What Makes Slats Such a Keen Trader
Glen Sather: the man, the myth, the legend. Okay, that’s not exactly how Rangers fans feel about him. After all, he has nearly crippled us with his careless off-season spending sprees on underachieving veterans thus prohibiting us from actually acquiring useful players and causing us to treat our own free agents in the type of miserly fashion Ebenezer Scrooge would have appreciated. But somehow he has exhibited a tremendous knack for fleecing rival GM’s in the trade market.
First Slats righted the wrong of pretending speedy Center Scott Gomez was actually a legitimate super star. He was able to shed the remaining 5 years of a $7.35 million annual cap hit deal to Montreal. In return we pried young defensemen Ryan McDonagh and Pavel Valentenko from Montreal plus gained the necessary cap room to sign Marian Gaborik.
Then, last year he dealt the disappointing Chris Higgins and Ales Kotalik to Calgary for Olli Jokinen and the unheralded Brandon Prust. (Disclaimer: Jokinen was pretty useless for us too but he went away as a free agent at the end of the 2009 – 2010 season and that’s a plus). Prust,meanwhile, has proven to be a very valuable piece of this Rangers team.
Now Slats has rid himself of another stifling contract by moving D Michal Rozsival to Phoenix for underachieving but skilled and young F Wojtek Wolski. The exchange frees up another $1.2 million in cap space and adds more youth and skill to the roster. Rozsival was probably unfairly criticized in NY to a point by virtue of his enormous cap hit but he was still only a decent blue liner.
I just can’t get how someone who wades into the UFA pool every summer and throws cash around like a drunken sailor at a strip club can be so sly in the trading game. It just doesn’t make sense. It’s almost as if Slats has dual personalities.
I wasn’t content to sit here and wonder what the truth is; I went out and did something about it. You’d actually be surprised how easy it is to gain access to privileged information; even from the bowels of a secretive NHL organization. A box of moderately priced stogies, a bottle of 3 year old scotch and a few other odds and ends secured me copies of the actual transcripts from the phone conversations Glen Sather had with his rival GM’s leading up to the outstanding deals I listed above.
The following gives tremendous insight into Glen Sather and the secret power he seems to wield over rival GM’s. Trust me when I tell you, this is some great stuff.
It’s a late evening in June of 2009 and Glen Sather sits, alone, at his desk sipping on a tumbler of 12 year old, double malted scotch and toking on a fat Cuban cigar. Sather appears to be sifting through scouting reports but in reality he’s just reading the comics when the phone rings.
Slats: This is the NHL’s smartest GM, who has the pleasure of speaking to me?
Bob Gainey (then Montreal GM): Glen, it’s Bob Gainey, how you doing?
Slats: Gaines, I am amazing, just amazing. We’re just hours away from my favorite time of the year. I feel like a little kid on Christmas Eve picking out the gifts I want to open first. How about you my old friend?
Gainey: Well Slats, I’m actually in a bind and I was hoping maybe we could help each other out. I desperately need a front line Center but I just don’t think I’m going to get one in this market. Maybe we can work a deal.
Slats: You have someone in mind, Bob? I mean I do have that kid Dubinsky and he’s a RFA. My guess is he’s going to be totally unreasonable with me. There’s no way I’m giving someyoung, punk kid who hasn’t really proven himself more than $1 million, $1.5 million tops. You interested in Dubinsky?
Gainey: No, Glen. Actually I have my eye on another player. Would you be willing to discuss Scott Gomez?
Slats: Whoa, whoa. Gomer?!?! No way my friend. He’s an absolute stud. You don’t know how difficult it was to get a premium young player in his prime. Why would I want to move him now?
Gainey: Well, it didn’t seem Gomez meshed all that well in coach Tortorella’s system and it being free agency eve, I thought you might be looking to move some cap space so you have some flexibility heading into tomorrow.
Slats: Well, me and my staff have already finalized our plans for free agency but I suppose I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t at least listen.
Slats can be heard shuffling some papers around on his desk.
Slats: Now where the hell did I put those reports on Montreal? Oh, here they are. Now let’s see, Zednik, he’s a nice player. Quintal, wow, I wouldn’t mind him. Sundstrom….that name rings a bell. Whoa! Doug Gilmour?!?!?!? Why in the world are you looking for a front line Center when you already have one like “Killer?”
Gainey: Glen, Glen, hold it. You must be looking at reports from 5 or 6 years ago. Gilmour is long retired. I don’t even have any of those players anymore.
Slats: What, wait a minute! You’re right; how’d that old report sneak in there? Well, maybe we should just start with what you’re willing to give me for Gomer.
Gainey: Well, we have a kid we drafted in the first round a couple years ago, a defenseman by the name of Ryan McDonagh. Would that qualify as a starting point?
Slats: Well Bob, no not really. I don’t like dealing for young, talented players. I prefer underachieving vets. I’m looking at your team and some names that are popping out at me are: Alexei Kovalev (what a player); Mike Komisarek (now he’s a physical force!); and Chris Higgins.
