AnalysisIrresponsible Rumormongering

Scouting the market for roster upgrades

Courtesy of Bruce Bennett (Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett (Getty Images)

With the All-Star break in full swing, GMs from around the NHL will go on overdrive trying to find that missing piece. The goal is always the same this time of year. Improve now, improve for the future or for some teams, do a combination of both.

The Rangers needs are well documented at this point. To quickly recap, they could use another defensemen, a top 9 winger and perhaps some of their draft picks back. After all, they haven’t had a 1st rounder since 2012 and won’t have one till 2017, which is insane.

Anyway, with those goals in mind, below are some targets I would consider as the trade deadline approaches. As always, I’m happy to debate these ideas (civilly) in the comments.

Target #1: Brett Pesce, Defense, Carolina Hurricanes

 James Guillory - USA TODAY Sports
James Guillory – USA TODAY Sports

Show of hands, how many of you have heard of this guy? Unless you follow local youth hockey, you probably haven’t.

For those of you not familiar, he grew up in Westchester and played for the NJ Hitmen as a teenager (Eastern Junior Hockey League), followed by three years at the University of New Hampshire before being drafted by the Canes in the 3rd round of the 2013 draft.

Pesce is big blue liner (listed at 6’3 2oo lbs) who has 4 goals and 12 points (7g and 21pt pace) this season. What makes him an interesting target is he’s a righty, he’s mobile for a big guy, and most importantly, he’s a plus player in the scoring chance department. The offense is obviously a bonus.

Acquiring a solid 21 year old, who is cost controlled will not be easy, especially considering where Carolina is in their life stage. However, what makes this move less of a hail marry is their depth on defense.

Right now Pesce plays on the third pairing, with James Wisniewski and Justin Faulk ahead of him and Haydn Fleury and Ryan Murphy right behind him. The latter two are recent 1st round picks knocking on the door.

What’s the trade?

It’d be hard to acquire Pesce without offering up an NHL caliber player in return. With Eric Staal likely getting moved, plus limited depth at center on their roster and in their system, perhaps Hayes or Lindberg could be interesting pieces for them.

If they’re looking for defense, I think McIlrath would fit better in Carolina’s zone schemes than he has with AV’s version of man-coverage. However, that’s probably not enough of an upgrade for either team to pull the trigger.

Target #2: Fedor Tyutin, Defense, Columbus Blue Jackets

Getty Images
Getty Images

Pavel Buchnevich is doing things in Russia at age 20 that only other superstars have done offensively at that age (e.g., Tarasenko,  Kuznetsov). Quite simply, he’s the biggest wild card this organization has had in years.

Buchnevich’s contract ends after their season (April at the latest). He said he has no desire to play in the AHL, which should surprise no one given the fact that the KHL offers much more than the AHL in terms of lifestyle and money.

All of this leads us to Tyutin.

The thought process of many GMs who have Russian prospects in their pipeline is to surround them with Russian veterans. Between the language barrier, the culture barrier, and the different styles of hockey, transitioning from Russia to the US is difficult.

Tyutin can be what Gonchar was for Malkin, Anisimov is for Panarin, and many players have been for Ovie – a mentor. Add in the fact that Alain Vigneault has never coached a high profile Russian hockey player, and you’re likely looking at a tough integration process for Pavel.

What’s the trade?

Tyutin, who’s capabilities we all know, has two more years left at $4.5m per. This could be a tough fit unless the Rangers decide to part ways with Girardi, or Staal, or Keith Yandle. Right now, defense is an issue for the BJs, so it’s possible we could flip one of them for Fedor. This obviously includes a lot of assumptions.

Target #3: Blake Wheeler, Wing, Winnipeg Jets

Getty Images
Getty Images

Right now, everyone is talking about his teammates Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien, both of whom are rumored to be on the trading block. However, if there’s a Jet that I would target, it would be Blake Wheeler.

Wheeler has all the tools you’d want in a winger. He’s big (listed ay 6’5, 200lbs), has positive possession and scoring chance stats (despite playing on some mediocre teams), and he can skate well. He has also succeeded in a 1-2-2 counter attack system, which is what AV employs.

