Glen Sather, Drafter Extraordinaire

The New York Times has an article in today’s paper about Glen Sather and the homegrown nature of this incarnation of the Rangers.

The starkest bit of information in here (to me, at least) is just how successful the Rangers drafts have been since Sather took over.  Here’s the money quote:

After the lockout season of 2004-5, a new collective bargaining agreement with a salary cap prompted many teams to place a renewed emphasis on player development. In the subsequent drafts, the core of young players on this season’s Rangers roster joined the organization. Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky were selected in 2004, Staal and Michael Sauer in 2005. Artem Anisimov followed in 2006, Carl Hagelin in 2007, and Michael Del Zotto and Stepan in 2008. (Goalie Henrik Lundqvist, the franchise player who is only 29 years old, was picked in the seventh round in 2000, Sather’s first draft as general manager in New York.)

Whatever Sather does at the draft, it works.  The article doesn’t mention pre-lockout drafts, because the focus on those teams was just how stocked they were with high priced player who stunk.  However, look at some of the names from his 2000 through 2003 draft classes:  Dominic Moore (very solid career with a handful of teams), Dan Blackburn (promising career ended by a freak injury), Fedor Tyutin (solid 2nd or 3rd line D-man), Marek Zdilcky (big piece in Minnesota), Petr Prucha (not what he was projected to be, but again, solid), and Corey Potter (who’s finally getting a chance to play and just got the extension in Edmonton) .  The bottom line is that these are pieces that are working in other settings, whether they didn’t work here or were traded too early.  The guy has a method to get really good talent into system.

It’s not all simply drafting talent, of course.  If it were that easy, bad teams would get better very quickly.  Some of it is luck, picking the right pieces to keep vs. who you wind up trading away.  Injuries play a big part as well.  You simply never know who’s going to get hurt.  All that said, I think you’d be hard pressed to find another organization that’s churned out this many homegrown pieces.  It’s really, really difficult.  Sather’s problem has always been a penchant for handing out shitty contracts or gambling on the wrong free agents or trading for aging pieces with nothing left in the tank.  It seems he’s finally gotten a couple of winners in the door, hungry guys willing to buy into the system.  A few savvy trades don’t hurt either (read: Gomez to Montreal)

Obviously, Sather hasn’t pulled all the right levers or made all the right moves.  There’s a reason people were periodically calling for his head for the last 9 years.  “Fire Sather” is such an awesome phrase that it might be my new band.  But the commitment to the youth movement here is heartening, particularly if the players being drafted turn out to be so good at the top level.

Anyway, the article is a good read.

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