The NHL season got under way yesterday in Finland, followed up by three games back here in North America. The Rangers too will be in action soon, visiting Buffalo in their season opener tomorrow.
As we reach the penultimate edition of Rangers Countdown, we take a look at a player who wasn’t on the team when we started the series: Ruslan Fedotenko
He’s won the cup twice, once with the Tampa Bay Lightning and again two seasons ago with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He put up his best season after the lockout in 2005-06, playing under head coach John Tortorella.
But for Ruslan Fedotenko, the Summer of 2010 was one of uncertainty. Coming off his worst year in the NHL, the 31 year old Ukrainian born winger found himself without a substantial contract offer, and relegated to accepting a try-out contract with the New York Rangers.
Seemingly reluctant at first, it appears now that the official delay on the announcement may simply have been confirmation of the terms that would be on offer, should the Rangers elect to give him a shot.
After leading the Blueshirts in scoring in the preseason with a goal and six assists, scoring in each of his five appearances, and forming a promising line with rookie Derek Stepan and Sean Avery, it was pretty much a no-brainer.
Going into 2010-11 on a one year $1M contract, the “Tank” will no doubt be hoping to avoid the same thing happening next off-season. A return to his usual 15-16 goals a season would likely be enough to earn him another offer from a team, if not the Rangers.
While he looked good in the practice games, that’ll mean nothing if he can’t produce early on in the season. With Tim Kennedy and Todd White still on the roster, and Chris Drury returning from in a couple of weeks, the pressure will remain on for him to perform.
Look for Fedotenko to respond to the pressure and have one of his better seasons of his career.
Team: Pittsburgh Penguins (NHL)
Stats: 11 goals, 19 assists and 50 penalty minutes in 80 games
Team: New York Rangers (NHL)
Stats: 18 goals, 22 assists and 50 penalty minutes in 82 games
Fedotenko is only the second Ukrainian born player to play for the Rangers, following up Nikolai Zherdev‘s one season back in 2008-09.