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Archive for May 24th, 2009

Season Review – Part 1 of 3

Posted by inferno272 on May 24th, 2009

Well, you can’t say I didn’t take my time putting this together. I sat back and read all the other blogs and their post season thoughts, I listened to all the podcasts (all 2 that I know of anyway) and what their thoughts are, and after leaving ample time to pass for everything to sink in, and just because I needed a bit of a break, I figure it is finally time to look at the season without the fresh sting of a playoff loss in my veins. I will be breaking this up into 3 parts. Part 1 will be player evaluations for the first 11 players (by jersey number), Part 2 will be the remaining players, Part 3 will be a writeup on different parts of the season that come to mind as good, bad, thoughts on coaches, Sather, etc.

#5 Daniel Girardi
It was a very up and down season for Dan Girardi. The season started off with unbelievable promise as Dan registered 14 points in his first 19 games, but he came back down to earth…HARD, finishing with only 8 points in his final 63 games. He also had the worst +/- on the defensive unit with a disgusting -14, second only to Colton Orr amongst all Ranger skaters. Dan did finish the season strongly under John Tortorellas system adapting very well to play a more physical, and a better defensive game. He did have a poor first game of the playoffs trying to defend against Alex Ovechkin and his line, but really, who wouldn’t? I expected a lot more from Dan this season, and I felt like he got a bit of a pass from the fans because he’s a young home grown kid. If the right move came along, I would have no problem moving him, especially with the quality youth pushing it’s way up. However I do feel that Dan has a lot more upside than what we saw this season. The only question remains is if he can put it all together for an entire season. He seems to be very hot and cold, sometimes being a #1 defenseman, sometimes being a #8 defenseman. It all depends on which Dan Girardi decides to show up.
#6 Wade Redden
Besides Henrik Lundqvist this was the only big dollar signing that I actually got behind. I mean, in theory it made sense. Here was a supposed puck moving defenseman, with good wheels, who would finally help to fix a broken power play. Instead, under Tom Renneys system we got an incompetent defenseman who struggled mightly whenever the puck was brought in against him, who nearly single handedly shattered the record for short handed goals allowed by a team. A guy who could do nothing on the power play with a measely 2 power play goals and 6 power play assists despite having the 2nd most power play minutes on the entire team. A defenseman who was nearly as slow as Colton Orr back there with a nonexistant first step, who definitely had trouble skating backwards and making a play. In short, Wade Redden was a complete unmitigated disaster. He wasn’t a #1 defenseman, he was a #12 defenseman. However, under John Tortorella, the change in system definitely did seem to help him a bit. He looked far more comfortable playing up, rather than playing back. In fact he led all Rangers in TOI during the playoffs, and one could argue that it was well deserved. Matched up against AO and company he did a respectable job in holding the fort. But I think we need to recognize there is a difference between doing an admirable job, and being a #1 defenseman and being a factor out there all the time. Even at his very best, which granted was in the playoffs, you would be hard pressed calling Redden anything more than a #3 defenseman. And that is a big problem. You can’t have a #3 defenseman paid like he is one of the 5 best defenseman in the game. For 98% of this season, Wade Redden wasn’t one of the 5 best defenseman on his team, leave alone the league. The Rangers need to do everything they can to try to get Wade Redden off of this team. Maybe someone will see the way he played against AO and be willing to take him off our hands for a 7th round draft pick. Who knows, but if you can find a taker, you have to move him. It’s not just that he holds a bad contract, it’s that hes a medicore, borderline terrible player who has a bad contract. Those are killers.
#10 Nigel Dawes
Want to know my thoughts on Nigel Dawes? It can be summed up in 1 word. Disappointment. I had Dawes penciled in for 25 goals this season, and in the end we ended up trading him for an expiring contract and I didn’t think twice about the deal. Nigel did manage to score 10 goals in his 52 games this season, which, as scary as this sounds, puts him in the top 8 for goal scorers as a Ranger. But the problem with Nigel was, if he wasn’t scoring a goal, he literally was a non factor out there. He didn’t cause turnovers, he didn’t throw the body, he didn’t rush the puck, he didn’t do…well, anything. It was pretty difficult to watch the guy play, night in and night out, and either score a goal, or be completely ineffective out there. Even the 4th liners could make things happen without putting the puck in the net, and someone with the hands that Nigel has should be scoring a lot more goals and assists than he did. If Nigel Dawes played like Ryan Callahan away from the puck, he would score 40 goals a season in this league, that’s how good his shot and hands are. As it stands, this is one of those players you say, good riddance to when he leaves.
#13 Nikolai Zherdev
I have said a lot of what needs to be said about Zherdev here. I would like to add that while Zherdev did have a pretty good season, he does have areas he needs to work on, badly. First and foremost are turnovers. He needs to cut down the ones he has as a result of being too fancy. Second, Zherdev needs to be a bit more active away from the puck, he floats a bit too much out there away from the puck, not nearly as much as Jaromir Jagr mind you, but he still floats a lot. Zherdev has a ton of talent, I want him back on this team, and I want to see what John Tortorella can turn him into.
#15 Blair Betts
It’s tough to give Blair Betts anything but an A+. Even though he brings next to nothing to this team when it comes to the offensive side of the puck, he does bring a defensively responsible game, superb penalty killing, and excellent faceoff skills. He also has a team first attitude, and apparently is a coaches dream. With that said, I would not break the bank to bring Blair back. While he was an important penalty killer, it is important to remember that the Rangers PK was just as effective with the other penalty killers out there as it was with him. That is because the PK always comes down to 1 player, Henrik Lundqvist, and he is the main reason our PK is so strong. If Betts is willing to come back for roughly the same contract with a modest raise, I wouldn’t have a problem. If he’s looking for like 2 million bucks or something, I let him walk. Nice player, complimentary player, but hardly an irreplaceable player.
#16 Sean Avery
In the most important game of the season, Sean Avery was the best Ranger on the ice. That is what it all comes down to if you ask me. He had 2 poor games which led to his benching the playoffs, which further led to a very timid game 6 by Avery, but in the end he came out strong when it mattered most. I think it is also important to recognize why Sean had such a poor playoffs outside of the 7th game. It was because he was being run over, often illegally, for the entire stretch run, and couldn’t buy a call, and yet if he looked at another player crosseyed, he would be called for a penalty. It seemed to just hit a breaking point with him, at the worst possible time. I am willing to give him a pass though, because the most important fact of all is this. With Sean Avery, more often than not, the Rangers win. Without Sean Avery, this team is very mediocre.
#17 Brandon Dubinsky
After the season started off with an offensive explosion by Dubinsky, we all expected this year to be his coming out party. Dubinsky had 12 points in his first 13 games. Unfortunately after that everything seemed to fall apart for Dubi in the offensive zone. He couldn’t get the puck to go in for him, he couldn’t get his linemates to put the pucks that he set up in for him, in short he was more or less the posterboy for this Rangers team, a lot of offensive potential that simply did not come to fruition. However, this was not a poor season for Dubinsky, he still managed to score more points than last season (albeit by 1) despite not having Jaromir Jagr on his wing. He still managed to play a physically involved game, showed by his 112 penalty minutes (3rd on the team) and his 251 hits (2nd on the team). He also played in all situations, and was strong in the faceoff circles (team best 53.6%). Most importantly he elevated his game in the playoffs, playing a superb game 7, and having the 2nd most points on the team with 4 (though that may not be something to be proud of necessarily). Dubinsky really did everything you can ask for from a player….besides score. You have a feeling that he is just on the cusp of exploding, if he can just figure out how to overcome that last hurdle, putting the puck in the net. Dubinsky is the kind of player that I wouldn’t ever bet against. I expect big things from Dubi this season, especially if Zherdev plays like he is capable of.
#18 Marc Staal
Marc Staal had another superb season. Get used to hearing that about this kid. Marc Staal led the team in Even Strength TOI, and was just seconds behind Blair Betts for the team lead in Short Handed TOI. If you want a stud defensive defenseman to build your franchise around. You have it. You don’t need to look elsewhere for that shut down guy, he is here, and is still just a baby at the age of 22. Staal showed a bit more offensive upside scoring 15 points, up from 10 last season, and you can see it increasing season by season, probably till about the 30 point mark. Staal is never going to be that 60+ point defenseman, but he will bring you a shut down game that you can match up against the best of the best, and with Crosby, Malkin, Carter, Richards, Parise, and likely Tavares in this division, that is worth it’s weight in gold.
#19 Scott Gomez

