mackenzie skapski
Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images

It’s truly unfortunate timing that Rangers goalie prospect McKenzie Skapski is going to be sidelined for almost half a year. Skapski had perhaps unexpectedly established himself as a legitimate NHL prospect this season. He did so by first making a solid, if not excellent start to life in the AHL with the Wolf Pack then built on that with an impressive cameo in the NHL while Henrik Lundqvist was shelved. Now,  Skapski is injured.

Skapski is young and he’ll return. His injury may have cost him a regular back up gig at the NHL level this coming season but then again, wouldn’t he be best served with 40-50 starts at the AHL level? Indeed, Skapski’s injury shouldn’t in any way alter the Rangers plans to actively shop or ‘listen’ to offers for Cam Talbot. The free agent goaltending market this coming season will be awash with short term options for a backup, a position that would only cost the Rangers dollars and no assets. Talbot is replaceable (Sorry Cam).

Glen Sather has done a good job over the past half a decade and more of developing the Rangers into a contender. They should also be a contender next season – It’s just that the difference between winning and losing in the NHL cap era, in an era of parity, is so small. But Sather has achieved his rebuild by giving up multiple draft picks and prospects – some rightly, some wrongly.

The Rangers are now in a position that, even though the roster is young and there are prospects en route, they could really stand to acquire some assets wherever possible. One of the keys to a successful organisation (and something the Rangers have done well over the past five or so years) is the development of talent on a consistent basis. That part of development includes actually keeping hold of some of your own draft picks and prospects or, acquiring new ones. Re-enter Talbot.

Opinion varies wildly on what Talbot could fetch in a postseason trade but a second round pick is an entirely reasonable expectation and in a draft that appears deep in the early rounds, the Rangers cannot afford to enjoy what amounts to a luxury item with Talbot on the bench for 65 games of the season. Even ‘just’ a second round draft pick could see them pick up a legitimate NHL prospect for the mid to long term, its simply sensible roster management. It’s necessary roster management.

Talbot’s departure wouldn’t significantly alter the Rangers ability to win now given the presence of a certain world class Swede (hello King Henrik) in the Rangers net. Free agent options such as Viktor Fasth and Jonas Gustavsson are underwhelming but would be reasonable options for ten game stand-ins for a season.

Are retreads such as Fasth ideal? Of course not, but Lundqvist figures to play the majority of games and the Rangers have the luxury of Skapski to fall back on mid season should a free agent veteran falter. Meanwhile they have two quality prospects in Halverson and Shesterkin to consider in the mid to long term. The Rangers are in a good situation in net. Deal from a position of strength folks.

Is a post about trading your (quality) backup goaltender worth so much air time? In this instance, yes. Talbot has become a significant asset and in a relatively weak goaltending market he figures to fetch a solid return and the Rangers need assets. We have all seen how fine the line between winning and losing is in the NHL playoffs. If moving Talbot is a calculated risk, it is one the Rangers need to make to continue to be competitive. Who knows what the impact may be down the line.

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