Got to give Glen Sather some credit for pulling the double steal of a trade with the Canadians. To see the Rangers find someone willing to take the Scott Gomez contract off their hands is great but to get back a quality return is even better.
Chris Higgins is the well known name in this deal as the Long Island native is an established hard working player who is going to be a better option on than penalty kill than Fredrik Sjostrom. Higgins has scored scored 20 goals in 3 different seasons and his 2008-09 was not typical of his career.
The better part of the deal was Bob Gainey parting with Ryan McDonagh their 2007 first round pick. It is nice to use the phrase "what a bad deal this is" and not be talking about a Sather move.
McDonagh plays for Mike Eaves at Wisconsin (along with Derek Stepan 2008 2nd) and we liked what we saw from him. For starters the soon to be junior is a hard worker who is also a team leader as an assistant captain.
McDonagh played 36 games last season going 5-11-16, he was used on both the power play as well as the penalty kill. It is interesting to note that 2 of his goals were on the penalty kill which is different for a defender to have.
Even better about what we liked about McDonagh is that he is not afraid of contact whether it is giving or having to take a hit to make a play. The Rangers have a nice supply of defenders but McDonagh now opens options in case someone gets hurt or the Rangers want to make a deal to fill a hole elsewhere.
The 3rd part of this deal is defenseman Pavel Valentenko but we are not going to hold our breath expecting to see him in a Ranger uniform. Valentenko was a 2006 5th round pick of the Canadians who walked out on the Canadians last season to join the KHL.
It is hard for us to think highly of someone who dishonors a contract which is what Valentenko did. He is entering the 2nd year of a 3 year deal with the Moscow Dynamo in the KHL.
Valentenko was a promising prospect for the Canadians winning their top prospect award during his one season in the AHL in 2007-08. It is hard to expect that the Rangers will see him returning to North America under the current climate in the hockey world.
Still one has to praise Sather for taking full advantage of the best explanation is a panic by Canadian GM Bob Gainey. Gainey is expected to lose his captain Saku Koviu, one of his better defenders in Mike Komisarek, Alex Tanguay and even Alex Kovalev.
Now the hope is that the salary cap space generated by the trade of Scott Gomez is not spent on just one free agent or in one trade. Sather needs to manage this money wisely as he has a golden oppportuntity to improve the team as a whole.
All it will take to wipe out what is a great move would be to repeat the mistakes that got the Rangers in cap trouble to begin with. Yes there is no true top level first line center out there for the Rangers BUT patience needs to preached here.
There is no need to run right out and try to address every issue in one day; recent Ranger history has shown the error of that folly. No Sather needs to see what is actually out there because the first move by someone could open the door for a better move later on.
Learn from this move and the panic from the Canadians, it could help build a good Ranger team.
In other news, the CHL held the first round of their annual Import Draft on Tuesday. 2009 5th round pick Roman Horak was selected by the Chilliwack Bruins of the WHL. The Bruins are the team that Glen Sather owns a small part of so odds are very good that Ranger scouting information played a part in their selection.
Word has it that Horak does want to come to North America and Chilliwack would be a good place for him. The Bruins are rebuilding so playing time would not be a problem for Horak.
The Bruins are coached and run by Marc Habscheid who just took over the positions with the Bruins. Habscheid is a winner who has played in the NHL but has also won a Memorial Cup as a WHL coach.
The Rangers have Horak in the right place for his adjustment to North America.
(McDonagh courtesy of the Wisconsin Badgers, Valentenko courtesy of the Montreal Canadians)
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