With the New York Rangers only one loss away from being eliminated from the Eastern Conference Finals, the farthest point in their playoff lives since 1997, all the what-if questions will now start to rear their ugly heads. While in a few weeks, regardless of the now ominous outcome that seems likely to unfold, we will all sit back and say this season was a success, and an immense one at that, but for now, positivity must be shelved to address the current problem: why are the Rangers having such a difficult time in these playoffs? While I was angry the last time I wrote about this team, something I do not do much anymore on this blog, I just want to make it clear that no matter what happens, no one can question this team’s heart and character, but unfortunately, heart and character do not win hockey games on their own, they act as a compliment with skill and help drive teams toward winning.
On the heels of the tremendous successes the New York Rangers have witnessed with Donald Brashear and Derek Boogaard in the past two seasons, they are determined to add yet another enforcer, with the signing of Mike Rupp this afternoon. Rupp, a 30-year old fighter, has signed a three-year deal worth $4.5 million. Fans will remember him, not for his fighting ability, but for the fact that he seemed to score a goal every time he faced the Rangers while a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins. If this is a case of “Can’t beat em? Sign em!”, then I am elated with joy. After all, it worked so well with Chris Drury.
I am not going to rip this deal, however, because he comes on the cheap, can fight and hit, and even chip in a goal here and there, with more regularity that any other enforcer the Rangers have brought in. According to TSN, ten teams were going after Rupp this afternoon, and the Rangers were the high bidders. Lucky us. From Joe Aiello: “I love how we win all these bidding wars. We are like the spoiled rich kids.”
If Rupp can somehow find a way to net five to ten goals and protect Gaborik and Lundqvist, like Boogaard was brought here to do, then it will be worth it. Overall, if you are waiting for a blockbuster deal from the Rangers, keep in mind that Gomez, Drury, Redden, and Gaborik were also signed after 6pm EST if memory serves me correct. The Rangers have a habit of waiting until the early evening to make a splash, so stay patient.
In 497 career NHL games, Mike Rupp has 49 goals and 40 assists for 89 points. He has also racked up 656 penalty minutes.
Say what you want about Glen Sather, but at least when he makes a mistake, he also makes it disappear. In recent years, the New York Rangers have been plagued by enormous contracts that have detracted not only from the team’s play, but their maneuverability with the salary cap. Regardless of what Sather can accomplish in his remaining years here, he will be remembered for five things: Jaromir Jagr, Scott Gomez, Chris Drury, Michal Rozsival, and Wade Redden. Of those five, only one had positive implications, while the other four served to cripple the team’s ability to find cap space. But over the last three seasons, the Rangers have found a way to deal with them. Gomez was shipped to Montreal for prospect Ryan McDonagh, who had a breakout rookie campaign this season. Rozsival was dealt to Phoenix this past year for Wojtek Wolski, who the Rangers have confirmed will not be bought out. And of course, last September, the worst contract of them all came off the books, when Redden was banished to the team’s AHL affiliate in Hartford.
Drury has remained the last of these, even as his play seemed to deteriorate with each passing season. But today, we have learned that the Rangers plan to buy out the final year of his contract. This decision was proposed, and expected, by most of the fan base over the last year or so, and now it will finally come to fruition. This transaction will still cost the Rangers some money, but it will free up even more, and also frees up a roster spot that can go to a free agent acquisition who will hopefully have some offensive talent. To my knowledge, the Rangers do not have a budding center prospect who is ready to come in and play this season.
Now, Drury’s tenure in New York was not all bad, by any means. In his first two seasons, he put up exactly what his career averages suggested he would do. 58 and 56 points, respectively, were right in his neighborhood, as were the 25 and 22 goals. However, because fans have a habit of expecting players to double their career highs when they put on a Rangers’ jersey, he was going to be a failure no matter what, especially with a team struggling to score goals. He was a victim of circumstance as much as he was a victim of his own play, which saw him sink down to only 14 goals and 18 assists in the 2009/10 season. This past year was muddled by injuries, and he recorded only 1 goal in 24 games. Although supposedly a great leader in the locker room, and we know of his great defensive ability, there was just no reason to keep him around any longer, not with a $7 million cap hit.
