The Gotham Rangers Mailbag

Answering questions from the fans

Welcome back to another edition of the Gotham Rangers Mailbag, folks. The Rangers, once again, have lost three games in a row, so let’s get right into answering everyone’s calm and rational questions.

Let’s get it:

I’m always here to talk about one’s head being in one’s anus to start a mailbag. Here’s the thing with AV: he, like every coach in the history of sports, is stubborn. He’s even more stubborn because he’s had so much success doing things his way. So he literally could have his head in his ass and not change it because of his past success. All coaches have it, and it usually leads to all coaches having an expiration date.

As for the second one, I highly doubt we see Alain Vigneault get fired unless the Rangers go on an outrageous losing streak; something like 10 games in a row or 15 losses in their last 20 games. Other than that, he’ll definitely get the benefit of the doubt from the front office with the injuries the roster currently has, but they won’t stand for a long, painful losing streak.

This question—and the response below it—are fascinating to me. I think Joel Quenneville is a terrific coach who’s trying to patch a sinking ship in Chicago . I think the comparison to what the Habs did last year—firing Michel Therrien as soon as Claude Julien became available and hiring him—is spot on. You’re firing a good coach to bring in a great coach, but that doesn’t change the roster construction; look at the Habs right now. Julien is a terrific coach, one of the best in the world, but he can’t make the Canadiens more talented, just like Quenneville wouldn’t be able to make the Rangers more talented.

That being said, I would do it, no questions asked. Quenneville has three cups, and while a lot of that falls on the talent on the roster, he still maximized the players to their potential. Some of the Blackhawks’ role players during those cup runs (Andrew Laad, Dustin Byfuglien, Marcus Kruger, Brandon Saad, Artem Anisimov, etc.) were used terrifically, and he squeezed every ounce of production out of them. Hiring “Q” won’t fix the Rangers’ problems, but it is certainly a step in the right direction.

My fucking man Drew bringing the heat like always. I’m not a fighter; I consider myself a pacifist. Honestly, this question scrambled my brain like eggs for a little bit, but I’d rather fight three Zuccarello sized Charas; you can’t teach size, so I’ve been told.

This is a phenomenal question, even though we know it’s going to be Nick Holden. But if Vigneault has an epiphany and realizes that Nick Holden is in fact not great at the sport of hockey, I’d love to see Brady Skjei get the minutes. Either Skjei or McDonagh have shown in the past they can play the right side, so that isn’t an issue. In their limited 36:48 TOI together at 5v5, they’ve got a 40.85 CF%, a 69.08 (nice) CA/60 and an xGA of 2.61, per Corsica Hockey. Some (me) would say that isn’t great, but thankfully some (once again, me) can say it’s a small sample size.

I’m a firm believer that McDonagh needs to be paired with a puck-mover to unlock his potential. McDonagh has struggled this year, and I truly believe that’s because he’s asked to do too much. He’s not elite offensively, so when you ask him to carry a pair, he tries to make plays that he simply should not make, leading to the brutal turnovers we’ve seen this year. Skjei can be a one-man breakout whenever he wants to be, like this play from Tuesday:

And while he’s slumping offensively this year—12 assists compared to 34 last year, 10 even-strength assists to 27 last year—his skating ability and vision will only get better as he grows more comfortable.

We saw the Skjei-McDonagh duo get used for a little bit against the Ducks, and given the Rangers’ injuries and lackluster play on their back end, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more of it moving forward.

Oh it’s going to be real bad move forward. Not going to get better before it gets much, much worse. Be a real shame if I’m not sober when watching all these games from now on. A real shame, I say.

Side note that I want to get out there: I’m all in on Lavar Ball. Man’s going to bring down the corrupt, sack of shit NCAA, so I’m here for it. Big Baller Brand, baby.

This is a real interesting question. When John Tortorella was fired in 2013, the Rangers went from losing in the Eastern Conference Final to losing in the second round. Tortorella called it a “sideways step”, but Henrik Lundqvist thought the team took a step back. So if they go from losing in the second round to losing in the first or second round again, I don’t know how that isn’t considered a step back either.

