From the 1st day of this season, fans of the Rangers pleaded for General Manager Glen Sather to deal the high-priced veterans on the club who no longer could help them out in return for some young players and draft picks to quicken a hopefull rebuilding process that most fans would like to see take place.
It took until March 1st for the Rangers to finally make a deal that could actually help them out in the future, by dealing soon-to-be UFA Eric Lacroix to the Ottawa Senators in return for 25 year old, 6’4 215 pound Colin Forbes. Although Forbes is not known for his offensive abilities, he’s a nice sparkplug for the 4th line who mucks it out in the corners and plays a physical game. Forbes has looked pretty good in his 2 games so far as a Ranger, and I am already liking him better than Eric Lacroix.
But the better deal came today, March 5th, as the Rangers traded 36 year old defenseman Alexei Gusarov to the St. Louis Blues for 22 year old Slovak defenseman Peter Smrek. I love this deal for the Rangers. Smrek is a solid two-way defenseman who has the potential to put up 10 goals and 20 assists in the NHL. He has spent the majority of this season with the Worcester Ice Cats of the AHL, posting 2 goals and 6 assists in 47 games this season, to go along with 69 penalty minutes. In 6 games with the St. Louis Blues, he has registered 2 goals and 2 penalty minutes. To put things in a different perspective, the Rangers acquired Alexei Gusarov from the Colorado Avalanche in December for a 5th round pick. So in reality, we give up a 5th round pick for Peter Smrek. I would make that deal as well.
I have yet to see anything about whether the Rangers will assign Smrek to Hartford, or give him a shot with the big club. The Rangers square off against the New York Islanders tonight, so it is unlikely he will be here in time for the game, which looks like it may be postponed due to snow. All in all, I think it is a great deal for the Rangers and one that will definitely help them out in the future. If Alexei Gusarov can fetch Smrek, I’m excited to see what Sylvain Lefebvre, Rich Pilon, Adam Graves and Valeri Kamensky can fetch us. Thank you Glen Sather for this early birthday present! 🙂
News and Notes: Jason Doig was re-called from Hartford yesterday to fill in for Sandy McCarthy who was suspended 1 game for abuse of an official. Doig had 3 shifts, none in the 3rd period, and was a minus 1. Today, he was sent back down to Hartford and the Rangers re-called defenseman Mike Mottau and winger Tony Tuzzolino. Some suggest Mottau is being showcased for a possible upcoming deal, but I hope that’s not the case and the Rangers want to give Mottau some NHL experience so he is ready to make the team full time next season.