These past few days have just been up and down with rumors, most revolving around Columbus Blue Jackets’ superstar winger Rick Nash, with nobody seeming to know anything at all about what is really transpiring. But before all of that, we had a couple of big deals, the first being Jeff Carter dealt to Los Angeles by Columbus so he could be re-united with former drinking buddy, err…I mean, teammate from Philadelphia, Mike Richards. The return on the trade was defenseman Jack Johnson and a first round pick. With that, I would say both teams made out rather well. The Blue Jackets get some much-needed offense from the blue line, though Johnson’s defense is anything but solid (I guess you can say he’ll fit right in, then?) as he currently sits at a -12 on the season, and a -90 overall for his career. That’s scary to think about, considering the offense he has put up. Carter, meanwhile, will help a stagnant Kings’ offense, as he will personally be revitalized by playing with a big market team in a city full of night life. You can expect him and Richards to be the bash-brothers they were with the Flyers.
With the NHL Trade Deadline less than three weeks away, the excitement and speculation is already underway, as we await yet another frenzy of trades and seeing who goes where. There are plenty of names on the block, which only adds to the suspense. I am not going to bother making predictions this year, just suggestions and observations for the New York Rangers, based on what their needs are. For a first place team, they have plenty of dead weight that they could afford to lose, and plenty of places to plug a player here and there. If they want to stay in first place and actually advance past the first round this season, the Rangers are going to have to be active. This does not mean a complete overhaul by any means (since when has Sather ever done that anyway, except for the 2004 fire-sale?) but rather a series of non-blockbusters (I hesitate to use the phrase “small deals”) that will sure up the team’s flimsy offense. Below are some options, as well as some other things we must consider:
Spare me the cries of overreaction on what will be game nine of the New York Rangers’ season tomorrow afternoon at home against the Ottawa Senators. The bottom-line is, the Rangers have not played one complete game all season long, and blew a chance to defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs last night, after they began the game flying in the offensive zone. As usual, they did not end the game as they began, with the order of good and bad play shifting around from previous games. Coach John Tortorella, out of desperation (or maybe compulsion, I have not yet decided) keeps on changing the lines in his eternal quest to find offensive chemistry, something his team has never had, dating back to when he inherited a misfit team from Tom Renney three years ago. He had an excuse then, though, as he was not working with who he wanted. Well, he got who he wanted this off-season, and has done nothing but make everyone’s head spin with his nonsensical line switches that seem to occur on a shift-by-shift basis, rather than a more understandable game-by-game.
Tomorrow’s top two lines, who they will field against a weak assemblage from Ottawa, who, by the way, have played better than the Rangers, are as follows:
1) Wojtek Wolski- Erik Christensen- Marian Gaborik
2) Brandon Dubinsky- Brad Richards- Ryan Callahan
As I said just said days ago, the sheer brilliance of John Tortorella here is so strong, it will blind you and knock you out of your chair. Brad Richards is not being paid nearly $7 million to skate between two offensive hacks, who have combined for two goals and three assists in 16 games. Brandon Dubinsky, who may have qualified for the Dumbest Ranger award, after the last game, continues to take stupid penalties at inopportune times, while waltzing irrelevantly through all three zones as a non-factor, with zero goals in eight games. Fresh off a contract that is paying him $4.2 million, he is now showing his true colors, one of yet another overpaid homegrown “star” who fans love, that has never really accomplished anything. Ryan Callahan, meanwhile, has been just a step better, if only because he has not spent an entire two periods worth of penalty minutes in the sin bin. The fact that Richards is between the two is just more proof of Tortorella’s disillusionment. He is the only marquee playmaker this team has had since the lockout, except for Michael Nylander, and that is who he has to work with? Where is Marian Gaborik, who he actually played well with in the first few games of the season? Oh yeah, stuck on the wing with Erik Christensen and Wojtek Wolski, two players who have played a combined nine games without a point between them. Remember, this is the Rangers. Here 2 + 2 = 5.
