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TheNYRBlog’s 20 Thoughts: Addressing the Center Position

While it seemed bleak just 48 hours ago, Jeff Gorton and his crew have begun to address the meteor crater sized hole in the center of the Rangers line-up. Let’s take a look in my latest version of TheNYRBlog’s 20 Thoughts:

1. The Rangers situation at center has hit a point of such critical mass that fans are actually celebrating the signing of 31-year old center David Desharnais.

2. In all seriousness, this is a no risk one-year, $1 million contract to hopefully solidify the pivot position on the 4th line. I don’t know much about the 5′ 7″ Desharnais but from what I’ve seen he likes to buzz around the net and has quick hands in tight to bury dirty goals. That’s a quality sorely lacking on the Rangers.

Since 2013, Desharnais has seen his point production drop from 52 to 48 to 29 to 14. Not exactly trending in the right direction. While the former Canadien and Oiler has an over 50% career Corsi For, he has been under 50% two of the last three years. Again, going the wrong way.

3. I’d rip on Desharnais height, but Zuccarello has taught me to know better than that:

4. Speaking of Zuccarello, apparently he was playing Where’s Waldo yesterday…

5. Meanwhile, the guy Desharnais is replacing in the Rangers line-up, Oscar Lindberg, signed a two-year, $3.4M deal with Las Vegas. Let’s just hope he doesn’t find himself in this casino over the course of the next two years…

6. In other forward news, the Rangers re-signed Jesper Fast to a three-year, $5.5 million ($1.85M per) contract. It’s good to see Fast, who is still recovering from hip surgery and will likely miss the first month of the season, get a raise for being that Top 9 forward AV thinks he is.

7. According to Larry Brooks at the New York Post, because Fast filed for arbitration before signing his contract, the Rangers will have a second buyout window of 48 hours available to them at a to-be-determined time this summer. (Cough) Marc Staal (Cough)

8. I have maintained for the last two years that Staal has ZERO trade value, but when you have the GM who gave up a 3rd round pick to acquire ZAC RINALDO still in the league, you just never know…

9. In other Rangers news, Mika Zibanejad filed for salary arbitration. No Blueshirt player has participated in an arbitration hearing since the team walked away from this guy…

Teams can still negotiate with a player up until the hearing begins. Let’s just hope deliberations go this smoothly:

10. For a potential Zibanejad contract comparable, Alex Galchenyuk just re-signed with the Canadiens for three-years, $14.7 million ($4.9M per).

11. BTW, too bad seeing Galchenyuk off the market. Or is he?

12. Despite the above news, the Rangers are still in need of an impact forward if they plan on making some noise in 2017-18. And Toronto, as I mentioned in my last “20 Thoughts”, might just be the place to find one:

Similar to Shattenkirk, van Riemsdyk is a local kid (Middletown, NJ) who grew up a Rangers fan. If the Blueshirts are committed to moving Miller back to center, the Toronto winger, who is in the final year of his contract that pays him $4.25M this season, might make sense.

13. Another winger who had been connected to the Blueshirts is no longer an option as Ilya Kovalchuk has announced he’ll be headed back to the KHL for one more season. The Rangers have now been saved from acquiring Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Kovalchuk. I’d say this has been a productive free agency so far.

14. A cheaper alternative up front could be Jussi Jokinen who was recently bought out by the Panthers. Jokinen can play center or wing, so he could be insurance if Miller doesn’t work out in the middle.  The 34-year-old had 28 points in 69 games last year in Florida, a season removed from a 60-point year back in 2015-16. Jokinen is also a career 53.4% in the faceoff circle.

15. I hope Islanders fans have a ton of frequent flyer miles, because their team is likely to be relocated to Seattle in the not too distant future if they’re unable to work through the current difficulties extending John Tavares’ contract.

16. Speaking of contract extensions, the Montreal Canadiens re-signed Carey Price to an eight-year, $10.5M per year deal. Suddenly, paying Lundqvist $8.5M when he’s 38-years old doesn’t seem so bad anymore.

17. The Arizona Rangers continue to acquire former and current Blueshirts as they recently announced the signings of both Adam Clendening and Emerson Etem. These two ex-Rangers will join Derek Stepan, Anthony Duclair and Antti Raanta on the Coyotes roster. I’d love for someone to create a list of players exchanged by both these clubs over the years. It would be enormous.

18. Michael Grabner is ready for the season. Are you?

19. If the season started today, here are your forward lines:

Kreider-Zibanejad-Buchnevich
Zuccarello-Hayes-Nash
Grabner-Miller-Vesey
Puempel-Desharnais-Fast

Really need to get a van Riemsdyke or Jokinen in the Top 9 to drop Grabner down to the fourth line and balance out the line-up. If Gorton can get that done, I’ll feel real confident going into the season.

20. After the Fast & Desharnais signings the Rangers have $5.5 million in cap space remaining to bring back Zibanejad as well as acquire another forward. That number swells to $8.4 million if Klein retires. Hey Kevin, I hear Hawaii is real nice during the winter.

Remember to follow me on TwitterFacebook & Instagram or e-mail me at nyrfan94@yahoo.com.

17 thoughts on “TheNYRBlog’s 20 Thoughts: Addressing the Center Position

  1. Uh, I hate to break it to you, but we technically don’t have Zib (yet, please god yet) and putting Fast on the ice might literally kill him. (Not to mention some of my feeling toward other “forwards” on the team)

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  2. It pains me to say it, but I can see AV getting TG signed for another year with Fast sidelined for a month or more and Puempel currently as the 12th forward. I’d rather they give the same or more cash to the ageless wonder and bring him back for a second run in NY.

    Did Jensen move on? I’m thinking he did, and I know Hrivik is gone so they’re not quite as deep at forward as they were last season.

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  3. I don’t think I’ve had 20 thoughts in my entire life and there you go Kev cranking out 60 in just a few days lol. That recent signing really doesn’t do much so you wonder what it takes to get a top center here. Honestly I didn’t see Thornton as a bad option for a year or 2 if we could have gotten him on the cheap while we figure out how to land a marquee ceterman. So what do we do then. Dangle Kreider? Early last season and for the last 20 minutes of the 2nd season he was virtually unstoppable so at what point do you throw in he towel on him? We all see what he can do but will he ever get his head right to play consistently to his potential? Miller, the other name thrown around will develop into a solid player but he’s not Kreider and won’t command as much trade value. IDK except that this team will not win without more skill up the middle.

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    1. I’d throw the towel on kreider yesterday, he’s way overvalued and if he hasn’t become this wonder player that he was supposed to be, we should just ship him out west for talent that actually has something going on upstairs.

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  4. jokinenenin signed by the oilers. JVR plz. JVR plz. what would it take though? looks like kleiner retired as well so that cap space did indeed swell. happy that fast is back and for that term and cap hit. pretty happy with all of the moves so far. and the non moves. and the night moves.

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  5. Larry Brooks of the NY Post: With the addition of Kevin Shattenkirk, the Rangers have a crowded blue line, especially on the third-pairing/roster spot – Marc Staal, Nick Holden, Anthony DeAngelo, Alexei Bereglazov and Neal Pionk.

    Defenseman Nick Holden has a year left on his deal with a $1.65 million cap hit and could be made available in the Rangers search for a top-six center.

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  6. Yes it is true that right now Marc Staal but that’s if you are trying to trade him without picking up part of his salary. If the Rangers pick up somewhere between 20 and 50% of his salary then he may be more tradeable.

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