May 25, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; New York Rangers forward Derek Stepan (21) faces off against Boston Bruins forward Chris Kelly (23) in game five of the second round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Michael Ivins-USA TODAY Sports

Who Will Benefit The Most From The New System?


March 16, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Rangers right wing Ryan Callahan (24) shoots during the pre-game before playing the Pittsburgh Penguins at the CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

With training camp around the corner, players will begin to take the ice and start getting prepared for the brand new season. Newly acquired head coach Alain Vigneault has a plan for a deep Rangers team. Signing players like Dominic Moore and Benoit Pouliot definitely helps this team in the bottom six and we could maybe see some scoring again from Brian Boyle. Players who already have the gifted ability to score up in the 25-30+ goal range will be on a lot of radars to see if they can improve their previous career highs. Let’s discuss some players who may benefit the most out of this new offense-first system.


Rick Nash: What can you say about the former 1st overall pick and Olympic gold medalist? He has incredible vision and skating ability for a big player. He had 21 goals and 21 helpers in a shortened half-season due to the lockout. With Vigneault on the bench, can Nash return to a 2008 season campaign of a 40 goal-40 assist pace? It’s possible as he had 21 goals-21 assists in a defensive system in only 48 games.


Ryan Callahan: Ryan Callahan possess the mold of a hockey player that every team wishes they had. Fast. Tough. Grit. Sacrifice. Scorer. Those are just a few words that describe what he is. Callahan had a 29 goal campaign two seasons ago in 2011-12 and 22 goals in 2010 in just 60 games under former head coach John Tortorella. With the offensive minded coach, we could possible witness Callahan’s numbers improve a lot and may enter the 30-35+ goal scoring plateau. It probably won’t happen this year as the gritty forward will miss a little playing time with the surgery and rehab on his shoulder, but he could very well be on the verge of having an even better season from two seasons prior.


Derek Stepan: I know this is getting old, but Derek Stepan is still unsigned, but who didn’t see this happening? The kid had a breakout year in a contract year (Which happens a lot, ironically). So he wants a few extra dollars. That’s perfectly fine being that he could be the Rangers second best scorer on the team. Fans should feel safe about him improving his numbers under the new system as he’ll be more focused on offense now and not defense as much. He had 18 goals in half a season and the team should expect plenty more next season, especially if they pony up those few extra dollars he wants. Expect Stepan to flirt with 35 goals next season. He’s too good to regress.


Who do you think will benefit the most out of Alain Vigneault’s system long term?

Who Will Have The Most Improved Numbers Under Alain Vigneault?

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Tags: Alain Vigneault Derek Stepan New York Rangers Rick Nash Ryan Callahan

  • Centerman

    You could be right about the players you mentioned but you said something about defense here and a lot of fans say the same thing. They’re tired of defense. Well the team will never win anything worth anything if they can’t play stifling defense. We have the goaltending but without the 5 skaters playing to their defensive assignments today’s NHL players will beat Hank no problem. Stepan is a great 2 way player and if he can’t help create offense without sacrificing defense then don’t do it. I’d rather have the 2 way Stepan score 50 points in 82 games than see him score 75 but is a -15. If he can’t do both then stick to the defensive end.

    • Kyle

      I think Stepan will manage both aspects of the game fine. Remember, he has one of the highest hockey IQs on the team and maybe the NHL. You can’t just take a risk every play. If it’s there, take it. If it’s a stretch. Sit tight and do your thing defensively. I would peg him at 60-75 points this year if he plays day one with a positive +/-

      With that said, you should expect the team to play D still, but they won’t play so conservative.

      • Centerman

        I agree. I’d like to see Stepan do that again like he did last year before I put him in the top IQ in the NHL. He played last year at almost a point per game. His 44 points equate to 75 in 82 games. If he comes in this year and breaks 65 points I’d say there’s still growth. Stepan is very good at waiting for the play to develop and he’s patient with the puck in space. He isn’t going to skate by anyone or beat a defender to the outside but when set up in the offensive zone, he makes plays. That’s all he has to do. He’s not afraid to play in the dirty areas like behind the net or in and around the crease. I think he can really play at an elite level but he’s young still. He has plenty of time to show the NHL he’s a top 2 way center in the game. He’s +47 for his career already. That’s in the elite level. IMO the only thing he needs to do to get his name mentioned with Toews and Crosby is to be dominant in the playoffs. He doesn’t give up on a play ever so eventually it’s going to happen. If I were Sather I’d sign him longer than 2 years. If he has a 15 point Postseason, he could command a big contract for his next one. Signing Stepan now to a 3.5-4.0 million dollar contract would pay off if/when he puts a Hart Trophy season up.
        After the last 5 seasons of D first hockey, I have to think the mentality is engrained into the players minds at this point. I think AV will only change the offensive phylosophy. Torts North/South hockey was based on defense but the offense was created on defense as well. On the forecheck, which is when the other team has the puck. Trying to turn it over and rush up (North) ice and create a scoring chance.
        AV likes Puck Possession hockey. Offense is created while in possession of the puck. Instead of dumping the puck in and chasing after it or creating a turn over. You keep the puck by passing back to the defenseman if you can’t gain access to the offensive zone. The defenseman are way back by the defensive blue line or in their own zone passing back and forth before trying an outlet pass. If you can’t get past the blue line repeat. Stepan could thrive in a system like this. His defensive skills will show and not hinder offense. It’ll create more room for it and players will have more energy towards the end of their shift. My best guess says Stepan has a slow start but ends up with 67 points on the year. Including 25 goals!

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  • Andy Graziano

    Nicely done Kyle……good article.

    • Kyle

      Thank you!

  • Centerman

    The new CBA gives teams a 7.5% bonus cushion. That’s 4.822 mil against the 64.3 mil the cap is at this season. The Rangers currently spend about $750,000 on signing and performance bonuses now. That leaves Sather with 4.1 mil to spend free of cap charge on top of the 4 mil they have to spend against the upper limit now. 8 million and Sather can’t get Stepan signed before camp? We have a Cup worthy team and a new coach! There’s a ton of optimism in Ranger land now but this is creating an unnessasary distraction. He needs to bend but not break at some point to get this done. He has the money and there’s no doubting Stepan’s importance to the Rangers. The Maple Leafs organization was catching a ton of flak about Kadri and his deal. Why hasn’t Sather caught any jabs about Stepan? Look at Giroux’s stats his 1st 3 seasons. Stepan has better point per game numbers. Giroux’s 2nd contract was 3 years 11.250 mil. An average annual value of 3.750 mil per. That’s what Stepan deserves to be paid. He says that players coming off Entry Level Contracts will get “Gap” contracts but yet McDonagh and Staal both got long term contracts. Only forwards get these bridge deals? That’s not right IMO! If I were Stepan I’d offer a 1 year deal and hit him hard next season when the cap goes up and he has a 70 point season under his belt.
    The Players Union may be pressuring Stepan to hold out for the long term contract tho. So it may not be up to him at this point.