I know many Rangers fans are disappointed with Glenn Sather’s roster moves, or lack thereof, yesterday. The team went into the deadline with two distinct needs; a puck moving defensemen to quarterback their struggling power play and a crease clearing defensemen to bring character and added toughness to their current inexperienced crop of blue liners. Looking at what the Rangers did acquire yesterday it’s safe to say neither of these issues was addressed. Although I am disappointed the team didn’t pick up what they desperately need, I also don’t think that the deadline was a complete failure.
First off, there wasn’t a team in the entire league that wasn’t looking to improve their blue line. Even Anaheim, who already have Niedermayer, Pronger, Beauchemin and Schneider, were rumored to be looking to add another veteran blue liner and if Rob Blake had been willing to waive his no trade clause they might have succeeded in their efforts. But with defensemen always at the top of every team’s wish list and with very few top four blue liners knowingly available, it is not surprising that the Rangers and many other teams came up short yesterday.
Sure they could have chased a blue liner who wasn’t being shopped by his team or they could have gotten into the Marian Hossa sweepstakes to make themselves feel better, but at what price? Is anyone really interested in parting with any of the Rangers youth for a rental? In order for the Rangers to grab a big name veteran blue liner it would have surely cost them Cherepanov, Sanguinetti, Anisimov or Dubinsky. It’s easy for us Rangers fans to pretend to play GM and put together a package that parts with players such as Prucha, Bourret and Montoya but in the real world in order for rival general managers to part with key players off their own rosters (assuming that player isn’t being widely shopped) then they expect to receive the key players other teams cherish. And in the Rangers case these are players the Blueshirts faithful are excited about and the ones we don’t want to see go. And when was the last time we had a group of prospects we could actually be excited about?
So I for one am glad Sather didn’t get desperate and chase after another team’s veteran player and part with any of the youth. We hear it every year that “sometimes the best trade is the one you don’t make”. This might very well hold true for this year’s Rangers squad. It wasn’t a great deadline day for the Blueshirts but it certainly wasn’t a disaster either.
Tomorrow I am going to post another blog that analyzes the trades the team did make as well as take a look at the players that they passed on.
Side Note: I am hearing a lot of people say that Hal Gill is a great pick up for the Penguins mainly because he is excellent at shutting down Jaromir Jagr. One article even used the headline “Gill Provides Pens with an Anti-Jagr”. Now I am not bashing the Gill pick up, I think he will be a serviceable defenseman for the Penguins and he has the ability to play against the other teams top players. But a lot of people are making it sound like Gill owns the big Czech and that simply isn’t the case.
Over the past three seasons Jagr and Gill have faced each other twelve times; four when Gill was with Boston in 05/06 and eight over the past two seasons when Gill was with Toronto. In the majority of those games Gill was the man responsible for shadowing the Rangers winger because of his size and Gills abilities as a shut down defender.
Now it’s unfair to say that these two were always lined up against each other, but for the most part they were, and out of those twelve games Gill managed to completely shut down Jagr only three times. Two of those scoreless games came this season where Jagr has gone through long patches of inconsistency and where there are defenders all over the league who are able to say that they too kept the future Hall of Famer off the score sheet. But in those other nine games where Jagr and Gill squared off, the Rangers captain managed to compile a staggering 21 points. That’s an average of over two points per game. Even in the two games where he wasn’t held scoreless this year Jag’s managed to get himself on the score sheet five times against Gill and the Leafs. This is hardly a defender that is keeping Jagr up at night. In fact the Czech probably has sweet dreams of facing off against Gill since the lanky defensemen was present for so many positive memories over the past three years.
Now, I don’t mean to come across as someone who is bashing the abilities of Gill. He is a good defenseman, but the stats show that if Jaromir is cold then the majority of the league will stop him. But if he’s hot even big Hal Gill can’t contain him. So Rangers fans, you have no reason to be worried that we still have at least three games left against Gill and the Penguins. In fact, you should even be excited. Jagr looks to be heating up right now and facing Gill might be what he needs to set him on fire.