Defense: Marc Staal – Age 23
Obviously Staal has every tool in the book and there are nights you see them all on display. However, the feeling here is that there needs to be more of those nights. Not sure Staal realizes how talented he actually is. We know the best is still yet to come with this kid but despite the fact he had another solid season we are left wanting more. Thus, he is graded a notch down from his mid-season B+ —keeping in mind we are using the Marc Staal curve.
Defense: Michael Rozsival – Age 31
Just as the Garden vultures began circling over what looked like a dying career, Rozsival actually had a decent second half. While not quite the player he was a season or two ago, Rozy logged some big minutes during the playoff push and acquitted himself well.
Not sure what the future holds here and a lot will depend on who the team targets in the free agent market, but Rozsival has at least played himself back into the picture.
Defense: Wade Redden – Age 32
A mess simply turned into a disaster and you get a very strong feeling the Rangers might be cleaning it up this summer in the form of a buyout of Redden’s remaining contract.
A shell of the player he once was in Ottawa, GM Glen Sather now seems willing to admit the mistake and move on and Redden appears equally happy potentially excepting that fate and getting out of Dodge.
Rangers fans are simply left wondering what happened to this former first rounder during his stay in the Big Apple—yet another allstar who simply couldn’t handle this stage.
We needed a longer look at Anders Eriksson, Ilkka Heikkinen, Bobby Sanguinetti and Corey Potter to hand out a grade though the veteran Eriksson played quite well in the last two weeks of the season. However, at 35 he doesn’t exactly address Tort’s desire to make the Rangers younger.
Goaltender: Henrik Lundqvist – Age 28
Not much more you could ask for than what Hank gave on the final day of the season and his post-game mood seemed to say exactly that.
In looking at the entire season, it’s fair to say that it was not Lundqvist’s finest and some soft goals in the last few weeks were costly, but the margin for error was so thin every night it had to be taking its toll as the season wore along.
Face it, he looked tired by season’s end and finding a suitable back-up who can play 20-25 games next season is a must. The window to The King’s greatness might be starting to close just a bit and the Rangers need to take better care of the best chance they have every season.
Coach: John Tortorella
Okay, we had last season’s meltdown against the Caps in the playoffs, missing the post season altogether this year and now comments about how disappointed he was in Gaborik’s play in big games. Huh? How about addressing your failures in big games?
All season long Tortorella refused to address the play of specific players in post-game interviews but he seemed to have no problem unfairly targeting Gaborik in his recent assessments of what went wrong in that final game.
“We had zero top guys show up. The way we fought to get back into the race, and we had zero top guys show up in Philly. Which is despicable,” Tortorella said a few days after the season ended.
You could sense all year that Tortorella battled to keep a lid on his temper but the shot at Gaborik seemed, at best, misguided and a failed attempt to take the focus off his own shortcomings. Not to beat a dead season but—Gaborik on the bench during the shootout? Now that’s despicable. The entire organization actually owes Gabby an apology and Tortorella should be at the front of the line.
Not guiding this club to the playoffs in a weak Eastern Conference after blowing a 3-1 series lead against the Caps last Spring is also pretty despicable. His grip on this job is slipping and comments like the above, in our opinion, should be not-so-gently pushing him closer to the front door.
GM: Glen Sather
Talk about a grip on a job slipping…well that would bring us to GM Gen Sather.
The “Fire Sather” chants got more passionate as the season went along and you have to figure a slow start next year and it’s house cleaning time at 4 Pennsylvania Plaza.
Echoing our sentiment from earlier this year, it appears as though Sather has simply turned into one of those old school executives the league has simply passed by. It’s dog track time for Glen but Dolan is obviously too busy screwing up the Knicks and pissing off Cablevision customers to notice.