Better Know a Ranger: Left Wingers

September 16th, 2015 at 6:00 am by Derek

The August doldrums are over, and training camp is just around the corner. To get you primed for a season that will take another two or three years off of your life, we’re doing position-by-position breakdowns of the Rangers’ roster. These opinions are trash so please disregard them immediately after reading.

Rick Nash #61
Vital Info
Age: 31
2014-15 stats: 79GP, 42G, 27A, +1.5 Corsi% rel
Contract: 8 years, $62.4M ($7.8M AAV through 2017-18, UFA)
Favorite Destiny’s Child album: Survivor

2014-15 Season Recap
Rick Nash spent last season beating the piss out of NHL goalies, taking their lunch money, and stealing their girls. He finished third in the league in goals with 42 (32 at even strength!), behind only Ovechkin and Stamkos. The big fella finished the year with a nice 69 points, nine more than any other Ranger. Since joining the Rangers in the lockout-shortened 2013 season, he is first in the NHL in 5v5 goals per 60 minutes. Is that good? His goal total in the playoffs fell short of expectations, but his 14 points were only two behind club leader Derick Brassard’s 16. I will hear no more “Nash is bad” takes this season. Any “Nash is bad” takers can hop on the express train straight to heck.

 2015-16 Season Outlook
How does one follow up the best performance of his career? Will he be like George Lucas, who gave us The Empire Strikes Back after the runaway success of Star Wars? Or will this year be the Countdown to Extinction to last season’s Rust in Peace? (Save By Richter dot com: come for the hockey talk, stay for the 90s thrash metal references) I don’t think it likely that Nash has another career year in his age 31 season, but his chemistry with Brassard and Zuccarello should still be deadly. I’ll say 34 goals and 28 assists.

Relevant GIFNash_Buttgoal(via @CJZero)

Butt goals will always be relevant in my book, but I feel like this tally perfectly encapsulated the first half of Rick Nash’s 2014-15. Much of the fanbase was ready to run him out of town after he couldn’t seem to buy a goal in the 2014 playoffs, but he responded by scoring goals in some of the strangest ways possible during the first few months of the season. Random chance is great when it works in your favor. I have a fever, and the only prescription is more butt goals in 2015-16.

Chris Kreider #20
Vital Info
Age: 24
2014-15 stats: 80GP, 21G, 25A, +1.1 Corsi% rel
Contract: 2 years, $4.95M ($2.475M AAV through 2015-16, RFA)
Favorite Destiny’s Child album: Destiny Fulfilled

2014-15 Season Recap
Noted Goalie Murderer Chris Kreider set career highs in basically every statistical category last season, spending most of the year on a line with Derek Stepan and Martin St. Louis. He was first on the team in power play goals with seven, second in playoff goals with seven, and first in the number of times he banged your mom, also with seven. A solid output in his second full season with the Rangers, but perhaps with a little something left to be desired. *puts on cliche sports person hat* He struggled a bit with consistency, Joe, going through a streak of one goal in 19 games from November to December. He’s going to need to be better on a game-to-game basis if he wants to be a top power forward in the National Hockey League.

2015-16 Season Outlook
A lot of Ranger fans seem to think Kreider is going to turn into a perennial 30-goal scorer, but I just don’t see it. His size and speed are tantalizing, but he hasn’t shown an ability to put up those kinds of numbers. He would have to see a big increase in TOI per game (he’s been around 15:44 the last two seasons) or shot on goal rate in order to do that. If we assume his shooting percentage going forward is going to be 12% (just about his career average), he’d need 250 shots on goal to score 30; he had 180 shots on goal last season. Seeing as AV doesn’t give his top players a huge minutes (Stepan led all Rangers forwards with 18:11 ATOI last year), I’m not optimistic about Kreider turning into a 30-goal scorer outside of a spiked shooting percentage year. 23 goals and 22 assists.

Relevant GIF
(via @myregularface)

The goal that brought the Rangers’ season back from the dead with under two minutes to go in game 5 against Washington. Those turds were 1:41 away from getting to the Conference Final for the first time since 1998 and blew it. Good work, Ovechkin! You’ve had three coaches since Bruce Boudreau was fired, and all of them have lost to the Rangers in the playoffs. Better luck this year! Rest assured that this will not be the last GIF you see from the Capitals series.

Viktor Stalberg #25
Vital Info
Age: 29
2014-15 stats: 25GP, 2G, 8A, +0.7 Corsi% rel (with Nashville)
Contract: 1 year, $1.1M (through 2015-16, UFA)
Favorite Destiny’s Child album: The Writing’s on the Wall

2014-15 Season Recap
The last two years for Viktor Stalberg have been pretty rough. After a couple of productive seasons and a Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in 2013, he cashed out with a four-year, $12M contract with the Predators, who had been sorely lacking in scoring the year before (the club leader was David Legwand, with 12 goals in 48 games). GM David Poile saw Stalberg as a potential top-six scorer who could regularly pop 20 goals. Well, guess what David: you got a turd! Stalberg’s first season in Nashville was a dud (8 goals and 18 points in 70 games). Even under new coach Peter Laviolette last season, Stalberg wasn’t a regular in the lineup thanks to a knee injury and the Preds acquiring some real-life scoring forwards before the season. Stalberg split time between Nashville and AHL Milwaukee before finding a somewhat permanent spot with the big club, playing in all six of the Preds’ playoff series against Chicago. The last two years of his contract were bought out after the season.

