The 2023-24 New York Rangers Quarter-Pole Report Card: The Most Impressive Report Card Yet! Detailed Grades & Reviews of Every Blueshirt, Thoughts at the 25% Mark of the Season, Pertinent League-Leading Stats, Laviolette, Drury & More

As teased last night on this site ( ), I’ve been doing these report card blogs (25%, Mid-Season and Final) for nearly a decade now, about thirty report cards in all – and I have never handed out as many A pluses as I’m doing so tonight. But when you’re 16-4-1 (33-points), best in the league – then of course – there should be a lot of A pluses across the board!

Greetings and salutations everyone and welcome to another blog here on How about those 2023-24 New York Rangers thus far?

For everything and anything that you can say about yours truly, and whether it be positive or negative, here’s one thing that you can’t say about me – I don’t try to stick to negative narratives once proven wrong.

Tonight’s Quarter-Pole Report Card would suggest as much.

One thing that you can say?

I’m always happy to be wrong about a negative opinion/prediction.

And yep, this is my way of telling you that a lot of my prognostications from over this summer have died on the table – and starting from pretty much Game One of this 2023-24 campaign.

But alas, and at the sake of giving myself an out here – we also can’t forget about my season-long daily disclaimer either, you know, the following:


We all know how this off-season started – with the firing of former head coach Gerard Gallant – and the eventual hiring of Peter Laviolette about six-weeks later.

I’m not going to meticulously detail and recap everything that I said over the summer (these blogs already go on long enough), but if you want all of it, then all you have to do is check out this site’s archives.

The quick-and-dirty version, these pertinent bullet-points:

— While I understood Chris Drury’s off-season, as he was pressed against the salary cap ceiling, I also wasn’t blown away by it either.

I also wasn’t a fan of the general manager bringing one of my “RANGER KILLERS” from my new book, Jonathan Quick, into the mix either! And yep – how wrong was I about that – as Quick is currently experiencing a renaissance season following the worst season of his career – even if he did win a Stanley Cup at the end of it (but as a third-string goalie).

— As everyone and their mother knows – and even non-Ranger fans who don’t read this site – I despised the firing of Gerard Gallant, but at the same time – I always support all Ranger head coaches (sans Bryan Trottier) – so I never harbored any sort of resentment for the 39th bench boss in franchise history, Peter Laviolette.

(Holy dashes Batman!)

While granted, I did have my fun with my “LATERALETTE” nickname, as even with the team’s present success, the only way to change my mind that this wasn’t a lateral move is by whatever “LAVY’S LOT” does in the playoffs – once Gallant was out, then Laviolette was always the safest option available.

— We all remember all of the nonsense following the Gallant firing, where Larry Brooks of the New York Post was relentlessly pounding his pud for a pipe-dream scenario where the Penguins would hand over Mike Sullivan to their rivals, names such as Patrick Roy, Kris Knoblauch, Spencer Carberry and even Mark Messier were bantered about, and where even John Hynes was teased – perhaps as a way to publicly soften the blow – which in effect – made the eventual hiring of Laviolette a huge sigh of relief and godsend.

In the end, Drury, who may or may have not been on the hot seat (no one can predict James Dolan – but at his age, the state of the Knicks and with his reputation of never producing a winner – the clock is tickin’), went with the head coach with the best track record and most experience.

Thus far, it’s been nothing but a homerun for the former Little League World Champion – and for Laviolette too.

— While I never believed, nor got behind either, the idea of trading away Artemi Panarin (they don’t make the playoffs without him – but they don’t win once there because of him too) – there was a lot of talk about this nefarious notion.

(And it couldn’t have happened anyway, as Panarin has a no-move-clause, and even if he wanted to waive it – what contending team could afford him?)

Since then?

As you all know, STONE COLD ARTIE shaved his head and is now having a HARTEMI Trophy worthy season.

But again – what will he do in the postseason?

— Since Drury couldn’t do much during the summer due to the disgusting salary-cap, one of the most obvious talking points this summer was the fact that big leaps-and-bounds would need to be taken from the players formerly referred to as the kids – Alexis Lafreniere, Kaapo Kakko and Filip Chytil.

Go figure: Since both Kakko and Chytil are more experienced than Lafreniere, and then had a much better preseason than the first-overall pick too (at least Kakko did, as Chytil received another concussion, so you couldn’t really assess him) – come the first puck drop of the regular season – everyone was more concerned about Lafreniere rather than about his fellow Blueshirt brethren.

What happened next? Both Kakko and Chytil were ineffective prior to their recent injuries, while Lafreniere has not only taken the Rangers by storm – but the entire league too.

And yep – I couldn’t have been more wrong about Lafreniere (and to a lesser extent, Kakko too) – and I’m certainly happy about the former – but disappointed about the latter too.

(Of note, and to clarify: All of the stuff that I heard about #13’s summer was 100% true and never exaggerated. Now? Maybe he should play winter ball too!)

— Last but not least, and in an opinion that most residents of Rangerstown, USA also shared – I too believed that the Rangers, now with a new head coach in-tow and all of his new systems to learn too, would get off to a rough start.

In a way, that’s kind of what happened, as the Rangers lost their second game of the season to a lowly Blue Jackets team and then were embarrassed by the Predators at M$G in their fourth game.

But after that?

It’s been nothing but BLUESHIRT DOMINATION – and where like any other Stanley Cup contender – many Rangers are wearing hero capes on their backs.

Nobody, and I mean nobody, predicted how well all of Drury’s six-figure senior citizen off-season signings would turn out. And go figure – it was once thought that Blake Wheeler was the biggest catch of the lot. Instead, he’s been the minnow of these big fishes, as Erik Gustafsson, Tyler Pitlick, Nick Bonino and Jonathan Quick have been far more impressive.