According to CapGeek’s buyout calculator, the Rangers will be charged $1.6 million both this season and next, while saving $3.3 million this season, and losing money next. Even so, this adds to the Rangers cap room that they will need if they want to pursue a upper-tier free agent such as Brad Richards this summer.
I am happy to see this move in the works, though I admit it is unfortunate it had to end this way. I remember July 1, 2007 like it was yesterday, and was elated when I heard the news the Rangers were getting both Drury and Gomez. I was upset that Michael Nylander could not have been retained, but it was not going to matter. The Rangers were finally going to move into that upper echelon of teams. Four years later, my, how wrong we all were. I wish Drury all the best, and hope he will find a job with another NHL team.
Christmas is only 35 days away, and fans of the New York Rangers have asked Santa Claus for Brad Richards. The Blueshirts barely snuck into the playoffs this season, mainly due to their anemic offense that was always a two periods late and a goal short. They rode the back of goaltender Henrik Lundqvist and a youthful defense for as long as they could, but it was not nearly enough. The team needed goals, plain and simple, or they needed passes going to someone who could get them goals, namely Marian Gab0rik, who disappeared more times than planes have gone down in the Bermuda Triangle.
Blame was placed on the offense in two directions: 1) Marian Gaborik was merely a flash in the pan, who came to Broadway, put up a 40+ goal season, got comfortable, and then went away, content with the salary he was given. He was no longer a big game player, no longer the superstar the Rangers gave a five-year/$37.5 million contract to in 2009. 2) Gaborik did not lose any skill himself, but rather, it was the fault of his teammates who could not get him the puck. Erik Christensen, Brandon Dubinsky, Vinny Prospal, and others whose names elude me at the present time all were blamed for not being a good enough set-up man.
Either way, Gaborik never had a star center in Minnesota (unless you think Pierre-Marc Bouchard is worth writing home about) but that did not stop him from putting up 42 goals in 07/08 and four other 30-goal seasons, all while never playing a full 82 games. So now, everyone is clamoring for Dallas Stars’ free agent center Brad Richards. He is going to be the answer and savior all in one shot. Why? I don’t know, you tell me.
This is where Rangers fans earn their paycheck, by going around the league every summer and seeing what players out there will instantly come here and save the day. Every season it is always a center, and while I agree that the Rangers desperately need a center (just like Christensen desperately needs a prescription for Cymbalta), I also want to make note of the high-priced free agents the Rangers have brought in over the years. Unless you are a fan of the way Chris Drury, Scott Gomez, and Wade Redden worked out, you will agree that when the Rangers throw the checkbook at somebody for how well they played in the past, it ultimately fails.
Brad Richards is a fantastic talent, don’t get me wrong. He has put up 91 points twice (Gomez put up 84 once) and has registered more than 40 assists in all but one season, which was when he was injured in 08/09. But why all of a sudden is he going to click with Gaborik and put up those points here in New York? Rangers fans have this Utopian idea in their heads more than half the time, one that includes severely over-rating our homegrown players and then automatically assuming every free agent in the world wants to play here. To go on a tangent for a second, Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan will be overpaid this summer, and neither will be worth the paycheck—trust me on that. But will you take off the blinders and see it too? There is not a player in this franchise (you read correctly, not one player) who should be considered untouchable in my eyes.
Now we must look at what price Richards can be had for. He clearly deserves between $6 and 7 million, easy. The Rangers currently have just over $18 million in cap space, with Dubinsky, Callahan, Brian Boyle, Artem Anisimov, Matt Gilroy, and Michael Sauer all restricted free agents. With those players eating up well over half of that, the Rangers will then need to replace Alex Frolov, whose money thankfully comes off the books, and then must reconsider bringing one (or none) of the pair of Ruslan Fedotenko and Vinny Prospal back—they should not re-sign both. Then there are defensemen Bryan McCabe and Steve Eminger also hitting free agency, and while I like McCabe’s potential as a leader and powerplay catalyst, unless he takes around $2 million for a one-year deal, I would not bring him back. As for Eminger, I am still on the fence about whether he should be brought back, but I am inclined to think no. So now where is this money for Richards going to come from, with most of it tied up in signing the Rangers’ own players? The logical answer would be to summon the ghost of Harry Houdini and make Chris Drury disappear (or they could just banish him to the minors or buy him out), or even find a way to trade Marian Gaborik, but something tells me that would defeat the purpose of signing Brad Richards, won’t it?
