Friday, April 30, 2010

The NYR Facts Of Life: #26 Erik Christensen

For each player who suited up in a Blueshirt this season we will take the good, we will take the bad and take them both and see what we have. With the various albatrosses killing our cap and no faith in Hartford, Glen Sather turned to the waiver wire to pick up #26 Erik Christensen.

#26's #s: 49 games, eight goals, 18 assists, +14, 24 PIM.

Take the good: There were low expectations for Christensen when he was selected off the wire from Anaheim and he surprised everyone by immediately showing an on-ice rapport with Marian Gaborik. In one of Tortorella's many blunders this season, he refused to believe/accept that Christy complemented Gabby well and waited weeks before putting the two together on a (semi-) permanent basis. Christy repeatedly said during the stretch run that he was playing for a NHL job next season and the results proved it; he had eight points over his final 10 games including one of the best goals by a Blueshirt the entire year. In a rarity among the Rangers, he spoke frankly and honestly and was given the John Halligan Good Guy Award for it.

Take the bad: Christensen was the first Ranger shooter in the final shootout and had a less-than-stellar effort with a weak move and a weaker wrister from in close. Christy certainly worked well with Gabby but oftentimes he was too deferential to the Slovak sniper, passing when he should have shot. He had just three more shots (77) than Olli Jokinen did (74) in 23 more games - sure he is a different kind of player but that is just ridiculous considering the open ice he received when he was out there with Gabby. Just four of Christensen's 26 points came on the power play; his one goal with the man advantage came all the way back on New Year's Eve. He had two goals over his final 15 games, and they both came in the same game against the Leafs ... if that even counts, as they are the Leafs.

Take them both and then we have: Someone who deserves a NHL job next season, and perhaps even one with the Rangers. Christensen worked hard and stepped up his game come crunch time. He proved he was capable of holding down a top-six slot and, unless Sather can swing another deal to get rid of Redden, the GM won't be able to afford a top-line pivot to play with Gabby; Christy will come cheap. At the least, he can fill the position while Derek Stepan enjoys another season at Wisconsin.

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