With Derek Dorsett out of the picture the only two remaining pieces the Rangers acquired in the deal that sent Marian Gaborik to Columbus are Derick Brassard and John Moore. Moore, still just 23 years-old, has the potential to be a special player but at this stage of his career he is playing right where he belongs; on the Rangers third defensive pair alongside veteran Kevin Klein.
As Blue Blooded pointed out on July 1st, there is a lot to be desired in John Moore's game.
"In fairness, John Moore is a pretty well-rounded defenceman - he isn't terrible at anything. Unfortunately, he is pretty bad at almost everything."
We can chalk some of Moore's mediocre play up to his relative youth and, thankfully, it isn't all bad news with Moore. He has a pretty great shot from the point and his skating makes him a potential threat in the transition game. If Moore can make some positive steps in the offseason to improve his shortcomings, Rangers fans should be getting excited about him. He has good size, great speed, and a good shot. Let's take a look back at a peculiar 2013-14 season and a less-than-spectacular 2014 NHL Playoffs for the Rangers third pair defenseman.
Goodbye Michael Del Zotto
The acquisition of John Moore made Michael Del Zotto unnecessary in the Rangers lineup. Moore and Del Zotto are hardly the same kind of player, but Moore gave the Rangers another young defenseman that showed promise moving the puck. Moore is a much stronger skater than Del Zotto and in Vigneault's system it is understandable why Sather thought it was time to move on with Michael Del Zotto and give John Moore a real crack at regular NHL roster spot. When the Rangers dealt Del Zotto the Predators for Kevin Klein, John Moore's roster spot was solidified, even after the Rangers acquired Raphael Diaz on Deadline Day.
The Third Pair
In 74 regular season games John Moore put up 15 points and registered 25 penalty minutes. He averaged 15:19 TOI/G in the regular season and 14:32 TOI/G in the 2014 Playoffs. After the Del Zotto trade the Rangers defense just felt sounder, but perhaps that had more to do with the team turning things around and less to do with the personnel change. There were some high hopes for John Moore after he seemed to be flying in the preseason but his regular season was a bit underwhelming. To be fair to Moore, he didn't get a lot of chances to shine on the man advantage where a lot of defensemen with his skills pick up their points. He did, however, show encouraging flashes of skill on the man advantage, especially in early May. He averaged only 1:05 PP TOI/G in the regular season and picked up just two power play assists. It'll be interesting to see if he gets a bigger role on the Rangers' power play with Brad Richards out of the picture.
The coaches simply didn't trust John Moore in shorthanded situations this past season, although it is hard to fault them for that when there were options like Ryan McDonagh, Anton Stralman, and Kevin Klein to turn to. In short, John Moore's season was unremarkable. He didn't get a glut of opportunities but he also didn't do very much with the opportunities he did get playing a bit role on the Rangers' second power play unit and getting third pair ice time.
Moore was, more or less, a non-factor in the 2014 Playoffs. He had just 2 assists in 21 games but also played a much smaller role than he played in the regular season with Ryan McDonagh playing every possible minute the Rangers could play him. Unfortunately, John Moore's most noteworthy moment from the playoffs was his dirty hit on former Ranger Dale Weise that many considered to be misguided retribution for the Brandon Prust hit that broke Derek Stepan's jaw.
I like that John Moore has an edge to his game but I really, really don't want to see more of this from him. He's a young player and a tough kid but there's a difference between being tough and being out of control. Moore was probably doing what he thought a good teammate should do. Unfortunately, in the process of doing it, he showed his inexperience by doing something that bad and undeserving hockey players do.
Restricted Free Agent
John Moore is one of the four key Rangers restricted free agents this offseason. All signs point to the Rangers bringing the young American blueliner back as their third pair defender on the left side, and that is exactly where he should be. With Moore in the picture, the Rangers blue line now looks like; McDonagh-Girardi, Staal-Dan Boyle, John Moore-Klein. This offseason the Rangers obviously lost a very valuable possession player in Anton Stralman. We can only hope that John Moore has it in him to have a bit of a breakout season to help make up for the deficit of losing Stralman to the Tampa Bay Lightning in free agency. If he can't bring the Rangers better defensive play, one can hope that he finds some confidence playing a bigger role on the Rangers second power play unit as Dan Boyle's understudy. It might be asking too much of John Moore to suddenly become a shutdown d-man, but it is reasonable to ask him to give the Rangers more than 13 even strength points next season and a lot more than 2 power play points. We'll just have to see what opportunities and what role John Moore plays for the 2014-15 New York Rangers after he gets his new contract. If he gets his new contract. Don't worry he will. Probably.
Let's go Rangers.