Continuing with yesterday’s blog on the Rangers deadline day acquisitions here is my in-depth analysis and opinion on the players the Rangers acquired, gave up and avoided.
TRADE: New York and St. Louis
New York Trades: 2008th 4th Round Draft Choice
- Many people are speculating this year’s draft class is one of the best ever. But even still, by the fourth round it is usually a crap shoot, so parting with this
pick is not a huge loss to the Rangers.
St. Louis Trades: Christian Backman
- Backman is a big bodied defender that has above average skating ability and can make a good first pass. However, his big body isn’t really an issue since he rarely uses it to his advantage and the majority of his time in St. Louis he was known as an underachiever.
Doesn’t this sound like a certain Czech defender that we know? Still he will work as a depth defensemen (something the teams needs with Mara hurt) and since the Rangers didn’t have to give up much to attain him there is potential for more reward then risk.
Now I know some of you are going to say “but his contract is ridiculously high for his abilities”, and that may be true. I guess we will know soon enough. However, if the experiment fails Backman is hardly a big enough name to keep from being sent to the minors next year if he loses his job in camp.
FINAL THOUGHT’S ON THE DEAL: This was not a major trade by any means, but it does give the team an NHL capable body for depth on the back end. He does have potential and he has shown flashes of brilliance, but only time will tell if he’ll be the newest recipient of boo’s at MSG.
TRADE: New York and Phoenix
New York Trades: Forward Marcel Hossa and Goaltender Al Montoya
- Marcel Hossa has the ability to be an excellent two way player. He has great hands, good speed and great defensive instincts. However, he rarely used any of these abilities on a regular basis as a Ranger and therefore on many nights he found himself bouncing from the first line, to the fourth line, and even to the press box. He underachieved as a Blueshirt and it was time for a change. Marcel definitely had enough opportunities to succeed and he couldn’t find consistency.
- Remember when the Rangers drafted Al Montoya to be their goalie of the future? He was highly touted to be the next great American goalie and for Rangers fans he helped take away the sting left from Dan Blackburn’s unfortunate career ending injury. However, while Montoya was being groomed to be the next star on Broadway a new net minder showed up and blew us all away. Lundqvist became the face of the franchise and he will continue to be the face of the franchise for at least the next six years.
When Lundqvist stormed onto the scene after the lockout it became clear Montoya was never going to be needed in New York. Still the Rangers faithful saw him as a great blue chip prospect that could be used in a trade at some point in the future. So Sather and company kept him and watched his stock rise and held onto him the same way a day trader tells his clients to hold onto the latest hot stock. Once it reaches its full potential that’s when you make a trade because that’s how you get the biggest return. Isn’t it?
But the truth is that sometimes stocks crash, and in the case of Al Montoya his stock has crashed hard. For years we were all excited about having such a highly touted prospect in our back pocket, but the reality is that Sather and company held onto him too long. Over the past year and a half Montoya has battled groin injuries, inconsistency, and has even lost his starting job at the AHL level. Combine that with no NHL experience and a cold market for goaltenders and you now have a player that is almost untradeable.
At the present time he is practically worthless. Even NHL proven starters like Bryzgalov and Huet were given away for nothing, while Montoya had lost his starting job in the AHL. With his contract expiring at the end of this year I think Sather decided to trade him now before he gets any worse. And the reality is that he was lucky to have been able to trade him at all.
Montoya has become Phoenix’s project now and presently can no longer be looked upon as a highly touted prospect or the future of their franchise. He could rebound, he is still young. But remember that he is going into a similar situation. Brygalov is the main guy in Phoenix and he looks to be for the next few years.
I know that the truth is hard to take since the Rangers have drafted so many busts in the first round over the past ten years and that Montoya seemed to be the exception. Maybe if he had been moved a year or two ago he might have been that exception. But the Rangers management got greedy and held onto him until teams came begging for him. Now because of that mentality they had to beg a former Ranger executive to take him off their hands.
Phoenix Trades: Forward Fredrik Sjostrom, Forward Josh Gratton, Goaltender
David Lenevu and a conditional draft pick in 2009.
- Sjostrom is an excellent skater and has above average defensive ability. However, his offensive game has never matched its potential and therefore he is similar to Marcel Hossa in that sense. I do think with his speed and his defensive abilities that he will make for a good fourth liner for the Rangers. Also, does anyone else remember the unbelievable end to end goal he scored against the Rangers last season in Phoenix’s 7-3 loss? If you haven’t seen it or you can’t remember it try and find it. It’s a beauty!
- I don’t know much about Gratton other then he had some great fights last year, in particular a very good one with Buffalo’s Andrew Peters, but it looks as if Gratton is mainly an AHLer who might be able to fill in for Colton Orr from time to time.
- I know nothing about Lenevu other then he has greatly declined since being drafted. Apparently Benoit Allaire, who use to mentor Lenevu in Phoenix, thinks he can help resurrect his game. I guess we will see. But with Lundqvist set to be the goalie on Broadway for awhile it is hardly a major concern how this project turns out.
FINAL THOUGHT’S ON THE DEAL: I guess we can look at this trade as the Rangers big blockbuster for 2008. But in all seriousness it isn’t a major trade and it does provide the team with an upgrade down the wing. Sjostrom does work as a better fourth liner then Hossa, Orr or Hollweg and there is no such thing as too much depth in the playoffs.