If Tortorella wants to keep up the juggling act, which would have even Barnum and Bailey fainting from dizziness, at least he could not insult the fan base and those that shell out the money that helps to pay for some of these contracts, and actually keep Gaborik and Richards together. The clock is ticking, and while the season may still be young, if the Rangers continue to play like this, we will not have to worry about the season much longer. So far, they have been a disgrace, and I do not care what their record is. This is a franchise that prides itself on being just good enough to get to the playoffs. How long is it before they push it a little bit further and not settle for a berth that more than half the teams in the league also make? It is harder to miss the playoffs than make them, and while this was the year that the Rangers were actually going to get out of the first round and make a serious push, I think we can now consider it a major accomplishment if they make it through the month of November with a winning record. This team needs a wake-up call, and while I am not yet ready to have Tortorella on the chopping block, I would say he is very close. The only problem is who would replace him. Who is out there? Mike Keenan (who was an analyst on MSG last season, prompting me to think he was in waiting), Bob Hartley, and Ted Nolan come to mind, but the Rangers also need to make trades, in offense and defense. This all adds up to a major problem, and a New York Rangers’ season would not be one without one, as you damn well know if you have been watching them as long as I have, and beyond.
Comments on the Home Opener Festivities
I could not help but cringe during the Rangers’ extended “Blue Carpet” pre-game show, where they interviewed disinterested celebrities who just happened to be at the game because they got free tickets, not because they are actually hockey fans. Gianonne kept floating the same boring, basic questions that plague his real hockey coverage, while the star-power present was strong enough to have powered a low-budget C-level horror movie. Then came the actual pre-game ceremony, one which was nothing special (which I don’t mind), but it also lacked a memorial for Derek Boogaard, who passed away this off-season. While he was remembered during a TV timeout, a video or something needed to be done while still on the broadcast, so it could be seen as special, and not crammed into a thirty-second money-making time-slot. If their reason is because they did not want to sadden the mood of a home opener, and not because a ceremony is coming later in the season, then shame on MSG.
One more thing, and this is in regard to those dolts who unfurled the “We Want Avery” banner and yelled the chants that could be heard on television. Let me ask you: do you really think he would make a difference? His famous spark was gone, and he was just as useless as Dubinsky or Wolski during the pre-season. I know there are many with an undying affection for him, but would he help the team score goals? Would he help them be more disciplined? Would he help the defense clear the zone? The answer to all three questions is no, so please, just leave it alone and stick to reality here. I may want him more than Christensen too, but he sure as hell would not have made the outcomes of these miserable games any different.
I have not watched every single minute of pre-season this year, so forgive me if this line combination has already been tried.
As of right now, the most obvious and likely choice to land the left-wing spot on the first line of the New York Rangers is Wojtek Wolski. With newest acquisition Brad Richards being brought in to hopefully be that elusive star down the middle, and oft-injured Marian Gaborik planning on having a bounce-back year and return to his former greatness, the Rangers would like to compliment their skill with a player who has the potential to come in with a bang. Wolski, however, can join a long list of former players the Rangers have had, both loaded with talent, but equally susceptible to a disappearing act. The former first round pick from 2004 only had 12 goals last season, one he split with the Phoenix Coyotes. While he does add some much-needed size, he lacks toughness and is not much for checking.
To put it bluntly, the Rangers have had too many players act as reclamation projects, and it is already known that the rope Wolski is on is very short, and can be yanked at any time, especially given his $3.8 million price tag. If he clicks with Gaborik and Richards, then by all means, he could put up more than 20 goals, even though that is something he has accomplished only twice in his career. However, given the circumstances, and the fact that I do hold out much hope for players to automatically reverse their bad habits, if Wolski does not find himself cut to free up cap space before the season starts, then by the middle of October, the Rangers will be making that move.
Other than Wolski, another name that could be a fit for the top line wing spot is Brandon Dubinsky, because again, he brings size, and this time, actual toughness and fighting ability. But he also showed great chemistry with Ryan Callahan, and it would not be worth disrupting that just to load up on one line, because secondary scoring is equally as important. So, is there anyone on this team who could excel in that role? Well, how about another one of their free agent signings this summer, Mike Rupp? The enforcer and hard checker could be perfect on the line because he would not be relied on to score goals, just the occasional chip-in. His presence would allow Richards and Gaborik (not as a knock against them, but neither of them are physical players) more room on the ice, as well as acting as protection. Rupp could add size and balance, and be a force to be reckoned with in front of the net. Can Wolski do that?
Bottom-line is, when Wolski does not score, he is absolutely useless–worthless is the better word. He does not check, fight, or do anything aside from take up space. Rupp, on the other hand, can throw that body check to free up room, stand in front of the net to set a screen, and worst comes to worst, fight to stick up for a line-mate in case they are taken advantage of.
