Glen Sather woke up earlier this off season, after a stormy fishing trip with his pal Brian Burke up North, and felt a little light headed. He set off to his office in New York and proceeded to go about his business. Glen was struck by lightning on his trip. Something had changed. He had acquired the voice of reason. No doubts, Glen Sather has had an (unexpectedly?) excellent off season. The Rangers have improved and haven’t sacrificed any part of the future going forward. Include Todd White in the new Rangers, short term.
Sather seems to specialise in low risk high reward trades. Todd White cost the Rangers absolutely nothing and potentially gives the Rangers genuine depth amongst the top 9 forwards. Before getting excited however it’s worth noting there’s a chance White cannot regain his 08/09 form where he had 22 goals and 73 points. Remember also, that he had a certain Russian line mate who went by the name of Ilya so White’s numbers were likely skewed. However if White is physically fit (after his various operations) he has the ability to contribute 40-50 points so potentially he’ll make a nice addition…
What White does is consign, barring an outstanding camp, Derek Stepan and Evgeny Grachev to Hartford to begin the season. This is where they should be and they can gain chemistry, confidence and ice time before becoming Rangers. The reason White affects both is because Whites’ addition also has a rippling effect on the roster already assembled in New York. Most likely a center in NY, White means Dubinsky stays at wing to start the year – as Torts wants. With Anisimov (touted for a top 6 role) likely taking a scoring line center spot it means Prospal stays on the wing too. Next in line for a top 6 job is Erik Christensen so all this means Stepan and Grachev won’t be gifted anything. Legitimate competition in camp? Sign me up. Tortorella has indicated he’ll try Russian free agent Alex Frolov on Gaborik’s wing so assume the top 9 is tentatively this;
Frolov – White – Gaborik
Dubinsky – Anisimov – Callahan
Prospal – Christensen – Prust/Weise
Initial observations are this; The Rangers have legitimately added depth when you consider two thirds of last years top line may be on the third line. You can also see the added depth when you consider, barring strong camps, Avery and Drury are currently fourth liners. Where Prust and Weise fit in depends on another X factor; Mats Zuccarello-Aasen. MZA only makes this team straight away on a scoring line which drops Callahan and Prust/Weise down (not a bad thing).
Don’t rule out White centering the top line if he makes the team. He may not have played extensively on a line with Gaborik but there is familiarity there from the Minnesota days. He has shown he can hold his own with a superstar winger in Atlanta and his presence will allow better match ups for the still developing Anisimov. White’s addition also adds experience to the roster. With Dale Weise, MZA, Ryan McDonagh and perhaps another rookie making opening night, another veteran isn’t a bad thing.
This Rangers side will be competitive. Gaborik and Lundqvist aside, it may not have an abundance of superstars but it seems like all four forward lines will have solid scoring ability. This Rangers roster is in better shape (in my humble opinion) than Montreal, Buffalo and Ottawa – all playoff teams from last year – and has the goaltending to compete against any side in the conference. While the Rangers are very much in a re-build phase it looks like my personal wish of a competitive, playoff bound team during the youth movement is a realistic hope. Good times.