What Glen Sather and the Rangers have to do is get creative though trades, which is where the GM excels anyway. I would like to see what the return could be for a Gaborik deal, and although fans would worry about dealing him, if the Rangers can finish in 8th place and have a mediocre offense with him, they can finish in 8th place and have a mediocre offense without him. The Rangers must work the phones here, and find a way to get Gaborik’s contract off the books, and get some high to medium level talent in return, and maybe even some draft picks. With that money, perhaps they can then do what everyone really wants to see, and that is poach Zach Parise from the New Jersey Devils. But I will attach a disclaimer to that: do you really see Sather doing that to his old crony Lou Lamoriello? I don’t think so.
So, the answer to the question I initially asked is “No”, Brad Richards is not the answer. Sure he would be part of it, but unless the Rangers can solve all of it, I would not tie up a large amount of money like that in a 31-year old whose best days are truly behind him. I am tired of seeing the Rangers gamble with enormous contracts, thinking they are a quick fix when all they do is handicap the team further down the road. The Rangers need a center alright, but I would rather give Michal Handzus one year at $2.5 million and throw him next to Gaborik than lock up Richards for five to six years. The free agent market is drier than the Sahara Desert when it comes to centers this summer, but that doesn’t mean the Rangers need to settle for someone just because nobody else is there.
Think I’m joking about the laughably boring free agent market this year? Just click here to see for yourself.
Having interviewed New York Rangers’ prospect and current Connecticut Whale left-wing Devin DiDiomete two years ago, when I noticed that he was going to be immersing himself in the online phenomena known as Twitter, I asked if he would ever consider blogging. I told him that if he ever wanted to write anything and send it over, that I would publish it. Devin responded with, “I’m a character, not a writer. I’ve been out of school for too long.” but told me that he would answer any questions I had for him. We talked about trying something a little bit different, with not your usual boring questions that can only garner standard responses. These are only a few questions because this is just the first installment of “Devin’s Den”. We will be getting together again in a few weeks for a second one, and hopefully we can do a third one over the summer.
Devin is the type of player you would classify as the dictionary definition of “fan favorite”. All Whale season ticket holders are nodding their heads reading this, and a few told me after I said I would be doing this series with Devin that he is one of the nicest players you could ever meet. But on the ice, his smile and handshake turns into a snarl and a punch in the face. In 62 games this season, he has racked up 296 penalty minutes, his career high in any league (you can view some of his fights here). He also has six goals, which leads me to compare him to current Rangers’ forward Brandon Prust, as the player who may not be the biggest, but he’ll fight anyone in the league, and even chip in a goal every now and then. While playing for the Charlotte Checkers in 2009/10 for the ECHL on a brief stint, Devin somehow managed to get 128 penalty minutes in just 15 games (next time, I’ll have to ask him how he accomplished such a feat!).
Since 2004/05, Devin has been playing professional hockey. He started out with four seasons in the OHL, playing alongside current Rangers Marc Staal and Ryan McDonagh for the Sudbury Wolves, and Tampa Bay Lightning superstar Steven Stamkos for the Sarnia Sting. We can only hope that Devin will be playing in New York Ranger blue next season, to join his old teammates on the greatest stage of all.
Favorite movie? Old School
Favorite TV show? Entourage
Favorite food? Steak with mushrooms and spinach
Favorite player growing up? Steve Yzerman
Favorite team? Toronto Blue Jays
Favorite hobby? Working on my wash board (laughs)
Q & A
GC: I’ve heard from many Hartford season ticket holders that you are a funny guy. What’s the funniest thing that has ever happened to you as a professional hockey player?