Gainey: Uh, Slats, Kovalev and Komisarek are both UFA’s. Higgins, well I suppose. He’s a nice player but he just couldn’t get the puck in the ocean from the sea shore last year. You sure you’re interested in him?
Slats: Oh absolutely!! He’s exactly my kind of player!! You know, we could really use a legitimate enforcer. How about Georges Laraque? You willing to package him too?
It was at this moment that Rangers assistant GM Jim Schoenfeld, who had been listening in on the other line, rushed into his bosses’ office followed closely by a couple of interns. He quickly orders the interns to restrain Slats while he takes the phone from the Rangers President and GM.
Schoenfeld: Gaines, it’s me Schoeny. How are you? Slats had to…uh, he had to…..he had a restroom emergency.
At that moment Sather tries to shout out but a quick movement from Schoenfeld and one of the interns covers Slats’ mouth with his hand.
Gainey: Oh, Schoeny, long time no see. How’s the family?
Schoenfeld: Great, great, thanks for asking. I was here in the office with Glen while you were talking turkey and uh, I’d like to talk a little more about McDonagh.
Gainey: Yeah, we like him and all but we’re really not sure if we can sign him. He’s got a strong commitment to Wisconsin and…I don’t know. I’d rather hedge my bets and get something for him while I can.
Schoenfeld: Yeah, we’ve received some positive reports from our scouting staff too. He’s a signability issue, huh?
Gainey: Well, we’re not convinced we can get him under contract.
Schoenfeld: Hmm, if that’s the case then we might need to insist on another asset.
Gainey: Yeah, I can see your point. Well, we have another young defenseman that left our organization to go back to Russia. Valentenko.
Schoenfeld paws through the amateur scouting reports until he finds Valentenko’s.
Schoenfeld: Yes, yes we might be interested.
Just then, Sather bites down hard on the intern’s finger, forcing the youngster to relax his grip over Slats’ mouth. Before the other intern could move in to subdue Sather he yells out loud enough for Gainey to hear him.
Slats: We want Higgins, dammit! We want Higgins!!!!!
Gainey: Oh, Glen is back. Is he going to get back on the phone?
Schoenfeld reaches across Sather’s desk grabbing a stapler and cracks Slats in the forehead.
Schoenfeld: Umm, no. Glen’s attending to something else right now. Besides, he and I are on the same page here and it sounds like we have the makings of a deal.
Gainey: Yeah, I think we do. McDonagh, Valentenko and Higgins for Gomer. We also want a couple of other guys. No one too high on your list but guys that can fill roles in our organization. Pyatt and Busto.
Schoenfeld: Sure, sure Gaines. No problem. Why don’t you email me the paperwork and we’ll review it. If everything looks good we’ll send it back to you for you to sign before we phone it in to the league.
So, that’s the behind the scenes look at the makings of the Gomez to Montreal deal. Maybe Sather doesn’t get the credit for the Gomez deal but he must have played the key role in snaking Sutter and getting Prust, right? Let’s find out.
It’s an early March afternoon and the New York Rangers are struggling to keep pace in the competitive Eastern Conference. Marian Gaborik, whom Sather signed the day after the Gomez deal and using the cap space the trade created, is the only consistent offensive threat. Sather sits in his office with his ever-present cigar. He should be trying to figure out how to fix the Rangers scoring problems but instead he’s imagining himself at his favorite hunting spot.
On the other side of the continent, Calgary Flames GM Darryl Sutter sits in his office staring out the window with a troubled expression on his face. He thought he had a talented team but the Flames are on the outside looking in for a playoff spot in the challenging Western Conference.
He had signed marquee free agent defenseman Jay Bouwmeester hoping he would give the Flames one of the best defenses in the NHL. With stars like Jarome Iginla, Dion Phaneuf and Miika Kiprusoff already on the team, it didn’t seem like an outlandish thought.
Things haven’t worked out well though and Sutter is feeling the need to blow things up. He already felt compelled to move Phaneuf to Toronto for complimentary pieces but his work wasn’t done yet. Sutter reaches for the phone and dials up the New York Rangers.
Sather: This is the legend speaking. How can I show you how brilliant I am?
Sutter: Slats, it’s me Darryl. Hey, the deadline’s coming up but we want to be proactive and are looking to get something done early. I’m not done reshaping my roster. I know you guys have been hunting around for an offensive Centerman. Look, we have Olli Jokinen here and he’s just not fitting in real well. Would you be interested?
Sather: Would I ever!!!!! Say, this isn’t a joke is it? Joke, Jokinen, get it? Ha, ha, ha?
Sutter: Yeah, that’s funny, Glen. No, I’m serious. We’re willing to move Jokinen.
Sather: Wow! If I’d had any idea Jokinen would be available I would have called you a long time ago. What are you looking to get back?
Sutter: Look, I’m not looking to break the bank or anything but I need to get some players who can help me this year. I saw how much Kotalik helped your PP early this season; is he in play?
Slats: Well, I wouldn’t ordinarily listen on Kotalik but for Jokinen, I might.
Sutter: We don’t have much cap space and I know you don’t have a lot either so a Jokinen for Kotalik deal won’t work. How about you throw in Higgins too to even out the money better?