What a difference a year can make – and let’s just ignore my playoff disclaimer for the time being.

At this time last year, when writing my 2022-23 New York Rangers Quarter-Pole report card, I opened with the following paragraph:

“Do you want the good news or the bad news first? Since I’m an optimist, let’s start with the positive news – Adam Fox receives the highest grade of these Rangers during this Quarter-Pole Report Card blog. The negative news? Nobody else received an A+ like the 2021 Norris Trophy winner.”

Fast-forward to today?

I have seven players below with an A+ grade – and where Fox isn’t one of them.


I also have seven players with an A grade – and where Fox is one of them!

Due to all of the high grades that you will soon read about below – I know that I’ll be accused of being a “homer” – and for writing this report card with my Blueshirts’ tunnel-vision lenses on.

But again, the Rangers are currently the best team in the entire NHL – so how else am I supposed to assess this team?

Like “Tony The Tiger,” the Blueshirts have been “Grrrrrrrreeeeeaaaat!”

Hell, they’ve been more than great. They’ve been PHENOMENAL – and historic too – as no other Ranger team in franchise history has had a start like this – and with all respect paid to previous clubs who didn’t have the benefit of the overtime system from this era.

(But as said many times before – you can only do what you can in your own era, where in this case, is the “NO TIE ERA.”)

At this time, and before getting into the Report Card itself – my grading parameters – as my grading system is different than others.

(And since I’m a tougher marker/grader than most – it really says something when I have more than 75% of the team at an A or better.)

I’ve been using this simple and basic graphic since 2014! 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, to compete.

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

Keep in mind, to me, the 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 nerd stat Valiquette has pulled out of his five-hole this week.

In addition, more times than not during this current 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 six 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 important above all else – these grades are just my opinions only.

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

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

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

At this time, here are my grades at the 25% mark of the season!

The biggest knock on Alexis Lafreniere is that while he has shown flashes of brilliance in the past – that’s all it was – inconsistent flashes. Not this season, as the first-overall pick has been CONSISTENT this season – and that can’t be argued otherwise. Better than that? While it did seem like he was benefiting from playing with the red-hot Russian, Artemi Panarin – that isn’t the case anymore either. All of this is an excellent (and recent) development! Photo Credit: Getty Images




The $800,000 center has been a revelation for the Rangers – and it doesn’t matter that he “only” has one goal and one assist in the team’s 21-games played this season.

What matters is that he’s playing to his role, as he’s not here to score. Instead, he’s here to win draws and to defend.

And he’s been more than advertised when exceeding in these areas.

I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating again – how many millions-upon-millions of dollars have the Rangers spent over the years when trying to address and fix their many years of malaise at the dots?

For only $800K – Bonino has done what no one before him has been able to accomplish.

Sure, assistant head coach Michael Peca deserves some credit for the team’s best in the league 56.1% faceoff success rate this season (and where I also do believe that Chytil’s absence bolsters this stat – as he was the worst center in the league at the dots last season – and a trend that has continued throughout his career); but either way – “THE BONINO EFFECT” is clearly apparent.

Not only has the INNOVATOR OF ICE HOCKEY been successful with his backwards/reverse style of taking draws – this new concept has been adopted by his teammates too – as Goodrow, Zibanejad and Trocheck are also winning draws in this fashion.

To go along with all of his contributions at the circle, Bonino, who only averages 11:59 per-game in his bottom-six role, ranks second-best on the club in blocked shots (50). Only Jacob Trouba (75), who averages 22:49 per-game, has more blocks than the player affectionately known as “Bones.”

For the former two-time Stanley Cup champion, his winning pedigree has been contagious – and despite his prime-years behind him – he’s still going all-out for his new team.

You couldn’t ask for anything more.



At the quarter-mark of the season, “JOHNNY HOCKEY” has only played in two games for the Bleushirts. He’s played less than seventeen-minutes in that time, so we can’t really assess him.

However, and at the time of his most recent call-up, which took place following the Kaapo Kakko injury – the captain of the Hartford Wolfpack was leading the AHL in scoring.

At thirty-years old, Brodzinski, now with an opportunity to play regularly, will look to shed the “4A label” – and perhaps a label that has been rightfully earned.

I know that I exaggerated the shots on goal stat in my Rangers/Red Wings review from Wednesday night, so at this time, here’s the real comparison:

In twenty games, Kakko only logged twenty-three shots on goal.

In his two games of action (and where Brodzinski never played top-six minutes as the Finn did during the team’s first nine games), Mr. Hockey has recorded four shots on goal.

The toughest adjustment for Brodzinski, now with the varsity club, will have to endure is his new role.

In Hartford, he was playing top-six and power-play minutes and expected to score.

With the Rangers, while he will have his scoring chances, his most important role will be to shut down Blueshirt opponents – and perhaps get a twirl or two on the team’s second power-play unit.



We’ve already talked about Chytil’s dangerous history with concussions on this site all season, so there’s no reason to rehash all of that again.

After all, you already know.

But prior to receiving what could have been the seventh concussion of his NHL career (and who knows how many more that went undocumented), the Czech, in his ten-games of action, had no goals to his ledger and had an NHL-worst 43.3% success rate at the dots.

Then when you consider that Chytil is now in the first-year of a four-year contract that annually pays him $4,437,500 – none of this is looking good.

Unless you want to bury your head in the sand – then perhaps the best thing for the Rangers (and perhaps for Chytil too) – is that he pulls a Michael Sauer – and retires.

After all – the Rangers have been much better off without him.

Seriously, can anyone say that the Blueshirts miss Chytil and his big cap-hit at all?

More important than all else?

No one wants to see Chytil as a drooling vegetable by time that he hits 30-years-old.

