Trade deadline strategy

February 2, 2015, by

It’s interesting. If you watched the Rangers play, while ignoring the rest of the conference, you might think they are destined for greatness. They’re playing uptempo hockey, bagging 2.92 goals per game. The power play is over 19% for the first time since Leetch was dropping knowledge on the NHL. Most importantly, they can just flat out fly whenever they play their game.

However, despite winning 15 of 18 games at one point, the Rangers sit in 8th place in the Eastern Conference. A playoff berth seems likely, but a chance to win the Cup still remains an elusive goal.

Tampa has our number. Ryan Callahan has dictated that much. The Bruins still manhandle us every time we take a trip up I-95. The Islanders have out scored us 13-4 this season. While we may be built for West Coast trips, handling our own conference is a different story.

Let’s face it. We’re not big enough to handle the Bruins. We’re not fast enough to handle the Islanders or the Lightning. Despite some regular season success against the Penguins, a seven game series could go either way.

The problem of course is our salary cap. We have about a mill and change to work with this season. Next year is anyone’s guess, but a combination of Staal and Girardi’s contracts and a weak Canadian dollar spell trouble.

It’s no secret, the Rangers have holes at center and on the bottom four defensive pairings, while being fairly stacked on the wings. These issues are compounded when you look at Hartford, as the cupboard is pretty much bare in those positions as well.

Right now our top prospects are arguably, Anthony Duclair (wing), Pavel Buchnevich (wing), Ryan Haggerty (wing), Brady Skjei (defense), Oscar Lindberg (center), and Bo Nieves (center). And most of these guys are at least a year or two away. Law of averages might suggest half won’t ever see Broadway on a full-time basis.

Long story short, the Rangers can’t stand pat at the deadline. They must make some upgrades to their roster, not just for this postseason, but beyond.

Acquiring depth at center will likely be too difficult to address during the trade deadline, as every hockey club wants to add centers. There’s just not enough to go around. Our best bet is to zero in on defensemen who can play in the NHL right now, but are somewhat cost controlled and still have some upside.

Sabres GM Tim Murray and Coyotes GM Dan Maloney are both on record saying they are open for business. Carolina and Edmonton will be as well, as they always are. Looking at a few of these clubs specifically, here’s a few targets on defense that are worth considering.

Michael Stone (Yotes) – The 24 year old is currently on the top pairing in Arizona playing with Keith Yandle, who is also rumored to be on the block. Stone, a righty, is a big (6’3) two-way guy with some jam in his game. He is locked in at $1.1M for another season and then he’s an RFA. Stone also has a decent point shot and popped 8 goals last season.

Another righty probably isn’t ideal in the short-term, but let’s face it, Boyle will likely be two and out and who knows what will happen with McIlrath.

Ryan Murphy (Canes) – Faulk gets all the love. Sekera gets all the ink. Murphy is the guy on Carolina’s blueline I’d target. He’s 24, in his sophomore season, and has a paltry cap hit of $826K for another season before being an RFA. Murphy, another righty, can wheel. He dominated the OHL dropping over a point per game at Kitchner.

He’s listed at 5’10 185 lbs, so he’s never going to be a shutdown guy, but at this point our roster has enough of those. Not defining metrics, but for what it’s worth Murph’s corsi and scoring chance percentages have improved over last year, which is a feat since his team hasn’t.

Mike Weber (Sabres) – Another name that may not have the appeal of a Yandle, or an OEL, but could be a nice pickup for the playoff run and beyond is Mike Weber. Weber has been manning Buffalo’s blueline for his entire 6 year career. At age 27, he is right in the middle of his prime. He’s locked up at $1.6M for another season before becoming a UFA.

Weber is a 6’2 lefty in the defensive d-man mold. He plays a quick, but physical style game and could probably make the transition to AV’s man-on-man defensive system. Acquiring him could free up Klein for more offensive opportunities, or he could lock it down for Boyle. His fancy stats numbers are ugly, but how much of that is due to the club he plays on is up for debate.

