Chris Drury has a mandate to get the Rangers back in the playoffs next season. Owner James Dolan made that clear when he fired John Davidson and Jeff Gorton. The new President and GM acknowledged the boss’ edict when asked at the end of the season how he would build his roster. Drury’s answer was subtle but poignant.
“We need to take a deep look at what everyone’s roles are,” Drury hinted to his offseason approach. “We’ve got to get to a place where when you jump over the boards you know what your role is.” It sounded almost like indictment to how the third and fourth lines were handled this past season. A mistake Drury and whomever the new coach cannot repeat.
Rangers offseason need a fourth line center
The Rangers were bulldozed by the Islanders this season. James Dolan basically got tired of watching Matt Martin, Cal Clutterbuck, and Casey Cizikas run all over his skilled collection of players. The owner basically pointed to the losses to the Isles and the Tom Wilson incident as part of his reasoning for the management changes.
Here’s my first piece of advice for Drury, go out and kill two birds with one stone. Sign Islanders center Casey Cizikas.
Cizikas is not a large player at 5-11 and 195 lbs, but he can still be the lynchpin to a stellar fourth line and win key face-offs. Losing draws is something the Rangers desperately need to address this offseason as well.
New York Rangers should target UFA Casey Cizikas to help bottom six
At 30 years-old he isn’t a kid and the Rangers need to balance that their neophyte lineup better. He’s coming off a deal that paid him $3.35 million so he’s not cheap. While that seems expensive for a fourth line player, the Islanders are pretty thrilled with him. Cizikas finished the season with 14 points in 56 games and face-off win percentage of 53.2.
For me, it is a no-brainer that the Rangers should invest in shoring up that hole. The beauty about signing him away from the Isles is that it means creating a hole they need to fill and breaks up the best 4th line in the NHL of a division foe.
Remember the mandate is make the playoffs and the Islanders are in the division. The Rangers missed out the Isles who captured 4th place this season, that can’t happen next year or who knows what Dolan will do.
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