Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Writing On The Wall For Christensen Departure From Rangers?

During his WFAN interview this morning Brad Richards revealed that he would be wearing #19 again after switching to #91 in Dallas.  Ruslan Fedotenko gave up the number to Richards whom he played with in Tampa Bay.  Later Brian Compton of tweeted that Fedotenko will instead wear #26 this season, which is the same number he wore when he was in Tampa.  The fact that Fedotenko was taking #26, which belonged to Erik Christensen last season has led to many thinking it means that Christensen is a lock to be gone before the regular season.  Andrew Gross reported that Christensen granted Fedotenko permission to take the number because he doesn’t care what number he wears. 

Update: The New York Rangers official twitter reports that Christensen will wear #40 and Rupp #71

So is the writing finally on the wall for a Christensen departure this summer?

With Richards in the fold and the rest of the roster at best Christensen should be a spare forward who is kept around as a healthy scratch in case of an injury.  He will no longer have the crutch of hope that his initial chemistry with Marian Gaborik can be rekindled because Richards is taking that spot permanently. 

Kevin Baumer at Blueshirt Bulletin examined how Richards own shootout quality could eliminate the need for Christensen as a specialist there as well, which was his only other use to the team.  Baumer points out that Richards has converted 25 of his 59 (42%) career shootout attempts rendering the need to carry Christensen for the skills competition moot. 

It is unlikely the Rangers will just waive Christensen without attempting to deal him first.  If the Rangers could do a similar deal with him this summer as they did with Voros last summer to get a solid defender to fill the 6/7 role in the defense corps then they would do well.  Someone is likely to take a chance on Christensen thinking they can get him to consistently use his skill and take advantage of his shootout skills in the process. 

The Rangers were obviously one of the best teams in the NHL in shootouts last season, but having a player like Richards who is good in shootouts means that they can stop carrying guys just for their shootout expertise and removes the last vestiges of Christensen’s usefulness to New York.