The Rangers have not had luck in recent years with enforcers. Donald Brashear was too old and Derek Boogaard experienced a severe injury. Colton Orr was the last good fighter they had, but alas, he did not have much hockey sense aside from rearing back and clocking someone in the head. Rupp has been known to score the occasional goal (ironically enough, he scored too many against the Rangers while a member of the Penguins) and his 22 goals in the last two seasons combined are very good for an enforcer, if not abnormally high. He is not a tremendous skater, but he can get around well enough that he won’t be a detriment. The Rangers should give this combination a shot. We know Wolski is going to be a bust, so lets just forgo the disappointment and give this threesome a shot in exhibition. Gretzky had Semenko, so why not let Gaborik and Richards have Rupp?
Heading into this off-season, the New York Rangers find themselves in quite good shape when compared to the last few summers. The Rangers must establish a true first line in order to justify their investment in Marian Gaborik, whose disappointing 2010/11 campaign could have been attributed to injuries and lack of chemistry with players around him. He will, and must, look to regain his form found in the previous seasons.
Brad Richards is the only marquee free agent on the market when it comes to offensive players. Richards, 31, is the number one center the Rangers need if they would like to take their development one step further. The mentality of the Rangers’ youth movement is nice, but they need top line talent to win. Unfortunately, this top line talent does not exist anywhere in the organization outside of Marian Gaborik. Pairing Richards with Gaborik and Wojtek Wolski would give the Rangers a top line. Wolski is a question mark on that line, but given he gels with talented players we could see him have a breakout year.
The Rangers have two players in Chris Drury and Sean Avery who are both primed for buyouts. The Rangers cannot endure one additional season while carrying Drury’s 7+ million cap hit. They need to spend their money elsewhere in order to improve the club. Drury’s 3.7 million buyout hit will give them additional flexibility. When it comes to doghouse player Sean Avery, it does not make sense for the team to keep him around, unless he can reclaim past success, which is doubtful. Avery’s role with the Rangers has seemed to disappear and he has turned into more of a liability than anything else on the ice. Cutting his salary cap hit almost in half will give the Rangers an additional $1 million in spending money. In order to bypass buyout ramifications, the Rangers could also send Avery salary to Hartford, removing it entirely from the cap as well.
When it comes to other players on the free agent market, there is only one forward I would not steer clear of. Jamie Langenbrunner is a forward, who if used in a 3rd line role, could prove valuable to the club. The Rangers should take a long look at Langenbrunner. Despite his age, a team needs a few veterans sprinkled in if they want to find any type of success. Jan Hejda, a veteran defenseman from Columbus, can also help the Rangers if paired with youngster Micheal Del Zotto. The Rangers have had interest in bringing Hejda in for several years via trade with the Blue Jackets, but were never able to make a sensible deal. Now that Hejda is a UFA, a one or two year deal may make sense.
Stay: Anisimov, Boyle, Callahan, Christensen, Dubinsky, Fedotenko, Gaborik, Prust, Stepan, Wolski, Eminger,Girardi, McDonagh, Sauer, Staal, Biron, Lundqvist
Go: Avery, Drury, Prospal, Gilroy, McCabe
Your 2011-2012 New York Rangers
Salaries calculated through CapGeek and are noted in parenthesis next to the player’s name.
1st line: Marian Gaborik ($7.500m)- Brad Richards ($6.750m)- Wojtek Wolski ($3.800m)
2nd line: Ryan Callahan ($3.975m)- Derek Stepan ($0.875m)- Brandon Dubinsky ($3.975m)
3rd line: Jamie Langenbrunner ($2.300m)- Artem Anisimov ($1.350m)- Mats Zuccarello ($1.750m)
4th line: Brandon Prust ($0.800m)- Brian Boyle ($1.225m)- Ruslan Fedotenko ($1.250m)
Scratches: Erik Christensen ($0.925m) and Chris Drury ($3.716m)
1st pairing: Marc Staal ($3.975m)- Daniel Girardi ($3.325m)
2nd pairing: Ryan McDonagh ($1.300m)- Mike Sauer ($1.505m)
3rd pairing: Jan Hejda ($2.500m)- Michael Del Zotto ($1.087m)
Scratch: Steve Eminger ($0.650m)
Starting: Henrik Lundqvist ($6.875m)
Backup: Martin Biron ($0.875m)
Salary Cap: $62,500,000
Cap Payroll: $62,284,167
Cap Space (23-man roster): $215,833
[Note from Greg Caggiano] Even though Joe and I disagree about Brad Richards, I must say this looks like a decent line-up, or at least more so than last season’s. The three free agent moves he has made here are realistic and certainly not out of the question, though fans may be wary in bringing in another ex-Devil in Langenbrunner. But out of all three moves, I like that one the best. The players that he let go I agree with, though I would have added Christensen to the list.