Contractually, he’s got three years left at $5.6m cap hit, which will take him to age 32. So you’re not getting a player locked up well into his 30s. This season he’s on pace for an 80 point season, a career high. However, even if he regresses to his 60-70 point self, his cap hit would be manageable given his production.

In a way, he’s everything you’d hope Hayes or Kreider would turn out to be. And either of those two players is who I’d begin to build a package around for him.

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  • it seems the rangers need a piece to make a run for the playoffs but what do you do? hopefully February 29 gets them something

  • Given the need at D, my choice would be Brett Pesce. Like you stated, he’s big, mobile, righty, and cost controlled. Would Carolina take either G, or Marc?? Never happen, they are too smart for that…………

    If we get him for Hayes, I’d make that move. If he is traded for Lindberg, I’d be somewhat reserved. As for the others mentioned, Tyutin is getting on in age, isn’t a hard hitting guy, soft really, we could do better with other Russian choices out there.

    Wheeler is interesting, may cost too much, but he is signed for a few more years, but at a cap hit of $5.6, wow that may be deal breaker. We have too many kids that need new contracts, and that contract may tie our hands too much. Interesting people just the same!!!!!!!!

  • Of all you mentioned, Wheeler is the guy who improved us for a 2016 run. The other guys are all solid players, but more for 2017.

    If I want to bring on a Russian mentor, what about Artie A? He has ties to the organization, and can even help in the PK the rest of the way. He also is a possession guy who could help the Hayes line.

    Something tells me Nash is going to be moved.

  • I’m usually optimistic but I am sorry, the idea that the Rangers should be seeking a piece to make a playoff run is relatively absurd in my opinion. They should be all in rebuilding mode while they have players that can garner them top prospects. That means trading away guys like Nash, The King and Yandle, keeping most of their young guys (like Hayes, Kreider, Miller, Lindbergh). Let Raanta play goal the rest of the year. Build for the future and for God’s sake don’t trade any more kids for a rental.

    • Hank has a full NMC, Nash has a partial NTC. The problem is to move him to a contender, Rangers will have to carry a ton of his salary going forward.

      The million dollar question is if Nash moves later via expansion, are the Rangers still stuck with the dead cap space? One of the rules that will have to be hammered out, but I’m guessing new team would assume full salary.

      If the front office can get to June 2017 without gutting the youth of this team, yet stay competitive, things get a lot easier for the 5 years after that.

      There’s a lot of hard choices to be made on the run up to the trade deadline, the one that kicks everything off is whether the switch to zone is effective in curing the team’s defensive woes. If it is, the choices get even harder.

      • I realize that Hank cannot be moved without his consent, but he might be convinced if he goes to a contender and sees that the Rangers are in a rebuilding mode. Ditto for Nash. The problem is of course their hefty contracts.

    • Rebuild? A team that went to the SC finals two years ago and the ecf last year? Thats 3rd in the conference not hitting full stride yet? I would like a little of what you’re smoking.

      Some tweaks? Sure; a rebuild? Come on now. …

    • Absolutely ridiculous Peter.

      This team is second in the division, third in the conference, and 7th overall.

      They at 8-5-1 in their last 14, and have tightened things up defensively. Still a ways to go, but significantly improved from a month ago.

      I read somewhere they are the most improved Corsi team over the past six weeks or so.

      Through 49 games, the Rangers are five points BETTER than they were through 49 games two seasons ago when they went to the SCF. And they are only three behind where they were last year when they finished with the best record in the sport.

      They haven’t come close to playing their best hockey yet, and still they are in this position. In the annals of the modern NHL, or any sport for that matter, what GM bails on a season given these facts?

      So Peter, instead of Jeff Gorton, Sather selected you as his handpicked successor. You were part of all the signings and trades that took place these last few years. You go to your boss now and say, “Slats, here’s my plan. We are going to sell off our assets. We’re going to convince Hank to leave the city he loves…somehow (not happening, but let’s pretend). We will buy out Girardi and Staal. We will trade Nash. We’ll probably have to eat a lot of this money….probably at least half of it. But no worries. We’re going to get younger. Can’t guarantee we will be drafting or acquiring any GREAT young talent. They might all be the second coming of Pavel Brendl, Jamie Lundmark, Hugh Jessiman and Bobby Sanguinetti…..but hey, at least we can say we got younger, right?

