Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Well, That Wasn't Fun ...

And I am not talking about my doctor's appointment. That went alright - I'll be fine - but I emerged from the office to find out about Glen Sather's continuing quest to cover his own rear end.

Ranger fans called for help on defense so Sather went out and got Derek Morris.

John Tortorella called for size up front so Sather went out and got Nik Antropov.

So now, no matter how poorly the Rangers fare, Sather can certainly say he did his job.

Unfortunately, he didn't do it very well.

Morris, much like Wade Redden, is past his prime and a liability with the puck. Morris used to have a powerful shot but that has virtually disappeared. He has just one power play point - an assist - this season and sees more than 20 minutes of ice time a night. He is -13 and has gotten less and less production five of the last six seasons. Morris would have been a fair trade for the younger Dmitri Kalinin. Add in Nigel Dawes and Don Maloney has the slight edge. Put Petr Prucha in there and Maloney comes out with the win. Kalinin has been garbage, that is well accepted. Dawes - while good in the shootout - hasn't been very good anywhere else and is struggling to score. But Prucha, Prucha came out of Renney's doghouse to be the most energetic, exciting player on the Rangers. Could he keep it up? Who knows? I am not saying that Prucha was a hockey god or anything remotely close to that - I am just saying that the kid gave his all every shift of every game and the Rangers unceremoniously threw him away for another older extra part collecting an oversized paycheck.

Sather can say that Dawes and Prucha were too small for John Tortorella, who outright demanded that the team get bigger. When Sather brought in Sean Avery, the team's heart got bigger but not their size. Avery will take Dawes' slot, Morris will take Kalinin's and Sather pissed away a prime pick in what is said to be a deep draft to get Nik Antropov to fill in for Prucha.

Antropov is 6'6, 230. Prucha is generously listed as 6', 175. And, amazingly, the Rangers actually got smaller. Prucha plays like King Kong compared to the Kazakh. Simply said, Sather added a second underachieving, heartless former communist to skate on the power play and infuriate the head coach and fans alike. Granted, Borat comes in with more goals than any other Ranger this season (21) but he has frustrated Leaf fans like few others in the franchises recent doldrums. My friend Jeremy, a Toronto native and diehard Leaf fan, heard the news and texted me "sorry." We just have to hope and pray that Sather's pre-deadline day acquisitions - Tortorella and Avery - can light the fire under him and Z (and Redden and Gomez).

I have taken flak from a few friends for being an optimist (believe it or not) but I am sticking to my guns - the Rangers will fight for one of the final playoff spots all the way to the final game of the season. They may just make the postseason but won't get out of the first round. Losing Prucha, one of the few Blueshirts who were a pleasure to watch, will hurt a team looking to play a high energy game but the return of Avery will certainly ease the pain.

Today's saving grace is that when you include the addition of Avery and subtraction of Voros in the trade deadline equation it tilts things towards the positive but the deals for Morris and Antropov, taken on their own, come up lacking.

That is even more true when you consider what the other teams in the East did. Pittsburgh got a steal in Bill Guerin for a crappy conditional pick. Philly got bigger and meaner by adding Kyle McLaren and Danny Carcillo (who was one of my favourite players, not anymore). Carolina regained their heart and sole in Erik Cole. Boston added Mark Recchi and Steve Montador. Jersey and Montreal had already made their big moves by bolstering their bluelines. Buffalo basically dealt Ales Kotalik for Dominic Moore in a wash and added a safety-net goaltender. Florida did well by not trading Jay Bouwmeester. Washington didn't do a thing, but that is fine since they are already a tight team with all of the pieces needed for a good run at the Cup.

Whether or not the Rangers are able to make a run is now in the hands of Tortorella. Sather made sure everyone thinks he did his job, now the coach has to make the players his boss added do theirs. That is one tough task for Torts to take and the last 18 games should be pretty interesting. Just three of them are against teams out of the playoff hunt - one against Atlanta, one against Ottawa and tomorrow's tilt on the Island. After several months of snooze-worthy Ranger games, the remaining Blueshirt battles will be must-see tv and that is all we can ask for, right?


Noah's Art said...

as much as i hate sather, it's not like he made these moves without discussing it first with tortorella. torts wanted more size, and that was what was available.

and as much as i hate sather, he's not that stupid where he doesn't know what kind of players they are. the morris trade was more about unloaded the salaries of guys who aren't in their future plans. everyone knows that antropov was a headache, but i'm sure he talked it over with torts, and torts believes he can get the most out of him. i think antropov is a risk worth taking, and derek morris least it's only till the end of the season.

nyrmike21 said...

The way I see the Morris trade is so long Kalinin! I wish good luck to Dawesy and Pru in Phoenix. As for Carcillo, I really liked him too, energetic, fun to watch, not anymore.

Ryan McFadden said...

Noah's Art has a solid point. Prucha was most likely not in the Rangers plans. They made that pretty clear this season.

The teams much better on paper, but your right, it's completely hinged on whether or not Tortorella can take control of the team and turn them around. For the moment, they're better equipped. But in the long run, both of these deals suck.

Anonymous said...

i dont know if it is a bad thing about loosing prucha. He was passionate, gritty and played like he was 10 feet tall. But the truth was, was that he was never successful and after reading your blog you keep saying that well hes got the talent we have to play him get his confidence up. But that is just something he cannot do on the rangers, Prucha will be good, but it was never going to be on the rangers.

As for morris, anyhing is better that kalinin. And even though Antropov is inconsistent, tort s tough, and can hopefully light a fire in his ass. Overall, i consisder both trades mildly successful

Scotty Hockey said...

A qualm I have with the Morris deal, that I neglected to mention (my bad) was that the dude will get power play time that should rightly go to Marc Staal. The last thing the Rangers need is another turnover artist who can't score on the special team.

Ryan McFadden said...

Yeah but Staal wasn't even on the PP before Morris even arrived. The first pair was Redden and Mara (i think) and then Girardi and Kalinin

Anonymous said...

I think a Prucha who was back to scoring 25-30 goals a season would certainly have been in the rangers plans...and I think that could have been a reality on a team not headed by Tom Renney. Pru played admirably for torts and has a goal why standing in front of the net...something big guy Voros couldn't do...I think letting him go for a guy who wil go ufa next season was shortsightedness.