Archive for Irresponsible Rumormongering

Feb
26

About those Eric Staal rumors…

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Staals are brothers

Over the past week or so, members of the mainstream media just cannot get enough of the “Eric Staal to the Rangers” rumors. To be honest, it’s gotten a bit out of control. These rumors seem to neglect a number of factors that make this type of trade improbably, but hey, anything can happen, right? Let’s take a look at some of the basics and see how hard we have to squint to see a legitimate fit here.

First, on Staal’s contract. He is in the final year of his seven year/$57.75 million contract he signed back in 2009. Staal’s cap hit is $8.5 million ($9.5m actual salary) and he will play this year finishing out his age 31 season. If Staal was to be traded for on deadline day, his remaining cap hit would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.92m. The Rangers are believed to have about $4.83 million of cap space on deadline day.

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Oscar Lindberg has one goal in his last 30 games

Oscar Lindberg has one goal in his last 30 games

By Alain Vigneault’s own admission, the Rangers are being very conscious of their cap situation because they expect to add a player or two before the trade deadline. With Monday’s 3 p.m. buzzer looming, let’s take a look at how the Blueshirts might use their assets to bring in reinforcements for another Cup run.

Chris Kreider – The 24-year-old still possesses all the tools to be a star and should be a bargain as a pending RFA thanks to his disappointing season. With that in mind, Kreider is possibly the team’s most valuable bargaining chip, but it would take a huge return for the Blueshirts to pull the trigger – likely a better player than is currently believed to be available. Depending on how the rest of the season shakes out, it’s perhaps more likely New York considers dealing Kreider in the offseason.

Oscar Lindberg – There have been whispers about the Swedish rookie over the last few days and it’s possible that he’s a player the Blueshirts would be willing to part with. Lindberg burst onto the scene with unsustainable offensive production, but has been very quiet over the last couple months. Once seen as the heir apparent to Dominic Moore’s role as the team’s fourth-line pivot, Lindberg’s future role now is a bit more uncertain. For clubs that can’t or won’t take on salary and are looking for young roster players with future potential, Lindberg could be very appealing. The Rangers probably won’t even consider moving J.T. Miller, Jesper Fast, Kevin Hayes or Pavel Buchnevich so Lindberg might become expendable almost by default. Read More→

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Versteeg please (Photo: James Guillory-USA TODAY)

Versteeg please (Photo: James Guillory-USA TODAY)

During yesterday’s media scrum, coach Alain Vigneault gave a hint at the Rangers’ plans for the deadline. Vigneault stated that the Rangers won’t be making any moves until the deadline to conserve cap space, as they will look to add at the deadline. Since cap space is accrued daily, this makes sense. The Rangers need every cent they can get on the cap.

Now it’s that second part that may scare some people, especially since Elliotte Friedman confirmed that the Rangers are “all-in” again this year. I think it’s been clear from the start that the Rangers will add at the deadline. They need another forward, preferably a top-six right-handed guy that looks to shoot. They may look to add a fourth line player as well, probably someone that can kill penalties, since both have been an issue this year.

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Rick Nash carries a $7.8 million cap hit for two more seasons

Rick Nash carries a $7.8 million cap hit for two more seasons

It still remains possible, maybe even likely that the Rangers just aren’t quite ready to hand Dylan McIlrath or Brady Skjei a full-time job yet and want to maintain a veteran presence on the blueline for this playoff run, with the knowledge that Marc Staal and/or Dan Girardi must go following the season. And while many fans are concerned that neither player would have any suitors, last week’s Dion Phaneuf blockbuster (and the David Clarkson deal before that) should provide ample evidence that there’s no such thing as an untradeable contract.

But if management can’t – or perhaps more accurately, won’t unload one of the veteran blueliners for some ungodly reason, then moving Rick Nash during the offseason is an alternative.
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Photo: Bruce Bennett (Getty Images)

Photo: Bruce Bennett (Getty Images)

The New York Rangers will be buyers at the trade deadline this year. Make no mistake about it. And depending on the moves they make –assuming they land a legitimate top-six forward– they will be a better and deeper team after the deadline in the short term. It’s still the classic “all-in” scenario, but the Rangers are bluffing.

Buying at the deadline won’t fix the foundation issues that run rampant with the on-ice product. The organization still thinks they can win with a fourth line consisting of one –if not both– of Dan Paille and Tanner Glass. The coaching staff thinks that Dan Girardi and Marc Staal are their two best defenders. The staff thinks they can win playing man coverage in the defensive zone with an aging roster that is slowing down.

