Did the New York Rangers Mismanage Ryan Malone?


Ryan Malone was released by the New York Rangers on February 6th, TSN reported. Malone, an NHL veteran, played in just six games with the Rangers. He then spent the rest of this season with the Rangers’ AHL affiliate, the Hartford Wolfpack. When Malone requested to “pack it in,” management allowed the forward to walk, placing him on unconditional waivers a few days ago.

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While we’re here waiting for an official statement announcing his retirement, there’s one lingering question that should be addressed: Did Rangers management make a mistake in the way they handled Malone? In other words… Was Malone kept down in the AHL for too long? Did Malone deserve more time with the Rangers? Before we dive into answering, here’s a little critical background info:

The left-winger was drafted in the fourth round (115th overall) by the Pittsburgh Penguins during the 1999 NHL entry draft. Malone played for the Pens from 2003 up until signing with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2008. During the off-season in June of 2014, Malone was arrested for DUI and cocaine possession and was thus immediately waived by use of the compliance buyout.

In September of the same year, the Rangers – lacking in both physicality and power play expertise – offered Malone a second chance in the form of a $700,000 contract for one season. The deal seemed like a steal; Malone’s size at 6’4″ and 224 pounds and his skill in the power play were exactly what the Rangers needed and they got it for under a million. Malone’s debut as a Ranger, however, failed to establish him in the lineup. With zero points and a -4 plus-minus rating over six games, Bugsy was sent down to the Wolfpack.

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You would think the Rangers had lost more games than they had won with Malone, but surprisingly they went 4-1-1 with him in the lineup. Furthermore, he was limited in game time with about 10 minutes in average time on ice. With that said, and the fact that he was in only six games, the Rangers didn’t give Malone a fighting chance to prove what he could offer. A game’s worth of time, just sixty minutes in the regular season, was all that Malone had. Is that fair enough? I don’t think so.

Sure, sending him down to the AHL could’ve been a nice wake up call. But even after that, the Rangers never called him back up. During his time in Hartford, Malone posted four goals and six assists. Ten points in 24 games isn’t too bad. Put that on top of his recorded 29 penalty minutes, and Malone is basically a better version of Tanner Glass (also a left-winger). Where Malone had offensive talent, Glass has posted one lonely assist all season. So why Malone was denied time while Glass racked up minutes is beyond me.

Tanner Glass was serving a clear purpose earlier in the season: to be an enforcer. He was fighting and finishing hard checks, but his play with the puck took a turn for the worse and it showed in the stats. His plus-minus rating is at a sad -15 right now and it’s been a month or two in the making. Somewhere in that time, Malone should’ve been called up to take the place of Glass on the fourth line. Of course, that’s not what happened so now that Malone is gone we’ll never really know how much he could’ve brought to the Rangers’ game.

The Rangers could’ve used him to fill the void in their size and could’ve used the extra offense in Malone. While he may have been more of a liability off the ice than Glass, all in all, the Rangers should’ve given more ice time to Malone to really determine the potential he had.

Next: Should the Rangers Part Ways with Martin St. Louis?