Thoughts following the trade deadline

The trade deadline came and went on Monday this season with a flurry of activity and some very big moves. Since I usually will write my articles for Friday, I haven’t really had a chance to weigh in at this point. I know that there has been a couple games in the interim, but since the Rangers don’t play again until Sunday, I’m just going to share my post deadline thoughts anyway…

  • I’m going to start with the little moves and get those out of the way. I liked Lee Stempniak as a player and thought that he could provide some real value to this year’s team. However, he was simple a square peg in a round hole on this roster. There wasn’t room in the top nine for him and he wasn’t defensively oriented enough for a shut down role. All the best in Winnipeg, Lee.
  • James Sheppard, on the other hand, seems to be exactly the type of player the club needs to bring true balance to the lineup. He relegates Tanner Glass to the press box (his biggest strength), can play wing and serve as a backup competent faceoff man if Moore gets tossed on defensive zone draws. Having not seen much of him in San Jose, so far he seems to play a direct, simple game without many mental lapses. I think he’s a good fit.
  • Now, of course to the main event: Keith Yandle. This is going to take a couple bullets. First things first, this is clearly a seller’s market that Sather was working in. Combined with the fact that he was targeting a player who wasn’t “available” in the traditional sense, and you get a recipe for a high price. Let’s be clear, Sather did pay a high price to acquire a year and a half of Yandle at half his salary. Duclair, Moore and two high(ish) draft picks is quite the haul for Don Maloney.
  • That said, I think Yandle at that cap hit adds a dimension to the roster that very few teams can counter. Yandle is a high-end skater, a power play specialist, and adds another presence on the roster with elite vision. He brings an entire tool shed to New York at $2.7m. To those bemoaning his defensive short comings, I say that there is an inherent risk/reward to this type of player. Anyone remember Kings and Hawks fans complaining about Drew Doughty and Duncan Keith at various times? Occasionally you get defensive gaffes with these guys, but the benefit far outweighs the detriment, especially when Yandle will be getting sheltered defensive minutes.
  • From a strategic standpoint, I would much rather see Sather expend high-end assets for a guy with an chance to be a complete game changer in a Cup run than just pay a seller’s premium for a mediocre asset. *coughAntoineVermettecough*
  • The loss of Anthony Duclair definitely stings. We saw glimpses of the special player he could be during his brief time on Broadway. However, the fully fleshed out version of that guy might not arrive until Hank is 37-38 years old, Nash is gone and the window is closed. It’s really a timing issue more than anything else. If Duclair was 22-23 coming off a 19 goal season or something, I would probably feel differently.
  • Taking a step back, this move could prove to be legacy defining. Clearly, the Rangers feel that they need to bring The Cup back to Broadway within the next couple of seasons. You have one of the franchise’s longest tenured GM’s (he might be the longest, but I’m too lazy to look it up), and the greatest goaltender the organization has ever employed (no disrespect to Mike Richter, my personal favorite, but he just didn’t have the longevity). These guys need a Cup in New York to cement their status as all-time greats. Hank turned 33(!) this week. He probably has 2-3 elite years left in him before he becomes simply very good. The time is now.
  • From an asset management standpoint, it’s also good business. Duclair was the #80 pick (3rd round) and was turned into a high-end puck mover in his prime. That’s good drafting/development.
  • The result of this craziness is that the Rangers now possess the best blue line in the Eastern Conference (maybe the entire NHL). They have achieved a level of four line balance and depth that few teams can match. While this retooling far from guarantees anything in the playoffs, I feel this team is in a stronger position to truly compete for the Cup than any team since 1994.
  • That being said, what to do with our second line? They have been a possession disaster all season, and Stepan is starting to slump, hard. The problem is, the two lines on either side of them are playing very well. Tough predicament for AV.
  • I will be in Ottawa for the game on March 26th. Hank better be healthy by then.
  • Cam Talbot is in a tough situation. He has played admirably in Hank’s stead, but you have a combination of fans really wanting to see this team firing on all cylinders, with the fact that Talbot has cracked 35 GP (he is at 25 now) in exactly one season in his career (55 in ’12-’13). He isn’t used to this kind of work load, especially at the NHL level. The fatigue factor is becoming more of an issue. Hopefully he can hang on until Hank returns.
  • This current section of the schedule is something of a meat grinder. I wish Hank had been ready to go for this stretch, but hopefully they can continue piling up the points.
  • Apologies for the long-winded thought dump, but a lot has happened since I last wrote. In closing, I can’t help but wonder if the Ducks were interested in James Wisniewski at $6.5 million, they had to be willing to talk Vatanen for Girardi again, right Dave?
  • If you follow me on Twitter, you have already seen this, but I will leave you with Ondrej Pavelec’s new Bruce Springsteen tribute mask. Because it rocks.

