On Monday we went over the back end. If you missed it, you can read it here. Now it’s time for the forwards. I’ll be honest, this was harder than I thought it would be since there are a lot of guys I just don’t see leaving. And yes, I copped out on a couple of them. That’s why I’m not paid to make these decisions.
Here we go!
Arron Asham (RW, 27 games played, 2-0-2, +2) – Now that Asham has played for every Atlantic division team, the question is do the Rangers need to keep him? Okay, that wasn’t why the Rangers got Asham but I just can’t figure out if this is a fit. If Bylsma becomes coach, it could be a given he stays since he played well under him. If it’s someone else, I have no idea what the Rangers do. He does have a wicked shot that many on this team wouldn’t be able to get on net. But other than that, he’s kind of similar to Dorsett. Do the Rangers keep both? Not sure so I’ll leave this one as a question mark… KEEP? (I really have no idea what the Rangers should do with him so it’s either that or no preference)
Brian Boyle (C, 38 games played, 2-3-5, -13) – I have watched Boyle for four years and I still don’t know what to expect from him each season. I do know that he will never live up to his first round draft selection (yes, he was a first round pick). This year he had a horrible year so I know he is better than that. But he hasn’t been consistent enough for me to keep giving him chances. He’s great on face-offs, except when they seem to matter the most, but otherwise I can’t think of one reason to keep him so as much as it pains me because I do like him… DUMP
Derick Brassard (C, as a Ranger: 13 games played, 5-6-11, +3) – Every so often teams find a gem when making a trade. Like when Sather traded for Olli Jokinen and managed to get Brandon Prust in the deal. This is one of those gems. I have no idea who the main piece of the Gaborik trade was but no one expected the Rangers to get anything worthwhile for him. And Sather got Brassard. He is another one who needed a change of scenery and its showing. He’s obviously not going anywhere so… KEEP
Ryan Callahan (RW, 45 games played, 16-15-31, +9) – Oh Captain Cally. I’ve said it plenty of times but might as well one more time – I miss you. I miss the guy who brought energy every time he stepped on the ice. The guy who I gladly defended to anyone rather than the one I screamed at during every shift. That is the guy who got the C on his jersey. Next year is a contract year for the captain so the hope is that guy returns. And while the belief is he was one of the guys who wanted Torts gone, it will be interesting to see how he plays for a different coach. I just really hope this time next year I am saying I hope you re-sign… KEEP (as long as it isn’t the injured/crappy version I had to watch this year…although he isn’t going anywhere so what I say doesn’t matter)
Ryane Clowe (LW, as a Ranger: 12 games played, 3-5-8, +5) – The thought process was a good one when the Rangers decided to get Clowe. He was the shot in the arm the team needed and played well in his limited time being healthy. Honestly he was brought in for when the Rangers played a team like Boston in the playoffs. We all know how that went. Now the question is his health. No one knows what his injury was but the belief is the “c” word which changes a lot. He’s a UFA and I’m pretty sure the Rangers want to re-sign him. It just depends on his health and how much he asks for. If the money is right… KEEP (I’m thinking 1-2 years at no more than $2.5-3 mil per year, otherwise dump and run as far as you can)
Derek Dorsett (RW, no regular season games played as a Ranger) – How do you judge a guy like this from what we saw after the trade? I still have no idea what to think on Dorsett. I do know the Rangers insisted on him being part of the deal so he’s not going anywhere this summer therefore I guess… KEEP
Carl Hagelin (LW, 48 games played, 10-14-24, +10) – Hagelin is an interesting one. He didn’t have a bad sophomore year and no one can argue his speed is incredible on the ice. That said, I wonder if what we’ve seen the last two years is what he will be. If so, that’s fine but then you wonder if the Rangers look to package him for another need. Right now he’s injured and a RFA so I doubt it will happen this summer. I’ll say… KEEP (but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him not on this list next year)
