Since Jan Levine (and others) has already recapped last night’s game so well, I won’t bore the few (ok, 1 or 2) readers that I have with yet another recap. It’s obvious anyway after watching last night’s contest that there are two truths about the Rangers and Leafs; the Rangers have really taken to Tortorella’s system and conditioning and the Leafs just flat suck right now (another loss tonight to Colorado, 4 - 1 too).
Instead I thought it would be interesting to review a couple of my past posts to see how my thoughts at that time have played out. Like most fans, I expressed opinions about many of the moves and potential moves that their favorite team either made or didn’t make. In two separate posts over the long, hockey-less summer, I blogged about the Ales Kotalik signing and the possibility of signing UFA Vinny Prospal after he was bought out of his deal with the Lightning. Let’s see how smart I am.
On July 13th of this year I wrote about the Kotalik signing and how, “If this addition doesn’t guarantee a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals then I don’t know what else Glen Sather can do as President/GM,” or something to that effect. Of course I was being sarcastic at the time. Truthfully, I wasn’t a fan of essentially replacing the now departed Nik Zherdev with Kotalik. Here’s what else I had to say on the 13th of July:
“My initial reaction was one of stunned confusion. I couldn’t validate signing this guy at that price considering we will now likely be forced to either walk away from the arbitration award for Nik Zherdev or find a willing trade partner for his services.
The bottom line is this:
Zherdev has outscored Kotalik in goals (86 – 84), assists (119 – 102) and total points (205 – 186) over the last 4 seasons combined. Nik Zherdev was also a +6 finishing with the 2nd best +/- rating on the Rangers last year. Ales Kotalik has never finished a season with a + rating. Kotalik has produced more power play goals (34 – 24) over the last 4 seasons than Zherdev. Kotalik has been more of a threat on the power play than Zherdev but Zherdev has demonstrated that he may be a better 5-on-5 player given his higher +/- rating.
All-in-all, this move makes me wonder if Sather actually has a plan in place. If he does, how much is he deviating from that plan? Some of his moves seem to be more reactionary instead of visionary. For a team that is light on offense already to likely walk away from a 24 year-old, potential 80 point scorer in favor of a 30 year-old power play specialist whose ceiling may be 50 points a season over maybe $1 million or so, is bad business in my opinion.
Certainly I had strong opposition to the signing of Kotalik at that time. How do I feel about it now? Truthfully, I may be proven wrong on this one. Through 6 games, Kotalik has 3 goals and 5 points; all but 1 on the PP. Certainly with the Rangers’ PP woes of a year ago, a high priority was placed on upgrading the production and Kotalik has helped on that score. Additionally, despite just one even strength point, Kotalik has recorded an even +/- rating to date. Will this hold up over 82 games like it has over the first 6? Only time will tell.
Since we are only roughly 7% of the way through the season, I won’t mark this opinion/prediction up as a loss….yet. If the Ranges PP can continue to click at a 20% rate and Kotalik is still playing a role in that then he will have earned his salary…this year at least. If his offensive production hits 50 – 55 points with his PP and even strength contributions then Glen Sather, and not Glen Miller will have been proven right (my real name is Glen Miller by the way).
Alright, I have a little egg on my face over the Kotalik thing but let’s look at a clear win for me. On August the 8th I wrote about some potential UFA options available to possibly help the Rangers. Because the Rangers were lacking quality offensive depth at the Center position, I postulated that former Lightning forward, Vinny Prospal could prove to be a good fit. Here’s what I had to say back then:
Prospal, in particular, is an interesting player. He seems to alternate good seasons with bad seasons and if that holds true then he is due for a good year. Regardless of his inconsistencies, Prospal has averaged 0.77 points-per-game in the 4 seasons since the lock-out (91 goals, 160 assists, and 251 points in 325 games). He has also appeared in no fewer than 80 contests in each of the last seven seasons. Prospal’s On-Ice/Off-Ice +/- rating for the last two seasons were -0.75 in 2008-2009 and +0.83 in 2007-2008. The low rating from last year is somewhat scary given how poor the entire team as a whole was. However given his track record, it’s a good possibility Prospal will rebound. Another factor to keep in mind is that Prospal had some of his best seasons playing for Rangers Head Coach John Tortorella in Tampa, including the Stanley Cup season. It would seem worth calling Prospal’s agent to see if Vinny would like to set-up for Marian Gaborik next season.
Ok, I was wrong about Prospal being on the Cup winning team but other than that, my idea proved to be a good one. Despite some gentle reminders from a couple of readers that Prospal and Torts didn’t get along during their time together in Tampa, the Rangers took a chance and reunited the combustible coach with the player. The results; how about 7 points and a +5 rating in 6 games? Pundits panned the lack of a true set up guy as one of the reasons Gaborik would fail in NY. Well the signing of Prospal, the improved play of Brandon Dubinsky and good health (so far) for Gaborik and the line has combined for 8 goals and 22 points in 6 games.
Not only was I right from the perspective that the Rangers obviously agreed with me about the logic of signing Propsal but he is also producing at a point-per-game level. Prospal has both the skill level and the track record to continue this pace. Again it’s only 6 games into a long season but at least I called the Rangers signing Prospal as a good idea.
OK, final score; I was definitely right on Prospal, point for me. I might be wrong on Kotalik, no point for me. Put it together and I am 1 – 2. A percentage that I am sure Glen Sather would gladly have taken on his free agent signings, no?