As the playoffs have gone on, it’s taken a while for the Rangers to find a new coach. After swinging and missing on Jim Montgomery, who reportedly turned down more money to stay in the Midwest and accept the job with the Stars, they have convinced David Quinn to leave Boston University and take over behind the bench in Manhattan.
Even after Quinn was rumored to stay with BU where he had developed good players including most recently Jack Eichel, Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk, the Rangers persisted in their quest to go outside the box as GM Jeff Gorton and even Garden CEO James Dolan had hinted at during the process. More committed to a rebuild, it makes perfect sense for the Rangers to hire a developmental coach familiar with working with young talent. A avenue I suggested in this space.
After spending five seasons with the Terriers producing a 105-67-21 record in the Hockey East which included a runner-up in the Frozen Four in ’14-15 when they lost in heartbreaking fashion, the 51-year old Quinn will try his hand at coaching in the NHL.
It’ll be interesting to follow his path. There haven’t been many college coaches who moved up to the NHL ranks. The most notable are Miracle worker Herb Brooks and Badger Bob Johnson. The Flyers have had moderate success with Dave Hakstol overachieving by making the first round this year. Now, you can add two new former college coaches in Montgomery and Quinn.
So, how will Quinn do? That remains to be seen. With the Rangers organization finally confirming him as the 35th coach in franchise history earlier today, now comes the real challenge ahead. Turning around a bad team that missed its first postseason since 2009-10.
Much depends on what Gorton decides with his new coach and chief scouts. With the NHL Draft a month away, the team owns the ninth overall pick. They also hold a extra first from the Bruins in the Rick Nash deal that also netted D prospect Ryan Lindgren and key restricted free agent Ryan Spooner. He’s a year away from unrestricted status. Management must decide if it’s worth retaining Spooner for a year and make a similar decision on Group II forward Vladislav Namestnikov, who didn’t have a good showing after coming over from the Lightning in a blockbuster trade that sent former captain Ryan McDonagh and J.T. Miller. A deal that netted D prospect Libor Hajek, forward prospect Brett Howden along with a 2018 first round pick if the Lightning win the Stanley Cup. Plus a 2019 conditional second.
So much is tied into those two trades. There’s three prospects the Blueshirts are counting on for development along with what they can turn the extra picks into. Is the plan for Gorton to shop the number nine along with the additional first and second to move up into the top four and grab Oliver Wahlstrom, Brady Tkachuk, Filip Zadina or Adam Boqvist?
Gorton faces tough decisions on RFA’s Kevin Hayes, Brady Skjei and Jimmy Vesey. Plus whether they have full confidence in Alexandar Georgiev to back up Henrik Lundqvist, who shouldn’t start over 50 games. He can’t physically do it anymore. Do they trust Georgiev off his good first impression or consider re-signing Ondrej Pavelec?
The team will have cap space to make moves this July. What are they planning? Are they in on big free agents John Tavares, John Carlson or James van Riemsdyk? I would think not but you never know what the thought process is. Now a hard nosed vet such as James Neal on a reasonable deal could work. The same for Calvin de Haan, who has peak years left if he leaves the Islanders.
Most importantly, how Quinn and the new staff handle key young players like Lias Andersson, Pavel Buchnevich, Filip Chytil, Tony DeAngelo, Neal Pionk and Brady Skjei will go a long way to determining where the franchise is over the long term.
The leadership will fall not just on veterans Marc Staal (assuming he’s back), Lundqvist, Kevin Shattenkirk and Mats Zuccarello but Jesper Fast, Hayes, Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad.
It is a new day for Blueshirt fans. At times, the fan base has been impatient and quick to judge things. They must understand that a rebuild like this could take time. Realistically, I don’t expect this team to see the playoffs until 2020 or 2021. There are too many good teams ahead inside the division and improving in the East.
We must be ready for it. A youth movement is something many have wanted to see following the last ditch effort that hit a wall against Ottawa in the second round of the 2017 NHL Playoffs. Now, things have changed. Alain Vigneault is finally gone and so too are most of the players who made big contributions to the 2014 and 2015 rosters that made deep runs.
It’s all about the future. The present could be a trying time for fans. We’ll see how quickly the final roster after this offseason adjusts to Quinn. I’m looking forward to it.