With two cuts looming, Rangers have plenty of options

jarret stoll
Stoll (Mark J. Terrill/AP)

Over the weekend, the New York Rangers cut the roster to 25 players. In doing so, a lot of questions were answered about the makeup of the opening day roster. Brady Skjei will spend some time in Hartford. Brian Gibbons, despite his solid preseason, will also open the season in Hartford. The only apparent guarantee is that Jayson Megna gets cut, which means there are very few question marks remaining.

Kevin Klein, Dylan McIlrath, or Raphael Diaz?

Two of the above three will make the team, but if Alain Vigneault has his way, all three will make the team. McIlrath has been a pleasant surprise this preseason, as it was do or die for the former first round pick. He has certainly out-performed Klein, whose contract may become a hindrance rather than a luxury. But the Rangers can fit all three under the salary cap, assuming other roster moves are made first.

Tanner Glass or Jarret Stoll?

Stoll has been outplaying Glass all preseason and provides significantly more roster flexibility. Glass is a solid locker room guy, a great teammate, but on the ice he is lacking outside of the physical game. His $1.45 million cap hit is also a large detriment that the Rangers –especially if they want to keep eight defensemen– cannot afford. Glass is on the outside looking in. Demoting Glass to the AHL won’t clear his full $1.45 million cap hit, but the Rangers will save $950k, which is enough to have eight defensemen on the roster.

A trade?

There are three candidates for trades at the moment: Glass (maybe, if there’s a taker), Klein (maybe, if AV is ok with a Diaz/McIlrath platoon), and McIlrath (not bloody likely). There are plenty of teams that could use a Kevin Klein, who is a third pairing defenseman on the Rangers. Klein would slide into a top-four role on many teams, and a top-four defenseman at $2.9 million is a bargain. But for the Rangers, he’s a bottom-pairing guy, and $2.9 million is a luxury that they cannot afford at the moment.

Of course, removing Glass’ contract from the equation makes room for all three defensemen. There are still teams that value the type of player Glass is, and his cap hit ($1.45 million) is larger than his salary next year ($1 million), so that makes him more tradeable.

What about Brady Skjei?

The logjam on the blue line only gets more complicated when you throw Skjei into the mix. He’s in Hartford now, but he will be a regular in the lineup before the season is over. Injuries usually make room for players at some point, so that bridge will be crossed when it comes. If there are no injuries, well then…

Trade both Glass and Klein?

Tanner Glass’ and Kevin Klein’s days as Rangers are numbered. There are better, cheaper options available. Packaging them together might be the only way to get rid of Glass’ deal. The farm system could use a few more skilled prospects, and the Rangers could certainly use more draft picks.

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  • Mostly solid analysis, but if the Rangers force another team to take Glass as part of a deal for Klein, the chances of getting quality prospects/draft choices in return is minimized.

    • No problem trade glass for some draft pick. It dumps the salary and makes the necessary room. Why is everyone rushing to get rid of Klein? Injuries are always a factor so lets be patient. You can always make a deal later if its right for us.

  • Reminds me of that old Billy Preston song – Nothin’ from nothin’ leaves nothin’. That is the return on a Glass trade.

    • The mismatch between cap hit and wage makes him attractive to a team looking to make the salary floor but not spend that much money. FLA, PHX, DAL?

  • I am not a big Diaz fan. Mclllrath has no options so would have to clear waivers which will never happen. I would cut Diaz, keep Mcllrath as the 7th defensemen, knowing I have Skjei in Hartford. if needed. Also AV may keep both Mcllrath an Diaz around, along with Glass.

  • Eddie, totally agree with you on carrying the 8D men. I really think it will help Giradi & Boyle. It will also help the rest of the D crew, I thought we were gassed when it came down to play Tampa. I luv McD , he would play every minute of every game, if AV would let him, but this will help him too. Eddie, you know I am a charter member of the Mcilrath Minions fan club, but I have a feeling this kid is going to be a solid rock for us for a very long time.

