When the Rangers invited Ruslan Fedotenko to camp, many thought it would just be to put some pressure on the young kids, and that he would eventually be cut. However, Fedotenko has had a very strong camp, and played very well against the Devils on Saturday night, scoring the game-tying goal on the powerplay and adding another two assists. Fedotenko was clearly one of the Rangers better skaters on Saturday, as he forechecked, backchecked, and scored the way he is capable of. Remember, Fedotenko won coach John Tortorella a Stanley Cup with Tampa Bay, and has a very good shot, as shown on Saturday.
Fedotenko averages 15 goals and 35 points per season, and is only 31 years old. He may not be a long term answer for the Rangers, but he is looking to be an extremely low risk stop-gap for the Rangers, who desperately need scoring while the kids develop in Hartford, the CHL, and college. What intrigues me most about Fedotenko is that his goal on Saturday was scored from the right wing side. I personally don’t know too much about Fedotenko, but if he can play both wings, it makes him that much more valuable to the Rangers, who are very weak on the right side.
Fedotenko has outplayed Dale Weise, Dane Byers, and Mats Zuccarello-Aasen thus far, both in camp scrimmages and in the preseason, and has earned his right to at least continue his tryout. Fedotenko offers something to the Rangers that Byers does not; a scoring touch. Sure Byers is tough, but the Rangers are pretty stacked at the tough guy position with Derek Boogaard and Brandon Prust. Weise is just 22 years old, and is on the final year of his entry level deal. No harm is done by letting him play out one more year in Hartford, especially when the Rangers have some cap room to sign Fedotenko to a slightly more expensive contract (Weise would make $700k if playing in the NHL).
That leaves the competition between Fedotenko and MZA. MZA has shown a relentless forecheck, and has actually out-performed Fedotenko in this regard. However, MZA has yet to show what he can do offensively, save for a great forecheck that led to the Erik Christensen goal last night. MZA might benefit from a year in Hartford, getting acquainted to the physical style of the North American game, and being one of the first call ups should injuries arise.
Some may not like it, but Fedotenko would make the Rangers a better team. He gives the Rangers a bona-fide scoring threat on the second powerplay unit, and a consistent 15 goal guy who will bounce between the second and third lines. In a wide open Eastern Conference, a guaranteed 15 goal performance can be the difference between the seventh place and 10th place. With the second round of cuts looming, Fedotenko has earned his shot to participate in the final three preseason games, and maybe make a difference on the 2010-2011 New York Rangers.