Of all the missteps of Glen Sather’s infamous tenure as New York Rangers General Manager, the one that I think is always overlooked is his decision to trade Mike Knuble to the Boston Bruins in exchange for right winger Rob DiMaio. Rob DiMaio played a whole 12 irrelevant games for the New York Rangers, scoring once and adding only 3 assists, before bouncing around the NHL for a few more nondescript seasons. Mike Knuble, on the other hand, has scored at least 20 goals every season since 2003-2004 and at least 30 goals twice.
But that’s well in the past and right now the Rangers, run by Glen Sather, are primed for a Cup run. Mike Knuble’s Capitals can not really say the same. And Knuble, who has averaged 26.5 goals per season as a member of the Capitals prior to this year, was relegated to 4th line duty and more recently has been a healthy scratch. Knuble, while remaining professional about it, is clearly not happy with the situation.
“If a player is not going to be used,” Knuble said, “or in the near future you don’t have plans, then that player probably wouldn’t want to be there. That’s how we are in our League – you want to go somewhere where you’re going to play and contribute to your team and if you can’t do it in one place, then you’ve got to go.”
When asked, Knuble said he wasn’t sure if he plans on requesting a trade, but he sure implied that it was a strong possibility. Inevitably almost all players get linked to the New York Rangers around this time of year. But is Mike Knuble a realistic option for the Blueshirts? Keep reading to for a break-down of that question.
I already know what you’re thinking. Mike Knuble would be an underwhelming acquisition and guys like Bobby Ryan, Shane Doan, Rick Nash, etc. would be better players to get. I understand that. However, welcome to the reality of the trading deadline. Majority of the players rumored as a trade candidate don’t actually get traded, and with what’s left there are still more teams looking to add an impact player than there are impact players available. There are no promises that Glen Sather can add a marquee player like that, whether it’s because he’d have to give up too much or the players just aren’t available or he gets beat out by other teams for his initial targets.
At that point, Glen Sather has to look at alternate options. As I’ve already pointed out, Mike Knuble has made a career out of finding ways to score goals; and lots of them. He’s also been a force on the power play throughout his career, scoring no fewer than six in a season since the lockout. Now, a lot of credit for his success needs to be given to the fact that he’s played with some incredible linemates such as Joe Thornton, Alexander Ovechkin, and Peter Forsberg. But goals are goals. I don’t think it’s too farfetched to think that Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik, and Derek Stepan could set him up in similar fashion; especially on the power play.
Of course, there are reasons beyond roster mismanagement for why Knuble hasn’t been given too much of a chance in Washington. At 39 years old Knuble is clearly not the player he was even two seasons ago. Knuble, even if in less playing time and with inferior linemates, still only has three goals the entire season and hasn’t put one in the net since December. One of Knuble’s biggest deterrents is that he is, driven by his age, a slow player. And while players like Prust and Rupp can get away with terrible foot speed because their game doesn’t rely on it, I don’t know if a slow skater like Knuble will thrive under Torts if his role would be to add some offense.
I think Sather is going to look into multiple other options before even considering Mike Knuble. But as I’ve stated already, the reality of the trading deadline is that talks involving players on top of the wish list don’t always result in a successful acquisition. Washington its share of issues and they’re not going to play hardball with a team looking to acquire a disgruntled player who isn’t even in the lineup. Knuble is a veteran option who knows the workings and struggles of a lengthy playoff run. He’s shown his whole career that, given the right situation and right linemates, he can score goals consistently. There’s little risk to trading for him; the Rangers would not have to give up anything substantial and his contract is up at the end of the season. Thus, while I reiterate that he is not the ideal acquisition by any means, I would welcome a swap of a middle-round draft pick for Mike Knuble if Sather could not count on anything better.