  • These lines for tonights game look like the opening night lineup:



    I bet Klein gets moved and Diaz is the 7D. Glass goes to Hartford…

      • Honestly, I’ve been busy with school and have fallen a bit out of the loop. But I do see Lindberg playing 4th line, Etem playing third, Stoll or Stalberg being scratched as the season moves on. Someone does, however, have to be a casualty, and I think experience (most of the time) will win out over promise.

  • So this years crusade is to get rid of Klein? Last year it was Hagelin, and I assume we are still waging war against the cancer that is Tanner Glass? Why you would rid yourself of a decent #6 d man is beyond me. Must be for cap relief again. (;

    • It’s all about allocation of finite resources in a salary cap era. And while winning is the end goal, managing your cap effectively allows you to win more often and for longer windows.

      And then there’s Philadelphia. Up against the cap, have players in the minors that could play D now, can’t because they can’t clear salary because of “win now” contracts and NTC’s handed out willly nilly. Hextall is counting the days until the expansion is announced.

    • I feel like this discussion has been had 100 times already. The cap is real, and you can’t get around it….

      • Maybe not a war, but he definitely was targeted; and eventually sacrificed so they could make up for overpaying overated defensemen, and wanna-be tough guys. Be careful what you wish for in the trading of Klein. If what they got back for Hagelin is any indication, they’re not exactly on a roll, trade-wise.

        • We can argue the relative merits of Staal and Girardi, I get that. But you can line up all 30 NHL GMs and I GUARANTEE you that they will tell you that top pair defensemen have greater market value than third line wingers that generate 35 pts/yr.

          If the Rangers didn’t overpay for those two and let them go, then they overpay for others to replace them. How does that make us better and keep Hags?

          And as mentioned on the other page, Glass is not a part of this conversation. He’s a $1.5 mil cap hit. Hags is $4 mil. Glass is irrelevant to whether Hags stayed or went.

          Despite our disagreement on Hags and the cap, I happen to agree with you about Klein. The cap forced the team to trade Hags. The cap, at the moment, is NOT forcing a trade of Klein. We’ve lost Hags and the intangibles he brought. We lost MSL and his second best on the team point production. That has to be replaced. Why further add stress to your roster by weakening your defensive depth if you don’t have to?

          • Where we disagree(big surprise!), is describing Girardi as a top pair defenseman. He may be playing that role with the Rangers—but watching him the last 2 Seasons—he is no where near that type of player. As for Staal, I don’t think hes been anything special since the concussions—brutal truth. I disagree that they would have overpaid somebody else if not Girardi and Staal. Who knows if they could have gotten back some decent young d men in trade who could have slotted nicely into the cap. But we’ll never know ,because they took the easy way out and just paid them.(or overpaid them)
            As for Klein, I still believe McIlrath is being showcased—I don’t think Klein is going anywhere.

          • There are many that agree with you on Staal and Girardi. I’m not wild about their contracts, and I know they are targets of the fancy stats folks, but I look at overall performance. Over the last few seasons, with Hank in goal and a core threesome of McDonagh, Girardi and Staal, the Rangers have been among the best defensive teams in the league. These guys have shutdown the likes of Ovechkin, Malkin, Crosby, Paccioretty. They’ve been to the conference finals three times in the last four seasons. If Girardi and Staal are overrated, how come those players aren’t slicing us up come playoff time each year?

            I agree on Klein, and I think both Diaz and McIlrath are being showcased. Who stays and who goes depends on what they can get for each on the open market, as well as what AV values more, experience or an untested rookie with probably (in my opinion) a limited ceiling.

          • Girardi may not be the prettiest, but if you want a hot meal every night, a clean house, the kids taken care of and some good loving’……. he’s your girl

        • We have to stop reacting to this guy… he’s pushing buttons like a three yr. old for the sake of pushing buttons!


