Thursday, May 04, 2006

Sandis Ozolinsh: Post Mortem of a Bad Trade

by the research staff

Sandis OzolinshIt is now obvious that the trade for Sandis Ozolinsh was a very bad one. Not counting the recent DWI arrest. As the Ranger Pundit said, adding Ozo was like adding "acid" to the good chemistry the Rangers had going. The Rangers traded for Ozolish on March 9th. He scored three goals in the 19 regular season games he played with the Rangers. However, he played terrible defense. It got so bad that Renney did not even dress him for the final playoff game.

So how did a deal that seemed so promising back in March go so bad? Looking back at the trade is very painful (you can say that again). But sometimes it's worth it to look back and see if you can learn anything. Using the web like a black box flight recorder let's replay what was said about the trade by professionals and amateurs alike.

Most Rangers watchers liked the trade when Sather made the deal to get Sandis Ozolinsh for Ville Nieminen.

The maestro himself, Glen Sather, used a conference call to sell the trade to the professional NY sports media:

"He fits the bill of a puck moving power play defenseman," he said. "If you look at the rest of the guys moving around the league, he was the only one of that type to move, and that's the kind of player we were looking for."

He [Sather] was pleased at the price tag, which translates into giving up recent free agent signee Ville Nieminen. "We didn't want to give up a whole lot to get him," Sather said, "and I think we accomplished that. There were guys that called on Staal, Montoya, Korpikoski, but we didn't want to give them up. We kicked the tires for a lot of defensemen, but the prices were high for defensemen who were going to be free agents at the end of the year, and we didn't want to give up a first or second round pick for them. He fit the bill pretty well for us, [especially] when we started to look at the market value of people who are going to be around for only the next 22 games."

That Ozolinsh has another year remaining on his contract (at $2.75 million) was a plus for the Rangers, where it might have been a minus for other buyers.

More Sather on Ozolinsh:
Bottom line: Ozolinsh was the best calibur defenseman on the market.

The NY Post's Mark Everson went with Sather's spin - SATHER ADDS BARGAIN DEFENSE IN OZOLINSH:
Trumps all season, Glen Sather sounded very much like a GM barely containing his glee.

More quotes from the NY Post, March 11th - RANGERS SET FOR STRETCH RUN:
Coach Tom Renney: "We believe that we've helped our offensive attack and our transition game [in acquiring Ozolinsh]"

Sandis Ozolinsh: "I can give some offensive support and I'm not a liability on the defensive side"

Pat Reichart liked the trade: In Ozolinsh, the Rangers gain an experienced defenseman who can run the point on the power play, something they have been lacking all season.

The sage, Larry Brooks, of the NY Post really liked the deal - OZOLINSH FITS RANGERS FINE:
THE RANGERS' deadline acquisition of Sandis Ozolinsh for essentially Ville Nieminen was a no-brainer for this year's squad that desperately needed to add a rushing, puck-moving defenseman to combat the increasing number of traps the club will face the remainder of the way.

It gives Jaromir Jagr a more friendly stick than Darius Kasparaitis' to both receive the puck from and pass it to. It was a no-risk, short-term buy that carries the potential of a high yield...

For now, though, the Rangers did fine in adding a potential asset while at the same time remaining faithful to their chemistry and blueprint.

"The Maven" - Stan Fischler at MSG Network loved the deal - Digging through the deals - BIG WINNERS I:
The playoff-bound Rangers needed a power play quarterback defenseman with a hard shot. In Sandis Ozolinsh, they got their man. Better still, New York only had to relinquish a third-round pick for him. Ozolinsh is a better, more durable pick-up than Brian Leetch would have been. The only drawback; one out of three times, I mis-pronounce his name!

John Davidson at MSG Network liked the trade - New Ranger Ozolinsh is worth the risk:
The Rangers are taking a chance with the acquisition of Sandis Ozolinsh, who was in the substance abuse program earlier this year, but I think it's worth a shot.

When you look at the Rangers' offense from their blueline, only St. Louis has fewer points from the defensemen. So, when you have a chance to improve the team now and not give up on your future, it's always a good idea.

Ozolinsh is well worth taking a chance. I saw him play for Latvia in the Olympics, and I thought he played very well in Torino. He hasn't played much this season because of the program, but knowing how the Rangers go about making a trade of this type, they have done their homework on him. He's been cleared, he's played hard and he's certainly worth what they gave up for him.

Andrew Gross at The Journal News implied that it was a good trade:
The Rangers had three objectives as yesterday's trade deadline loomed: Acquire an offensive-minded, puck-moving defenseman who could play the point on the power play; do it cheaply, without sacrificing their own draft picks or prospects; and maintain the team's chemistry.

In that context, it was a no-brainer to acquire seven-time All-Star Sandis Ozolinsh from the Anaheim Mighty Ducks for the third-round pick they had received the day before when they dealt left wing Ville Nieminen to the San Jose Sharks.

Joe McDonald at NY Sports Day liked the trade:
It’s tough shopping for a Mercedes on a Chevrolet’s budget, but somehow, someway Glen Sather was able to pull it off when he announced the acquisition of defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh from the Anaheim Mighty Ducks for a third round draft pick right before the NHL trade deadline at 3 p.m. on Thursday.

