Thanks to PK Slewban, I mean Subban, the New York Rangers will be without Sammy Blais for the rest of the season with a torn ACL. While the play may not have had looked to have malicious intent behind it, Subban has a career history with slew footing including an alarming 4 incidents already this season. Fresh in Rangers fans minds is the one where he hurt Ryan Reaves back in the preseason with a similar but more obvious play.
This one looks simple enough with Subban in a stopping motion and Blais barreling down on the puck. While it looks like it is a hockey play and it more than likely is, there is just enough in the variety of angles showing the play to make you think there was more to it. Any other player or scenario and you chalk this up to a tough situation. Since it is Subban, with his track record that goes back to a point where even the NHL Department of Player “Safety” uses him as an example 8 years ago in a slew-foot explanation video, he does not deserve a single ounce from the benefit of the doubt coffers.
On to what matters now
Blais’ injury could not have come at a worse time for the Blueshirts as the team was finding to start its footing offensively. With questionable depth on the wings, the teams RW depth has become even worse. Coming into the season there was already question marks around the teams depth there and now with this injury it’ll become even more exasperated.
With Vitali Kravtsov back with Traktor and not due to come back until their season is over that leaves the Rangers with limited roster options to help ease the burden of losing Blais. In the meantime Gerard Gallant has said that Barclay Goodrow will slide up next to Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider which is something that could make your stomach turn. It’s no offense whatsoever to Goodrow, who’s a good and useful player, but he’s not a guy who should be playing top six let alone top line minutes.
Any idea of Julien Gauthier replacing Blais on the top line should be dead on arrival. Gauthier is a player who teases you with what could be because of his potential but never can seem to put it all together. He also has harder hands of stone than Roberto Duran and that seemingly doesn’t seem possible.
Utilizing the returning Filip Chytil as a winger could be one possibility that makes sense. I’ve long said that Chytil’s game is better suited to thrive on the wing and an audition with 93-20 could be just what he needs to showcase that ability. It would also help remove any temptation the club has to play Goodrow on the top line. It could also give the Rangers a chance to solve their wing problem in house while also seeing exactly what they have in Chytil.
Lets face it, Chytil’s future in New York isn’t as a center and it’s high time that the club realizes it.
The next and last option for the Rangers would be to address their issue via trade. One name that’s been kicked around by multiple fans is Phil Kessel. Everyone knows the marriage between Kessel and the Coyotes is rapidly heading towards divorce and quite frankly he’s still one of the best snipers in the game. Not many players posses the kind of shooting ability that Kessel still has off the rush. Acquiring him and plugging him in with the Rangers could be the jumpstart that Kessel needs in this stage of his career after languishing the last couple of seasons in the desert.
His trade value right now is also at the lowest it has ever been considering the lack of interest last season in his bounce back year and this season’s all out disaster in the desert. The Rangers could possibly snag him from the Coyotes on the very cheap end which makes it more enticing. Kessel’s also in the last year of his current deal and he won’t be highly costly to acquire for the Rangers. It’s known that Bill Armstrong is interested in draft capital right now for the rebuilding Coyotes and a conditional second or third round and maybe a mid level prospect should be more than enough to get it done.
Blais’ injury currently leaves the Blueshirts with more questions than answers and with a team that has expectations of turning the corner out of a rebuild that’s something they can’t afford.
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