After the Rangers won the Stanley Cup in 1994, they made a habit of signing older players with sterling resumes. From Eric Lindros to Pavel Bure to Theo Fluery, though, they couldn't get one who had much left in the tank. The team kept missing the playoffs and kept responding to their failures by adding big names who didn't produce.
It looked like Jaromir Jagr would be another one of those names. Until the lockout, he couldn't do anything to get the team over the hump. After it, however, Jagr set the team's single-season points record and, joined by Brendan Shanahan in 2006, got the team back into the upper echelon of the NHL. Jagr decided to play in Russia this season but Shanahan looked like he was just waiting for an opening in the Ranger roster to resume his career.
It never came, though, and Shanahan is now looking for another team to give him a shot. It's hard to argue with the Rangers choice. They have 21 points through 13 games, the most in the NHL, and are being led by a band of players who bear no resemblance to the bloated rosters of Ranger teams gone by.
The big ticket players are Chris Drury and Scott Gomez. They were free agent signings, yes, but in their prime and with a lot left to offer. The best player, outside of Henrik Lundqvist, has been Nikolai Zherdev, a player who represents an entirely new way of doing things for the Blueshirts. The fourth pick of the 2003 draft, Zherdev never showed more than flashes with Columbus before they sent him to New York this offseason.
Grabbing a young player with great potential has been the exact opposite of the way the Rangers went about doing business outside the organization. Zherdev will help them win now and should help them win for the next several years. That's a better way of team building and, so far, it's paying big dividends for the Rangers.