Here’s what I think about the Rangers’ trade deadline day:
In simple terms, they got better for this year, didn’t give up much of the future, and as long as they don’t re-sign either Nik Antropov or Derek Morris, they will have a little more salary cap space this summer for signing Dubinsky, Callahan, Mara and whomever else they really want to keep.
If they do decide to re-sign Antropov or Morris, we will assume that means they played very well over the last 18 games (and the playoffs) and that John Tortorella believes they can finally live up to their billings. Because so far in their careers, neither has. Antropov hasn’t lived up to his size, and Morris hasn’t lived up to anything.
Still, Morris might be the best defenseman on the team right now, today (Staal will be better),and Antropov is a monster (6-6, 230) body with decent hands who should help the power play, and that improves the Rangers because they sure didn’t address their No. 1 need for top-line skill, for offense that a good NHL team must have. Nor were they able to do so, because they have all their money tied up in, well, you know the names.
So, except for Prucha’s upside—and I doubt there really is much upside; I mean is he going to be an small 18-goal scorer; or a 22-goal scorer; or is he going to have trouble getting into and staying in the lineup?—and the second-round pick, I don’t think they gave up much. If Don Maloney proves right on Prucha, and he turns into a legit 30+ goal guy, then that’s different. The second-rounder could be huge if you had another organization making the pick, not this one, not the last decade or so.
Morris, even if he is soft for a big man, and even if he doesn’t do anything for the power play, should be decent defensively. And if he doesn’t knock bodies around, that’s OK, as long as he pushes them out of the crease, even if it’s gently.
Bottom line: with Tortorella and his fire and his aggressive system, with Avery and his sandpaper style, with the size of Antropov and Morris, the Rangers are better today than they were 10 days ago, two days ago and this morning. While the rest of the East was beefing up for a playoff run, the Rangers didn’t sit pat.
They didn’t get tons better, either. They got the “jam” Tortorella wanted, and some size. They lost some smaller guys, and Eric Reitz and Mark Bell and, even if Voros is still here, he’s not going to be playing much.
They still go nowhere if Gomez and Drury and Redden and Roszival and Zherdev don’t start doing a lot more than they’ve done. They may go nowhere anyway.
As deadlines go, it could have been a lot worse.
Not sure if I’ll be posting Thursday. Jane is going out to Nassau Coliseum for what should be a very interesting game with all the new faces (they are all expected to play). I will be back Friday morning.
Thanks to all of you for your maniacal interest today. You nearly brought the whole blog crashing down when the two trades happened. You guys are the best. Even the boneheads.