The New York Rangers Mid-Season Report Card: Grades & Detailed Reviews of Every Blueshirt, Thoughts at the 50% Mark of the Season, The Highs & Lows, 2023-24 Campaign Review, Predictions & More

Without a shadow of a doubt, Artemi Panarin and Vincent Trocheck are the two best Rangers on the roster today. Aside from Will Cuylle (largely due to his minimal salary-cap hit), this super duo are the only Blueshirts to receive an A+ from me during this 2023-24 Mid-Season Report Card – and where if you recall – I gave out seven A pluses (most in site history – which covers ten-years – or nearly thirty report cards) during the Quarter-Pole Report Card. What a mouthful!

Greetings and salutations everyone and welcome to another blog here on

Buckle up folks – because this is going to be a long one – but well worth your time – as you won’t find anything like this anywhere else – and with no ads, video players or pop-ups to speak of whatsoever!

And just like the slogan of the Men’s Wearhouse – and Mark Messier too – “I guarantee it!”

Before jumping right into the pool, I do want to purge the following thought from my system:

I hate, hate, hate, and did I say hate, doing these report cards whenever the Rangers are on a losing streak.

Of course, and as you’re all well aware – and as I presently pound my keyboard too – the Blueshirts are currently experiencing their longest losing streak of the season (three games).

The reason why I despise this so much is because I know that most readers are furious whenever the team is in a state of peril, where as a result – they forget about everything else that’s taken place this season.

After all, and as I’ll later repeat below – hockey is a “what have you done for me lately?” business.

Thankfully (and here’s my cocky, but confident, self-pat on the back) – you have me to calm you down – or so I hope!

I also want to make mention of this too:

Yes, I am aware that the Rangers have “only” played forty games this season thus far – and not forty-one – the true half-way mark of the season.

However, with the Blueshirts set to play a home-and-home set with the Capitals this weekend (Saturday and Sunday) – tonight, Friday night, was the best time to release this tenth annual Mid-Season Report Card.

I’m sure that you will forgive me for not being a stickler!

There’s a lot to be said tonight, especially with the Rangers set to enter the second-half of their 2023-24 season – so let’s get right into it – and with no other delays and/or tangents!

I’ve been using this simple and basic graphic since 2014! Ten-years and runnin’! Photo Credit: Public Domain

Before doling out the grades, let me give you the usual criteria that I use whenever I do these report cards:

— Grades are given out based on production, playing to their role on the team and to the contract of a player.

For example, I expect less from a fourth line and six-figure salaried player, such as a Jimmy Vesey.

On the other hand, I expect a lot out of a first line player and/or a high-priced player like an Artemi Panarin.

After all, we are playing in a salary-cap world, where teams are constantly giving up quality players, even players they drafted, in order to compete.

— To ignore the salary-cap hit of a player would be foolish, which is why they are considered and factored into these grades.

Keep in mind, to me, a player’s salary-cap hit is a stat that belongs on the back of a hockey card.

When it comes to building NHL rosters, general managers look at cap hits first. They aren’t worried about Corsi’s or whatever other nerd stat that Sieve Vagistat has pulled out of his five-hole this week.

In addition, and more times than not during this present era, you don’t see as many pure “hockey trades” when compared to bygone eras. Instead, you see more “salary-cap dump trades” than anything else.

— Players who have played less than ten games with the team, players who have been traded, players who have been injured, and players who were sent down to Hartford, are all listed in the “Incomplete” section.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly above all else – these grades are just my opinions only.

In other words – don’t get bent out of shape over them!

This is just my way of assessing the current roster at this moment in the season.

And if any grade is truly egregious, then I’m sure that you will let me know!

Last but not least, the following:

— These grades take into account every game played thus far this season – and not just what happened since the 25% mark of the season.

— Just to compare, I have listed my quarter-pole report card grades with every player applicable.

— To read the full explanations of my quarter-pole report card grades, then make sure to check out:

At this time, here are my grades, and my explanations of them, at the half-way mark of the season!

It should come to the surprise of no one that the three players on the “Goal A Game Line 2.0” are at the head of the class – and just like how this three-headed monster leads “Lavy’s Lot” today. Photo Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images





Perhaps the biggest knock on “BONES” is not even his own fault, but this much has become apparent for the soon-to-be 36-year-old – he’s not a third line center – or at least not a “traditional” one in today’s modern-era NHL.

That said, you can’t question the effort that you’ve seen from the former two-time Stanley Cup champion, who is still a heck of a value for the club at only $800,000.

Not exactly known for his scoring, nor is he here for his points prowess anyway; at the quarter-mark of the season, Bonino had one goal and one assist to his name. Twenty games played later and the man who has innovated the art of faceoffs is still stuck on the one goal scored, while also adding three additional apples to his basket.

(Hi Eddie G.!)

If anything screams out “FOURTH LINE CENTER” to you, then it’s Bonino’s shot blocking ability, where his total of 68 blocked shots thus far truly tells the story of his drive, passion and effort for his new employer – and teammates too.

Bonino doesn’t only lead all Ranger forwards in blocked shots – but he’s the league-leader in this department too.

These 68 blocked shots also (negatively) speaks to the Rangers’ defense too – as the only Blueshirt with more blocked shots than Bones is the team’s captain, Jacob Trouba (124).

In other words, your third line center, who only stepped into this role because of injuries, is blocking more shots than five-sixths of your defense (83.3%) – and with all due respect paid to Adam Fox (43) who missed ten-games after being “Aho’d.”

I know that others want to “BAG BONES” – and then once done tying the handles – send him to Hartford – but again – look at my grading parameters.

