Back in the late 1990s, the argument that polarized the Rangers’ management more than any other was Manny Malhotra. John Muckler disliked him, Neil Smith loved him. Muckler thought he was a dime-a-dozen player, Smith thought he was a first-line, next-Adam Graves. And I think most of my problems with Muckler arose out of the way he mis-handled Malhotra, who, even if he was a dime-a-dozen player, was a great asset. In other words, if they didn’t want him, they should at least talk him up and treat him like a gem to build up his trade value.
The point is — and I’ve lost bets on this kid — he turned out to be exactly what most NHL people thought he would be: A really solid, dependable third-line NHLer for a long time.
I’m getting to a point here. Malhotra, still only 29, plays on the second or third lines for the San Jose Sharks, a team far, far, far better than the Rangers. He plays 16-17 minutes a night. He has 9-13-22, +14 numbers (three game-winners, two PPGs). He’s big. He can skate. He’s got some toughness. He will stick up for teammates. He is, in short, a great teammate … a lot like Graves without the offensive numbers. And he makes $700,000 this year!
Now, my point is this. I say the Rangers are made up of one star and a whole basket of third- and fourth-line forwards. It’s actually worse than that. And if you don’t agree, then ask yourself this question:
Would you rather have Manny than … Marian Gaborik? No.
Would you rather have Manny than … Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan or Artem Anisimov? At this point, probably not. They have better upside and are younger. But Manny’s as good as any of them right now.
Would you rather have Manny than … Chris Drury? I won’t even bother with that one, but you could have 10 Malhotras for Drury’s salary.
Would you rather have Manny than … Ales Kotalik, Sean Avery, Vinny Prospal, Christopher Higgins, Brian Boyle, Erik Christensen, Aaron Voros, Enver Lisin, Donald Brashear? NO DOUBT!
Now bear in mind that several of those guys play on the first and second lines here.
How much of an indictment of your 2009-10 New York Rangers roster is that?