Glen Sather’s Top 50 BEST Decisions: Part Two
This is Part Two of a Five-Part series ranking and evaluating Sather’s greatest (and not-so-greatest) decisions during his tenure as NY Rangers’ General Manager. Sather served as Rangers’ GM for 15 years, being hired on May 29, 2000 and stepping down July 1, 2015.
- Top 50 Greatest Moves (#31 to #40)
#40 – Signing F Vinny Prospal (August 17, 2009):
In the summer of 2009, the Rangers found themselves looking for offenive addition following the retirement of Markus Naslund, the infamous tradeaway of Scott Gomez, the free agency loss of Nik Antropov and the arbitration-baulk of Nik Zherdev. That same summer Prospal found himself bought out of his contract by the Tampa Bay Lightning. It was a smart move for both parties: Prospal had put up his best career numbers in Tampa under coach John Tortorella (whom he was reunited with), while Sather got Prospal cheaply for 1-year, $1.1 million. Prospal would register 30 goals, 52 assists & 82 points in 109 games as a Ranger between 2009-2011.
While this trade certainly left fans scratching their heads at the time, there’s no denying Brassard has worked out fantastically for Broadway. Centering the 2014 Pouliot/Zuccarello line, and then the 2015 Nash/Zuccarello line, Brassard has proven more than worthy since the acquisition. Brassard’s two full seasons in New York have been his #1 & #2 most goals in a season, #3 & #1 most points in a season, and #2 & #1 highest +/- in a season. Oh, and did I mention he’s put up 40 points in 54 career playoff games, including 3 consecutive postseasons with a game-winning-goal? All when he had zero NHL postseason experience at the time of the trade! And on top of all this, Brassard has provided Rangers fans with the best Rangers .gif in recent memory.
After signing with in New York during the summer of 2003, there was high hopes for DeVries’ place with the Rangers going forward. Unfortunately, symbolic of the 2003-04 Rangers’ season in general, it was overwhelmingly disappointing. The 31-year-old struggled with his teammates and was ultimately traded less than a year into his contract. Rachunek would notch 34 points in 84 games as a Ranger, which could’ve been more not for the 2004-05 lockout and his 2005-06 decision to remain in the KHL. Still though, Rachunek helped anchor the Rangers’ memorable 2006-07 team. Sadly, Rachunek was on the 2011 plane crash that killed 44 people, including nearly all members of the KHL franchise Lokomotiv Yaroslavl.
#37 – Drafting D Fedor Tyutin (June 23, 2001):
When New York won its first playoff series against the Atlanta Thrashers in 2007, guess who was the only Rangers-drafted defenseman on the roster? You guessed it: Fedor “Toots” Tyutin. In fact, of all the players drafted in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, Tyutin remains as the sole Russian still remaining in the league (bon voyage, Ilya Kovalchuk!). If Marek Zidlicky cannot find work next year, he will be the lone Ranger draft pick from 2001 still playing in the NHL. Tyutin played 274 NHL games as a New York Ranger, notching 66 points, before being traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2008.
#36 – Acquiring F Nik Antropov for a 2nd Round Draft Pick (March 4, 2009):
As far as trade-deadline rentals go for the New York Rangers, Antropov was as successful as they got under Sather’s tenure. Antropov score 9 goals, 7 assists & 16 points in his 25 games as a Ranger, which included the heartbreaking 7-game series defeat to the Washington Capitals in the 1st round of the playoffs. He could play either wing or center, and helped galvanize the offensively-struggling 2008-09 Broadway Blueshirts. Unfortunately, salary cap ramifications prevented Sather from extending a competitive offer to Antropov over the summer, where he would go on to sign with the Atlanta Thrashers.
#35 – Drafting F Dominic Moore (June 25, 2000) and signing him in 2003, 2014 & 2015:
There isn’t a particularly rich history of NCAA hockey players going from the ivy-leagued Harvard University to the NHL. However, with the 95th pick of the 2003 Entry Draft, Sather chose Moore, whom was 2nd on the team in points in his freshman year. It turned out to be a wise choice, as Moore has gone on to play nearly 800 NHL games since, even if most were not with Broadway.
Moore scored 3 assists in his NHL debut, becoming the first New York Ranger to notch 3 points in his debut in 65 years (since George Allen). He would be traded to the Nashville Predators in the summer of 2006, and go on to play for 8 different NHL teams over the following 6 years. Eventually Moore would sign a 1-year, $1 million deal with the Rangers after taking a subatical following the tragic passing of his wife, Katie.
