The Canucks and Rangers have swapped head coaches. How will these moves impact the two teams from a fantasy hockey perspective?
The Rangers get: One of the better coaches in hockey. Vigneault runs a smart bench. He is known for his radical zone start strategy (he gives primary offensive zone starts to his scorers, and gives his bottom six forwards tough defensive minutes). This frees up his scorers for more scoring opportunities.
He likes to activate the defense, and he favours veterans over rookies (the leash was often short in Vancouver with the young players). Vigneault is good with the media, but he sometimes struggles with communication regarding his players (and their injuries, in particular).
The Canucks get: A very different coach than Vigneault. Tortorella will tone down his media antics in Vancouver (or he wouldn’t have gotten the job). The Canucks ownership and front office all really like him – assistant GM Laurence Gilman worked with Tortorella in Phoenix. Vancouver’s window to win is two or three years. From pretty good sources, the core of the team was behind hiring Tortorella. They want someone to come in and give them a push.
Tortorella hasn’t had as much offensive success as Vigneault has (as a coach), but he tends to give young players a longer leash to develop (look at how he has handled Del Zotto, McDonagh, Stepan, and so on). The Canucks need someone to come in and work with Tanev, Corrado, Kassian, Jensen, Gaunce, Schroeder, and so on. Tortorella is more balanced with his match-up strategies, and he loves to play his star players a ton. Hopefully Ryan Kesler’s body can hold up.
The Sedins won’t see as many offensive zone starts, but they will probably get more total ice time. So the impact on their production will likely be minimal.
At the end of the day, these are two really good teams that both needed fresh starts. Vigneault will be a welcomed change for the Rangers veterans, while the Canucks will welcome Tortorella’s motivation and involvement in the dressing room. Vigneault left the motivation up to the players, by and large, and the fact that a few of them were pushing for Tortorella tells us that perhaps they wanted a kick in the butt. And for those who didn’t, they better get ready for one.
Rangers who will benefit:
1. The offensive defensemen – Vancouver has always had high scoring defensemen (not one, but a by-committee approach)
2. Brad Richards – fresh start, Vigneault will give him lots of offensive minutes
3. Rick Nash
Rangers who won’t benefit:
1. Derek Stepan (I think his crazy 20+ minutes will be dialed back a bit – more of a two-way role?)
2. Derrick Brassard – has to prove himself to a new coach
3. Chris Kreider/JT Miller
Canucks who will benefit:
1. Zack Kassian
2. The other young guys (Brendan Gaunce)
Canucks who won’t benefit:
1. Alex Edler/the defensemen in general (if the Canucks are smart, they will put Jason Garrison and his bomb on PP1)
Tortorella and Vigneault are similar coaches. They both believe in having strong defensive clubs first and foremost, and their offenses have depended on the personnel they have been given to work with. Their processes are different (Vigneault more understated, Tortorella fiery), and that is where the two teams are looking to see some improvements.
This post is fairly general, as it remains to be seen what other changes are made in both New York and Vancouver. But I hope there is some direction in here to help with important fantasy decisions (particularly pertaining to Mr. Brad Richards).
And it isn't a surprise that Ruff and Tortorella are off the market soon after the Dave Tippett news broke. DAL/VAN both liked Tippett (just as they should – he’s a top five coach in hockey).