Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Debate: Will Clowe actually help Rangers?
By Scott Burnside and Katie Strang
ESPN.com's Scott Burnside and ESPNNewYork.com's Katie Strang weigh the pros and cons of the deal that brings Ryane Clowe to the New York Rangers.
BURNSIDE: Katie, with all due respect to the newest New York Ranger, Ryane Clowe, has there ever been more attention paid at the trade deadline to a guy who has scored zero goals in a season? On a day that saw Jaromir Jagr become a Boston Bruin and Derek Roy become a Vancouver Canuck, it was still Clowe who seemed to trump all the others with his late-day trade from San Jose to the Rangers. Relatively speaking, the Rangers didn’t give up much -- a second-round pick, a third-round pick and a conditional second-round pick if he signs an extension with the Rangers or if the Rangers win two playoff rounds -- and yet they fended off interest from a host of other teams to nab the rugged Newfoundlander. What gives? Are we making too much of Clowe-mania or is he exactly what the struggling Rangers need to get back on the Stanley Cup arc many believed they would be on when the lockout ended?
STRANG: Given the names of those who have already moved in the days before the deadline, it does seem a bit bizarre that the Clowe sweepstakes has been among the most captivating storylines. But, there is a reason that multiple teams were clamoring for the 30-year-old winger. Granted, Clowe has yet to score a goal this season -- and with the Rangers ranking dead-last in the league with 2.26 goals per game, this trade, on its face, seems even more surprising -- but he is known as the type of player with intangibles that teams covet this time of year. He adds that sandpaper and snarl element to the game and will provide the Rangers with much-needed grit. The Blueshirts gave up a lot to land Rick Nash in a trade last summer, including Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov, and lost a few more of their versatile, physical forwards in the offseason when Brandon Prust and Ruslan Fedotenko signed elsewhere as free agents. Those were the type of glue guys who allowed the Rangers to establish and sustain the relentless, hard-nosed mentality that gave them success. This season that has been a glaring deficiency, and let's be honest, their results have reflected that.
BURNSIDE: During the lockout, I got a chance to talk with Clowe when he was working out and helping coach the San Francisco Bulls of the ECHL. He had moved back out to San Jose to work out before the start of training camp and then stayed because he loved it there so much. Do you think the transition from Western Conference to Eastern Conference and, more importantly, relatively low-key San Jose to the bright lights, big-city dynamics of Manhattan will be an issue for Clowe? You see the Rangers up close; for a team that has struggled so much offensively, is it possible that Clowe can be the catalyst to return to the black-and-blue style of hockey that served this team so well last season, and maybe take some of the pressure off offensive guys Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik, who have struggled so mightily this season? Seems counterintuitive that Clowe could provide that kind of spark, but the whole Ranger season has been more or less counterintuitive.
STRANG: Indeed, I think many people would've questioned my sanity had I predicted back in January that, even after the addition of Nash, the Rangers would be dead last in offense and fighting to hold onto a playoff spot. But that just goes to show you that how things look on paper can be awfully misleading (take one look at the Ottawa Senators' success this season for evidence) and maybe that's a relevant lesson in this acquisition. Clowe has apparently been pretty snakebitten so far this season, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him benefit from a change of scenery and turn out to be a vital player for the team in the postseason. His grittiness and versatility will make him a John Tortorella favorite, I imagine, and perhaps he becomes more than a rental for the Rangers. Though the team would have to do some maneuvering in moving salary out (hint, hint: Marian Gaborik), there will likely be an opportunity to re-sign Clowe if all goes well. I agree with you, Scotty, that Clowe cannot single-handedly change the complexion of the Rangers, but he might be a pretty shrewd complementary piece. The Rangers are still in the market for a right-handed defenseman, too, so perhaps they are not done yet.