Archive for Irresponsible Rumormongering
There is a growing line of thinking on Twitter that the Rangers should stand pat this deadline, perhaps take advantage of Michael Grabner’s season by trading him now, and then retool the blue line for next season. At the start of the season, I was on this train. It made logical sense, since the Rangers likely wouldn’t be able to compete for a Cup with the blue line as it currently stands.
Fast forward to today, and I have changed my line of thinking. Never in my life did I think the group of forwards the Rangers assembled would be this good. They are a top scoring team and winning despite the blue line. Flags fly forever, and there are are only so many years left to get Henrik Lundqvist (and other career Rangers) a Cup. All eyes are now on Jeff Gorton and how to address the black hole that is the defense to get closer to that Cup.
Per Larry Brooks, the Rangers are getting a lot of calls as the trade deadline approaches, most of them asking for JT Miller. Luckily, the answer the Rangers have been giving to every team is “no.” When the season started, Miller appeared to be the odd man out in any deal to address the defense. However Miller has played himself into possibly untouchable territory.
Of course no one is truly untouchable, and Miller can likely still be had in the right deal for a stud defenseman. However as of now, those offers have not been made. So have no fear, Miller won’t be gone in the wrong deal. And yes, dealing Miller for Kevin Shattenkirk is the wrong deal.
Brooks noted that the Rangers have been heavily scouting the Kings, and while we concluded that it could have been for Alec Martinez, Brooks thinks it’s for 24-year-old defenseman Paul LaDue. But as Brooks states, do you really think Alain Vigneault will sit Kevin Klein for a kid with little NHL experience?
It’s trade season, and that means everyone and their mother has an idea of what the Rangers should do in order to improve the team. Whether this means buying, selling, or standing pat, we’ve all entertained various thoughts in our heads as to what could, should, or might happen.
Last week I wrote about how perspective matters and on the most recent podcast we talked with Sean Hartnett about how close this team is to contending (with the always intelligent Hartnett offering his opinion that the Rangers are a “tier 2” contender, just below the level of say, the Penguins). Prior to that I had written about how the Rangers could improve this blue line, floating the idea of acquiring Cody Franson and waiting until the summer for Kevin Shattenkirk. Some recent developments however, have changed my mind.
Some interesting tidbits coming up today for the Rangers, per Chris Nichols. First is that they are still hovering around Kevin Shattenkirk, but the price is way too high for the Rangers right now. There is a rumor that the Blues/Lightning were talking about Tyler Johnson in this kind of swap. If that’s true, the price on the Rangers’ end would be someone you don’t want to part with for a rental, even if he’s likely to re-sign in New York.
If Shattenkirk doesn’t come to New York, then Nichols, citing Darren Dreger, thinks the Rangers are targeting Brendan Smith of the Red Wings. Smith is a solid defensive guy, great at suppressing shots. He’s also a pending UFA, so the cost should be less. He’s a lefty though, so some lineup tinkering would need to be done. He’s capable of playing both sides, though.
Smith is a shrewd pickup at the right price. If the Rangers go this way, my guess is that he or Brady Skjei goes to the right side and Kevin Klein goes to the press box. But that’s just my assumption.
There’s not much going on today in the world that is the Rangers. Regurgitating the same content about the team is getting old. We know the forwards are good. We know the defense stinks. We know the goaltending is getting better. The trade deadline is coming, and with it comes the hopes (fears?) that the Rangers will make a move to address their weaknesses. But in the back of everyone’s mind is something coming up in June: The Expansion Draft.
There are some that think this year’s trade deadline will be quiet because of expansion. Multi-year deals are going to be tough sells, especially if teams can’t protect an additional player. Teams can only protect 7 forwards, 3 defensemen, and 1 goalie (or 8 skaters and 1 goalie). Rookies/second year pros are exempt, but players with NMCs must be protected. But all AHL guys beyond their second year must be exposed. Teams can only lose one player to expansion.
It hasn’t quite worked out. Kulikov has played in just 31 games this year, missing time with a lower-back injury suffered in the first preseason game that has also caused running pain down his legs for much of the season.
Kulikov has logged just two points and now seems like an afterthought in Buffalo’s future plans rather than a building block. Indeed, there have been growing rumblings that Kulikov could be on the block as we approach the trade deadline.
Dennis Wideman is perhaps best known for crashing into a referee last season, which earned him a 20-game suspension. However, he’s just two seasons removed from a 56-point campaign in 2014-2015 – the fourth-most points in the league amongst defensemen that year.
Wideman, 33, has been a workhorse throughout his 11-year career, averaging over 20 minutes a night in 10 of his 11 seasons. He’s nearing the end of the line though and has seen his ice-time reduced over the last two years, especially on the power play.
It’s that time of the year. Teams are jockeying for playoff spots, trying to identify their team needs for the stretch run. Non-playoff teams are starting to pool offers for rentals. Buyers are trying to figure out what they can part with. Trade deadline rumors are abound.
For the Rangers, every rumor worth reading has them linked to a defenseman. I say “worth reading” because there were one or two rumors that said they want a forward. Considering the depth they have, I don’t buy those. Just looking at the teams solid offense and porous defense shows that they need help on the blue line. But with all the names that have been dropped, the one thing we have yet to hear is what the Rangers are willing to give up.
The defensemen on the Ducks have been a topic of conversation all year. Cam Fowler was the rumored odd man out, but Bob McKenzie said he has been so good for the Ducks he’s practically untradeable. With that in mind, I thought I’d revive a little idea we had on the podcast some while back as it pertains to fixing this blue line: trading for Josh Manson.
You see, the Ducks are in a bind. They have a fairly stacked blueline, plus need to protect Kevin Bieksa in the upcoming expansion draft due to his NMC. They can’t protect all of Fowler, Bieksa, Manson, Sami Vatanen, and Hampus Lindholm, so it stands to reason that one of them will end up being traded or the Ducks risk losing them for nothing. While there’s certainly a chance that ends up being Vatanen, I’ll save that hype-train for Dave, who more or less is his biggest fan. Instead, let’s imagine that Manson is the odd man out here.
The Twitterverse got a little excited yesterday, as rumors broke that the Rangers are heavily scouting the Kings. They had Doug Risebrough in Ontario to watch LA’s AHL squad, and are rumored to be checking out the NHL squad with regularity. I don’t know much about the source, but people I trust have vouched for him. So, take that as you will.
We know the Rangers want a right handed defenseman. From LA’s standpoint, they need cheap depth scoring. Outside of Kopitar, Gaborik, Toffoli, and Carter, they have very little in terms of skill, scoring, and speed. On paper, there’s a match to be made assuming salaries can sync up. Trying to figure out who LA is willing to part with is a little challenging though.