We all know how good Brad Richards is and what he brings to a team. We also know how good Marion Gaborik is when he is healthy.
Weather it is Wojtek Wolski—whom I hope it will be do to his offensive minded play—or some other winger that plays on that first line, they will produce big time goals. Gabby might even break the 50-goal mark.
That is not the problem!
The problem is this. Head coach John Tortorella loves to play his top line more then anything. Just two seasons ago the third and fourth lines were lucky to see five minutes a game.
Now last year the rest of the team had tons of ice time, where they produced goals. Weather it was do to all the injuries that the Rangers had or because John Tortorella changed his out look on last years season.
Whatever the reason was it does not really matter. All four lines were close when it came to ice time and all four lines produced.
Last season there was no real number one line. All four lines were scoring goals. From the fourth line’s Brian Boyle, who scored 21 goals, or the second line rookie Derek Stepan, who also scored 21 goals.
The biggest surprise last year had to be the play of Brian Boyle, who totaled only six points for the season two years ago. What a turn around!
Players stepped up and improved big time last year, and it was because they were given the chance and ice time to play and show there worth.
But now the head coach has a new weapon. Like a kid with a new toy, he will not want to put it down. He will use it like no other toy in the toy box, and this is where the problem starts.
We have to expect Tortorella will have that top line running most of the game. So where does that leave the rest of the team?
Players like Boyle will be back to seeing only five minutes a game. Brandon Prust who had a very good year with 13 goals will be back on the short list as well.
What about players like Stepan who you might see alternating the second line center spot with Artem Anisimov. Will their ice time be effected.
I would not be surprised to see Artem playing the winger spot with Richards and Gabby at some point in the season to come. But all the same there will be players that need the ice time to score goals and produce.
I know what your saying. No, not AA or Stepan. But yes, them too. Or at least one of them.
If Wolski takes that left wing spot on the first line and AA stays with Cally and Dubs on that second line. Stepan will be seeing very little minutes on the third line.
We need to remember that he scored 21 goals last year. What do you think will be expected from him this year. Anything less then 21 goals will be a bad year.
That goes for every player on the team. Now take away half his ice time from last season, and you are speaking a whole new challenge for him to overcome.
I am not trying to take anything away from Tortorella. I think the job he has done last year was superb. But as I said, the kid with the new toy, it tends to leave all the others sitting in the box.
So what is my concern? Like it is not obvious enough already!
If Tortorella goes back to running two lines, a lot of players numbers will drop. Which means come the end of the season, Sather will be looking to get rid of many of them. Players that fit perfectly on this team and do produce when given the ice time.
Players like Mats Zuccarello who many Ranger fans like and who is getting paid $ 1.75 million for next year needs to have a solid year.
Say what you want, but Sather will not continue to pay him for six goals a year. If Zucc does not score between 15 to 20 goals next year, he will be gone.
With out ice time he will not be able to make that happen. Let's not forget training camp, Zucc might not even make the roster this year.
Look what happen to Evgeny Grachev, surrounded by hype, the next big thing. He was traded and was not even given a fair chance.
Enver Lisin was fast and had tons of offensive skills. Even when he did produce he was not rewarded with extra ice time and was not resigned.
Lisin went on to the KHL Russian League were he totaled 12 goals and 13 assists in 44 games. That is Not bad!
So little Zuccarello will be no exception.
Players that can produce and would produce have a chance of losing their spots on this team. All due to ice time.
Players like Fedotenko and Avery I do not care about. They are Meaningless to this team. But players like Prust, Stepan, Wolski and Boyle do make a difference and stopping a players progression due to minimal ice time is an issue that rides solely on the Head Coach.
We are all excited to see what comes from the Richards signing. But it may come at a costly price.
I am not trying to compare Richards to Boyle. But understand Richards has his role on this team and so does Boyle and Prust and young Stepan. As different as it may be, they all serve their own purpose.
If John Tortorella stays with the game plan from last year, I do not see any problems. Players will get their fair share of ice time and if they produce then great.
If they can not produce, then hey, they are gone. Fair enough!
But if he decides to go back to his first years style of play and solely counting on those first two lines. There might be trouble in paradise!
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