I’ve never really been the biggest fan of New York Rangers general manager Glen Sather, but you have to give credit where it’s due and this off-season he definitely deserves some credit.
Sather did something that not many Ranger fans thought he could do, he built a Rangers team that advanced all the way to the Stanley Cup Final. After five games and 20 periods of hockey the Rangers bowed out to the much more experienced Los Angeles Kings, but the seeds are planted and the core is in place.
When the off-season began for the Rangers they used their compliance buyout on veteran center-man Brad Richards, traded Derek Dorsett to the Vancouver Canucks, and watched as depth forward Benoit Pouliot signed with the Edmonton Oilers, and Brian Boyle and Anton Stralman fled south to be with Ryan Callahan and the Tampa Bay Lightning. The departures of most of the team’s depth left Sather and the Rangers with a big job this off-season and that was to replace the players who left.
Replacing Brad Richards was a two-part job because he was the Rangers second-line center-men and their power play quarterback. To replace him at center the Rangers simply re-signed Derick Brassard and confirmed that they believe has the potential to become a second line center. To take over his power play job the Rangers went after veteran defense-man and power play expert Dan Boyle, who had 18 power play points this season.
Dan Boyle is all over the map, as he is also meant to replace Anton Stralman as the second pair right-handed defenseman next to Marc Staal. The first argument most make against Boyle is that he is 38 years old and 10 years older than Stralman, however Boyle still has the advantage. Boyle tallied 12 goals and 24 assists for 36 points during the 2013-2014 season, compared to Stralman’s one goal and 12 assists for 13 points. Boyle averaged 21 minutes of ice time per game compared to Stralman’s 19, and Boyle tallied 19 power play points compared to Stralman’s zero. There are some concerns over Boyle’s age and speed but Boyle proves that he can still play and to be fair Stralman is not much of a speed player either.
To replace Dorsett, a crucial role player lost to trade, the Rangers went after Tanner Glass. Some people were very unhappy about this signing but Glass IS a role player. For years now the Rangers have received criticisms of not being tough enough, and that was on full display during the Stanley Cup Final against an extremely tough Kings team. Glass ranked fifth in the NHL in hits last season with 247, the closest Ranger was Brian Boyle who was 47th with 154. Glass adds much-needed “bite” to the Rangers line-up.
Benoit Pouliot signed a long-term contract with the Edmonton Oilers, so the Rangers went out and grabbed Lee Stempniak. Stempniak is a speedy forward who can fill in multiple holes in a line-up and has an offensive touch. He had 34 points to Pouliot’s 36 last season. So they may not be so much of an upgrade as more of a literal replacement.
Brian Boyle had a range of skills that were all funneled into one player. However his ability to take face-offs can be taken over by Dominic Moore, he was an expert penalty killer, but the Rangers have plenty of those. The one thing that may have gotten away from the Rangers is Boyle’s size although he never really used that to his advantage anyway.
Glen Sather and his team had a lot of work on their plates this season, and they did just that with replacing players in their lineup. However if you feel differently feel free to comment below and let us know why!