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Stay Or Go: Ruslan Fedotenko

As the offseason for our Rangers progresses, we are going to take looks at the pending free agents (and some players still under contract) and see how the Rangers may deal with them this coming summer.  I am starting this series off with Ruslan Fedotenko because in the beginning of the season, I made a bet with a Penguins fan that he would get to 15 goals.  He did not, thus I lost the bet.  As part of the bet, I had to agree to admit that I lost the bet.

When the Rangers signed Ruslan Fedotenko to a professional tryout in September, many looked at it as an afterthought.  Sure, he would push the kids a bit, maybe be a decent spare part, but he surely wouldn’t contribute much.  Then, following his tremendous preseason –one where he outplayed Dane Byers, Dale Weise, and Mats Zuccarello– he was signed to a one-year deal worth $1 million.  Fedotenko earned that contract.

After signing with the Blueshirts, Fedotenko had a relatively slow start to the season, netting just a goal and four helpers in October.  His November was highlighted with a five point (2-3-5) in three game effort, but it was his play without the puck, specifically with Brian Boyle and Brandon Prust that stole the show.  Fedotenko just meshed with the two grinders, and their chemistry made them the most dangerous fourth line in the game.  In fact, their play was so good, they were –as a unit– moved up to the third line.  Their consistency and great play was one of the only constants for a team that was absolutely ravaged by injuries in the winter months.

Fedotenko did it all for the Rangers through middle of January.  He was skating, he was playing defense, he was killing penalties, and he was scoring at his career average pace (15 goals, 35 points).  But in the second period of the Rangers 7-0 blowout of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Fedotenko took a hit from Mike Komisarek, and sprained his right shoulder.  Initially scheduled to be out two-to-four weeks with the injury, Fedotenko suffered a major setback, needing an emergency appendectomy, a surgery that would set him back another few weeks.  His shoulder would keep him out for another two games after re-aggravating the injury in his return.  After both injuries healed, Fedotenko missed a total of five weeks, and 16 games.

But it didn’t appear that Fedotenko was truly 100% after his second return.  He was held to just three points, and zero goals, for the entire month of March.  He got things together in April, netting a key goal in the Rangers 3-2 win over the Flyers to start the month, and added two assists to cap the regular season.  In the playoffs, with Ryan Callahan injured, Fedotenko was eventually moved to the top line, where he found chemistry with Brandon Dubinsky and Marian Gaborik, setting up (beautifully) the Rangers second and third goals in Game Three.

All in all for the season, Fedotenko finished with a line of 10-15-25 in 66 games.  Not quite the 15 goals I predicted , but not everything important about a player’s impact can be seen on the stat sheet.  Fedotenko finished the season as one-third of one of the Rangers most important –and surprising– lines.  During a period when the Rangers were dressing the entire CT Whale squad, Fedotenko was a steady presence for the Rangers.

The Rangers decision with Fedotenko should be a relatively easy one.  Fedotenko meshed very well with Boyle and Prust throughout the season, and then again with Dubinsky and Gaborik in the playoffs.  Assuming Fedotenko asks for just a modest raise, or for a similar base salary with bonuses, he should be welcomed back to the Rangers with open arms.  I highly doubt that a player with under 30 points will command much more than $1 million on the open market, but you never know what will happen.  I fully expect Fedotenko to be with the Rangers next year.

11 Responses to “Stay Or Go: Ruslan Fedotenko”

  1. Matt J says:

    I don’t know. I feel like we should get some young kid in there. I mean we want to win a cup next year but we also gotta get a couple kids some experience. I saw give up his spot to a Thomas, Hagelin, and a Grachev. I feel like we are being to slow with Grachev. I think we should get him some experience in the NHL. I wannna see what he can do.

    • Dave says:

      If anything, his spot would go to Hagelin, as he is better suited as a bottom-six guy. Thomas is top-six or back to Juniors. Grachev, well his fate is in his own hands at this point.

  2. Matt J says:

    *I say

  3. Brian SCS says:

    I would like him back, but on the Rangers terms. One year @ $1.4m max. As effective as he was, he is replaceable. I don’t think that there is any doubt that Torts wants him back and that is probably most telling.

    It will be interesting to see how Slats handles Wolski, Christensen, Boogaard, Avery and Drury as all of these players are now expendable due to the need to clear salary.

    • Tim says:

      I know everyone hates Christensen, but he’s by far the cheapest person on that list and aside from Wolski’s flashes he probably has the most talent. Even if he wore a suit for 41 games next year, I’d take EC as our healthy scratch at under 1mil a year any day of the week…

  4. Jurgenno88 says:

    There’s no reason why Hagelin AND Fedotenko cant both make this team. A team needs a blend of both youth and veterans and Fedotenko is the perfect low maintenance team player. He leads by example, he’s cheap and is a great link between coach and team. If he was 3 or 4 years younger we’d be talking about a guy that could be carrying a letter – thats how much I think he leads by example.

    One more year of Fed, before some of the kids are truly ready – is perfect. Same salary, bonuses for 15 goals maybe… either way, bring him back.

    • Dave says:

      Yea, you’re right. If anything, I would expect Wolski, Prospal, and EC to go, opening spots for Zuc, Hagelin, and have Avery be the 13th forward.

  5. Jason says:

    I loved the way Fedotenko played this year. He is a great north-south “glue guy” that showed he could play a multitude of roles for this team. In fact, the big losing streak the team had was during when he was injured. He is right for either a 3rd line or 4th line role, however given his resume he’s capable of chipping in a bit in more of a scoring role.

    Every team needs a couple of versatile veterans on it to do some dirty work and show some leadership. I see no need than to look any farther than Ruslan Fedotenko for that role.

  6. Fotiu is God says:

    No question, Dave: Feds earned a spot on the 2K11 club.

    After seeing his strong two-way play from the latter end of the season into the playoffs it’s clear why he’s won two Cups, and moreover remains a Tort’s favorite.

    Fedotenko can only help groom and show the kid wingers the way: earn your turn, get dirty, play responsibly. Down the stretch he and Prospal might’ve been our two best. In the playoffs he gave as good as he took from Ovechkin.

    Realistically collegiate Hagelin has no place in this discussion; perhaps come 2K12.

  7. Matt J says:

    Actually guys the only reason why I think he should go really is because he doesn’t put the puck in the back of the net, and there are plenty of hardworking checking north-south guys on the team. That line of Prust-Boyle-Avery worked in the playoffs. This team is really scoring challenged and Fedetenko won’t help that. I do remember though early in the season he was scoring them in bunches at one point and then he didn’t score any after that. I think if we get Richards more likely he’s gone, but if not I think he stays. It also depends with what Slats wants to do with Avery, and Boyle’s contract isn’t signed yet.