DD: Over the past couple of years, I have got the label of being a prankster; always hiding guys shoes, clothes, taping wallets and keys together with pounds of tape, sewing guys pant legs together, cutting guys sticks before practice so it breaks on their first shot—but someone this year is beating me at my own game. For the last month, at least once a week, my one shoe and one sock go missing. [My teammates] always manage to come up with better hiding spots than me, so they go missing for days on end. Needless to say, I’ve had to walk out of the rink in two different shoes a few times this past month.
GC: Another thing I have heard is that you are very personable with fans. Obviously some players are not, so how do you feel players should treat the fans? How would you describe Hartford fans?
DD: I appreciate all the support my fans give me, so I feel the least I can do is give them a little bit of my time or sign some autographs for them. I always remember going to games growing up and being so pumped to talk to players or get a fist pump from them on the way out to the ice. I want to try to bring some of that excitement to all my fans.
GC: Being a heavyweight fighter, what are your keys to success for winning a fight? Do you have any safety tips for young players who may want to begin fighting?
DD: I would say I am more of a pest than a heavyweight fighter. I love feeling when I get under someone’s skin so bad that they want to rip my head off—it means I’ve done my job and they are more worried about me than our more skilled guys. As far as tips go to the young guys out there, hit the other guy more than he hits you. When in doubt, knock ‘em out and ask questions later.
GC: I have to ask this because there seems to be a lot of fans on both sides of this. What name is better, Whale or Wolfpack?
DD: (laughs) I don’t want to answer that question. Some people have taken the name change to heart, but I will tell you one thing: the new jerseys look a lot better!
GC: With all this talk about head shots in hockey swirling around, what are your thoughts on the subject?
DD: I like what they are doing. I don’t think there is a place in hockey for the dirty elbows and dirty shoulders to guys’ jaws. Concussions are a serious issue and each year it seems like more and more guys are missing time due to dirty hits. If they take the instigator rule out of the game, I bet you would see a lot less cowardly plays because it forces guys to stay honest and they might think twice before doing something dirty or cheap.
Devin also had some kind words to offer for Connecticut Whale defenseman Wade Redden:
DD: I have nothing but good things to say about [Wade]. I’m sure he would much rather be in New York, but I think everyone here wants that. He has impressed me with his good attitude and work ethic. He’s a great role model for the younger defensemen and a great leader in the locker room. Having played almost a thousand NHL games, he brings much needed experience and leadership and I think he has done a great job of staying positive throughout this season.
I would like to thank Devin for taking the time out of his busy schedule to contribute to my blog. This is definitely one of the most interesting hockey interviews I have ever conducted (right up their with the Dale Weise one last season, when we ended up talking about Farmville), because it is not your typical “blah blah blah” responses. Make sure to look out for our next edition, coming out in a few weeks! And make sure to follow him on Twitter if you haven’t already clicked the link @deeds2424. He is new to this so take it easy on him!
UPDATE: Read Vol. 2 of “Devin’s Den” here.
This is the end
This is the end
My only friend, the end
Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end
I’ll never look into your eyes…again
At first, I thought that it was rather convenient that Chris Drury found himself sidelined with yet another injury in this, his disastrous 2010/11 campaign. The timing of it could not have been more perfect—a struggling player with an enormous salary leaving for the rest of the season and taking his cap hit with him. But then it was announced that he would be having knee surgery and out for six weeks, and with rehab time thrown in, will probably not be able to crack the lineup even if he gets healthy. Then I thought, this is no conspiracy, the Captain of the New York Rangers really is injured.
I have been a severe critic of Drury’s play, mainly because it has not been NHL caliber since he returned from a concussion against Calgary last season. After he signed in New York, I never expected 30 goals out of him or 80 points or anything like that on a season-by-season basis. His stats in his first year here were what I did expect, and wanted to see him continue. He put up 25 goals in 07/08, much to the dismay of fans who thought they were getting the lethal goal scorer who doused the team’s hopes in the playoffs a season prior. But then the goal total shrunk down to 22, then 14, and now in an injury plagued season which has not given us much to measure him by, he has 0 goals in 23 games.
