As the draft and free agency approach, the Rangers are going to consider all their options for a top line center, which is their most glaring hole to fill at this moment. Plan A is clearly signing Brad Richards, but that is far from a given. If Richards doesn’t sign with the Rangers, and the Rangers gawk at the Brooks Laich asking price –which is likely– then they will have to pursue a trade to get a top line center. If they go the trade route, I believe that they will look for more of a stop-gap center, someone on a short deal that if it doesn’t work out, they can cut ties with at the end of the year.
The first player that comes to mind is Daymond Langkow of the Calgary Flames. Langkow has one year remaining on his contract at a $4.5 million cap hit, but he does have a no-movement clause that would need to be waived*. The Flames need cap space badly, and dealing Langkow would give them enough room to fill out their roster.
*-For the purpose of this post, let’s assume he would waive his NMC.
On March 21, 2010, Langkow broke a bone in his neck courtesy of teammate Ian White’s shot. The injury ended his 2009-2010 season, and cost him all but four games of the 2010-2011 season. The injury, while a cause for concern, does not mean Langkow is injury prone. That is the definition of a freak injury.
Langkow has consistently put up 20 goals or more in all seasons since the lockout except for his most recent complete season (2009-2010). LangkowThat can be a bit alarming –Langkow is 34 years old– and can be a sign of a deteriorating game. His numbers have also decreased steadily since his career year in 2006-2007, when he finished with a line of 33-44-77. Excluding last season, where he only played four games, Langkow’s production has dropped by more than 10% each season since 2006-2007.
But, when he is healthy, Langkow is a good center that found great chemistry with Jarome Iginla. A finalist for the Masterton trophy this year, Langkow has the offensive tools and veteran leadership that can potentially help the Rangers in their quest for a top center. He can be a good stop gap until one of Derek Stepan or Artem Anisimov is ready to play on the top line. He would also be a helluva lot more consistent in scoring situations than Erik Christensen. Langkow is an option, but a risky one. No, I’m not referring to the neck injury, I’m referring to the declining production. It’s just a one year risk though, depending on the cost to acquire.