It's been an interesting run since July 1st. Essentially, since July 10th, everyone was in agreement that the 4th line had been downgraded. To what degree is up for debate and remains to be seen, but following those THRILLING acquisitions came debate of how to fill the team's top-six scorer void.
Then Monday happened.
While some of us may disagree about the Rick Nash deal, one thing I think we can all agree on is that we expect the Rangers to make one more move, for someone. Whether that someone be another scorer, a middle six guy to help shore up the losses, or a 4th line guy who isn't a complete pylon, the fact is one more move is needed. The Rangers have the cap space, and last time I checked there wasn't a limit on the number of good players you can have (George's line).
What follows is an Incoming/Outgoing/Semin and Doan breakdown. If you don't believe in the use of advanced statistics, that's fine, because I don't believe Alexander Semin is a locker room cancer/lazy/coach killer just because the mainstream media says so. The stats are just another way to explain what our eyes see when watching hockey, and the best part is that they don't miss a second on the clock.
But we're not here to debate those, it's about the players and the Rangers as a team. Keep it civil in the comments as well, please.
Click to enlarge any of the charts. For those of you who don't recognize the headers (the non-obvious ones):
- QoC: Quality of Competition. 0 is league average.
- P/60: Points per 60 minutes of that player being on the ice.
- Corsi Rel: Differnce in Corsi (all shots taken; blocked, missed, and on net) when a player is on the ice compared to when he's off (i.e. on minus off).
- On-Ice Shot%: Shooting% when a player and his 4 teammates are on the ice.
- PDO: Shooting + Save %. 1000 is average, indicates luck (poor or good)
- GVT: Goals versus Threshold
- Shot %: Player shooting%. 2011-12 Average is 8.94% league wide, 10.53% for Forwards.
Rick Nash, in three bullet points:
- He turned 28 this season. Despite being very good, he will age (PPG wise) and might have started to already.
- His goal-scoring could stay steady next season because of the down year in Shooting he had last season.
- Rick Nash and the word "Elite" is very much debatable (not in the good way). Please see: http://nhlnumbers.com/2012/6/27/rick-nash-facts
As for the remaining bunch of incomers, Jeff Halpern was Sather's best signing and easily the "bang for the buck" move of his offseason thus far. He could allow Brian Boyle to produce more offensively, depending on how Tortorella decides to use him. Asham and Haley are absolutely useless when you consider NYR already has an almost useless player in Rupp as it is.
For those of you touting Pyatt's possible "scoring" contribution, just know he is a very lucky/streaky shooter. Also, he needs to be sheltered, so assuming he is to stay in the bottom six, Torts will have to play him against other bottom six players, so he's out as a traditional checking line option.
Really my only issue with dealing Dubinsky and Anisimov is that Dubinsky is in his prime (peaking this season) while Ansimov is entering his soon. Next to Brian Boyle, Brandon Dubinsky played the toughest minutes on the team as a forward, and handled them just fine as a 26-year-old. Couple this with the fact that he had a hilariously unlucky shooting year, and odds are Columbus will see a revitalized Dubinsky next season (Fantasy Hockey tip, I grabbed him).
As for Artem, it will be interesting to see how he develops. Only 24, he has already shown signs of being able to handle a second line center role, all while establishing a middle-six forward career thus far.
So I'll finally say it: if NYR doesn't win a Cup with Nash within 2-3 years, looking back on this deal most likely won't be pretty.
Bullet points for the rest:
- Sean Avery could have easily filled a bottom six role, very effectively nonetheless, if he hadn't been shunned. I'd like to think it would have been relatively easy for Sather to get him down towards Pyatt-type money.
- For as much as Prust endeared himself to fans, odds are we will not miss him. Same can be said about Fedotenko.
- In his almost 30 games with NYR, Woywitka did manage to do a good job, even though he was playing against some of the leagues worst.
- John Mitchell: sneaky good, did his job.
So the next move seems to be down between Shane Doan and Alex Semin. To rank Nash, Semin, and Doan in terms of talent as of July 2012:
1. Alexander Semin
2. Rick Nash
3. Shane Doan
To throw away the stats for a second... Remember the past few seasons when playing against a high-flying Captials team just wasn't fun to watch? Signing Semin could honestly create a shift in mentality (if Torts realizes it) to seeing that type of hockey played 41 times a year at Madison Square Garden. There is some fine work out there already about Semin that is said better than I could say it:
Doan is a good player, but his age is more of a risk than Semin's supposed attitude problems (mostly debunked above). Semin is more elite than Nash, hands down.
So, there's a summary of the Rangers offseason so far from a numbers perspective. Are the Rangers better? Yes, but mildly, not by leaps and bounds. The next move could be just as important if not more so than Nash. That better question is also contingent on the Rangers most valuable player, Henrik Lundqvist, whom I plan on re-visiting as the season draws closer.
[Note by Rob L, 07/25/12 8:32 AM EDT ]: I've seen Jason Arnott's name being thrown around now, and I wouldn't be against it. He's declined but has held pretty steady with his notorious accurate shooting. Only problem with he has been sheltered in terms of QoC and Zone starts, so we'd have to consider that as well.