      “Never mind that MSG, a publicly traded company, has enjoyed huge revenues these last two seasons thanks to two deep playoff runs. One year after being twenty minutes from a second consecutive trip to the SCF, I’ve decided we are giving up. Tell Dolan not to worry about the decline in TV ratings, merchandise, dollars generated in ticket sales and concession from at least one or two playoff series we would likely have this year if we kept the team intact and actually went for it. Just give me a few years and I guarantee you… 2020, we’ll hopefully be the 2007 Rangers again.”

      Good luck selling that plan! 🙂

  • Pesce is a lateral move for you this season at best; can be picked up over the summer because Fleury will be ready to go next season, sending him down the pecking order and making him a guy likely to be sent down. The problem is, at this pace he’ll no longer be waiver exempt, especially if Carolina makes the playoffs. Long term it’s a great fit, no sense paying retail now when you can get him at a discount in 6 months.

    Tyutin? There’s enough Russians in NYC that you can bring in to mentor him, the $ and term are problematic.

    Wheeler? Jets love him, need him to be the mentor to the kids working their way up from the farm. Love him as a player, though.

    • Yea, that’s the major thing that most don’t realize nowadays. It’s around 22-27 for hockey. There’s no significant drop off until early-mid 30’s, but it’s not the best you’re getting. That said, I think Wheeler’s production will be fine for the length of the deal.

        • Well, actually, if we were to run an analysis on the age versus production curve for all NHLers since 2005, and then normalize the results to rid our findings of spurious regression….

          *mouth breathing*
          *pushes glasses up bridge of nose with index finger*

          • I’m not mocking at all, just adding levity. FWIW, I’ve applied to a few sports analytics jobs (for a change of scenery) and am currently pursuing a masters degree in financial risk mgmt, which lays the statistics/ econometrics type courses on thick.

            I’m fully on board with applying advanced statistical analysis to sports in efforts to better our understanding of the game and I’ve been pretty consistent in voicing that on these boards and elsewhere.

          • Is Nash now on a limited no trade, or is that next season?

            A reminder, Girardi is on a full no trade until 17-18.

          • How deep do you have to throw a guy into chateau bow wow to force a clause waiver, yet still be considered a “class” organization? How many agents will still have clients if they rolled over on every no trade waiver?

            Look, I’m the one who had suggested burying Girardi on LTIR and using his salary to make a deal for a rental when they had the chance. Agents will respect the Machiavellian approach rather than granting a NTC/NMC then welshing on it the 1st moment it’s convenient. They’d rather ask for the move than be told.

  • Trading away the present is no guarantee of sucess. Edmonton should be a big hint to that. This team is third in the east and 7th in the league. Every team has holes, every one plays poorly for stretches. It doesn’t mean you burn the house down.

    If you wanna talk about trading away every 1st rounder from 12-17 yeah, not ideal but I like going to the playoffs every year since 2011

    • in response to peter ruden, commenting on my phone in reply to others’ posts keeps creating a new thread

    • The ‘house’ is old and rickety. Slats traded away too many young and talented players and/or first round picks and now we don’t have enough good players in the pipeline. So I respectfully disagree.

      I believe that selling now when teams that are playoff bound are seeking players will garner the best players in return. Such teams will even spend for a rental (DuClair for Yandle).

      They had an excellent run but they spent lavishly to achieve it and their D has grown old and they need to get bigger and more talented at forward and center. I think it is time to refuel.

      • i just don’t know what team i’d trade places with outside of chicago and detroit. id add washington to the list but that would depend on if the crash in the playoffs again.

      • Brassard-28

        In fact, other than Boyle and maybe Moore, no one is over the hill. The house is old and rickety? Hardly.

        They had an excellent run two years in a row and eight months ago were considered a SC contender. So based on a half season, you’re saying there’s no chance, absolutely none, that players with track records, most of whom are still in their prime or entering their prime, can’t have second half surges in performance that are in line with what their track records have been?

