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Hockey This Week

Rangers Fans Should Thank Scott Howson. By James Wrabel, Jr.

Hockey This Week

Hockey This Week

Hockey This Week

Rangers Fans Should Thank Scott Howson

That title is not a misprint.

Following Monday’s 3:00PM Trade Deadline, the New York Rangers remained intact despite their diligent efforts to acquire Columbus Blue Jackets star Rick Nash, with the team’s only move being the acquisition of depth D John Scott from the Chicago Blackhawks.

The reason you should be thanking Columbus GM Scott Howson is for his steadfast belief of how much he values Rick Nash and never wavering on the price to acquire him.

According to Larry Brooks of the NY Post, Howson turned down a last-minute offer from Rangers’ GM Glen Sather rumored to involved Brandon Dubinsky, highly-touted Tim Erixon, Christian Thomas, this past summer’s first-round pick J.T. Miller, and a 2012 first-round draft pick.

Credit should be given to Sather for sticking to his guns by not including the likes of Ryan McDonagh, Michael Del Zotto, Derek Stepan, or Chris Kreider—the best prospect in the organization ready to make the jump to the pros—out of the deal.

Still, if that offer is true, Howson turned down an extremely enticing offer, believing he can fetch a King’s ransom in the offseason from a more desperate team—perhaps the Rangers, depending how the spring turns out for the team.

From a Rangers’ standpoint, that’s an offer that potentially derails the progress of the last several years of drafting and scouting to build up the current state of the organization.

Photo - Debby Wong - US PRESSWIRE

Photo - Debby Wong - US PRESSWIRE

Glen Sather may have told the media in his press conference Monday you don’t “dismantle the organization” to make a few deals. However, that seemed to be what he was attempting to do behind the scenes to acquire the 27-year-old goal scorer.

Yes, the team has great organizational depth at the defense position and, when making trades, you try to deal from a position of strength to fill in your weak points. But, as evidenced by the loss of Michael Sauer to a concussion and the so-so play of players like Anton Stralman recently, a team can never have enough defense.

Losing Tim Erixon in a deal for Nash hurts the Rangers in the short-term as he can be called up in case of an injury or severe poor play, and in the long-term as Erixon projects to be a top-four, shutdown defenseman.

Christian Thomas, the 2010 second-round pick of the Rangers, hasn’t progressed as quickly as the club would have liked. Still playing in the OHL and coming off a disappointing showing in September’s Traverse City Prospects Tournament, Thomas may have fallen in the depth chart slightly.

But Christian Thomas possesses the hard-shot and pure-goal scoring ability the Rangers could certainly use in the coming years. It’s a matter of his small frame (5’9’’ 170lbs) and overcoming that in NHL.

J.T. Miller has certainly made the Rangers scouting team look like geniuses after going off the board to draft him with their 15th overall pick in last year’s Entry Draft.

Considered a long-term project, Miller has impressed since becoming Rangers’ property, making Team USA for the 2012 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships. At just 18-years-old, Miller’s tenacity and nose for the net will blend in perfectly down the road with the Rangers.

No matter how “can’t miss” they can be, prospects in sports are virtually a crapshoot. Some of the best turn out to be busts (see Alexander Daigle, or, from a Rangers perspective, Pavel Brendl or Jamie Lundmark) while others are completely out of everyone’s vision—I wonder how many teams want a redo on Dan Girardi.

If Erixon, Thomas, and Miller all turn out to be busts or less than what they’re capable of four, five years down the road, then you can look back at Monday’s rejected deal as Sather missing the boat on nabbing, at the time, an elite goal-scorer in his prime. Many will say that if the Rangers flounder in the playoffs THIS season.

But alas, the deal never happened and the Rangers are still loaded with talent from the varsity club down to their minors. All because of another team’s GM refusing to budge. It’s a win for Glen Sather, even if he didn’t intend to dodge a bullet.

James Wrabel, Jr.
Hockey This Week

Follow James on Twitter @thewrage

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