Irresponsible Rumormongering

Trade possibilities with Arizona

Much of the early trade deadline fervor both around the league and in New York has been about what the Arizona Coyotes might do. GM Don Maloney has been screaming “WE ARE SELLERS” at the top of his lungs and Arizona has several attractive pieces, including pending free agent Antoine Vermette. Suit also suggested looking into Yotes defensemen Michael Stone. The Rangers are surely checking on Vermette, but Newsday’s Steve Zipay suggested that another member of the Coyotes, Martin Hanzal, might be a better fit for New York.

On the ice, he might be right. But as always, the financials come into play.

Vermette and Hanzal are very different players. Vermette brings scoring punch, having scored over 20 goals in four seasons. He’s that extra offensive weapon that many past versions of the Rangers would covet.

But this year the Rangers rank sixth in goals, and their bigger problem is in the bottom-six, where Alain Vigneault refuses to trust J.T. Miller, may be unsure of Kevin Hayes despite recent statements to the contrary and insists on rotating Tanner Glass in and out of the lineup.

Hanzal doesn’t bring the same offensive numbers as Vermette, but he’s a big bruising center, has been a good faceoff man in the past, plays on both special teams units, and has earned Selke votes for his two-way play (and yes, he does have favorable #fancystats). He would solidify the third line and make the Blueshirts very deep down the middle – assuming his current upper-body injury isn’t a long-term issue.

But while Vermette has an expiring contract, Hanzal still has another two years at $3.1 million remaining on his deal after this season. Arizona has declared its willingness to deal anyone on its roster other than Shane Doan, but it doesn’t necessarily make sense for the Coyotes to part with Hanzal on the cheap given that he’s still just 27 years old and has an affordable contract.

The asking price for Vermette is reportedly a first-round pick and a good young player. Hanzal isn’t viewed as quite the player Vermette is, but he might fetch a similar package.

The problem for the Rangers is Hanzal’s cap hit relative to New York’s own cap situation. Since he’s not a rental, bringing in Hanzal almost certainly means parting with someone due for a raise, likely Mats Zuccarello or Carl Hagelin.

Both players are pending free agents, but Arizona can afford to offer either a very enticing contract and may be intrigued by having young players with winning pedigrees on board to team up with Doan and set an example for their youngsters, a la the Panthers. (The Blueshirts would likely have to sweeten the pot unless Hagelin or Zuccarello expressed immediate interest in an extension with the Coyotes).

As Dave wrote, keeping Zuccarello should be a must. Top-six talent just doesn’t come around every day, and Zuccarello represents a perfect replacement for Martin St. Louis whenever #26 hangs them up.

Hagelin’s speed would be tough to lose, but the Rangers won’t be able to keep both players this summer, and Hagelin is simply more easily replaced both now and moving forward. Hayes could shift over or Miller could be given a full-time spot, and next year Anthony Duclair and possibly Pavel Buchnevich will arrive on Broadway.

The other way to acquire Vermette – packaging Miller with John Moore, and probably another prospect or draft pick – likely wouldn’t work for Hanzal because the Blueshirts can’t afford to add another $3.1 million to next year’s cap without sending money the other way.

So should the Rangers deal away a current key contributor that might be exiting this summer for Hanzal? Or is sacrificing some of the team’s speed, its greatest strength, not worth it?

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30 Comments

  1. Boy, that’s a tough one. I wouldn’t want to have to make that decision. Personally, I’d take Vermette any day of the week, not only b/c of his secondary scoring, but the fact that he’s been amongst the top-10 in face-off winning % for at least the last 4 years (from what I could gather). Given the Ranger’s lackluster face-off performance this year, he could make a big difference IMHO.

    1. Faceoffs are relatively insignificant, something that I’ve spoken about a few times here. He’s too expensive for my taste. Don’t like the idea of giving up Miller and a 2nd for 2 months of Vermette.

  2. As much as Vermette is enticing, he would cost a fortune, and could, or would we re-sign him for any term after the PO run????????????

    Hanzal sounds much more like someone we could use now, and for a few more years down the road. Am I willing to give away a Miller, Moore and draft picks for these guys, and still have a major cap issue to deal with, doesn’t sound like a very good situation to get yourself in.

    Of the two, Vermette gives us some additional scoring, while Hanzal gives us a better two way player, with size, who could fill in on both the PK, and the PP, signed for another two seasons after this one, he should be the one to go after. I realize we have to give up quality to get quality, but Miller has proven he can play, in spite of AV’s lack of trust, and Hags being another piece of the puzzle going the other way, may be too much for us to give up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Like Coby said above, I’m also glad I don’t have to make this decision either……

      1. Roger that, Dave. Plus we already have a Vermette equivalent in Brassard.

        Hanzal, conversely, offers critical size and jam up the middle. If we’re going to entertain a multiplayer swap, let’s secure Michael Stone in any Yotes’ trade. He could be our Michael Sauer.

