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07-23-2011, 09:15 AM
  #1
Leslie Treff
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Thoughts on The Past Two Weeks in Rangers Hockey

Its been a busy couple of weeks in Rangers hockey, as the team fills in the pieces to become more competitive this season and prepare for a bright future. I took a couple of weeks away (look back at my last post to understand why), but I did keep up with what has gone on [...]

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07-23-2011, 09:47 AM
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GAGLine
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No offense Leslie, but I think you are way, way off base on Dubinsky. If both Kreider and Thomas develop into top 6 wingers in the next 2 to 3 years, what makes you think Dubinsky will be the odd man out? Gabby is coming off a disappointing season. The expectation is that he will bounce back playing next to Richards, but you never know what might happen, particularly given his injury history. And he makes 3.3 mil per year more than Dubi.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if Gabby isn't a Ranger 4 years from now.

Also, you have to consider that both Kreider and Thomas will have their ELCs end the same year that Dubinsky's contract ends. So even if they BOTH bypass him (unlikely), Dubi will be off the books by the time they need to get paid.

Having 7 players that can play in the top 6 isn't a bad thing, as long as you can fit them under the cap. Yes, the cap may go down next year, but we have money coming off the books and our RFAs aren't in line to get significant raises. If the cap does go down, there could be salary rollbacks and there will most certainly be compliance buyouts.

If anyone is likely to lose his job within the next few years, it's Girardi, considering all the defensive talent we have.

Dubinsky is a 2nd line winger who also takes draws, plays physical and is the best on the team in terms of puck possession. I'll take that at 4.2 for the next 4 years. And if both Kreider and Thomas (who is a RW btw) bypass him, then that's a good problem to have. But let's see if they can actually do that before we start worrying about it.

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07-23-2011, 09:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leslie Treff View Post
Its been a busy couple of weeks in Rangers hockey, as the team fills in the pieces to become more competitive this season and prepare for a bright future. I took a couple of weeks away (look back at my last post to understand why), but I did keep up with what has gone on [...]

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"what you see is a second to third line forward, who can play either center or wing. Given what the Rangers have coming, not to mention who will be selected in the 2012 and 2013 drafts (which have excellent talent and depth in them), "
Really Leslie? I mean, no offense but that's a little short-sighted no? I mean we are talking about the best forward on this Rangers team last season. A guy who earned the right to play top 6 minutes but seizing the opportunity he was given and making the most out of it. Before the inury last season he was on pace for a 70pts season. I think referring to him as a potential 3rd liner is a bit far off.

As for Kreider, Thomas, Hagelin etc. All good problems to have, but before any of these guys get slotted in over a Brandon Dubinsky they first need to make the team no. Not so certain any of those kids are at that level yet, nor is it even likely that they will crack the top 6 within the next two seasons. In three years IF one of them happens to beat out Dubinsky, then again...that would be a great problem to have no?

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07-23-2011, 10:00 AM
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Yeah like the others I don't think there's any way you can refer to him with "third line" anywhere near him. If you want to say you think he's a second liner period, and no matter what is not a first liner, that's fine. But saying he's anywhere remotely close to a third liner I just don't understand. Dubi's "inconsistency" stretches that so many on here like to talk about usually are based on results alone. He might not score sometimes but there are games where he doesn't register a point and is still the best player on the ice. He's not a sniper, we know that. You're not always going to bury shots. And when you set guys up you need them to bury theirs. This team has been slacking in that department for years now.

Also, I don't understand how Dubi being the odd man out is based on EVERY relevant prospect in our pool panning out. Thomas, Kreider, Hagelin, Fasth, etc. I mean ALL of them are going to work out?

I think that this deal with be zero issue for this organization. I think it's actually going to be a good deal all the way through for both sides.

To me the bigger question will be 4 years from now when he's up for a new contract. That will be interesting. Will Dubi have made enough strides to prove his worth again 4 years from now? Will he warrant a raise? Will the Rangers think he's worth it? That will be when it's intriguing to me.

Anyways, thanks for all you do and can't wait to read your stuff from Traverse City.

