There’s been some debate about the suddenly prominent role Brad Isbister has been playing on the Rangers of late, particularly since it may be at the expense of a younger, more promising player.
First came news that Isbister was not placed on Hartford’s “clear day roster,” meaning he’ll be with the Rangers for the duration of the season; then came Isbister seeing valuable minutes alongside Jaromir Jagr and Michael Nylander in Saturday’s win against the Blues. Now comes tonight, when Isbister is likely to skate with Petr Prucha and Martin Straka against the Islanders, and it’s apparent that the 29-year-old journeyman has made an impression on Tom Renney.
So what exactly does Renney see in the 6-foot-4, 231-pound Isbister? As I mentioned earlier, it’s not necessarily Isbister’s soft hands.
“He’s a good corner guy. He’s strong. He has no problem with the blue paint, and by the nature of how the Islanders defend us — it’s everybody back, they’re firm in their own end, they’re firm in the corner, they’re firm in front of the net — we have to be able to access those areas and get the puck,” Renney said. “That’s what I see in Brad’s game. That along with the requisite experience at this time of year — that certainly doesn’t hurt.”
While that may sound like Isbister is only days away from donning the captain’s “C,” bear in mind that Renney tempered his assessment of the wing when I asked him about the significance of playing Isbister with a wounded Martin Straka. The coach said that in the “grand scheme of things,” Isbister is probably a fourth-line player on the Rangers, but that the reality of the Rangers current situation has forced them to adjust. In other words, if Brendan Shanahan was healthy, we probably wouldn’t be talking about Isbister at all.
So, in other words, you can blame all of this on Mike Knuble.
Some other updates:
OK, more later…