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Monday, April 19, 2010

Report Cards Part 3 (2nd line)

Ollie Jokinen– C

This season Jokinen put up an interesting 15 goal/50 point season. Unfortunately, only 15 of those points came as a Ranger. I say interesting because he has always been more of a gritty sniper than playmaker. Therefore, if you’d of told me before the season that Jokinen would put up 50 points, I would have figured 30 goals and 20 assists or something close to that ratio.

At this point it’s been 3 seasons since he’s had a Jokinen like season. From here on out, I wouldn’t be surprised to see his stats decline more precipitously. I know it’s hard to judge someone on only 26 games, it’s a small sample, but that’s the same number Prust played for the Rangers and he left much more of an impression. Jokinen isn’t the scorer he used to be and he isn’t as hardnosed as he was in his prime, so why keep him? I am not sure what kind of money he will command in free agency, but my gut says Sather won’t pursue. There have been rumors that he will look to the KHL. Whether he is seriously considering playing there or just using Russia as leverage is anyone’s guess. Ultimately, the money is best spent elsewhere.

Brandon Dubinsky– B 

Brandon Dubinsky was once thought to become a playmaking/puck distributing center. Boy that prediction was off. He has the hands and the speed, but lacks the vision and hockey IQ to fulfill that prophecy. With that said we learned that Dubinsky has the potential to become a power forward. He plays a hard-nosed game and has enough skill to one day be an inconsistent 30 goal/70 point guy.

Unfortunately I don’t think any of that will happen as Ranger. He is the best young candidate to be packaged with Rozival or Redden in a salary-dump trade. Neither of those two defensemen can be traded on their own, the deal needs a sweetener. Callahan is future Captain material and Del Zotto/Staal I don’t even need to explain. Dubinsky is the odd man out. I love the kid’s passion and appreciate his skill set, but I want to get an elite player, and trading Dubinsky with picks/prospects or Arty may get a deal done.

Ryan Callahan– B 

Ryan Callahan is an easy guy to evaluate and an obvious guy to build a team around. He is the future captain of the New York Rangers. What I liked about Cally’s season was that he was consistently our best forechecker, consistently tenacious along the boards, and developed into a most excellent penalty killer. His negative plus/minus doesn’t worry me too much. I think this year it was more of a result of who he was playing with…or should I say not playing with (um Gaborik?)

No one can doubt his strength, grit, and will. If I had one wish for this kid though, it would be that he grow 3-4 inches and gain 30-40 pounds. This way he’d actually look like other power forwards. Oh well… The problem is without the size and the style in which he plays, I don’t think he’ll ever be able to put up more than 50-60 points. He has great speed and good hands, but like Dubinsky, he lacks great vision.

There was more than enough times this season, when Cally had an odd man rush and instead of making the correct play to lateral, drop pass, or put on the brakes, he would just shoot from a bad angle (Sean Avery often makes these same mistakes). The problem is not only is he making the wrong decision, but he also isn’t even looking for it. That’s what I call bad hockey vision. This insight might not be taken well by the hordes of people who love this kid, but it is indeed an honest assessment. The important thing is he does enough right to overcome his shortfalls.

If you look at all of the great Stanley Cup teams, they all had guys like Cally. It doesn’t matter if he never turns into Zach Parise, he can be one of the most valuable 3rd line players in the league. There is always a chance that Sather trades Callahan since history has shown us that he is not loyal to youth (Prucha, Dawes, Korpi, York, etc.), but I still think it will be Dubinsky that goes if it’s anybody, despite Brandon having more upside due to his speed and size. The other thing that makes Callahan more retainable than Dubinsky is the lack of character problems. Not much has been written on Brandon’s off-ice activities and I am not looking to spread rumors, but if you read some of Tortorella’s comments during Duby’s hold-out, there was definitely something to read between-the-lines about maturity and ego issues.