Ranking the Rangers—Part Two: 13-19
Ranking all players who suited up in at least 10 games (regular season/playoffs) in 2015-16. Part two:
19) Dominic Moore:
Soon to be former Ranger, Dom Moore, comes in at #19 on my list.
The New York Post has reported that the Rangers are not expected to re-sign the 35-year-old journeyman after a what Alain Vigneault described as a tough year for the fourth-line centermen. Whether or not this is how things really unfolded for Moore in 2015-16 is somewhat subjective. It’s difficult to reflect on the season Moore had without taking note of his line mates for the majority of the season. Moore was wedged between a carousal of really bad players for the bulk of the year. He played significant minutes with Jarret Stoll, Tanner Glass, Danny Paille and Jayson Megna.
Despite a significant drop off in possession metrics (from 47.5 CF% last season to 43.5 CF% this year), Moore managed to match his goals, assists and points/60 minutes’ rates from each of the two seasons prior. This is important to note—his personal numbers remained the same while his CF%, largely based on his on-ice teammates’ play, dropped like a bag of rocks. Maybe we see a scenario in which the coach failed to put the player in a position to succeed. When Moore had capable line mates, like in 2013-14, he was regarded as one of the better fourth liners in the league.
In any case, Moore’s story is a real tear-jerker, and he was awesome as a Ranger. I’ll never forget the double fist pump he gave after scoring the only goal in game six of the Conference Final against Montreal. *Cries*
18) Viktor Stalberg:
Number 18 on this very fly by the seed of my pants list is Viktor Stalberg. Because why not?
Stalberg proved to be a decent depth signing for the Rangers, appearing in nearly every game the team played. He could be an important part of what would be a really, really good fourth line if AV knows what’s good for him. The Swedish winger finished the season with 8-10—18 in 80 games, posting a 47.5 CF%. On most nights, Stalberg proved to be a swift skater who had no problem getting in on the forecheck and playing in the corners. He played hard and had no eye-popping turnover issues, woohoo!
Stalberg proved to be a solid offseason addition and would be an ideal fourth line fit for the coming season, if retained.
17) Kevin Hayes:
Here we have Kevin Hayes, who is awful at hockey.
Just kidding. From reading some of the dribble that’s been put out by the NYR beat on Hayes, you’d think this was the case.
But, after an eye-opening rookie year in which Hayes’ final stat line read 17-28—45, a step forward was expected coming in. This wasn’t how things unfolded.
Hayes regressed in the goals and assists departments, but this doesn’t tell the whole story. While some may accuse Hayes of dogging it or being a lazy player, his underlying numbers were just fine when put in context. The biggest issue regarding Hayes in 2015-16 wasn’t so much his play, as much as his deployment. Looking at you again, coach. Vigneault failed to do a couple of things re: Hayes. He didn’t see even close to the amount of power play time a player of his skill level should see. He lacked skilled wingers on his flanks—critical to success for a player as creative as Hayes.
To some, the eye test may say that Hayes is a slow and perhaps cumbersome player. The fact of the matter is though that Hayes’ combination of size and creativity is rare—even AV agrees. When asked if Hayes was part of the team’s future, Vigneault immediately replied “yes.”
For his benefit, Hayes must be given skilled wingers, and be allowed to find chemistry with them. His elite passing ability is shown in his primary assist numbers, where he’s been at the top of the list among NYR forwards since his arrival on Broadway.
So we’ll call Kevin Hayes the 17th best Ranger in 2015-16, mostly due to the fact that he was expected to be much better than last season.
16) Dan Boyle:
Dan Boyle, like Hayes, was one of the more polarizing Rangers in terms of people’s perception of his performance.
Pushing 40, Boyle was able to play at an NHL level for 74 games, also holding the team lead in goals among defenseman. His end of the year blowup on Larry Brooks will be the prevailing moment in the minds of Ranger fans when it’s all said and done. Or maybe it’s that he could have been the reason the team elected to let Anton Stralman walk in free agency—it could’ve been that they chose Girardi over Stralman, too. In any case, Boyle was a steadying presence for a Rangers defense that was pretty bad with the puck before Keith Yandle was brought over last season.
In 2015-16, Boyle’s age showed. He wasn’t nearly as bad as some made him to be, but he wasn’t “good” by any stretch of the word. He struggled defending in front his own net mightily. He may have played his last NHL game, so congrats to Dan on a great career. It would’ve been nice to go out with a Cup though—the expectation was such when the Rangers brought him to town, and it didn’t come to fruition.
15) Oscar Lindberg:
Lindberg’s best moments came early in the season. It seemed like every shot off of the Swedish rookie’s stick found twine.
Eventually Lindberg’s percentages evened out. He scored 10 goals and tallied 13 assists playing exclusively bottom-six minutes. It was a nice rookie year for Lindberg who will look to expand his role in the coming season. He’s one of the cheap, young players the Rangers will look to make the transition to as the likes of Dom Moore leave, creating vacant bottom six spots. His underlying numbers were good, nearly a 49 CF% on a really bad possession team.
Lindberg was a healthy scratch for most of the playoffs. He was probably nagged by a hip injury that saw him undergo surgery right after season’s end. He played about as well as expected, for this he gets #15, which means… well, nothing.
14) Dylan McIlrath:
Young Mcilrath played in 34 games for the big club this season, mostly as the teams seventh defenseman.
After some questions as to whether Dylan was a legit NHLer, he had a really solid debut to his career. Defenseman often times take a little longer to hit their stride professionally. We can assume that is the case here. His skating seemed much improved over the glimpse we got in 2014-15, and he was not a total disaster with the puck on his stick—a big plus.
McIlrath gives the Rangers a physical presence on the backend—something they’ve lacked recently. His stock definitely trended upwards this season, but big Mac has to continue to work on his skating and passing ability for him to be a top-four defenseman like the team so desperately needs him to be.
The highlight of his year was definitely when he bloodied Wayne Simmonds. Props to you, kid. See you next year.
13) Brady Skjei:
Brady Skjei comes in this high because of his more than stellar playoff showing.
Skjei, a 21-year-old rookie, came into the playoffs as the Rangers ran into the buzz saw known as Pittsburgh. To say he held his own would be an understatement.
Skjei displayed his great skating ability, and was calm with the puck—two aspects required of defenseman in today’s NHL. His ability to break down the opposing forecheck with his legs and his mind are going to be a huge asset for the youngster going forward. Like Mcilrath, Skjei will push for a roster spot on the revamped Rangers in 2016-17.
I am PUMPED to see Skjei’s career unfold.
Stay tuned for Part 3!
Posted on May 21, 2016, in In the Crease and tagged Alain Vigneault, Brady Skjei, Dan Boyle, Dom Moore, Dominic Moore, Dylan McIlrath, Glen Sather, Kevin Hayes, Madison Square Garden, MSG, New York Rangers, New York Rangers blog, NYR, Oscar Lindberg, Rangers, Rangers blog, Ranking the Rangers, Viktor Stalberg. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.