Until the day where a “CTE PILL” becomes available – #72 must consider his long-term health.

Every Stanley Cup contender needs a young player on an entry-level contract to get hot. For the Rangers, that man’s name is “CUYLLE HAND LUKE!”



Cuylle, on the first-year of his rookie contract, is making $828,333 – and thus far – does seem to have those Tom Wilson qualities/attributes that he has claimed that he has modeled his game after.

In 21-games played on the Rangers’ third line, #50 has three goals and two assists for a total of five-points.

However, and this is most impressive, he also leads the team in hits (55) – despite only playing in 11:46 per-game.

For a comparison, Trouba, second-best on the team in this department, has 50 hits – and in nearly double the ice-time.

Similar to his center, Nick Bonino, Cuylle has embraced and flourished in his new role.

While Cuylle was a bonafide scorer in Hartford last season (25G, 20A, 45 points) – that’s not what the Rangers exactly need him to be right now – but where of course – any scoring contributions are accepted – and appreciated too!

That said, the potential is there.

Furthermore, and who can disagree about the following:

Cuylle, in his rookie season, has been better (and certainly more impactful) thus far than the other first-round pick forwards of recent Rangers’ history during their rookie years, including Lafreniere, Kakko, Vitali “I WANT MY MOMMY” Kravtsov – and the player that the Blueshirts traded for him – “Crybaby” Lias Andersson.

Due to Cuylle’s career-path, where I do think that the AHL season helped his career progression – that’s why I also don’t envision a Rangers’ call-up of Brennan Othmann this season – that is, until the Wolfpack’s 2023-24 campaign is complete.

Last but not least when making comparisons?

Unlike the previously mentioned names – there has not been one moment this season when you asked yourself, “Eh, I wonder if Cuylle should go back to Hartford?”

Cuylle looks like he is here to stay – and perhaps can now buy – and not rent – a home in the Metropolitan area.



The only reason why Goodrow’s grade isn’t higher is perhaps the most obvious – the $3,641,667 salary-cap hit.

But unlike others – I have never, nor ever will, champion the Rangers to trade him.

He earned his salary following his back-to-back Stanley Cup wins in Tampa – and that’s why Drury paid him – for the championship experience.

Another heart-and-soul type, and one of the team’s 8656756758 alternate captains too – Goodrow, due to the general manager acquiring fellow players like him, is finally where he should be – a regular on the Rangers’ fourth line.

And that’s not a knock either.

Every championship team needs a strong bottom-six, and what’s best for the Rangers is Goodrow on the fourth-line, rather than in their top-six.

Currently, the Blueshirts’ fourth trio is having one hell of a season – and where you can’t break them up either – even if you’d get more scoring from the first line with Vesey, and not Wheeler, with Zibanejad and Kreider.

This fourth line has been menacing since being first put together – and where not only are they limiting goals allowed – they are scoring goals too.

But above all else?

It’s the zone possession time, as not only is Goodrow and company grinding out other teams – they are spending most of their shifts in the opponent’s zone too.

Goodrow’s one goal and two assists aren’t going to jump out at you, but his 57.1% success rate at the dots should. (He’s second-best on the team to only the league’s best faceoff center, Vincent Trocheck – and of all people!)

Then when you consider his timely and big shot blocks (13) and his role on the penalty kill, then it’s safe to say that Goodrow is earning every penny – and is a big reason, even as a “complementary piece,” for the team’s success.

Kakko’s season from hell only got worse following his injury sustained against the Sabres from this past Monday night. Photo Credit: Getty Images



You can read all of the GAME REVIEW blogs posted on this site this season for all of it – but in case you just returned home from the Moon, then I’ll tell ya – Kakko has been awful this season.

It’s truly a shame.

The Finn, now in Year-Five, looked like he was putting it all together – and he was one of the team’s better players in the preseason.

Then the regular season began for the player who has publicly repeated many times over that he wants top-six and power-play minutes.

Three points in twenty games isn’t going to cut it – and where one of his two goals was a fluke goal scored following an intended pass that accidentally was booted in by a defenseman’s skate.

“The Wallflower,” as Kakko will not remove himself from the boards this season, had regressed long before his recently sustained left-leg injury.

I don’t know if we’ve seen Kakko’s last game as a Ranger or not, as the second-overall pick of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft is currently on the last year of an expiring two-year contract.

Similar to Chytil – the loss of Kakko may be addition by subtraction for the Rangers.

Perhaps the physical injury can be a nice mental-health break too – but at some point – you either cut bait or continue the insanity process.

While only time will tell if Kakko is a “bust” or not; it should also be mentioned that not every player is cut out for New York.

Maybe Kakko can revitalize his disappointing career in a smaller market.

Then again, maybe he’s just like fellow recent first-round busts such as Kravtsov and Andersson.

It spoke volumes when Laviolette only needed nine games to remove #24 from his first-line – as the head coach has continued to preach patience all season.

Some fans, when making excuses, will say that Kakko is “defensively sound.”

But do the Rangers really need a weaker version of Jesper Fast? (And really, this idea is just grasping at straws when trying to find anything nice to say.)

And you can’t call Kakko, earning $2,100,000 this season, a “poor man’s” version of Fast either.

He’s paid well. In fact, he’s overpaid.

For a Rangers’ team that’s one of the league leaders in both goals for (70) and goal differential (+18), it’s not like Kakko’s plus/minus rating of +1 is that impressive either.

There’s only one way to describe him this season – and perhaps a lost season for him:


It may take a few years, but Chris Kreider, the first recipient of the “Mr. Ranger Rod Gilbert Award” (2022), should one day surpass Gilbert’s franchise record of 406 goals. After that? Kreider will then join Gilbert in the rafters of M$G too. Photo Credit: NYR



If there’s any hope for Kakko, then it’s the longest-tenured Ranger on the club, alternate captain Chris Kreider, as the man known by his middle name (James) entered his prime two-years ago.

