Yesterday, the New York Rangers announced that star winger Marian Gaborik will miss the start of the season as he undergoes surgery for his right shoulder. Gaborik injured it back in the first round of the playoffs when he was checked into the boards while playing the Ottawa Senators. Recovery from the shoulder surgery takes on average 5-6 months to recover, meaning Gaborik’s return December or January.
While Rangers fans are up in arms that a top goal scorer will not be around just as the team is beginning to tackle their goal problem, don’t count me in that group of fans. With 41 goals in the regular season and 5 goals in the playoffs, Gaborik’s offensive contributions will be missed in this upcoming season, but his on ice attitude will not be missed by me.
I know this is going to annoy some people, but I’m excited to see what this Gaborik injury forces the team to do. Yeah he’s a great asset in terms of goal scoring, but try to get him to play any sort of defense hustle with him and you’ll be waiting a very long time.
This team prides itself on putting their bodies on the line every game, blocking shots and really making defensive plays but how many times have we watched Gaborik mosey his way through the neutral zone? How many times has the opponent had a 5 on 4 advantage because Gaborik isn’t where he’s supposed to be? How many times has Gaborik failed to do something simple like clear the puck? (I tried googling “Marian Gaborik plays defense” and other variations to find more examples but there was nothing on his defensive skills. )
The guy is a gift with the puck offensively. 41 goals is nothing to scoff at, but you’re not winning games on a strictly offensive game. You’re really not winning the game if the team only averages 2 goals a game.
Last off season was spent trying to find someone to play with Gaborik on that first line to up his production. The New York Rangers brought in Brad Richardsand after a slight bump, the two formed an amazing line.
This off season should be spent looking at a way to flesh out the other lines with players who might not score as much, but skate harder than Gaborik. Picking up three players who average 15 goals and play with heart can more than make up for the loss of Gaborik. Grab that big name for the first line, whether it’s Zach Parise or Jarret Stoll or whomever. You don’t need to place a player who can out score Gaborik, you can have someone on par or just slightly below because the Rangers problem does not lie within that first line.
Which means the Rangers will have to look at the contracts of Brian Boyle, Brandon Dubinsky, Brandon Prust, Ruslan Fedotenko, and others and decide if they are worth keeping around or if they can be part of a deal (or in some cases replaced as their contract runs out) to pick up players that will balance out our back lines.
Everyone is so focused on the loss of Gaborik, but even if the Rangers had Gaborik for the whole season, there’s still the problem of finding more goals. Use this as an opportunity, not to tweak that first line, but to expand the back line. Rangers sign players full of heart, but heart isn’t putting that puck in the net. Get that big name free agent you want for the first line, but don’t spend the summer dwelling on the loss of Gaborik. Spend it building up the team as a whole.
Let’s Go Rangers!