It’s not Bonino’s fault that he’s on the third line these days and he’s only doing what he was asked to do when he first signed with the team over the summer.

But admittedly, and as the season has gone along, you can see some regression – and where you now have to wonder – should he be saved for the playoffs – and not be an every day player during the regular season?

After all, and as a blocked shot king – I’m sure that CZAR IGOR would like to see Bonino in front of him when the games matter the most.




Following an energetic start, Brodzinski, who long had the “4A” label attached to him by the time when he was first called-up from Hartford – the captain of the ‘Pack sure has reminded us of why he had “earned” such a status.

That said, with a cap-hit of only $775,000 – then it’s really hard to obsess over the fact that in 21 games played, he only has one goal and seven assists.

But with his new-found opportunity (an ample amount of playing time), the thirty-year-old hasn’t done much with it – or at the very least – he hasn’t bumped any of the regulars from their perches.

After all, as part of a checking line, he has a plus/minus rating of -3, “good” for fourth-worst on the team.

It’s tough to envision Brodzinski playing a playoff game with the Rangers come the Spring, but he should be a “Black Ace.”




Refer back to the Quarter-Pole Report Card ( ) as nothing has changed for the Czech center – outside of the fact that he’s now back in his home country – and with no official word if he’s truly expected to return anytime this season.

As mentioned a lot during the past few weeks on this site – it’s time for Rangers’ general manager Chris Drury to address this issue – as this missing $4.5M in salary-cap money is becoming a huge detriment for the team.

And as often spoken on this site – do you really think it’s the best thing for both Chytil and the Blueshirts for a #72 return (assuming if they go down the Nikita Kucherov route) during the first-round of playoffs – the hardest-hitting round of the four?

Like Jon Taffer says, “SHUT IT DOWN.”

After dealing with recent Ranger forward first-round busts such as Lias Andersson and Vitali Kravtsov (and who could’ve predicted that? Hmmm!), combined with the s-l-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-w progressions of both Kaapo Kakko and Alexis Lafreniere; it’s Will Cuylle, a second-round pick, that is shining like a stud.




Since the grade of “A+” is as high as I go, and when you look at how I viewed “CUYLLE HAND LUKE” at the 25% mark of the season to today – then you’d think that nothing had changed.

Such a perception couldn’t be any more incorrect – as Cuylle continues to progress in the NHL – and where the rookie, and with each game that he plays, looks more and more like a seasoned veteran.

Put it this way:

Playing exclusively with career bottom-sixers and AHLers during the first half of the season, it’s been Cuylle that’s stood out the most – and who stood out head-and-shoulders amongst the lot too.

As a result?

Just one game-shy of the official half-way mark of the season and the man of only forty NHL games played is now in the Rangers’ top six – and where he will soon debut on the BFF line.

What impresses me the most about Cuylle (7G, 4A, 11P) is how easy it is for the rookie to transition into any role that’s tasked of him.

Need a hitter rather than scoring? No problem – and where wouldn’t you know it, it’s Cuylle (103), and not the most likeliest suspect Trouba (96), that paces the team in hits.

The fact that Cuylle can bring a physical presence while also pitching in the points (and again – as a rookie) speaks volumes – and brings a huge smile to the face of his head coach too.

Outside of Jimmy Vesey (+4), Cuylle’s plus/minus rating (an Even-Steven amount of 0) is tops amongst all other Blueshirt bottom-sixers.

Like everyone else – I’m really excited to see what Cuylle does next.




Perhaps the newest “whipping boy” on the team to the ANALytical community, and largely due to his contract (an annual cap-hit of $3,641,667) – there are many currently clamoring for the Rangers to off-load one of the team’s numerous alternate captains.

Not me.

As said to the point of talking myself blue in the face – Goodrow’s greatest value is exhibited when it matters most – the playoffs.

Furthermore, and for all of these chart jockeys who want to dissect meaningless crap in Goodrow’s game, such as “EXPECTED STATS,” “CORSI” and other such junk?

Not one of these fools ever mentions how #21 only missed one game after having his mouth removed from his face after eating some friendly-fire in December, following an errant puck shot his way by K’Andre Miller.


Goodrow’s scoring, or lack thereof (1G, 4A, 5P), doesn’t matter to me.

It’s his defensive ability that’s most important, and where prior to Tyler Pitlick’s injury, and along with Vesey as one of his flanks, Goodrow was centering one of the better fourth lines in franchise history – and where comparisons to the fourth line trio from the 2013-14 club were made.

And for the idiots like Sieve Vagistat who only assess these players by how they look on their computer – and not what they actually do on the ice?

Keep in mind that on most nights, Goodrow, along with his linemates, are matched up against the opponent’s top line.

Goodrow and company have won all of these battles.




Similar to his former linemate, Chytil, refer back to the Quarter-Pole Report Card ( ) – as the Finn hasn’t returned following his injury.

But “The Wallflower” is expected to return any game now and where he will resume his 2023-24 campaign, a season thus far that has seen the second-overall pick only score three points (2G, 1A) in twenty games played.

Until Kakko, an alleged top-six forward, can start scoring – and score consistently too – then my flag on him is planted in the “BUST” camp.

Prove me wrong.

After all, he wasn’t drafted to become the second-coming of Jesper Fast.




Why not the A+?

Two reasons:

As the third-highest paid forward on the team ($6,500,000), there needs to be an uptick in his even-strength scoring – and where he’d add much more to his future franchise-leading scoring totals if he could only score on his many breakaways.

But of course, the Blueshirts, and their inability to score breakaway goals, isn’t just exclusive to Kreider either.