But then again – Kreider, while having his own “Casper” stretches – was never as bad as Kakko.

He also wasn’t a second-overall pick either – but alas, I digress!

Currently, Kreider paces the team with thirteen goals this season.

And as mentioned before, and I don’t desire to dive deep into this again – I don’t care if the bulk of Kreider’s goals are on the power-play (7).

SPECIAL TEAMS SWING GAMES – and Kreider has certainly swung a fair share of them in favor of the Rangers – goals which also include his two short-handed tallies.

Ever since Gallant rolled into town two-years ago, Kreider has completely transformed his career.

During the past two-plus seasons, no one in the league has scored more short-handed goals (9) than Christopher James Kreider – and not many have scored more power-play goals than him either.

Much of the criticism that you’ll find out there for CK20 is in regards to the lack of five-vs-five points from his line; but in my eyes, that’s a Mika issue – and not a Kreider issue.

Plus, the right-wingers that Kreider has played with this season haven’t exactly blown anyone balls off either (Kakko and Wheeler).

Second-best on the team in both points (20) and in the plus/minus department (+6); Kreider, at $6,500,000 per-season, is not only one of the best players on the team – but the absolute best special teams player in the league too.



Man, did Lafreniere make a fool out of me – and I’m loving every second of it! (Just do it in the playoffs too!)

At points throughout #13’s career, including this season, the best version of himself felt like a third-line grinder, because despite his first-overall status – he was never shy to get dirty, fight, hit or do anything else that required some bruising.

Then Panarin happened.

Panarin, coming off a terrible playoffs, has revitalized himself this season following his “Summer of Shaving & Shooting.”

Laviolette, hoping to get Lafreniere going, a player that looked awful in the preseason, teamed him up with “The Breadman” at the start of the season – and it’s been nothing but sweet sounds of music (goal songs) ever since.

(And as mentioned on this site numerous times before – I wonder what would have happened had the roles been reversed, and where it was Lafreniere that had a good preseason, which then would’ve placed him with Mika & Kreider, and Kakko who had the bad preseason, which then would’ve placed him with Panarin?)

Following a few iffy games to start, and as he looked to create chemistry with his new line (and it is of no coincidence that Lafreniere finally hit his stride once Trocheck became the center of his line following the Chytil injury) – we are now experiencing the best games of his career.

But then again, that should be the case for the now fourth-year NHLer – as he should only get better with time.

While I always try to restrain myself from saying “HE’S ARRIVED,” as inconsistency issues have plagued him throughout his entire career – it does look like he’s finally put together all of the pieces.

Beginning the season with Panarin helped boost his confidence – but he’s no longer a “Breadman Beneficiary” either.

While you can’t take away anything from Panarin – Lafreniere is growing into his own – and with or without Panarin – the first-overall pick is driving the offense – and hasn’t given up his physical snarl and presence as a trade-off either.

Only Panarin and Kreider have more goals than the eight scores that Lafreniere has.

And since people tend to make much ado about even-strength vs special team goals, Lafreniere has seven five-vs-five goals too – second-best to only his linemate, Panarin (ten).

Arguably, Lafreniere, who has never been on the PP1 unit, deserves that chance – and perhaps at the expense of Mika “ONE TIMER TO NOWHERE” Zibanejad.

There have been many games this season where Lafreniere has been the most noticeable player on the ice – and where only the highest-paid winger in the league, Panarin, has been more noticeable (and that should be the case).

I don’t want to start the parade yet, as the Rangers are only at the 25% mark – but it does feel like Lafeniere “has arrived.”

I made this horrible photoshop during Panarin’s first season with the Rangers (2019-20) – which was his best season as a Blueshirt. Currently, Panarin, who finished second runner-up in the Hart Trophy voting that season, is on pace to shatter all of his career-highs in scoring – and perhaps finally win the trophy too.



I mean really, do I have to explain this grade?

Unless you want to nitpick over the fact that he had a “three-game scoring drought” and that he doesn’t play on the penalty kill either – then how else can you take away from the Hart-caliber season that Panarin is currently enjoying?

As the Rangers’ team leader in assists (19) and points (31) – and as he should be – new wrinkles have emerged for Panarin – while old mistakes have vanished into thin air.

For starters, #10 is actually backchecking and playing defense.

I don’t know if this is a Laviolette thing or Panarin just being furious about the way last season ended – but either way – he’s now become a defensive magician – as there have been many times this season where he’s broken up odd-man rushes and as a result, created turnovers.

Speaking of turnovers, Panarin, who seemingly led the league in cross-ice passes to nowhere during the 2022-23 campaign (I believe he had 9867855678576857865865565 of these last season), has rarely turned over the rubber thus far this season.

Equally as great?

The fact that “The Breadman” leads the team in SOG (82) and overwhelmingly at that. (Zibanejad, second-best in this department, has 58 SOG.)

While Panarin still possesses his passing skills, he’s at his best whenever he’s in KOBE MODE – which means as a shoot-first puck hog.

And while Kobe Bryant was once considered selfish for all of his ball-hogging – no one is complaining about Panarin wanting to take every shot imaginable – and as his impressive 14.6% shooting percentage would suggest.

The only way for Panarin to avenge himself is by having a strong playoff performance in 2024 – but for now – you just hope that this version of #10 is the one that we’ll later see this Spring.

If that’s the case?

Then dare I utter the word “parade?”



At the start of the season, Pitlick, one of Drury’s summer signings at only $787,500, beat out Jimmy Vesey for the team’s 12th-and-final forward spot.