Chris Kreider (LW, 23 games played,2-1-3, -1) – So about Kreider’s rookie season? Let’s just hope he did it backwards and has a great sophomore year. It was obvious he didn’t like playing for Torts. That said, I still think Torts was right in trying to keep him in Hartford as he just didn’t look ready. The Rangers didn’t trade him for Nash so they aren’t trading him now. We just have to hope this year was a blip and they were right not to send him to Columbus… KEEP
Rick Nash (LW, 44 games played, 21-21-42, +16) – Nash was brought in to compliment the elite players we already had in hopes that his chemistry with them would bring the team to the next level. Stop me if you’ve heard this before… It is what it is with Nash. He was brought in to play with Richards and Gaborik. One is gone and the other is on his way out the door and we’re still stuck with Nash. I saw moments I liked during the shortened season. I didn’t like what I saw in the playoffs and the fact that he thinks he played “good” worries me. But the truth is, it doesn’t matter what I say because he’s not going anywhere so… KEEP
Darroll Powe (C, as a Ranger: 34 games played, no points, -2) – Powe was brought in to be the new Brandon Prust minus the fighting. We saw moments of it but he just couldn’t stay healthy. He’s signed through next season so I would give him a chance in camp to see if he could be the player we hoped when the deal was made. Honestly, I don’t think any team would take him at this point so might as well… KEEP
Taylor Pyatt (LW, 48 games played, 6-5-11, +5) – Did you know Pyatt played every game this year? Yeah, it was that kind of year for the new Ranger. I will be the first to say I expected more from him this year. Was it the lockout? Or maybe the change in teams? I don’t know but I still think he’s a good veteran depth player who should be given another chance so… KEEP (but he’s another I wouldn’t be surprised if isn’t on this list next year)
Brad Richards (C, 46 games played, 11-23-34, +8) – This one is hard. Richards had a bad year. I’ve already been through my thoughts on his season so you can read them here. Simply put, I expect him to bounce back next year. But that contract is killer so do the Rangers buy it out while they can? It probably doesn’t help his case that Torts is gone. Personally I would give him another year because he is going to have a great year next year where ever he plays. But I really don’t expect the Rangers to…
Derek Stepan (C, 48 games played, 18-26-44, +25) – I’m pretty sure everyone knows how I feel about Stepan at this point. If not, I’m kind of a fan of his. After leading the team in points in the regular season and goals in the playoffs, you can bet he isn’t going anywhere. He is the number one center for this team now and in the future. He’s a RFA this summer so those numbers will give him a nice raise but the Rangers will pay it. This kind of goes without say… KEEP (or as I said last year, I become a fan of another team…don’t dare me, I’ve done it before…)
Mats Zuccarello (LW, 15 games played, 3-5-8, +5) – The little Norwegian endeared himself to fans and his teammates when he returned from Europe late in the season. Last year I said I wasn’t sure if he could play in the NHL. It’s another small sample size but he definitely looked better than he did last year. Plus Torts is gone so if the new coach lets him play his game, he will be a big help. Assuming he doesn’t have ridiculous contract demands… KEEP
J.T. Miller (C, 26 games played, 2-2-4, -7) – Only reason I’m including him is because I feel people will be annoyed if I don’t. Obviously he isn’t going anywhere and he’s definitely expected to make the team out of camp next season. Honestly, I still wish he had spent the entire season in Hartford this year but what’s done is done. Either way, obviously… KEEP
Kris Newbury, Michal Haley, Benn Ferriero, Brandon Mashinter – I’m not going to discuss these guys because we all know they were stop-gaps when we needed them due to injuries or other circumstances. Most of them will be in camp in the fall. Could they make the team? Sure. Do I expect them to? Not really.
I know there are a lot of people who believe this team needs changes. If the organization felt that way, they wouldn’t have fired the coach. Honestly, I do think the team will look similar going into camp in the fall. How many of those guys make it through the year will be another story. Either way, I still expect it to be an interesting summer simply because we still need a coach…