by Patrick Hoffman on 09/19/08 at 10:30 AM ET
As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, I am a New York Rangers fan. My dad has had season tickets with the team since the 1989-90 season and I’ve been lucky and privileged to attend over 130 games at the Garden in my life
With that being said, this blog won’t be complete unless I talk about the Blueshirts every once in while. With that in mind, I would like to look at the team’s new offensive additions for this upcoming season: Markus Naslund and Nikolai Zherdev.
Gone are the days of Jaromir Jagr, Martin Straka, Sean Avery and as of right now, Brendan Shanahan. When you hear that, I bet it’s hard to think that this team will be an offensive threat this season. If you’re a Ranger fan, it’s particularly worrisome considering that the team was ranked 25th in the league in goals scored last season.
However, it appears that dooms day is not on the horizon as they were able to upgrade their offense with the signing/acquisitions of Naslund and Zherdev (In a trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets). Couple that with the team’s solid youngsters and guys like Scott Gomez and Chris Drury and all of a sudden, you have a pretty formidable threat up front.
I believe that if the team uses him in the right way and with the right players, Naslund could crack 70 or 80 points this season, something he was accustomed to doing with the Vancouver Canucks from 2000-06. Yes, Naslund only put up 55 points last season but he was still able to score 25 goals on what is considered a defense-first team.
This could end up being a breakout here for Zherdev. Now in the spotlight and in a terrific hockey market, he finally has a chance to be put on a line with other guys that can make the plays offensively as Rangers’ head coach Tom Renney is thinking of putting him with Naslund and Gomez. If this line clicks, Zherdev could easily break the 30-goal and 60-point barriers. However, to do that, he will need to play hard every single night, something that he was not known for doing in Columbus.
Both Naslund and Zherdev are looking for a fresh start and while New York may be a pressure-packed place to play, it is also one of the best and could end up bringing out the best in both of them. Here’s hoping that I’m right!
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org.