For those of you who missed it, we kicked off our annual mid-season grades this week with a review of Alain Vigneault, and have since followed that up with player grades for our defense, bottom six forwards, etc. Today, we’re going to grade the man who oversees it all — Glen Sather.
For the purpose of this post, we’ll need to look back at 2013 in its entirety because we’re experiencing the ripple effects of Sather’s earlier decisions now. And of course, there’s nothing to grade him on from October through December, or what we’d normally evaluate for ‘mid-season’ grades.
If you look back at 2013, there’s essentially four major decisions that standout which have had a cause and effect on our current place in the standings.
The first would be the decision to send Marian Gaborik (as well as prospects) to Columbus for Derick Brassard, Derek Dorsett, John Moore, and a 6th round pick in ’14. The second major decision was the firing of John Tortorella and subsequent hiring of Alain Vigneault. The final decision was to retain the services of Brad Richards, which in reality prevented Sather from making any other notable signings during free agency.
Looking first at the Gaborik trade, it’s hard to find any negatives in making this move. The Rangers lost roster depth in the move for Rick Nash and this trade gave us depth back, while simultaneously ridding us of Gabby’s $7.5M cap hit.
In return we received Derick Brassard, while maddeningly inconsistent, is a decent 2nd or 3rd line playmaker on most teams. Derek Dorsett gives us some grit and forechecking ability on the bottom six at an affordable salary. John Moore, while still a project, seems to have it better between the ears than MDZ.
In sum, we received three solid players who have averaged 46 games for the Rangers while Gaborik has only started 30 games for the Blue Jackets, with only 8 goals to boot. Plus, we all know that when Gabby isn’t scoring, he isn’t bringing much else to the table. I’d grade this trade an A.
As for Tortorella, I’ve already spoken about his firing at length and heavily disagreed with the decision. In my opinion, I thought they should have just hired a PP coach. Not to re-hash old arguments, but I questioned the direction of this franchise and the loss of our team’s identity. Since then, neither of those questions have been answered and that’s on Sather.
To compound the issue, instead of bringing in a coach with similar systems, but perhaps a more ‘player friendly’ personality, they hired AV — Torts’ polar opposite. Again, not to rehash old arguments, but I said this summer that relying on AV as our lone move would not be enough, and it hasn’t. To date, the only trade that has been made for a roster player was the one for Justin Falk.
Of course, the lack of moves has a lot to do with the lack of cap flexibility, which could have been absolved by using their last compliance buyout on Brad Richards. Retaining Richie was yet another decision that I wasn’t on board with. Sure, you can argue qualitatively he’s been better this season, but at the end of the day, he’s on pace for 55 points, the same as last year.
Meanwhile, we could have gone after Jarome Iginla (1yr $6M), Valtteri Filppula (5yr $25M), Clarke MacArthur (2y $6.5M), or Daniel Alfredsson (1yr $5.5M), all of whom are productive players that were signed to reasonable contracts, and probably would have been better fits.
Taking all of this into account, I can’t give Sather a high grade at this point. Hopefully he makes some adjustments to this roster in the second half and we start playing to everyone’s expectations.
Mid-Season Grade: C-