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Sorry this took so long, at about midnight I decided to watch a movie before I did this writeup….didn’t realize Watchmen was 3 hours long. Anyway, these past few weeks have been the ultimate in bipolar feelings towards the Rangers, and more specifically towards Glen Sather. First at the draft he passes on Schroeder (DAMN IT!) but instead drafts a kid with potentially higher upside (YES!!). Then right before the free agent frenzy is set to begin, he pulls off highway robbery of epic proportions by dealing Scott Gomez for not only a serviceable player (Higgins) but also a bluechip prospect (McDonagh) without taking on any significant salary (YES!!!). He then decides to sign Donald Brashear (DAMN IT!!!) only to also bring in the focus of my serious mancrush, Marian Gaborik (WOO HOO!)

So, you can see how I might be a little overwhelmed in this seesaw emotional game Sather seems to put me through. Since I have already talked about Gomez and the draft, let’s just talk about the 2 deals today.

To start off the Rangers portion of Free Agent Frenzy, Glen Sather pulled off one of the more retarded signings he has ever done on this day. He picked up 37 year old enforcer Donald Brashear. Now, before I get to why I hate this deal so much let’s talk about Brashear. In 989 career NHL games Brashear has racked up 2,561 penalty minutes, approximately 212 penalty minutes per 82 game season. He also has scored 204 points which is approximately 17 points per 82 games played. On the flip side, Colton Orr has amassed 549 penalty minutes in 245 career NHL games, approximately 184 penalty minutes per 82 game season while tacking on 11 career points in those games which averages out to a sickeningly bad (less than) 4 points a season. There are no comparing the 2. Brashear is the better fighter, Brashear is significantly more intimidating, Brashear is a faster skater, Brashear is tremendously more talented offensively. In short, Donald Brashear is a hell of an upgrade over Colton Orr.

So, why is this such a crap move? 2 reasons, first and foremost you have 100% committed 1.4 million dollars per season for the next 2 years. There is no Marcus Naslund type early retirement, there is Brashear, on your cap, unless he is traded. That is what happens when you commit to a player over the age of 35, which the now 37 year old Brashear is well past. The second reason is simple. I simply do not believe that in this day and age it is necessary to have an enforcer on your club. Look at the past 2 years, 2 teams without an enforcer to their name make it to the finals. The Detroit Red Wings have created a dynasty where the closest thing they have had to an enforcer was Brendan Shanahan. Team toughness is important, speed is important, physicality is important. Having a goon isn’t that important. While it is nice to know that Brashear has the talent to occasionally put up a point and not be the epic black hole that Orr was, you also have to think some of the kids would have been better suited getting some playing time on that 4th line.

After nearly pushing me off the ledge with that horrendous signing, Sather reeled me back in by signing one of my favorite players in the NHL today, Marian Gaborik. If you’ve read this blog at all during the past few years, you’ve probably read several pleas from me to acquire Gaboriks rights, injured or not, performing or not, just do whatever it takes to get his ass here, and lock him up. Well, the Rangers finally obliged. The deal is about what you would expect for an elite player, 5 years at 7.5 million per year.

Remember, this is not Scott Gomez. This is not Wade Redden. This is not Chris Drury. Marian Gaborik is an elite player. Everyone, everywhere knows this. What he has done in Minnesota has been nothing short of jaw dropping. He managed to average 36 goals and 36 assists per 82 game season over the course of his career playing in a stifling defensive system the likes of which are tough to comprehend at times. Furthermore he has averaged 49 goals and 42 assists (91 points) per 82 games played since the lockout, again in a stifling defensive system. But, by now you have noticed a trend here with the calculations I am doing. It is always “per 82 games played”. With Gaborik, his only issue, the single question with him, is his health. If he is healthy, playing in that stifling system of Lemaires, you can pencil him in for 49/42/91. A conservative estimate would be that you could probably add 5-10% to that number switching to a standard system, and switching to an all out offensive attack plan like Tortorellas, you probably can pencil him in for a 15% increase in productivity (56/48/104). Again, this is all just guesstimation and hoping here, but it is what I feel are reasonable expectations to place upon him. What probably isn’t reasonable is to expect him to play a full 82 games, and therein lies the problem. Are we getting him for 50 games? 60? 70? 80? Who knows. This is why the message boards are either in absolute adoration of this signing (like I am), or in absolute terror of this signing. Gaborik is the ultimate boom or bust. Not based on talent, but based on health. This is a fact, when he plays, he is an unstoppable offensive force, comparable to the best in the East. However, he doesn’t always play, and that is what we will have to wait, see, and ultimately judge this signing based on. For the record, I would have done this exact move, for this exact dollar amount, and this exact years (it’s what I said I would offer him when doing some predictions prior to the frenzy over on the boards). So this is a move I will either have to eat a nice big plate of crow on, or one I will be gloating about for years. I’m sure if I’m wrong there won’t be a shortage of people lining up to point it out.

Tomorrow starts anew, and I figure we are in for at least 1, if not 2 or 3 more moves. The Rangers, if they are truly interested in being contenders, need 1 more player. If it’s a Marleau, or a Heatley, or a Kessel, I do not know, but I do know that the truly elite teams give their superstar offensive forward someone to lean on when he can’t get it done. That is what we need to do if we really want to make a run for it. While I am not advocating emptying the cupboard for some soon to be UFA, or some over the hill, vet….I wouldn’t be opposed to dealing from a strength (our defense) to shore up our weakness (offense). And if a player like Girardi, or a prospect like Sanguinetti or McDonagh or Anisimov have to go in order to bring in a guy like Lecavalier…then that’s a price I am willing to play.

Let’s see if Sather has another miracle up his sleeve, or if he has another lump of coal up there.

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