In the coming days, we're profiling some of the new faces who will be a part of the Rangers this year. Get familiar! If you missed them, here are the player's we've previewed thus far: Dan Boyle here, Lee Stempniak here and Matthew Lombardi here.
I knew the day would come when I would be forced to introduce Tanner Glass as part of our "Howdy, Ranger" series. In the time I was thinking about ways to sugarcoat what's been paraded as quite possibly the worst signing this offseason, how does one tell the positives in the situation, or craft a preview that doesn't predict New York's new "tuff guy" will crash the stock market, somehow make the F train run even worse, and burn down Central Park, Prospect Park, and even Bryant Park.
The simple answer: There's no use in doing so.
My inspiration originally came from a great piece on Fear the Fin about John Scott. These signings are, on paper, and at face value, miserable. Painting the picture any other way would be romanticized optimism. It's up to Glass to prove everyone wrong, but until then, it's fair to fear for the worst.
It was just last season that the Rangers traded for Dan Carcillo. The reactions were similar: Carcillo was categorized as a villain, and a player who would contribute nothing. He certainly exceeded those expectations, which maybe is a good reason to set the bar so low for Glass.
Here's what we know: Glass spent two underwhelming (putting it nicely) years under Vigneault in Vancouver. In one of the years, the Canucks made the Stanley Cup. He racked up 187 penalty minutes in 140 games. His ice time to penalty minute ratio was about 13-to-1. He rarely scored, and rarely has scored during his seven year NHL career, with a sh% of 6.2.
He's proficient at punching people in the face, a skill that's becoming obsolete in today's game. The Rangers were 25th in the league last season in fighting majors with 25 fights. That's way down from the league-leading 65 fights the Rangers had in 2011-12. If you're of the logic the Rangers lack of fisticuffs is part of an identity issue, and they need to add more "jam," "grit," and other ambiguous terms that may also show up on a dinner recipe, you may have been in one too many hockey fights yourself.
Here's what we don't know: if Glass will actually play. It's a safe bet considering his cap hit of $1.4 million, but the will will convey a message of "the player who will contribute the most will get playing time." If that's the case, there are six or so players who spent time in Hartford last season who would be better off eating up fourth line minutes. Glass was one of the worst possession players in the league last season, and the year before that, and the year before that, and the year before that.
Carrying that kind of cap number, it would give the impression Glass will have a leg up on the competition, whether it's J.T. Miller, Oscar Lindberg, or Jesper Fast. But consider this: Since becoming a professional hockey player in 2006, breaking the AHL ranks, Glass has scored 28 goals in 474 games (that combines his AHL and NHL totals, and a brief six-game stint in Slovenia). Miller, who recently turned 21, has eclipsed that number in less than a third of the games. If Miller has a better training camp than Glass, or any of the Hartford players for that matter, and Glass gets the nod over them, he'll be in the lineup as a glorified security guard, policing opposing teams from engaging the Rangers skill players.
And if that's the case, Glass won't only be a black hole, stealing minutes and negatively effecting the team, he'll also be stunting the development of those aforementioned prospects—Miller in particular—who need to be getting in game situations to grow.
The puck is now in Glass' court. It's up to him to prove he can make positive contributions on an NHL team. But if he can't, it's up to the Rangers brass to make a hockey decision and play someone else over him.