The Rangers are always surrounded by rumors. It’s the nature of the beat when it comes to being one of the biggest markets in a sport. So it isn’t surprising that with the July 1st free agency opening that a ton of rumors would rear their ugly heads.
One rumor that is beginning to become abundant is the rumor of Pavol Demitra to the New York Rangers. I preface this post by telling you that this is 100% unconfirmed, I am simply bringing it up because Demitra is a possible candidate for center on the Rangers, and I write this article because you all may start seeing the rumor more and more.
There were whispers after the Olympics that Marian Gaborik wanted his former teammate to come to the Rangers and center his line. The oft-injured Demitra has also proven that he is a dynamic game changer, even at 35 years old, when healthy. But the end of that sentence is the real key to the issue. When Demitra is healthy he is an invaluable addition to a team. When he is injured—and it’s more often than not—he is obviously useless.
Although last season was a disaster—he only played in 28 regular season games—he did play in 11 playoff games for the Vancouver Canucks at the end of the year. He has proven that he can still put up points; two years ago he put up 20 goals and 33 assists for 53 points in 69 games. The year before—while playing with Gaborik—he notched 15 goals and 39 assists for 54 points in 68 games.
The Rangers haven’t exactly made it a secret that they are looking for a first line center. And while Demitra might not be the most attractive option—mainly due to his injuries—he still has some advantages that the Rangers may be interested in looking into. Mainly the fact that him and Gaborik have meshed well before, and that they are probably looking for all kinds of ways to please their perennial super star.
Join me after the jump for those advantages.For starters Demitra will come cheap, mainly because of his 16 points (3 goals) in 28 games this past season. Being 35 years old also won’t help his case for more zeroes on the end of his paycheck. Now I realize that while these two pieces of evidence make him cheap, they also make him unattractive.
But there is a catch. The Rangers have a bunch of young centers in the minors who are a year away from the team; Evgeny Grachev, Derek Stepan and Ethan Werek being the big ones on the board. But none of them are truly expected to make the team out of camp, although one can argue that Grachev and Stepan are close; especially after John Tortorella made a public statement yesterday that he wanted to give guys like Grachev a shot at cracking the line-up.
Currently the Rangers have Artem Anisimov, Chris Drury and Brandon Dubinsky under contract. They are going to try to re-sign Erik Christensenand I am sure that Vaclav Prospal will also be on the re-sign list. By my count that’s five centers the Rangers may or may not have on their roster. If you wanted to be a pessimist and say that only one of Christensen or Prospal will be signed, that still leaves all four center slots filled.
Tortorella has shown no problem putting Dubinsky on the wing, and Prospal also swings as a left wing when he isn’t playing center. So that makes one open slot for a center if need be.
How does this relate to Demitra do you ask? It relates to his injuries. If the Rangers do decide to go agree and offer Demitra a one year contract—the only contract I would accept when it came to Demitra—they wouldn’t have to be overly concerned about his injuries. If he gets hurt they can simply replace him with one of the other options while he heals himself up.
So what’s the point? Ah, another good question, you guys are good. Since Grachev and Stepan seem to still be a year away from cracking the line-up, and we will have a MUCH better idea of that after this week when prospects camp is over.
So before you all jump down my throat here my response to this rumor. At the end of prospects camp deems whether or not Grachev or Stepan have a shot at making the team. If they have a legitimate one—and no legitimate doesn’t mean a sure thing, just a realistic chance—then stay away from Demitra. If the Rangers think that they won’t and they need some more help at center then maybe Demitra isn't a bad option.
He knows Gaborik's style, has had success with him before and brings another veteran presence to this young team. Again, if they don't need him or if the price is too high (or the contract demand is more than a year) then let him walk. He isn't a priority by any means, this is just my response to the rumor, and how I think he would fit on this team.
I would only want to entertain the idea if everything falls perfectly into place by the standards I have set above. I'm not saying that they Rangers should go after him even if things do fit into place, it's just an idea for discussion
But what are your thoughts on the matter?