We posted the following comment on blueshirtbanter.com in response to this excellent article about Rick Nash.
We measure intangibles for NHL players and provide each player in the NHL a score for their propensity to either make mistakes or avoid them. According to our work, the author of this article is correct in asserting that there are few, if any, free agents that are score as consistently on our mistake avoidance scale as Nash. Nash generated 5 goals at the margin last season adjusted for time on ice, a solid number league wide (around the upper third). This was his intangible (positive) contribution to the team.
The Rangers overall have players that are stable if not modestly positive marginal goal producers, like Nash. However, where this team falls/fell short, and according to our metric where many NHL teams lapse, is on the blue line. The Rangers had three (really four) of the lowest players in the league last year; Yandle (-10.41 goals), Marc Staal (-6.59) and Boyle (-5.24) and if you count McIlrath in his 34 games another – 8. Having three guys basically put the puck in their own net 22 times this season (and over 30 if you count Dylan) was the reason why the Rangers lost in the first round, IMO.
Having said that, without intangible goal making guys like Nash (and Stepan BTW) in the lineup to counter the goal takers mentioned above, the Rangers would fall apart fast. They have already identified Yandle as part of the problem. If If they could somehow move Staal and his ridiculous contract, and say good bye to Boyle and McIrath, they would be OK if they could find some Dmen that could just be roughly even to slightly negative goal takers.
To add something to this article, the problem this free agency season is not so much finding replacement value for Nash, but more in finding four suitable NHL caliber defensemen that will not be the same blue line liabilities the bottom of the core was last season. Unfortunately many teams are in the same boat as the Rangers and competition for the Goligoski’s of the league is fierce (and he isn’t even that great). The Rangers “success’ going forward will be attributed to remaining “less bad” than much of their competition. However less mediocre won’t cut it in the playoffs, as demonstrated this year.