Out of somewhere between boredom and anger I write this article.
It still baffles me that the Rangers are where they're at. I read the other day, someone said that we're in between being a terrible team, and a Stanley Cup team, and that's the worst place to be; intermediate. I couldn't agree more.
When you're at the place we are... filled with vets who just can't get the job done, a GM who has no true personal motivation except for further resume padding, and an average grouping of youth in the minors, then "intermediate" is the best to expect for at least the next few years.
The purpose of writing this article then ironically, I guess is to pad my own ego; to give all of you an idea of what I would do if I was hired as GM of the Rangers.
When building, or in this case, rebuilding a team, you have to have models for yourself, and cornerstone players. First off, you determine a team to model by looking at trends. At this case, in the current NHL, the trend seems to be towards a 70's style team; mean, fast, rugged, no nonsense.
A team like Anaheim, who won the Cup a few years back proves this, as does the top 2 teams in the league, giants like Boston and San Jose; teams that you know will hurt you both on the ice, and on the scoreboard.
Teams like that can fight, stand up for one another, play hard game in and game out, and truly have talent.
This is my basis to rebuild our New York Rangers.
Step 1: The Crease
Nothing to really discuss here. Henrik's solid, and will be for the next few years. I like Vally, but personally I'd continue to develop Wiikman, and look for a good few studs in the later rounds. A team like Minnesota always thrives because they seemingly always have a guy to push their incumbent starter to be better. First it was Roloson, then Fernandez, then Backstrom, and now Harding is making some waves. Good to have competition.
Step 2: The Blueline
The past few years, this has been our strength. This year it's a glaring weakness. Players like Wade Redden and Michal Roszival have proven to be horrendous busts.
Personally, I always liked Roszival, but to me at least, I have to think that maybe either his offseason surgery and/or pressure to fulfill this contract have taken their toll.
I would have wished he were traded a year back, when he was playing his best. But it seems we're almost certainly going to be stuck with one.
Redden's GOT TO GO. He hasn't fit in, in any way. Most games his making turnovers, isn't the best skater, isn't scoring, and certainly won't hit. Bad, bad, bad and bad.
Who's the backbone of Boston? Zdeno Chara.
Who's the backbone of San Jose? Dan Boyle.
Who's the backbone of Detroit? Nick Lidstrom.
Franchise defensive studs, and coincedentally enough, each team is dominant.
There's little chance we'll find a players like that, but at the very least we can find a solid player that can do at least ONE THING right?
A team that's struggling right now is the Edmonton Oilers. Maybe they're looking to trade Sheldon Souray? He costs some cash, but similar money to Redden. Redden also brings some veteran leadership to a defensive corps that basically in Edmonton, has none. To equalize salary, I'd do:
Redden, Naslund and a 2nd for Cole and Souray.
Edmonton would have to take on about $2 million... but that's not a horrendously large amount. Maybe if Edmonton throws in Steve Staios it's more attractive to them, especially with their blueline depth. I believe he's a UFA anyway.
Souray provides us some physicality, with a DEFINITE ability to score from the blueline, which is an instant powerplay boost. Edmonton's struggling; and here they send their most attractive blueline trade chip, a bankable defensive commodity, with a winger who hasn't find a niche whatsoever.
They pickup a speedy winger, who in the same vein has struggled in New York, who's only under contract for I believe one or two more years. This is the second time Naslund's been stuck in a strictly defensive system.
Maybe a trip back to the West, with a faster team can bring back memories of playing with Brendan Morrison. If he can envigorate the youth corps in Edmonton, then it'd be surely a smart move for Tambellini.
Roszival, who's not old by any stretch, gets them slightly younger, and he surely might find his game again.
Souray's no defensive genius... but can't be worse than Redden, while providing us with the offensive spark that Wade hasn't. Make that deal all day long.
Next, we need a rock out there. Most teams that win have that veteran guy that NO ONE wants to play. Whether it's Chris Pronger, Chara, or Jeff Beukeboom; he has to be there.
The guy I target... Robyn Regehr. No one knows him here on the East Coast... but man, he's the model for shut down defenseman. It would take a lot to get him, but he's the defensive monster that we lack, and would truly help Marc Staal to be the monster we all know he can be. The trade I'd make would be:
Regehr for Dawes, Girardi and a 2nd and 3rd.
