Archive for Irresponsible Rumormongering
With the Rangers sputtering, anticipation is quickly building for the March 1 trade deadline. Unlike in past years, New York is set up front, so it’s hard to fathom a deal for another forward. But it’s no secret that the Rangers desperately need help on defense and have been searching for a top-four blueliner for much of the season.
The options are limited, but one name that appears likely to be on the move is Arizona’s Michael Stone. He wouldn’t be the sexy acquisition many crave, but the pending free agent might help fortify the back-end.
Stone, 26, broke out last season with 36 points (six goals, 30 assists) including 14 power play assists. That performance helped him earn a new $4 million contract for this season, but Stone has struggled to match that production.
With the recent news that Marc Staal is going to be out indefinitely with post concussion symptoms, the Rangers find themselves short one of their top-four defensemen. Whether you agree Staal should have been in the top-four is a bit irrelevant at the moment, since he was in the top-four regardless. This is going to force Alain Vigneault and possibly Jeff Gorton to adjust if this team is going to make a run at a Stanley Cup.
In fact, it has already forced AV to make a major change to his defense, taking Dan Girardi off the top pair for Brady Skjei. Adam Clendening was naturally in the lineup, and was put on his off-side with Kevin Klein. Dan Girardi moved down to play with Nick Holden, who moved back to his natural side on the left. I personally did not watch the game, but from what I’ve heard, Clendo and Skjei both had strong games in their roles.
During last night’s game against the Flyers, Darren Dreger came on the air and noted that like many teams, the Rangers are actively looking for a top-four defenseman between now and the trade deadline. This isn’t exactly Earth shattering news, as half the league is looking to add a top-four defenseman. After all, doesn’t a top-four defenseman make every team better?
Dreger did note that the Rangers are actively scouting and doing their homework though. It’s worth noting that we’ve heard the Rangers, particularly their front office staff, scouting the Ducks frequently this season. The Rangers likely don’t want a rental. So perhaps there’s a match, but the salary cap makes things tricky.
For anyone watching the Rangers this season, it’s been clear that they need help on defense. More specifically, they need a true 1RD. No matter where you fall on the spectrum of Dan Girardi and Kevin Klein, it’s clear neither of them are capable of being successful in that role. For the Rangers to be true contenders, an upgrade is needed.
However in the NHL, you need to give to get. If the Rangers are truly going to land a Dougie Hamilton or a Jacob Trouba, they need to give up something of value. A package of a bottom-six forward and a bottom-pairing defenseman is simply a laughable proposal. The Rangers need to give a top line forward in order to land their prized defenseman.
As the season progresses and the need to both get healthy and upgrade the defense intensifies, attention will go from the current roster to who can be acquired to meet these needs. But part of that process is identifying which players can be moved, be it from the current roster or within the system.
Suffice it to say, moving another first round pick should be a last resort, and certainly not for a rental who is bolting for free agency. Ditto any top prospects. But with those decisions, the Rangers aren’t left with much to move unless they decide to deduct from the current roster. Personally, I think that kind of move is coming. If not by the trade deadline, then by the expansion draft.
It is no secret that the Rangers want to improve defensively. It is not just the bloggers who say it too, as NHL insider Pierre Lebrun yesterday said that the Rangers are doing their due diligence and will likely make a trade for a defenseman this season. I don’t really consider this “insider news” but I am a narcissist and like when the league is talking about the Rangers doing something potentially smart.
LeBrun: I think at some point #NYR will do everything they can to trade for a Top-4 D, or get some help on D, between now & trade deadline.
— Chris Nichols (@NicholsOnHockey) October 24, 2016
There are many factors that go into this small rumor. First and foremost is the Rangers’ ability to value players and defensemen. I’d say that for the most part, supreme leader Jeff Gorton has impressed a good portion of the fan base by revamping the NYR offense and creating a speed team once again.
Hot off the presses last night, Arthur Staple noted that both Chris Drury and Gordie Clark were in attendance at the Islanders/Ducks game last night. They certainly weren’t scouting the Islanders, and the Rangers and Ducks have been linked together as a possible match for some time. The Rangers need an upgrade on defense and have the cap space, while the Ducks need to dump a defenseman and some cap space.
Usually I write off scouts attending games, but Drury is the Assistant GM and Clark is the Director of Player Personnel. This isn’t just a scout doing his/her job. These are the big whigs who make decisions in attendance. It seems like something is brewing. But who they are targeting is where things get interesting.
Per Larry Brooks, the Rangers appear to be seeking a trade partner for defenseman Dylan McIlrath. McIlrath has been a bit of a polarizing player since his draft year, and by no fault of his own. The Rangers passed on Vladimir Tarasenko and Cam Fowler to pick McIlrath as their project pick. A brutal knee injury hurt McIlrath’s already weak skating, which lengthened his development time.
He’s never going to be the quickest guy, the one that can chase down the opposition from behind. But his skating is phenomenally improved since as recently as last year. He’s significantly more agile, moving from side to side with relative ease. He’s also found ways around his skating pitfalls with great positioning and stick work.
McIlrath and Adam Clendening appeared to be in a fight for the last spot, even if they didn’t need to be. McIlrath’s numbers are solid enough that he earned a spot on the bottom-pair. At the very least, McIlrath is an upgrade on some of the other defensemen on the roster. This is a puzzling move for a team that had a great offseason.
A report from Ian McLaren –citing Bob McKenzie, so this has legs– is stating that the Rangers are one of the many teams (duh) interested in Winnipeg Jets Jacob Trouba. I’d venture a guess that every team is somewhat interested in him, but the article calls out the Rangers, Avalanche, Bruins, and Coyotes as the teams “most interested” in the 22-year-old defenseman.
The Rangers certainly have the pieces to land Trouba, who requested a trade from the Jets this summer (news only broke last week). Per McKenzie, the ask is a LHD that is comparable to Trouba. Brady Skjei seems to be the piece everyone looks at, but he doesn’t have the pedigree, experience, or NHL success yet.
The big news that broke this past weekend was that Winnipeg Jets’ stud defenseman Jacob Trouba has requested a trade. Trouba, the ninth overall pick in 2012, is in the middle of a contract dispute with the Jets. The dispute is over more than money though, as Trouba has stated that he is buried on the depth chart behind Dustin Byfuglien and Tyler Myers, both right-handed defensemen signed to long-term deals.
The 22-year-old defenseman has put up impressive numbers in his first three seasons, with his career highs coming in his rookie year (10-19-29). That may not seem like much, but remember that Trouba gets third pairing and minimal powerplay time. That is not a product of who he is as a player, but a product of commitments by the organization elsewhere, whether right or wrong (we will get to that).