Since July 1st, where the Rangers did not make a big splash and instead brought in what they felt were outside needs that filled gaps, there has been a suspicion whether they have gotten better or worse. Out went Brian Boyle, Derek Pouliot, Anton Stralman, and Derek Dorsett and all of a sudden this team is missing some key players from last seasons Stanley Cup run. The new additions of Dan Boyle, Tanner Glass, Mike Kostka, and Chris Mueller will be counted on to try and push the team into an even better place this season.
It’s tough losing the role players that helped the Rangers get to the Stanley Cup Final this past season. Many questioned why they didn’t bring back Boyle and Stralman for the prices they were signed at, however, after the past week I think something had become pretty obvious….one side didn’t want the other back. Boyle told the Rangers he wanted a bigger role yet he knowingly replaces 4th line Nate Thompson in Tampa Bay. He has also called Tampa Bay “a home run” since his new wife is from that area and he is friends with Ryan Callahan, who helped sell him. Stralman, on the other hand, said the Rangers were relatively silent in trying to re-sign him which leads me to believe they thought he was too expensive at $4+ million. Alain Vigneault definitely had a role in the players that were signed. Glen Sather loves him as the head coach and brought in his types of players. Here’s how they will help the Rangers.
Boyle will turn 38 at the end of this week but is still a serviceable NHL defensemen that the Rangers have wanted to add to the lineup for years. At 2 years, $9 million the Rangers won’t be getting the speed and pace Boyle used to show in his younger days, but they will get a more offensive-minded defenseman than Anton Stralman that has a great click with Marty St. Louis. The last 6 seasons in San Jose, Boyle has 32 goals and 104 assists on the powerplay which will really help the Rangers at the point.
This is a total AV signing as Glass averaged slightly over 9 minutes of ice time back when he played for him in Vancouver. AV feels comfortable with having Glass as he knows what he can do and the role he plays. He throws the body around and will drop the gloves if necessary, something that the Rangers lost when trading Derek Dorsett and letting Dan Carcillo walk away. He is slightly cheaper than Dorsett and will play 4th line minutes for the Rangers.
The more I look at this guy, the more I like him. He probably will start the season as the 7th defenseman, but as we saw with Ralph Diaz, he could see some games during the season. He is an AV-system type of player, having speed and puck-moving abilities with some size. Both Joe Quenneville and Jon Cooper praised his “handy” abilities and felt comfortable having him as a depth-defenseman. He will be a good fit to add to the defense-corps for the Rangers. In 341 AHL games, Kostka has 37 goals and 146 assists. He is a Calder Cup winner with Norfolk in 2011-12.
Mueller will get a look along with JT Miller and Oscar Lindberg at camp, one of them to join Derek Stepan, Derick Brassard, and Dominic Moore as the Rangers 3-4 center. In Texas (AHL) last season, Mueller had 57 points during the regular season plus another 11 in the playoffs. He will provide depth at the AHL level if nothing else, something that the Rangers will need going forward as the farm system begins to re-tool.
We will see how these moves end up going. The Rangers will add these players as well as a look at some of the kids in the system to fill in the gaps. Money was an issue as the cap was tight for the team, especially with a few younger RFA’s needing new contracts with bigger cap hits. I’m confident Alain Vigneault will have this Rangers team in better form than last season to start the year and roll into the winter months. The question is can they sustain it and head into the playoffs like last season.