First let me applaud those who attended last night’s Ranger game at the Garden for showing the Rangers players overwhelming support before the puck was even dropped. Although the team hadn’t scored a goal in two games and their road trip was nothing short of dreadful, the Blueshirts were welcomed home when they came out onto the ice to cheers and ovations. What could have easily been boos for the team’s shaky start was instead a unanimous show of support. When many in the hockey world are now questioning the ability of this year’s Rangers team, it’s good to see that the true fans still believe.
Now onto the question at hand. ..
By the end of last night the Rangers were also presented with another problem. Albeit a problem most teams would love to have. For the second straight game Nigel Dawes, the teams recent AHL call up, was once again the team’s best forward. With two goals and six hits Dawes has proven that he can play at the NHL level. Now it’s still too early to assume that Dawes can keep his strong play up for the next few weeks, but if he does, what will the Rangers do when their veteran forwards return? Surely Dawes can’t be sent down again, can he?
Over the next month many things can happen from poor play to more injuries, but assuming not much changes (besides a few more Ranger wins of course) who will become expendable when Straka, Avery and Callahan return?
A lot of people will argue that the Rangers should use their four most talented lines and make Orr or Hollweg, or even both, the expendable parties. However, you can be sure that with so many games left on the schedule against divisional rivals like the Isles and the Flyers, Renney will be sure to have either Orr or Hollweg in the lineup and on some nights both of them. This unfortunately could make Peter Prucha the odd man out. I love Prucha and I believe that he has what it takes to be a solid 25-30 goal scorer if he’s given the opportunity. Renney has neglected to do that the past two seasons by placing Prucha on the third line and second power play unit. And even last night he chose to use Dawes on the second line instead of Prucha. This makes me think that Renney might not have as much faith in Prucha.
Prucha and Dawes are very similar players and neither is a massive cap hit. They are both young, small stature goal scorers who play hard, but defensively are only average. Prucha is more NHL proven than Dawes and therefore could fetch a far better return on the trade market. Although I am hoping he’s not moved it does seem possible. I’d imagine the lines could like something like this and by the looks of things there doesn’t seem to be much room for both Prucha and Dawes. And since Prucha is a slightly larger cap hit and has more trade value he seems logically to be the odd man out.
Hossa (or Straka) Gomez Jagr
Dawes Drury Shanahan
Avery Dubinsky (or Straka) Callahan
Dubinsky (or Hossa) Betts Hollweg (or Orr)