Silverman: Rangers Upgraded Offense With St. Louis, But They Didn’t Do Enough
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By Steve Silverman
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Marty St. Louis is going to bring a heavy dose of high-octane offense to the New York Rangers, but it’s not going to be enough to help his new team get past the Pittsburgh Penguins or the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference.
General manager Glen Sather made a big move in sending his captain, Ryan Callahan, to Tampa Bay for the Lightning’s captain, but the addition of a big scorer does not help the Rangers in their desire to play with toughness or grit in their own end.
That’s not saying that the 38-year-old St. Louis is not a great and explosive player who leaves everything on the ice every night. He is certainly a much better scorer than Callahan, but he can’t come close to matching Callahan in physical play.
Anyone who saw the Rangers get bounced around last spring by the Bruins — or even last Sunday night by the same team — knows that they can’t afford to give anything away in the hitting category..The Rangers have a hard time standing up.
The Rangers didn’t just make a one-for-one deal, either. They are sending their No. 1 pick in the 2015 NHL draft to Tampa, as well as a second-rounder this year. If the Rangers manage to make it to the Eastern Conference Finals, that second-round pick becomes a first-rounder.
If the Lightning can sign the unrestricted Callahan, the Rangers will get a second-round pick in 2015 while giving up their own seventh-rounder.
St. Louis was in play because of a slight from his former general manager. Hall of Famer Steve Yzerman did not pick St. Louis for the Canadian Olympic Team in 2010 and he failed to select him this year. When teammate Steven Stamkos could not make it because of his broken leg, St. Louis was named to replace him.
However, St. Louis was just a role player for the victorious Canadians in the Olympics, and he did not enjoy himself despite the gold medal. He returned from Sochi and reiterated his trade demand, and the only team he wanted to play for was the Rangers.
Perhaps St. Louis pictures himself as a Broadway star. But more likely he knows he can fit in under Alain Vigneault’s system, and he will also enjoy playing with his former teammate, Brad Richards.
He will be a motivated player the rest of the way and he will be Rangers property through the 2014-15 season. St. Louis led the NHL in scoring last year with 60 points in 48 games, and he comes to the Rangers with 61 points this year.
St. Louis is one of the slickest passers in the league, but what makes him special is his ability to score on his own. He has already put the puck in the net 29 times this year, and the frequently-stalled Rangers offense is likely to get a jump-start once St. Louis dons his Rangers uniform.
But Sather needed to do more at the deadline if his team was seriously going to challenge the Pens and Bruins. They needed a tough guy on the blue line and perhaps a gritty winger who could stand up for Rangers players who are not so inclined.
Raphael Diaz does not fit that description. The Rangers reportedly acquired the 5-foot-11, 194-pound defenseman from the Vancouver Canucks, and he has some skill. But when it comes to toughness and grit, he’s not going to help in that category. Diaz has 12 penalty minutes this year, he had 12 last year and he has never had more than 30.
You need a defenseman to win the battle in the corner against a burly forward. Diaz is not that defenseman.
Giving up Callahan and two potential first-round picks for St. Louis makes this a very dangerous trade for the Rangers. The Rangers don’t have much in the pipeline and the future is not bright.
They made a flashy move by bringing in St. Louis, but the Rangers are not in a position to contend for the Stanley Cup this year.
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