New York Rangers Garden Party with Jason Bisnoff takes a deep dive into head coach David Quinn’s dealing with the kids.
Following in the footsteps of three consecutive successful predecessors, New York Rangers head coach David Quinn was brought in to coach a young roster, given a specific mandate to develop the in-house talent. Thus far, he seems to be able to coach up young players, however, there have been exceptions. Just past a third of the way into the season, the team is being led by a young core, many of whom are on pace for career years.
The team’s three points leaders are a best-case scenario of young players who have been with the team a few years and have high ceilings of talent. Mika Zibanejad is out front with 25 points, nearly halfway to his career high of 51 points just a bit more than a third of the way into the season.
New York Rangers fans have been waiting for Chris Kreider to realize the potential behind his immense raw talent for years and in his seventh season, he may be finding it. He leads the team with 14 goals, halfway to his career high and is tied for 14th in the league with the likes of Connor McDavid.
Kevin Hayes has 17 points and is on pace to hit the 50-spot in points for the first time in his five years. All three of the team leaders are notably former first-round picks and entering their primes at 25, 26 and 27 years old.
After making a name for himself late last year when he saw action after the mid-season roster overhaul, Neal Pionk has picked up where he left off. He had 14 points in his first 28 games at the end of last season. Those stats would have been impressive for a forward, and are even more so for a defenseman and somehow Pionk is outpacing that mark this season. He has 16 points in his 26 games played. That puts the 23-year-old at tied for 17th amongst defenseman across the league.
Jimmy Vesey has also joined in on the scoring, more than halfway to his career highs in goals and points with 9 and 14, respectively. The Rangers also boast two of the leagues top-15 scoring rookies with Brett Howden and Filip Chytil. On the blue line, Tony DeAngelo is finally looking like the defenseman the Rangers thought they had given up Derek Stepan to develop and Brady Skjei has gotten back into form after following up a tremendous debut in 2016-17 and a lackluster sophomore showing.
Countering this narrative are the struggles of Pavel Buchnevich and Vladislav Namestnikov. The young Russians have been disappointing to start the 2018-19 campaign. Buchnevich has been a semi-regular healthy scratch, picking up on a similar status under Vigneault. While his nine points in only 14 games is encouraging, it has been undermined by mental mistakes and a lack of aggressiveness in the offensive end. His low confidence is a mark against Quinn, but has been a reality under consecutive coaches. With a 26.3 shooting percentage, one would guess Quinn wants him to have more than 19 shots on goal at this point. As for Namestnikov, he has failed to recreate the magic of his 44 points in 62 games with the Tampa Bay Lightning last year, struggling after the trade and this season while wearing blue. Perhaps his success was too dependent on playing with Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos.
As aforementioned, Quinn comes to New York following in the footsteps of Tom Renney, John Tortorella and Alain Vigneault, all of whom had winning records and coached a combined 129 playoff games. He was brought in as a follow up to the team trading into a younger roster with the aim of developing both the new talent and the players that the organization felt hadn’t reached their potential under three coaches that were all criticized at separate times for failing to work well with younger skaters. So far, David Quinn has been able to deliver on that mandate.