What a mistake – as very quickly, Vesey regained the job from Pitlick just five games into the season.

However, and due to the Chytil injury – Laviolette has been able to pair up his 12th and 13th forwards together (with Goodrow) – and as a result – the Blueshirts perhaps have their best fourth line in franchise history since the 2013-14 team.

In thirteen games played, Pitlick has one goal and two assists – but like most bottom-sixers – it’s not about the scoring.

Now at 32-years-old, Pitlick is wearing down other teams – and their top lines too (and as we recently saw against the then first-place Bruins – a title that the Rangers stripped away and then claimed as their own).

Perhaps a bit under-appreciated, should Pitlick continue to improve on his recent stretch of games, then he’ll become one of the unsung heroes of the team – and just like his linemate and one-time rotating press-box mate, Vesey himself.

Two summers ago, Chris Drury had to decide between Ryan Strome, Andrew Copp and who he eventually signed, Vincent Trocheck, as the team’s second-line center. It seems like “THE PIZZA MAN” picked the right slice. Photo Credit: NYR



While you can’t really knock Trocheck’s first season in New York; now in Year Two, all of the Ryan Strome talk/comparisons are now non-existent.

While it’s true that Trocheck never had the chemistry with the team’s best forward last season (Panarin), and as Strome once had – it was always going to take some time too.

Originally beginning the season on the team’s third line, and where he had success – the Chytil injury was both a godsend and a happy accident for the new #16 in town.

Trocheck has been an all-out beast ever since being teamed-up with Lafreniere and Panarin.

With an eye-popping 63.5% success rate at the circles – no other player in the league can claim to be as dominant at the dots as NONNA TROCHECK’S BAMBINO.

Perhaps somewhat quietly, but only because of who he plays with; Trocheck is one of the team’s leaders in scoring, as his twelve assists are only second-best to Panarin, while his seventeen points only trails his left-winger and Kreider.

And while Trocheck is racking up the points – he’s not shying away from the physical aspect of the game – and as his 31 hits and 18 blocked shots would suggest.

Furthermore, these hits and blocked shot totals could be greater – but do you know why they aren’t?

Because his line just dominates the puck, which means that the other team is chasing and trying to stop him – rather than the alternative.


So why not the A+?

He’s also the team leader in penalty minutes (27) – and where more times than not – these penalties are of the “boneheaded” variety – and not the “I just saved a goal allowed” type.

But obviously, these frequent trips to the sin-bin is a small price to pay for his success – even if at the same time – you’d like to see his ass-indents removed from the seat in the penalty box.

Susan Sarandon’s favorite player continues to excel, now in his second-season of his second-go-around with the Rangers.



I’ve written so much recently about Vesey, so by now, you should know why he deserves this top grade.

Following a strong comeback season last year; Vesey, now in the first-year of a two-year deal that he earned under Gallant, has been worth every penny (and then some) of his $800K salary.

And for Chris Drury – what an investment.

Easily, Vesey could’ve fetched more than his six-figure salary over the summer – and perhaps even more than that in the Summer of ’24 – but Drury was wise to lock down the Harvard graduate.

As one of the signature components of the team’s rebuilt fourth-line, a line created due to injuries; Vesey has amassed five goals and eight points – and where it feels like every goal he scores is a big one.

In other words?

No “A-Rod Goals” for #26, as he comes up big in clutch and crunch time.

As stated about 978567567678565 times before on this site, Vesey, now in Act II of his career, reminds me a lot of Bobby Carpenter – a player who began his career with the high hopes of becoming an elite scorer, only to not reach such a status, and who then transformed himself as a defensive grinder.

And should Vesey completely mimic Carpenter – then he’ll soon have a Stanley Cup ring on his finger.



If there was anything that I was 100% correct about in regards to Drury’s summer, then it was about the signing of the 37-year-old Blake Wheeler (Wheelchair) for $800K.

As stated in the summer, there was a reason why the Winnipeg Jets stripped Wheeler of his captaincy – and then bought out his $8.5M contract.

While I don’t blame Drury for taking a chance on Wheeler, especially since the contract can always be booted to Hartford or bought out; of the many signings that the general manager made this summer, it’s this deal that’s been more low risk than high reward.

In a word, Wheeler just looks “slow.”

Wheeler, who wasn’t that impressive on the team’s third line to begin the season, was later promoted to the first line following “The Finnish Flash in the Pan” flaming out.

Presently, he has two goals and four assists – and where be honest – are any of his scores that memorable? (Two of his points took place against opposing empty nets too.)

Granted, you can blame Zibanejad’s horrific start for some of Wheeler’s lack of production, but at the same time – Wheeler hasn’t been that hot himself either.

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.

Then again, with the team so hot – why screw around?

But it does feel inevitable that a change needs to be made.



I know that Zibanejad loyalists are currently trying to dox me for giving DJ MIKA this low grade – but c’mon – even these fans can acknowledge how bad he’s been thus far.

You already know all of the talking points – Zibanejad always has slow starts, he just had a new kid, give him time, he can never hit the net on a one-timer, he always turns it on later on in the season and blah-blah-blah – but last time I checked – NHL players are paid for 82-games – and not 55-games.

At $8.5M per-year, simply put, Mika has to be better – and really – I’m sure that’s what we’ll see as the season moseys along.

After all, and as his history has shown us – that’s always the case.

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.

Adam Fox, who more times than not, gets an A+ out of me during these report card blogs, finishes with an “A” at the quarter-mark of the season.




The 2021 Norris Trophy was well on his way of putting another Norris Trophy contending season together prior to the injury that he sustained following the dirty knee-to-knee hit he received from Carolina’s Sebastion Aho.

