Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun recently reported that the New York Rangers are shopping wingers Ales Kotalik and Christopher Higgins.
The Rangers brought in both players this past off-season to bolster their offense with hopes that they would fit into coach John Tortorella’s system. GM Glen Sather hoped they would fill holes and perform at levels, but at this point both have vastly disappointed. Now Sather looks for alternative options to “beef” up his top six in order to gain a bigger presence up front, something Kotalik should provide.
What do I mean?
The Rangers want size in front of the oppositions crease in order to create more traffic to generate more offense.
When the team they signed Marian Gaborik they had one goal in mind: the Stanley Cup playoffs. Currently, the Rangers sit on the outside looking in, knowing some tweaking in the line up is a must.
Tortorella simply cannot work with the mix of forwards he currently has. Outside of Gaborik, most of the team fail to put together a consistent effort. We know the personality of Mr. Tortorella, a fiery, intense coach with a limited tolerance. The team’s current players show they cannot play his system properly.
It is time to make a change.
Kotalik, a power play specialist, posted 19 points through 35 games this year. With the hefty price tag of $3 million per year for 3 years (two more after his season), his value definitely takes a hit from even the second rounder he went for last season.
Higgins, a versatile forward whose played all three forward positions with the Rangers, came to New York in the Scott Gomez deal. Brought in by Sather in hopes of regaining his 2007-08 form where he produced career highs with 27 goals and 52 points with the Montreal Canadiens, the 26-year-old projects to score 10 goals. His solid two-way style makes him a top nine on most teams, however the Rangers might receive similar production from the cheaper P.A. Parentau.
Shipping Higgins out now could be a great opportunity to clear up some cap space.
Other GMs around the league know that the Rangers are in somewhat of a desperate state. For Sather to work his usual trade magic, he may need to include one of his prized defensive prospects or young players. If Sather is not interested in doing so, it will only make a trade more difficult.
Waiving current doghouse resident Wade Redden to get his salary off the books – although he would still be paid $6 million to skate with the Wolfpack – starts to look more and more like a reality at this point. Tortorella publicly stated his displeasure in the veteran’s performance, and rightfully so. Just goes to show how much of a factor Zdeno Chara is to anyone paired to play with him. Since Redden’s former partner defected to Boston, the results have not been the same.
Cablevision, the owners the Rangers, would most likely have no problem shelling out the money to open up the cap space necessary to get another top line talent. This team boasts a plethora of defense within the system. At this point Bobby Sanguinetti or Ilkka Heikkinen amongst others would play with more heart then Redden. Definitely a win/win situation.
One name to keep an eye on post Olympics and pre-deadline would be Pavol Demitra. We all know that Demitra and Gaborik are very close friends and if the veteran can prove himself 100 percent healthy, with a pro-rated cap hit, it would be dumb of Sather to not go out and make an offer for him.
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