        Barring any deals with Don Maloney let’s simply look at low-cost Michael Santorelli, and a D-man with size and snarl. This way we don’t blow the chemistry in the room so close to the playoffs.

      2. And there lies the problem. Why give up so much, for so little, knowing they can’t afford him. BAD MOVE!!!!!!!

  3. I would deal Hagelin. Love the guy.

    Vermette would give us the puck more and produce more goals now for this years run.

    I am banking on having Duclair fill in for that speed lose next year though…

    so it’s a gamble.

    I think Zuccs makes other players better more then Hags.

    IMO

  4. Tough one. I’d probably lean to Vermette solely due to his UFA status but wouldn’t give up a full time roster player for him

    Hanzal would be a nice 3C but I’d rather have both Zuc and Hags and as it is NYR likely won’t be able to afford both

    Further evidence of how all contracts matter when pushed up against the cap. Girardi is a massive over payment for a good but not great defenseman who is declining and Glass is just wow. For those who say Glass doesn’t matter, how are you going to feel when Zuc can’t be resigned because the Rangers only have $4 mm under the cap and it takes $4.5 to sign him

  5. Hanzal is the better long term bet on paper, but there’s one other thing to consider — the guy seems to miss a lot of games due to injury. (In fact, he’s injured right now.)

  6. It’s an assumption that the Rangers won’t be able to sign both hags & zucc this summer, that’s all it is. Don’t want Hanzal or Vermette, I’ll stick with Hayes or even give Lindberg a few games to see what he can do. I don’t think Hanzal is an upgrade on Hayes and Vermette is unsigned. Forget it. The trade won’t be with the Yotes anyway. If there is a trade it will be with the Leafs.

    1. It’s not really an assumption. It’s a fact at this point. They can’t afford to keep both, and there are players more skilled than Hags coming through the pipe (Duke/Buch).

  7. Maybe Sather and his group of clowns should have kept Stralman, Boyle and Dorsett instead of wasting our time with Girardi, Boyle, Malone, Stempniak, and Glass (each of those moves has blown up in our faces).

    They have downgraded our team with all of these moves. What is also infuriating is that there are great d-men available right now in Petry, OEL, and Yandle. All three of those players are better than Girardi and Staal. Yet we have given massive contracts to Girardi and Staal (Staal can still play, but Girardi is an absolute abomination out there).

    We were so close to winning last year, and this off-season we screwed up with every move.

    1. At this point, the biggest issues were Girardi and Stralman. Keeping Girardi and choosing Boyle over Stralman may have cost them a Cup.

      1. Obviously Stralman is the big one, but those other moves were clear downgrades as well.

        Glass is a dramatic downgrade from Dorsett. Malone/Stemp was a downgrade on B.Boyle (I am not mentioning Pouliot, because he was gone for cap considerations I think). Then on defense D. Boyle just isn’t the same player he was. Girardi is a blackhole anyway you look at it. His possession metrics are atrocious. His hextal charts are just pathetic. And he looks like a dumpster fire on the ice. He cannot skate, or pass. Yet he receives massive minutes against top lines, and power play time! Cannot wait to see him in three years.

        We have taken at least one step backwards this year. I dare anybody to show me a team that had a worse off-season than we did.

    2. Sather and his “group of clowns” has managed a team that has won more playoff series than any team other than LA over the past three seasons, made it to the SCF last season, and is the one of only two teams this season in the top 5 in both goals against and goals scored.

      The second guessing regarding Girardi & Stralman is as simplistic as it gets as it’s based on incomplete info (do you really think you know as many relevant facts as Sather?) and total ignorance (absent a crystal ball) as to the myriad ripple effects of each decision. Here are just a few examples:

      It’s one year ago, Sather decides not to resign Girardi:
      * Does Sather trade him before the deadline and, if so, for whom? (All anyone knows are the rumors involving Anaheim. No one really knows what Sather may have been offered).
      * What impact does trading Girardi have on the negotiations with Cally? Could Sather afford to lose both before the deadline? Does Sather now have to sign Cally? What impact would signing Cally have on cap issues over the next 5 years? Does Sather now have to keep Cally for the playoffs and lose him for nothing if he signs elsewhere?
      * Do the Rangers make the SCF if Sather fails to sign Girardi? Do the Rangers make the SCF if we don’t get MSL for Cally?
      * The season’s over. Girardi is gone. What impact does this have on the negotiations with Stralman, who now has more leverage? Is Sather under more pressure to sign him at the salary TB offered or at an even higher price? What impact does signing Stralman to at minimum the TB contract have on the salary cap in future years?
      * Where are we this year without both Girardi and Stralman? Who would Sather have signed to replace them? Without Girardi does Sather still sign Boyle? If not signing Girardi forces Sather to resign Cally, whom could we have afforded?
      * Did Sather choose Boyle over Stralman or did he decide that Boyle for two years was a better fit than Stralman for four?