(And as we saw with the minus-26 Erik Karlsson last season, only point totals matter, so the ten games missed will hurt Fox’s Norris bid.)

As the team’s first pair right defenseman, in addition to his duties on both the PK1 and PP1 units, Fox was averaging over 21:00 per-game before being placed on LTIR.

In the Rangers’ first ten games of the season, the $9.5M defenseman was averaging over a point-per-game (3 goals and 8 assists for 11 points).

In his first game back, the 21st game of the campaign (25% mark), he was blanked from the score sheet – but that was to be expected, as #23 eases himself back into the line of duty.

Why not the A+?

Only because Erik Gustafsson, nearly $9M cheaper, didn’t allow the absence of Fox to hurt the Rangers at all.

As repeated frequently and often on this site, “THE GUS BUS,” government name Erik Gustafsson, is my odds-on favorite to win the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award this season. Photo Credit: NYR



With a cap-hit of only $825,000, the pending unrestricted free agent will become a much coveted man come the summer – that is, if Drury, who will still be fighting the never-ending war against the salary-cap, doesn’t re-sign him first.

As mentioned on this site many times over throughout the course of the Rangers’ first twenty-five games – what did the other 31-teams in the league NOT see in Gustafsson that Drury saw this summer?

While granted, Laviolette championed for his former charge too; but either way, Drury did acquiesce the request and in turn, and without a shadow of a doubt – “THE GUS BUS” is the best per-dollar player in the league today.

Only the big-buck Rangers, top-six forwards at that, such as Panarin, Kreider, Trocheck and Zibanejad, have more points than the underpaid Gustafsson.

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?

And to be clear – this is not to detract away from Fox.

This is only a statement, a fact, in praise of the defenseman that only the Rangers wanted this summer.



I still don’t see Jones as a bonafide NHLer – and I can never forget how just two years ago, Jones said the same thing about himself – as he felt that he needed more time at the collegiate level before making the jump to the pros.

But of course, and like Michael Corleone – the Rangers made him an offer that he couldn’t refuse – and in turn, he traded in his books-and-pencils (do students of today even use these “tools of the trade” anymore?) for a professional hockey contract.

And you can’t blame him for that either.

If Fox’s absence was ever noticed, then it was on the Rangers’ third-pair, following Gustafsson’s temporary promotion.

Jones, who has one-year remaining on his $812,500 contract, began the season in the press box as the team’s spare defenseman. Fearing that another team would claim him if he were to be waived, it wasn’t until Fox went down when Jones started receiving regular NHL minutes this season.

Prior to that, Jones received one game of action when Lindgren needed a day to recover from an injury.

While Jones did seem to improve as he started getting more games under his belt; with only eleven games played, his plus/minus rating is negative five – the team’s low.

And while some may try to devalue the almighty plus/minus stat – his minus-5 does tell the story – as he’s been on the ice for some bad goals allowed.

With the Rangers’ d-core now fully healthy, it will be interesting to see if and when Jones plays again.

Most likely?

Another injury sustained by one of the regulars will be the only way Jones cracks back into Lavy’s line-up.

Chris Drury’s predecessor, former GM Jeff Gorton, assembled a top-four of defensemen that has become the team’s core. Photo Credit: NYR



Ranger fans have known this fact for some time now, and while it took both the league and RANGER KILLER Brad Marchand more time than us to realize it – double-nickel, #55 in Rangers’ blue, is arguably the biggest and greatest “heart-and-soul” player in the league today.

The 2023 Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award winner, seemingly held together by duct tape, spit and dried-up blood, is having another excellent season.

Not much known for his scoring (only one assist through twenty games), it’s always about his rugged and blue collar work on the ice – the bread-and-butter of Lindgren’s game.

While Gustafsson deserves all of the flowers too; once Lindgren lost his best buddy, his partner for many years, Adam Fox – there was no “transition period” to speak of whatsoever.

Lindgren just continued to roll, and due to his aggressiveness – also seems to be the most targeted player on the club today – and is evident by the way other league agitators single him out on a daily basis.

For all of the many points racked up by both Fox and Gustafsson – it doesn’t happen without Lindgren – as the stay-at-home rearguard allows his teammates to pump up their numbers, as he’s the perfect complementary player for these two – and the straw that stirs the drink.

While there is minimal chatter about Lindgren’s future today, expect such talk to really rev up as the season goes along – as currently, the team’s top LD is on an expiring RFA contract that pays him $3M annually.

Lindgren, due to turn 26-years-old on February 11th, 2024, is also due for a new contract – and due for a new raise too.

Expect to hear the old Dan Girardi talking points once Lindgren enters contract negotiations, because despite his “black-and-blue” and “heart-and-soul” status – many will wonder if his body will be able to hold up – as the style of hockey that Lindgren plays is ingrained – and he’ll never change.

For Ranger fans – that’s a great thing – as #55 will never take a shift off.



Miller, now in the first-year of a contract that annually pays him $3,872,000 (4.6% of the team’s cap), continues to have his moments.

While you’d like to see more scoring out of him (3 goals and 7 assists for 10 points); at the same time, it does feel like whenever he scores a goal, it’s a big one. In fact, two of his three strikes are game-winners too.

Much has been said about Miller’s lack of physicality, especially since he possesses such a huge frame (6’5″, 215 pounds), and while you’d like to see him lay the body more (he does have a respectable amount of hits thus far, twenty in total), at the same time – he does log 22:33 per-game – only sixteen-seconds shy of the team leader, his partner, and his captain too, Jacob Trouba (22:49).

While Miller has made his fair share of “Blueshirts’ Brain Farts” this season, head gas that has cost CZAR IGOR several shutouts; perhaps quietly, Miller, along with Trouba and Zibanejad, leads the team in the plus/minus category (+8).

