This offseason the Rangers agreed to terms with left winger Taylor Pyatt. Pyatt's combination of great size and good hands was what made him the Islanders first round pick (eight overall) in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft but Pyatt has never completely lived up to the top-six forward hype that made him a top-ten pick in '99. Pyatt redefined his game and has become known for his work ethic, strong two-way play, and his physicality. Pyatt doesn't shy away from using his size on the ice and taking the body. He registered 137 hits in 73 games played last year and 143 in 76 games last year.
I have three big questions surrounding Pyatt and his impact on the New York Rangers bottom six forwards. One of these questions has already been touched upon in some recent articles here at Blueshirt Banter, so for the sake of keeping things fresh I won't go into his role as a potential penalty killer. The remaining two questions are relatively simple ones; how many goals can we expect out of Pyatt this year and will he stay healthy?
Join me for more about one of the Rangers newest players after the jump...
Two seasons ago Taylor Pyatt scored 18 goals as a Phoenix Coyote which doubled his goal total last season. However, Pyatt had a shooting percentage over 14% when he scored 18 goals two seasons ago, so we shouldn't be expecting Pyatt to crack 20 goals next year with the Rangers. Realistically, his offensive production will be similar to Ruslan Fedotenko's but we can hope for a few more goals than Fedotenko scored during his time as a Ranger. A healthy Taylor Pyatt should bring somewhere around 15 goals to the Rangers this upcoming season which will bring some much-needed depth scoring to the bottom-six forwards.
Pyatt's size and strength in the corners is certainly going to be welcome in the Rangers lineup. There is also a chance that the big-bodied Pyatt could be used to great efficiency in front of the net on the powerplay, a role that he played several seasons ago with the Vancouver Canucks. During his career-best 23 goal season in 2006-07 he scored 9 goals on the powerplay. However, Pyatt was seldom used on the man advantage during his time in Phoenix and hasn't seen a great deal of powerplay success outside of two seasons of solid production in Vancouver. Despite his great size Pyatt would be a best suited for the second power play unit because he doesn't truly possess top-six talent and vision.
A curious stat about Pyatt is that he has never played at least 80 games in a season, though it is important to note that he has seldom missed significant time in his career due to injuries (playing less than fifty games twice early in his career during his time with Buffalo). Minor injuries have nagged Pyatt last season which almost certainly impacted his offensive production but he had a solid postseason and made a positive impact with his physical play and 4 goals in 16 games for the Coyotes. Hopefully Pyatt will stay healthy as a Ranger and come closer to the numbers he hit two seasons ago.
Pyatt is no stranger to playoff hockey though he certainly doesn't have a couple of Stanley Cups tattooed on him like Feds does. What Pyatt does have that Fedotenko didn't have a lot of is size. The bottom six for the Rangers already has several redwoods, Boyle and Rupp come to mind, and adding a player like Pyatt to the lineup, who is a strong skater, makes the team that much more physical. The addition of Pyatt to the Rangers seems like it handsomely fills the skates of Ruslan Fedotenko and may turn out to be an upgrade before all is said and done. Pyatt will cost the Rangers $200k less than Fedotenko will cost the Flyers on the salary cap this year and is two years his junior. Fedotenko's penalty killing will almost certainly be missed but all signs point to Pyatt fitting right in with John Tortorella's system and hockey philosophy. Not to mention he has some of the dreamiest eyes in all of hockey.
What do you guys think of Taylor Pyatt's impact on the bottom-six forwards for the Rangers? Should the Rangers use him on the powerplay? How many goals should the Rangers expect out of him? Have at it guys and girls.