Rangers Report Card – 2010-2011 season
(listed in order of point production)
Brandon Dubinsky – B+ – A pretty good year for Dubi leading the team in goals (24) and assists (30) for 54 points in 77 games, while also playing a solid physical game, 7th on the team with 141 hits. He's one of the Rangers' best players. He has shown some leadership already so a little more is expected from him at key times and in big games. A year ago expectations were not quite as high, and next year they'll be higher. He has established himself as one of the teams' core, heart and soul players.
Marian Gaborik – D – He missed 20 games due to injury, but 48 points (22g, 26a) in 62 games isn't going to cut it for our highest paid player at 7.5 million. His job is to score goals. He managed to do that last year by making space for himself and using his quick release shot. One way he used to make space for himself was by waiting near our blue line to take a breakout pass and race down ahead of the opposition's defense to score. This year he was made to help get the puck out of our defensive end and try to skate or pass it out. Gabby didn't get to play his game, in part, because he was forced to play defense, which he sometimes did half-heartedly. He also used to make space for himself by approaching the slot from higher in the circle, above the hash marks, this year he was often grinding along the boards or trying to establish himself in front of the net. It didn't work. That grinding game doesn't seem to suit Gabby very well and happily he made it out of the season without a major injury. Also, his linemates sometimes couldn't find him fast enough when Gabby did make some space. He needs a big bounce back year next season; hopefully Tortorella's "process" includes allowing Gaborik to get back to his game soon.
Ryan Callahan – A – Widespread speculation says this guy is the Rangers' Captain to be. Many fans just want to know when the "C" is going to be sewn on his sweater already. A tough year for him, missing 22 games and the post season due to injuries, but he still managed to tie for second on the team with 48 points (23g, 25a). He also was second on the team and number 15 in the league with 224 hits. Definitely a core player on this team, and someone Coach Tortorella has turned to in all situations.
Derek Stepan – B – What a great story. Gotta love this kid from Minnesota, forgoing his junior and senior years at the U of Wisconsin, he had a great first year with the Rangers, growing rapidly and finishing third with 45 points (21g, 24a). Stepan joined a team that was uncertain at the Center position. Hopefully his game continues to improve and his attitude and intelligence will carry him through a successful second year.
Artem Anisimov – B- – Only Artie's second year and he's still only 22. We saw flashes of brilliance from this guy this year and it is my hope that over the next several seasons those brilliant plays will become more the norm as he realizes his potential. I also hope that his metabolism will slow down just enough to put a few more pounds on his 6'4" frame. This year he played all 82 regular season games producing 44 points (18g, 26a). He's a Restricted Free Agent this off-season. I hope we'll sign him for a reasonable sum.
Brian Boyle – B – Another great story and a welcome surprise as nobody expected him to make the team this year, but he came into camp a new man, determined to be a part of the team. The story for the first half of the season was how he blew away his past production in just a few weeks. Down the stretch he wasn't as effective points-wise, but he centered one of the most consistent lines of the season with Fedotenko and Prust. He also led the team and was 11th in the league with 240 hits. He's a RFA this summer, this past season he made just $525K. Hopefully he will work hard again all summer and re-sign at a reasonable rate.
Wojtek Wolski – C+ – This guy was sort of supposed to pick up where Frolov left off, and he did as far as not quite lighting up the scoreboard, but Frolov was a much tougher physical presence. Wolski plays smaller than his size and it's difficult to succeed in the NHL with that kind of presence. Was the best thing Wolski did for the Rangers to help dump Rozsival's huge salary? Signed through next season at 3.8 million they're not quite getting are money's worth. Here's a 25-year-old kid that had a couple pretty good years in Colorado before getting passed to Phoenix and now New York. A lot of folks say he's inconsistent, but in fact he's been pretty consistently mediocre. If he puts in the effort to be a productive presence again, while toughening up a bit, he has the potential to contribute to this club. We'll see.
Dan Girardi – A- – Second on the team with 27 assists in 82 games, and first in the league with 236 blocked shots (and no broken bones to show for it). This dude is tough, third on the team with 195 hits, and another one of the true heart and soul players. Earning top minutes, the 27-year-old first line defenseman is signed through the next 3 seasons and will continue to be a strong competitor and teammate throughout.
Brandon Prust – A – "It's only pain." This guy pretty much came out of nowhere to become a fast fan favorite, voted the Steven McDonald Extra Effort award winner, and the personification of this year's hard working club. He was good enough to play on the penalty kill and finish third in the league with 5 shorthanded goals, and then, talk about playing larger than your size, he was practically undefeated in 18 fights, almost always against larger opponents – the guy's not even 200 pounds! He also finished 4th on the team with 161 hits while finishing 7th with 29 points (13g, 16a). He's signed through next season and I hope he'll continue to be this great for the club for years to come.
Marc Staal – A- – An All-Star defenseman this year, Marc Staal is one of the top guys on the team. He just turned 24 this year and as one of our top minutes defensemen the team and fans have come to expect a lot of the Assistant Captain, and will only expect more in the years to come as he moves into his prime years. He's regularly handled other teams' top offense (don't remind me about Ovechkin burning by him in game 5) but is still learning and growing. Definitely part of the Rangers core and the team's plans moving forward as he is signed through the next 4 seasons.
