Question #165: How much better are the Rangers today than yesterday?
Normally I try not to do the same subject two days in a row, but the trading deadline is always interesting stuff and, frankly, I couldn’t think of a question anyone would take seriously having to do with A-Rod’s hip. So … let’s talk more Rangers.
I like what the Rangers did yesterday. I like the moves, specifically adding Antropov. Anyone who might score a goal is absolutely welcomed on this team as far as I’m concerned. On a personal note, I was sad to see Prucha go though – not only did I like him, but he was my wife’s favorite Ranger and she even had one of those Prucha t-shirt jerseys which she wore to games. She liked him because he was “little” and “always fell down” on what seemed like every shift, while still being scrappy. Kinda hard to argue with that assessment, no?
Anyway, the question today is, how much better are the Rangers? Can we look at them now as a team that will DEFINITELY make the playoffs? Will win a round? Most people would agree they’re a better team, but how much better? And how have your expectations/predictions changed because of what they did?
First, condolences to your wife. I can call Don Maloney and get her a Coyotes’ Prucha T-shirt if you want.
Seriously, the Rangers are a better team today, but a large part of that is the new system and the new fire John Tortorella has begun to instill. Part of that is Sean Avery. Part of it is the trade deadline moves, which made them bigger — and we’ll withhold judgment on whether it actually made them tougher or more offensive. I think both Antropov and Morris have a chance to be busts, to be booed out of MSG like Marek Malik and Sandis Ozolinsh. Big? Yes. Rugged? Not really. Offensive? Mildly. Neither has ever lived up to his billing or his size or his potential.
That said, the Rangers traded two smallish forwards and one mediocre defenseman and a second-round pick and a conditional pick. They had apparently made up their minds that they were not going to re-sign Dawes, Prucha and Kalinin this summer, so if they don’t re-sign Antropov and/or Morris they will have cleared at least some cap space that will allow them to re-sign Dubinsky, Mara and Callahan and a few of their other worthy restricted free agents.
Antropov, under Tortorella’s eye, should perform. Morris is automatically among their best defensemen, if not their best right now. That’s not saying much.
I don’t think Dawes or Prucha will ever make fans think of the Rick Middleton trade or the Bobby Carpenter trade or the Sergei Zubov trade. Maybe they will prove me wrong.
They didn’t really address the No. 1 issue of scoring goals, or of having actual top-line skill on the, you know, top lines. They could still lose 2-1 to the Islanders tonight (I doubt it) and lose enough low-scoring games down the 18-gamestretch to miss the playoffs. They honestly could.
But what will it have cost them? A second-round pick. For an organization that has drafted so dreadfully the last 10 years or so, a second-round pick isn’t that big a deal. It will be, though, if Toronto uses it to get a good player.