That said, to singularly harp on the lack of even-strength scoring would be foolish – and especially following the slow start of his center, Mika Zibanejad – and the fact that he hasn’t had a consistent right-winger to play off of either.

(I’d also contest that his line’s lack of even-strength scoring has more to do with Mika than anyone else.)

Currently averaging a goal in every other game played, only Panarin (26), currently experiencing a Hart Trophy worthy season, has more goals than CK20 (20).

Kreider’s biggest value to the club is the obvious – special teams.

A power-play merchant, who is always active on every man-advantage – Kreider has also been stellar on the penalty kill too.

His plus/minus rating (+6) also paces all Ranger forwards.

Kreider, following his 52-goal season from two years ago, is still in the prime of his career – and due to his style – he should continue to be one of the team’s best scorers in the years to come – and eventually surpass Rod Gilbert’s franchise record of 406 goals too.

And yep – Kreider will be the last player to ever wear #20 for the Blueshirts too.

There’s only one knock on Alexis Lafreniere this season – and the one that I’ve talked about 9867687566856 times during the past few months – his inability to finish on his myriad of scoring chances.




I don’t think that I have to explain this grade to you – or at least not to the regular readers of this site.

Simply stated: Lafreniere is the most polarizing player on the team – and for the kicker – in a positive way!

For the former first-overall pick, he can’t be denied – that is – until he shoots the puck.

Aside from his snake-bitten ways, where he must’ve been bit by a 100,000-pound venomous king cobra; Lafreniere, now in Year Four, is one of the team’s best forwards.

Heck, he’s the best right-winger too – and while he still can’t score a goal to save his life (two in his last 23 games played – and where one of them was kicked into an opponent’s net by a d-man’s skate) – he’s active and noticeable everywhere else – especially whenever setting up his linemates.

While obviously, Panarin and Trocheck are the goal scorers on this line that I have dubbed as “GAG LINE 2.0” (and this SHOULD be the case when you consider both experience and cap-hits) – Lafreniere is pulling his own weight too – and as his fifteen assists would suggest.

(And really, there have been at least a dozen times this season, if not more than that, where following one of Lafreniere’s passes, and much like his own shots on goal, the opposing goaltender has come up with a robbery save – or the Rangers hit iron.)

If there is anything truly concerning or detrimental to say about Lafreniere’s game this season, and outside of his inability to score goals (and perhaps he should change his unlucky jersey number of thirteen too), then it’s the fact that he ranks dead-last on the team in the almighty plus/minus department (-8).

For a comparison, Trocheck is a +1, while Panarin is a -2.

And for someone who usually doesn’t blow off the importance of the plus/minus stat, I think that I have to in this case.

Hell, I’m saying it – I have to blow off this stat when talking about Lafreniere.

After all, K’Andre Miller (+7) leads the team – and there is no way that I believe that Miller is anywhere as close to valuable as Lafreniere has been for the Rangers this season.





“The Breadman,” now in Year Five with the Rangers, is having the best season of his career as a Blueshirt.

Despite finishing his first season in New York as a Hart Trophy Finalist – the yeast has risen even more so today.

A big reason why?

A focus on his defensive game – and in addition – all of his formerly patented never-ending cross-ice passes to nowhere are now extinct like a T-Rex.

Panarin, who leads the team in all scoring categories, and behind his 26 goals, 32 assists and 58 points, he is presently averaging nearly 1.5 points scored per-game.

Furthermore, he’s currently on pace to surpass Kreider’s 52-goal season.

And should the Russian winger really rev things up during the back half of the campaign, then there’s a good chance that he’ll be chasing Jaromir Jagr’s single-season franchise records of 54 goals and 123 points.

He may even break Brian Leetch’s single-season assist record too (80) – and especially if Lafreniere can find his finishing touch.

Speaking of Leetch, while chasing all of these individual milestones and franchise records are nice – the one thing that everyone wants to see for #10 is to become the team’s next Conn Smythe winner – and the first ever since the days of #2 manning the Blueshirts’ blue line.

Needless to say – we need this version of Panarin in the playoffs – or else this regular season is all for naught.




Prior to going down with injury, Pitlick was part of the defensively-oriented Rangers’ fourth line, where along with Vesey and Goodrow, he was successful when attempting to shut down every top line in the league.

With a cap-hit of only $787,500, both Drury and Laviolette have more than received their monies worth out of their winger.

If anyone benefited the most from the Chytil injury (and outside of Trocheck – who probably would’ve been promoted anyway after No Goal Fil’s failure to score before being concussed again – and we can use Kakko’s demotion by Laviolette as a precedent), then it was Pitlick.

Entering the season, both Pitlick and Vesey were combating each other for the 12th-and-final forward spot.

Today, they are now linemates – and kicking ass together at that.

While none of Pitlick’s stats will ever jump out at you, including his one goal and two assists accumulated in 28 games played – he’s been reliable – and that’s something you won’t find on any stinkin’ chart or graph.

It feels like Vincent Trocheck can go off for a three-point game on any given night. Photo Credit: NYR




Nonna Trocheck’s Bambino, Vincenzo, is having the best season of his career.

Now at the age of 30-years-old, Trocheck, in his eleventh NHL season, is on track to set career-bests in every pertinent statistic in hockey.

Presently, Trocheck has 13 goals (fourth-best on the team), 28 assists (second-best on the team), 41 points (second-best on the team), and better than that – not only leads the team in faceoff percentage (61.8%), but on any given night – is also the best quick draw center in all of the league.

