The Hockey Suit and I occasionally disagree. We’re both pretty opinionated so this won’t come as a shock to anyone! However there’s one thing that we certainly disagree on and that’s the fact that apparently a Ranger won’t come close to 100 points this coming season. Some may notice that I’m a glass half full kind of guy. They won’t get two 100 point guys in one year (very rare) but the Rangers have two players that CAN reach the magical number.
Brad Richards has come close twice before (career high of 91 points set twice) and this season he may have his strongest supporting cast. I am fully aware that one of his previous supporting casts has, with him at the center, won the Cup but that Tampa Bay side may have been the most top heavy club to have ever won the cup. This Rangers side should be blessed with depth and depending on your point of view that may help or hinder a player reaching a lofty mark such as 100 points.
Richards isn’t alone in NY as an elite scorer nor is he the focus of this post. I truly believe Marian Gaborik has a chance at 100 points. Of course this all comes with the usual words of caution as is customary with Gaborik. A lot of people are wondering if Gaborik can/will have a comeback season after last year’s ugly year. NHL.com recently wrote about him and Mike at Bleeding All Blue discussed it too. I’m not alone here. What I’m doing is taking it one step further.
Marian Gaborik needs to stay healthy; he needs to go to the dangerous areas of the ice (aka not the periphery), he must be willing to work hard and above all must be willing to get his shot off at every opportunity. His shot is lethal and he has often seemingly forgotten that. Entering this season Gaborik has never benefited from such an elite center as Brad Richards. He has never played on a team that (for now, on paper) promises to be as deep and with as much upside as the Rangers could be. In my opinion if Gaborik is healthy he will have a career year. If he has a career year he’s automatically close to 100 points.
A key note regarding my use of the term periphery; one thing Suit has himself brought up (correctly) is that last season Gaborik carried the puck far too much. It caused him to be forced wide and also meant he was unable to get in position to unleash his shot. He was forced to the periphery because of the absence of a playmaker, a man to garner attention and who has the ability to get Gaborik the puck regardless. The Rangers certainly have that man in Richards now.
Gaborik can score in bunches. He can score heavily, consistently and we’ve seen him fill the net for both the Rangers and the Wild. Last year he feasted on a handful of teams while in 09-10 – during Gaborik’s great debut year on Broadway – the Slovak went on scoring binges. During a late November stretch he grabbed 6 goals in 4 games and had many similar patches throughout the season but most importantly he never had a period where he went more than 5 games without a goal. Consistent stuff.
Gaborik when healthy has always been consistent without elite support. In 09-10 Gaborik didn’t have a Brad Richards type giving him the puck and considering the left wing spot this year could be Brandon Dubinsky, he didn’t have a player as developed as Dubinsky will be this coming season either; another player taking attention away from Gaborik allowing extra space on the ice. Dubinsky on the left? It makes for an excellent top line.
I am fully aware that reaching 100 points is an elite level. Not many players do it. Yet, let’s not talk our star winger down too much shall we? Not many players in the entire league have Gaborik’s shot or his skating ability. It all comes down to health and how the Rangers start the year during a tricky stretches of travel. 100 points is well within reach for a player of Gaborik’s quality. Here’s hoping the Suit is wrong and Gaborik gets the milestone. Just some food for thought on a quiet Saturday.