Potential Bounceback Years

August 24, 2011, by

If you’ve been a fan of this blog for a while, we tend to be optimistic realists.  Following up on my post yesterday regarding potential sophomore slumps, let’s put a more positive spin on the season outlook.  There are a few players that come to mind when it comes to disappointing 2010-2011 seasons, I’m sure you can think of three without even blinking.  The good thing about disappointing seasons is that it leaves the opportunity for fans to be pleasantly surprised if the player in question comes back with a strong year.

The most glaring of the disappointing 2010-2011 seasons is that of Michael Del Zotto.  After a good rookie year, defensive struggles aside, Del Zotto struggled mightily in his sophomore campaign.  He struggled so much that he was demoted to the AHL to work on his game, where he promptly was injured, and missed a good portion of the year.  Ridiculous “trade Del Zotto” rants came in at every angle (except here, we have our heads screwed on straight), so the expecations for him couldn’t be any lower.  Now, I’m not saying Del Zotto is going to have an All Star campaign, but it isn’t out of the realm of possibility to see him return to form offensively, while holding his own defensively.  Becoming the Rangers top scoring threat on the blue line isn’t difficult (Dan Girardi led the Rangers blue line with four goals and 31 points), so it isn’t all that unrealistic to hope he can bounce back.

Wojtek Wolski, who was acquired for Michal Rozsival in the middle of the year, is another player who started off strong but tailed off at the end.  With Wolski, it appears to be a matter of motivation.  I’m sure a contract year will help for Wolski.  That and potentially playing with Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik.  The last time Wolski was in a contract year he was traded to the Coyotes, where he put up a point per game, and another five in seven playoff games.  Money is a motivator.  Wolski could have the best year of his career, especially if he sticks with Richards/Gaborik.

Now comes the curious case of Sean Avery.  It’s tough to understand what exactly Avery brings to the lineup.  Before last season, Avery was a spark.  Last year, Avery seemed lost.  But again, money is a factor.  Avery is playing for another contract.  Last time he was in a contract year, he was one of the best players on the Rangers roster, providing that spark and some offensive flair (33 points in 57 games).  It seems Avery is learning where to toe the line, and if he’s given free reign, a return to the Avery of old could be in the mix.

As odd as it sounds, the Rangers might need bounce back years from at least two of these three players to be considered a legitimate playoff threat.  Depth is key, and while the Rangers appear to have a strong top-nine, an off year or an injury can throw a wrench into the whole season.  For one, I think Del Zotto’s bounce back year is the most critical to the Rangers success.  The bottom pairing on defense is a big question mark.  As for Wolski/Avery, let’s hope money is a motivator.


  1. Zen says:

    My money is on Wolski rebounding (of the 3). I think that MDZ still needs some time to become a more complete player and that Avery’s NHL career is pretty much over.

  2. Rickyrants13 says:

    Wait a min here. The most glaring is Del Z??? What about our star player M Gaborik??? He is by far the player most in need of a bounce back season…

    • Jurgenno88 says:

      Gaborik was bad yes, but he’s measured differently. 48 points in 60 games isn’t that bad and it’s expected he’ll be back to the 09-10 form given his line mate. I don’t even think we should discuss Gaborik as having a ‘potential bounce-back year’. It’s happening. min 40 goals. Book it.

      • Rickyrants13 says:

        I hope your right But Gabbs is gonna need more then A linemate to get him back to what he once was.

        Gabby didnt have just a bad year because he failed to score. There was clearly something mising from his game weather it was a nagging injury. Or something in his head it was missing. Way too many times last year this guy had the puck near the boards and he just didnt seem like he was even into the game. His signiture move to fake to the boards and come back to the middle of the ice and get his shot off was nowhere to be found last year. Im a firm believer that Gabbs is gonna have to clear out what was wrong with himself last year. Before Richards or anyone else is gonna help

    • Dave says:

      I didn’t include Gaborik because his bounce back year is now a necessity, and not one of those nice things to have (like with these three). It is very obvious that if Gaborik doesn’t have a bounce back year, this team will fail.

  3. The Suit says:

    I’ve given up on Mr. Offsides (aka Sean Avery), so my vote is for Mr. Del Zotto.

    Wowo is just an inconsistent player, so even if he does have a good year, “I won’t get fooled again…”

  4. mhurley says:

    I think if Torts has the balls to play Avery on the top line with Gaborik and Richards, Avery will put up numbers like he never has before.

    In as much as people have an innate prejudice towards Avery, it cannot be denied that Avery has street/ice smarts. He’s a play starter and a play maker who hasn’t had quick/smart enough players to play with in a long time.

    You cannot discount chemistry. Avery and Richards are BFF’s. Gaborik just needs guys who know how to set him up.

    Wolski needs to play on the second/third line. For starters:

    Avery Richards Gaborik
    Dubi Anisimov Callahan
    Wolski Stepan Fedotenko
    Prust Boyle Rupp

    • Dave says:

      Please refrain from using the phrase “BFFs” on this blog.

      But I do agree, it’s worth a try to see how Avery clicks with them.

      • Matt J says:

        If only you were still running the Sin Bin. That’d be a nomination right there Dave.

        • James says:

          I also believe Avery would thrive on the first line being the grinder in front of the net. We should remember that Avery is fast and has decent hands as well. Part of the reason his game as struggled is that Torts seems to never let him go. Put him on the first line and he’ll score.

          • Zen says:

            I think it is less prejudice against Avery and the more the fact that he has stunk for the last 2 years. He has been utterly useless to this team. And that is coming from a guy who loved him before that.

  5. Matt J says:

    Will Avery have a chance to bounce back? He’s going to have to have a good pre season.

    If Wolski is not on the top line where do you put him? He needs to bounce back in order to balance out the lines.

    I really am not worried about Gaborik.

  6. John says:

    My money is on Del Zotto. He had a confidence problem last season and he’s had all summer to refocus and regroup the mental aspect of his game. He without a doubt has the talent and he has a great work ethic. You have to have faith that he’ll work out the kinks and be an impact player. MDZ tried to force the first pass last year and it led to his desmise, if he can just let the game come to him and let his instincts take over, he’ll be golden.

    Wolski is about as inconsistent of a player as it gets. Even if you’re right, you’re wrong.