I get the feeling that we didn't get to see enough of Derek Dorsett in a Rangers jersey. Dorsett, who was one of the pieces the Rangers acquired in the deal that sent Gaborik to Columbus, was the victim of a salary dump trade that unceremoniously ended his brief tenure in New York. In a lot of ways, I feel like we didn't get to see the best of Dorsett. Dorsett was a fan and locker room favorite in Columbus because of the way he played. A lot of us, including me, felt like Dorsett could've been the next Brandon Prust, but that was not to be. Dorsett was rarely used on the penalty kill and he never was used in a role that allowed him to apply much pressure in the offensive zone. Dorsett will perhaps best be remembered for temporarily losing his roster spot to Daniel Carcillo and for struggling with injury issues as a Ranger. Without further random speculation about what might have been, let's take a look at his final season in New York.
Summary of Dorsett's Year
Back in November I wrote a piece about Dorsett's role on the team and what he brought to the Rangers' bottom six. I remarked then how nice it was to have a guy who drew more penalties than he took on the fourth line and how he could be the first Ranger since Chris Simon to eclipse 200 PIM. In 51 regular season games with the Rangers Dorsett had 4 goals and 4 assists to go along with 128 PIM. Those 128 PIM were the most on the team by a wide margin despite the fact that Dorsett played just a little over half the season in 2013-14. At the end of the regular season Dorsett had taken more penalties than he had drawn (that didn't work out the way we all hoped) and he received a team-leading 10 fighting majors. The Rangers needed a tough guy in the lineup and Dorsett was happy to be the guy that stuck up for teammates. He dropped the gloves even when he was fighting out of his weight class (he almost always was). He was the Rangers wrecking ball and, for the most part, he played his role quite well.
Despite all of his shortcomings, Derek Dorsett gave the Rangers exactly what they needed on their fourth line. He was an excellent forechecker, he defended his teammates, and he hit everything that that wasn't a Ranger when he was on the ice. If he had stayed healthy and buried another couple of goals in the regular season or in the playoffs I am sure we all would have been a great deal more upset about the Dorsett salary dump trade. But, the fact of the matter is, he didn't score very often and he certainly didn't stay healthy...
Injured and Out of the Lineup
Back in 2013, Dorsett started his career as a Ranger in the press box (he was injured when the Rangers acquired him). It's a good thing that we got used to seeing him in a suit early on because that became a bit of a theme for him over his two seasons and postseasons in New York. He played his first game as a Ranger in the 2013 NHL Playoffs after being acquired on deadline day. In the 2013-14 season, his first (and last) full season with the Rangers, Dorsett suffered a serious injury that knocked him out of the lineup for nearly two months. In early January "Dorse" broke his fibula blocking a shot against the Penguins. Dorsett was doing everything he could do to contribute to the Rangers and stay in the lineup, and by giving that 110% effort he ended up with a broken leg. A broken leg that immediately knocked him out of the lineup and caused the Rangers to acquire more competition for his role with the team. Hockey can be pretty cruel sometimes, huh? The Rangers wasted no time and made a trade to acquire Dan Carcillo from the Los Angeles Kings less than 24 hours after Dorsett broke his leg, and from that moment on Dorsett fought not only for his ice time for the rest of the season and the 2014 Playoffs, he also fought to hold onto his roster spot.
Dorsett was in direct competition with J.T. Miller and Dan Carcillo for a roster spot from the moment he returned from his injury in March. Dorsett ended up playing 23 postseason games with the Rangers in 2014 and was a healthy scratch in two postseason games. Dorsett had 1 assist and 29 PIM for the Rangers in their most important postseason in twenty years. It was better than he did in the 2013 Playoffs but, on paper, it just wasn't enough.
Traded Away and Replaced... Again
Even with the Brad Richards buyout the Rangers needed to get rid of some salary to bring back their key RFAs and to have some money to play with in free agency. Derek Dorsett ended up being the guy that the Rangers parted ways with to create some cap space. Derek Dorsett and his $1.633 million cap hit went to Vancouver and the Rangers received a draft pick in return for their resident wrecking ball. The Rangers used the money they freed up in the Dorsett deal to bring in Tanner Glass, of all people, for three years at $1.45 million. Glass is almost certainly going to be used in the same role that Dorsett was used in; as the twelfth forward on a team that gives its third line a lot of ice time. So, the Rangers ended up saving $183,000 to make a noteworthy downgrade on their fourth line that they'll be stuck with for three seasons. I don't think that it will take long for Rangers fans to start missing Derek Dorsett and what he brought to the team when we see him contributing on Vancouver's bottom six... or when we get our first look at Tanner Glass in a Rangers jersey. Maybe I'm wrong. I hope I'm wrong. Don't count your Glasses before they hatch.
It's strange to see Dorsett come and go after playing just 75 games with the Rangers over two seasons. Just how much will the Rangers miss him when we see what Glass brings, or rather doesn't bring, to the fourth line? It's hard to get worried about replacing a guy on the fourth line but Dorsett was a guy that was used in a lot of roles in Columbus and was once able to put up 12 goals in a season (Tanner Glass has 18 goals in his entire career). I still think that we didn't get to see enough of Dorsett. I feel like he could have been a big part of the team's character and bottom six for a long time. I wish him all the best in Vancouver and for the rest of his career in the NHL. Go get ‘em Dorse.