Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Brendan Will Do Broadway

Brendan Shanahan will do BroadwayPerhaps it was ten years late but the Rangers finally corralled veteran bruiser, scorer Brendan Shanahan to a one year $4 million dollar deal. Shanahan turned down more lucrative offers from the Red Wings and the Canadiens to sign with the Rangers. Brendan scored 40 goals and 81 points in 82 games with the Red Wings last year so there is still life in the 37 year-old winger.

The signing of Shanahan is the first impact player the Rangers have signed during the free agency period. While winger, centerman Matt Cullen and defenseman Aaron Ward are both solid additions they don't bring to the table what Shanahan does. Brendan, who is two goals shy of 600 career goals, will compliment Jagr, who is nine goals shy of 600, nicely. They should form a dynamic duo on the power play which went into hiding at the tail end of the season.

Shanahan is still a force in the NHL despite his age. Granted the Rangers are getting him at the tail end of his career he is still a valuable catch. Rest assured he is not Theo Fleury, Eric Lindros or Pavel Bure all who came to the Rangers with some form of baggage. Shanahan is healthy, rugged and his head is screwed on right. Is it all positive and rosy? No.

So what are the potential problems? First of all he is 37 years old and one never knows when a body breaks down, especially at an advanced sport age. Also remember the rules last year favored the free skating and shied away from the heavy hitting and tight checking. This favored the Rangers for the regular season. However the playoffs, as the rounds advanced, got tighter coverage and tougher checking. Shanahan only got one goal and one assist in six playoff games. He led the Red Wings in goals scored (40) in the regular season.

The addition of Shanahan takes ice time away from Petr Prucha. He would have broken Tony Granato's record for goals by a Ranger rookie (36) had he not gotten injured. Prucha will lose power play time as it is certain that Shanahan will be teamed with Jagr and that is how it should be. Prucha like Shanahan had 14 power play goals last year. Shanahan's addition probably means that Prucha will go to the third line. Third lines on the Rangers get less ice time, less opportunities. Petr Prucha is too exciting and productive a player to have his ice time reduced.

What about the prospects? Remember Matt Cullen has also been added to the roster. This does not leave many positions open. What about the Nigel Dawes's? Hugh Jessiman? Jarkko Immonem? Dwight Helminen? Is the Rangers vaunted youth movement over? Did the taste of a playoff, however disastrous, mean a return to normalcy at the Garden? Ticket wise it did as they raised ticket prices without the courtesy of a letter.

What about the locker room? The room has basically been the platform for Jaromir Jagr. It will now have dueling voices as the drive by sports media will surely find a way to try and get competing and controversial views from the two super stars. Last year it was one room with one voice. Jagr's voice was more credible and cogent than the coach's voice. Will this change? In Shanahan's defense he has been a unifier and a team player. He has been credited by some for bringing the lockout to an end and for getting some of the rules changed.

Overall this looks like a good move on the part of the Rangers. However, the proof is in the pudding and results will determine, as they usually do, the value of this deal. What do you think?

ICINGS: The laugh of the week, month, year, comes from Neil Smith the newly anointed GM by Committee announcing that Tom Poti will quarterback his power play. You heard that right, Tom Poti. The rationale was that he led the Ranger defensemen in shots on goal, I believe 220, and scored all of 3 goals. That's right fans, you count them. Over 200 shots on goal and 3 goals scored. WOW! Too bad the Jets can't get a quarterback that good.

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