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  • Nice write up Justin. After this trade deadline, we came away with the top player moved, Yandle. I just hope he lives up to all the hype surrounding him.

    Vatanen for Girardi, interesting potential trade. Maybe after we win the cup this year, sure hope that is the case, the Ducks may show interest again. The obvious question, does Dan have a NTC?????????????? Hope not!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Trading girardi lmfao he’s one of the best shutdown d men in the game. He’s very very very solid and at 30 still has many years left in the tank. Rangers d is stacked best in the NHL trading or moving any of the big three is a stupid move.

      • He’s adequate, but not a top pairing defenseman anymore. He’s paid as a top guy though, hence the trade discussion.

      • Sorry my friend, he is not a top d-man like he was two years ago. Last years finals, the Kings exposed Girardi for what he is, and that isn’t a top d-man, adequate, but not top………..

  • I think Slats did some good things at the deadline. What I still fear is that we needed another offensive sniper. I think age is starting to show for MSL and he needs some days off. Would have been nice to add a guy who can play the wing and may even have some juice left in the tank. Someone who knows he needs to score and make a difference on the offense. Not sure if that guy exists (and at what cost).

    • I think depending on MSL’s finish to the year, if he isn’t the answer, I like Buchenevich’s chances at cracking the roster next season. Cheap, scoring wingers are tough to come by.

  • I am smarting much more over the loss of two HIGH (I disagree that a #1 and a #2 can be classified as “highish”) draft picks than I am over Duclair.

    If the Rangers do not win the Stanley Cup, this year or next then the Yandle trade will really be a horrid move.

    My personal opinion is that draft picks should be kept. Nay sayers point to Edmonton, I’ll point to the Islanders.

    The Rangers have been my team since I went to my first Hockey game in 1955. I have supported them in good times and bad. All I am doing is pointing out the fact that in my opinion, the continual trading away of draft picks is a poor management decision. There will not be a Hayes every year to conter act the loss of high picks we keep trading away.

    Please look down the NJ Turnpike. Philly has 8 picks in the first 100, of a very very deep draft.

    • Jerry

      You sound like me. I guess we are two old farts who think alike, keep the picks. Oh well…………..

      • Yes Walt, I guess so, I look at teams like Detroit who not only draft well but manage their kids far better than the Rangers.

        • Jerry, I suppose the way I look at it is the draft picks are going to be in the #25-30 range and the #55-60 range, so generally not the top talent. Additionally, these can be looked at as lottery tickets and can be the cost of doing business for a contending team.

          It’s all cyclical, as I’m sure once Nash’s contract expires and Hank enters his twilight years, the Rangers will move into a quasi-rebuild and start to try and recapture long-term assets to build for the next window. It’s how that downswing is managed that will be the really telling thing when it comes to evaluating the long-term health of the organization’s pipeline.

          • Right. That’s how the core of this team was built, through the draft and via trades that included drafted players.

            In sports, it’s cyclical, and you try to win when your window is open. You only have so many chances with a core that is in its prime.

        • You guys aren’t wrong. But, you have to admit that the Rangers have to go for it right now. Win a cup this year or next and we won’t bemoan this lost generation that we are likely looking at. It’s very possible that the prospect pipeline dries up for a few years after Skjei, Buch, Ryan Graves, and Tambellini.

          But who knows what happens between now and then. There very well could be a Hayes type signing every year. If the Rangers continue to have success there could be opportunities for college kids to step straight into the lineup on a good team, like Kevin Hayes did this year. The playing time is enticing and so is playing in NY for a good Rangers team.

          Maybe 4-year college stars will look at a guy like Justin Schultz in Edmonton and how he might have ruined his career by opting to join a terrible Edmonton organization instead of the Red Wings or Rangers (I think those were the two other teams he was considering at the time).

  • Nice read, Justin. I definitely appreciate the perspective on many of these points. I’ll admit that I was pretty shocked at first regarding the trade, but have warmed to it some. We’ll know by this/next spring if we like it or not (that’s what hindsight does). 2 points you made which especially caught my attention:

    If Duclair was 22-23 coming off a 19 goal season or something, I would probably feel differently.

