New York Rangers, 2009-10
Goals For: 222 21st
Goals Against: 218 9th
GVT: 4 14th
Points: 87 21st
New York Rangers, VUKOTA Projection for 2010-11
Goals For: 225 20st
Goals Against: 215 2nd
GVT: 9 8th
Points: 94 8th
While the Rangers have already taken hits with the losses of Chris Drury and Vinny Prospal to injury and the necessity of waiving Wade Redden, the surprising development of rookie pivot Derek Stepan may take the sting away if he can prove to be a top six forward for the Blue Shirts.
Rangers top forwards, by 2009-10 stats
Shots/60: Marian Gaborik 10.1, Sean Avery 9.0, Ryan Callahan 8.2
Hits/60: Brian Boyle 14.4, Derek Boogaard 14.2*, Ryan Callahan 11.5
Blocked shots/60: Chris Drury 4.3, Brian Boyle 4.1, Ryan Callahan 3.3
Net penalties/60: Ryan Callahan +0.6, Chris Drury +0.3, Brandon Dubinsky +0.2
Takeaways/giveaway: Brian Boyle 4.0, Ryan Callahan 3.7, Chris Drury 3.4
Faceoffs: Chris Drury 52.9%, Brandon Dubinsky 51.4%
Minimum 40 games played.
Rangers top defensemen, by 2009-10 stats
Shots/60: Matt Gilroy 4.4, Dan Girardi 3.7, Michael Del Zotto 3.2
Hits/60: Michael Del Zotto 6.4, Dan Girardi 6.1, Marc Staal 5.6
Blocked shots/60: Dan Girardi 6.1, Steve Eminger 4.8*, Michal Rozsival 4.4
Net penalties/60: Matt Gilroy +0.1, Michael Del Zotto -0.1, Dan Girardi -0.1
Takeaways/giveaway: Michal Rozsival 1.2, Marc Staal 1.0, Dan Girardi 0.8
Minimum 40 games played.
Rangers goaltenders, 2009-10 stats
Everyone knows that Henrik Lundqvist is among the top few netminders in the NHL. Assuming that Martin Biron can return to his form from 2-3 seasons ago, New York will also have one of the league’s best backups.
Save percentage: .921
Even strength save percentage: .929
Power play save percentage: .883
Shorthanded save percentage: .902
Save percentage: .896
Even strength save percentage: .911
Power play save percentage: .833
Shorthanded save percentage: .960
Despite losing the winner-take-all, season-ending shootout to Brian Boucher and the Flyers to bring the Rangers’ 2009-10 campaign to a close, Henrik Lundqvist has excellent career numbers (though Martin Biron does not). While Erik Christensen’s one of the very best shooters in the NHL, the Rangers need to identify other options—for instance, Derek Stepan looked good in a preseason attempt. And Torts, please keep your finger off the big red button that puts Gaborik in the shootout. Ever. His career numbers (2 for 18, 11.1%) speak for themselves. And Drury’s not much better (3 for 14, 21.4%).
Best options, shooters with 10 or more career attempts
Erik Christensen, 51.4% (18 for 35)
#Vinny Prospal, 40.0% (6 for 15)
Alex Frolov, 36.4% (8 for 22)
Best options, shooters with a limited track record
Todd White, 37.5% (3 for 8)
As Callahan, Dubinsky, Fedotenko and Rozsival are a combined 1 for 14, new options like Derek Stepan and Brandon Prust should be explored instead.
Henrik Lundqvist: .749 career (143 for 191), .682 in 2009-10
Martin Biron: .533 career (32 for 60), .625 in 2009-10
# Injured – Out indefinitely
THE BIG QUESTIONS FACING THE RANGERS
Big Question #1: Will rookies make a significant contribution, as they did in 2009-10?
Head coach John Tortorella (after Stepan’s shorthanded goal against Ottawa on Oct. 1): “I want to see Stepan in different situations…He makes some mistakes along the way, but he’s a pretty good player. Not so much his goal, but I like the play he made before the goal, right at the blue line. He made a hell of a pass and he simply outworked a guy to score a goal. I don’t know where it all hangs out with everything that comes about in these last [preseason] games, but he’s played pretty well.”
Hockey Prospectus’ #20 prospect, Ottawa’s Patrick Wiercioch, the University of Denver product, had high praise for his two University of Wisconsin opponents now on the Rangers, Derek Stepan for his smarts, and Ryan McDonagh for his strength.
Hockey Prospectus 2010-11 says: The New York Rangers have three of the top 50 prospects in the National Hockey League, #25 C Derek Stephan, #39 LW Evgeny Grachev and #42 LW Chris Kreider (per Corey Pronman).
Timo says: Don’t forget about defenseman Ryan McDonagh either—he had a real shot of making the team out of camp. Once injuries hit or once the Blue Shirts realize that journeymen like Steve Eminger aren’t worth the trouble, the strong and physical McDonagh could make a big impact—figuratively and literally—later this season.
Answer: Yes. In fact, Derek Stepan’s a dark horse candidate for the Calder Trophy. And look for Ryan McDonagh to contribute later in the season as well.
Big Question #2: Will King Henrik have any gas left in the tank for the postseason?
With a sparse schedule to begin the season, head coach John Tortorella has stated that he will start his elite goaltender frequently in the early going. Due to the schedule, Lundqvist will be able to get his rest, and this way, Tortorella hopes to get him into a good rhythm.
VUKOTA says: 62.2 GP, .914 save percentage, 14.1 GGVT, 0.1 DGVT, 0.2 SGVT, 14.4 GVT.
Timo says: The presence of former number one goaltender Martin Biron should allow the Rangers to rest Lundqvist more over the long run. Even giving their backup 15-20 games could make a difference in Henrik’s postseason performance. Unfortunately—Catch-22—New York might yet again need to utilize Lundqvist to squeeze every point out of the season with a playoff berth hanging in the balance.
Answer: Don’t count on it.
Big Question #3: What moves will Glen Sather make?
New York was rumored to be actively looking to trade for a top six forward in the latter stages of the preseason, and that’s even before the extent of Prospal’s injury was known.
VUKOTA says: Aside from Marian Gaborik (projected 15.7 GVT), New York’s remaining top six forwards (excluding Prospal, but including Drury) are expected to provide between 3.2 to 8.8 GVT—nothing to write home about.
Timo says: While everyone always expects the Blue Shirts to be in an acquisition mode, the flip side—divestiture—is perhaps strategically more important to facilitate a true Rangers contender next season. With young contributors such as Dubinsky, Callahan, Stepan, Christensen and Prust at forward and Staal, Girardi, Del Zotto, Gilroy and Sauer on defense, Sather should look to jettison the contracts of Chris Drury and Michal Rozsival over their next stretch of good play, whenever their perceived values are high. That would provide useful cap room to sign a true difference maker next offseason.
Answer: While Derek Stepan should establish himself as a top six forward with New York, acquiring a veteran center to line up with Marian Gaborik seems likely for Sather. As long as the Rangers don’t frivolously take on an ornery contract or give up a young contributor, the right move could help solidify a postseason berth.
Timo Seppa runs the statistical hockey site Ice Hockey Metrics and is co-editor of Hockey Prospectus 2010-11. Follow Timo on Twitter at @timoseppa.
Timo Seppa is an author of Hockey Prospectus.
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