On paper, Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards should compliment each other like milk and cookies, chips and dip, and Islanders and 'suck'.
Those who truly know the game of hockey and have played the game, know that Gaborik and Richards are two of the best in the world at their craft. If you recall, Gaborik netted over 40 goals when he was healthy and playing with scrubs such as Erik Christensen and Vinny Prospal. Now, don't get mad at me when I call them scrubs, because in the grand scheme of the NHL, that is exactly what they are.
As a diehard Ranger fan, I can admit that Brad Richards is probably the most gifted NYR outside Lundqvist and maybe the late great Josef Balej (I kid), to play on the current squad.
For the first time in his pro career, Gaborik will be playing with a stud center who has fantastic vision and lethal offensive skill. Of course he's excited, as every Ranger fan should be. The new tandem will be tough for even the best defensmen in the game to stop, not to mention Dubi and Cally playing against mid-level d-men who will have more space to create offense. Our powerplay should vastly improve as a result of Richards' sheer presence on the ice, let alone his insane ability to create scoring chances from the blue line. If nothing else, Richards will draw attention to himself, alleviating some of that pressure off our other skilled guys (Wolski, Cally, Dubi, Boyle, Feds, Avery, etc).
Brad "Richie" Richards has always excelled when playing with a highly skilled winger such as Marty St. Louis in Tampa and Louis Eriksson in Dallas. I would put Gaborik's overall skill-set, when playing with the right players, right up there with St. Louis and on another level than Eriksson. This is one of the reasons why myself and you, the reader, should be frolicking around 42nd street overjoyed with emotion. Barring injury, Richards will be playing with a guy who has the potential to be the best winger he's ever skated with, and vice versa. Gaborik has never played with someone dishing him the puck who is as talented as Richards.
For the first time in years, our New York Rangers will have two scoring lines!! (Pardon my exclamations, but I am uber excited). Fedotenko, Avery or Wolski can fit on the top line, with each of them bringing a little something different with their individual talents.
If the NYR are playing Philadelphia, Avery should be on that line. If the NYR are playing Pittsburgh, Fedotenko should be up there to help balance the talent around. And until Wolski proves to the team that he won't mesh well with the top line pressure, which will happen this season, he should get a few looks up there before Torts begs Sather to get rid of him and his enormous cap hit.
All of this and more leads me to believe that no matter how you draw it up, or who's playing where, the New York Rangers will have balanced scoring, improved special teams (Richards, Rupp, NO DRURY!), and a better overall makeup because of the terrific off season moves. Don't be mistaken; Glen Sather did a tremendous job this summer, one of the best he's done in years, and according to Dubinsky's recent statements upon signing his 4 year deal, "We (NYR) will be contenders in the East this year". Way to stay optimistic Dubi; now imagine a lineup like this and tell me your not excited:
Spares: Christensen, Zucarrello, Thomas, Weise.