Sunday, December 19, 2010

Daily Recap: Is Gaborik Really A Star?; Del Zotto Trade Rumor; Christian Thomas Fight; Jack Johnson Slapper

This morning I examined whether New York Rangers RW Marian Gaborik truly is a star or if he is just an opportunistic sniper who can put up points.  I broke down some of the stories behind the box score in terms of not only Gaborik’s numbers this season but also the differential between his first and second half last season in terms of the consistency of his production.  In the piece I gave a definition of what I believe a star to be in terms of what they can do within a game and over a stretch of games to see if Gaborik met those criteria.  Finally I looked at things that Gaborik could do to help himself while looking at some of the reasons that have been given for his struggles to be a consistent impact player this season.

This afternoon there was a discussion of a rumor concerning the Columbus Blue Jackets interest in trading for Michael Del Zotto in terms of many different angles for the Rangers including: should the team be considering dealing the 20 year old defender; what it should/would take to do a deal like that; if what was being speculated about met that standard; what if anything that Columbus had would make a trade of Del Zotto something the Rangers should do.  Obviously in the article is the rumor as it was reported in the Edmonton Journal.

This evening I posted video of Rangers prospect Christian Thomas fighting from Friday evening in a game in which he recorded a Gordie Howe hat-trick.  The fight itself was entertaining as Thomas while the smaller of the two combatants was not shy about getting in the scrap nor the bombs he was throwing during the fight.

Finally there was video of Kings defender Jack Johnson winding up for a slapshot missing the net and putting a hole through the glass behind the net.

Video: Slap Shot! Jack Johnson Shoots Puck Through Glass in Chicago

Los Angeles Kings defender Jack Johnson wound up for a slap shot from the point against the Chicago Blackhawks, but the shot would miss the net and literally punch a hole in the glass behind the net.

Video: NYR Prospect Christian Thomas Fight During Gordie Howe Hat-trick Friday

New York Rangers 2010 2nd round pick Christian Thomas has an excellent season overall for the Oshawa Generals and that certainly has continued this weekend.  On Friday night against the Plymouth Whalers Thomas would record a Gordie Howe hat-trick actually all within the second period as he scored a goal, then assisted on what would be the game winning goal and closed the period with the fight below.  The fight was against Mitchell Heard who is 6' 2" while Thomas is only listed at 5' 9" but Thomas certainly was not shy about throwing bombs during the scrap.

He followed up the Friday night exploits with a goal last night and currently has two assists through two periods in tonight's action. After some huge games in November but an up and down month, Thomas is back on track contributing nightly as he has scored points in eight of the nine games so far this month.  In those nine games he has scored a goal in seven of them, including the last four heading into tonight.  Overall his season totals now sit at 25G 19A in just 31 games.

Rumor: Blue Jackets Inquired About Michael Del Zotto

Chris McGrath/Getty Images
Early last week following the Columbus Blue Jackets game there was a rumor, which I originally came across in Larry Brooks column in the New York Post, that discussed the New York Rangers potentially being interested in bringing back Fedor Tyutin.  Tyutin whom the Rangers traded to the Blue Jackets 2 offseasons ago in a deal for Nik Zherdev has one more year on his current deal at 2.844 million.  I addressed the rumor of Tyutin possibly coming back, what I would be willing to give up and speculated that for Columbus the desire would be mainly for an offensive defender. 

Fast forward to this morning and Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal in his column, Matty’s Short Shifts said that the player that intrigues the Blue Jackets is in fact Michael Del Zotto and that they have inquired about his availability.  The full quote:
The word is the Columbus Blue Jackets, who badly need offensive blue-liners, inquired about former Rangers first-round draft D-man Michael Del Zotto. They might have been offering Fedor Tyutin back to New York, after they got Tyutin for Nikolai Zherdev. Del Zotto for a defensive blue-liner Tyutin probably wouldn't get it done. Now if they threw in Nikita Filatov, too?
As someone who has been as hard on Del Zotto as anyone with his struggles trading him is not something I advocate, and the only way you even consider it is for another elite prospect.  Obviously, as Matheson points out, Tyutin would not be enough to get a talent at the level of Del Zotto so he adds in the idea of Filatov to the mix.  Filatov, the number 6 selection in the 2008 draft, is certainly an intriguing talent that many teams would gladly take a chance on because of the potential upside.  Even with the potential upside I do not consider him worthy of thinking about dealing Del Zotto for other reasons.  As much as MDZ has struggled this season Filatov has not proven anything at the NHL level other than being worthy of the enigmatic label and was just sent back to the AHL to get his game together.  New York as we know all too well has attempted the talented Russian gambit before hoping they would find their potential here route before and we do not need to go there again.

If the Blue Jackets really want Del Zotto lets start talking names like Jakub Voracek or Derrick Brassard but obviously they do not want to give up those guys as they are trying to compete this season.  I do not see any way the Rangers should get involved in a move with Columbus involving MDZ without one of those names or Ryan Johansen because despite his struggles this season Del Zotto being only 20 years old and the offensive upside along with the premium on offensive defenders makes him of premium value.

For a look at the Columbus perspective check this out.

Marian Gaborik: A Star Or Just An Opportunistic Sniper?

Abelimages/Getty Images
Overall for the New York Rangers things are going well this season with their 20-14-1 good enough for 5th place in the Eastern Conference.  The team has found an identity and used that mentality to battle through injuries to key players at different points of the season.  The season has also seen some players both young and slightly older have breakout starts that few could have foreseen especially in terms of the offensive side of the ice.  All of these things are positives and many of them along with easier negative targets have masked possibly the biggest negative around the Rangers right now which is the fact they cannot get their star offensive player, Marian Gaborik, producing and even more importantly being a factor on a consistent basis.  For the most part Gaborik has gotten a lot of leeway from the fans assuming that he will eventually get going as opposed to other guys who get lambasted each time they screw up and I understand it to an extent based on last season.  Maybe my expectations of Gaborik are too high, but I keep coming back to this question in my mind: Is Marian Gaborik a star or just an opportunistic sniper?

Daily Recap: Rangers Fall; Who Is Part of Rangers Core?; Weise News/Videos; Turris SO Goal Video

The New York Rangers continued their brutal week on the schedule looking to sweep for very good teams, but they would come up short this afternoon as Zherdev would burn them with 2 goals in the 4-1 Flyers victory.  The game recap talks about all that happened including some good things the Rangers should take away from the game even though they lost and certainly some things that need to be worked on not just against the Flyers but in general to take the next step.  Even in the loss the Rangers have to be happy with a 3-1 week considering who they were playing and now they get four full days off to work on things before taking on Stamkos and the Lightning for a second time.

This morning before the game I took a look at the buzz phrase for the Rangers in terms of “the core” and whom I would include in the core for the Rangers going forward.  I chose eight players from the current roster and ranked them in order of when I would pick them to be on the list.  Many of the names I chose will be pretty common I think amongst Rangers fans, but there could be a surprise or two.  My guess is the surprises might be higher in the people that I left off the list than those whom I put on it.  Let me know who you think should and should not be on the list.