(Every night during the NHL slate, Trocheck, along with several others, exchange bragging rights for the best faceoff percentage in league, names such Mike McLeod (NJD), Jeff Carter (PIT), Jamie Benn (DAL) and Nico Sturm (SJS). Unlike other year-end awards and stats – it won’t be until Game 82 is complete where we will know who wins this race.)

Aside from all of his scoring and mastery at the circles, Trocheck continues to embrace a physical game (33 blocked shots and 59 hits – and where these black-and-white stats don’t exactly tell you what he actually does in living color).

Furthermore, the veteran, without a letter on his sweater, has also embraced a leadership role – and as is evident of his mentorship of Will Cuylle – and where presently, Cuylle, a man without a home (he couldn’t buy/rent anything because he didn’t know if he was going to stick around when he first made the final cut), is crashing at Casa Trocheck.

Dare I say it?

Andrew Copp who?

Ryan Strome who? (And that hurt to ask!)




As previously discussed, Vesey is one-third of one of the best Ranger fourth lines in franchise history – and where the former Hobey Baker Trophy winner (2016) isn’t only shining in his Bobby Carpenter role – but much like the former bust-turned-Blueshirt-turned-defensive-magician – he’s putting some pucks in nets too.

Go figure, Vesey, now in his second season of his second stint with the Rangers, ranks sixth-overall in goals scored (8).

Crazier than that?

Half of Vesey’s strikes are game-winners.

Only Kreider (5), and who logs six-minutes more per-game than Vesey (and including time spent on the red-hot PP1 unit too) has more game-winning-goals.

As his Harvard education would suggest, Vesey was wise to embrace his new brand of hockey, a defensively-oriented style, and as a result – the thirty-year-old is a key cog on a Stanley Cup competing club.

As a +4, Vesey, who sometimes gets shifts with the top six when down and looking for a goal, is also tied for third-best overall on the team in this department. His linemates, Pitlick (-1) and Goodrow (-3), aren’t even on the plus side.




A lot of the summer consternation over the Wheeler signing is proving true these days – and the Winnipeg Jets’ $8.5M buyout of their former bedrock franchise player may also explain their present status as the top team in all of the NHL.

It’s been a see-saw season for Wheeler, now in his first year in New York on a $800,000 salary.

Sometimes, the new #17 in town looks like a player that was jettisoned from his former club – and where the “Wheelchair” moniker is also fitting.

But there’s also times where both the wheels and jets are flying for Big Blake (6’5″, 225lbs), where as a result, it’s a flash to the past for the 37-year-old.

Perhaps because of a lack of options, it was Wheeler, and not anybody else, that was promoted from the third line to the BFF line prior to Kakko going down.

But of course, this promotion only lasted for twenty games – as Cuylle is now set to get an audition with Zibanejad and Kreider this weekend.

And guess who called such a thing?

Yours truly of course!

Here’s what I said during the Quarter-Pole Report Card:

“While it would be tough to mess around with the Rangers’ fourth line (where Vesey would be a candidate for a promotion); perhaps it’s time for Cuylle and Wheeler to exchange places in Lavy’s line-up.”

Wheeler, with five goals and ten assists this season, hasn’t really been noticeable this season – outside of this one moment:

Wheeler, following his fifth goal of the season, which was scored on 12/22/23 in a Rangers’ 4-3 home loss to the Edmonton Oilers. Photo Credit: ESPN

Similar to Bonino, Wheeler may be best served as an every other day/game player – and it’s tough to envision him as a true playoff threat in his present state.




Here’s what I said about the Swedish-Iranian deejay during the Quarter Pole Report Card:

“However, for a player that always comes out the gate like an old horse destined for the glue factory – this 2023-24 start was his absolute worst.

“And that says something.

“Until the Black Friday game against the Flyers, a team that Mika has destroyed more than any of his other opponents – he was sitting on only two goals – and zero even-strength goals at that.

“Since that match, Zibanejad, an alleged goal scorer, now has a total of five goals in his 21 games played – and just like the player that he’s paid ten-times more than, Jimmy Vesey. (And Vesey did it in two games less, 19 games played in total.)

“We’ve been down this road many times before, so come the Mid-Season Report Card, I expect Zibanejad, and as he usually does, to have the biggest letter grade improvement once we get there.

“I expect an equal jump come my 2023-24 Final Card Report too.

“But for now, we can only talk about the present – and Zibanejad is lucky that the team is so hot right now – or else much more attention would be paid to his usual cold-as-ice starts.

“I also hope that he picks up the dinner tab for the players making six-figures on the team – as these players have deflected all of the D.J. Deficiency stories.”

Following the slowest start of his career (2 goals), Zibanejad currently has 14 goals – good for third-best on the team. In addition, his 25 assists and 39 points ranks him third-best overall.

But what hurts Mika the most, is the woefully apparent fact that the bulk of his scoring takes place during the Rangers’ power-play – and to boot – where he misses the net many more times than he hits it, with all of his massive one-timers to the boards.

And of course – this fact is more glaring than ever – with the team currently experiencing their roughest stretch of the season.

Compounding matters?

Lafreniere, despite being cold-as-ice, has eight even-strength goals. Ditto bottom-sixer Vesey. Rookie Cuylle has seven even-strength goals and so does the struggling Miller.

Mika? (And did I mention that his 51.9% success rate at the circles is the worst among the four regular Ranger centers?)

#93 has 7 even-strength goals this season.

Want more? Here you go:

One thing is for certain – the $8.5M center is no longer the first-line center anymore – nor is he the best center on this team. Trocheck, who also plays on the power-play and penalty kill, presently holds these titles.

More times than not, and where it feels like 99.9% of the time – if the 10/16/13 line don’t score – then don’t count on Mika to do any of the heavy lifting.

