Multiple rumors suggest that the Rangers have engaged in talks with Ryan Malone regarding a training camp invite. The rumors make sense for a few different reasons. For starters, Ryan Malone once played for the Tampa Bay Lightning, which seems to mean something to Glen Sather (note: Glen does know that Malone was not part of the 2004 Cup winners, right?).
But of more significance is that Malone is a big bodied left winger whose production could come cheaply and with limited risk. I emphasize “big bodied” because I’m still of the belief that the Rangers front office saw lack of size as a major component of their losing effort against the Los Angeles Kings in the Stanley Cup Final. I also equally emphasize cheaply. In the salary cap NHL, the elite teams cash in on lottery tickets and in order to win, you gotta play. Malone isn’t Anton Stralman of 2011, nor is his risk profile similar to the signings of Brad Richards, Martin Havlat, or Mike Ribeiro this summer. But he could provide depth at left wing and chip in on the power play if all works out.
Malone’s past two seasons are pretty damn poor and the statute of limitations on “recently good at hockey” are close to running out for him. Even if you ignore the snow faced elephant in the room (which for this post we will), he hasn’t been very good at hockey in the past two seasons. His DUI was the final nail in the coffin for sure as far as his tenure in Tampa Bay goes, but it was already heading to the cemetery, he was always going to be bought out.
His P/60 dropped nearly 50% two years ago from 2.39 in 2011-2012 to 1.26 during the lockout shortened 2012-2013 season. His production remained mostly the same at 1.34 last season. There are a couple glaring factors contributing to his production decline; lack of power play time, decreased shooting percentage, and decrease in teammate quality. The first factor, lack of power play time, is a big reason for why the Rangers may be interested in Malone. He was once good on the power play and maybe he can regain that touch under Alain Vigneault? After all, you can’t teach size and hands. The Rangers are comparatively thin at left wing from an organizational standpoint, maybe a two-way deal could benefit both sides in that regard?
If Malone doesn’t work out in training camp, he at the very least would provide a warm body whose name recognition could create some competition, be it real or perceived. That certainly isn’t a bad thing. If Malone were to make the Rangers out of training camp, a roster move would not be required as the Rangers are currently one shy of the 50 contract limit.
Whatever happens, this is entirely too many frickin’ words on Ryan Malone. September can’t come soon enough.
A previous version of this article said the Rangers had hit the 50 contract limit. This is not true per the explanation here.