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07-23-2011, 10:01 AM
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Originally Posted by ruckus View Post
Yeah like the others I don't think there's any way you can refer to him with "third line" anywhere near him. If you want to say you think he's a second liner period, and no matter what is not a first liner, that's fine. But saying he's anywhere remotely close to a third liner I just don't understand. Dubi's "inconsistency" stretches that so many on here like to talk about usually are based on results alone. He might not score sometimes but there are games where he doesn't register a point and is still the best player on the ice. He's not a sniper, we know that. You're not always going to bury shots. And when you set guys up you need them to bury theirs. This team has been slacking in that department for years now.

Also, I don't understand how Dubi being the odd man out is based on EVERY relevant prospect in our pool panning out. Thomas, Kreider, Hagelin, Fasth, etc. I mean ALL of them are going to work out?

I think that this deal with be zero issue for this organization. I think it's actually going to be a good deal all the way through for both sides.

To me the bigger question will be 4 years from now when he's up for a new contract. That will be interesting. Will Dubi have made enough strides to prove his worth again 4 years from now? Will he warrant a raise? Will the Rangers think he's worth it? That will be when it's intriguing to me.

Anyways, thanks for all you do and can't wait to read your stuff from Traverse City.
Who the hell are you?


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07-23-2011, 10:04 AM
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Who the hell are you?

I've aged 15 years in the past nine months. Makes your life easier at least.

edit: I guess you're referring to the slight username change. I was assuming you were commenting about my friendly demeanor and kind words. Guilty conscience.


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07-23-2011, 10:14 AM
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Wow, really didn't expect the same misguided second/third liner narrative from a professional hockey writer.

So, once again: statistically, 54 points is low end 1st line / high end 2nd line production in this league. Period. Then you have all the other things Dubi does and you have a very important core player for this Rangers team.

The contract makes you uncomfortable because he may get passed by Kreider and co? Like that's not a GREAT problem to have? If we get at least one more Dubinsky out of that bunch, I would consider this team very lucky. And I promise you there are plenty of teams that would trade for Dubi and his (very fair) contract in a heartbeat.

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07-23-2011, 10:19 AM
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Originally Posted by ruckus View Post
I've aged 15 years in the past nine months. Makes your life easier at least.

edit: I guess you're referring to the slight username change. I was assuming you were commenting about my friendly demeanor and kind words. Guilty conscience.
I like both changes!

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07-23-2011, 10:21 AM
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Originally Posted by GAGLine View Post
No offense Leslie, but I think you are way, way off base on Dubinsky. If both Kreider and Thomas develop into top 6 wingers in the next 2 to 3 years, what makes you think Dubinsky will be the odd man out? Gabby is coming off a disappointing season. The expectation is that he will bounce back playing next to Richards, but you never know what might happen, particularly given his injury history. And he makes 3.3 mil per year more than Dubi.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if Gabby isn't a Ranger 4 years from now.

Also, you have to consider that both Kreider and Thomas will have their ELCs end the same year that Dubinsky's contract ends. So even if they BOTH bypass him (unlikely), Dubi will be off the books by the time they need to get paid.

Having 7 players that can play in the top 6 isn't a bad thing, as long as you can fit them under the cap. Yes, the cap may go down next year, but we have money coming off the books and our RFAs aren't in line to get significant raises. If the cap does go down, there could be salary rollbacks and there will most certainly be compliance buyouts.

If anyone is likely to lose his job within the next few years, it's Girardi, considering all the defensive talent we have.

Dubinsky is a 2nd line winger who also takes draws, plays physical and is the best on the team in terms of puck possession. I'll take that at 4.2 for the next 4 years. And if both Kreider and Thomas (who is a RW btw) bypass him, then that's a good problem to have. But let's see if they can actually do that before we start worrying about it.
Excellent post, GAG.

I get a lot of flak on here for being less positive on Dubinsky than most. However, I think it's a great deal.

1) First and foremost, at his production and his age, he has most certainly graduated from 3rd line into solid 2nd line status. Again, I think he's overrated on these boards, but I do think that there is a (small) chance that he can take a next step and become a Kesler like player.

2) I too am excited by the kids coming up through the system. But what's their realistic timeframe on contributing? Even if they're ready to join the team next year, they're likely playing on the 3rd line for one or two years before they're ready for top line duty. (And that's assuming that they do in fact reach the projection of top 6 winger.) So, you're talking about a maximum of 1 to 1 & 1/2 years where you have an extra 2nd line winger.