A concussion last season caused him to miss some time, and two broken finger injuries this season brought his rhythm down to a halt. This knee injury will all but end his year, and though the Rangers will not miss him much, the team really has to take his future into consideration. Drury is a hard-working player—no one is doubting his defensive play or faceoff ability, but the fact that he has zero offense left in his game and is not the inspirational leader a captain should be, should have the Rangers thinking about options other than letting him come back for the fifth and final season of his contract.
Being that he has a no trade clause, the Rangers will not be able to move him that way, so just forget about it. Can the Rangers bury him in Hartford along with Wade Redden? Well, technically speaking yes, but they will not do that, nor should they; there is no reason to embarrass him further. The most logical way to deal with him would be to buy him out, which carries a cap hit of ~$3.7 million for next season, and ~$1.6 million for the season after that. (I would rather pay him to stay away, rather than suit up.)
The other option, of course, is to pray (or force) him to retire. Perhaps not only would that be the best way, because the Rangers would not owe him anything, but it would let Drury leave with at least a bit of dignity. Though no professional athlete wants to go out like this, it is better to retire because of injury than get kicked out by the organization, is it not?
Chris Drury is a player that showed so much promise. He was advertised as “Captain Clutch” and “Captain America” because of leadership abilities he possessed that we have yet to see in four seasons. I am not mentioning that because he is a quiet leader—all captains lead in their own way, and I have nothing against that, but this team needs someone more vocal. On a team where there is plenty of youth that have no experience, they need some direction. They need a captain who will not be afraid to yell. I doubt Drury’s stoic personality will allow that to escape his tight lips. For the rest of this season, should Drury really be done, I would propose that Vinny Prospal take over the captaincy. He is more vocal, has experience, and has actually had offensive success in his brief tenure as a Ranger. I really do not see him having a role beyond this year, unless Sather still cannot find a center for Gaborik, but it would do no harm for the remainder of this season.
Using CapGeek, I was able to put together the lineup for the 2010/11 New York Rangers, after the return of the injured Chris Drury to the team. This lineup is of course without any trades, and Greg and I both feel that Glen Sather may be up to something and may swing a deal, either for a veteran defenseman or a first line center. The waiving of Wade Redden freed up almost $4 million, and now the Rangers have a lot of room to maneuver.
Line 1: Marian Gaborik ($7.500m) / Derek Stepan ($0.820m) / Alexander Frolov ($3.000m)
Line 2: Ruslan Fedotenko ($0.600m) / Artem Anisimov ($0.821m) / Vaclav Prospal ($2.100m)
Line 3: Brandon Dubinsky ($1.850m) / Chris Drury ($7.050m) / Ryan Callahan ($2.300m)
Line 4: Sean Avery ($1.937m) / Erik Christensen ($0.925m) / Brandon Prust ($0.800m)
Scratches: Tim Kennedy ($0.550m) / Derek Boogaard ($1.625m)
Defense 1: Marc Staal ($3.975m) / Daniel Girardi ($3.325m)
Defense 2: Michael Del Zotto ($1.087m) / Michal Rozsival ($5.000m)
Defense 3: Matt Gilroy ($1.750m) / Ryan McDonagh ($1.300m)
Scratch: Steve Eminger ($1.125m)
Goalie 1: Henrik Lundqvist ($6.875m)
Goalie 2: Martin Biron ($0.875m)
CAPGEEK.COM TOTALS (follow @capgeek on Twitter)
SALARY CAP: $59,400,000; CAP PAYROLL: $57,192,500; BONUSES: $1,737,500
CAP SPACE (23-man roster): $3,945,000
Derek Stepan has played very well thus far, and will definitely make the team due to Chris Drury’s absence. The only real question will be whether or not he sticks around upon Drury’s return, but due to Todd White’s salary, and Brian Boyle’s lack of offensive ability, Stepan should get the job.
Ruslan Fedotenko has also had a very good training camp, after coming here on an invite. His salary will be very low, and he is a no risk-high reward player. He will make at or under a million dollars, and is a shoe-in for 15-20 goals. He could add to the Rangers offensive depth much like Vinny Prospal did last season.
