Aside from the the continuing trend that is the Rangers’ inability to score more than two goals per game, the biggest thing that Rangers fans were buzzing about at the Garden last night was the disappearance of Marian Gaborik from the game after the first period. Many were fearing yet another injury, while others assumed Tortorella had simply benched him for being invisible in the first period. Then, of course, there was the small but vocal group wearing the tin foil hats that speculated he had been traded. Tortorella informed us post-game that Gaborik was injured, though with a concussion and not the usual groin issue. The Rangers claim that they aren’t sure when the concussion occurred, meaning that we can’t even account for how many games he’s played since being concussed. The bad news is that he will obviously miss some time and didn’t join the Rangers on the road trip to Carolina. The Rangers haven’t released a ton of information about his injury or the timetable for it, and even Tortorella seemed a bit confused when describing it to the media. However, the unofficial belief is that Gaborik will be back in 7-10 days. On one hand, the Rangers were winning plenty without Gaborik at the start of the season, so the team has certainly showed that they can win without him in the lineup. That being said, the Rangers are still better off with him in the lineup than without him. Marian has certainly struggled by his standards this season, but that does not change the fact that the Rangers have no better solution at right wing, both internally and on the trade market. Even this less effective Gaborik is still important to this team.
Sheldon Souray- Looks like we can finally put an end to the drawn out Sheldon Souray discussion. After the Oilers put him on re-entry waivers two days ago, many wondered if the Rangers would add him to the roster. Glen Sather admitted Souray would be a player he at least looked into and stated that he and the rest of management would sit down and discuss together once and for all if they wanted to claim him. Ultimately, the answer was no, as he, and the other 28 teams for that matter, decided to pass on claiming him. The Rangers will look elsewhere for help on defense.
Penguins/Stars- The trading ensues with yet another significant move, this time between the Stars and Penguins. Dallas shipped 23 year old winger James Neal and defenseman Matt Niskanen to our division rival in return for defenseman Alex Goligoski. Goligoski is certainly a good young defenseman, but the general consensus is that the Penguins got the better end of the deal, and I fully agree. There are very few players in the NHL that can match Neal’s hands and strength, and at 23 still has plenty more developing to do. Niskanen has been slumping, but is still young at only 24 years old and has shown flashes of great play. Ultimately, this is potentially scary news for the Rangers, as Sidney Crosby will have a true scoring winger on his line for only the second time in his career, the first being the few months Marian Hossa was a Penguin. Go to Pens Labrynth to see the Pens’ excitement about the move, and also check out Blackout Dallas, which is skeptical about moving Neal but welcomes the improvement on defense.
Kris Newbury- Once again he’s been recalled, presumably taking Gaborik’s roster spot for the next week or so.
Niklas Hagman- The Calgary Flames have placed Niklas Hagman on waivers. Hagman had scored at least 22 goals the past three seasons but has heavily struggled this season with only 9 goals in 57 games. Perhaps a team out there in need of a winger will take a chance on Hagman, but the 3 million dollar cap hit for next season will likely deter most teams away.
Brad Richards- With a “take it with a grain of salt” warning, for what it’s worth ESPN’s EJ Hradek speculates that the Stars, who are quickly falling out of the playoff hunt, could begin to become sellers and Brad Richards could be on the move. Richards is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year and is hesitant to resign in Dallas given their current ownership issues. Thus, Hradek, who is not alone in his belief, speculates that Dallas might ultimately trade him to the team offering the best package. Richards’ no-trade clause will obvious be an obstacle of sorts, though. The Rangers are a leading candidate for Richards at both the trading deadline as well as in the offseason. The Rangers having are in desperate need of a 1st line center and Richards had the best years of his career under John Tortorella in Tampa Bay.