That is extremely concerning – and especially after what we saw during last year’s playoffs.

More Milk Carton Mika than Magic Mika this season, Zibanejad needs to return to form – and consistently at that.

In a role-reversal ever since the time that both men arrived to New York, it’s been Jacob Trouba, and not Adam Fox, that’s been more effective for the club this season. Photo Credit: NYR





Prior to his injury that was suffered following a dirty knee-on-knee hit from Carolina’s Sebastian Asshole; Fox, the 2021 Norris Trophy winner, looked like was on track to win his second trophy.

Since his return, it’s been a stop-and-go sort of a thing – and where he’s even admitted, now just over a month back since rejoining the roster – that he’s finally feeling like himself again.

It’s very uncharacteristic of Fox to have a negative number (-1) next to his name in the plus/minus stat. It’s even more out of character to see him get beat as often as he’s been this season – but again – the road to recovery has many twists-and-turns.

However, you can see Fox returning to full form, as behind his five goals and twenty-one assists, his 26-points has him scoring at nearly a point-per-game clip in his thirty games played.

His assists and points totals leads all Ranger rearguards and where only Miller (38 games played) has more goals (7).

Fox, and ever since his 2019-20 rookie season, and more times than not, has received an A+ during my three in-season report cards (25%, 50% and 100%).

Due to his $9.5M cap-hit, this is the lowest grade that I have ever given him.

I expect him to return to an “A” or higher grade come the Final Report Card.




Mainly due to the Rangers’ most recent slide, many critics and fans, and people who I respect too, are saying stuff such as, “the bloom is off of the rose” and “that’s why he didn’t play for Toronto in the playoffs last year,” whenever discussing THE GUS BUS.

What all of these people will admit – and as everyone knows too – #56 more than delivered when #23 went down.

But of course – the first-pair and first power-play unit Fox returned – and as a result – THE GUS BUS was returned to making stops on the third-pair and second power-play unit.

Here’s what I said about Gustafsson during the Quarter-Pole Report Card:

“Presently, Gustafsson’s 15 points (3 goals and 12 assists) is fourth-best on the team.

“Not shabby for your former – and now returned – third pair defenseman.

“But it’s not just about the eye-popping point totals either.

“With a plus/minus rating of +5, Gustafsson ranks third-overall on the team – and when you consider that he spent the first ten games of the season with a struggling Braden Schneider – this number is mighty impressive.

“Why stop here?

“Known as an offensive-defenseman, #56 has been a defensive powerhouse too – and on either side of the ice.

“Whether he’s the team’s third LD or the team’s first RD – Gustafsson has been the Rangers’ most versatile player this season.

“No matter what happens next for “THE GUS BUS,” his valiant work when Fox went down can not be forgotten about.

“After all, how many teams in the league can afford to lose a Norris Trophy winner (or candidate), and not miss one beat?”


After starting the first-quarter of the season with 15-points and a plus/minus rating of +5 – the Swedish blueliner now has 17-points – and a plus/minus rating of -1.

Obviously, filling in for Fox was the best thing for Gustafsson – but he was never going to replace him either.

I think the best explanation when looking at Gustafsson’s stats dropping off is the obvious – he’s playing with a struggling and young rearguard in Schneider – and after averaging something like ninety-seconds per power-play – he is now getting fifteen- or twenty-seconds whenever he gets an opportunity to play on the PP2 unit.

Simply stated:

When playing with Lindgren, Gustafsson was allowed to be more offensively-oriented. He can’t do the same with Schneider.




Jones, after eleven games played during the first-quarter of the season, was a team-low -5 – and where this plus/minus stat does tell the story.


Jones, now in fourteen games played (he only played in three games from Games 21-40 – and where one of them was an emergency start because of Zibanejad being sick right before puck drop), has a team-low zero goals – and is also tied with Lafreniere for the worst plus/minus stat on the team too (-8).

And perhaps in his next game played, should there be such a miracle?

Then Jones will “bump” Lafreniere as the player with the worst plus/minus rating on the team.

For a guy who is alleged to be a power-play quarterback (and where such alleging was done by birdbrain Mollie Walker – and only because they attended the same college), the only players with less assists than him (3) are the one-game played Jake Leschyshyn (0), Kakko (1 – and this tells you how much the Finn has stunk this season) and Pitlick (2).

Jones is still only 23-years-old, but similar to Nils Lundkvist who once demanded a trade out of town (and look how much he’s sucked ever since too) – there’s really no spot for him due to the depth chart – and the team’s WIN NOW mentality too.

It’s time to cut bait – and I think that we’ll see such an event take place at the trade deadline.




At this time, I’d just ask you to refer to my Quarter-Pole Report Card again (here’s the link one last time – – as not much has changed.

Why the nick in the grade then?

Just because Lindgren has to do a better job of protecting himself – as he’s been eating a ton of huge hits this season – and with his history – you do have to worry about him being healthy for the playoffs.

(And kudos to former minor-leaguer, and friend of the site, Danny Mack, for first noticing this. He said it first – everyone else then said it afterwards – including yours truly. But unlike the others – I do credit D.M. for his initial, and truthful, observation.)

Double-nickel, who will never be known for his offensive-wizardry, currently has two goals and five assists for a grand total of seven points – which means that he’s on pace to match – and maybe perhaps surpass too – his career-highs set which were set in the 2021-22 season (4G, 11A and 15P).

Lindgren’s +1 rating ranks second-best among Rangers’ rearguards too (Trouba, +6).

