The New York Rangers have made another offseason splash by signing veteran center Jarret Stoll to a one-year $800,000 deal.
Jeff Gorton and the front office began this offseason solidifying the core they had built over several seasons. In the last 48 hours they have shifted focus and started the process of rounding out the roster. Despite a high return rate from last years campaign, there are spots for role players to fill out the around centerpiece guys like Derek Stepan, Rick Nash and Ryan McDonagh.
With Stoll, the Rangers have found a player that on paper is a perfect fit. Bringing championship experience and a winning pedigree, Stoll will be a great fit on a team that still relies on a lot of young and less experienced talent. Fans will remember that Stoll was a part of the Kings team that beat the Rangers in the finals two years ago for his second career Stanley Cup. The 33-year-old has also developed a strong reputation as a veteran presence in the locker room.
Beyond his strong intangibles, Stoll presents a lot of on ice value as well. Though his scoring numbers will not blow anyone away he brings value in two of the Rangers weakest areas, faceoffs and physicality. With a small contract, showing lessons learned by the front office about paying players on the wrong side of 30, Stoll is a low risk bet that has very high-upside both on and off the ice.
There is of course the matter of Stoll’s issues with the law as of late. The center was arrested this April in Las Vegas for possession of cocaine and MDMA while in Las Vegas. Though it is never good for a player to have a history with law enforcement, this issue is both a misdemeanor and pales in comparison to legal issues in todays sports world.
The notoriously hard nosed New York Media has received his acquisition with mostly positive reviews, with on-ice contribution taking precedent over his minor off-ice infractions.
Stoll figures to group in with Dominic Moore as bottom two centers with comparable contributions. Young scorers with long-term contracts Brassard and Stepan will be responsible for making waves on the stats sheet. On the other hand, Stoll and Moore will make up for their deficits in the faceoff circle, both fell below 50 percent last year, and in physical play. Most importantly, Stoll will look to help Moore provide leadership and hopefully serve as mentors for the two top centers with high potential.
The relationship between Stoll and the blueshirts is off to a good start with Stoll saying it was his ideal destination.