Rangers reshape roster with deadline
By acquiring Ryane Clowe and trading Marian Gaborik to Columbus, the Rangers
have changed their team for the better.
NEW YORK, NY -- As a general rule of thumb, the team that ostensibly
acquires the best player in a deal comes out on top. But often, a
trade benefits all parties included, and for the New York Rangers and
the Columbus Blue Jackets, their deal made perfect sense.
Much had been written over the course of the irregular season about
the strained relationship between John Tortorella and Marian Gaborik.
Much was written about that same strained relationship two years ago,
when Gaborik looked lost without a true number one center. Well, he
rebounded pretty well last year netting 41 goals.
Tortorella expressed to the media that in his time here, Gaborik had
become a different player. His nose was near the net, he scored dirty
goals, and he played a more complete game when they first acquired
him? No, Torts never soured on Gaborik's talent and ability. He may,
however, have soured on the lack of consistency from Gaborik, who
classically scores in bunches.
"He's a good player, and his game is beginning to come," Tortorella
said about his now former winger.
Conversely, it appears Gaborik was the one that had soured on New
York, and a system void of offensive creativity with its breakout
stifling rushes. A system that grew stale and stayed static more so by
the minute, leading to back-to-back shutouts north of the border for
the Rangers. A system that especially took its toll on Gaborik, who
was benched more than most 40-goal scorers for offensive silence.
It didn't help that Gaborik was constantly shuffled around the lineup,
and asked to play left wing to start the year which he confessed was
not his preference. It seemed that the arrival of a new star in Rick
Nash, may have had the same impact that a family bringing home a new
baby has on young children. Gaborik felt pushed to other the side,
which he literally was.
Gaborik had strong feelings towards the trade, telling TSN it was good
to go to a team that "wanted him."
What the acquisitions of Ryane Clowe, Derick Brassard and John Morre -
Derek Dorsett was left off because he likely won't play or make an
impact this year - gives the Rangers is much needed depth, and guys
that are willing to revitalize a system.
It's not as simple as a stale system, or more accurately stale
breakouts and neutral-zone transitions. Tortorella rapidly changed his
coaching style from his previous gig in Tampa Bay to his current gig
"Safe is death" became "Play safe or you're dead (benched)."
This was done entirely out of necessity for lack of top-end skill. A
system beneficial to the forward corps that donned the Ranger logo
across their chest. But after every elimination, Tortorella pined for
skill. Skill came, adjustments did not.
The trade benefits the Rangers because the guys brought in will be
happier to play the style asked of them, and flourish under
Tortorella's low cycle furious pressure until the other team makes a
mistake system. Clowe and Brassard - especially Clowe - will help
re-imagine the identity of a team that simply had none.
"He is a unique combination of size, skill and toughness," Rangers GM
Glen Sather said. "His strong leadership and character make him a
tremendous addition to our organization on and off the ice."
Expect to see a different Ranger team over the rest of the season. A
team that wears its opponents down, then lets the big guys strike. A
team that actually wins with any sort of consistency.
"You can see right away, their energy and enthusiasm to be here.
They're really excited," Ranger defenseman Michael Del Zotto noted
after his first practice with his new teammates.
Clowe is the missing toughness, and heart on his sleeve player, that
fans have longed for all season. He will protect his teammates, but
unlike a Mike Rupp he isn't wasting a spot in the lineup, but leaving
an offensive black hole. Clowe can play in every situation, and as
evidenced by his impact on the Rangers' powerplay in his game with the
team, he very likely will.
Brassard gives the Rangers a depth down the middle that they have been
lacking. Brian Boyle is not as bad as he has been playing, but they
need a center that can actually keep up with some of the speedier guys
like Hagelin, who was incredibly ineffective when he was playing with
the likes of Boyle and Pyatt at first, because he was so far ahead of
the play, and Boyle and Pyatt could not get him the puck.
Brassard is also a former sixth-overall pick, and while most guys have
reached their full potential by 25, Brassard may begin to show the
tools he displayed at a young age in a different system and with
Moore is the wildcard in the deal. It's become evident Gordie Clark -
Director of Scouting for the Rangers - is a fan of smooth skating
defenseman. Ryan McDonagh happens to have some of the best feet on the
back-end in the league, and last year’s first round selection in the
NHL Entry Draft Brady Skjei's top tool is his skating.
"He's a tremendous skater, you can see that," Tortorella said of his
first impressions of Moore.
The other benefit of the trade is the increased cap space the Rangers
- who were peering into the depths of the seventh circle of salary cap
hell - will have to re-sign some of their top young guys. McDonagh,
along with Stepan and Hagelin will need new contracts as their ELC's
are going to need new contracts this off-season. And while Sather
classically plays hardball with his restricted free agents, everyone
of these young core players are going to command a decent-sized raise.
The Rangers may also explore the option of amnesty buying out Brad
Richards, who has not lived up to his pricey contract. Although the
forward is a favorite of Tortorella, so it likely won't be this summer
if the Rangers can swing new deals for all the guys they want to
The long-term ramifications of the deal are impossible to analyze with
the trade only a few days old, but for now, it appears that the
Rangers have set themselves up for the present and the future.