In other words, while Miller could be better – I also don’t think we’ve seen him hit his prime yet either.

But for now, Miller is “RELIABLE” – and really, isn’t that what you desire the most from your second-pair (and really, more of a 1B than a true second pair) defenseman?

(It should also be reminded in this space that Miller, along with Trouba, served as the team’s top pair when Fox went down.)



Maybe I’m more relaxed about Schneider’s season thus far, due to not having a regular partner this season; but even with his struggles – I’m really not that concerned about him either.

In 21 games played, Schneider is sitting on only one goal and five assists for six points; but for a guy who can score, I really can’t make much of these numbers.

For starters, Schneider began the season with his latest partner – and hopefully his partner for the rest of the season too – “THE GUS BUS.” Obviously, that tandem was broken-up once Fox went down, so their try-out together was temporarily broken up.

Playing with Zac Jones did Schneider absolutely no favors either, as it was the first time in the 22-year-old’s career where he was the veteran of his pair.

For a comparison, look at how well Miller has come along under the tutelage of Trouba.

Schneider, who has received A pluses from me in the past, largely due to his cheap cap-hit of $925K (and he’s set to become an RFA this summer too), should be back in that territory as the season progresses – and most certainly if “THE GUS BUS” continues to motor.

By his own admission, and I’d concur too – Trouba’s first two seasons in New York were disappointing. Since then? He’s quickly becoming one of the most important and impactful captains in franchise history.



We’ve already discussed “THE TROO TROO TRAIN” during the other profiles, so just the quick-and-dirty reminder:

His plus/minus rating of +8, 75 blocks and 22:49 average TOI leads all Rangers.

His fifty hits are only second-best to Cuylle (55), but unlike Cuylle (whose hits are ferocious too) – every single one of Trouba’s body blows leave mark.

Very quickly, and who would’ve thought this following his first two seasons with the Rangers – Trouba is becoming the best captain that this team has ever had since Mark Messier – and that’s saying something, as “THE MESSIAH” is not only the greatest captain in hockey history – but in all of the history of team sports.

Not only a leader on the ice, Trouba’s a regular fixture in the NYC charity scene too.

As a vibrant piece of fabric in the community, Trouba’s skills as a leader have helped both fundraising efforts – and of course – the Rangers themselves.

As we first saw during the 2021-22 season; since Trouba is so personable, he’s now attracting players to the club too. While Wheeler hasn’t worked out as well as former Trouba pals Frank Vatrano and Andrew Copp; the move to sign Wheeler was the right one – and only happened because his buddy was the captain in the Big Apple.

So why not the A+ – a grade that if you want to give him – then I wouldn’t argue against you?

For $8M, and where he’s now earning that salary as opposed to his first two-years, you’d like to see more than one goal next to his name through 21-games played – and especially if Miller isn’t lighting the lamp as often as you’d like.

Amazingly, Trouba, while never a true prolific scorer (but he did have a career-high fifty-point 2018-19 season during his final year in Winnipeg), has completely transformed his game.

Put it this way: With the Jets, Trouba was never known as an elite hitter, nor has grown into the league-wide villain as he has become with the Rangers.

And to be clear – his hated status amongst the other 31-teams is a FANTASTIC thing for the Blueshirts.

There are not as many players who can tilt the ice on a game in and game out basis like “THE GREAT EIGHT.”

Put some more points on the board (he does have eight assists, but mainly secondary apples), and come the Mid-Season Report Card, he’ll then get the almighty A+.

But don’t take this “A” grade to be disparaging either.

He truly has been the lifeblood of this team – and as he should be – as he continues to excel as the team’s captain.

When the Rangers first shared this picture on 7/1/23 – I wanted to throw up. Since then, while I can never forget about 6/13/14 – I can appreciate how excellent Jonathan Quick has been this season. Photo Credit: NYR




Unless something catastrophic happens, then we most likely won’t see Louis Domingue suit-up for the Rangers again this season, but I just wanted to use this time to tip my hat to “Mr. Spicy Pork and Broccoli” himself.

Playing in his first NHL game in over eighteen months – and then allowing only one goal to a Wild team that can score in bunches – was nothing short of impressive.

It is comforting to know that if something bad should go down, then at least the Rangers have a quality back-up in Domingue.

How the Ranger goalies stack up thus far. Photo Credit:



I wrote my “Ode to Quick,” an apology letter, on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

You can read it here:

For only $825,000, not only is Quick the best back-up goalie in the league – but he’s also a Vezina Trophy candidate too.

While Quick shouldn’t be a Vezina Trophy candidate at the end of the season if all things work out accordingly (only because it should be CZAR IGOR, the ’22 winner, who chases for his second trophy), the Rangers are getting elite goaltending out of their back-up – a trend for nearly ten-years and running – and ever since the Marty Biron retirement/Cam Talbot promotion.

A big factor in that trend? Rangers’ goaltending coach, Benoit Allaire.

Since no one on the Blueshirts’ beat have asked about this yet, I do wonder how much Allaire has played a role in Quick’s comeback season.

After all, how many tricks can you teach the old dog – and a three-time Cup champ to boot?

But I have to suspect that Allaire has imparted some advice – because how else can you explain this complete 180 from Quick’s 2022-23 season – outside of saying, “he just wants to play well for his favorite team from his childhood.”

When I knew that it was time to write this report card, two players were no-doubt-about-it slam-dunk A+ players.

Gustafsson was one.

Quick was the other.



In somewhat a role-reversal from what we’ve seen in the past from CZAR IGOR – it are the Rangers lifting him up, rather than vice-versa.

Granted, while CZAR IGOR has had some excellent games this season, and where he’s just shut the door in many third periods too – the Rangers aren’t allowing much either – and isn’t that a good thing?

