Trade Deadline Recap
1) The Rangers glaring deficiency this season has been on the blue line. And with the recent injuries to Dan Girardi and Kevin Klein, the Blueshirts were in need of a defenseman. They didn’t get the big fish that was Kevin Shattenkirk, but they did pick up a solid player in Brendan Smith. Smith, who was college teammates with Ryan McDonagh and Derek Stepan, is a good skater with size, and can play physically if need be. The Blueshirts now have eight defensemen on the roster, and when healthy, will leave AV with some decisions to make. Personally, I’d like to see a lineup resembling this: Smith/McDonagh, Holden/Staal, Girardi/Skjei. Klein becomes the seventh guy and Clendening goes down to Hartford.
2) Unlike in previous years, it was a bit refreshing to see the team not mortgage the future for a rental player. And while Shattenkirk has said he wants to play at MSG, Jeff Gorton stood his ground and didn’t give up his top players. Yes, Shattenkirk would’ve filled the Rangers biggest need on the blue line, but as I’ve said all along, you don’t strengthen your weakness by weakening your strength. In other words, trading Grabner/Miller/Hayes or anyone else that Doug Armstrong was asking for, isn’t worth giving up; especially given Shattenkirk’s desire of being a Ranger, and his being a free agent in the offseason.
3) There was a lot of talk on Twitter about a lack of physicality on this team. And to me, that term has been redefined over the last 20 or so years. When I grew up, in the 90s-early 2000s, the “enforcer” was very much a part of a hockey club. He was the guy that would step on the ice and look to throw a massive check or start a fight. But that has changed. Enforcers, and fighting for that matter, have been ebbing away, and there is less emphasis on bone-crushing hits as there is on speed and skill. Physicality nowadays means making a solid hit, or not getting outmuscled in front or simply being willing to drop the gloves.
Do the Rangers NEED to have a physical presence on the ice? It depends on what you mean. If you feel they need a guy to run around the ice hitting people, I would say no. But if you’re of the opinion that it just needs to be someone that is willing to make a check and work hard in the corners, I’d say they already have that. JT Miller, Rick Nash and Chris Kreider have thrown their weight around up front, and the defensemen never shy away from contact. This team has been good all year without having a big bruiser. The game doesn’t demand one anymore, and there was no reason for the Blueshirts to go out and get one.