These are fundamental issues that go beyond any trade deadline rental.

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Courtesy of Bruce Bennett (Getty Images)

Bruce Bennett (Getty Images)

With the All-Star break in full swing, GMs from around the NHL will go on overdrive trying to find that missing piece. The goal is always the same this time of year. Improve now, improve for the future or for some teams, do a combination of both.

The Rangers needs are well documented at this point. To quickly recap, they could use another defensemen, a top 9 winger and perhaps some of their draft picks back. After all, they haven’t had a 1st rounder since 2012 and won’t have one till 2017, which is insane.

Anyway, with those goals in mind, below are some targets I would consider as the trade deadline approaches. As always, I’m happy to debate these ideas (civilly) in the comments.

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WINNIPEG, MB - MARCH 12: Andrew Ladd #16 of the Winnipeg Jets looks on during first period action against the Vancouver Canucks at the MTS Centre on March 12, 2014 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The Canucks defeated the Jets 3-2 in the shootout. (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)

(Photo by Jonathan Kozub)

Anyone that watched the mini-debacle against the Ottawa Senators will know that there are a few serious flaws to be found on the Rangers roster. The win against the Sabres shouldn’t change the way people view the Rangers. This team doesn’t engage enough along the boards and they certainly don’t go to the net enough or make life difficult enough for the opposing goaltenders. The blank in Ottawa wasn’t an isolated case. This team needs to change its DNA up front (or at least mix it up) and needs a different type of top six forward.

In theory, the Rangers should have the players to get to the net with regularity. When Rick Nash wants to he can absolutely dominate most defenders and when he drives to the net he’s hard to stop. Same goes for Chris Kreider but too often both players play on the perimeter. At least, when you consider the physical tools at their disposal. Even if you consider their attempts to generate traffic appropriate, the rest of the roster doesn’t get to the high traffic areas nearly enough.

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Photo: Jason O. Watson-US PRESSWIRE

Photo: Jason O. Watson-US PRESSWIRE

The Rangers are in need of another scoring forward, preferably a shoot-first guy, in order to really round out the lineup. The thought process is that a top-six forward is acquired, moving J.T. Miller down to the third line with Kevin Hayes and Oscar Lindberg. That pushes Jesper Fast to the fourth line with Dominic Moore and Viktor Stalberg/Tanner Glass, and the Rangers are balanced.

The recent playing time of Jayson Megna, a right-handed shot, really emphasized the need for a player of that type. Megna is not a top-six guy, and to be fair is a borderline NHLer at this point in his career. When Megna started getting legitimate playing time, the hole at forward was exposed further.

Two weeks ago, we looked at some potentially available top-six forwards that the Rangers might try to target at the trade deadline. Since then, only James van Riemsdyk has really come off the market, with the Leafs saying they have no interest in trading him. Let’s look at a few more potential targets.

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Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Damien Cox and Elliotte Friedman reported over the weekend that defenseman Keith Yandle has put off talks of an extension with the Rangers. This likely means that the Rangers will need to part with him in a trade in order to recoup some value from what has now become a disastrous trade. Yandle was acquired at the trade deadline last year at the biggest cost of all of Glen Sather’s “win now” trades, with Anthony Duclair, John Moore, a first round pick, and a second round pick heading to Arizona.

The biggest piece here was Duclair, who is lighting it up in Arizona right now playing with Max Domi. Duclair has a line of 12-11-23 in his rookie season and won’t be slowing down any time soon. The first round pick hurts as well, as it will mark the fourth straight year the Rangers don’t have a first round pick. It’s tough to blame Yandle for not wanting to talk an extension either, as his playing time doesn’t match his production. He’s been relegated to third pairing and second powerplay minutes, while far inferior players are getting more ice time across the board.

Suffice it to say, if Yandle isn’t extended, this is a disastrous trade for the Rangers.

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Bob McKenzie dropped a bit of a bomb just now, saying the Rangers are working on trading forward Emerson Etem. It could go down today, might not go at all, but they are working on it now. Etem was acquired at the draft in exchange for Carl Hagelin in a wildly unpopular but necessary move.

Etem never clicked with the Rangers, spending most of his time as a healthy scratch for Alain Vigneault. He’s played just 19 games with the Rangers, registering three assists.

Pat Leonard says Etem has been assigned to the AHL for conditioning. This doesn’t get in the way of a trade, and conditioning assignments do not require waivers. Also worth noting that conditioning assignments can be ended at any time.

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