    • I think Klein is good, but I think $3 million is too much for a third pairing defender. He can definitely play top 4 on another team, so I think he would be worth more on another team than he is on our team. While I don’t think Diaz and McIlrath are as good as him, I think they are better values for this team as they cost over $2 million less. Same situation as with Hagelin unfortunately, but I guess it’s a good problem to have too many good players so that we’re forced to trade some away. Klein probably won’t be traded to start the season, but I think when management realizes how much of a cap bind they are in next year and Skjei shows he is NHL ready then there will be a mid season trade.

      • Right side dmen are the most valued dmen of all. Teams over pay in trades and free agency for these guys. Klein is a steal at 2.9 mil. No reason to get rid of him.

  • Trying to sift through AV’s comments in this morning presser, this is what I’m surmising–

    While AV prefers to keep 8D, it is unlikely they will do so. They want cap flexibility for other deals down the road. This means clearly it is a battle between Diaz and McIlrath for the 7D. Both are being showcased for a possible trade.

    I still think it is highly improbable that they trade Klein now and weaken their defensive depth when the cap clearly isn’t forcing them to do so. If they take that approach, there is virtually no chance AV can rest his defensemen the way he’d like to. Unless there’s a heck of a deal out there that they can’t turn down, I say Klein stays for now until either McIlrath shows he ready for more duty, and/or Skjei forces his way onto the roster. If Klein were being showcased, I’d suspect he’d be playing tonight.

    I think Glass is as good as gone. If not, then it’s likely Stoll or Stalberg. Etem is making this team for sure.

    Hayes back to center…sounds like he will stay there.

    • Very valid point on Klein. It seems more likely he’s traded at the deadline than before the season.

      • I wonder if they already have an idea of who he will be traded to now. If you actually look at their cap with Glass buried and 8D, they have ~$400k in cap space. Releasing McIlrath or Diaz only adds an additional $700,000 or so in space. I cannot imagine that is enough cap space for them to have “breathing room” to start the season. You add in Klein’s $2.9 million, then that cap space becomes real cap space where you can add some players of substance during the season.

        Another fact to consider: what about Klein’s skillset can Dylan not recreate? If anything, he seems like he might be a better candidate for 5v5 shot suppression. I think for a combined cap hit of $1.4 million or so, Diaz and McIlrath are the way to go. Also, if for some reason those 2 struggle and the team needs to add defensive reinforcements, they will have Skjei to call up, pushing one of the LHD to RD.

        • Ian , where have you been hiding, ?? that was one of the on target post on the Rangers D/Cap issues, that I have read!! ,right on!, great insight!!

    • Eddie I think similarly. Like we’ve mentioned on previous days and is mentioned in the article by Dave… at some point between now and the beginning of next season Skjei is going to be a top-4 defenseman on this team.

      AV would love to keep 8D but it’s very unlikely… unless you wanted to do something ridiculous like play Brian Boyle as a 4th line winger to add more offense (obviously not happening). Mcllrath is still only 23! Big, shutdown defenseman sometimes take longer to develop, but I also like Diaz’ game more than most. His 2 goals the other night (granted he was set up nicely on both) show that he’s another right-handed shot on the PP and isn’t a defensive liability. I can’t see how Klein isn’t on this roster to start the season. My guess is Diaz gets cut because he’s not “home grown” and someone else gets dealt at the deadline to open up a spot for Skjei.

    • Ed

      I read the same clip on SNY where AV would love to carry 23 players, but won’t due to cap considerations. The writing is on the wall, Mc Ilrath is the 7th d-man, Glass will be history, either in AHL, or traded. Diaz will come to an agreement to play in Europe, and we field the best team we have in years.

