Well, I’ve gone to Target, eaten dinner, surfed around on the internets, and had some time to reflect further upon the Zherdev/Fritsche for Tyutin/Backman deal. And I still don’t like it much.
I’d said on here before that it would neither be shocking nor be the end of the world to see Zherdev traded this summer. He has talent to burn, but we all know there are a lot of question marks around him. And with some of the kids in the system like Voracek and Filatov seemingly having Zherdev-like talent without the Zherdev-like drama (yet), it was a fair gamble to trade away the enigmatic one in order to fill any of the glaring holes in the roster.
Which is what gets me, because Tyutin and Backman don’t seem to do that, at least based on their stats and what Ranger fans have to say about them. I’ll grant that Tyutin is still young-ish for a defenseman, so he may yet grow into a more two-way defenseman…but he’s only a year younger than Rusty Klesla, and I think we’ve just about given up hope that he’ll ever be a #1 blueliner. From what I can glean from Ranger fan opinion, many of them liked Tyutin okay, but see him as a second pairing guy at best. Seems to me the Jackets have a ton of second/third pairing caliber defensemen in the system…was adding another worth losing the second best offensive threat on the team, especially without a replacement immediately apparent (unless the expectation is that Voracek or Filatov will replace Zherdev…which seems risky, given the recent sad history with Brule).
As for Backman, Ranger fans seem glad to see the back of him. I should remember him from his time in St. Louis since we play them about 30,000 times a year, but I’m drawing a blank. Maybe not a terrible thing for a defensive defenseman, but still, color me underwhelmed.
And I haven’t even touched upon Fritsche…at some level, it’s worse to see him go than Zherdev. He was a third line grinder without a real strong offensive touch, and an unfortunate propensity to suffer freakish injuries. But I always liked the way he played — he never seemed to leave anything on the table, and played with a lot of heart on a team that all too often lacked that trait. And for someone who didn’t score very many goals, he seemed to have a knack for scoring the big goal at the right time. I always felt that Dan Fritsche was a player who wasn’t going to be a huge part of getting Columbus to the playoffs, but once we were there, we’d be glad to have a guy like him on the roster. In all likelihood he’ll get a taste of playoff hockey next spring in New York, so we’ll see if that plays out.
I do recognize that it’s only July 2, and there’s still time for Howson to fill in the gaps in the roster. I also recognize, as I’ve said again and again the past year, that undoing Doug MacLean’s handiwork wouldn’t be an overnight thing, and that we’re still in for a lot of growing pains. I want to put my trust in Howson, really I do. Right now I’m just feeling a little skeptical.