Rangers Analysis: Grading the Blueshirts thus far (Update)
Since we are literally one-third through this season it's about time to grade the Rangers. Here is a list of every player, coach, and general manager of the team; their grade and the reason why (in no particular order):
Marian Gaborik : There isn’t too much more the guy can do aside from pad up and step between the pipes. His 21 goals lead the league and his 37 points are tops among all NHL players (he has only played in 25 games mind you). He is doing everything the Rangers expected him to when they gave him the 7.5 million dollar contract in July. Grade: A+
Vaclav Prospal: When you think about offense on the Rangers two names come to mind and one of them is Prospal’s. His play with Gaborik has been outstanding and his effort on both sides of the puck is commendable. Prospal has also shown up as a leader on this team which is huge since the Rangers have very little leadershipOne of the few bright spots on this suddenly average team I have no problem rewarding Prospal’s play with a good grade. Grade: A.
Brandon Dubinsky: In the time that we got to see him thus far (18 games) he notched 3 goals and 10 points, and really solidified the top line. His penalty killing was fantastic and currently the Rangers are really hurting without his face-off prowess. On my radio show last night Steve Zipay said he should be back in 10-14 games (you can download the podcast here) and the Rangers couldn’t be any happier. Grade: B to B+.
Ryan Callahan: While I am a huge fan of Callahan and he is a huge fan favorite there is no arguing that he is having tons of problems with his game. Thus far through 27 games he has 4 goals and 4 assists and has simply not looked anything like the Ryan Callahan of last year. While he is giving every shift his all and he is leaving his heart on the ice his play is hurting this team. While normally I would give him a pass because of his hear filled play I can’t, he was expected to be an offensive force this year and currently he simply isn’t. Grade: C.
Chris Higgins: Many people (myself included) expected Chris Higgins to be an offensive force this year. Yet again the Ranger faithful found themselves disappointed as Higgins is also having an off year. With just 2 goals and 5 assists in 26 games it seems as though he is playing horrible hockey. He’s not, he is just as snake bitten as I have ever seen a player in my life. Regardless his lack of goals is hurting this team but unlike Callahan he is at least generating scoring chances. Grade: C+.
Join me after the jump.
Ales Kotalik: In the beginning of the year Kotaliklooked like the steal of free agency, now that he has foundlevel ground Ranger fans are pretty sick of him. While his shot from the point is unbelievable and his shootout prowess is invaluable his five on five play is atrocious. He is also a minus 12 on the year and can’t seem to click with any of the line-mates he is paired with; still he makes the power play lethal and without the power play (even if it is bad right now) the Rangers would be much worse than they are now. Grade: C+.
Michael Del Zotto: Michael Del Zotto hit Broadway like a bang and quickly became the Rangers hottest defenseman. Currently he has 5 goals and 12 assist for 17 points and is a monster on the power play. While his numbers have slowed down a little of late he may actually be the hardest hitting D man on the team. Also his defensive game has come along quite nicely. He is another one of those few bright spots on this team; plus he is only 19. Grade: A.
Marc Staal: Usually the backbone of the Rangers defense this is the first year where Staalseems to be finding level ground. He is suddenly making mistakes he never made before, giving the puck away in the defensive zone and losing his control of the neutral zone. While there have been some blemishes he has still been reliable at the back. Grade: B.
Sean Avery: In the beginning of the year he wasn’t playing his normal brand of hockey but currently he is back on track. When he is on he is one of the most effective players in the league. Grade: B to B+.
Dan Girardi: Had an awful start to the year but has shored up his defensive game considerably. While his offensive game isn’t where we want it to be he is playing better. Grade: B-.
Wade Redden: While he will never live up to his contract he has really played very well defensively compared to last year. He is a solid second pairing defensemen who has played pretty well of late. Grade: C+.
Michael Rozsival: I have nothing to say. Grade: F.
Matt Gilroy: Coming straight from the NCAA I was not sure how effective he would be but he is actually playing quite well and has adapted to the NHL game quite nicely. His offensive game is finally starting to catch on and his defense is coming along nicely as well. He has flashes of brilliance and hopefully we will see more of it soon. Grade: B.
Donald Brashear: While I didn’t expect him to be the next coming of Wayne Gretzky I did expect him to be more effective. He is losing pretty much every fight he gets into and when he does fight it is often at inopportune moments that don’t change the momentum of the game. Grade: D.
Aaron Voros: He goes through stretches where he plays really well and then stretches where he is invisible. His fighting has improved though. Grade: C.
P.A Parentenau: Is a monster in the shootout and has been good five on five. Has earned a spot on this team in my opinion and has been solid of late. Grade: B.
Artem Anisimov: Hard to get a good read on him since he sees so little top line (1st or 2nd) time. I like what I see thus far though. Grade: B.
Brian Boyle: I expected more scoring out of him and currently he is doing little more than taking the body occasionally. He always talks about how he needs to score / more but he only has 2 goals. Grade C-.
Chris Drury: I honestly don’t know what to say. He is not playing good hockey right now, and seems like he will never break free. Like Jim said "if Drury is not winning face-offs he brings nothing to the table." Let’s just say he isn’t winning face-offs. Grade: D.
Henrik Lundqvist: Lundqvist has not been the Lundqvist of old and maybe he is taking more time to adjust to the Tortorella system than originally thought. He is still an all-world goaltender and although he has let in more soft goals than usual his play has still kept the Rangers in a lot of games. Can’t go too low on him. Grade: B to B+.
Glen Sather: Can’t blame him for Higgins, Drury and Callahan not scoring. The moves for Gaborik, Gilroy and Prospal were nothing short of brilliant. Still he needs to make some moves to fix this team and he hasn’t. Grade: B.
John Tortorella: In my opinion is trying to force feed this system to some players and has not been the fiery coach we expected. I also have a sneaking suspicion that this team is starting to tune him out. I do like him as a coach though so here is to him turning it around and for him to stop being stubborn. Grade: C.
Update: How did I forget Enver Lisin and Stephen Valiquette?
Enver Lisin: Personally I am a pretty big fan of Lisin. Regardless of whether you like him or not you can't deny that he is a huge upgrade over Lauri Korpikoski. Still he hasn't been great offensivley and I think the injury has hurt him more than we thought originally. Grade: B- to B.
Stephen Valiquette: Again I am unsure what to say here. We all epected alot out of him but his skill simply wasn't there this year. He looked out of place most games and gave up more soft goals than I can count. Find your game again Vally hope we see you soon. Grade: D.
Mike Sullivan: As far as I know he is responsible for the penalty kill which is close to tops in the league. Grade: B+.