Trivia time! What NHL player was ranked 149th in goals, 38th in assists, 73rd in points, but was rewarded with the 5th highest salary? Well, since this is under the Scott Gomez section, you’d have to be as retarded as Glen Sather not to figure out who it is. The way I look at it, Scott Gomez is the 3rd most overpaid player in the NHL today. Unfortunately the first and second most overpaid players in the NHL today are also on the Rangers. *facepalm*

Gomez was 2nd on the team in giveaways, had a paultry 5.9% shooting percentage, had the number 1 center position on the 28th ranked offense in the NHL, and had the most ice time of any player on the Power Play for the worst PP unit in the NHL.

2 words. Epic Fail.

Get this guy off the team. Get him off the team now.

Don’t get me wrong, he does have some positives, he still is the best player we have at gaining the offensive zone, he still is a very good passer, most of the time, but he is a 7 million dollar player that REQUIRES another 7 million dollar elite sniper on his line to be able to score. That is a recipe for disaster. I would look to ship him off to Atlanta, they need a center to play with Kovalchuk, and we could use a high draft pick…but that is for a later writeup.

#20 Fredrik Sjostrom
All things considered, it was a decent season for Sjostrom if you had reasonable expectations. This guy is not an offensive player. He is Blair Betts with a teenie tiny bit more offensive potential. He is not a top 9 player. If you have him penciled in your top 9, you have a bad team. He does however, play a superb defensive game, like Betts, and he was Blair Betts’ partner for the #1 penalty killing unit in the NHL. However Sjostrom did not do near enough in the offensive zone for my liking. I would look to replace him with a younger, cheaper player. For a team that lacks a lot of physicality, you can substitute a more physical player, like Dane Byers, into that spot, get about the same offensive production, and get about 500 times more physicality. Defensive specialists are overrated, besides, worst comes to worst, Lauri Korpikoski is already as good as Sjostrom, and has a lot more room to grow.
#23 Chris Drury
I’m not going to pull the same schtick as I did with Gomez, I’ll just post the stats for you instead. 22 goals, 34 assists, 7 million dollar cap hit. Ouch. Chris Drury had a misearable season, but I am sure he won’t let it ruin his summer. As a captain, Chris Drury did not lead by example, and he certainly did not lead by his words. He was awful in his first year as captain. I am a tad bit more forgiving to Drury than I am to Gomez because I think Drury has a lot better hockey sense than Gomez. But that only goes so far. I would say try to move him at all costs, but unfortunately he has a full no movement clause for another 3 years. He isn’t going anywhere, literally. You have to deal with what you have here, and hope he can give you 30 goals and 40 assists. I would call that a real win, but I am not expecting miracles here. Giving him an F is being generous if you ask me.