It seems that since before I was even born, the New York Rangers front office has been promising the same thing every summer, and that the “kids” would get a chance to play and make the team. Every summer we are told that an infusion of youth is coming, and instead of acquiring outside mercenaries, the homegrown talent will have a chance to showcase itself. Yet every summer, this does not happen; free agents are signed and the available spots that would have gone to youth shrink little by little.
This summer was no different. We heard it at the beginning from Glen Sather and even as the weeks pass by from others, that no one’s job is safe that the young players will have a chance to make the team. But where are the available spots they speak of?
The Rangers defense has room for an addition or two, especially when it is starting to look more and more bleak for Wade Redden, but on forward, there is absolutely nothing.
Rangers fans have been waiting two seasons to see their top offensive prospect, Evgeny Grachev, have a chance to play for the NHL club. Last year he was given a shot in training camp before being assigned to Hartford, where he never got another chance. He was going to have a spot in the top-six this season, until that is, Alex Frolov was signed. Mats Zucarello-Aasen was also brought in from Sweden, further diminishing an already small availability.
Dale Weise, another prospect, was called up towards the end of last season but was not dressed for action. He was going to have a spot on the fourth line this season, but then the Rangers re-signed Brandon Prust and gave what has the potential to be the worst contract of this year, to Derek Boogaard.
What does Prust bring that Weise does not? Weise would have not only been a cheaper option, still on an entry-level contract, but would have been another homegrown player with some spark and scoring ability, as he scored 28 goals for Hartford last season while racking up 114 penalty minutes. The most Prust has ever scored at any level was 19, in 2004 for the London Knights of the OHL.
Then there are other Rangers prospects Derek Stepan and Ethan Werek, among others, who also have a chance to make the team; a chance that may be smaller than winning the lottery and being struck by lightning on the same day.
Where are all these openings, I ask?
Who will be waived to make the room?
And when have the Rangers ever waived a veteran in favor of an unproven rookie?
The Rangers continuously promise this but fall short. The only players that the Rangers would move would be Brian Boyle and Sean Avery, but getting rid of Boyle does not free up a spot, and no team in their right mind would want Sean Avery, a player who now has no role on the team.
Just take off the blinders and realize he is a cancer who can exist nowhere else but New York City. I don’t know how it isn’t more obvious to fans that he is not liked, but I guess it’s all worth it for that five games of spark out of 82 that he brings every season.
The Hockey News released their standings picks today, and have the Rangers finishing in 13th in the Eastern Conference. I’ve been saying for the last few months that this team is a bottom-five finish, so for the first time in my life I agree with THN.
I want to see the Rangers succeed like everyone else, but with the pattern they have been in recently, I think we will have to keep on waiting.