Glen Sather stepped out of his JetBlue plane in Phoenix, Arizona. As he walked through the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport terminal, he kept on muttering "They give away blue chips for free, they give away blue chips for free." This thought never left the Rangers GM's mind, even as he entered into Phoenix GM Don Maloney's office. He had come to negotiate a trade deadline deal with the Coyotes. Sather still couldn't forget those Terra Blues he received on his flight.
Maloney begins, "Mr. Sather, I would like to acquire goalie prospect Al Montoya, a player who I helped to scout and draft. I understand that you may want I high price for him. What would you ask for in return?"
"No, no!" Sather blurts out. "We give away blue chips for free!"
"In that case," replied Maloney, "give us Montoya and Marcel Hossa. And do us a favor, just take David LeNeveu, Fredrik Sjostrom and Josh Gratton off our hands."
"For you, Don, I would do anything. You've got yourself a deal."
It is generally not a good policy to critisize newcomers before you have even see them. However, I take exception to this damaging deadline deal that was excecuted by Glen Sather today.
Take Al Montoya. He was drafted 6th overall by the Rangers in 2004. The 6'1 lanky goaltender posted a 27-17 record last year in AHL Hartford along with a 2.3 GAA and a 9.14 SV%. He was considered the Rangers most valuable trading chip, one that could be packaged with mediocre players to get great players back. Many teams were asking the Rangers about him but they were not ready to trade him until Henrik Lundqvist was signed long-term. Now that Lundqvist was extended for 6 years, it was clear that Montoya would be available at the deadline. However, many thought that, like Jaromir Jagr, he would only be traded at the right price.
Throw in Marcel Hossa. He is a big, physical forward who picked up 18 points last season. He showed an ability to play a checking role this season but was hampered by injuries that limited his scoring to 8 points. He was not worth very much to the Rangers but was someone they could have to fill in for injuries. In his first game returning from injury, he looked very good and had the coaching staff trying to motivate him. Ironically, his first game back was his last game with the club. Apparantly, Hossa passed his interview with the Coyotes and should thank the coaches for motivating him to increase his trade value.
The package of Hossa and Montoya should get some talent back, whether it be prospects with potential or decent veterans.
Hugh Jessiman is the Rangers biggest bust in the past decade. He was drafted 12th overall in 2003 and was expected to rise to the elite level of forwards. Instead, he struggled in the minores and did not come close to making the team. Just now he seems to be getting his act together in trying to make a push for a roster spot next season.
Compare him to Fredrik Sjostrom. The 6'1, 217 lb forward was drafted 11th overall in 2001. HE was expected to be great. Instead, he floundered in the AHL before making the Coyotes weak roster in 2005. Last season he posted 9 goals and 9 assists. This year he followed it up with 10 goals and 9 assists thus far. He is not likely to crack the deep Rangers starting lineup when everybody is healthy nor is he likely going to bloom into the potential player that the Coyotes thought he would be. He will spend time skipping between Hartford, healthy scratch and the fourth line. Isn't is eerie how similar Jessiman is to Sjorstrom?
How about Josh Gratton? He is a big forward who scored a grand total of 1 goal and 1 assist last year in only 52 games. This season he spent 38 games with AHL San Antonio and only managed to double his goal total to 2 goals while leaving his assist total at 1. If there was ever a player who's career can be ruined by a trade, it is Gratton. He could have gotten some NHL playing time in Phoenix but with the Rangers deep system, he will have to either show dramatic improvement or wait behind 10 prospects to get a shot to make the team. He is the garbage in the trade, someone with no value to the AHL team, let alone the NHL one.
Of course in every goalie trade, there is a goalie sent back. David LeNeveu, Phoenix's #2 goalie prospect, was the man to balance the weight of Al Montoya. Of course the stats of 46th pick in 2002 (13-20-2 record, 2.97 GAA and .907 SV%), are not close to Montoya's. This would lead one to assume that the Rangers would be compensated well in the other aspects of the trade, especially since Montoya can be Phoenix's goalie of the future and LeNeveu will not be #1 for the Rangers.
Let us see if this assumption is true. Stats for 2006-2007:
Marcel Hossa- 10 goals 8 assist 18 points.
Sjostrom+Gratton- 11 goals 10 assists 21 points.
Looks like its obvious who is getting the better deal. To put it in perspective, the Red Wings acquired Brad Stuart who has 21 points this season (as many as Sjostrom and Grattom had combined last season), for a 2nd and 4th rd pick. Meanwhile, the Rangers are giving up a 1st round gem for the same 21 points. The kicker: Stuart is a defenseman. He is worth less in trade value than these two shlumps who could not do their jobs as well as he does his SECONDARY job.
So how is this deal worth it for the Rangers? How could they trade away their best blue chip for nothing. There is only one answer: Hugh Jessiman needed some friends.