None of these players are particularly expensive and wouldn’t blow up our cap. So as far as what’s heading in the other direction, I don’t think you need to start including MZA or Hagelin in any scenarios until the offseason. Picks and/or prospects, maybe J.T. Miller should get it done.


  1. Agentsmith says:

    Yes. Finally someone says we have a size issue vs boston. And I think the islanders now too.

    • Dave says:

      There’s a difference between size and size that can skate and play. Most people don’t differentiate the two and assume size = good. Would rather have 12 Zuccs than 12 John Scotts.

      • The Suit says:

        Assuming by size you mean guys who can play and are big, if that’s the case, I agree. I don’t think we matchup well with Boston in that respect. Especially on the wing where they don’t have a single guy under 6’0 aside from Marchand.

        Still though, my priority would be defense over forwards at this point.

        • Dave says:

          I don’t like Boston as a matchup, but not from a size perspective. They are extremely well coached and have a great system that suppresses shots, and then they have Rask in net.

          Lucic is a shell of his former self. I think the height thing is overblown, I’d rather have strength than size any day.

          • Original 6 says:

            Agreed, Dave. If it was a height competition Staal would be an all star. Boston was beating the Rangers with their depth on the third and fourth line more than size. Tuuka Rask is not bad either.

    • Paco 33 says:

      Montreal isn’t any bigger than we are and they beat Boston in 7 in last season’s EC semis. While we have trouble with their size, they have struggled with our speed – as they did against Montreal. Boston presents match-up problems BC they’re a very good, solid, deep team with an excellent goalie.

      • kevshockey says:

        Montreal’s little guys seem way more willing to go to the dirty areas in front of the net and make things happen against Boston than the Rangers guys do.

        Montreal is also in the Bruins’ heads at this point. They tend to stray a little bit more against the Habs and get beat for it.

        • Paco 33 says:

          I agree with your 2d point – like all great rivalries, a series between them can come down to more than how they match-up on paper. But the fact is that Montreal was able to handle Boston’s size.

          I disagree with your 1st point though. With Nash and Kreider and now with Hayes and Miller, we have better size than we’ve had in the past and these guys get to the front of the net.

          Don’t get me wrong – Boston’s advantage is its size. But our speed can and should give them fits as well.

    • MegaMma4life says:

      The ducks are much bigger then Boston Rangers handed them there head. Lmao when the Rangers are skating there isn’t a team that can play with them. Rangers aren’t small besides zucc st Louis and haglin everyone’s 6 foot or bigger

  2. Walt says:

    Mike Stone looks to be the best option, but again at what cost. He is 24, big, and is currently playing top pairing minutes. His cap is reasonable, and still has another year on the current contract. This is the type of upgrade I’d try to make, assuming that it doesn’t cost us a boatload.

    Now the obvious question, will Maloney make such a trade?????????????? He is in the drivers seat, and could make some big time demands!!!!!!!!!!!!

    If this transaction can take place, then talk about Hanzal, who is huge, and would be a great upgrade to the 3-C position. I’d stay away from Vermette, he would be a rental only, and would require too much to get.

    Just a thought, Hayes, Kreider, and Miller as a third line for about 4-5 games tryout. That is a nice line, 3 big bodies, and the scoring potential is limitless!!!!!

    • Dave says:

      I’d prefer Murphy over Stone. Better numbers.

      • Walt says:

        That may be, but Stone is bigger, and is signed for another year as well. I prefer bigger d-men that can clear the slot area!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Zen says:

    Sounds great, but are any of these guys actually available?

    • WilliamW says:

      Everyone is available depending on what’s going back the other way. These sound like under the radar players who will cost less than the names being tossed around by the media. Thanks for bringing them to our attention

      • The Suit says:

        Maloney said everyone except OEL are available. Sabres said along the lines of the same thing. At this point, I think everyone is on the table. However, I’ll admit none of these guys are in the rumor mill.

        Of course if all I did was regurgitate rumor sites, then I wouldn’t be adding much to the conversation.

        • Dave says:

          I thought Maloney said everyone except Doan was available?

        • kevshockey says:

          When did Maloney say this? He said everyone but Doan was available here’s the quote from his latest interview…

          “Shane Doan is not going anywhere. Oliver Ekman-Larsson is a player we would certainly be very very reluctant to part with,” Maloney said.