The team’s biggest heart-and-soul player continues to pump blood into the Blueshirts – and as long as he can avoid all of the big hits that he takes – then I’d expect this to continue into the playoffs.

It’s been an up-and-down season for K’Andre Miller. Photo Credit: NYR




Similar to other players graded during this report card – Miller is on a see-saw himself.

On one hand, he leads all defensemen in goals (7) and as mentioned earlier, leads the entire team in the plus/minus stat too (+7).

However, and to give credence to the people who completely dismiss the plus/minus stat, Miller finished +5 in one game during a Rangers’ blowout (the opponent is escaping me – my bad).

In other words, that +7 is a bit fugazi – and where it feels like Miller is actually a -7 – and especially after the terrible -3 game that he recently had against Vancouver – and where that -3 did tell the story.

While some ponder about Miller’s future with the team (which I think is an overreaction), I must ask these folk – who would replace him?

After all, #79 averages the second-most minutes per-game (22:05) – and he doesn’t even play on the PP1 and PK1 units. Fox, who leads the team in average TOI (22:39), does play on both the PP1 and PK1 units.

As we found out earlier this season when he missed two games, Miller has been battling mental health issues – and where I’m sure that a lot of his bad games (from a defensive aspect) is eating at him.

While you can only hope for the best, this is also a high-stress profession, and as a result – he’ll have to find a way to deal with it.

As they say, “The Show Must Go On.”

Miller isn’t the complete package yet, and who knows if he’ll ever get there – but he has been reliable throughout his career.

Aside from both his three-game suspension last year, and his two mental health missed games this season – Miller has been in the line-up during every Rangers’ game of the past three seasons.

His total of five games missed during these past three seasons is the least amount of time missed by a Rangers’ defenseman.

So one more time, I must ask the people who want him run out of town – who would you have replace him?

Zac Jones?





Schneider, now in Year Three, but in his second full 82-game NHL season, is somewhat experiencing a traditional “sophomore slump” – as playing defense in this league is perhaps the toughest task assigned to a young player.

Number Four of the Blueshirts currently has three goals (including two highlight-reel scores) and seven assists in his forty-games played.

His -2, and like other plus/minus stats, feels a little off – as there have been many times this season where he and Gustafsson have been beat – and beat badly.

Really, and again as someone who does value the plus/minus stat – all of the defensemen are getting artificial boosts because of the Panarin/Trocheck/Lafreniere line.

(And with Miller’s TOI total – this also explains why he’s a +7 – as it’s this line that receives the most TOI among all Ranger forward lines.)

At 22-years-old, I’m sure that Schneider will soon return to form – and like most promising NHL defensemen do when they reach their 200th game (he’s now at 164 regular season games played).

And the usual whenever talking B-Schneids:

Since his NHL debut, no other Ranger rearguard has experienced a rotating door of partners as he has.

It’s up to Gustafsson & Schneider to find their chemistry – or else one of them will be sitting during the playoffs, while a veteran depth d-man acquired at the deadline, who can clear the net, gets the call.




What more can I say about the captain that I haven’t already said all season – and a captain who I believe is the best captain this franchise has ever had since the days of Mark Messier (and I say that will all due respect paid towards Ryan Callahan – and who I think “THE GREAT EIGHT” has now surpassed).

Outside of the top line, there’s no other Ranger that leaves as much of an impact, a footprint if you will, as the captain does on a game-in and game-out basis.

You know the drill – Trouba’s 124 blocked shots paces the team – and depending on the night – the entire league too.

His 96 hits are only second-best to Cuylle (103) – but, and needless to say – it are the TROO TROO TRAIN hits that are much more noticeable – and bone-crushing too. (And this isn’t a knock on Cuylle – this is solely praise for Trouba.)

At a +6, Trouba is tied with Kreider as second-best in this department – and yep – he does get the GAG LINE 2.0 boost too.

(And of course, and as we’ll soon get into – the Rangers’ goaltending as of late hasn’t helped everyone’s plus/minus stats either.)

But unlike his partner Miller, who I also believe diminishes Trouba’s plus/minus rating – there have been hundreds-and-hundreds of times this season where #8 has broken up odd-man rushes, made a hit, swiped a puck away from the goal line, blocked a shot or even picked a fight in order to prevent an opposing goal.

For a player, and who by his own admission, admitted that his first two years in New York were a horror (but that’s no excuse – especially when you’re earning $8M) – Trouba, now in Year Five, has been excellent – and where you don’t hear anyone complaining about his cap-hit anymore – besides him.

(Trouba, right before the season, was asked about what he’d like to change the most in the NHL. His response? “The salary cap.” And previous to this, last season, he said that he felt that one day, and because of their similar styles, that the younger Braden Schneider, nicknamed as “BABY TROUBA,” would run him out of town because of the cap.)

And yep – who would have ever thought that Trouba would be a bigger factor in the Rangers’ success this season than Fox?

And that’s a good thing.

There’s not one living soul in Rangerstown, USA that predicted that Jonathan Quick would be enjoying a better season than CZAR IGOR. Photo(s) Credit: Getty Images


The black-and-white stats don’t lie. Photo Credit:





At the quarter-mark of the season, Quick had already emerged as Vezina Trophy candidate – and where every Ranger fan authored their “apology letter” to him too – and as I did as well:

Racing out to a 9-0-1 record, Quick, and because of the Rangers’ recent slide and injuries, is now 9-2-2.

While perhaps it was impossible to maintain the “quick” (har-har-har) winning pace that he set; he still has twenty-points earned to his name at the half-way mark of the season.

For a comparison, last year’s back-up (2022-23), Jaroslav Halak, went 10-9-5 for a total of 25-points.

