So we’re one-fourth (and a little bit) through the season, and what do we know? Not much yet. I wrote a column about this Rangers’ team and its first 21 games for The Journal News and LoHud.com today. You can read it here (I didn’t write the headline, and I don’t like it much). My point was, even though this year could turn out like last year, or worse, this team is better off.
Anyway, here are my first-quarter report cards. As always I’d love to hear what you think, or how you’d grade them:
Michael Del Zotto: A …He’s going to get stronger and a little meaner and he might be a star.
Dan Girardi: C … Is is possible that the Staal-Girardi pair was a product of Tom Renney’s system?
Wade Redden: B … Fits much better in this system, is playing with some passion; but will never earn that type of salary.
Marian Gaborik: A … Absolutely as advertised, and remained upright for most of the first quarter. Where would they be without him?
Ales Kotalik: B … Probably could do a little more, but that shot has given the Rangers a legit PP pointman they didn’t have at all last year.
Sean Avery: C … Don’t know if the benching in last year’s playoffs put too much of a leash on him, or what. I do know that the Avery Rules, as called by almost all officials, are ridiculous.
Brandon Dubinsky: C … Got the big contract, and didn’t produce before the injury. He’s not a first-line center, but he should be more than he was.
Marc Staal: C … I really don’t think he has the offensive skills to ever be the Norris many suggested he’d be. But could be a defensive stud, and also should be more than he’s been.
Vinny Prospal: A … The bargain of the year, if not the Glen Sather regime. Hope he doesn’t burn out with all the minutes and responsibility.
Christopher Higgins: D … Doesn’t appear he will get a sniff of the 20 goals he was supposed to bring, and he’s not good enough away from the puck to not score.
Brian Boyle: B … Has played his role very well, been maybe a little tougher than expected, kill penalties, and is tied with Higgins, Drury and Avery with two goals.
Chris Drury: D … Unless he was hurt before the concussion, there’s no excuse for the production he’s provided, not to mention the faceoffs or the plus/minus.
Ryan Callahan: C … The alternate captain has only lately begun to play the way he did last year. And his offense has dissappeared too.
Michal Rozsival: D … Just took two steps backward from a mediocre year last season. That contract is like an anchor.
Aaron Voros: C … If he could cut out some of the offensive-zone penalties, it would be a B. Say what you want, he plays with passion and fearlessness.
P.A. Parenteau: A … In a small sampling, he’s produced. Looks fine on the PP.
Artem Anisimov: B … This kid will be an NHLer for a long time, with size, good skill, and hockey sense.
Enver Lisin: B … Now on the top line, must produce. His speed suffered with the hairline foot fracture.
Donald Brashear: D … Why did they pay this guy $1.4 M?
Matt Gilroy: B … It’s only his fifth year of playing defense at any level, and the NHL is a tough place for learning on the job. Can sure skate, though.
Henrik Lundqvist: C … Needs to play like an elite goalie more often, and make the big save late in games, especially with this offense in front of him.
Steve Valiquette: B … Had the one shutout, and is 2-2. Really shouldn’t expect much more from someone who plays so rarely.
John Tortorella: C … Needs to find a way to get more offense within his system, needs to get his players to better understand that system and not play reckless hockey, needs to get guys like Drury and Avery going.
Glen Sather: B … Brought in Gaborik, Gilroy, Prospal, Kotalik, Lisin, got rid of Gomez and a lot of dead weight, and drafted most of the kids on the roster. On the other hand, saddled himself with the bad contracts, insulted fans with the Brashear signing, has only one legit first-line player, no shut-down defensemen. But the grade is based on this first quarter, so it’s not bad.