New York Rangers Preseason: Cutting Nedved was the Right Decision

Joe CorreiaCorrespondent ISeptember 30, 2008
When I found out that Petr Nedved had been invited to New York Rangers training camp back in August, my first reaction was to laugh. Right after that, I started to think if Petr actually did have a shot to play in a limited role with the Rangers. Watching a few of the Rangers' preseason games a week ago, it appeared that he exhibited some of the best skating that I can remember from him. Nedved also helped his own case by scoring a couple of nice goals in the course of the week. However, this was not enough to earn Petr a spot on the Rangers' roster, as the Rangers brass cut him over the weekend.
Some may argue that Nedved would bring some veteran leadership to a team that needs it, all the while chipping in a goal every now and then on the team's 4th line. I wholeheartedly disagree. While Nedved would bring some offense to the 4th line, he has never been known to be very strong on the defensive side of the puck, something that is all but required to be an effective checking line forward.
In addition to this, a move of Nedved to the 4th line would beg the question of where Blair Betts would play. The answer would be not on the Rangers if this were the case. In my opinion, this would have been an awful move to inject Nedved into the Rangers lineup at the expense of one of the best defensive centers in the game. Betts is the type of player that teams win championships with. Take the most recent Cup winners. Detroit has Draper, Anaheim has Pahlsson, and Carolina has Brind'Amour. Every team that has won a cup in the post-lockout era has a good defensive center that is a key part of the team's penalty killing unit, and is also able to win a key faceoff when called upon. You simply do not get rid of a player like that, especially if the guy replacing him is over 35 years old and hasn't played a full NHL season since before the lockout.
For my final point, every person that follows the Rangers very well knows that they have an abundance of forward prospects that are knocking on the NHL's door. After watching the Rangers' exhibition against SC Bern, it is clear to me that Korpikoski in particular should be a part of the NHL club right now. If Nedved had still been around, Lauri's shot at the NHL this season all but goes out the window. It also appears that players like Anisimov and Paranteau would be the first call-ups in case of injury this season. Both of these guys, in my opinion, are close to if not NHL ready right now. Adding Nedved to the Rangers' roster would have done nothing but further clog up the pipeline of Rangers forward prospects. For the reasons above, I am glad that the Rangers brass made what in my mind was the right call, and as a result allow for the progression of letting some of the Rangers prospects play a role in the big club's success in the near future.