All of that cheering you heard earlier was the sound of celebration after news of Michal Rozsival's ensuing departure made its way around New York. The Rangers traded Rozy to Phoenix for Wojtek Wolski.
While the deal was a simple player-for-player, there are a lot of complicated implications. So it may be best just to break things down bit by bit.
First off, a glance at the departed: Rozy played 432 regular season games and put up 42 goals and 134 assists, with 20 goals and 53 assists coming on the power play. He was in 31 playoff games and put up four goals and 10 assists. Jaromir Jagr left in the summer of 2008 and Rozy's points per game dropped from .407 to .357, he began suffering from a bad hip and he became widely loathed around the Garden.
That loathing did not extend into the locker room and Rozy was well-liked by his teammates. With the team finally clicking, you have to wonder what dealing the longest-tenured Ranger will do to the team's chemistry ...
Now that he is gone, which Blueshirt blueliner will draw the True Blue's ire for lackadaisical play? Rozy was the latest in a long line of soft players who didn't seem to be trying particularly hard. Could this be the end of an era? We can only hope.
Mockery aside, the Rangers gave up a veteran defenseman who was consistent and calm, if nothing else. That kind of presence is prized, especially in the stretch run and in the playoffs. As the Rangers missed the postseason last year, you had better believe that Dolan won't settle for another spring without extra revenue. If the team is teetering on the edge in February, will the Ranger braintrust be able to convince the boss that this defensive corps is enough to get the team over the hump? That is a tough sell when you consider Sather's talk that a real rebuild wouldn't be accepted in New York. He has been able to sneak one though but that is because any minor game-by-game losses in revenue can be chalked up to the economy. The big bucks that are the playoffs are something else.
Seeing as Future Blue is greatly improved and the only clear draft need is a goaltender (who likely won't be taken before the second round at the earliest), you have to wonder if Sather will be tempted to deal a pick away at the deadline for a veteran insurance policy. Let's hope not. But if he does feel the need, perhaps he won't have to deal away any picks: last year's late addition Anders Eriksson is back in action overseas with Zuccarello's former team Modo and likely would make it through waivers.
Enough about the Rozsival; Wojtek Wolski is coming to town. Sather said that the Polish-born but Canadian-raised winger will be available for Tuesday's game against Montreal. Wolski follows the line of one-way, skilled forwards that went from Jagr to Zherdev to Frolov; he is just as enigmatic and frustrating. After Colorado gave up on him and swapped the winger for Peter Mueller, Phoenix saw their new addition score 18 points in 18 games. Then the summer came and something happened. Either Wolski became complacent or he lost favour with Dave Tippett or he simply lost his touch. At 24 you certainly don't think that the latter is the case but Wolski comes to the Rangers on a seven game pointless drought and already had goalless streaks of 10 and eight games this season.
With Wolski come a complement of questions: Will this trade motivate him the way the last deal did? Who will he have chemistry with? Will he fit into the locker room? Can he do a wrap-around like Frolov did? Is it possible for him to avoid Tortorella's doghouse? Did Torts learn something from Zherdev that he can use to avoid the same frustrations? What will Sather do with the extra money under the salary cap?
If I had to guess at some of those answers, I would say that Wolski will do well in the next few weeks. He likely won't be as prolific as he was when he first got to Phoenix, but that is because the Rangers play a tighter game. Wolski won't likely work well on the ice with Gaborik, if only because both players need the puck on their stick; Wolski with MZA could be a good pairing though. Wolski will score in shootouts and can't possibly be worse than Frolov on the power play. Off the ice, Wolski is another Toronto-area kid fresh to New York City so it could go either way. Hopefully his hard-working immigrant parents instilled in him some good values.
No matter how it plays out the simple facts are that the Rangers are younger, they have more money to re-sign their core kids this summer and Rozy is gone. So we have all of that going for us. I can see the comments already about how I should be overjoyed purely because there is no more Rozsival to kick around but, as a long time Ranger fan, I'm waiting for the other shoe to fall.
Things are just going too well.