The back-up the year before that (2021-22), Alexandar Georgiev, went 15-10-2 for a total of 32-points.

Quick should best both of these previous back-up goalie totals this season – and where it should be mentioned that Georgiev received some extra games during the 2021-22 season, due to a groin injury sustained by CZAR IGOR.


CZAR IGOR, who was injured earlier this season, may see Quick get more games because, and like a man with erectile dysfunction (or a Vagistat) – “performance issues.”

When it comes to his other stats, Quick, who at the 25% mark had a 1.99 GAA and .930 save percentage, they have taken a hit – but again – largely because of the team in front of him – although there’s been one or two bad goals allowed during the way – but what goalie doesn’t give up a bad goal every now and again?

And if you didn’t know that Quick began the season as 9-0-1, then you’d be doing back flips and cartwheels over his current record.

He’s not only found the fountain of youth this season – he’s been excellent – and arguably – is the best goalie on the team right now – and I never, never, never, not in my wildest dreams, would ever imagine typing this sentence in all of my life.




We’re currently experiencing the worst stretch of CZAR IGOR’s career, now in Year Five – and where it should be mentioned that he was called-up right before the 2020 pandemic and then played a 56-game season in 2021.

It should also be mentioned that he won a Vezina Trophy in his first 82-game season as a Blueshirt (2022).

But of course, this is a business where this question is always asked:

“What have you done for me lately?”

Lately, and somewhat bizarre too, not only does CZAR IGOR lead all goalies in the league since 2020 in most one-goal games allowed – but this season – he also leads all NHL goaltenders in games with four or more goals allowed.

In other words, either he’s lights out (but no shutouts – which is concerning – you’d like to see him at least have two like Quick does at this point) – or it’s lights out for the Rangers – as once he gives up three goals – then goals number four, five and sometimes six, soon follow.

As regular readers know, I’m a day one CZAR IGOR guy.

Heck – I even gave him this silly nickname – in 2017 – when I was watching him in the KHL.

That’s how much I believed.

Maybe I’m making excuses (okay – I am), but I do wonder if he’s still playing hurt, after suffering an injury earlier this season.

And if that’s the case, then he should take the time off and get back to 100% – as there’s no reason to get pummeled more times than not – and of course for the biggest reason – you need him at his best for the playoffs – where last year, and as a reminder (how often do many forget) – he was the best Ranger during the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

For the life of me, and in proof that the NHL All Star voting is a complete sham and/or a popularity contest; after Panarin refused his first-ballot nomination (because of his second child expected to join us in early February), the league turned to CZAR IGOR as the Rangers’ first representative.

This crime committed against Trocheck, who should have replaced Panarin, is almost as big of a crime as the creeps involved with the sickening stuff over at Epstein Island.

Heck, this snub is nearly as bad as the Bernie Madoff crimes too.

How off has CZAR IGOR been recently – even if a lot of the goals that he’s allowed, shots he’s stopped in the past, are the end results of breakaways and odd-man rushes?

Should his next game not go well, then CZAR IGOR is looking at a sub .900 save percentage – and a GAA of over 3.00 too.

Not good.

As opposed to his back-up, where if you include the overtime losses, is five games over .500 (9-4); CZAR IGOR is presently six games over .500 with his 16-10 record – which really isn’t that impressive – especially considering that he was 9-4 at the one-quarter mark of the season.

Both goaltenders have seen their stats take a hit during Games 21-40 – and the defense, and the forwards too, do share some of the blame.

But for CZAR IGOR, who now at 28-years-old, should theoretically be in the prime of his career – he simply needs to be better.

And I think that he will achieve just that.

Unlike others – I refuse to throw in the towel!

I wouldn’t mind seeing more of Adam Edstrom this season should the opportunity present itself. Photo Credit: NYR


ADAM EDSTROM scored a goal in his lone game played – but even without it – he looked great during a December win over the Ducks.

LOUIS DOMINGUE also looked excellent in his one game played, in a Rangers’ 4-1 win over the Wild – and when he made 25 saves on 26 shots faced.

JAKE LESCHYSHYN, presently with the team, feels like a temporary plug until Kakko makes his return. I’m still surprised that he’s with the organization in the first place.

RILEY NASH was barely noticeable in his one game and 11:05 played this season – and I can’t imagine him being recalled again.

BRENNAN OTHMANN? Just check the main page of this site – and the last six blogs written! But needless to say, and for the last time for a while – he’s better off in Hartford this season.

Does Drury have another big trade deadline in him? For all of our sakes – I hope so!





Obviously, when you open the season at 15-3, and now, following your last seventeen games played where you went 8-8-1 (one game under .500) – then there’s going to be a nick in your grade – even if you remain first-place in your division.

That said, I can’t really get on the Lavy/Drury duo, mainly because of my season-long daily disclaimer which goes like this:



Does everyone forget what the everyone and their mothers were predicting for the Metro teams at the start this season?

If you are one of these people with a foggy memory, then I’ll remind you:

Everyone had the Canes and Devils finishing 1-2. Most people predicted the Rangers to finish in either third- or fourth-place.

Despite this recent losing streak, the longest of the season (3 games), and where the Blueshirts have lost more man-power due to injuries than most – they are still in first-place.

Plus, as long as they make the playoffs – that’s all that matters.

And of course – the only thing that matters in the regular season for this core is who joins them at the deadline.

But I do believe that Drury needs to make a move way before the deadline, just to acclimate whoever the hired gun will be as soon as possible – while also shutting down Chytil.

As noted up top – I hate doing these report cards during a losing streak – as people tend to forget the positive stuff that took place before it.

