Did you ever listen to a band that put out one too many albums? Like, they just couldn’t quit while they were ahead (for me it was Helmet – “Betty” was great, “Aftertaste” was awful and anything after they reunited should not be mentioned).
This is my fear for Brendan Shanahan, the still-unsigned star destined for great things once he retires. Now, I’m not saying Shanahan is finished on the ice, but based on his comments recently to Larry Brooks in the New York Post, the winger needs to re-evaluate his worth to a team.
At this point, it sounds like that team can only be the Rangers. That’s where he wants to play and that’s who he wants to negotiate with. But if Shanahan wants to be a top-six forward who gets power play time and major minutes, this season isn’t going to work out for anyone involved.
There is one caveat: New York’s top-line wingers are projected to be Markus Naslund and Nikolai Zherdev, both of whom possess major disaster potential. Should such a scenario play out, the Rangers have a spot for Shanahan.
But dealing in the present, please note the Rangers are pressed up against the cap as it is. Forget any Mats Sundin-coming-Scott Gomez-leaving possibilities and just deal with the fact Shanahan is looking at a $1 million contract offer. Which is fine. As I said before, Shanahan has a lot of good hockey in him and brings important intangibles to a team.
Now here’s the rub: He’s only worthy of a third-line role right now. Traditionally, the Rangers are notorious for sitting on their prospects. However, the emergence of Nigel Dawes last season should prove to the team that if you let a young guy actually play during a game, he can contribute. Ryan Callahan idolizes Shanahan and could, ironically, replace him if he’s given the opportunity to grow. Lauri Korpikoski needs a legitimate shot and Petr Prucha is making $1.6 million in the final year of his deal, so he at least warrants a second look.
So, do you take away minutes from three of those kids and give them to a veteran whose points have taken double-digit dives the past two seasons?
If Shanahan is protective of his legacy in the NHL, he’ll have a chat with two guys in his age group who are doing it right: Sergei Fedorov in Washington and Chris Chelios in Detroit.
Fedorov knows the Caps are Alex Ovechkin’s team, but the veteran brought all his knowledge to the squad in a supporting role and now the Caps look scary. Chelios is doing the same in Detroit, working hard and accepting that he may not play every night, but knowing his contributions are valued.
A return to New York means Shanahan should be the mentor for a Callahan or Dawes (as I’m sure he has been for other players in the past). If the future Hall of Famer is willing to play 12 minutes a night and maybe get second-unit power play time, this can work out.
If he still wants to be the player he was in Detroit several years ago, it’s no good for anybody.
Ryan Kennedy is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey’s Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Thursdays, his column – The Straight Edge – every second Friday, and his feature, The Hot List appears Tuesdays.
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