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Wing depth makes loss of Anthony Duclair easier to swallow

Perhaps the biggest concern with the deal for Keith Yandle is that the Rangers gave up Anthony Duclair to land Yandle. There was plenty of outrage over dealing Duclair, and it’s tough to really blame people for the outrage. Duclair isn’t even 20 yet, cracked the roster out of camp, and was showing significant promise as a potential impact player.

Despite what he showed in camp, Duclair was still a prospect, and thus a relative unknown. He may turn into a 30-goal scorer, he may not. We may look at this as the Anthony Duclair trade in five years, we may not. The Rangers needed to give something of value to get Yandle at half his cap hit, and Duclair was the guy they selected to give up.

Looking into the roster construction, it’s fairly easy to see why they sent Duclair to Arizona.

First things first: The Rangers have three of their top-four wingers set for a while. Chris Kreider, Rick Nash, and Mats Zuccarello aren’t going anywhere. Expand that to the third line, and you have J.T. Miller finally holding down a spot*. That’s four of the six available top-six wing spots taken already.

*-Since Miller was not sent to the AHL by yesterday’s 3pm deadline, he cannot be sent to the AHL for the remainder of the season. He is with the Rangers, so he’s unlikely to be scratched for extended periods of time.

The other two spots: Martin St. Louis and Carl Hagelin. MSL is a wild card, but I think at this point it’s safe to assume he will get an incentive-laden contract deal as a stop-gap. Hagelin may or may not be a Ranger next season, depending on his contract demands.

Pavel Buchnevich, the other highly touted wing prospect, could be ready to contend for a spot next year after proving that he can produce among men in the KHL. He’s out-produced a few guys at the KHL level as a 19-year-old, and his numbers at that age are comparable to Vladimir Tarasenko. He’s not a sure thing, but in terms of development, he was ahead of Duclair.

Assuming Buch is ready to take a wing spot from MSL or Hagelin next year or in 2016-2017, that leaves one spot open, likely on the third line. It could be Hagelin, it could be someone else. Regardless, the Rangers are looking at one open wing spot in the top-nine in the long-term.

Kevin Hayes has been a welcome addition, and while he has excelled at the center position (even his faceoffs are getting better), he is always spoken about in terms of moving to the wing. It gives the Rangers flexibility to fill that open spot with either a winger or a center. Glen Sather has stated that the addition of Hayes made losing Duclair easier to manage.

It’s also worth noting that this isn’t a Rangers team that is loaded with veterans on the wrong side of 30. Yandle is still 28, in his prime, and under team control for this season and next. Hayes, Miller, and Jesper Fast are all on ELCs. Kreider, Hagelin, and Derek Stepan are all in varying phases of their bridge deals. Right there you have half the forwards who haven’t even turned 27 yet. This team isn’t old.

Losing Duclair hurts, but with the current makeup of the roster, the Rangers were able to deal from a position of strength to add an impact body for Cup runs this year and next. You have to give to get in this league.

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  • Curious how much the trade was impacted by the need for Pho to retain partial cap. If we were able to take the full contract, what would we have gotten Yandle for?

    Just Duclair, no picks? Just the 2 picks and Moore?

    Vermette commanded a high prospect and first rounder…and he is just a rental. Based on that, I’m thinking the cap aspect of the trade didn’t inflate it all too much.

    Lastly, it evaded me Wisnewsky got moved to ANA. Do you think we were interested in him at all?

    The Ranger’s got all the headlines yesterday, but ANA was very busy with some moves of their own.

    • Wiz’ cap hit is $5.5M. Probably wouldn’t have worked if Columbus wouldn’t eat any of it.

      • RFIB / Dave…… agree.

        I was curious how his peripheral stats linded up. Possession, deployment, shot suppression. etc. Also, is he left or right side?

    • I thought I heard the Rangers say they felt Duclair had issues with his work ethic. Don’t know how true it is but players with a world of talent that don’t work hard will never reach full potential. That isn’t something that can be taught either.

      • Yesterday on the trade deadline show Glen Healy repeated the oft sited knock on Duclair as being “work ethic and attitude”. That was an original thought though. That was being said about the kid in the pre-season.