3) Since when is having an extra 2nd line winger under that contract a BAD thing?!?! That's one super valuable trade chip right there. Let's say he levels out at 55 or so points a game while contributing in all other phases of the game. On a contract with an AAV of $4.2MM at 27 years old, that is an EMINENTLY tradeable asset - for which you should receive a very solid return. Like a 1st round pick plus more type solid return.

I honestly don't see the downside.


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07-23-2011, 10:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Shadowrunner View Post
Wow, really didn't expect the same misguided second/third liner narrative from a professional hockey writer.

So, once again: statistically, 54 points is low end 1st line / high end 2nd line production in this league. Period. Then you have all the other things Dubi does and you have a very important core player for this Rangers team.

The contract makes you uncomfortable because he may get passed by Kreider and co? Like that's not a GREAT problem to have? If we get at least one more Dubinsky out of that bunch, I would consider this team very lucky. And I promise you there are plenty of teams that would trade for Dubi and his (very fair) contract in a heartbeat.

I think that the issue with Dubinsky is he is not the type of player you would expect to be a top six player, based on the style of game that he plays.

You look at those as the most talented, offensively skilled type of players.

There was little hype surrounding Dubi when he came up because I don't think anyone ever thought he could be this kind of player. The kid has far exceeded my expectations I know that much.

Dubi absolutely destroys people on the forecheck, controls the puck down low like a watered down Jagr, sees the ice very well (which IMO is sometimes to his detriment, because his offensive skills don't always allow him to execute what his eyes are seeing), is a more than average penalty killer, can play in front of the net, on the half boards, down low, wherever.

His type of game is something that you see from a great third line type player. Think Prust. I think that's why a lot of people feel like he's not a first line type of player. His game isn't typical of that role. It's more typical of a third/fourth line one. Yet, he manages to bring a Prust type of game to the top of the lineup and has better offensive skills and produced over 50 points last year.

I really don't think there's any reason he can't be right around a 60 point player each year for the length of this contract, if he's healthy. For everything else that he brings to the table his contract would be more than fair in that case and not one I believe we'd be looking to get out of anytime soon.

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07-23-2011, 10:38 AM
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Thank You Leslie for your article and efforts, always appreciate them, please keep up the good work.

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07-23-2011, 10:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Shadowrunner View Post
Wow, really didn't expect the same misguided second/third liner narrative from a professional hockey writer.

So, once again: statistically, 54 points is low end 1st line / high end 2nd line production in this league. Period. Then you have all the other things Dubi does and you have a very important core player for this Rangers team.

The contract makes you uncomfortable because he may get passed by Kreider and co? Like that's not a GREAT problem to have? If we get at least one more Dubinsky out of that bunch, I would consider this team very lucky. And I promise you there are plenty of teams that would trade for Dubi and his (very fair) contract in a heartbeat.
My thoughts exactly.

How on earth can you call someone a 2nd/3rd liner who scored 20 goals and 54 points? It makes no sense.

On top of it let's worry about moving Dubinsky and his contract WHEN/IF it becomes an issue. Obviously we all saw a lot of 1/2 line players get moved that had big contracts latley.

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07-23-2011, 10:46 AM
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I actually completely understand your Dubinsky worries. To me, he is indeed a 2nd/3rd liner and he is quite inconsistent. I don't see a whole lot more growth in his game from here on out. BUT... your logic about it being crowed with all the prospects coming is not a strong one, given that you can't assume that any of them will even make it. You can't make decisions on important players now, based on a power forward in the pipeline or even worse... one that hasn't even been drafted. I just don't think that any GM will get anywhere with that type of thinking, even if there is some truth to it.

One small other thing, RFA contracts are almost always NOT front-loaded. The point is that the player is making more money in their UFA years. Hypothetically the contract could be, but I don't recall every seeing one that was. Maybe you recall better than I.

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07-23-2011, 11:08 AM
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and now, queue the anti-Dubi contingent.

I absolutely agree with GAGLine's post.

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07-23-2011, 12:01 PM
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Leslie Treff
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I think we have to agree to disagree here. I still believe that Dubinsky is second to third line forward long term.

You can disagree with me, you can attack me personally, as folks did when I said in training camp three seasons ago that I did not know how Matt Gilroy would be ready defensively for the season.

It is my professional opinion that Dubinsky long term is still a tweener. We shall all see what happens over the next two to three years.

