Sunday, January 9, 2011

Frolov Out For Year; Kris Newbury Gets the Call, But Is He The Right Choice?

Once again the New York Rangers are dealing with an injury, this time to Alex Frolov who hurt his knee in the third period of last night’s game.  There has been no official diagnosis or timetable released on the injury, but per Larry Brooks, the injury is likely out for a while with the knee and that another recall will be necessary.  Frolov looked to be severely injured on the play and was helped off the ice, but then miraculously came back out for another shift in which he was true to the Rangers team identity in attempting to block shots even while injured.  The focus today though is not on Frolov but which Connecticut Whale players are on the list as the next call.  For me it does depend on the role they expect out of the newest callup as they could go with someone who is more physical or those who are more offensively skilled.
Update: The Rangers have decided to go with veteran Kris Newbury. Newbury, 28, has 5 goals and 30 assists in his 41 games this season and can mix some skill with a more grinding game so he is a very good choice for a fourth line type role.   Newbury's offensive totals in Hartford are somewhat inflated by a tremendous December in which he had a line of 3-13-16 in just 12 games while in January he has cooled to register just one point in five games.

Newbury also has some NHL experience which saw him play 48 games which saw him score four goals and have three assists.  I was under the impression he was subject to waivers, which might be incorrect, or it might be that the Rangers see no issue in his getting through by making this move.

Update 2 (7:08 PM): Andrew Gross is reporting that Frolov is done for the season with a Torn ACL, sprained MCL and medial meniscus tear.  Having that report only furthers my praise for Frolov's attempt to come back and play on the knee during the game last night.  More on the fallout tomorrow.

With Frolov being out for the year it makes me like the move to bring up Newbury over a Dupont even more because as Smurf said in the comments there is very little upside to Newbury and now you have a potential roster spot open for the rest of the season.  Also you are putting a burden on Sean Avery to be a consistent source of good play, which is a gamble all on its own.

Below is the way I would have gone about choosing a replacement if you are still interested.

I understand the immediate fan fascination is with whether it will Evgeny Grachev as he is the most recognizable name for many in the fan base that is still down with the Whale.  Grachev has certainly played better of late and is producing more with two goals and two assists in the five games this month.  On the season his numbers are still paltry with a line of 6-5-11 in 35 games and he did not really show anything in his previous appearance in New York that makes me clamor for him to come back right now.  With Zuccarello and Weise up here Grachev is getting a chance to rise up the depth chart in Hartford and that should remain for the rest of the season to let him be more consistent and build a higher production level before seriously thinking about bringing him back.
Jeremy Williams has been excellent for the Whale this season and is currently tied for first in the AHL with 20 goals scored.  His overall line is 20-12-32 in 41 games.  Williams has not had the same impact this month, but he did score the game winner last night after being held scoreless the prior three games.  Williams also has some NHL experience in another huge hockey market of Toronto so the stage should not intimidate him.  He would be among the finalists for me, but not the choice.
Brodie Dupont is a guy who a month ago I would not have even considered for this move, and if you go by his full season numbers you would think it is crazy as his line is only 7-12-19 in 37 games.  If you scale those numbers back following being held scoreless in his first 12 games of the season he has 19 points in the following 25, 19 in his last 17 games.  Another thing that works in Dupont’s favor is he is a natural left wing, has a bigger body than some of the others and could play the fourth line role while chipping offensively if necessary.  It would also be nice to see Dupont get his first taste of the NHL
The final guy I would throw in the mix is Chad Kolarik who the organization picked up in mid-November in a deal for then captain Dane Byers.  In his time with the Whale Kolarik has shown tremendous offensive skill both as a scorer and passer.  Kolarik possesses more speed than any of the other candidates and is not afraid to stick his nose in there, but is not the best defensively. 
Other options that would be considered but wont be because of waiver issues include bringing back Tim Kennedy, Kris Newbury, Jason Williams.
As I said this really boils down to the role they want the call up to play for the big club.  If it is to fill in on the second line then you have to go with a skill guy like Kolarik, but if you want him to slot in as the fourth liner who could have some offensive upside then Dupont should be the choice.  I know Grachev is the known name and intriguing choice, but leave him down and go with one of the other two instead.