We’ll move on to Ruslan Fedotenko. Ruslan came to the Rangers on a tryout after failing to earn a contract from any NHL team during the summer. You have to give credit to him for choosing to try to fight for a spot on the Rangers instead of just taking the easy way out and going to Russia for more money. Surely he came to New York because of his history with Tortorella, and that paid off when the Rangers decided to officially add him to the roster and signed him. Let’s look at how that decision played out:
What We Expected
Fedotenko was placed in a top-6 role on a Pittsburgh team that lacked wingers, and he failed in that role. To be fair to him though, he was expected to do more in Pittsburgh than his abilities really allow for him to do. With the Rangers, Fedotenko was expected to be the ideal bottom-6 forward. The kind that can fit in on a checking line, forecheck hard, chip in some secondary scoring, and play capable defense. The more he looked like the player he was under John Tortorella, the better.
How He Did
I really think Fedotenko was very under-appreciated. He’s not like Ryan Callahan or Brandon Prust where he wears his hear on his sleeve, but you could never claim that Fedotenko ever didn’t put in a full effort. Brian Boyle and Brandon Prust got a ton of attention and compliments from Rangers fans, and while they certainly deserve it, Fedotenko was just as important to that line as those two were. He was the best forechecker out of all three and the other two simply were not as effective when he was out of the lineup. Fedotenko also added the secondary scoring, potting 10 goals in 66 games. It also must be noted how he was a key member of the penalty killing unit. The biggest problem with Fedotenko this season was that he only played 66 games. Fedotenko injured his shoulder in February which put him out for a while, and an emergency appendectomy extended his stay out of the lineup even longer. For all of the praise for numerous other players on the team, I can’t completely denounce the idea that there are reasons the Rangers’ struggles coincided with Fedotenko’s injuries. It was clear that Fedotenko simply wasn’t as effective once the injury set in. Fedotenko averaged .395 points per game before the All-Star Break and only .222 afterwards. Fedotenko also was effective in the playoffs. In Game 3 he was literally a tenth of a second away from giving the Rangers a lead, and in Game 4 he made two incredible plays to set up Gaborik and Dubinsky for goals on consecutive shifts.
Final Grade: B+
The Rangers brought in Fedotenko to be a solid, veteran 3rd liner and that’s exactly what we got. He was reliable in the defensive zone, contributed enough offensively, and did a lot of dirty work that helped Brandon Prust and Brian Boyle shine. The only real knock on his season was the injuries. He missed a bunch of games with various injuries and he just wasn’t the same player after them. Ruslan just couldn’t catch a break.
Fedotenko was signed to a 1 year deal last summer and is thus an unrestricted free agent. Tortorella said that the team will “have to make decisions” regarding the veterans on the team. Fedotenko seems the most likely to return out of that group, but that’s not a lock by any means. Fedotenko’s return will be determined by numerous factors, such as if Kreider is signed, or what players the Rangers plan on bringing in via free agency, or how much money Fedotenko wants.