Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Should Rangers Sign Pavol Demitra?

In a season of overachievement for the New York Rangers, star forward Marian Gaborik underachieved during the 2010-11 season.  There has been and will be lots of conjecture as to what caused such a dramatic drop from his career season in his first year with the Rangers to his performance during the past campaign.  One of those reasons will have to do with the ever changing line combinations that surrounded Gaborik during the year.  

The easy solution to that for many this summer is to go after Brad Richards as another elite player to team with Gaborik and give the Rangers a dynamic duo on the top line.  A cheaper and more familiar alternative for Gaborik is one that the Rangers looked into signing last summer; Pavol Demitra.  

Demitra, 36, is not the same type of sexy option that signing a Brad Richards is, but neither is he the same type of financial commitment in terms of salary or years.  This season, for Yaroslavl Lokomotiv of the KHL, 
Demitra had a line of 18-43-61 in 54 games during the regular year and 6-15-21 in 18 playoff games. 
The chemistry and familiarity that Gaborik and Demitra have together is very appealing for the reasonable price he would command on the market and his stated desire last year to be reunited with Gaborik in New York.  

In many ways this move while going against the idea of the youth movement on the surface is actually a move to preserve it for the long term.  Demitra is more of a stop gap solution, much in the way that Vinny Prospal has been the last two years for New York.  The Rangers got more out of Prospal than they could have hoped for, especially for his salary, while not tying up long term money or roster space with him.  Demitra offers a similar alternative to what Richards would be doing.

Signing Demitra would not be the big splashy move that many are clamoring for this summer, but in terms of getting Gaborik’s head right again, and maintaining some fiscal responsibility for the long term, it might be the best one the Rangers could make this summer.
When healthy, which is a question, Demitra can be a dynamic offensive player with tremendous playmaking ability, but staying on the ice has been a problem for him.  He was able to do so in the KHL this year and put up those solid numbers.  Having a veteran presence on the team is something the Rangers will need next year if Prospal, Drury, and Avery all go as expected and Demitra has been through just about everything in the game while doing much of it alongside Gaborik.

Watch Demitra and Gaborik link up for Gaborik's beautiful goal against Russia yesterday: