Once again, the New York Rangers' season ended in disappointment, as they were cut down by the Washington Capitals in five games during the Stanley Cup quarterfinals. Despite a couple of overtime thrillers and games coming down to the wire, the Rangers proved in those five games that they are far from a true contender.
However, there were some bright spots during the season, such as the ascension of young players like Derek Stepan, Mike Sauer and Ryan McDonagh. There is hope for the future in Ranger-land as well, with promising young prospects like Chris Kreider, Christian Thomas, Ryan Bourque and Dylan McIlrath.
Due to the influx of young players, some of the other players on the Rangers will be displaced. Here are five players that do not belong on the roster for the 2011-12 season. These are not necessarily players who I believe will be gone—just players who do not belong.
Bryan McCabe is a veteran power-play quarterback whom the Rangers acquired around the trade deadline to boost their struggling power play. Unfortunately, things did not work out for McCabe in New York.
Since being acquired from the Florida Panthers for Tim Kennedy and a third-round draft pick, McCabe was able to score two goals and only six points in 19 regular-season games for the Rangers. The playoffs were no better, as McCabe managed only a pair of assists in five games.
In addition to his lack of offensive prowess, McCabe is not a lockdown defender by any stretch of the imagination, frequently making defensive errors.
Perhaps the biggest letdown with McCabe was his utter failure to run the power play. During the tight, defensive first-round series against the Washington Capitals, where a single goal could mean everything, the Rangers' power play went only 1-of-20, including 0-of-7 in Game 4, which was lost in double overtime.
It is almost a certainty that Bryan McCabe will not return to the Rangers, and that is without a doubt for the best.
The fact that many Rangers fans forgot Alex Frolov even played for the team this past season should say it all. Frolov has been sidelined with with a torn ACL since January 8th, but it didn't make much difference in the minds of Rangers fans.
By that time, Frolov had already played himself off next season's team. Frolov was brought to New York as yet another skilled winger who never reached his potential. The Rangers have long been attracted to this type of player, Alexei Kovalev and Nikolay Zherdev jumping to mind.
Frolov never clicked in New York, scoring only seven goals and 16 points in the 43 games he played there. He was not able to consistently score and was occasionally bumped down to the fourth line by John Tortorella. Much like Bryan McCabe, there is almost no chance that the Rangers bring back Frolov.
In all fairness to Wojtek Wolski, the guy he was traded for would have been here too. When Wolski was acquired from the Phoenix Coyotes for defenseman Michal Rozsival, it was wondered why the Coyotes would give up a young player like Wolski for a 32-year-old defenseman who can't do anything particularly well.
During his time in New York, it certainly became apparent. Wolski is yet another Ranger with talent but no drive. He is caught coasting many times during games and is frequently benched or dropped down to the third or fourth line.
Wolski is still young, but he was unable to click with any other player on the Rangers, and nobody wonders anymore why the 25-year-old was traded twice in less than a year.
Wolski's contract extends for another year at $3.8 million—certainly a lot of money for a player who wasn't much more than a shootout specialist this season.
Simply put, Sean Avery's act has gotten old. Once a fan favorite, Avery was loved for his bad-boy antics and his agitating ways on the ice. He also had the talent to pot a few goals here and there, making him a useful player for a season.
Avery was acquired in late 2007 and helped to lead the Rangers on a playoff push and a sweep of the Atlanta Thrashers in the first round of the playoffs. He scored 15 goals the following season but will be remembered mostly for waving his stick in the face of New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur in the first round of the playoffs.
However, many fans do not remember that this was three years ago and Avery has done nothing important to speak of for this team ever since. This season, his game hit a low, as he scored only three goals and 24 points. In addition to being an offensive black hole, Avery has no defensive game to speak of and takes frequent minor penalties.
Avery is a "me-first" player and has a history of alienating his teammates and coach, something he has obviously done with the Rangers.
Let's be honest—we all knew it was coming. Chris Drury is a good guy and was a good hockey player, but his time with the Rangers should be coming to an end.
Drury was signed along with Scott Gomez to a five-year, $34.25 million contract by the New York Rangers on July 1st, 2007. While every sane Rangers fan knew that Drury produced his career averages for the first two years of his deal, he was still massively overpaid.
However, most fans dealt with Drury's massive deal because he was at least a consistent 20-goal, 50-point player with strong defensive ability...right? In his second season as the Rangers' captain, Drury's offensive game completely evaporated, as he finished the 2009-10 season with only 14 goals and 32 points.
The 2010-11 season was even worse for Drury, as injuries limited him to only 24 games, but in those games, he managed only a goal and six points.
Chris Drury is strictly a fourth-line player these days, and there is nothing at all wrong with having a player like him on the roster, except for the incredibly important fact that his salary cap hit is $7.5 million.
What's more is that in my opinion, Drury has not done his job as a captain. This team lacks an identity and does not have much of a team mentality, and Drury's lack of fire certainly does not help.
Since coming back from his injury, Drury is unlikely to retire, but there is plenty of speculation that the Rangers will buy out the final year of his deal, ending his disappointing tenure with the team.