The fate of the New York Rangers’ season is now in the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning. With their backs to the wall, the Rangers needed to win this afternoon over the New Jersey Devils, or their season was over. They would accomplish that, with a 5-2 victory, but unfortunately, whether or not they make the playoffs rests with the Stamkos-led Lightning, when they take on the Carolina Hurricanes tonight in Raleigh. The Rangers did all they could do today, which was win, and will now sit and watch the scoreboard to see whether or not they will make it to the postseason.
- First period: The Rangers got off on the wrong foot when they allowed an early goal, originally credited to Ilya Kovalchuk, before it was changed to Nick Palmieri. The Blueshirts could have folded right there, but instead, they got a much-needed goal from an unlikely source, Chris Drury (1), who returned to score his first goal of the season and first in 25 games, dating back to a year ago today. The Rangers continued to play well, before being deflated by a late goal by Kovalchuk, to trail 2-1.
- Second period: It was in the middle frame that it seemed the Rangers decided that they were not going to take a loss for an answer this afternoon. Wojtek Wolski (12) scored less than two minutes in on assists from Fedotenko and Sauer to tie the game. Ten minutes later, Ryan McDonagh (1) would score his first career goal, in this, his 40th game of the season. He would cap off a fantastic rookie campaign, that will also see him finish with a +16 rating. With Prospal waiting behind the net, Gaborik fed him the pass and he was able to find the open rookie inside the circle, who shot it over the shoulder of Martin Brodeur. In scoring that goal, McDonagh now becomes part of a trio of Rangers’ defenseman, including Matt Gilroy and Marc Staal, who scored their first NHL goal against Brodeur. Four minutes later, the Rangers would jump ahead by two, when Brandon Prust (13) knocked home a loose puck after it was shot to the net by Brandon Dubinsky. The Rangers headed into the third with a 4-2 lead.
- Third period: The Rangers were 28-0-0 on the season when taking a lead into the last period, and thanks to some good offensive pressure and a defense that kept the Devils to only seven shots, the Rangers could tack on one more win to that stat. It was a relatively calm period, and the Rangers were in charge the whole time, and when Vinny Prospal (9) scored on a 2-on-1 with Artem Anisimov midway through, that sealed the deal.
Feelings are still bittersweet at the moment, because as happy as us fans want to feel about a great win over the Devils on the final day of the season, it might all be for naught if the surging Hurricanes keep on flying tonight. The Rangers, who never seem to play well in day games, played an excellent and intense one today, and did everything they needed to do to at least have a chance tonight.
With the exception of the Devils’ second goal, Lundqvist was solid, and stopped what he needed to in order to give his team a chance to win in what became his 26th consecutive start. Chris Drury also came through in the clutch today, scoring in his first game back from yet another injury stint. It truly is amazing how injuries work, and how Drury happened to be ready just as Callahan broke his ankle. It really makes one wonder if Drury wasn’t ready for longer than what was let on, and just kept on the back-burner because he was not needed. I don’t want to yell conspiracy here, but it’s just very odd.
We will now all hold our breath to later tonight, where we will find out if the Rangers will be advancing. I will not say “Goodbye” just yet, to all my Rangers readers, because I will be putting up something tonight once we learn of the outcome. Until then, just try to relax and have some fun during crunch time. I know it will be stressful, but it is out of our hands. All we can do is wait.
In the fourth and final meeting of the season between the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens, the Blueshirts finally were able to break through with a victory and end a drought against the Habs that extended back to last season. Tonight’s game featured the exact hockey one would expect in a game down the stretch, between two teams fighting for a playoff berth. There was aggression, intensity, and goal scoring, and the Rangers would ultimately walk away with a 6-3 win after a hard fought 60 minutes.
