The Most Disappointing New York Rangers so Far in 2013-14
After a disastrous opening to the season, the New York Rangers are starting to get back on track in the 2013-14 season.
While the team is playing better, there are still some players who seem to be stuck in that early-season mode.
Which Rangers have been the most disappointing so far in the 2013-14 season?
Read on to find out.
Benoit Pouliot is the best "bad" player I've ever seen.
What does that mean? It's simple. Pouliot is dripping in talent. He just never uses it.
Remember, this is a guy who was drafted fourth overall by the Minnesota Wild in 2005. He dominated junior hockey, scoring 134 points in 122 games.
He has great size and dazzling speed, and he possesses a wicked wrister.
But the results? Just five points in 28 games this season.
Alain Vigneault is starting to realize Pouliot may be on his last legs. He told Steve Zipay of Newsday:
You know, when you see him play, you see good skill set, good size, good skater that should have the ability to create some good offensive opportunities and hopefully bury a couple. He's definitely at the crossroad in my estimation as far as his career and his opportunity here. You can only get so many kicks at the can in this league and he's getting a good look. He's getting a good opportunity -- except obviously he's not playing on the power play anymore -- but hopefully he'll be able to produce for us because we need some offensive production.
The more I watch Pouliot, the more I think he's just a beat slow. The speed is there, but it seems like he's thinking too much out there. Instead of charging toward a puck, he thinks for a split second. That hesitation leaves him behind the play.
Pouliot will not succeed in a bottom-six role. He needs to play with skilled players. But you're not going to bump him up to the second line. There are far too many players playing better than him.
The Rangers will probably hold onto him until at least the Olympics break. But it may be the case that some of the youngsters, like Danny Kristo or J.T. Miller, become more dependable options.
Michael Del Zotto
He scored a goal against Vancouver on Saturday, but it's been a rough season for Michael Del Zotto.
The defenseman, who averaged more than 23 minutes of ice time last season, is now playing just over 18 minutes a game. He's been scratched for seven contests.
Alain Vigneault has seemed pretty disappointed in the young defenseman, telling Sean Gentille of The Sporting News, "I have been told he is a much better player. I have not seen that on a consistent enough basis. We’ll see how he responds."
Del Zotto has been the subject of trade rumors, and TSN noted on its show Insider Trading that "five or six" teams have inquired about the 23-year-old.
It's hard to know what the Rangers would get back for an offensive defenseman who only has five points and can't seem to generate offense off the rush. He's a liability in his own end and is playing timid hockey right now.
There was a time that Del Zotto was poised to become one of the best defenseman in the league. He scored 37 points in his rookie year and had 41 points in 2011-12. In that year, he was a whopping plus-20.
Now, he's minus-nine and is having trouble getting on the ice.
The Rangers shouldn't trade Del Zotto when his value is so low. They should ride it out, see if he improves and then make a decision.
In the meantime, though, Del Zotto is a huge disappointment and is hurting his team when he's on the ice.
Taylor Pyatt could soon find himself on the outside looking in.
After a fine first year in New York, Pyatt has been largely invisible this season. In 18 games, the winger has just one point.
He did miss almost three weeks with a concussion, but now that he's healthy, he hasn't been able to regain his spot in the lineup.
At his best, Pyatt is a big body who can control the puck along the boards. Occasionally, he can pop in a few goals. In fact, in 2006-07, Pyatt netted 23 goals under Alain Vigneault in Vancouver.
But he's not that player anymore. Pyatt should have a fourth-line spot nailed down. But right now, he's behind Benoit Pouliot on the depth chart.
With the Rangers starved for goals, it's hard to imagine Pyatt, who plays a more defensive game, back in the lineup. Pouliot is struggling, but he does have more offensive potential.
I do think there's a role for Pyatt, and he can be a gritty heart-and-soul winger.
But his lack of production is making it hard for him to stay in the lineup.