to surround their current prospect pool with players who skills will complement each other, a player like Skinner will not do that no matter how good a score he may be. So despite Skinner's excellent scoring talents, he is someone the Rangers ned to pass on simply because it would be the same as trying to force a square peg into the round hole.

Now that is not to say that Jeff Skinner would not work for another team and have a good NHL career but for the Rangers he would not work. Now in the 10th pick area among the skaters the Rangers could find themselves with smallish forwards or physical defensemen neither of which It is a happy option.

In many a scenario trading down from number 10 just might be the best possible move for the New York Rangers. The best skater in the top 20 of any job prospects for this draft is Emerson Etem of the Medicine Hat Tigers in the WHL.

Few people view Emerson Etem as someone who should be taken in the top 10.  Most feel that Emerson Etem is a player who should go in the 15 to 20 range.

Can the Rangers gamble that Elem would be there should they trade down?  The answer to all of this is to look at what isn't available and that is speed.

What you see from around 11 to 20 are players who are either talented but average skaters or larger size defenseman.  Could the Rangers afford to let a Derek Forbort slide by to take the barely 6 foot Emerson Etem?

Forbort it is a very large physical defenseman who still growing but while he is not a bad skater, he does not possess true speed and is more of a lumbering type player. Jon Merrill who is another of the United States class of under 18 is more like Marc Staal which is really what the Rangers do not need on other defensemen who does not really score.

In many ways taking its 10 is just as bad as picking at 19 or 20 because because the elite players are already gone and the next set while good are almost reaches. But the Rangers have no choice, the state house to be someone who is going to fit in with what they already have among the prospects.

The problem prior to 2008 was that the Rangers win best possible player instead of player to address the needs.  So the players drafted struggled to find a chemistry but in the last couple of seasons there has been a change in the direction of the Rangers draft mindset.

Now factor in John Tortorella's desire to play an up-tempo, forechecking, and attacking hockey system, and you see players were finally going to be able to play within that system. As we watched last year's team we saw the lack of scoring, the lack of speed, and in many cases a lot of size.

For the Rangers to move forward then they must stay within their plan to build a team that can play with each other as well as the system.  The question is at 10 will they be able to find the player?


Something else that kind of stands out is the mistaken impression that just because the New York Rangers have not made the moves that they have done wrong moves.  Start with free agent Norwegian Mats Zuccarello Aasen, add in Jyri Niemi for just a sixth round pick, and the expected signings of Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh then the Rangers have not done a bad job so far.

Yes it would've been nicer if the Rangers have been able to move some salary but for right now it is really hard to say that the Rangers have gone nothing. Let's be honest after some highly suspect high profile free agent signings last season; isn't it a lot better to do smaller, quieter, and safer moves?

Is a whole lot better than adding any more disasters otherwise known as fat contract players?I do not know about you but to me, New York Ranger's silence is very golden.

(Skinner courtesy of Ontario Hockey League images)


Anonymous said...

Skinner reminds me of Don Murdoch, the knock on whom being he couldn't skate particularly well, yet made the transition to the NHL with 16 goals in his first 16 games.
His junior coach likens him to Richards---and I just finished watching the Flyers pick Giroux in the Amateur Draft right after we picked Sanguinetti (ouch). We need offensive finishers and Skinner apparently fits the bill.

Leatherneck said...

I say trade down and get Dylan McIlrath or Jared Tonardi...keep the 10th gotta go for 1A) Derek Forbort or 1B) Brett Connolly...then trade again and get Nick Bjugstad..any combination of these 5 and its a great draft...stay clear of the Euros

Jess Rubenstein said...


Got to remember that junior coaches also are like college coaches as they need to have their players drafted high in order to attract other players to his program.


Bjugstad is an interesting possibility that I would not mind as a Ranger but I doubt the Rangers go for him.

Connolly will be long gone before the Rangers pick, I too do not want to see a European selected in the first round. Later rounds maybe

Anonymous said...

The past and present are littered with players who "can't skate". The one that immediately comes to mind from the present is Marc Savard; from the past, Luc Robitaille. Lucky Luc finished his career with a paltry 668 goals!

Anonymous said...

The past and present are littered with players who "can't skate". The one that immediately comes to mind from the present is Marc Savard; from the past, Luc Robitaille. Lucky Luc finished his career with a paltry 668 goals!

Jess Rubenstein said...


Funny you mentioned 2 players who did not play their best hockey as Rangers.

While a case can be made as to why the fact remains that while with the Rangers they never developed chemistry with their teammates