Early Winners and Losers of the New York Rangers' Offseason
Now that things are dying down a bit, it's time to look at some of the early winners and losers of the New York Rangers' offseason.
Based on the moves the team made—or didn't make—which players benefited? Which players are in worse situations?
Read on to find out who has to be happy with what's transpired so far, and who's a bit down on their luck.
Winner: Brad Richards
When he wasn't bought out, Brad Richards instantly became a big winner. In the doghouse most of last season, the hiring of Alain Vigneault and the decision to keep the center in the fold means Richards will get a new chance to become a productive player.
Richards was famously benched for the last two postseason games, as he had slipped out of the top six and was ineffective in the bottom six.
Of course, Richards is still third on the center depth chart, behind Derek Stepan and Derick Brassard. But he was given a pass for last season. If he performs well this year, then he could remain a Ranger for the rest of his career.
The wide-open offensive system of Vigneault should help Richards, as should a full training camp.
But essentially, Richards was given a free pass. He'll have a chance to show he can still be a top-flight offensive player.
If not, he'll be bought out next season. But it could've gone a lot differently for Richards. He could've been bought out this offseason and been looking for a new place to call home.
Instead, he gets a second chance. Not bad.
Loser: Brian Boyle
The Rangers have a glut of centers, and Brian Boyle could be on the outside looking in.
With the addition of Dominic Moore, here's a rough sketch of what the center depth chart looks like:
- Derek Stepan
- Derick Brassard
- Brad Richards
- J.T. Miller
- Dominic Moore
- Brian Boyle
Miller is not guaranteed to make the roster, but he has a really good chance. Moore is an excellent penalty-killer who has more offensive upside than Boyle.
That means the Rangers could try to find a new destination for Boyle. Luckily for Boyle, it won't happen right away. With both Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin set to miss the beginning of the season with shoulder injuries, Boyle will probably play wing.
But when Callahan and Hagelin come back, there's trouble for Boyle. The addition of Moore means Boyle is on thin ice.
Unless he comes out of the gate strong, it's hard to see Boyle remaining on the roster for too much longer. With youngsters like Oscar Lindberg and Jesper Fast poised to make their debuts soon, Boyle—who has a $1.7 million cap hit, per CapGeek—could be playing elsewhere.
Winner: Ryan McDonagh
After making $875,000 for the past three seasons, Ryan McDonagh was due for a huge raise.
That puts him on par with other top young defenseman like Jack Johnson, Kevin Shattenkirk and Keith Yandle.
McDonagh certainly deserves the raise. He played 24 minutes a game during the regular season and nearly 26 minutes during the postseason. He is a shutdown defender who can play in all situations. He posted 19 points last season.
Now, McDonagh will be the anchor of the blue line for years to come. He is the type of shutdown defender contenders need. Paired with Dan Girardi, the Rangers boast one of the best defensive pairs in the league.
Now that McDonagh is taken care of financially, his game should elevate to a new level. That means more ice time and more offensive responsibility. But given how he's played so far, that new responsibility shouldn't be an issue.
Loser: Taylor Pyatt
Taylor Pyatt had a good season. But his spot on the roster looks precarious.
With the addition of Benoit Pouliot—a similar player with much more offensive upside—Pyatt is going to have to find a way to stay on the team.
Pouliot scored eight goals and had 12 assists last season. He's a big body who can play in all situations, even the power play. Pyatt is a bit more one-dimensional. He's excellent in the corners and along the wall, but he had just 11 points last season.
Personally, I like Pyatt. He's the type of guy you win with. But Pouliot has more offensive skill than Pyatt, while also giving you the size and toughness along the wall.
In a perfect world, the Rangers would keep both. And with injuries to Carl Hagelin and Ryan Callahan, Pyatt will start the season with the team.
But once Hagelin and Callahan come back, it might be too hard for Pyatt to stay on the team. There may be a role for him on the fourth line, but if he struggles, then that spot could be taken by Jesper Fast or Oscar Lindberg.
The addition of Pouliot makes it tougher for Pyatt to stay on the roster, even though he can be a very valuable player. It's just a numbers game.