2022 New York Rangers Offseason

What Gerard Gallant said on Monday

Gerard Gallant spoke at his end of season media availability today and said (NYR):

  • What went into scratching Kakko, “Trying to win a hockey game and just dressing my lineup. When we sit down and talk about our lineup that is what we do….we love the kid, he’s a good player, good young player, but we just thought the best lineup was trying to win that game.”
  • Was there something about his play that didn’t fit the situation, “it’s not about his game, it’s about the team game and the lineup. Like I told, most of the games we had some game-time decisions on certain people. That is the way we made it up, if this didn’t play, this guy plays, so that is how we went into the game. We weren’t sure what the lineup was going to be in warmups.”

  • If the players on the kid line are back, is that a line that can succeed, “they’ll all be back…yea, that’s a possibility, but they could all be on three different lines in different positions. You look at our lineup and see you what happens with a lot of free agents and restricted free agents. Dru’s got a lot of work to do like every GM does in the next 3-4 weeks. They could be a real good line together and also we can move different guys into bigger roles and that is going to be part of it too. They are all going to be key players for us next year, the three of those kids, for sure.”
  • Is there a particular ingredient you think the team needs, “No, I think we added a lot of that with experience. Our team was good all season long, but I think the big thing and the confidence booster we got was when we added those players at the trade deadline. I think the same thing is going to be said with a lot of teams going forward. The way the salary cap is, you got your team, but when you add some pieces at a time when you can make things happen, that got us over the hump and we played real good hockey with adding those people. Who knows what the team is going to look like in September, but it will be interesting to see. Do I think we would have went that far if we didn’t add people? No, it would have been real tough. Adding some real good pieces helped us go a long way.”
  • How do you balance the season overall and the disappointment of the end, “I was disappointed after the game, but I wasn’t disappointed with the performance we had in the playoffs. We played 20 playoff games, we finished 10 and 10 against real good hockey teams and battled right to the end. The games we lost were close scoring games. I think we ran out of gas like we talked about the other night. Not to make an excuse, but when you play 20 games in 40 days of playoff hockey, it’s tough. I’m proud of our guys. We took major steps and it’s going to help us in the future.”
  • Is this a successful season for the Rangers, “100%. Now did I want to win and be selfish and win my first Stanley Cup? I sure did and a lot of players did, but I’m real happy. I’m leaving here today and going home and real proud of our season.”
  • What comes out of the day-to-day playoff grind that they can take with them, “Next year, if we get there, it’s going to be a battle to make the playoffs again next year, but if you get there next year you know what to expect a little bit more. You know it’s going to be a grind, you know you gotta battle every game and nothing came easy. Two seven-game series against really good teams, lose against the Stanley Cup champs in six games and take the first two games and battle. We lost three games by one goal, they were battles.”
  • What is the next step for this team, “This year, keep doing. We got young kids that are getting older, a nice window here coming up if everybody keeps developing and playing well. I don’t think we have to do a whole lot much different.”
  • Nothing like add more speed, “no, no, none of it.”
  • It’s about the kids progressing, “Progressing and Zibanejad had a good playoff run, the Kreiders, those guys with more experience, our veteran players. I like the build of our team. I like what I’m seeing with our team. We are going to see what is going to happen, obviously, with free agency and stuff like that, but I’m real happy with our group.”
  • Do you think some of it is also learning to play with a series lead, “no, not at all, no.”
  • What are you proud of with this group, “there was no quit. It’s something that the guys rallied around all season long. Again, during the early part of the season we didn’t think we were that good of a hockey team, but we were winning games. We talked about that. I wasn’t going to say we were no good, but we were winning games because of our goalie. Then we got better and better during the season and in the playoffs we got better again. It’s not always about the young kids, but they matured a lot. They got better and stronger and used to playing hockey together. I liked the way we progressed all season long. Our star players were real good hockey players all year and, again, we relied on our goalie quite a bit, but he’s a big part of our team. Tampa Bay relies on Vasilevskiy a bit, too. That is part of your group. I like our group a lot. Moving forward we are going to have a real good team and, again, next year is long ways away, but there are going to be good teams and you’re going to have to battle to make the playoffs. You look at our conference and it’s going to be a battle.”
  • On Shesterkin in the playoffs, “He brought the same thing he brought everything regular season game. He’s been outstanding, gives you a chance to win every night, builds confidence to your group, you don’t have to be perfect and there are not a lot of perfect teams in the NHL.”
