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2020 Rangers Offseason

What John Davidson said about prospects, goalies and more

John Davidson was on NHL Network Radio on Monday and said:

  • On last season, “When you go through this, I guess you call it a build or rebuild, there are lots of pluses/minuses, step forwards, backwards, it’s how it goes. It started before I got to the Rangers to be part of the management team, Jeff Gorton and Chris Drury did a lot of work and the biggest key is patience. First, you have to find a way to get players, whether it’s draft picks or trades, you need to develop them. We are in the middle of that right now, we’ve gone through a lot to get a whole bunch of very good players and now it’s on us to develop the players and put them in positions to do well for us, try to make good decisions, whether they are short-term decisions or long-term decisions to put together a winning hockey club. I love where we sit right now, we have players that are hungry, veterans that are ready to roll, some that are young players who have already proven themselves to a degree. We are in a real good spot.”

  • On Artemi Panarin making teammates better, “He’s always done that. He did that in Chicago and Columbus and I was there. We knew we had him two-years in Columbus, whether we could extend him there, we didn’t know. If I would have had my way, he’d still be in Columbus. Coincidentally, I end up in NY and we are in the business of trying to improve our hockey club, I had the inkling that he wanted to be in NY but you still have to fend off other organizations, prove what can happen here, why it’s a fit for him. He was in love with the situation, he loves MSG, he and Strome really clicked as a pair. Wth Panarin, it was a situation where he loved it here in NY, although he did love it in Columbus, he had a chance to prove himself on one of the big stages in sports, MSG, and I see him projecting his arrow still going up, a terrific teammate too, by the way.”
  • On Mika Zibanejad’s improvement, “I think it is when you know the talent he has, he skates like the wind, has an outstanding shot, can make plays. He’s not just a shooter, he is a playmaker too. He and Kreider really fit well together with Kreider on the left, Buchnevich played well with him on the right side. When he got to NY he was still young and the Rangers did a great job, they worked hand in hand. He improved a lot of different aspects to his game, skating conditioning, battle level, everything. Sometimes players can hit at 21, hit at 23, some can hit at 25, you just don’t know. I will say this, we are a very fortunate group that he is part of our team at center ice. His arrow is still going up for sure and I don’t know what his top level is going to be, it could be very, very good, something very special. I’m excited about Mika, he’s a good man and in top flight shape, do it with play making and goal scoring because of his shot, that is a heck of a package.”
  • Is Shesterkin the number one goalie, “I suspect so but I wouldn’t write of Georgiev, he is a competitive kid. The two of them are extremely hard workers, that is one thing you like to see, young goalies that have talent, but also have that work-like mentality that you need to become the best that you can become. I know that Hank showed these guys over the years with the ability to work, Shesterkin watched from afar, Georgiev was part of the tandem for some time. If you watch the way that Henrik Lundqvist worked, that sets the table for you, that is what you have to chase. Now, with Hank moved on to Wash, what it does, these two goalies and we have a number of young ones, but these are the ones here in short order. They now just have to worry about playing goal, no three-goalies, it was a difficult situation when you have a player of Lundqvist’s stature and how good he’s been for so long, the point is, when you go through a build and you look at Hank, 2-3 years down the road when we hope to be what we want to be, Hank wouldn’t be here. We’ve made that transition now, now these two can just go to work and stop the puck without worrying about anything outside of stopping the puck.”
  • On adding the prospects to the lineup, “it’s youth and development, draft and development. We have three good quality development coaches, Tanner Glass used to play and does a heck of a job, Jed Ortmeyer used to play and does a great job. Tuomo Ruutu is over in Finland, does a terrific job. That is part of seeing these players play, work with them, but of course, like everybody else, this damn virus is setting everybody back. We are doing our best to see who can play as much as they can, wherever they can play. We have to be on every single player, whoever is part of the Rangers organization, it’s strength, conditioning, zooming with strength and conditioning coaches, it’s hands on with development coaches, getting people in here whenever we can to see how they are making out, within the CBA rules of course, but we have a ton of it. It’s exciting, when you get into the position of rebuilding an organization, you have to search and find picks and I learned that when I went to St. Louis. We had to find picks and trade and get picks. This group here has gone through a lot of that and we are watching these guys play, Kravtsov playing very well in Russia right now, Lundkvist having a heck of a year playing in Sweden, Zac Jones, the defenseman, coming on like crazy. Schneider and Robertson are with Team Canada, will they make the junior team, I don’t know, but what a thrill it has to be for those guys. That is along with the goalie we have there Garand. We are happy, then you go up another level and, K’Andre Miller for instance. Will he make the team? I can tell you this much, when he came to the club before we went to Toronto, we practiced at home for a couple of weeks and boy, his first day he was nervous and you could see it, but after that first day he was really, really, really good. He’s going to have a chance to make our team, and if he can’t, we will get him somewhere to develop, keep on him, that is the way it goes. We have a big kid by the name of Morgan Barron coming out of college, 220lbs and as fit as any player who has ever played for the Rangers and he’s a mature kid because he’s not 18-19, he’s older than that. There is a chance he will make our club. Kaapo Kakko, he popped a little bit in the bubble, after having some time off, and he’s had a good number of months here working and, of course, the number one pick. That sets up our club and thinking and excitement level.”
  • On the salary cap, “we have some dead money, but we had to go through that process, this was going to be the tough year regarding that. We had to make trades and a pick or two, no one expected the cap where it’s at, the virus has changed a lot of different things. Jeff Gorton and his staff have done a great job figuring this out and continue the intelligent development, not forcing things, making it work, not being impatient but make sure we are patient. It’s exciting, really exciting.”
  • On being a good third period team last year, “I think, that is a good question, it could be a number of things. The coaching staff did a great job with our young group, plus it’s a young group, sometimes when you have a real young group you get into games and you are watching instead of playing and as the game progresses you start to develop that flow that you want. I think it’s a good talent level, really good team spirit and togetherness, that is something we worked very hard at. We have some people here that are great teammates, even though some of them are young, the aspect of having that togetherness and getting big saves and the big PP goal, we started to do those things and improve as the season went on. We have some things to improve on, our PK for instance has to get better, especially at home. We are in such a good spot with the amount of future we have in the organization, it just gets exciting to look at, we got lucky, we know that, with the #1 pick overall, this kid is a terrific kid. It’s just going to be a blast to watch him and these guys develop, K’Andre Miller, Kaapo, Lundkvist, all these guys. Who knows where it’s going but it’s sure fun being part of it.”