Shanahan Deal Makes More Sense Than You Might Think

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The New York Sun

Nearly 10 years ago, the New York Rangers were on the verge of a trade that would have sent young Alexei Kovalev to the Hartford Whalers in exchange for Brendan Shanahan. The Whalers chose instead to deal Shanahan to Detroit, and over the next decade, he was one of Motown’s most important players, helping captain Steve Yzerman lead the Wings to three Stanley Cup championships.

Yesterday, the Blueshirts finally got their man, as Shanahan signed a oneyear, $4 million contract with the Rangers. At 37 years old, “Shanny” is no longer a dominant power forward, but as he proved last season, he can still be quite effective in the “new”NHL.Shanahan played in all 82 of the Wings’ games, scoring 40 goals and 41 assists while registering an impressive +29 rating.

With the Rangers, Shanahan can be expected to play on the first power play unit, where his booming right-handed shot should fit in perfectly. With Jaromir Jagr running the power play from the right wing boards, Shanahan will be in excellent position to convert Jagr’s laser-like passes into high-quality scoring chances. The threat of Shanahan’s shot will distract opposing penalty-killers, giving Jagr more time and space in which to execute.

Critics of the deal might charge that this is a case of the “same old Rangers” signing an over-the-hill veteran to a lucrative contract, but they would be wrong. By committing to Shanahan for only one year, the risks on this deal are not very significant. And given how productive the big left-winger was in 2005–06, his signing represents great value; in a world where Pavel Kubina signed a four-year, $20 million contract with Toronto, Shanahan might well turn out to be the free agent bargain of the summer.

Another important consideration when evaluating this deal is the Rangers’ organizational depth. The scouting department has done an excellent job of stockpiling high quality young defensemen and goaltenders, but the Blueshirts don’t have a single prospect in the system who could reasonably be expected to step in and provide what Shanahan can right now.

For a team that’s hoping to win before Jagr begins to fade, Shanahan is the perfect elixir. Acquiring him didn’t cost the Blueshirts anything in young talent, and his presence should help the team improve significantly in 2006–07. Not only will he provide a great bookend for Jagr on the power play, but he’s got the experience and mental toughness that the Rangers sorely lacked in their first-round ouster at the hands of the Devils.

General manager Glen Sather’s era on Broadway got off to an inauspicious beginning, but his maneuverings at the trade deadline in 2004 represented a significant turning point. In the time since, he has made one shrewd move after another. Put simply, Sather is finally living up to his advance billing, and resembles for the first time in 20 years the architect of the Edmonton Oilers’ dynasty.

Mr. Greenstein is the editor in chief of

The New York Sun

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