So I think they’d look real hard into trading Ryan McDonagh and Mats Zuccarello at the draft. Both have reasonable contracts—McDonagh’s cap hit is $4.7 and Zuccarello’s is $4.5, per Cap Friendly—and are signed through the 2018–19 season. That makes them pretty valuable, even if a team has no interest in re-signing them in the summer of 2019. I also think you’d see a complete overhaul of the defense, with everyone except Brady Skjei and Tony DeAngelo being traded, bought out, or not re-signed. I also think you’d see them trade one of J.T. Miller or Kevin Hayes, while pushing real hard to clear cap space for the summer of 2019, because it is going to be one of the most stacked free-agent classes we’ve ever seen. (Images courtesy of Cap Friendly)

Speaking of McDonagh:

Personally, I’d want an NHL ready forward and maybe a pick. I want the Rangers to restock the talent pool, but acquiring an elite young forward will expedite the process. Getting a Nylander or a Marner will give you a piece to build around, and if you flip Nash/Grabner/Holden/Zucc for young assets, hopefully the rebuild/retooling happens faster so Henrik Lundqvist can see it through.

Depends on what your definition of “legit” is. Do I think they can be the 1–2 center duo on Stanley Cup contender? No. Do I think they can be a solid 1–2 center duo on a good team that can make noise in the playoffs because of Henrik Lundqvist? Sure.

The Rangers’ center depth was one of their biggest strengths in 2014 when they made the Stanley Cup Final, even though none of Derek Stepan (miss you), Derick Brassard and Brad Richards were stars. Hayes’ production falling off a cliff this year is really concerning, and Zibanejad hasn’t been scoring at 5v5, so while I like both players, I don’t think you’re winning a cup with them as your top-two centers.

NOPE. NO RETREADS.

Projecting how players will fare in the NHL is always tough, especially when you haven’t seen how they play against the competition. But for Chytil, I’d think anything between 40–50 points would be terrific, and Andersson in the 30–40 range with some PK time would be really great. I’m hoping they get the call at some point this year.

I do not. I don’t believe anyone on this roster should be untouchable. I’m from the Danny Ainge school of trading; if it makes the team better, you make the trade, even if you have to trade your own mother. Getting too attached to players is dangerous, and can cost you the chance to acquire elite talent.

This is going to be a hot topic moving forward, and I’ve flip-flopped on it a ton; you can realistically make a case for either player: Miller’s got top-six talent, especially if the Rangers commit to him as a winger full time; and Hayes has developed into a matchup center who can kill penalties quite effectively, something no one would’ve thought when he first game into the league (quote courtesy of Hockeys Future).

However, both have their flaws. Miller’s shot production has plummeted (he’s only generating 39 shots/60 minutes per CJ Turtoro’s All 3-Zone Player Comparison Tool), and he’s still prone to ghastly turnovers, like this one against the Ducks that led to him being benched:

As for Hayes, his point production has fallen off a cliff this year; he has 18 points in 43 games, a dramatic drop off from his 49 in 76 games last year. Some might point to Hayes’ tough zone starts (36.7% of his 5v5 starts have come in the defensive zone, per Corsica Hockey), but that’s actually down from last year(37.56% DZS%, per Corsica hockey). Hayes’ linemates haven’t been great, but that’s still not an excuse for such a sharp drop in point production.

So basically what I’m saying is I have no fucking clue who I’d want to trade. I would say Miller because unless Chytil or Andersson take the league by storm next season, they need Hayes more than they need Miller.

I’ll do my best Jim Calhoun here: I fucked up. I thought Tony DeAngelo, who was acquired in the Derek Stepan trade, was a bust. But since his recall, he’s made me look like an idiot. Putting aside all the bullshit, the Rangers really need DeAngelo to play well; they lack another player of his caliber in their system. I wrote about it the other day, but there is no reason he shouldn’t be in the lineup every game for the rest of the year.

That’s all for me, folks. Thanks for reading the Gotham Rangers Mailbag, and as always, thank you for sending in questions!