Dobber's offseason fantasy hockey grades – NY Rangers
For the last 13 years (12 with The Hockey News) I have reviewed each team from a fantasy hockey standpoint, and graded them. My 14th annual review will appear here on DobberHockey throughout the summer. This is not a review of the likely performance on the ice or in the standings, but in the realm of fantasy hockey.
Impact of changes – The forwards corps just got a whole lot more crowded because four regulars are gone but six have been brought in. To say nothing of rookie Pavel Buchnevich. And by the same token, the defensemen just got a lot shallower as they lost two regulars and only brought in one (though maybe Coach Alain Vigneault will like Clendening, who knows).
The bottom line is that it opens the door wide open for prospect defensemen but shoves the doorstop under the crack when the prospect forwards try to get in. So while rookies Jimmy Vesey and Pavel Buchnevich – both very deserving of roster spots – will have a tough time getting the ice time they need, a rookie defenseman such as Brady Skjei will get a long look (not to mention almost-rookie Dylan McIlrath). The offense was disappointing for the Rangers last season as they managed just three forwards with more than 45 points, so the idea here is to create some hunger.
Ready for full-time – Dylan McIlrath is a 6-5, 220-pound defenseman who uses his size and strength affectively. And he’s not intimidated by the big leagues either. Right off the bat he was in the thick of it, playing the way he always does as he dished out 93 hits and accrued 64 PIM in just 34 games with the Rangers. Don’t look to him for points though. (Read more on McIlrath here)
Brady Skjei reminds me of Ryan McDonagh in that he’s a defensive specialist but his offense is underrated, and he could turn out to be a solid fantasy own. And that’s something we didn’t see two years ago. His playing style also reminds scouts of McDonagh, so the earlier comparison is even more fitting. (Read more on Skjei here)
Pavel Buchnevich is quick and smart. And he’s close to NHL-ready. But he is also resistant to going to the AHL so there is a potential issue there if he struggles out of the gate. Especially given New York’s sudden depth up front. Before you overrate his short-term prospects, note that he went from a star who played 17 minutes per KHL game for Cherepovets, to a secondary guy on St. Petersburg and getting just 12 minutes. The points stopped coming when he wasn’t getting the ice time – yet teammates Ilya Kovalchuk, Steve Moses, Nikita Gusev (TB prospect), and Joakim Lindstrom had no problem putting points on the board. Just a bit of a red flag for me, as far as this season goes. (Read more on Buchnevich here)
Jimmy Vesey was the most famous man in New York in August as celebrities urged him to sign with the Rangers. He did, but now he’s looking at a third-line role with a short leash. Caution when drafting him. In fact, in one-year leagues I wouldn’t even draft him. I’d wait for him to start producing before grabbing him off the wire – or I’d let someone else take the risk. (Read more on Vesey here)
Fantasy Outlook – Last year was a letdown for the Rangers when it comes to fantasy hockey. Just four players topped 45 points. A healthy Rick Nash should put them back on course. I’d say that they’ll now have the season this year that they should have had last year – but losing Yandle could really hurt. If both Vesey and Buchnevich make the big club, then New York will have zero prospect forwards in the minors of any fantasy interest
Fantasy Grade: B (last year was B+)
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