Finally, McDonagh and Valentenko will be battling it out for that last defensive spot, and even though Valentenko has been better than Eminger, the Rangers will not have a rookie sit on the bench as a seventh defenseman, so Eminger will get that role after the cutting of Alexei Semenov.
This morning the New York Rangers have announced that they have slimmed down their training camp roster by 11 players. Some of them came as a surprise, while others were more expected. The Rangers assigned Chad Johnson, Dale Weise, Evgeny Grachev, Mats Zuccarello, and Wade Redden to Hartford, released Brandon Manning, Alexei Semenov, and Garnet Exelby from tryouts, and will assign Dane Byers, Kris Newbury, and Jeremy Williams to continue training camp with Hartford.
To begin with, I was really surprised that they cut Mats Zuccarello so quickly. He was brought here with the initial thought of being able to produce offensively in a top-six role. There were a lot of high hopes for him, both from fans and management, and he just did not seem to find any groove this training camp. He was pretty much invisible in the three games he played.
Meanwhile, Evgeny Grachev is another player who has gone invisible, two training camps in a row. Last season, there could have been the excuse that he was getting used to hockey in North America, but after a season in Hartford, and a lackluster one at that, he should have been ready this time around. I have the feeling that this Russian forward will go the way of Bobby Sanguinetti and amount to nothing, because let’s face it, he was a third round pick who never got any attention until the unfortunate passing of Alexei Cherepanov.
For Dale Weise, I thought he played well and if the Rangers did not have such a log-jam at forward, he would have made the team. He showed good physical ability and even chipped in an assist in the first game of the preseason.
The Rangers also released Alexei Semenov from his tryout with the Rangers. I was actually very surprised at this because I thought he played well, and his size and strength would have been a welcome sight on the blue-line. However, I believe his cutting means that Pavel Valentenko will make the team, as he has been very physical and even has a good shot to boot. He will battle it out with Ryan McDonagh, but I think he holds the edge. Steve Eminger, meanwhile, will most likely get the job as the team’s seventh defenseman even though I was not impressed with what I saw from him.
Garnet Exelby too was cut, which was expected after the awful game he had against the Devils on Saturday night. The cuts to Newbury, Williams and Byers were also expected, and each one of them has to clear waivers before being assigned to Hartford.
The Rangers are now down to their two goaltenders, but are carrying nine defenseman and 16 forwards. I expected the Rangers to cut two more defenseman and two more forwards in the days to come.
Look for a post later this afternoon by Joe Aiello as he gives us what he expects to be our lineup for the season.
Let me start off my saying that I am no fan of Sean Avery, and I am actually counting down the days until his antics are no longer plaguing this team, but what happened to him last night in a preseason game against the New Jersey Devils shows why the league and their referees are members of the Mickey Mouse Party.
We all know Avery’s game– getting under the skin of the opponent and causing them to take penalties and get agitated, throwing them off their game. Avery did this to perfection last night, with two of his favorite targets, David Clarkson and Ilya Kovalchuk. However, the obvious league bias prevented the situation from working to the Rangers favor.
Avery met with Clarkson, who in turn dropped his gloves wanting to fight him, but just like a game last season, Avery did not drop his, and Clarkson was left standing bewildered yet again. Then as Avery was heading to the penalty box, he crossed paths with Ilya Kovalchuk, who dropped his gloves as well. Avery would then drop his and attempt to fight the superstar, but the referees jumped in, and so did David Clarkson.
Kovalchuk landed punches, and Clarkson tried desperately to get to Avery while the referee held him down. When the altercation was over, Avery had not landed a single punch, but received the most penalty minutes out of the trio, with a double minor for roughing and a ten minute misconduct. Kovalchuk would get only two minutes, despite being the first to drop his gloves, and Clarkson got absolutely nothing. A third-man-in offense is always a game misconduct, no questions asked, but he got away Scott-free.
But we are all used to this kind of treatment, and incensing as it may be, it could not come as a shock to anyone– what happened next would.
Following the game, Avery told reporters in the locker-room that the reason why he was given the misconduct was because the referee told him, “He’s a superstar and I can’t go after a superstar.” Now, many would not take Avery’s word on this, but why would he put himself in an even worse situation by lying? Considering what happened, I fully believe him, because we all know he is a marked man who has had a target on his back for the majority of his career in the NHL.
