Friday, February 4, 2011

Rumor: Rangers Scouting, Looking To Acquire Sheldon Souray; Is It Worth It?

The trade deadline is approaching and with that comes news of old consistently rumored target of the New York Rangers coming back to life again.  According to Mark Spector of, the Rangers are actively scouting and could be on the verge of attempting to acquire Sheldon Souray.  Rumors of Souray to New York are nothing new as over the course of the last two years there has been speculation of the kind, but nothing has ever come of it.
From Spector’s report…
Rangers pro scout Kevin Maxwell is credentialed for tonight’s game in Atlantic City between the Hershey Bears and the Albany Devils, and another Rangers scout is on his way to Hershey for back-to-back Bears games Saturday and Sunday against Manitoba.
Rangers general manager Glen Sather has already passed through Hershey to have a firsthand look at Souray, who is healthy and back playing for the Bears, after suffering a pair of injuries this season.
The arguments in favor of Souray are the same as they have ever been, which is his one tool; a big shot from the point.  On the flip side, if people think that Del Zotto struggles on defense, Souray makes Del Zotto look like Chara in terms of defensive coverage.
I have been against the idea of acquiring Souray each time this idea has come up and nothing has happened this season to dissuade that notion.  If anything, the development of the Rangers young defenders should make a move like this less likely.  Let us realize we are talking about a player who in the AHL has compiled a line of 3-10-13 in 19 games and is plus-5 with 37 PIMs.  Not exactly lighting things up down there and has not shown any penchant for staying healthy.
Contractually claiming Souray on re-entry waivers and the Rangers would have to make a claim while hoping that no one below them in the standings would also put in a claim.  If they won the claim on Souray it would cost the Rangers 2.7 million per year with one year left on his contract after this season.  For this season the cap hit would approximately 900K.
The 2.7 million in cap hit is something the Rangers cannot afford next year if they are going to retain all of their RFA’s, and certainly not if they have designs on signing Brad Richards.  Yes, it is possible that he could be buried in the minors next year, but there are negatives to that as well.  Stashing him in the AHL next year does not help the fact that his 2.7 along with Redden’s 6.5 will count against the Rangers cap this summer and further decrease their flexibility in signing their own players as well as any others.  Beyond the financial concerns he would be eating up a roster spot for the Whale.  Next season with the Whale you would have to figure Kundratek, Valentenko, Niemi, Klassen are locks to be there with Redden likely (if he reports) and possibly Maggio as the sixth.  There also have to be some character/influence concerns when Edmonton shipped him off to Hershey this season because they did not want him around their young players.
Sheldon Souray is not the missing piece between the Rangers and winning the championship this year, so there is absolutely no reason to bring on the headache.

Drury Out With Convienently Timed "Knee" Injury To Save Indignity of Healthy Scratch

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
The precipitous decline in the performance and production of New York Rangers captain Chris Drury has been startling to see and depressing to watch.  It is inevitable that players will decline as they get older, but the difference in many is the rate at which that decline occurs.  For Drury it has been rapid and wrapped in the cloak of an already bloated contract for his prior level and the bright lights of being captain to an original six team on Broadway.  Today that saga took a very ugly turn in my opinion because beyond the problems with production you expect that accountability and team come before the pride of an individual player; especially the captain of a team.  That does not appear to be the case right now for the Rangers.
Over the past few weeks and even more the last week everyone has been doing the number count and wondering when it would be that captain Chris Drury would finally have his utter lack of production cause him to be scratched from the New York Rangers lineup.  In recent days there has been pushback by the club against that idea of scratching Drury and talking about what he brings to the club.  Conveniently now that Erik Christensen is ready to return to the lineup Chris Drury suddenly has a balky knee for the past few weeks and now it has flared to the point where he will miss the road trip.  That excuse does two things at least on its face; gives excuse for his poor play while being able to claim his absence is strictly the knee without having to call him a healthy scratch. 
Per the teams official twitter
Torts on Drury: "He has had cranky knee and has progressively gotten worse...gone a few weeks & flared up last night"
Torts: "He's played this game hard for a long time and I think it's a little bit of wear and tear...and it's just acting up on him now"
Sometimes you wonder when you follow an organization what they think about the intelligence of the fans they have and you look at this and it is hard not to take offense.  I understand the intent to save the captain’s pride and I even understand there is likely some legitimacy to the knee issue, but to encase what is going on here as solely that insults the intelligence of a loyal fanbase.
In the absence of Drury the team’s lines in practice today per Jim Cerny:

In other practice news Lundqvist stayed after practice to work on some things with MZA and Boyle.

Has Del Zotto Failed The Rangers or Have They Failed Him?

Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Right now it has become popular to blame Michael Del Zotto for his current struggles and look to him as a scapegoat for the New York Rangers power play struggles.  What gets lost in the simplicity of that arrangement is the idea that Del Zotto himself is solely to blame for where he is at this stage of his development.  It is time for the New York Rangers to stop the Michael Del Zotto experiment and send the young defender down to the Connecticut Whale and leave him there for the rest of the season. I am not suggesting that they even explore trading him at this point because the talent is clearly there, but the moment appears too big right now for where he is in his development. The time has also come to blame the organization along with Del Zotto for where he is at this point.
The team sent him down a month ago in order to work on a multitude of problems he was having at the NHL level this season; confidence, defensive positioning, making the simple pass, overall decision making and hitting the net with his shot more consistently. After having my doubts in the build up to the move, I was in favor of sending Del Zotto down to work on his game and give him some space from coach John Tortorella. The combination of being scratched from games and playing scared to not make a mistake was making Michael useless to the NHL club. 
He was sent down and was there for a grand total of eight games.  His play in the AHL was inconsistent from game to game, but he was recalled just before the All-Star break as insurance for Dan Girardi and his injured ribs.  When he came back John Tortorella clearly stated that he was only up because of injury and not because his play warranted the recall.  Del Zotto ended up playing both games before the break and was not good in the first, but solid in the second.  When the Rangers sent him back to the AHL so that he could play during the NHL break I had this nagging feeling in my gut, based on comments from Tortorella that they were going to bring him following the break.  My thought process was that they were looking for an excuse to keep him because of the pitiful power play and the hopes that he could help solve some of the issues with point play.