I think NS was much better than Sather has shown to be here in NY.
You can try to minimize the selections of NS all you want. He did in 2 entry drafts what Sather hasn't been able to do in 13
as for the UFA signings, they were done with a specific purpose in mind.
We can go back and forth regarding the moves he made and you can continue to look at the names and I will look at the reasons.
NS recognized that the time had come to move the franchise in a different direction and acknowledged his intent ti doing that. Stating publically that teh contracts handed out were 1.) At the behest of Dolan and 2.) Contracts designed in length to term out when the new blood was set to take over.This is not revisionist history. This is exactly what happened. They had the highest payroll and missed the PO's for a 3rd straight year. Dolan was livid and fired NS for what he thought was going to be a better GM that could bring about different results.
More bad drafting, more bad UFA signings, more bad trades, more missed PO's and 4 coaching changes later....
Yep, it's not revisionist history. You did leave out the conflict between Smith and Schmuckler though. After the last game of the season in the spring of 1999, Schmuckler was interviewed and laid out his "needs" to compete. They included two forwards who could score, a checking centerman who could win draws, a backup goalie and defensive help. Look at who Smith signed and you'll see he gave Schmuckler everything he asked for. He also wanted to fire Schmuckler during the season (fall of 1999), but Dolan would not allow it.
We can argue over and over about the trades in 1994 (I especially think the Gartner trade was unnecessary) but they worked and the Rangers won it all. For that alone Neil Smith is OK in my book. Were mistakes made after that? Yep. But we should also remember that ownership was trying to sell the team and the Garden and wanted a product that could get them some extra profit out of it. To them, winning the Stanley Cup was just another marketing tool.
Neil Smith admitted he mortgaged the future to win the cup in 1994, he felt it was their only shot after a missed opportunity in 1992. He didn't want to trade Amonte but Keenan felt as if the team didn't have enough grit to withstand the playoff grind.
After '94 was where the wheels really fell off - Smith catered towards Messier and let him have far too much say in player personnel. He also made moves that he felt would help Mark win another cup rather than make decisions that were best for the long-term future of the team. The Zubov and Nedved for Robitaille and Samuelsson swap exemplified this mantra - Messier thought Zubov was soft for opting to have surgery instead of playing through a wrist injury, and Smith thought that Robitaille could be the piece that led to another cup.
Colin Campbell hated Zubov (and indeed, most Europeans and especially French-
Canadian players--thought they were all too soft) He is the main reason why he was traded.