Today in the NY Post, Larry Brooks noted that defenseman Pavel Valentenko would have to pass through waivers to be sent down to the Connecticut Whale. This has sparked a debate about whether this means that Valentenko might be pushed onto the roster in order to prevent the team from possibly losing him from the organization. As Dave Shapiro pointed out over at Blue Seat Blogs this is not a new scenario for the Rangers as Michael Sauer was kept on the roster to start last season over Ryan McDonagh and Pavel Valentenko because of his waiver status. Unless the competitors for the final defensive spots are even, then I am not in favor of making roster decisions based on the waiver status of a player.
Personally I am not as high on Valentenko as many are because of his lack of foot speed. Valentenko certainly has an intriguing shot, crease clearing mentality and loves to hit. The shot was what most fans fell in love with last year, but the question is whether he can keep up with the speed of the NHL game and with that in the balance should he be kept because of waiver status?
The biggest loser if Valentenko is kept is likely to be Michael Del Zotto because Tim Erixon has been so impressive this month and right now is probably the leading candidate for the final pair spot. Steve Eminger is going to make the team whether it be as the 6th or 7th defender on the club. That likely leaves the competition to Del Zotto, Valentenko, Kundratek, Parlett, Bell and whomever else for the other spot. With Del Zotto being free of waivers the team could send him back to the AHL to continue working on his game.