Aside from John Mitchell, the only other pending UFA that the Rangers fan base seems to be divided about is Ruslan Fedotenko. Both players are bottom six players –an area of strength for the Rangers– and both do more than their offensive stats suggest. Players like Fedotenko are evaluated beyond their offensive numbers. It’s the defensive metrics that really show where Fedotenko’s strengths (or weaknesses) lie.
Fedotenko is coming off his one year, $1.4 million contract that he earned after a great season in 2010-2011. Signed after a PTO prior to that season, Fedotenko has been a useful addition for the past two seasons. Showing solid chemistry with Brian Boyle and Brandon Prust, Fedotenko completed a trio that was used primarily as a shut down combination.
Let’s get the advanced metrics out of the way: Feds finished with a miserable -10.0 RCorsi, a .012 QoC (5th highest on the team), and started just 36.5% of his shifts in the offensive zone. In fact, his season can pretty much be summed up in that zone start percentage. Feds was used by the coaching staff to help defend his own zone and allow the scorers to do their thing. Despite the fact that Feds started such a low percentage of shifts in the offensive zone, he managed to finish 47.9% of those shifts in the offensive zone. That shows a man that is doing his job.
What is troubling to see is that RCorsi number though. That number is way down from the 2010-2011 season (-1.6), a season that saw Fedotenko become one of the most useful bottom six forwards on the ice. Although he faced tougher competition this season, the extreme dip in RCorsi suggests regression.
But then again, Fedotenko was one of the only Rangers to show up offensively for the Devils series. Feds finished with two goals and two assists in the six game series.
So what does all this mean? Well, this puts him in the same spot as it puts Mitchell. Bringing Feds back is likely going to be an issue of price and other offseason moves. Assuming the Rangers bring back Prust, that makes 11 forwards on the roster already, barring trades of course. If the Rangers are to bring in one more skill forward, and all signs point to them doing just that, then there is room for only one more depth forward.
If the offseason plays out this way, then one of Fedotenko or Mitchell will be gone. Personally, I’d prefer Mitchell based on his puck possession numbers, but it wouldn’t shock me to see Feds brought back. To answer the post title, it’s a 50/50 toss up, but the numbers point to Feds going.