          Reluctant to part with is a lot different than not available.

          • The Suit says:

            Splitting hairs here kids. Point is it would be difficult to get OEL without a major move, which isn’t the strategy I’d move forward with this year.

    • Dave says:

      Would assume Weber is available, but he’s by far the worst of the bunch.

      Murphy probably isn’t available.

      Maloney said everyone on the Yotes is available, for what it’s worth.

  4. SalMerc says:

    I think you make good points, but still think you have to dump some salary somehow. All the players mentioned are complimentary. None make us that much better AND put us in better shape for the off-season. Team needs to do a reality check on everyone in the bottom 6 forwards and pretty much all the defense. Can we do something big?

    • Tyler says:

      Why would you want to do something big? Don’t change what is working. We do need and upgrade at the 3C position, but only for face offs. I like the sanorelli idea. He can take important face offs

  5. Dave says:

    Pass on Weber.

    I would like to get Murphy from CAR of those three, but I doubt they move him. What would we have to offer them anyway?

    Stone is interesting, I haven’t seen much of him though. Metrics are meh.

  6. SalMerc says:

    Need to see if anyone from Toronto is salvageable. They will need to have a fire sale. I think Edmonton as well will clean house.

  7. ranger17 says:

    Still think we need to go and try to get Hanzel 3rd line Kreider/Hanzel/Hayes . Need to trade Zucc/Hags /Miller by trade dead line . At least one of them as we can’t resign all 3 . Hanzel would be ideal for 3C on our team . But i also liked the line of Zucc /Kreider / Hayes the other night .2PP unit needs to drop G off of it go with another forward at the right point , shift Zucc there as long as he is on the unit now any how

  8. paulronty says:

    If the Rangers trade for a D-man it will be Jake Gardiner, not any of those mentioned. He’s a good puck mover & that is what AV wants.

    • Paco 33 says:

      Gardiner makes $4m per – we can’t fit him under cap without trading multiple regulars.

      This season, Gardiner has 9 assists (and is -21). Matt Hunwick has 8 assists. Whatever AV wants, it’s not a Jake Gardiner.

  9. MegaMma4life says:

    Jt miller is the only person I would trade for a bottom six vet. Mza and haglin I don’t think go anywhere zucc should get similar money to what he’s making just more years and haglin isn’t worth much more then he is making now. I dint see sather having a issue signing stamp zucc haglin over the off season considering he’s got 18 mill to play with. St Louis isn’t top priority he’s going to be 40 so I expect the youth to get signed before him

  10. Ray says:

    I don’t agree with a defensive move – unless it’s dealing Moore for a better seventh Dman. With Hunwick in the lineup, the primary weakness in the defense is first line right defenseman. I’m not saying Boyle is as good as Girardi 5 v 5 or that Girardi isn’t an NHL defenseman. He just is no longer a first pair guy. The second disappointment is that McDonagh is no longer playing like someone who belongs in the Norris conversation.

    Two quick remarks on the rest of your article. Not that it matters but Skapski belongs on the prospect list. And by my reckoning, the Rangers are sixth in the East – ahead of Boston and Washington. Games played skews the published standings. And the Rangers are even second in goals differential.

  11. Lou says:

    Yes we need a bigger / nastier d-man. But, unless we get bigger and tougher on lines 3/4 we are done !

    We need to get Zach Kassian (toughness) …Vermette (faceoffs)…Lupul (scoring).

    Give up…Stepniak & Hrvik for Kassian…..Hags and pick for Vermette…Zuc & Fast for Lupul…..J Moore & Fast for Michael Stone

    Then we have depth, tougher D, added scoring and can actually win a draw !!

    Go get em Slats !!

  12. Bloomer says:

    Zuc although I don’t want to see it, I am thinking will get moved at the trade deadline. He wants a longer more expensive contract then Sather wants to provide. John Moore who hasn’t taken that next step forward could also be trade bait. Forget Kassian, him and AV blend together like oil and water. Look for Slats to pick up an experienced pivot and a solid left dman.