Bryan McCabe – B- – A serviceable rental, McCabe was put in a tough spot, but he brought experience with him and handled himself as well as was expected. Was he supposed to simultaneously play both points on the power play or what? He did help the team for the last part of the season and his veteran presence was probably great for the kids. As an Unrestricted Free Agent at 5.75 million, he's not likely to return.
Erik Christensen – C- – Disappointing, even if his soft, inconsistent play comes as no surprise. For a guy with so much skill, he brings very little. He makes a great psychological case study. Talk about a lack of confidence. It seemed like this was his year to show something and I was really rooting for him to get it together this year. He's signed through next season, but whether Tortorella gives him another shot will probably just come down to who's available.
Ruslan Fedotenko – B – Hampered somewhat by injury and an appendectomy, Fedotenko had a good year. His history with Torts helped and he contributed to the club in just about every scenario. When Callahan was out, Feds was the go to guy. He's just a good, solid, all around experienced player. He finished 5th on the team with 150 hits in 66 games, and put up 25 points (10g, 15a). He was a bargain at $1million this year. As a UFA this summer hopefully he'll re-sign for a reasonable sum.
Sean Avery – C – Under Coach Tom Renney, Sean Avery was a fan favorite to watch. Clearly John Tortorella has no interest in watching the Sean Avery show. He wants to see the guy simply play hockey. It's sometimes overlooked that Avery has real skills and is one of the team's fastest skaters, probably second only to Gaborik. Actually, he looked good on the line with Gaborik but was only given that opportunity a few times. He ended up tied for 8th in assists after spending most of the season in the top 3 in that category for this team, and he was strong on the forecheck, behind the net, and in the corners. His numbers dropped along with his ice time down the stretch. He's not been allowed to play his game under Tortorella, and the officials seem to hold him to a separate set of rules. He's had two seasons in his career where he surpassed 30 points, but this season's total of 24 is maybe about what can be expected. He's signed through next season, but many speculate he's played his last game as a Ranger.
Mats Zuccarello – B – He plays a little bigger than his size, but he's small enough in the first place that even with gutsy play he's still the smallest guy on the ice. I saw no fear in this kid, a huge heart, and I'm a fan of all that. Plus, he sees the ice better than most players his age – he's only 23. He did pretty well in his first NHL season with 23 points (6g, 17a) in 42 games. He also had 29 points (13g, 16a) in 36 games with the Connecticut Whale. Given his intelligence and skill, he still has a shot to play with the big boys on a regular basis. I'm rooting for him, but there's no guarantee he can make the jump.
Vinny Prospal – B+ – Gotta give the guy props for working his way back this season when everyone had counted him out. He had 23 points (9g, 14a) in only 29 games this season. Most of the time you don't know what players bring in the locker-room, but Prospal's personality and heart are so big that we get a sense of what he means to the club when he's on the ice. Every time he scored a goal he celebrated like we just won the Stanley Cup. As a UFA, this may have been his last NHL season. Thanks for everything, Vinny.
Alex Frolov – C – He didn't quite pan out for the Rangers who signed Frolov with hopes that he would bring some secondary scoring to support Gaborik by rekindling his old scoring touch that reached it's height with 71 points (35g, 36a) in 2006-7 with the Kings. He showed the effort and desire, but didn't produce; in 43 games this season he put up just 16 points (7g, 9a). A serious knee injury ended his season and, quite possibly, his NHL career. Now he's an injured UFA. Tough way to go.
Michael Sauer – B – One of the big surprises this year. He was no shoe-in out of camp and he ended up being a solid 2nd line D-man for us. Great attitude, great toughness – although, not terribly effective in the fights; maybe he can learn to fight, or maybe he should just remove that from his repertoire (or at least stop trying to fight Matt Martin).
Michael Del Zotto – C – After a strong rookie season, this year will be chalked up to a sophomore slump. Del Zotto played in just 47 games with the Rangers, putting up 11 points (2g, 9a). He finished the season with the Hartford Whale, where he only played 11 games before suffering a broken finger. The team has high hopes for DZ, who only turns 21 this year, including that he develop into a productive offensive defenseman and quarterback for the power play. Hopefully he learned from his stint in Hartford and will work hard all summer and make his way back into the Rangers lineup with a strong camp.
Matt Gilroy – C+ – Gilroy played 58 games this year, spending a lot of time as a healthy scratch. He was inconsistent and sometimes prone to mistakes. He played minimal minutes down the stretch, but then showed up when it mattered most: in the playoffs. He scored the Rangers' only goal in game 1, and played well defensively for the whole series. This will earn the RFA another look this summer, but the Rangers aren't likely to cover his qualifying offer. Unless Gilroy can attract an offer from another team, he might have to take a pay cut; otherwise, there are a number of defensive prospects coming up behind him to take the spot.