And when it comes to Laviolette – I think he’s been fine – but I really don’t see that much of a difference between him and his predecessor.

As said all summer, at the end of the day, it’s all about what the core players do in the playoffs.

Admittedly – this parade route is more of a dream than a true prediction! Photo Credit: Al “SMD” D.


Unlike the GLOOM and DOOMERS – I don’t think that the Rangers are in jeopardy of missing the playoffs.

I also believe that they’ll get out of their current funk – and go right back to humming along.

It’s tough to predict Chris Drury, where like him or not, he’s had more hits than misses, and where his biggest hits take place whenever he goes on a multi-player rampage – and as he did during the 2022 trade deadline and in the summer of 2023:

(Left-to right) Drury acquired Justin Braun, Frank Vatrano, Tyler Motte and Andrew Copp at the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline. He later acquired Nick Bonino, Erik Gustafsson, Blake Wheeler and Jonathan Quick during the summer of 2023 free agency period.

These eight players featured above were never on the brains of Blueshirt fans, nor the Rangers’ beat reporters either, when Drury slyly acquired them.

This is my way of saying that while I know all about the rumors that are out there, such as Adam Henrique or Sean Monahan for the 3C position, and Frank Vatrano, Anthony Duclair, Vladimir Tarasenko – and I guess Patrick Kane too for the RW2 position – I see Drury trading for players that no one is presently thinking about.

The same theory applies for whatever depth defenseman he lands too – as no one was talking about Justin Braun (2022) and Niko Mikkola (2023) when the general manager traded for them during his two previous deadlines.

I do trust in Drury’s track record – and much more than I trust in the core – and I’m excited to just get to the deadline.

After all, we are now in some slog time – and especially with so many Wolf Packers on the roster.

And yep – I hate the damn salary-cap – and how nothing major can really be done until we near the date of March 8th, 2024.

As previously noted twice this past week – my local watering hole has installed a Labatt Blue beer tap just for yours truly – and I plan on abusing the hell out of it on Saturday afternoon at the bar’s Rangers/Capitals watch party. Photo Credit: Labatt Blue

Up next: A weekend home-and-home set with the Washington Capitals.

As noted, I may not do a GAME REVIEW tomorrow (especially after writing so much tonight) – but I’ll definitely be back on Sunday.

What I can tell you with 100% certainty is that I won’t be doing my “live-tweeting/blog notes” on Saturday!

But I’m sure that you can live without it!

And after 10,000 words tonight, what’s left to say besides…


And oh yeah, this too:

PLUGS TIME! (Buy a book and support my Rangers’ induced therapy bills. After all, I don’t run ads on this site!)

My fourth title and tenth book is now available!

“The Top 100 Villains of New York Rangers History,” is now available for sale!

For complete information, please visit:

The hardcover version of my first book, available now at

My second plug of tonight’s blog – the mandatory plug for my book, “The New York Rangers Rink of Honor and the Rafters of Madison Square Garden.”

As mentioned previously, the book is now available in hardcover, in paperback and in Kindle formats. To purchase a copy of the book, visit this link:

For those still looking for signed paperback versions of the book, I have re-ordered more copies. I now have a few signed copies for sale at $25 a pop (includes shipping price) through me directly. Here is all the information on that:

Order “The New York Rangers Rink of Honor and the Rafters of Madison Square Garden” Book Today

My four-volume set of books, “One Game at a Time – A Season to Remember,” is a game-by-game recount of the Rangers 2021-22 campaign.

My second title as an author, “One Game at a Time – A Season to Remember,” is now available in eBook, paperback and hardcover formats.

To obtain signed copies, visit:

To purchase all four volumes on Amazon, visit: – “One Game at a Time.”

The greatest volume-set of books on Rangers’ history today!

“Tricks of the Trade – A Century-Long Journey Through Every Trade Made In New York Rangers’ History,” a four-volume set of books that meticulously covers every trade made in franchise history, is now on sale.

All four volumes of the title can be purchased on and are presented in three different formats – eBook, paperback and hardcover.

To purchase Volume I: Conn Smythe (1926) – Craig Patrick (1986), visit

To purchase Volume II: Phil Esposito (1986) – Neil Smith (2000), visit

To purchase Volume III: Glen Sather (2000-2015), visit

To purchase Volume IV: Jeff Gorton (2015) – Chris Drury (2022), visit

To purchase signed copies of all four volumes, visit

Here are my last few blogs, in case you missed them:

Chris Drury Makes His “Deschyshn”: Leschyshyn In; Othmann Out, “The Wallflower” Kaapo Kakko Ready To Make Love to the Boards Again, “LAVY LOUNGES,” The Real “BABY TROUBA” Expected Any Day Now; Robertson Recalled, Upcoming Site & Social Media Changes & More

NYR/VAN 1/8 Review: CZAR IGOR and the Defensemen No Bueno in Litmus Test/Wake-Up Call Loss; At Least The Goal a Game 2.0 Line Remains On Fire, J.T. Miller’s “Anti-Ranger Hat Trick;” K’Andre Miller’s Anti-Good Game, Time To Address The Concussion Elephant in The Room; Drury’s Trade Deadline, #30 vs #31, Lavy’s Line Juggling, Othmann, The DAILY DISCLAIMER, M$GN & More

If you haven’t already, subscribe to this blog for the next update:

Now on sale!

Don’t forget to order my recently released four-volume set of books, “Tricks of the Trade!”

If you don’t order through me, all four volumes are now available on

For more details, check out:

Thanks for reading.


Sean McCaffrey

@NYCTHEMIC on the Tweeter machine

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