    ^Agree. To me, this is why Sather would have preferred moving a Duclair over a Miller, as only one of them doesn’t subtract from today’s finished product. In 5 years, the other guy may be the better player, but like you pointed out it was all about timing/ what can you do for us now.

    From an asset management standpoint, it’s also good business. Duclair was the #80 pick (3rd round) and was turned into a high-end puck mover in his prime. That’s good drafting/development.

    ^That bullet actually gave me a lot of closure on the trade. Like you said, it stings, but looking at it through this lens certainly establishes a comfort level which I didn’t have before.

    Always appreciate the calm, lawerly and logical perspective you provide. Happy Friday.

    • Much appreciated, Hatrick. I think it’s a lot of information/emotion to digest in a very short period of time. The trade changed the complexion of the team and the remainder of the season, while seemingly threatened the future in a major way. Duclair was billed to us as the next Ranger superstar, and all of a sudden, he’s gone.

      I think the general perception of a shallow prospect pool also thrust a brighter light on Duclair, but at the end of the day, I think it was the right move to make to shore up this season. It could blow up huge, but at least he went all in with this team.

      • Yes. And that’s one thing I agree with. It took me the past couple seasons of contemplating, but the MSL trade was very telling. We could have traded Callahan for younger, but instead we went with someone for the now. Lundqvist is a generational talent, and someone who we need to go all in with. Not in a wreckless manner (which some would argue that we have), but it would be the wrong move not to push the chips all in. Couple that with Nash’s best season since 08/09 and we have more incentive to make a big splash.

        If this roster doesn’t bring us the hardware all the recent moves will certainly sting, but as far as timing and assets, now if ever, is the time to go all in. I like what Sather has done and I will not fault him if it doesn’t work out. The playoffs will be a crapshoot, but we are in a very good position to mitigate falling victim to unfortunate circumstances with the roster he put together. Now is a very exciting time to be a fan.

        As for everyone who is clamoring about picks and whatnot, we have tomorrow to figure that out. Like Justin said, once our window passes, cup or no cup, we have assets to retool along the way. We will not turn into Edm / Buf

  • Losing duclair doesn’t sting at all lmfao he was mediocre he was scared of the physical game. He benefited tremendously from the team we have here. He’s a concussion prone jr player. Sather delt him before he becomes the next delzaster. Stop with the he’s so good he wasn’t. He was awful.

  • I don’t think we over paid for yandle at all draft picks mean nothing. We under paid for yandle

  • Also yandle isn’t just a year and half player sather said great shot at retaining him. His contract ends when boyler ends. So yandle will be a ranger for a long long time. Best d group in thenhl by a mile

  • I disagree with the theory that the Rangers window is closing. We’ve got several in-their-prime veterans, many youngsters who will get better (Kredier, Miller, Fast, Hayes), and (had) a fair share on the farm near-ready to make the jump. A healthy and enduring roster/pipeline had been built…giving us a chance to remain a top echelon team for the foreseeable future…much like the Detroit model. Now, with the MSL and Yandle deals, we’ve lost a major prospect and a slew of #1 picks.

    Yes, we have a better chance now of winning the cup this year (though we also had a legit chance pre-Yandle). But, I like the idea of the Rangers contending every year. An ultimate return to the post-Cup/pre-Lundqvist years will be difficult to live thru.

  • There is actually an advantage to trading Duclair and picks. It isn’t a good thing of course, but a bare cupboard offers some compensation. A guy like Kevin Hayes can see the Rangers as a place where his path is not blocked.

    I’d like to see Skapski start against Chicago – give Talbot some rest. Granted, if the Rangers lose and the Islanders beat Florida, they could fall out of first place, but it is hardly critical at this point. More important is not burning Talbot out. We expect Hank back with enough time to get sharp for the playoffs, but we really don’t know, do we?

    • Three days off precede the Chicago game. No reason not to stick with Talbot, who played very well vs. Detroit. Next spot for Skapski figures to be the Buffalo game on 3/14, the first of back-to-backs….unless, of course, the King returns before then.

  • Everyone was saying before the trade deadline we had to go get a 5-6 D man and a 4LW Sather went out and just did that and more , with out ridding the lineup of anyone unless you think J Moore or TG were not replaceable . What do you think Maloney was just going to give us Yandle at half price and tell Sather if you don’t win the Cup you don’t owe me nothing . Bottom line if we don’t include DuClair we don’t get Yandle at half price , we don’t get him at all . So bottom line are we better today then we were last Monday .

  • Justin;

    Excellent post! One of the better ones, and I mean that in a complimentary way. Was a great read.

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