I know it hurts to get rid of Girardi... but Regehr is an upgrade, no doubts about it.
Keenan's shown interest in Dawes... and we have some depth at wing (cough cough, Prucha, cough). He has yet to prove he's consistent enough, but maybe with Iginla and Camallieri he can.
You consider these two moves, with the probable loss of Kalinin... our blueline would look something like this next winter:
Mara Sanguinetti/Del Zotto/Potter/Reitz
A solid defensive corps, with offensive ability, size, grit and experience. In my opinion, a step better from what we have today. Depth also, and this is without a guy like Michael Sauer taking any steps to improve in Hartford. A step in the right direction to me...
Step 3: Forward Lines
The Rangers truly have no number 1 center. Neither Gomez nor Drury in my opinion are capable of carrying a Ranger offense. Both are solid second options. Honestly... our best option as 1st line center is Brandon Dubinsky.
Whether it's center Jagr or Straka last year... or Zherdev this year... Dubinsky's shown he can work with an offensive powerhouse, and maybe even improve their output.
For better or worse, Chris Drury is our captain. His resume includes many things... one of which though, is not the ability to constantly rack up points. That's just not him. You put Drury on the second, or even third line and let him work with minimal offensive pressure, and I'll believe he'll refind form. He stays... most players don't have the defensive intelligence that he does.
The guy who should be putting up 30 - 45 assists, with near 20 goals, is Scott Gomez. However, he just isnt. The insanity of his contract hurts... but if he can be traded, he must.
Now... which teams have the money to take him... which teams could use a center... and which teams would truly improve to have a Cup winning center?
I see Los Angeles as that team.
The trade I'd look to make would be:
Scott Gomez for Michal Handzus and Patrick O'Sullivan.
First of all, Handzus is here for no other reason than to even out salary. He's a salary dump, without question. I believe he's a UFA after this season anyway, and almost certainly won't be brought back.
O'Sullivan though... he's an American kid who had issues there last year, and has been involved in rumors for a little while. He's got 1st line potential as a winger, and we could certainly use a little bit more talent on our wings.
Gomez in LA could be a big breakthrough. It gives the Kings two solid veteran centers, with Jarret Stoll, and with the play of Wayne Simmonds, O'Sullivan's somewhat expendable. Gomez - Kopitar - Brown could be a MONSTROUS line for the next decade as well.
Trading Gomez and keeping O'Sullivan saves us $4 million a year... which should be enough to make sure Dubinsky and Zherdev are resigned... especially with the dumping of Handzus and Kalinin (as said before).
That's not really doing to much to be honest. Here's what the lines would look like:
Zherdev - Dubinsky -O'Sullivan
Prucha - Korpikoski - Cole
Callahan - Drury - Voros
Byers/Sjostrom - Betts - Orr
Not the most offensively potent lineups... but without question, a lineup that's not afraid to hit. Zherdev and Dubinsky here are being counted on to provide some more offensive spark, but I have to think that both of them, being in the early 20's are only going to improve. O'Sullivan might be a solid, hard working complement to both of them.
With the moving on of Gomez and Naslund, other players like Prucha and Korpikoski will be given a true chance of making an impact, especially with the second line that I've put together.
Erik Cole and Korpikoski could be a very solid forechecking tandem. No dead weight here... two lines with speed, grit and an ability to get to the next, with two bottom lines that have size, grit, and an ability to play hard against the opposition. Cally has shown he'll hit anyone, and I don't think Voros is a total waste.
By the way... if Avery does come play... you could either take out Voros, and he fits in just find, creating an extremely difficult line to play against, pairing him with Cally.
Decent? Any opinions? Again... nothing to crazy done here... but wastes of space like Naslund, Gomez and Redden have been traded, talent has been brought in... with no serious sacrifices (aside from Dawes... who O'Sullivan replaces, and Girardi, who is replaced by Regehr. Upgrades for sure).
Maybe this is the type of lineup the Rangers need... one that emphasizes their youth like Staal and Dubinsky, instead of putting a glass ceiling over their heads.