Scott Burnside at ESPN was wishy-washy (what did you expect):
This is an interesting move by assistant GM Don Maloney, who was doing the dealing for the Rangers. On one hand, the Rangers are a tightly knit, physical, defensively sound group, which makes you wonder how the free-wheeling Ozolinsh will fit in. On the other hand, they have almost no offensive presence on the back end, so Ozolinsh could become a key component. Ozolinsh, who has a boatload of playoff experience, missed 20 games after entering the league's substance abuse and behavioral health program. He was cleared to play just before the Olympics and remains in the follow-up care phase of the program. The move clears up $2.75 million in cap room for the Ducks for next season.

The BlueShirt Bulletin implied that it was a good trade:
but in the new NHL, defenseman with quick sticks who can clear rebounds and move the puck out of the zone have proven to be more effective than those with quick tempers who can clear the crease but have trouble negotiating the puck. In that respect, the acquisition of Sandis Ozolinsh fits the bill

The Hockey Rodent liked the trade - It's Ozo Simple: must weigh Ozo's cost to NYR against what other defensemen cost within the last 48 hours.

"Personal issues" aside, for the moment... Ozo is right there among this selective crop in terms of mobility and offense-generating...

this move does "fit" the mission of 2005-2006 and provides the club a chance to go as far as their forwards (and Henrik Lundqvist) were gonna take them anyway.

A thoughtful fan on the Hockey Rodent message board liked the trade. Ozo Trade Analysis [hockeyrodent msg board, Mar. 9, 2006]
Let's take a look at the OZO trade in another light. Clearly, we wanted to upgrade our defense with one or all of these attributes:

1) One that give us depth at defense,
2) A PP QB /Offensive Dman,
3) Tough stay at home D man

What other Defensemen were out there? Let's take a look...

Ray at Broadway Blue liked the trade:
Our power play got instantly better once it was announced that Sandis Ozolinsh was a Ranger. And having an incredible power play will win you playoff games. I personally think he'll surprise the naysayers down the stretch...I think that says a lot about how this organization is planning things and it really states that Glen Sather and Co. are serious about going in the right direction.

Brian at Hockeybird seemed to like the trade, but had some reservations - Three Small Words:
I don't think you should rush out and buy your Ozolinsh jersey just yet, but I think he fills a role the Rangers have struggled with all season and provides a defensive upgrade with the postseason looming. And whenever you can exchange a third-round pick for a guy that once scored 2500 points in a single Sega season, you make that deal....Does anyone not like this deal?

Scott Bird at Hockeybird was luke warm about the trade - Losing Nemo:
On paper this trade fills the point on the power play need. Now you do need to at least take into account that Ozo has not played a full season since he was six. The guy gets hurt. In addition he spent some time in the NHL substance abuse program this year. That makes this a roll of the dice type move. But as opposed to years past, this seems to be a low risk gamble. If it doesn't work we lose a few bucks only. No big deal.

David Goldburd at Blueshirts on Broadway was not 100% sold on the trade:
I’m not 100% sold on this trade. It depends on what you think the Rangers true needs were. Did they need a solid physical defensive defenseman for the playoffs or did they need another soft puck moving defensive liability who is by the way just coming out of the NHL substance abuse program. What is it with Sather and these reclamation projects? He sure is a gambler if ever I saw one. He’s the kind of guy that goes all in without checking his cards. Bringing a recovering substance abuser to New York… alrighty then. The good part about it is he does have a rocket from the point and used to have accuracy on his shot. By all accounts he has been playing much better as of late and I’ll admit that he was pretty good in the Olympics. But I did see him recently in a regular season game and he was pretty bad in that game.

Shari Frost at Blueshirts on Broadway did not like the trade -
Now I’m not judging him, far be it since I’ve had my own battle with alcohol years ago, but I don’t understand trading for problem children. Theo Fluery was a good fiery player but he as also a problem child, and upset the balance and chemistry of the team. My problem is it is not that far from December 2005, the one positive is he went into treatment on his own, but I just don’t see why they traded Niemenen for this.

Readers of the RangerPundit (the most intelligent fans in hockey by the way) generally thought getting Ozolish was a good move:
Yes -- 90%
No -- 2%
Don't know -- 7%

Poll Question: Good Move Getting Sandis Ozolinsh? [Ranger Pundit, Mar. 9, 2006]

Finally, Mike the Ranger Pundit never said a word about the trade. Silence....the Ranger Pundit must have been going by the motherly advice: "if you have nothing good to say about a Glen Sather trade, say nothing at all." But he didn't like what he quickly saw:

Sandis Ozolinsh was invisible, no shots on goal and coughed up the puck twice...Ozolinsh gives credence to the adage, you get what you pay for. A third round pick has given us, so far, a third rate performance. [Ranger Pundit, March 23rd]


  1. Sometimes you just make an honest mistake, especially in sports.

  2. If Glen Sather calls and he's barely containing his "glee" about a deal - hang-up, unless he's buying and you're selling.

  3. The professional hockey analysts and writers are no smarter than your average hockey blogger - maybe even less so. The professionals might in fact be handicapped, because they are too close to Rangers management to be truly objective.

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  • 44Rock said...

    To top it off Ville Nieminen is still playing. Sharks now into semi-finals.
    He had 3 goals and 4 assists in 22 regular season games for the Sharks. I read he is playing good tough hockey for the Sharks.

  • mike said...

    To 44rock-Ville is a good solid, honest hockey player. We lost some grit when we traded him.

  • Anonymous said...

    you needed somebody to blame for bad end of the season and you foun one! when in fact I don't think it was fair. He's a good player and we all know it!