Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Trade Deadline Day: A Retrospective

Now that the deals are all done and the emotions have waned, I thought I would look over what the Rangers did again with an open mind.

The Rangers traded LW Marcel Hossa and G Al Montoya to Phoenix for LW Josh Gratton, G David Leneveu and RW Fredrik Sjostrom

As I wrote for the New York Times blog last night:
Some people leave jobs and steal staplers. Don Maloney left New York and stole players. He took a roster regular and a former top pick for a lousy fourth-liner, a minor-league goon and a bust goaltender. Police!

I have to stand by my comments on this one. It was a steal for Maloney. People are saying how Monty was a bust, but even though he had been outplayed by Miika Wiikman, he still put together a 16-8-3 record with a 2.54 gaa and .908 save percentage. Is that great? No. Is that bad? No. Yes he will be a restricted free agent, but goaltenders take longer to mature and Monty never got a shot at NHL action. He likely would not get it with us, but he was drafted sixth overall in 2004 and you would hope to get a better return. You figure Hossa for Sjostrom is essentially a wash - fourth liner for fourth liner - so that means the Rangers dealt a first round draft pick for a minor league goon in Gratton and a different bust of a goaltender. Goons are a dime a dozen and, unlike Monty, Leneveu got his shot at the NHL and failed.

Benoit Allaire thinks he can revive Leneveu's career, but who cares? He will still run into the same issue as Montoya as Wiikman, Valley and Hank will still be ahead of him. Besides, if he was so sure of his skill, why did he give up on one of his students? And as I said, goons are a dime a dozen, Gratton is nothing special - another punk welterweight. He will be a help in Hartford, protecting the kids with Franky Lessard out and Mitch on the Fritz but again, goons are a dime a dozen. There is an entire league of them, so I think tendering a minor league contract to one of them would be a better deal than giving away a former first rounder. Sjostrom could prove to be a decent addition, but we already have a European skill player who can't score in Petr Prucha and, unlike Hossa, Sjostrom has no shot of playing across from Jagr. Better scouting, both in terms of the 2004 draft and in the minor leagues, could have made this trade unnecessary and even a day later it still looks like a severe downgrade.

The Rangers acquired D Christian Backman from St. Louis in return for a fourth-round draft pick.

I told the Times that:
Instead of trading Marek Malik, we acquired the Blues’ version of him: a disappointing, big, soft, overpaid defenseman who is sure to be the bane of my existence soon.

That is almost certain to be an accurate prophecy. However, Sather and Renney don't seem to trust any of the kids in Hartford and are afraid to risk Hutch and Pock to waivers, so they picked up an insurance policy. Backstrom ain't Allstate, but he does have NHL experience should injuries hit. And who knows? Maybe playing in front of his old friend Hank will put the spark into his play that made him a first round pick ... But, given how happy the Blues fans are to be rid of him (that's him on the far right in the photo, out of position behind the Ducks forwards), I don't see it happening.

So all told, I won't jump on the FIRE SATHER bandwagon, but I am disappointed he didn't work harder. He traded with his friends, rather than going out on a limb or actually doing some scouting. The Rangers are somehow on a 5-0-2 run with their roster as is, so maybe they can keep it going as is and take the team to the playoffs and do some damage once there ... I don't think they will, but would love to be proven wrong!


Peter said...

Fine...don't join my "Fire Sather" bandwagon...see who backs you up next time Jagr's agent takes you to task in this blog...harumph

Ok, I'm over it, but seriously, I feel that the trades made on Tuesday (or more importantly, the lack of intelligent, pertinent trades) reflect the organization's belief that they don't have enough of a chance at the cup to warrant any major changes to the team or to the farm. Other teams in the East made some incredibly bold moves and have positioned themselves well for a cup run. We didn't help ourselves at all, and I think we lost an assest as well with the trade of Montoya.

My predicition for the season: The Penguins go all the way to the finals, and if they do, it will likely be because of the trades they made on Tuesday.

Scotty Hockey said...

Pete - just keep in mind that none of last year's big deals resulted in the Cup ...

Peter said...

While I agree that the final four teams in last year's race for the cup might not have made the biggest trades that season as far as profile is concerned, I will throw out these numbers: In preparation for the cup race, through January and February, Detroit and Ottawa made 2 trades each, while Buffalo made 4 and Anaheim made 6. I think it is fair to say that Anaheim knew they were in a good position, made a bunch of trades to shore everything up tight, and went on to win. I think the Pens are showing the same type of forethought this season.

Of course, it's hockey, so anything can happen, but my point is that the trade deadline doesn't have to be about making big trades, just smart trades to prep for the post season, if you have any plans on going long. The Rangers didn't make either kind of trade for this deadline, and I think it is because management doesn't believe we will get to the post season, or do well if we get there.