Ryan McDonagh – B – The biggest surprise of the year, after not making the team out of camp McD steps up to be solid second line D down the stretch. He showed great intelligence and maturity and was very impressive with his rapid growth. Like his fellow Minnesotan and U of Wisconsin transplant, Stepan, the team and fans hope that McD's attitude and intelligence will carry him through a successful second year.
Steve Eminger – B- – This guy was good enough to beat Gilroy out of a spot for much of the year, and had a good physical edge. He played 65 games putting up 6 points (2g, 4a). He didn't quite steal a spot on the roster and as a UFA this summer there are a number of defensive prospects coming up behind him to take the spot.
Chris Drury – Incomplete – We find the team Captain here near the bottom of the list. Granted, he played only 25 games. Fans just have to take their word for it when the players and the rest of the organization say the enigmatic Captain is a great leader. That said, he makes an awful lot of money for an aging, banged up guy, who can't score (except, in true Drury fashion, the most important goal of the season in the final game vs. the Devils), and plays minimal minutes on the 4th line and on the penalty kill. The team has a few good leaders now. Drury is signed through next season, but they might want to get his salary off the books now in order to free up cap space to pursue more immediate skill and talent.
Derek Boogaard – F – This guy's was supposed to be the biggest and the baddest but he's wasn't. Even if a lot of guy's were unwilling to fight him, Boogaard has his work cut out to realize his potential. It's not enough just to be huge. He's too weak on his feet and a solid foundation is prerequisite to fighting on or off the ice. Boogaard just isn't much of a skater and Matt Carkner ended his season. Carkner caught Boogaard with a really nasty blow to the face and we never caught a glimpse of Boogaard for the rest of the season. Reconstructive surgery? Was that just bad luck and he got caught with a hard blow or is it because he's not that great a fighter? Signed for three more seasons, what can the Rangers do with this guy? Torts likes hockey players. Would the Rangers have been better off sticking with Jody Shelley? Boogaard will likely have to learn to skate or he'll be sent elsewhere, perhaps down to the Whale.
Henrik Lundquist – A- – Year after year, Hank has helped the changing, developing, and sometimes struggling Rangers remain competitive. Many thought he was a Hart Trophy candidate, there's no question what he means to this club. He's signed through the next 3 seasons and the team and fans will look to him to play even better and continue carrying the team.
Marty Biron – A- – One of the best new acquisitions for this club it was too bad to lose him to an injury down the stretch. He could have helped-out in those last few weeks of the regular season. He's signed through next season and will hopefully have a healthy season and bring the same great support he contributed this year.
John Tortorella – B+ – In the long run the pros will outweigh the cons. He doesn't always play to the individual strengths on his roster, putting "the process" before the player. That said, he seems to have developed a team identity and the most tight-knit group this organization has seen in some time. Tortorella has been re-signed for 3 years, and if the process works, a solid, competitive club should continue to emerge. Torts has to take some blame for the abysmal power play, but if the team commits to his message, they will go a long way.
Glen Sather – C – Sather catches a lot of flack for bad signings and bloated contracts that hamper the team. However, he has also been resourceful making deals and moving Rozsival to Phoenix for Wolski is an example. Fans continue to call for his firing, but it seems like he may be on message with Tortorella and the rest of the group now. Maybe Boogaard was the last really bad contract.
Kris Newbury – NA – He had 61 points (17g, 44a) in 69 games this season with the Whale, while scoring a single assist in 11 games with the Rangers this season. The Rangers, in need of a strong Center, gave the 29-year-old some chances to contribute at the NHL.
Chad Kolarik – NA – He had 31 points (17g, 14a) in 36 games with the Whale, while scoring a single assist in 4 games with the Rangers. The Rangers, in need of a strong Center, would be glad if the 25-year-old could bring some offense to the big club.
Evgeny Grachev – NA – The 21-year-old Center (or winger) still has a lot of work to do. I'm glad they've given him a few chances to experience the NHL, while he was held scoreless in 8 appearances this year. He's got good size (6'4" and 224) and good basic skills. He was lighting it up with the younger club but hasn't translated that to the AHL as yet. Everybody is hoping he'll develop into a player that can make the jump. No guarantees.
Dale Weise – NA – With 38 points (18g, 20a) in 47 games with the Whale, Right Winger Dale Weise was held scoreless in 10 games with the Rangers this season. He didn't quite demonstrate the kind of skill we need to compete in the NHL, but he's still just 22 years old, and will likely have other opportunities to show what he's got.
Wingers Jeremy Williams (55 points (32g, 23a) in 75 games with the Whale) and Brodie DuPont (45 points (14g, 31a) in 72 games with the Whale) were also called up for one game apiece with the Rangers. Both guys were brought up to experience the NHL game and to show that they can compete. Williams is already 27 while DuPont is just 24 years of age.
Great job,I agree almost completely.The one tweak I would make concerns the 4 first year players,I don't think Sauer,Mcd,Stepan,and MZA all deserve the same grade.I would lower MZA to C+ and raise Sauer and McD(who play a more difficult position) to B+ while leaving Stepan at B.