When the New York Rangers decided there was no place in the roster for Sean Avery, he was placed on waivers for the second time of the season on Dec. 30, 2011. A day later, he would clear waivers and has remained in the Rangers' AHL affiliate, the Hartford Whale, ever since.
In 15 games played for the Rangers this season, he has only three goals and 15 shots on goal.
Avery did not take his demotion to the Whale very well—and from the sounds of it, he expected to be traded away quickly.
“I have a lot to prove, and I have a lot of game left after not being allowed to play my game for the last four years,” Avery told the New York Post.
“I guarantee that I’ll play my [expletive] off and give everything I have for the team that will give me the chance I wasn’t getting [from coach John Tortorella]. That team will be getting a guy who has a lot to prove. I can be the type of difference-maker I was in New York when I was there the first time and allowed to play my game,” he said.
“And that’s what I’ll be for any team that’s willing to look beyond the rhetoric and see my value on the ice. I’ll give everything I have to help that team win.”
But Avery would not get the chance to prove himself on the NHL level again, at least so far.
Then word broke in mid-January that the Rangers' general manager, Glen Sather, was keeping Avery from his return to the NHL with another franchise.
According to Larry Brooks of the New York Post, when Sather was questioned on when he would be ready to deal Avery, Sather simply responded, "Not now."
For a player who seems to bring so much controversy and clearly has no future as a Ranger, it begs the question: Why would Sather refuse to put Avery on re-entry waivers?
My perspective: Sather knows Avery is a valuable asset, something he does not want to give away with little return. Avery may be toxic at times, but he has undeniable skill and his career in the NHL is not over, yet.
With the trade deadline quickly approaching and the Rangers continually battling for league-leading status, Sather is clearly playing his cards close to his chest. There are some big names out on the market right now, such as Shea Weber, Teemu Selanne and Bobby Ryan, all of whom the Rangers would love to acquire.
And none of these possible trades will come cheap.
I don't expect the Rangers to make anything less than a big trade by the deadline in anticipation of winning the Stanley Cup. The Rangers have not been this good in over a decade, and a consistent goal scorer could be just what the Rangers need to propel them deep into the postseason.
If we let Avery go on re-entry waivers when it was convenient for Avery, it would completely change who the Rangers would be willing to trade as the trade deadline approaches. I'd much rather see Avery dealt over Artem Anisimov, who has been struggling since being pulled off of the first line, but is still worth the Rangers retaining.
The days of Sather's poor choices and obscene contracts are behind us. I don't question Sather's decision to hold off on trading Avery.
The most Avery may do for the Rangers organization this entire season may be as a valuable trade package by the deadline.
Then someone else can deal with our sloppy seconds.