      We’re fans. Second-guessing is part of our “job”. But it should be done with the acknowledgment that in most cases the decision makers have far more info and far more knowledge of the short and long term consequences of these decisions than we do.

      Considering the team’s record of success over the past calendar year, calling Sather a “clown” or concluding that Sather’s decisions “may have cost them a Cup” (especially when we may not have made the SCF if he had done what you wanted), is armchair quarterbacking on steroids.

      1. I have two problems with this post. First, I am not sure why anyone should give Sather a pass simply because the Rangers have had a successful recent spell (of course one easily mitigates that point by looking at Sather’s full tenure as Rangers GM and a much more mixed record then appears; I guess with that in mind and also many of his relatively poor UFA signings, then we should be vigorously questioning Sather). How does that in any way detract from his horrible off-season (compared to an admittedly very good off-season the one before)? The team is worse than it was last year. We are no longer able to roll four lines, and have had a lot of trouble against some of the better teams in the NHL (Islanders and Lightning in particular). I know we have posted some amazing numbers, but a lot of that has to do with absolutely phenomenal seasons from Lundqvist and Nash, which have papered over some of these issues. That is highlighted in our two most recent wins against the Panthers and Hurricanes, where the Rangers did not play that well at all.

        Second, of course we are not privy to all information. But again, I am not sure how that has any bearing on critiquing and reviewing the ultimate decisions that were in fact made. Does this preclude any analysis? One can make educated guesses based on the information they have. We know that Stralman wanted to stay with the Rangers. We know that objectively he is a better player than Girardi on both sides of the puck, and is currently playing top minutes for the Lightning. We know that he wanted less tenure and less dollars than Girardi.

        I am not taking the Girardi deal in isolation, and there are a lot of factors and players involved. We will never know what he passed up (everybody says Vatanen, but who knows). However, Sather was clearly looking at trading both Cally and Girardi if he did not get the contract he wanted. Unfortunately, he only traded one of those two players, and signed a horrible deal for the other.

        What I will say is that our trip to the Finals was not driven by the play of Girardi. That we are stuck with his contract for the next half decade, with him already playing at such a poor level does not bode well for our team.

        1. I appreciate your response.

          * At no point do I say that Sather should be given a pass, just that his off-season moves should be put in context of the team’s success over the past few years and, particularly, the team’s tremendous record over the past 13 months.

          * You wish to second guess his re-signing of Girardi and his not re-signing Stralman, B. Boyle, the trade of Dorsett and the signings of D Boyle/Glass. Fine, but neither you nor anyone else can say what would have happened if we didn’t sign Girardi last season (SCFs?), and what our record would be this season if we had kept Stralman over Girardi. Would I prefer a 4th line with B Boyle? Yes, but what impact would that contract have on what Sather does after this season re: Hags, Stepan, Zucc, etc? Would I prefer Dorsett over Glass? Big yes. But we’re still just talking about a 4th line wing.

          * While you have to speculate over what may have been, I can refer to the actual results – the SCFs last season and an excellent record so far this season. Despite having a weaker 4th line (for now) and Girardi playing 20+ minutes per on the top D pair, the team Sather has put together ranks in the top 5 in goals scored & goals against and is competing for first place in the division. Nash’s great season is responsible for a good deal of the goals scored total but our goals against is due to far more than Lundqvist’s play. How bad can the off-season moves have been if these are the results?

          * As for our record against top teams, yes we’ve struggled to say the least against TB & the Islanders but our record against the other better teams (Pitt and the Western Conf) is good enough so that I think it’s very hard to claim that we’re just feasting on the weak.

          * We have flaws, especially a 3d line that’s not producing like last year’s and a 4th line that’s not nearly as effective. But we’re going to make the playoffs and Sather has a month to fix the 3d/4th lines – something he can do with perhaps one right move at 3C. We don’t need a big move (Vermette), but perhaps a smaller, less costly one (Santorelli?). This would move Hayes to wing and, hopefully, move Glass to the bench (or the AHL). Again, how bad was the off-season if we’re as competitive as we are now and are arguably one move away from addressing our major flaw?