- First period: The game got off to a hot start rather early, when just one second in, Brandon Prust squared off with Travis Moen in what would be a fairly lengthy bout. About five and a half minutes in, Artem Anisimov would get the Rangers on the board with an unassisted breakaway goal, but less than two minutes later, the Canadiens would rally to tie it on a slap shot goal by P.K Subban in the slot, this coming before he and Prust would serve minors after Subban yanked Prust to the ice when he made contact with goaltender Carey Price. But the most disheartening aspect about the Canadiens’ goal was the “Ole Ole” chant in the building, offered up by the sea of opposing fans that made their way into the Garden tonight. I have no problem with fans of other teams traveling distances to show their support, but it is unfortunate that the Rangers fans would let that noise happen. I remember a time when it was dangerous for an opposing fan to even wear a jersey, let alone chant, in our home building, but times have changed, and the Dolan’s are getting what they want: an arena packed with corporate suits. Anyway, the Rangers would very shortly shut up the Canadiens’ fans with a barrage of goals. Near the midway point, Dan Girardi would score on assists from Christensen and Zuccarello, and then with less than three minutes remaining, Ryan Callahan would score the oddest goal of the season—with a tangle of players in front of the net, Callahan swiped at a bouncing puck which sent it upwards off the helmet of defenseman James Wisniewski, then higher into the air, when it would fall straight down and cross the goal line in mid-air. However, the backspin on the puck caused it to not land in the net, but a lengthy review would prove that the entire puck crossed the line. With the Canadiens tased, Gaborik scored 32 seconds after that, and then Brian Boyle added a fifth goal 37 seconds later, for a total of three goals in just 1:07. Price would then be yanked and replaced with Ranger-killer Alex Auld. The Rangers would leave the period with a 5-1 lead, perhaps the most exciting and well-played period of the season.
- Second period: At first, the middle frame seemed relatively calm compared to the first. Aside from an early goal by Wisniewski, to get the Canadiens within three, nothing major happened until the end. Both Lundqvist and Auld were solid, but then with exactly three minutes to go, Subban would knock down Lundqvist and cause Michael Sauer to chase him halfway across the rink to challenge him to a fight. Sauer wanted to drop the gloves immediately, but the Canadiens’ brute defenseman ran away like the fraud he is. Magnetic personality be damned, Subban is nothing more than a glorified thug, who already slew-footed Dubinsky earlier in the season (a play that went uncalled) while being in the center of other questionable plays around the league. He’s a fine offensive defenseman, but the edge he walks is very dangerous, and I was hoping that someone would knock him down onto the ice by the time the game was over (maybe he would have been if the refs didn’t jump in to stop the fight). The Rangers would still be up 5-2 heading into the third.
- Third period: Once again, the Canadiens would strike, with a powerplay goal under a minute in from Brian Gionta. Flashbacks from two years ago when the Rangers blew a 5-0 lead were beginning to creep in my head, but thankfully the Rangers would hunker down and not let this one get away. After Lundqvist was ran yet again, this time accidentally, the Rangers would capitalize on the powerplay when Vinny Prospal deflected a hard Girardi pass to beat Auld. The Rangers would go on to win 6-3, but there is some concern for Lundqvist, who remained down on the ice for a few minutes after being hit. When the game ended, rather than celebrate, he pushed his teammates away so they would not tap him on the head, showing an apparent neck injury. We can only hope it is not serious.
The Rangers really stepped up in another big home game tonight to beat a team where wins against them have seemed elusive. The team should be happy about the win, but Lundqvist is injured and that may really effect the team in the long run, if it is not a hyper-extended muscle, and something more serious. Hopefully we will know by later tonight or tomorrow if he will start against the Penguins on Sunday. Lundqvist also continued to set a record he already owns, by winning 30 games in a season six times in a row, a record he set last season with five.
It was also good to see Rangers fans answer back with some “Ole” chants of their own late in the game. Tonight’s game had a very good intensity, that was only escalated by the presence of so many opposing fans. If every game could be this loud, it would be a real treat.
This game also proved that the Rangers do not need Sean Avery any longer. Not that Wolski did anything that stood out, but I did not once think tonight that Avery could have been useful in any of the situations that unfolded. He is clearly out of his element, and with the way he played in the game prior against the Islanders, I do not see how he fits in the rest of the way.
Finally, I was really hoping the Rangers would score at least one goal on Alex Auld, the perennial backup who always seems to kill the Rangers. He really was excellent yet again, keeping his team in it, but the Rangers got him for one at the end. I don’t know if it is just coincidence, but he always plays exceptionally well on Broadway. The Rangers will now head to Pittsburgh for one of those annoying 12:30 afternoon starts on Sunday. I am already prepared for the broadcast bias that follows every nationally televised Rangers game, the same bias that led Pierre McGuire on TSN to say tonight how Subban isn’t afraid of a fight…which is why he ran for dear life when Sauer chased after him.
If I had the time, I would photo-shop a wanted poster for New York Rangers’ General Manager Glen Sather. Crime committed? Robbery. For the second time in as many months, the Rangers have stolen unwanted parts from teams in an attempt to rejuvenate a struggling squad that started out hot out of the gate, but has since fizzled over. Wojtek Wolski was the first acquisition, and has settled in nicely since coming over from the Phoenix Coyotes for defenseman Michal Rozsival. This afternoon, the Rangers have added veteran defenseman Bryan McCabe, to the youngest defensive core in the league, whose oldest player is 27-year old Steve Eminger.