      As to Klein, whom I like, he is an expensive luxury that we can’t afford. He will start the season with us, Big Mc will develop, and Kevin gets traded later in the year. As much as I’d like to see him around, he is going, come heck or high water!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Enjoy Joe!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Eddie u should be writing these articles cuz Dave must be crazy. The whole Klein thing is an absolute joke. Right dmen are so highly valued and we’d most likely be trading for 1 at deadline if we got rid of him. Hagelin had to be done and we got etem and moved up 18 picks in 2nd rd to get gropp. It’s how u stay relevant. Look at what Chicago has to do after they win their cups

    • Good analysis Eddie. In a perfect world, maybe there’s a market for Etem…….. maybe not. From his pre season play, I don’t feel he’s a good fit for this team. Not looking forward to “he’s got great talent, just needs to get comfortable” 60 games into this season. Stalberg is involved when he’s on the ice and I like the fact he jumps in the mud. Etem……. basically very little impact.

  • They should move Klein to Boston along with Glass. They need a defenseman who doesnt get hurt, and they love “bruisers” like Glass. Take a second and third back, or a first and a fifth, or something of that nature. Dump some contracts, dump salary, dump Glass, keep Diaz and McIlrath, and keep a space open for Skjei as an injury call up. Plus you avoid having to make a choice between Stoll and Glass. Or worse, Lindberg.

    • I would say you’re crazy to ask for that return, but after what the Bruins paid for Rinaldo, hell, shoot for the moon.

      It makes a ton of sense too, since Chara’s status is up in the air and the Bruins are barely icing a competent DCore as it is.

    • I’m all about the optimism, however, I’d be shocked if that combo commanded a 1-2 or 3 in any deal. Any movement of Klein (however foolish I believe it is IMO) would be recognized and taken at face value…… A salary dump. Lessening the return

  • JOBU just hopes Boyle can stay fresh!

    Klein was good but slipped due to the injury, it would be a shame to have another Strolman situation, and see Boyle costs us!

    JOBU is also all in for the KID!!!

    Diaz has been looking good!

    Toss Boyle, keep the others!


    • JOBU must know that Boyle, with a NMC, can’t and won’t be going anywhere this year.

      But, the rum sounds good! 🙂

  • I’m a little reluctant to get rid of Klein now – I know he’s expensive, and I know he tailed off last year after a strong start and now resides in the “overrated” column, but I’m still a tad nervous about discarding a legit NHL Dman so soon, before seeing how McR does when the games actually count.

  • Barring injuries, it’s pretty much a given that Klein is gone prior to the trade deadline. But since the Rangers are under the cap, unless there is some other trade they want to make right now that we don’t know about, why trade him now and intentionally weaken yourself on defense when you don’t have to? Doesn’t that run counter to the very point that AV has made about wanting to keep his defensemen fresh this year? How do you do that with Diaz and a still untested McIlrath, who clearly will have a substantial learning curve, without a big drop off.

    And then one injury….???? Yikes. Too scary to think about. Klein, as a guy who is capable of playing second pair on many teams, I believe will be of even greater value this season to the Rangers with the desire to rest Girardi, Staal and Boyle.

    One other note…I think the Rangers have more back to back games his season than any other team. Even more of a reason why their defensive depth needs to be kept intact for now.

    • Keep bangin’ the rational drum for keeping Klein, old friend. Hopefully he’s lurkin’ around the Kewl Kidz table here at BSB and takin’ notes. 😉 LOL

    • Barring injuries? I disagree! What if the Rangers are blowing the league out at the trade deadline and Klein is one of the reasons why. Maybe he helps us win the Cup! One never knows!

      Right Walt!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Excellent point about the back to back games Eddie. Boyle is gonna need a breather here and there for sure. Injuries are a legitimate concern and having a deep corp is a tremendous advantage in this league. The Rangers find themselves in that very fortunate position. Like you said Eddie, if all is well on the blueline come the trading deadline, then yes, do your job as a GM and explore every avenue to make your roster as strong as possible for another deep playoff run. Dealing Klein right now is premature and as well as McIlrath has played in the pre season, leaning too heavy on him could wind up being a big mistake for both the Rangers and McIlrath

  • This team is built to win the cup in 2015, Klein is not getting dealt.

    Moreover, Stoll, Etem and Stalberg are locks for the team.

    My best guess is Glass and Diaz are sent to Hartford and if they are picked off waivers by another club then so be it.

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