        I’m just going from memory, but if you listen to Sather’s press conference (as Dave apparently did) he said the deal for Yandle had been discussed with Maloney a couple of times. I think he said he brought it up prior to the start of the season, when the Rangers were in Arizona and again when Arizona was at the Garden. Sather made it very clear that Yandle was someone he wanted and that Ulf knew him and they were very familiar with him as a player and a person. He even said he’s a lot like Rick Nash, which I think was a comment on not only his skill, but his work ethic and character. Sather seemed quite pleased with himself for getting that deal done to say the least.

        He also said that Duclair was the piece that got the deal done. He said Maloney liked him and was impressed with his play in the World Juniors and that when he presented the offer to Maloney, he took it. He didn’t go into the details about AZ retaining part of Yandle’s salary, but my impression was that Maloney was as anxious to get Duclair as Sather was to get Yandle and to get the deal done AZ was going to have to eat the salary so the Rangers could afford the cap hit.

        Long point made short, obviously Maloney wasn’t concerned about Duclair’s work ethic or attitude and I haven’t heard anyone say anything siting examples to backup that knock on the kid.

  • In the above, we didn’t even mention Oscar Lindberg. He could move to 3rd line center and fit in nicely. We also have Danny Kristo as another wing candidate. He probably isn’t top 9, but we may not need him there.

    We have some depth, but like any team, we are 2 injuries away from putting someone on the ice who isn’t ready.

    Need to get to the Finals again, but I feel getting out of the Metro division is the biggest challenge.

    Slats knows hockey. What he doesn’t know well is Cap flexibility.

    • More than two injuries away. The addition of Summers gives them an eighth defenseman and both Lindberg and Mueller are certainly ready up front. I suspect the new addition Klingberg is as well.

      Obviously the replacements are not as good as the guys playing now, but the Rangers do have some injury insurance – and more now after the deadline as they added two players.

  • I was quite surprised about what Glen Healey had to say about Duclair. He questioned his work ethic which even I saw at the WJCs but he also questioned his attitude which really surprised me because there had been no indication of an attitude problem before.

    • That was a surprise to me as well. If that is the case, and we don’t really know, then it could be a no brainer to rid the team of him. I didn’t see an attitude issue, but if there is smoke, then there may well be a fire????????????????

  • I agree the Rangers don’t have a lot of players on the ‘wrong’ side of 30. But their two most important are – Nash and Lundqvist. The rest of the roster are good to very good players. Lundqvist and Nash are hall of famers and no one on the current roster performs at that level.

  • Losing Duke hurts, no question about it. However, I understand the rationale for the trade. Yandle’s a very good player and an even better asset at $2.65 mm than he is at full price. Duke’s got the most “superstar” potential out of the non-Nash wingers in the organization (MSL is former superstar), so naturally that long-term is going to hurt the organization but Sather went all-in, focusing on the prime of Hank and Nash as well as D-Corps (though most view Staal / Girardi as already on the dcline, clear he does not)

    I agree they’re well positioned for coming years too as really it’s just going to be about filling MSL or Hags’ spot, whomever becomes the cap casualty this summer. I prefer to keep Hagelin if it’s of any interest

    It’d be great if Buchnevich becomes an impact rookie next season and fills MSL’s role as scoring winger but I can also see a veteran UFA coming in and playing on the third line either on the wing or in the middle while Hayes/Miller shifts up to a USA line alongside Stepan and Kreider.

  • I know some fans don’t like the Rangers toughness for the playoffs, but I think this team can be tough when they need to be. This team has great chemistry and Shepard will be a big addition in the toughness area. I know some San Jose fans that loved this guy. He is a big tough physical guy that also has some skill and was San Jose’s best player in last year’s playoffs. The only worry I have is if Rangers play Boston or Philly in 1st round and they will try to goon it up against Rangers to get them off their game like Philly did to Pittsburgh 2 years ago. The Rangers will have to avoid that stuff.

  • I think the Rangers are going to be fine without Duclair or the picks in the near term. As others have said, this is not an old team filled with rental players or loads of RFA/UFAs. There are only 12 forward spots on the roster and Duke wasn’t critical to the Rangers plans over the next 2-3 seasons. I’m far more concerned about the Rangers signing Hags next year then losing Duclair during his prime 8-10 years from now.

    What is important is that Sather found a way to get around the cap while adding one of the better players to be moved at the deadline.

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