In his return to the NHL, Moore would anchor the Rangers’ 4th line to their first Stanley Cup Final appearance in 20 years. In fact Moore would score the lone, game-winning goal to clinch the Eastern Conference Finals in Game 6 against the Montreal Canadiens. Moore would re-sign in summer 2014, and once again contribute as 4th line center in the Rangers deep 2015 playoff run.
#34 – Hiring John Tortorella as Head Coach (February 23, 2009):
Tom Renney, Tortorella’s predecessor as head coach, had a more laid-back and personable style of management. He was the bench boss where the 2005-2008 Rangers thrived. He coached veterans like Jaromir Jagr, Brendan Shanahan, Martin Straka, Michael Nylander, Steve Rucchin, Martin Rucinsky and Petr Sykora. However, once the year 2009 came around, the roster had been transformed from finesse veterans to blue-collar youngsters. This, coupled with the team’s plateaued place in the NHL standings, led Sather to fire Renney and hire Tortorella mid-season.
Tortorella would embody the change of culture following the post-Jagr era of Broadway hockey. The Rangers would make the playoffs four of Tortorella’s five seasons as coach, and we saw the development of players like Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky, Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh & Marc Staal.
In 2012, Tortorella would lead the Rangers to their first Eastern Conference Finals appearance in 15 years. For what he lacked in public-relations smoothness, he more than made up for in overall results, as well as some wonderful post-game sound bytes. Next question.
#33 – Drafting F Carl Hagelin (June 23, 2007):
With the relative success we’ve seen the New York Rangers deliver over the past five years, one cannot deny that the team’s wonderful attribute of speed and quickness has been a contributing factor. Enter Hagelin, who was drafted with the 168th overall pick in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.
He would play in the NCAA (University of Michigan) until 2011 before making the jump to pro in the AHL. Hagelin would then break through to the NHL, alongside minor-league linemate John Mitchell, to join the 2011-12 Rangers as a 3rd line rookie winger. He would stay in the NHL from there onward.
Before being traded last June for salary cap reasons, Hagelin played 339 games with the Rangers, tallying 70 goals, 86 assists & 156 points. He scored the game-winnig overtime goal in Game 5 against the Pittsburgh Penguins to clinch the series of last spring’s first round of playoffs. Of all 30 players players drafted in the 6th round of the 2007 draft, Hagelin leads all in games, goals, assists and points. Farewell, Haggy.
#32 – Signing F Brad Richards (July 2, 2011):
When Sather inked the 31-year old veteran center to a 9-year, $60 million contract in the opening days of the 2011 off-season, it was a clear message:
The Rangers were in it to win it, and were willing to get a reasonable rate on Richards’ early 30’s in exchange for a likely-terrible one for his late 30’s. Well, fast forward to the summer of 2014, and the Rangers were able to use an amnesty buyout on Richards after the first three years of his deal. In other words, Sather reaped the fruits of paying Richards decently for the first part of his deal, and was able to escape all salary cap ramification for the less-fruitful end of said contract.
Sather effectively paying Richards 3-years, $6.67 million/year from 2011 to 2014 was a solid venture. Even with his 2013 struggles factored in.
Richards was reunited with Tortorella, whom had won a Cup together in 2004 with Tampa Bay. Not only that, but Richards would lead the Rangers to 6 playoff series victories in his 3 years as a Ranger center, scoring big goals.
#31 – Drafting Brandon Dubinsky (June 26, 2004):
Dubinsky was the 4th of four forwards drafted by the Sather in the 2nd round of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. Who were the other three? Darin Oliver, Dane Byers and Bruce Graham. So needless to say, Dubinsky turned out to be the lone success coming out of that round for Sather. In fact, only David Krejci (selected three picks later by the Boston Bruins) tops Dubinsky’s present-day stats as an NHL forward from that round.
Before being one of the pieces involved in the blockbuster trade that landed Rick Nash, Dubinsky performed well while on Broadway. In 424 games, Dubinsky scored 88 goals, 142 assists and 230 points. He is also the 2nd highest scoring Alaskan-born NHL player (behind the infamous Scott Gomez, whom he played with from 2007-2009).
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Stay tuned for Part THREE of this series, as we will gradually unveil Sather’s Top 50 BEST moves as Rangers’ General Manager. Follow me on Twitter @HockeyStatMiner, and follow all of Full Tilt’s Ranger coverage at @NYR_FullTilt.