It’s always fun(ny) to look back on a particular transaction that brought forth a good dose of enthusiasm and optimism from the fanbase, but ended up crashing, burning, and fading into relative obscurity.
Such, dear Ranger fans, is the story of young Enver Lisin.
Yes, 24-year-old Enver Lisin, who hails from the quaint Russian town of Voskresensk, was acquired by Glen Sather on the 13th of July, in the year 2009, in a move that the Rangers’ president and general manager hoped would give the Broadway Blueshirts an added offensive boost.
Unfortunately all Lisin would provide, aside from ample opportunities for head coach John Tortorella to scowl menacingly, was a posterior to fill one of the empty seats in the press box on 25 occasions throughout the 2009-10 season.
Traded by the Phoenix Coyotes to New York in exchange for yet another Ranger first-round bust, Lauri Korpikoski, Lisin had shown flashes of blazing speed and impressive puck handling ability in three separate, maddeningly inconsistent stints with the ‘Yotes.
Perhaps Sather and the rest of his cronies envisioned that speed being put to good use under Tortorella’s “safe is death” strategy. When the reality that the team simply wasn’t talented enough to play such an offensive-minded system hit Tortorella, however, the strategy was more or less scrapped (for what, mind you, it still ain’t exactly clear), and with that, any hope of Lisin breaking out as any kind of impact player went by the wayside (he scored six goals with eight assists in 57 games).
Then again, close observation of Lisin’s play away from the puck might lead one to believe that he was bound to be a complete failure regardless of the system his team employed.
You see, Lisin is so utterly and completely useless in practically every facet of the game sans breakaways (due to the aforementioned speed), that he’s essentially a wasted roster spot. He brings so little to the table that dressing him and inserting him into the lineup on the off chance that he gets a clear and undisturbed attempt at a goaltender is simply not a smart coaching decision, since he doesn’t work nearly hard enough for one to assume that he’d earn such opportunities with any regularity.
In case you're curious, Korpikoski (selected 19th overall by the Blueshirts in 2004) may still be a tremendous bust, but at least you can find a use for the guy. He played in 71 games this season, notching just 11 points, but earning ice time as a reliable penalty killer for the surprising Coyotes, who, unlike the Rangers, made the playoffs in a stronger Western Conference, before losing in seven games to the Detroit Red Wings in the first round. “Korpedo” played in all seven playoff games, notching one goal.
After earning $790,000 last season, the dilatory speed demon that is Enver Lisin is now a restricted free agent, but it’s hard to fathom that he has a role waiting for him on Broadway next season. More likely than not, Lisin will make his way back home to Russia, or at least Europe, to play in the Kontinental Hockey League or another European league.
Based on the 135 NHL games under his belt, there can’t be many NHL execs with much interest in him. Getting cut from Russia’s World Championship team before the competition even began probably won’t do much to convince NHL teams he belongs in the league, either.
ENVER LISIN GRADE: D-