  • Are there specific things you want Lafreniere and Kakko to work on, “I think it’s just confidence, building more confidence. Want to be star players. I think Laffy took a big step physically, he played a lot more physical, finishing checks harder, he felt he could do that in his game. He’s a skilled player, did they get the chance to spend as much time on the PP and special teams as young players want? No, neither of them did. I’m not going to blame myself for that because we had one of the best PPs in the NHL, so you aren’t going to break up the PP unit to play young kids, we’re trying to win games every night, that is what we do. Are these kids going to get more of a chance next year and the years after? Yes. They will keep developing, are young players, they both took big steps, for me. Kakko missed eight weeks because of an injury and that really didn’t help him, but we got a lot of confidence in both of them.”
  • Do you see both of them as top-six guys, “definitely, 100%. We’d be pretty disappointed if they are not.”
  • What impressed you about Kreider’s season, “Consistency. People talked before I got here that he was inconsistent, for 20 games at a time he wouldn’t….he was consistent right from Game 1 right to the end of the season, Game 102, 103, whatever we finished at. Played strong, played hard, fun to be around.”
  • Did you feel you needed to have a conversation with Kakko about not playing, “no…no.”
  • Should Strome have played Game 6, ““Yea, no, he wasn’t that…I mean, he gave us enough, but he couldn’t finish the game. I don’t know. You look at it, he didn’t hurt us for sure, but he probably wasn’t Ryan Strome. But he wasn’t the only one, trust me there were other guys battling some injuries.”
  • Does anyone need surgery, “Not that I know of. Again, I’m not going to talk about individual guys, there were 4-5 guys banged up pretty good, and you know the guys, it’s not like you don’t know who it was, but I’m not going to talk about specific players. If they want to say what happened to them or what is going to happen moving forward, but from everything I heard, nobody is not going to be ready for training camp, that is for sure.”
  • Do you want more of a shutdown-type of third line, “Not if the Kid Line is together, I want them to be scorers (laugh). You see where you are at, you don’t need a shutdown third line, your fourth line can be more of a shutdown line if you want, but it depends how much skill and talent you got and what the make up is. We gotta see who we are going to get, who is going to sign and who is going to stay here….the third down shutdown line is effective in the playoffs sometimes, but if you got…I’m not going to tell Lafreniere to be a shutdown guy or Kakko to be a shutdown guy, I want them to be skilled guys. Panarin isn’t going to be a shutdown guy. You’ve got your Goodrow’s and Rooney’s and those type of players, it’s a different story.”
  • How was your first year in NY, “I was a little scared coming the first time, to be honest with you. (smile) But I loved it, it was great. We had a great team, the only time I go to the City is for games, we’re pretty busy. I loved going to The Garden and playing there. I had a great year.”
  • How was coaching this team, “it was excellent. You get to know your players, there were a lot of guys I didn’t know anything about and now that you go through a year with them it’s great. I’m real happy with the progress of our team, obviously, everything went pretty well in the regular season and we had a great playoff. I’m real happy and looking forward to next year.”
  • What were things you did well and what do you think you can improve on, “Who? Me? I did everything well (laugh). You know what, as a coach you make your decisions and you live with your decisions. Our job is to try and win as many games as we can, develop the kids as much as we can. That is what we do. If I made mistakes along the way, and I know I’ve made lots of mistakes, everybody does, I don’t worry about that. I just do my job to the best of my ability and see what happens.”
  • On K’Andre Miller’s development this season, “huge. Where? I think he’s a little bit more physical, more confident in his offensive game and his defensive game. I think every aspect of his game got better, I really do. I didn’t know K’Andre a whole lot, but from talking with Gord Murphy and the people around here, everything got better.”
  • On conversations with Ryan Strome since the series ended, “conversations since the series? I haven’t talked…we slept all day yesterday (laugh) so I haven’t talked to any of our players.”
  • On Strome missing the net in Game 5 and then being injured in Game 6, “That moment is gone. The guy makes a pass, he misses the pass or it bounces over, you don’t worry about that. That is gone.”
  • On Andrew Copp, “He was great for us, came in and did a great job and played excellent hockey.  I think he had six goals in the playoffs. He’s out there, battled hard and did a lot of good things for us. He played top-six for us and usually if you play top-six for a team that goes to the Conference Finals, you can play top-six in most places. I like what he’s done, we all liked him. He worked hard, did his job, we’ll see where it goes.”
  • Do you do interviews with every player, “No, I don’t. Chris will do that. I’ve done it differently with different teams.”
  • Do you reach out to guys in the offseason, “during the offseason we’ll chat with guys and see what happens over the next 2-3 weeks.”
  • On having six alternate captains, “we would have won that series (laughs) we would have had at least one guy or two guys get that trophy (laughs).”
  • Do you think there is a need to have a single captain for next season, “It’s too early to talk about, we’re going to talk about that again, obviously, real hard, but right now we haven’t talked about it, me and Chris and ownership. It’s just too early for that, but we’ll talk about and discuss it for sure. If we could have went a little further you would have gotten an indication (smile).”
  • On the message to the fans, “I guess my message to them would be the same as the message the players give me: we’re a real good hockey team now, we got a lot of experience and we are looking forward to next year. It will be nice to have a little bit of time off, but we think we have an excellent team moving forward and are excited about it.”