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07-23-2011, 01:07 PM
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He's not a 2nd/3rd line tweener, sorry. Third liners don't put up 50 points. Even if you think "what we see is what we get" and he doesn't get any better than that (and your reasons for that don't seem to make sense...he's 25 and developed in the CHL so he's done developing? Huh?) those are still 2nd line numbers for sure.

I also don't see what the big deal is or why there is any kind of problem with the signing even if you think Dubinsky isn't a long term "answer". Do you really think it'll be hard to trade Dubinsky further down the road if the Rangers feel they want to have other players take over? Why sign him to a short term deal and then lose him while banking on the idea that "oh some prospects will be better than him at some point"?

Sign him for 4 years, he's bar none their best LWer at the moment and will be for probably the length of his contract to be honest (considering prospect development time to actually reach the NHL, and then developing to be a better player than him at the NHL level), and if they want to they can move him if they think Kreider and Thomas and blah blah blah will end up as better players than him.

And like someone else said, 4 years from now the team could look a fair bit different...Gaborik could be gone, who knows who else might have gotten traded, which prospects have busted...

Much to do about nothing IMO

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07-23-2011, 01:48 PM
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I think there is a disgusting amount of focus on what line a player "belongs on". You can have 3 "first line players" that don't produce as well as the Rangers' second line did this past year.

Personally, I think chemistry is more important than caliber, and Dubi has shown outstanding chemistry with almost every forward he's played with. That adaptability, in addition to the fact that his puck possession drops jaws, is one of the reasons he's a valued forward in the league. Throw him on the PP, the PK, he'll do the job. Top line next to Gaborik or have him forechecking with Prust and Fedetanko, and he looks right at home either way.

He had a break out season with Artie and Cally, and there's no reason to think that won't improve. Personally I'm a fan of trying out Wolski on the richards/gaborik line, because his aggressive scoring type of play could compliment Richards' outstanding puck distribution. The only reason I could see for putting Dubi on that line is because of how much better a back checker Brandon is than Wolski.

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07-23-2011, 03:17 PM
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The "first liner" debate is a fools argument, IMO. To me, you have guys that are elite and are the catalyst on their line, but beyond that you're dealing with role players and complementary players.

Chris Drury was never a first line forward, but he played the game that make him a great fit with guys like Peter Forsberg and Joe Sakic. Tomas Holmstrom isn't a elite player, but he filled a key role with Zetterberg and Datsyuk on the top line. You can find dozens of examples of players like this, and I think that's exactly what you're going to get with Dubinsky. He's not an elite player, or a guy who will shoulder the load on a scoring line, but he's the perfect fit on the wing with a couple of highly skilled forwards like Richards and Gaborik.

I think Kreider, Fasth, and Thomas all have the potential to be high end scoring forwards, and so I think Leslie is right that Dubinsky could be the odd man out if all three reach their potential -- however unlikely that may be. If Kreider becomes a 30-30 guy, and the choice is between him and Dubinsky, it's a very easy choice. Same can be said for Thomas, Fasth, Yogan, Miller, etc, etc, etc.

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07-23-2011, 03:41 PM
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The average third liner (aka someone who was 181-270 in total points) scored 20-33 points last season. Let's assume that the people at the bottom are guys who were injured and missed a bunch of games, that still means that the average third liner scores 25-35 points in a full season. Dubi scored double that, and he's an all-around player so you can't say that he's just a useless one-dimensional scorer who floats around the red line. Dubi has the overall game of a third liner plus he scores twice as many points.

Dubi is a great two-way player who was tied for #68 in the league in scoring. Considering that there are 90 first liners (30 times times 3 first liners each), I think a case can be made that he's a bottom-level first line player. He's not an elite player, but I think he can be the third-best forward on most playoff teams and maybe the 4th best forward on most Cup contenders.


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07-23-2011, 04:02 PM
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Dubinsky is a good liner right now at 25. He probably has 65-75 point potential. He's now signed until the age of 29 where he'll likely get his big pay day. If Kreider, Thomas, Hagelin, Yogan and whoever do actually pan out, then we'll worry about Dubinsky then. A 4 year contract for a 25 year old second liner (borderline first) for 4.2 Million is not going to cripple the Rangers cap-wise.

Also as a side-note I'm glad MSG will finally televise the Traverse City tournament.