Slats: Easy now! I sacrificed my favorite Rangers acquisition for Higgins just last June. I don’t think I want to move him. But…..Jokinen……..
Sutter: Yeah, well we’re almost there but we need to send a small contract back just to keep us in compliance.
Slats: Yeah, whatever, I don’t care. Jokinen………..
Sutter: We have a guy we originally traded to Phoenix for Joker but reacquired. His name is Prust. He’s a depth guy; probably more of an AHL guy but it serves to make the monies work. What do you say Slats?
And that’s how Olli Jokinen and, more importantly, Brandon Prust became Rangers on March 4th of 2010. Now we move to Sather’s most recent con job; his trade of Michal Rozsival to Phoenix for something potentially useful.
Don Maloney has held one of the most difficult jobs in all of hockey. He’s been the GM of a franchise the NHL had to rescue from ownership hell and has limited resources with which to build a winning team. Surprisingly, Maloney was able to ice a playoff team last season but the 2010 offseason was none to kind to the Coyotes.
Phoenix lost key defenseman Zbynek Michalek and scoring center Matthew Lombardi to free agency. Maloney and head coach Dave Tippett have done their best to keep the team competitive but 2010 trade deadline pickup Wojtek Wolski has not lived up to his play of a year ago. Plus Maloney never adequately replaced Michalek on the blue line. This prompts Maloney to lob a call to his former boss in NYC.
Slats: This is hockey’s most innovative GM. Care to hear how it was all my doing to build my team through the draft and find out more about my best draft picks?
Maloney: Glen, this is Donnie. How you been?
Slats: I am indulging in my own greatness. What can I do for you?
Maloney: Well Glen, I think we might be able to do something for each other.
Slats: What’s that, Dave? I was patting myself on the back and the phone slipped from my ear for a second.
Maloney: No, Glen, this is Don Maloney, not Dave. Dave does commentary work on MSG. I’m the GM of the Coyotes and I used to be your assistant.
Slats: The Coyotes? Is that some ECHL team or something?
Maloney: No, dammit. The Phoenix Coyotes. Wayne Freaking Gretzky used to be a part owner and was the head coach here.
Slats: I know Gretz but I don’t know what the hell the Coyotes are.
Maloney: Oh for crying out loud. We used to be the Winnipeg Jets but we moved to Phoenix back in the 1990’s.
Slats: Oh, yeah. I remember now. The league moved you poor guys out to the middle of nowhere. Ha, ha, ha.
Maloney: Oh boy. Actually Phoenix is a great sports town and a great city. I know we can really get the fans excited about this team again. That’s actually why I’m calling you. We made the playoffs last year and new ownership is in place. If we can earn another postseason berth we can build some momentum.
Slats: Huh, oh yeah. Look Dave, I’m kinda busy here. I’m reviewing some of my favorite Far Side cartoons. Ha, ha, ha; that one’s priceless.
Maloney: Look Glen I am willing to take Rozsival’s contract off your hands.
Again and fortunately for the Rangers, Schoenfeld crashes Sather’s party.
Schoenfeld: Glen, Mess wants you to come by his office. He’s with Gravey and their talking about the old Oilers.
Slats: Ooh!!! I built that team!! How dare they talk about my past glories without me!!! Here, talk to Joe Micheletti for me.
Schoenfeld: Hey Donnie, how’s the desert treating you?
Maloney: Not too bad, not too bad. I’ll be doing better if we can get into a comfortable playoff spot.
Schoenfeld: Tell me about it. Hey, that Western Conference is a real mine field this year.
Maloney: Yeah, it’s a meat grinder for sure. Listen. We have some real interest in Rozsi. The club misses what Michalek brought to this team and I think Rozsival can help. I know the guy well from my time there.
Schoenfeld: Yeah, he doesn’t always get a fair shake with the fans but Rozsi is a real pro. What are you offering up?
Maloney: Well, I know you guys could use an offensive boost and all with the losses of Vinny, Cally and now Frolov. How about Wolski? He really played well down the stretch last year but he just doesn’t seem to fit in with Dave Tippett’s system. He’s been a healthy scratch a few times but man, the guy really has skill.
Schoenfeld: Yeah, we know the guy. In fact we’ve talked about him internally. We thought you did well to get him from Colorado last March.
Maloney: So you guys have interest?
Schoenfeld: Well sure. Let’s see, he is under contract next year too with a cap hit of $3.8 million. The money works for us. You’re willing to take on the extra cap hit?
Maloney: Oh yeah. His salary drops off to $3 million next season so even though his cap hit is higher, Rozsi’s actual salary is lower than Wolski’s.
Schoenfeld: Straight up then? Rozsi for Woski?
Maloney: Yeah, I can draw it up if you’d like.
Schoenfeld: Go ahead; you’ve got yourself a deal!
Well, there you have it. Maybe Schoenfeld and/or others need to take a similar tact on July 1st. He’d save us fans a ton of headaches.
(Disclaimer: This post is 100% fictional and in no way represents the thoughts or opinions of this website or its owners. Any resemblance to actual communications between the listed parties is purely coincidental and unintentional.)