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04-09-2010, 08:13 AM
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I think you have to put EC's situation into a little context. He started the season with the Ducks coming off major surgery. That, plus the trades, really played with his head and his confidence level. That's why he got waived by Anaheim.

Getting picked up by the Rangers was probably a shock -- he had said in the press that he was prepared for some time in the minors to get his game back -- and you can tell from that first interview he gave in NYC that he was really down on himself. Remember, he got waived twice by Anaheim this getting picked up was probably not in his game plan. He owes Prospal for that

In some ways that put even more pressure on him. In the AHL you can work on your game and your confidence without the same kind of scrutiny that he's had in NYC.

I think if you look at how he's progressed since he got the Rangers late last year, and especially how he's played in the last couple of months, then I think you have to fairly conclude that he's definitely on the road back to what people expected him to be when the Pens drafted him.

It has taken a while to get there, but his improvement has been steady and his contributions better. He's not all the way back I don't think, but he's playing a more aggressive game than he ever has, he's somewhat more defensively minded than he ever was (something he's admitted was never how he played before) and his skill set is undeniable. He and Gaborik obviously play well together and he's demonstrated similar chemistry with Props and Cally.

When he arrived Torts said "you don't get a top centre off the waiver wire". After the Feb 14th game he said the only other guy who could have scored the way EC did on that double-deke goal was Gaborik. Torts knows the skill level he has. That's why he called him (and some others) out in the locker room before the last game and told him he had to be better -- and EC responded within 21 seconds of the puck drop. He's also in the top ten in the league when it comes to the shoot-out -- not a skill the NYRs are very deep in.

Given where he was when he got to NYC and where he is now, the Rangers would be nuts not to keep him. He's not gonna be expensive -- a modest bump to show appreciation for the work he's put in -- and he's gonna work his butt off to stay in the line-up.

Is he the #1 centre? Probably not yet. Could he be? Maybe, but probably not. Could he be a solid #2 centre? Much more likely. As someone before said, he could be the Rangers' version of Peverley -- a waiver wire pick up that ends up surprising everybody.

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