I'd like to take this opportunity to write an opinion piece, rather than one filled with facts. Some people enjoy the facts and figures, and other don't. Now is a good chance for me to express my opinion on the moves our organization have made as a whole in a less factual, and more instinctive and emotional way.
If we were to imagine a alternate scenario, in which the Rangers did not make any of the previous 3 trades (Nash trade, Gaborik trade, Clowe trade), I ask you to try to determine what our team would look like. I do this, because I often wonder (perhaps due to my connection to last year's team), what we would look like right now if we didn't make any of the moves that have so rattled our team and resulted in massive struggles for the first 30 games this season.
What I'll do here is indicate what I believe is a really fair projection for what our team would have looked like this season if we made all of the same free agent moves, yet did not make any of the "blockbuster" deals. I ask you to not mind the line combinations, as I am organizing the players in a way that allows us to more easily look at the differences between the two scenarios.
- Dubinsky Anisimov Gaborik
- Hagelin Stepan Callahan
- Kreider/Zucarello Richards Miller
- Pyatt Boyle Asham
To me, that is a very fair estimate of what this team would have looked like if they held steady during the offseason and moved forward with the team at hand. I held to history with our free agent moves and smaller deals, such as Powe/Rupp, signing Asham and Pyatt, allowing Mitchell and Fedotenko and Prust to talk, and so on. These remain as constants, as that will allow us to better analyze the differences the trades made. Ceteris Paribus, as they say.
The roster maintains the call-ups of Miller and Kreider as well, as well as the signing of Zucarello, as no assets were given up to bring him back. I believe now, in both scenarios, Zucarello will hold that LW spot as Kreider continues to develop, which I believe is the right move. Regardless, that will also stay a constant in both lineups.
For the sake of the argument, I'm going to assume here that Erixon and Moore can be considered a wash. Both are of similar age and production and potential, and it will be a good couple of years before we can compare the two fairly. I will now list the line-up we have now, and again, the line combinations are listed in a way that allows us to directly compare the difference the three trades made to our roster:
- Clowe Brassard Nash
- Hagelin Stepan Callahan
- Kreider/Zucarello Richards Miller
- Pyatt Boyle Asham
- Powe Dorsett (injured)
If you have not been able to see the reasoning for the line combinations yet, it is because the set-up allowed me to hold three of the lines constant. The 2nd, 3rd, and 4th lines are the same on both teams, and I believe it to be logical to assume that those players would still be in the position they are today if we did not make any moves. This again allows us to compare the results in a more direct fashion.
I look at those two lineups, and the difference is that "top" line. Top is in quotation marks, because again, those three players necessarily would not end up playing on the same line. The reason I set them up this way, is because the three players making up the first line in the first scenario (no trades), have all been traded, and the three players making up the first line in the second scenario (today), have all been acquired through these trades we are still all trying to come to grips with.
Now is where opinion will take over. Dubinsky, Anisimov, and Gaborik. Clowe, Brassard, and Nash. Which is better? I'm sure there will be people on both sides of the argument, and I do not think it is an easy choice. I would imagine that most would argue the latter to be better, and I would not necessarily argue with them, but by how much?
That is my real question here. By how much?
If we are going to fairly analyze these trades, we need to take in account everything that we traded, and everything that we received. Not just the roster players, as organizations should not be valued only on their current roster, but also by their prospect pool and draft pick stockpile as well.
We gave up Parlett, whose value I'd imagine is close to negligible. By the same token, so is the value of the 6th round pick we received from Columbus. Past that, included in the Nash deal was a 1st round pick that we sent to Columbus. Included in the Clowe deal was a 2nd round pick, a 3rd round pick, and a conditional 2nd round pick if we re-signs with the Rangers. I do not think we received any other picks in these deals, although we might have received a 3rd from Columbus with the Nash deal. If someone could confirm that, I would appreciate it. Correct me if I am wrong in the conditionals, because its tough to keep up with.
For now though, we'll go with the Rangers trading away a 1st round pick, two 2nd round picks, and a 3rd round pick in order to make those roster moves. That is the net difference. We traded Dubinsky, Anisimov, and Gaborik in return for Clowe, Brassard, and Nash, while giving up those 4 aforementioned draft picks in order to do it.
Personally, you know where I stand on this. I do not believe those changes to be worth it, especially when there were free agents available who would have not cost assets to acquire. And past the loss of draft picks, the team also lost the majority of this season. During this time, chemistry was not able to build in the same way, and the team struggled mightily.
The reason for writing this post is two-fold. For one, I'd like to hear your feedback on whether the exchange of roster players improved our team, and if so, was the improvement worth the picks?
My second reason is to make some general points about perception, and how we look at our own players versus others. For those who wish to argue that Brassard is a quality player (I would agree), remember back to last season for a moment. Remember all of those times when people used Nash's teammates as an excuse for his poor production? Remember the countless times where those in support of the trade claimed Nash was playing with scrubs, and the reason he couldn't produce more was because of his lack of a quality center? Well, Brassard was one of those centers.
So if you wish to call him a quality player now, fine, but please do not claim that today if you claimed he was a scrub last season. That would be inconsistent. A similar point can be made about Nash. Last season many claimed his lack of points was due to his lack of supporting cast, and that he needed better players to set him up. If you said that, that is fine, but please do not go back on your opinion when convenient, and give Nash credit for the production of Stepan and Hagelin, for example. It would be unfair to state that he needs good players to set him up one season, while claiming that he can make himself and others good on his own the next. If he has the ability to do so, you can't blame his previous struggles on anyone but him. Let's be fair, and be honest about out thoughts on players instead of changing them on a daily basis in order to fit our beliefs.
To conclude, I find it incredibly interesting that our lineup is more similar today than it has been at any time since the Nash trade. We are back to having two "stars" in terms of contract value on forward, a strong core of middle 6 players, and a quality fourth line. We got away from that template for a while, like many argued we should, and we struggled mightily. Now Sather addressed his mistakes and miscalculations, and we all hope this new Rangers team can right the ship and get back to playing a more consistent brand of hockey.
I just ask one more question, and this only to a select few. To those who claimed the Rangers as constructed last season were not good enough to win the cup, what makes this team good enough? Do the Dubinsky for Clowe, Anisimov for Brassard, and Gaborik for Nash tradeoffs make such a difference that we go from not being good enough to win the cup, to a real contender? If not, then why the change of heart? If you believe so, that is your right, I would just like to hear why you believe that is true.
I'm looking forward to hearing from everyone about this. I think this post can be a nice place for all of us to kind of just come to grips with all the moves we have made, and move forward feeling more comfortable with the team we have now.