John Moore came to the Rangers with little expectations. He arrived, a veteran of 86 NHL games, as one of three players from Columbus is the Marian Gaborik trade. Like all Rangers acquisitions that deadline, he scored in his first game with the club, only his 3rd NHL goal. Through 25 regular season and playoff games with the Rangers, fans seemed to be impressed with the skillset he brought with him.
This season, however, with the new car smell gone, he failed to build on his first impression. In 74 regular season game, Moore had 4 goals and 11 assists, and added 2 assists in 21 playoff games.
One of the big changes in going from John Tortorella to Alain Vigneault is that Vigneault gives his players heavily polarized zone start assignments. He rarely gave the 4th line a shift in the offensive zone in order to maximize the offensive opportunities given to his three scoring lines. On defense, he made sure that the McDonagh-Girardi pairing and the Staal-Stralman pairing got the lion’s share of the defensive zone starts. As a result, Moore received by far the softest minutes of his short NHL career:
With this favorable usage, Moore managed to put up positive possession numbers for the majority of the season . There was a notable shift in his possession game (CF% noted below), which coincides with the trading of his old defensive partner for his new one.
Moore’s skill-set suggests utility on the powerplay. Reality doesn’t care, however. With the man advantage, Moore has been prone to making gaffes which inevitably lead to the penalty killing unit clearing the zone and a reset of the powerplay. Moore has played 151:51 on the powerplay in his career, both playoff and regular season. His spoils? Three points.
The Rangers also produced 5% more shots on goal on the powerplay this season when Moore is off the ice as opposed to on it.
John Moore doesn’t turn 24 until mid-November. There’s an old adage that a defenseman doesn’t hit his stride until age 26 or 27 (which Ranger fans promptly ignored when it came to Michael Del Zotto, about half a year older than Moore). I won’t rule out the possibility that one day Moore finds the secret and puts his tools towards becoming an effective top-four defenseman at the NHL level. He has yet to show that he can to this point, however.