2015-16 Season Outlook
Despite the hilarious disaster that was Stalberg’s time in Nashville, I’m actually pretty optimistic about him. The problem was that Nashville expected him to be a second-line scorer in their defensive system when he had the benefit of playing with superstars in a high-tempo scheme previously. The Rangers, however, probably see him more as a third line scorer option in the vein of Benoit Pouliot or Carl Hagelin. In fact, Stalberg’s 5v5 points/60 during his two years in Nashville (1.54) is pretty close to Hagelin’s during the same time period (1.66). Plus, his biggest asset is his speed, which makes him a perfect fit for AV’s system. Given a smaller role, Stalberg should be able to make a solid contribution, although I could see him missing a decent chunk of games due to injury or scratches. 10 goals and 14 assists.

Relevant GIF
StalbergGoal(via @AGretz)

Unsurprisingly, the GIF-age on Viktor Stalberg is pretty sparse. The people just don’t want animated images of underperforming Swedes. However, I did find one of his playoff goal from last year against Chicago. I was at this game, and it was a lot of fun, except for the part where the Predators blew a 3-0 lead at home and lost in 2OT. Look how dumb Corey Crawford is here, though: so much so that he let Viktor Stalberg score a tap-in. Ya gotta show a little more hustle out there, Crow. Also, an appearance by former Rangers #1 defenseman Michal Rozsival.

Tanner Glass #15
Vital Info
Age: 32
2014-15 stats: 66GP, 1G, 5A, -8.7 Corsi% rel *single tear rolls slowly down cheek*
Contract: sigh, 3 years, $4.35M ($1.45M AAV through 2016-17, UFA)
Favorite Destiny’s Child album: 8 Days of Christmas

2014-15 Season Recap
Hey, do you remember the Rangers team that went to the Stanley Cup Final in 2014? They did so despite their best scorer going through a horrible slump. Most agreed that a prime factor in their success was forward depth: AV could roll four lines comfortably for sixty minutes. The fourth line of Dominic Moore, Brian Boyle, and Derek Dorsett (with an occasional cameo by Daniel Carcillo) could be trusted to handle the tough defensive assignments, allowing the top three lines to have more offensive zone starts. Fast forward a few weeks after the Kings trounced the Rangers, and we see Sather trading Derek Dorsett (an unspectacular player, but a solid fourth liner) in order to free up cap space to sign Tanner Glass to a multi-year deal. This presumably came about because AV liked Glass from their two years together in Vancouver, including the Canucks’ appearance in the 2011 Cup Final. In the three years between that run and his signing with the Rangers, Glass was 348th out of 367 among forwards with at least 1000 minutes at 5v5 in points/60 and 365th in both relative Fenwick%, and relative scoring chance%. The Aristocrats! Despite the lobbying of more than one Rangers beat writer and a subset of fans who think that “u need toffness to win hockey games,” Tanner Glass was by far the worst player on the roster in 2014-15. He inexplicably managed to avoid being scratched on a regular basis, and was penciled into the lineup in favor of useful players such as James Sheppard (RIP), Lee Stempniak (*pours one out*), JT Miller, and Jesper Fast. Everything about his being on the Rangers was bad.

2015-16 Season Outlook
And now, for his second act, Glass will magically appear in the lineup every night again! What, did you think that because the Rangers picked up some bottom-six-type forwards in free agency and have others waiting in the wings in Hartford, that Glass’s days as an everyday player were numbered?

Rest assured that AV will find a way to scratch players that help the Rangers score goals before he benches his ol’ buddy Tanner. Viktor Stalberg seems like the most likely candidate, but don’t count out Emerson Etem! 2 goals, 4 assists, and at least five posts on this site about how we think he is a nice, polite boy.

Relevant GIF
(via @myregularface)

Tanner Glass scored his first goal of the season (and his first in over a year) in his 57th game on March 26th. AV, apparently, found the whole thing as funny as Rangers Twitter did, and couldn’t contain a few chuckles on the bench. Perhaps this whole Tanner Glass thing is a joke, and AV is the mastermind, pulling on invisible strings attached to Rangers fans, watching our emotions flow freely as if we were viewing the end of Forrest Gump over and over again. That Glass’s victim here, the Almighty Hamburglar, was given a three-year extension after the season rather than sent to the minors immediately following this goal, is an indictment of the Senators’ management.

Next up in Better Know a Ranger: right wingers.

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