McCabe, 35, is renowned for his lethal slap-shot and powerplay ability, though his defensive struggles are well documented. With the way the Rangers have been playing, though, defense has not seemed to be an issue (with the exception of Michael Del Zotto would could very well find himself elsewhere after Monday), so if the Rangers paired McCabe with the rookie Ryan McDonagh, or even Michael Sauer, who have really impressed me, it could prove to be quite an effective pair. McCabe has also missed some time this season due to injury, and only has five goals and 17 assists, but a change of scenery could bring back the one-time feared point man that scored 19 goals and 68 points in 2005/06.
Even if McCabe does not pan out, the Rangers do n0t lose much here, because all they gave up was a third round pick and Connecticut Whale forward Tim Kennedy, who was not going to see the light of day any way, and McCabe’s contract expires after this season. The only person I can see having a problem with this is Larry Brooks, because we all remember his fondness for third round picks last season, when he ripped into Sather for trading one for Brian Boyle (how’s that looking now, Larry?).
Joe Aiello and I were even discussing this before, and Joe still believes that the Rangers are still going to get Brad Richards from the Stars, and for dirt cheap. If Sather calls Nieuwendyk’s bluff, that Richards is not going to re-sign in Dallas, then the Rangers can make a move for him. With the way Sather makes trades, don’t be surprised if they get him for Christensen, Gilroy, and a draft pick, because it seems old Glen just calls up teams and tells them what he wants, then gets it.
Bryan McCabe is a veteran of 1116 NHL games for the Islanders, Canucks, Blackhawks, Maple Leafs, and Panthers, with 143 goals and 379 assists for 522 points. He has also has racked up 1729 penalty minutes, though he does not fight often any more.
Looks like someone owes Don Maloney a nice steak dinner at Ruth’s Chris.
This is breaking news, as the New York Rangers have traded defenseman Michal Rozsival to the Phoenix Coyotes for left-wing Wojtek Wolski. This is a trade that is completely mind-boggling to me, at least from the Coyotes end as Rozsival is a struggling defenseman who has a cap-hit of $5 million dollars while Wolski is a young, sizable forward with a hit of only $3.8 million.
Wolski has been struggling this season as well, nearly as bad as Alex Frolov was. In 36 games this season, he has only six goals and ten assists for 16 points, but the 24-year-old will provide much more than that, he will serve as cap relief. The Rangers pick up an additional $1.2 million here, combined with approximately $1.5 million they lost due to Frolov’s injury. It’s funny that the Rangers lose these two players, but their needs stay exactly the same. The team sorely lacks a veteran defenseman who can eat up minutes, and a playmaking center. These were the same needs they had with both Frolov and Rozsival in the lineup. The Rangers now have some flexibility to try to pursue these types of players.
I do not know much about Wolski, but I would like to think that he can provide what Frolov didn’t, and that’s secondary scoring. His large six-foot, three-inch frame could be a welcome sight on the top line with Gaborik, or even on the second line. Chris Hoeler, a Coyotes fan, tells me that he is not a checker, so his is either a top-six forward or bust.
Just as a warning, do not expect much out of Wolski. He has already fallen out of favor on two different teams, and actually has only one more point than Rozsival, who put up three goals and 12 assists in four fewer games. In other words, see this move as cap relief and not the solution to an offensive problem.
As much as everyone loved to hate on Rozsival, he really was not that bad and if they cannot acquire a veteran defenseman at some point this season, trading his presence may cause more harm than good. He has his slip-ups, like we all do, but he was basically made scapegoat for some bad teams in the past few years. He had an excellent shot from the point which he did not use enough, and combined with his slower stride and susceptibility to giveaways, made him an easy target for the fan base. I won’t miss him, but it could come back to bite the team. In 432 games with the Rangers, he scored 42 goals and recorded 134 assists for 176 points; he was also a +44. Those are not bad numbers at all.
We will just have to wait and see how the deal works out. If the Rangers acquire a defenseman, then it is a win-win situation. If they don’t, then this may not be the amazing trade that we all think it is.
Glen Sather has now gotten rid of three of the four terrible contracts that people thought would forever plague this franchise. For a GM as smart as he is, in orchestrating such deals, it’s amazing that he even signed them to begin with.