Thursday, October 25, 2007

What ails the Rangers?

The Rangers spent nearly $90 million for the services of two players, paying Gomez $51.5 million over seven years and Drury $35.3 million in a five-year deal. Nice, veteran players, but that is just stupid money committed for 12 years combined.

It's good for the game when stupid contracts are seen to be just that. Ideally, they reinforce the thinking of GMs who don't buy into the hype, and stick to a reconstruction plan.
The Rangers, 2-5-1 heading into tonight's game against New Jersey, are one of the early season surprises.

Not so much for their record, no, but for the fact they can't score. At all.

The Gomez/Drury reinforced club is dead last in the league with just 13 goals, and Jaromir Jagr, he's not happy:
"To answer the question, I would have to give you more questions," Jagr said. "We've played bad because: a. we're not good enough; b. a lack of confidence; or c. trying too much?

"It's too many things I don't know," Jagr said. "Right now we don't play good and I don't know the problem."
What I find insane about the Blueshirts is that, after years (and years) of being lost in the wilderness, this team had finally turned a corner by doing exactly what Wayne Scanlan advises in that Citizen piece quoted at the top: Rebuilding.

After seven consecutive years of playoff misses from Gretzky's last year (1997-98) to the first postlockout season, the Rangers had their first 100-point season in 2006 since winning the Stanley Cup 12 years earlier. They did it with a low payroll, necessitated by the $39-million salary cap, and with one of the best young netminders in the league, looked to be on the rise for some time.

This summer, however, it was back to mo' money, mo' problems.

Gomez leads that charge, producing only three points so far after being shifted from Jagr's line to off Jagr's line. Drury's fared a bit better, picking up a goal and five assists. (I've said it before, but here goes again: Gomez and Drury have played 15 seasons in the NHL and had, combined, one season with more than 70 points.)

It's only eight games in, so certainly there's time for this team to put it together (and as shocking as a playoff miss would be, I don't think it's in the cards), but is it any more complicated than saying big free agency buys are, again, sinking the Rangers?

The biggest thing coach Tom Renney's got to worry about is appeasing Jagr, as we've all seen how that one can turn out. He seems to perform the best with an all-Euro all-star cast around him, and the new additions just don't fit the bill.



At 10:36 a.m., October 25, 2007, Blogger saskhab said...

Slats' hubris struck again this off-season.

In theory, this team should be very dominant offensively. In theory. But when you make a conscious choice to get rid of the centre that clicks best with your top forward for two more marketable names, you're digging yourself into a hole.

They could've kept Nylander for shorter term and less money than either one of Gomez or Drury (take your pick), and still signed one of the other two. They didn't. Slats wanted the huge splash.

We'll see how this plays out in the next 10 games or so. It could determine if Renney still has a job. With Philly off to a nice start, a playoff birth is by no means a guarantee. They're in a tough division, maybe the toughest.

At 10:39 a.m., October 25, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I predicted this. Too many egos in the dressing room and I'm sure Jagr is just thrilled. It wasn't a coincidence that he started playing well after they dumped Aaron Ward last year who got in a pissing match with Jagr.

At 10:46 a.m., October 25, 2007, Blogger Richard Pollock said...

Not that they can't turn it around, but the Rangers fortunes may have taken a downturn with Michael Nylander's hiring of a new agent prior to July 1st. Before Nylander's decision, it appeared he was going to agree to a fairly reasonable contract with the Rangers. Had that happened, Jagr would undoubtedly still be performing at a high level and the Rangers wouldn't have two long-term commitments (Drury,Gomez) at such outrageous costs.

At 11:58 a.m., October 25, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$, damn as much as I try I can't spell chemistry with nothing but money.

At 12:30 p.m., October 25, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jagr can have an all-Euro supporting cast. By going back to play in Euroland. I hear the Venice Floaters are looking for a FW

At 1:40 p.m., October 25, 2007, Blogger mike said...

It's a little premature to bury this team. When you're in the top three in goals against, something is being done very well by a team that isn't putting the puck in the net. Lundqvist is one of the three best netminders in the world, and is going to keep them in contention by himself until the offense finds its touch.

They are banged up right now, losing Avery and Straka for long stretches of time. The Straka loss is particularly key as he was a potential fallback linemate for Jagr and Gomez if they continue to struggle to score.

Bright spots so far include Marc Staal's emergence as a first or second pair defenseman, along with Drury and Prucha's typically heady play. This team may have to put Drury and Gomez on a different line from Jagr, but that's a problem most teams in the NHL would like to have.

At 3:55 p.m., October 25, 2007, Blogger Bruce said...

I've said it before, but here goes again: Gomez and Drury have played 15 seasons in the NHL and had, combined, one season with more than 70 points.)

Tell me again, K-Lowe, how Ryan Smyth (seven consecutive seasons of 50-70 points) is not an elite player. Or tell me that at $5.5 MM he still wasn't prepared to sign for a home-town discount. He compares pretty well to these high-priced guys.

At 4:14 p.m., October 25, 2007, Blogger Adam C said...

The Rangers are selling the same Kool-aid as Toronto.

What doesn't make sense to me is why a team without an elite defenceman would spend all it's money on forwards. I wonder if Slather miscalculated and made offers to both Gomez and Drury while expecting one of them would turn it down? I seem to recall Holmgren saying he made offers to all three star centres and crossed his fingers that only one would say yes.

At 9:34 p.m., October 25, 2007, Blogger Adam C said...

it's, its. Sorry.

At 6:57 a.m., October 26, 2007, Blogger mike said...

Nice shutout by Lundqvist and the boys last night.

If they win all eight against the Devils some Ranger fans won't care about the postseason.....


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