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07-23-2011, 04:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Leslie Treff View Post
I think we have to agree to disagree here. I still believe that Dubinsky is second to third line forward long term.

You can disagree with me, you can attack me personally, as folks did when I said in training camp three seasons ago that I did not know how Matt Gilroy would be ready defensively for the season.

It is my professional opinion that Dubinsky long term is still a tweener. We shall all see what happens over the next two to three years.

Can you name a single other third liner who plays an all-around game and scored over 50 points? I mean last year. Obviously in 80s and even 90s you had more scoring, so there were a few examples of top-end third liners like knocking in 40-50 points, but what about last year?

Other players scoring about the same as Dubi who play a somewhat similar two-way game (as opposed to one-dimensional scorers) are Morrow, Whitney, Jokinen, Stewart and Horton. I think all of them are regarded as good quality second liners on a Cup contender, and more than that on lesser teams.

The only exceptions are guys like PAP who in no way could be compared to Dubi because if PAP couldn't score, he would be in the ECHL or even the CHL, whereas even if Dubi had no offensive ability at all, he would still be a quality NHL role player.

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07-23-2011, 04:23 PM
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The average third liner (aka someone who was 181-270 in total points) scored 20-33 points last season. Let's assume that the people at the bottom are guys who were injured and missed a bunch of games, that still means that the average third liner scores 25-35 points in a full season. Dubi scored double that, and he's an all-around player so you can't say that he's just a useless one-dimensional scorer who floats around the red line. Dubi has the overall game of a third liner plus he scores twice as many points.

Dubi is a great two-way player who was tied for #68 in the league in scoring. Considering that there are 90 first liners (30 times times 3 first liners each), I think a case can be made that he's a bottom-level first line player. He's not an elite player, but I think he can be the third-best forward on most playoff teams and maybe the 4th best forward on most Cup contenders.
How do you compare guys that actually got 3rd line ice time to a guy that got the most ice time of all forwards on his team? As we've seen with guys like Dom Moore and PAP, if bad teams need to give 2nd-3rd liners 1st line ice team those players will usually put up around 50 points. When people say he's a 2nd-3rd liner, I think they mean on teams where he'd play in his actual role.

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07-23-2011, 04:28 PM
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Jaromir Jagr
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I actually agree with Leslie in the sense that I'm not completely sold on Dubinsky. Dubi needed a lot of maturity when he first came to the Rangers and I still believe he has a while to go. It just seems like more of a game to him while some others believe it's a way of life. I'm not saying Dubinsky doesn't take it seriously, and no I'm not in the guys head, but it seems like he has some real maturing to do still.

The reason Dubinsky and Callahan aren't comparable in the sense of value is because Callahan brings it every night and shows us that he brings it every night. Fans appreciate that more than anything. Topple in the fact that Cally's last season showed us he has real world potential in surpassing Dubi in the point category and you'll have no real reason to compare the two if that happens.

I like Dubi as a player, but I must admit I'm inclined to see what we could get back for him in the future if things haven't patched up with his extreme consistency issues.

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07-23-2011, 04:32 PM
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How do you compare guys that actually got 3rd line ice time to a guy that got the most ice time of all forwards on his team? As we've seen with guys like Dom Moore and PAP, if bad teams need to give 2nd-3rd liners 1st line ice team those players will usually put up around 50 points. When people say he's a 2nd-3rd liner, I think they mean on teams where he'd play in his actual role.

But the Rangers were a playoff team, barely, but they did make it. They were #15 in the league in points. That makes them the average team in the league. On top of that, he didn't really get first line minutes the whole year. For a large part of the season, he played on the second line with Anisimov and Callahan, or some other guys not named Gaborik.

There's no way you can compare him to PAP.

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07-23-2011, 04:36 PM
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But the Rangers were a playoff team, barely, but they did make it. They were #15 in the league in points. That makes them the average team in the league. On top of that, he didn't really get first line minutes the whole year. For a large part of the season, he played on the second line with Anisimov and Callahan, or some other guys not named Gaborik.

There's no way you can compare him to PAP.
It doesn't matter what "line" fans decided to call number 1, 2, 3 or 4. Or who he played with.

Dubi averaged 20:13 a game, 1st on the Rangers forwards and 18th highest among all NHL forwards. That's "1st line" minutes.

Jaromir Jagr is offline   Reply With Quote
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