Dealing for Ryan Kesler is smart, but not at the expense of Derek Stepan

March 4, 2014, by


There is a lot of interested in trading for Ryan Kesler, and for good reason. Kesler is a top line center who is usually good for about 60 points per season when he isn’t hurt. He plays a solid two-way, three-zone game, and would give the Rangers a lot of options in their top-six. In a vacuum, dealing for Kesler is a very shrewd move that would cement the Rangers place as a true contender in the Eastern Conference.

The problem is the cost. The Canucks are rumored to want a “young center that is 20-25 years old, a top prospect, and a third round pick.” You can’t blame them for wanting this much, as Kesler is locked up for another two seasons at $5 million per year. For the Rangers, that would mean dealing Derek Stepan, a top forward prospect (Danny Kristo, Oscar Lindberg, Jesper Fast), and the pick.

Depth down the middle wins championships. Every single Stanley Cup champion since the 2004-2005 lockout has had incredible depth. The Rangers could use an upgrade in their top-six, especially if they prefer Brad Richards on the wing. Kesler-Stepan-Derick Brassard-Brian Boyle would be one of the best groups of four in the league. This assumes Brad Richards moves to the wing for this season and is bought out in the offseason.

And therein lies the concern with trading Stepan. The Rangers would just be dealing their young center –who is cost controlled for the next four seasons– for an older version who costs $2 million more. That depth mentioned above takes a big hit with Stepan removed from the equation.

Depth aside, the Canucks are essentially looking for a 20-25 year old Kesler (plus some) in exchange for their 30-year-old Kesler. In a salary cap era, you don’t deal your cost-controlled younger center for the older player who scores 10 points more per season.

Dealing for Kesler would be a great move for the Rangers, but including Stepan in the deal is a step sideways. The Canucks won’t be dealing one of their best players without getting something significant in return. If the Canucks insist on Stepan, it’s something the Rangers should walk away from.

Categories : Forwards


  1. Erixon20 says:

    I do this trade 10 out of 10 times. The only downside is Kesler’s injury history. Then we buy out BR and sign Stasny for next season. Stasny-Kesler-Brassard down the middle is elite. I really do like Stepan though, and think he could be the #2 center on a Cup contender.

  2. SalMerc says:

    If the price was Stepan and a first round pick, I would do it. Kessler is what Stepan has shown he is not – A proven play-maker who puts the puck in the net and makes his linemates better.

    How about Stepan and Callahan for Kessler and their 1st rounder?

  3. Paco33 says:

    I totally agree. But I would love to see if Brassard + Kristo or Fast (but not Lindberg) + 3d round pick is enough for Vancouver.

  4. NY to NC says:

    I disagree. If the Rangers are willing to spend $6 million for 6 six years on Callahan(a whopping 11 goals this season!…what are they thinking???)…then trading Stepan(another whopping 10 goals this season!!!) + let’s say Fast + a 2nd round pick I’d take Kesler in a heartbeat. Stepan is slow-footed, is an anchor to Kreider’s speed, and has NO shot. Compared to either Cally or Stepan, Kesler is cheap in terms of productivity. Trade Stepan while other teams still perceive that he has big value. I just don’t see it. He has been invisible all season, adds no toughness or grit and his last 3 games are a testimony to the impact he is having…zero. And he assuredly can’t have an Olympics hangover since all he did was sit the pine and eat borst.

    • Fotiu is God says:

      I’m with you.

      Kesler, potentially, could give us size, leadership and serious jam at center like we haven’t had since Messier, then Dubinsky’s departure.

      Imagine Cally lining up alongside his equally antagonistic fellow Olympian?

      If the price is Step, Fast and a number two… absolutely.

      Inasmuch, Chicago and Detroit (Kesler’s from Livonia, MI.) perhaps even Columbus have a deeper prospect pool to deal from.

      • The Suit says:

        Reports out of Vancouver said Kesler doesn’t want to play for AV and tonight it came out that the Rangers weren’t on his list of teams he’d accept a trade to. He does want to play for Philly and Pittsburgh though. It’s over he’s not coming here.

  5. Centerman21 says:

    Why should the Rangers walk away from a Stepan for Kessler trade? How much you wanna bet Stepan has another amazing PPG season next year in a contract year. That sounds like a guy that’s out for himself.I was on his side in contract debacle last summer but he’s only been a 2nd line Centerman at best. He isn’t what I thought he’d end up as. I’m sure Tortarella would want Hagelin in Vancouver anyway. He and a prospect/pick should get that deal done. Sather needs to hold on to his first round pick this year. There’s some good talent there. The kid Tuch is projected to go late 1st round.

    • Dave says:

      So based on your logic, Stepan will only play well in a contract year, despite playing well in all years prior?

      He’s on pace for 50 points this season, which is good value for his contract. Lower your expectations. He’s not Messier.

      • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

        Fair enough. He’s just not a first line center then.

      • Puck Luck @Centerman21 says:

        I personally don’t think Kessler is coming here but if I’m Sather I’d do this type of trade.
        Yeah that’s what I’m implying. Right now I can promise a power season from him next year. He hasn’t been bad this year. He’ll end up with around 50 points but I thought we’d get more from him this year. Plays on the top line with Nash.

  6. The Suit says:

    Rumors out of Vancouver state that Kesler doesn’t want to play for AV. They butted heads towards the end of his tenure there. Doubt this happens.

  7. Rangers Fan in Boston says:

    The Senators placed Cory Conacher on waivers. A possible addition at no cost. Is he a fit?

    • Dave says:

      Don’t see where he fits in. No use for a shiny toy that can’t score this year.

      • Hatrick Swayze says:

        I’d have to disagree there… why couldn’t we scoop him up, let him play out in the AHL this yr and qualify him on the cheap. I’m not sure of his cap hit and what it would take to retain him for next year, but as a former AHL rookie of year or leading goal scorer or whatever….. if we can nab him for free, why not?

        Do I want to give anything up for him- no….. but if we can add him for nothing, whats the risk?

  8. SalMerc says:

    We probably won’t get Kessler, but not adding a top 6 forward at the deadline AND keeping Cally and Stepan only do one thing for us – guarantee an early exit come playoff time.

    We need a hero!

    • Dave says:

      An early exit? Which team aside from Boston scares you?

    • Mdk says:

      wasn’t Nash supposed to be that hero? Stepan is a huge disappointment, Richards is a shell of himself, and Cally needs a soccer net to score on. The fact that Zuc is what makes this team go is sad.

      • SalMerc says:

        Trade Cally, give Nash the “C”

        • Hatrick Swayze says:

          I hope that was sarcastic.

          Whether or not Callahan gets traded has little to do with other current roster players being much more deserving of a letter than Nash.

          • Ray says:

            And which player would be the best captain to get the most of Rick Nash?? Making a player captain will sometimes get you more from that very player.

  9. Spozo says:

    The biggest question mark to me is what is Stepans true ceiling? The point per game player of last season(albeit a shortened season) or the player we are seeing this year?

  10. Dave says:

    And just like that we have 4 trades in 10 minutes.