          * Your criticism is based on less than complete info and subjective opinion. My optimism is based on objective results. I’ll take what we really have right here, right now rather than guess as to what may have been if Sather had made a few different decisions.

          1. You are arguing for the sake of arguing right now, as you agree with my main points!

            My first point is that Sather’s off-season decisions weakened the Ranger’s bottom six. You agreed with this in several different moments in your last post. You try to hedge this by saying that Boyle’s contract would impact other negotiations (meaning that Sather was balancing different issues in how he negotiated). I have a lot of trouble accepting this line of argument. Why? Simply because the cap hits of the players meant to replay the duo of Dorsett and Boyle, are not only slightly more expensive, but much worse than the players they are replacing! Sather paid Glass 3 years at $1.45 million. Boyle received 3 years at $2 million! In what universe is Tanner Glass making that much money? Only in Sathers, as he has to get his annual goon to suck up cap space (brashear, etc). Stempniak is at $0.9 million. Malone was at $0.7 million when we signed him. Obviously with Malone retiring the analysis isn’t exactly 1 for 1 (as his cap hit falls off), but the question remains, what was the logic behind the hatchet job on the bottom lines this off-season? One of those three players retired; a second player rotates in and out of the squad; and a third is arguably the worst player in the NHL. A+ job there!

            One of our strengths last year was that we were able to roll four lines, which kept players fresh all game. Additionally, this checking line took on heavy defensive responsibilities, and executed them remarkably well. This allowed our elite players on the other three lines more offensive zone starts. We presently cannot do that.

            My second point is that Girardi is not that great of a player and we should have not signed him. You conceded in your response that despite Girardi having so many minutes, we are still doing well. Which was my point! We are doing great because of remarkable production from Nash, and goaltending from Lundqvist, which has papered over a lot of these lineup weaknesses. As well as pretty decent coaching from AV in terms of our special teams, and some of the strategies he has used.

            Girardi right now is not a top pairing guy. He is at best a second pairing guy who would ideally receive pretty sheltered minutes. His level of play this year is evident because last year McD carried him, not only in the regular season, but in the playoffs as best as he could (of course the Kings exposed Girardi almost every shift). Without an elite McD, Girardi has looked out of his league.

            What is even worse about this signing is that his cap hit of $5.5 million sucks up a massive amount of cap space. With the Loonie falling, the cap likely won’t raise that much, if at all. Meaning that we are even more constricted in our ability to resign our elite players (stepan, MZA, etc). Stralman was our best defender in the playoffs last year (yes even more than McD who was playing injured, and started off slow in the first round). We could have signed him at a contract with a shorter term than Girardi’s, with no NMC, and at least $1 million less of a cap hit (who knows maybe he takes a hometown discount). That is a steal, and an absolute no-brainer.

            In reviewing what we did this off-season, I just have one question. On what ground can you assess our performance last year, and decide that the weakness of the team was a lack of size and grit. We lost to the kings because our Achilles Heal was a defense that was incapable of moving the puck quickly out of the zone, apply effective pressure, and would regularly become stuck defending deep in its zone. It was incapable of utilizing our speedy forwards to quickly transition from defense to offense with quick smart passes. That should have been the focus. That is what Stralman and McD do effectively (and Staal to an extent). That is not what Girardi does.

            Finally, the reason I believe I am correct is that, as you stated, Sather has to make moves to rectify his mistakes. That means sacrificing useful chips like Miller and Hagelin because of his poor decisions. Hopefully it also means moving on a guy like Petry to play on our top pairing with McD to move Girardi down a pair.

          2. If you’re going to just guess about the consequences of what would have happened if Sather had made the decisions you would have preferred him to make I guess it’s no surprise that you’re comfortable guessing about my motives.

  8. Pretty hard to swallow that losing Stralman might have cost up a cup. Really!! Stralman???? Boyle was brought in here for the playoffs. Lets wait and see how it pans out before we start crying again about losing Stralman: a guy, I might add, who was never appreciated when he was here.

  9. I’m worried more about Girardi and the knock-on impact on McD. Is there a team with a similar power fwd problem? Mike Richards is not it but the Kings need a D-man in the worst way. We definately need some size on the wing to match up better against Boston and NYI. Hanzal would be better and I could see packaging Hags, a #2 and maybe Tambellini. That said, I think this team will leverage last year’s experience and make a good run. They have a much more dynamic and effective PP and I think teams will take less liberties in the playoffs.

  10. Goodbye Hags. Love his speed but Zucc is the smartest player we have on the ice. Yes his numbers have not been productive in a while, but I will take him any day over Hags. Also wish MSL did not have that no trade clause. Dont have on me, but would love to see MSL go sooner than later.

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