For the goalie now making $5,666,667 per-season, you do have to wonder if he’s still battling injuries.

Shots that we’ve seen him routinely stop in the past are getting through – and we’ve seen #31 battle the yips at times too.

While I’m not suggesting a “goalie controversy” (and in fact, I’ll say it – THERE ISN’T ONE); there’s always something that prevents CZAR IGOR from notching a shutout – and whether it be one lone mistake from his teammates – or a mistake committed by himself.

It’s also why, and ever since his league debut, that CZAR IGOR leads the league in one-goal allowed games. Conversely, his BFF, the other goalie in New York, the Isles’ Ilya Sorokin, leads the league in shut-outs during the same time-span.

With a 9-4 win-loss record, I’m sure that CZAR IGOR will be fine, but it’s the 2.54 GAA that seems uncharacteristic.

And while there is no goalie controversy as stated, it does say something that Quick has been much better – and where #32’s already impressive numbers only took a hit because of one “bad” game against first-place Boston, when he surrendered four goals in a Rangers’ 7-4 wild-and-wacky win.

Throw that game against Boston to the side, then Quick is leading the league in both save percentage and GAA.

We know what CZAR IGOR can do, and at only 28-years-old, he may have not hit his prime yet.

We just haven’t seen his prime this season yet either.

Similar to the last times when he went down, including during his Vezina season, I’m sure that CZAR IGOR will rebound – and hopefully like Quick – record a shutout or two too.

Rangers’ head coach Peter Laviolette has made his boss, Blueshirts’ general manager Chris Drury, look pretty, pretty, pretty good this season – but at the end of the day – these two, and like everyone else, can only be judged when the games really matter – the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Photo Credit: NYR




The numbers don’t lie.

Between Drury’s savvy ways of acquiring cheap, yet valuable, veterans and where Laviolette had input on at least two of them (Bonino and Gustafsson) – nothing other than an A+ would be suffice for this GM-HC pair at this point in the season.

The best record in the league says it all.

A contrarian opinion would be “well, Panarin is playing at an all-world level.”

While that’s true, I don’t see how that detracts from the jobs that both Lavy and Drury are doing.

At the quarter-mark, I think we’ve seen two turning points of the season and/or two “gut-check” tests passed with flying colors.

The first one took place following the worst loss of the season, when the Rangers got embarrassed by the Predators on home ice.

What happened next?

A historic road-trip, where the Rangers ripped off five straight wins for the first time in franchise history against Seattle, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Winnipeg.

While a lot went the Rangers’ way on that trip (due to other issues and injuries sustained by their opponents) – just to sweep the Western Canadian teams spoke volumes – as that happens as often as Zibanejad scoring a one-timed power-play goal this season. (He’s currently one for his last 966785567867855.)

The other turning point is how well the Rangers have responded after sustaining key injuries of their own.

Lose your Norris Trophy winner? No problem, hello Gus Bus.

Lose your Vezina Trophy winner? No problem, hello Jonathan Quick.

Lose your projected second-line center? No problem, hello Vincent Trocheck – and hello to a revamped fourth-line too – and as all signed by Drury.

Lose your projected first-line-then-demoted-to-the-bottom-six right-winger? No problem, we have a guy in Hartford (Brodzinski) that can shoulder the load.

While the players themselves deserve the bulk of the credit; you must also tip your cap to the GM and the HC for putting all of their replacements in a position to succeed too.

Reader Al D.’s favorite graphic – the parade route – and one that we’ve now been waiting for nearly thirty-years and counting. Photo Credit: NYC Maps


I think I said it all!

And I don’t want to piss in anyone’s cereal – but yep – all of this historic winning and feel-good moments will be erased and shot-to-shit should the Rangers replicate their 2023 Stanley Cup Playoff performance.

Let’s not hope for that!

Moving forward, I’m excited to see what Drury does at the deadline.

He may not have many cap dollars to work with – but as we’ve seen this summer – he’s turned chicken shit into chicken salad before – and has pulled a few rabbits out of his five-hole too!

But if Chytil, Kakko or both of them are done for the season?

Then he’ll have a lot of money to play around with – and we saw how successful he was the last time when he had the bucks to blow (2022 Trade Deadline).

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!)

On Thursday night, November 30th, our buddies over at “The Blueshirt Underground Show” returned with an all-new episode.

To check it out, click the play button below:

My fourth title and tenth book is now available for preorder!

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

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:

NYR/DET 11/29 Review: BATTER UP! Jimmy Vesey’s Sultan of Swat Shot Wins It; Alexis Lafreniere Puts the Wooden Stake into Dracula Lalonde, Another “Find-A-Way” Victory, Ranger Traditions Never Die, “The Troo Troo Train” at “The Louvre,” Patrick Kane Doesn’t Have His “EDDIE” Moment, Who Missed Kakko, TNT/Kenny Albert, Quarter-Pole Report Card & More

LTIRangers: The Blueshirts Get Back Adam Fox From LITR; Kaapo Kakko & Filip Chytil Placed On It, Kakko’s Potential Season-Ending Injury Hurts Him More Than His Team, The Book of Kane Closed; Let The Book of Tarasenko Reopen, JONNY HOCKEY Hoping to Pull a GUS BUS, Corey Perry’s Alleged Affair & More

NYR/BUF 11/27 Review: The Sky Isn’t Falling! First-Place Rangers Lose To Their “Winter Classic Rival;” Lose Kakko Too, Patrick Kane Talk Revs Up Again, “Scheduled Loss” vs “Trap Game,” Fox Return Means Bad News For Jones, A Rare Mika One-Timer, Trouba Fined, Back-Up Goalies Never Fail, 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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