The Curious Case of Tanner Glass

I’ve got to be honest, when the Rangers signed Tanner Glass I didn’t know too much about the guy. I loved the idea of bringing in some sandpaper, especially after trading away Derek Dorsett along with Dan Carcillo’s future with the Blueshirts cloudy at best. However, three years at $1.45 million per seemed excessive for a guy Penguin fans seemed way too excited about landing in New York.

And that’s seemingly the trend when you try to breakdown Glass. For everything positive, there’s something proportionately negative, which makes trying to figure out what convinced the Rangers to offer him a richer contract than most expected he’d receive quite maddening.

Sure, Alain Vigneault has a familiarity with Glass from their time in Vancouver, but when you truly analyze his game he doesn’t seem like a guy who fits what I perceive as the type of player the Rangers head coach wants on his fourth line.

Let’s take a look.

I know Rangers fans are going to love this…

While Glass is far from being a heavyweight, he is a step-up in class from Dorsett who was over-matched more often than not when attempting to do the heavy lifting for the Blueshirts. Glass can also be counted on to stand-up for a teammate which the Rangers have been reluctant to do recently.

Unfortunately, Alain Vigneault doesn’t seem very interested in seeing his players fight as evidenced by Dan Carcillo scrapping just ONCE in his 31 regular season games with the Rangers last season. Let me repeat that, DAN CARCILLO had just ONE fight as a Blueshirt last season. The Rangers were also ranked 25th in the NHL in fighting majors last season. So it begs the question, if Vigneault’s strategy doesn’t include the rough stuff why exactly would the Rangers sign a semi-enforcer to a three-year deal?

With one of the Rangers best penalty killers now in Tampa (actually three of them are down there), Glass’ short-handed experience will be very much welcomed. Especially his ability to block shots, which he takes pride in (via Blueshirts United)…

“(Boyle) is a great penalty killer, great shot blocker, such a big guy who can get into lanes, but I think I am a comparable shot-blocker to him,” shared Glass. “Coming into the NHL penalty killing was a big learning curve for me from what we did in college. Since I went to Winnipeg, and then in Pittsburgh, and took on a big penalty killing role, I think that’s the biggest part of my game that has really come along. I am really comfortable with the thinking aspects of penalty killing now, and I hope to be a big part of the penalty kill (in New York).”

This sequence of Glass risking life and limb blocking three successive Shea Weber slap shots on a penalty kill last season seems to back-up his claims…

However, when you dig deep into Glass’ penalty killing performance from last season this shot blocking sequence seems more like the exception than the norm. Glass was ranked 379th out of 435 players who played even a second on the penalty kill last year with a paltry short-handed Corsi of 3.4% (% of team shot attempts for vs. against while the player is on the ice). With Vigneault deploying players such as Rick Nash and Martin St. Louis on the penalty kill to provide some offense, I’m not sure where a guy like Glass fits in when he’s neither preventing shot attempts against nor creating any for. Brian Boyle had a short-handed Corsi of 10.1%.

In fairness to Glass, his talk about his shot blocking ability being comparable to Boyle’s is accurate as he out-shot blocked Boyle 57 to 54 last season.

The former Penguin is a hard-nosed, gritty winger who was eighth in the NHL in hits last season with 247, so he should be able to provide a spark with a booming collision when necessary, which is exactly what you want from a fourth line player.

Having said that, last season the Rangers fourth line was notorious for energizing their bench with dominating puck possession shifts as they averaged a Corsi of around 48% despite only close to 15% of their zone starts in the offensive end. Meanwhile, Glass had an embarrassingly low Corsi of 39.3% while starting 21.6% of his shifts in the offensive zone. Vigneault’s game plan relies heavily on puck possession, so it’s again puzzling why he’d push to bring in a guy with such poor fancy stats.

After Vigneault’s success last season, he deserves the benefit of the doubt on Glass. So when the Rangers head coach states “[Glass] improved since I had him, and I think we’re getting a real solid player there” I’m going to have to trust his judgement despite the newest Blueshirt’s numbers being the polar opposite of what made the Rangers fourth line and penalty kill so successful last season.

As the Rangers continue their transformation from a black and blueshirt mentality to a more up-tempo style, it makes sense to replace Boyle’s plodding style with Glass’s perceived superior skating ability. However, that doesn’t always translate into a better fit as Boyle had far superior point production in his one season under Vigneault (18) than Glass averaged in his two seasons in Vancouver (10.5).

I guess what I’m trying to say is…I have no idea what to expect from Glass this season. So, instead of raging about his terrible puck possession stats or mind-numbingly irresponsible contract, I’ve decided to reserve judgement until he at least steps foot on the ice in a regular season game.


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