It’s hard to accept that Montoya is not the same player that we once perceived him to be when he was drafted. But it is true. His stock has dropped and I can’t blame Sather for not wanting to resign him with the hope he finds his game. We have Hank now and we should be thankful we do. Trading Montoya for very little was not the mistake; not trading him when his stock was high a year ago is the real issue.
THE PLAYERS WE DIDN’T GET (OR WAN’T)
- Rumors and media made it sound as if Boyle was destined to be the Rangers new power play quarterback. However, Tampa Bay got him signed to a long term contract and the rest is history. I truthfully wouldn’t have wanted him as just a rental since the cost would have been so high, but at the same time I was not prepared to see the Rangers give him the contract he received from the Bolts.
- Would the man they call Soup have helped our power play and transition game? Absolutely. Could the Rangers have matched San Jose’s offer? Probably. But they never had the chance. Campbell was not going to be traded to a team that Buffalo is competing with for a playoff spot; in fact he wasn’t going to be traded within the Conference. There was more than enough interest from around the league and this allowed the Sabres to send him out West and not have to worry about facing him. Could you imagine them trading him to their New York rivals? It was never going to happen so it’s unfair to think Sather blew his opportunity.
- At some point every one of these players was mentioned in rumors to the Rangers over the past month. None of them wanted to leave Toronto so it’s not really an issue worth discussing. But just a quick point that with the exception of Kaberle we are lucky they weren’t available.
- Ranger’s fans are not the only ones who were left wondering how New Jersey scored this depth defenseman for only Cam Jansen. Surely the Rangers could have beaten their offer? What was Sather doing? He must have been asleep at the wheel!
But the reality is that St. Louis probably made the call to New Jersey. St. Louis actually wants Cam Jansen and they see him as the main piece in the deal. I know it’s hard to believe but the truth is that Jansen is a personality and a character and more importantly he was born in St. Louis.
The Blues think Jansen can provide entertainment for their fan base and they see him as someone who can have the same impact that Tie Domi had in Toronto. Did anyone notice in his first appearance with the Blues that the St. Louis broadcast had a “Cam cam” to follow his every move? The fans their love him and they now have someone to get excited about. Unless Colton Orr or Ryan Hollweg could change their birth certificate to say St. Louis then the Rangers were never in on this deal.
- Foote would have been the ideal pick up. He is the veteran crease clearer that this team needs. But the reality is that he had a no trade clause and that he only wanted to be traded to Colorado.
- See Adam Foote.
- He probably could have been had but the reality is that he is only a slight step up from Christian Backman and that he was more expensive. Stuart would have helped the power play but he isn’t the ideal quarterback that this team needs and he isn’t a big crease clearer either. He would have been a depth guy and in the end the Rangers went with Backman at a cheaper price.
Marc Andre Bergeron
- The Islanders making a trade with the Rangers? Let’s get serious.
- He’s a big body but he has terrible mobility and even with his size he isn’t the crease clearer that this team craves. And if the team had given up a 2nd and a 5th round pick for him it would have been bad. Also, see my blog from yesterday “Jagr Vs, Gill No Big Deal”.
These were some of the main defensemen whom were deemed available or who were rumored to be going to the Rangers. Most of them weren’t available to Sather for various reasons and the majority of them didn’t directly fit the team’s needs. So at the end of the day rather then become desperate and chase something that wasn’t available and that would have cut into the youth movement, the Rangers decided to stick with what they have. In my opinion this was a good move on their part.
Now some people are probably saying “well why didn’t we go after Prospal, Hossa or another big name forward?” The main reason is that this team has finally found a level of chemistry and adding someone such as Prospal would disrupt that. The other reason is simple, although those players are great players they are unnecessary to this team and frankly they were too expensive. They could have traded for Prospal and then sent Callahan or Dawes to the AHL to make room, but that would have put the development of those players back a year. I don’t think that would have helped the team presently speaking and definitely not for the future.
Remember last August when it appeared the Rangers were about to sign Peca? I can say that I liked the idea and that I thought it was a no lose situation for the Rangers. They get to add another big name veteran centre man at little cost, so what’s not to love about that? Well looking back, not signing Peca is one of the best things to happen to this franchise since Kevin Weekes got hurt (as much as I hate to say any good came from an injury) in the 05/06 season and a certain rookie Swede took over between the pipes. If it wasn’t for Sather walking away from Peca than this team would not have seen Brandon Dubinsky take over as the third pivot and become one of the most exciting rookies in the game. Sometimes the biggest name is not always the best fit. We as Rangers fans should know that by now and should be commending Glen Sather from not following the same mistakes that he made in the past. He said he would stick to the youth movement and he is.
I know it’s exciting when your team signs a big name player. It creates a buzz, but eventually that buzz wears off and things don’t always turn out the way it seemed that they would. Sure Marian Hossa would help. Could you imagine him playing with Gomez, Jagr or even Dubi? It would be exciting. But Hossa is a rental player and unless you were willing to give up Dawes, Cherepanov, Callahan, and a 1rst round pick then he wasn’t going to be a Ranger. It sounds like a lot to give up when you put it into “Rangers” terms doesn’t it? Well the reality is that it is a lot and that’s how much Pittsburgh gave up. The Pens feel they can win now and had no problem trading some youth to increase their chances. Good luck to them, but I for one am glad Sather didn’t take that road. Five years ago he would have and remember where that got us?
All of a sudden standing pat doesn’t seem so bad does it?