With the NHL trade deadline a little over a month away, the trade rumor mill is going to begin to boil. There have already been numerous rumors linking the Rangers to Calgary, others linking the Rangers to Toronto, and other stating that the Rangers are looking to trade Marian Gaborik (note: listening to offers and actively looking to trade are completely different). The Rangers have a few holes they need to address if they plan on making a run in the playoffs, most notably they need another scorer and a veteran presence on the blue line. There are a few teams that are already out of the playoff picture, with the Florida Panthers being one of them, that are worth scouting for fixes to the holes.
The Rangers aren’t going to sacrifice the core future for a playoff rental, it doesn’t fit with the current team plan. So there don’t need to be any worries about trading a guy like Brandon Dubinsky for Cory Stillman. It’s just not going to happen. The Rangers are going to be looking for guys with expiring contracts, so there are no financial commitments for next season. Obviously this is a general statement, as there are going to be exceptions (see: Wojtek Wolski trade). With the Panthers out of the race, they are going to look to reshape the roster by selling at the deadline, so let’s look at their trade-able assets:
Cory Stillman (UFA): He will come relatively cheap, probably for a mid-round pick. The Rangers would only need him if the injuries continue to mount though.
Steve Bernier (RFA): A shell of his former self that made him the center-piece in the deal for Brian Campbell.
Radek Dvorak (UFA): See Cory Stillman.
Chris Higgins (UFA): Pass, even if the Rangers need forwards.
Michael Frolik (RFA): Interesting scenario. He is young with lots of potential, but I don’t think he’s going anywhere.
Marty Reasoner (UFA): He would be nice to have, much like John Madden. He’s a veteran guy who can win face-offs and provide veteran leadership. That said, unless the injuries continue to mount, he’s not what the Rangers really need right now.
Shawn Matthias, Byron Bitz, Mike Santorelli (RFAs): Nope, but Santorelli would be an interesting pick-up.
Darcy Hordichuk (UFA): Only if Derek Boogaard goes the other way.
Bryan McCabe (UFA): Now this is a guy the Rangers could really use. He would likely cost one of the Rangers 2nd round picks and a mid-tier prospect (think the Tomas Kundratek ilk), and would give the Rangers a big point shot and veteran presence on the blue line. However, he just broke his jaw. That kills his trade value, if he even has any left.
Keaton Ellerby (RFA): Not what the Rangers need.
Joe Callahan, Clay Wilson (UFAs): No.
Tomas Vokoun (UFA): Unless someone kidnaps Hank, not necessary.
McCabe seems to be the only target the Rangers will go after from the Panthers, but he’s out with a broken jaw. He can play with a shield, but the injury concern is something worth noting. Before the McCabe injury, I would have bet money that the Rangers acquire him. Now, not so much. The Rangers and Panthers make decent trading partners, but it all depends on McCabe’s recovery.