Whenever a team suddenly changes direction, it can alter the trajectory of a player. In choosing to rebuild, the New York Ranger may have inadvertently squeezed out defenseman John Gilmour.
Any sport with a hard salary cap makes every single roster spot valuable. The difference between a 12th forward at the NHL level and a top six forward in the AHL is often miniscule. The whole point of the AHL is to season players close to being NHL ready, but can often keep players for longer than expected. The New York Rangers very well may be putting John Gilmour in a no win situation.
Any time a player is a late season call up whether it be due to injuries or trades, there are not really expectations. They are simply supposed to be a stop gap in the mean time until the team finds a long term solution. During the 2018-2019 season, the Rangers had to turn to several of these stop gaps for a variety of reasons.
The team called up John Gilmour on February 9 last year. The 25-year-old defenseman played 28 games and posted five points. There are areas of Gilmour’s game that look well suited for the NHL level. The best of all being the defenseman’s skating ability.
The rest of his game is rather underdeveloped, this is a testament to his skating. Any time a player can get to the NHL with only one above average trait, they must be elite at that skill. At this point in his development, Gilmour is still a work in progress for the NHL level.
The organization has a log jam on the blue line. The Rangers are going into the 2018-2019 season with eight defensemen on the roster and have several other players in the pipeline. Being that Gilmour was sent down to the Hartford Wolf Pack, it is clear that he is pretty low on the pecking order.
This is not fault of Gilmour’s the Rangers’ front office has done a solid job of restocking a position of weakness. Outside of the eight defenseman that are on the active roster, the team still has Libor Hajek, Ryan Lindgren, K’Andre Miller, Yegor Rykov and Sean Day all in the mix as well.
There simply is no spot for Gilmour in the Rangers long term future. If the defenseman stays with the organization, he will be a career AHL player. Whether or not that is Gilmour’s ceiling remains to be seen, but it is important to keep the greater context of the situation in perspective.
Going into the 207-2018 season, the Rangers had Sean Day as its best defensive prospect. In the span of just one year, the front office acquired four defensemen that all figure to be top six at the NHL level.
It just so happens that this came at the expense of Gilmour. There is no shame in being a career AHL player on the taxi squad for a good NHL team. A team will always need those quadruple A level players in a pinch. The type of player that is really good at the AHL level and just replacement level in the NHL will always have a job.
The Rangers are coming to a cross road with certain players. It’ll be interesting to see what the front office ends up doing with Gilmour in regards to his next contract. The TK age defenseman will be a free agent in TK, and being that a team can only have a certain (TK) number of contracts, the team may be forced to not give Gilmour a tender offer.
It’ll ultimately be a decision for the player. There are a lot of players ahead of Gilmour in the development pool making it pretty much impossible for him to break through and get an NHL job. Another organization may be willing to take a flyer on the defenseman simply based on his skating ability.
If the front office could turn Gilmour into a fifth round pick, that’d be a decent return on value for a seventh round pick.