Playing Cody McLeod over Paul Carey is as absurd as Vesey on fourth line

Entering the season, we knew the Rangers weren’t tough. They added no one to address that area by design.

Under Alain Vigneault, they play a certain way. A skating transition style who chooses quality over quantity in shots. By not always shooting, they leave themselves vulnerable to turnovers in the neutral zone and offensive end. That can fuel opponents’ transition.

In a mediocre first half if you can call having 32 games left following the All-Star Game, they often left Henrik Lundqvist and Ondrej Pavelec out to dry. So you get a middling team that enters tomorrow night’s match against the Maple Leafs out of the wildcard.

Without much push back from a roster that often turns the other cheek, it leads to teams crashing into Lundqvist and scrums. Nobody respects this team. They can take runs and not worry about retribution unless Brendan Smith takes matters into his own hands. That is kind of sad.

Say what you want about Tanner Glass. At least he stood up for fallen teammates and did his job. A good character team first guy, the veteran was often criticized for what he wasn’t by many Ranger pundits. His teammates loved him. Something the Corsi metric community fails to understand. Not every player is going to score. This team struggles to score goals and can’t defend.

After 50 games, the organization saw enough to claim enforcer Cody McLeod. A well known tough guy who is ready and willing to drop them, he’s a Ranger for that reason. Maybe seeing Pavel Buchnevich picked on in a recent game out West convinced them to make a move.

The question is why. What’s going to change between now and April? I was under the assumption they would be sellers at the Feb. 26 trade deadline. Even if you must take Larry Brooks with a grain of salt, it makes perfect sense for GM Jeff Gorton to get what he can for expiring contracts including Rick Nash and leading goalscorer Michael Grabner. David Desharnais and Nick Holden are included.

As far as whether or not pending 2019 UFA’s Ryan McDonagh and Mats Zuccarello are dealt, that largely depends on the market. Is there a team that would have interest in renting a good defenseman McDonagh for two years? Toronto possibly. One look at their blueline is enough reason to strongly consider it. But they’ll have to pay a good price.

Zuccarello can definitely aid a team who is looking for a proven playmaking scorer that never backs down. Signed through next year at a cap friendly $4.5 million AAV, he could definitely help a contender. As much as I love him, it’s time to move on.

There’s no reason for Jimmy Vesey to be on the fourth line with Desharnais and McLeod, who will make his Rangers debut over solid depth contributor Paul Carey. I can’t understand it. Are they so concerned all of a sudden about being pushed around? It’s the antithesis of what Vigneault is even if some of his lineups in the past were confusing.

Why should a hard working forward like Carey come out of the lineup for McLeod? Carey has been a nice surprise scoring six goals with six assists in a secondary role. He is a good penalty killer who also netted the club’s first shorthanded goal.

Nothing makes any sense. Not the usage of Vesey, who can go from fourth line to top six and receive power play time. A young player in his second season, he’s been totally mismanaged. He’s one of the few forwards on this roster who goes to the net and mixes it up. When you look at why he has 10 goals, you have to point the finger at the coach.

Nobody will. They did when Buchnevich went from top line to fourth line along with missing some shifts. Granted. He has more talent than Vesey and is tied for second in team scoring with 32 points. The issue is that by having Vesey mostly in a secondary role, it’s no way to properly develop the former Hobey Baker winner. Do you think the Preds would’ve handled him this way had he signed? What about the Sabres who lack scoring depth behind Jack Eichel and Evander Kane?

McLeod will bring what he does and take on all comers. He will play physical and finish checks. This isn’t about him as much as it’s about a confusing organization who leaves its own fans baffled.

I can’t think of one good reason Carey is sitting tomorrow. Just like I can’t think straight regarding Vinni Lettieri, who Vigneault tried in a top six, power play role in his short stint. If he didn’t hit so many posts, he probably would have four or five more goals than the one he produced with three assists in 10 games. He also was moved around.

That’s the coach. It’s confusing. Nothing will ever make sense until the whole staff is gone and they turn over the roster.

About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included separate stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also interned for or hockey historian Stan Fischler and worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil telecasts. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has covered consecutive Staten Island Yankees NY Penn League championships in '05 and '06. He also scored Berkeley Carroll high school basketball games from '06-14 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree. The Battle Of New York administrator and chief editor can be followed below on Twitter and Facebook.
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2 Responses to Playing Cody McLeod over Paul Carey is as absurd as Vesey on fourth line

  1. Erik Mitchell says:

    u sir are a moron.


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