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Rangers give Jarret Stoll a second chance with one year deal

Bobby Bevilacqua

Jarret stoll with cup

The Rangers got experience, a faceoff specialist, and a Stanley Cup champion in Jarret Stoll, a nice move to help the center depth. Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Kings.

In a move that was totally unexpected, New York Rangers GM Jeff Gorton announced that the team had signed Jarret Stoll to a one year contract worth just $800k, in an attempt to bolster their center depth and improve at the faceoff dot.

Stoll’s future with the LA Kings was already in jeopardy before he was arrested on drug charges. Stoll was busted for smuggling cocaine and ecstasy into a Las Vegas pool party. Though the charges were initially a felony, he avoided jail time, agreeing to a plea deal and 32 hours of community service.

Last year, the Rangers were willing to take a chance on Ryan Malone, who was also arrested for cocain possession and released by the Lightning. While that didn’t work out, it was a one year deal and very cheap, so it did not impact them all that much.

This is a similar scenario. Stoll is a proven veteran player who made a mistake and is being given a second chance at kick-starting his career once again. The Rangers had very little cap space before this move, so $800k on a one year deal is a really good move.

This serves mainly as a training camp invite. Stoll will likely battle Tanner Glass and Viktor Stalberg for the 12th spot, or maybe wrestle a roster spot from Oscar Lindberg. This also means that if he makes the team, which is likely, Kevin Hayes could be moved back to the wing, which may be what the Rangers are hoping to do long-term. With the signing of Stalberg and Stoll, Tanner Glass’ roster spot looks to be in jeopardy.

tanner glass 4-24

With the new offseason additions, it really looks as if Tanner Glass’ roster spot is in jeopardy. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

While the 33 year old NHL vet’s production may have dipped over the past few years, it doesn’t mean that he can’t be beneficial to the Rangers lineup.

Stoll’s biggest asset is his faceoffs. In his career, he has posted won 55.4% of the faceoffs that he has taken, and posting a faceoff win percentage of 51% or higher in each of his 12 NHL seasons. He is also one of just three players to have a 51% or better faceoff win percentage since 2003-04, along with Joe Thornton and Tyler Seguin. He has surpassed the 40 point plateau in four different seasons and has 20 assists in six seasons.

Lately, he has not been a potent scorer, totaling just 17 points (6-11-17) in 73 games, starting in the offensive zone 54% of the time. However, this also has to do with the Kings struggling last year, and the fact that he played on the fourth line with guys like Dwight King, Jordan Nolan and Kyle Clifford, not the biggest offensive threats. Stoll should benefit from playing with more skillful players, like Kevin Hayes, Jesper Fast, or Emerson Etem.

He kills penalties, playing 58 minutes on the penalty kill last season, and recording two shorthanded points, both assists. His corsi rating of 51% is respectable, but he can do much better, as he was a 56% possession player in the 2013-14 season. He was also good late game, picking up 8 of his 17 points in the third period or overtime.

The biggest benefit he will bring to the lineup is balancing out the offensive and defensive zone starts. Last season, Alain Vigneault was forced to use Derek Stepan on defensive zone draws, even though his faceoff win percentage is slightly north of 40%. It also meant that Chris Kreider and Martin St. Louis had to play defense, which isn’t their strength.

If Stoll assumes the third line center role, then it would allow Vigneault to employ him and Dominic Moore on most of the defensive zone shifts, while allowing the more offensive-minded lines with Derek Stepan and Derick Brassard to focus more on scoring goals and playing in the other end.

dominic moore faceoff 1-13

Dominic Moore is not the only one who can win faceoffs anymore. The addition of Stoll allows Vigneault to have two lines that can handle defensive zone shifts. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

And lastly, he also brings veteran leadership and experience. Stoll has won two Stanley Cups, both with the Kings, and he killed the Rangers in the faceoff circle in 2014, winning 57% of his draws. He can also kill penalties, which is good following the loss of Carl Hagelin.

You have to think that Gorton is making this moves in an attempt to bolster the size in the lineup (Stoll is 6’1” 213lbs), but also to push Tanner Glass out of the lineup. Glass certainly isn’t a better player than Stalberg or Stoll, and even Lindberg brings a bit more to the table. Gorton could save about $500k buy burying Glass in the AHL, or maybe a trade is in the works.

This is a nice little move by the Rangers that strengthens the team down the middle, helps them with their faceoff troubles (T-28th last season), and gives the team a bigger, better bottom six. With this signing, I’m expecting something else to come, as the Rangers now have two spare forwards and two spare defenseman. A small trade could eventually be in the team’s future.

The one problem that this poses is who will get bumped out of the lineup if Stoll makes the team. Oscar Lindberg was given a one-way deal, so that seems like the Rangers are looking to see if he can step-up and make the NHL roster. He is also a center, and he too can win faceoffs, but Stoll seems to push him out of the lineup. It will be interesting to see how the lineup shapes up. This is what it could like:

Rick Nash-Derick Brassard-Mats Zuccarello

Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-Kevin Hayes

JT Miller-Jarret Stoll-Emerson Etem

Viktor Stalberg-Dominic Moore-Jesper Fast

Spare: Oscar Lindberg/Tanner Glass

If the deal works out, than the Rangers bolster their depth at center and Stoll capitalizes on his second chance. If not, then Gorton can bury his contract in the AHL for free, and Lindberg takes his place. It’s a low-risk move that gives Vigneault four experienced centers and two faceoff specialists.

The Rangers have had trouble winning the big game, whether it be in the Eastern Conference Finals (2012, 2014) or in the Stanley Cup Finals (2014). Stoll, as well as Viktor Stalberg, know what it takes to win the cup, and hopefully they can help bring a winning mentality to New York.

How do you feel about the move? Let me know what you think in the comment section below, and make sure to vote on the poll!

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Posted on August 10, 2015, in Rangers Updates and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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