By saying that, the referee is admitting that certain players are above the law; that even if a certain superstar is the one that initiates a fight, if you are not of superstar caliber, you cannot fight him or attempt to. This incident should be investigated by the NHL, but I highly doubt it will even get so much as a sniff.
Sean Avery’s career with the Rangers has been nothing but a whirlwind of emotion. When he first came to the team during the 2006/07 season, he was a godsend. He invigorated a dull Rangers team with his agitation of opponents, aggressive style of play, and even goal scoring ability, as he recorded 20 points in 28 games. His next season was even better, when he netted 15 goals and 18 assists and also 154 penalty minutes.
When Avery left for Dallas the season after, and got into trouble for his infamous locker-room comments, it was all downhill from there. The league was waiting years for him to do something they could nail him for, and they did. Although allowing him back in the league, they would make sure that he would be all but welcome. For two seasons now, the Rangers have put up with a league bias against them, and this has even carried over into a meaningless preseason game.
So my question is, is it worth it? Is it worth keeping a marked man on the team and dealing with a brutally obvious league bias all for the thirty seconds of entertainment he gives us every time he plays the Devils?
Avery does not play “his game” every night, but when he does it is effective. However, that effectiveness has slipped to detrimental for the New York Rangers and now if he plays his game he will be targeted and penalized. It is a lose-lose situation for both he and the team, because if he doesn’t play his game, he is all but useless and what he brings to the table can be mimicked by any forward in Hartford.
This is a tricky situation for the Rangers– there is not a team in the NHL who would trade for him, and they do not want to ruin the locker-room of their AHL affiliate Hartford Wolfpack. But they may have to take that chance, and place him on an AHL-bound line where he can play out the rest of his contract.
Sean Avery used to be an advantage to the Rangers and it was a joy to see him play, but times have changed and now Avery’s mere presence will result in more harm that good. The Rangers already rid themselves of one detriment in Wade Redden, and now it is time for another.
The day fans have counted down for the last two years has finally happened– the New York Rangers have placed defenseman Wade Redden on waivers. The move had been wholeheartedly expected this summer, since the Rangers are both strapped for cash and loaded with budding young defenseman. But there were also many doubts, as people did not think Glen Sather would admit to a mistake in signing Redden by waiving him, or if Jim Dolan would allow it, since Redden is due to earn $23 million over the next four years, for what would have been an annual cap hit of $6.5 million.
This move was strictly a numbers game, as Redden’s play was never really that terrible to warrant a waiving. Had he earned around $3 million, there would be no complaints. Two seasons ago, he was brought in to be a desperately needed powerplay quarterback and steady offensive-defenseman, but with his play already declining in Ottawa, the one-time marquee defenseman was never able to even come near some of the great years he had for the Senators, one of which included 17 goals, and another, 40 assists.
In two seasons with the Rangers, he put up a total of five goals and 35 assists for an even 40 points in 156 games. His defensive play was average, and he was never really a liability, but with that contract, and more physical players like Ryan McDonaugh and Michael Sauer trying to crack the lineup, it was a move that just had to be made.
Part of me does want to feel bad for Redden, though. It was not his fault he was given the contract that he had, and he and his wife just had a child the other night. He knew his chances of making the Rangers were slim to none, but now he must find a job elsewhere. Will it be Hartford? I don’t see a player like him reporting to the minors where other players are in the learning stages of their career, so Europe may be an option. Either way, he will still make his money and is set for life.
This move really makes me happy, not just because an immense contract is cleared off the books, but because the Rangers for once are backing up their bark with their bite. Every year we hear the same mantra, that the kids will get a shot and the vets will take a hike– every player will earn his spot. For the first time in a long time, the Rangers sent a high-priced veteran packing, opening the door for McDonaugh, or cheap veterans such as Garnet Exelby and Alexei Semenov.
Today is a great day for the New York Rangers, one that sees the franchise take a giant step forward, and not a cataclysmic leap backward.