  • Trade McIlrath for Pesce? Oh my…..

    McIlrath is already a 2nd pairing defenseman on most teams in the NHL not coached by Alain Vigneault. It won’t be long before he pushes for top pairing 5v5 minutes, as well.

    Make a run for 2016? A run where?

    I would love Blake Wheeler to be on this team and, while I am very fond of Tyutin, he doesn’t really fill a need. Buchnevich can buy some Rosetta Stone “how to speak english” tapes instead.

    Gorton needs to take control of this organization and rebuild. Nash, Stepan, Staal and Girardi (though I’d be fine with Danny G on our 3rd pairing w/Skjei next year) need to be parlayed into a combination of top 6 forward + picks/prospects.

    Hank should stay until Shestyorkin is ready to play at MSG. See have a another goalie stud in the making, mark my words.

    • You are spot on abt Shestyorkin, I’m really hyped abt that guy. And you are spot on abt DMAC too. There are still many skeptics on here who think he’s trade bait but I see him as a top 4 guy too. A future D of McIlrath & Graves gives me the warm fuzzies as twin towers. If we are going to make a trade that significantly improves the team, then go BIG, go Stamkos. Stepan or Brass, Hayes, Skjei, Lindberg, Fast for Stamkos & Drouin.

      • I am with you on Stamkos. He addresses the here and now; as well as years 3-6.

        We should break the bank for Stamkos; in my view he is exactly what this organization needs.

        I hope we are right on Shestyorkin; Benoit Allaire could do wonders with the skills this player already has.

  • Really would love to have Anisimov back with us! I’d be doing everything in my power to get him back if I was Gorton and he could mentor Pavel when he joins us next season. Perfect match IMO

    • Arti, is the perfect example of a guy who you hope has 2nd line potential but you move the moment you realize he doesn’t for your club and NEVER LOOK BACK.

  • I like mcilrath also, no need to trade for another defenseman. He adds toughness which has been missing for ages.
    with mcilrath in lineup you can send back down glass
    we also have skeij and graves at Hartford waiting
    we actually should trade our best chip in yandle to get a top 6 forward prospect or a number one

    • After 2015-16, the organization will have 3 RD under contract: Girardi, Klein & McIlrath. Nobody in the system who can step up without playing on the off wing.

      After 2016-2017 the team will (maybe) have 2 RD in the organization under contract: Girardi & McIlrath.

      That’s why I like Pesce, just not right now. You can get him this summer a lot cheaper than now, deal Klein’s expiring deal in another deal and have rebuilt your RD on the fly.

  • DMc shouldn’t be traded period. The kid is everything you want in a Hockey player. To many people have stats sheets in their hands and they should be stuck up their asses. DMc has worked very hard to become a solid second pairing. Worked hard on improving his skating and all aspects of his game. The kid is what we need more of on this team tough, hard working and very well liked in that room. He sticks up for his teammates and plays the game hard and with such toughness. This is NHL HOCKEY not FANTASY real sht. I would take a team full of guys like DMc with heart and soul. Roll right over a team of over paid, overrated,far to nice Stepan’s. Time to move on with this core. They didn’t get it done and it’s ok. You can’t make the mistake of holding to these to long. Than trade young assests thinking you’re still a player away. That has lead to one CUP in 75 plus years. FACT. One in 75 plus years. We are repeating the same thing. I’m in no way saying give up on the season. Not the give up or in type. I’m loyal to the SWEATHER. Tougher players need to be traded for or drafted. Skilled players with edge and size. SPEED, SIZE, SKILL and a lilttle NASTY. Look at the 94 team SPEED,SIZE,SKILL and a whole lot of NASTY. Up and the line up NASTY and EDGE. LEETCH didn’t get looked at to hard with Joey K and like 5 others in the line up. Don’t give that BS well it different now. BS it hockey it was then and it’s is now. Not talking Flyers of the 70’s. Danny G is done. Move him eat some salary. Do what Arizona and TB did to us. Get teams to over pay us. Stop being wimps and weak and desperate. This is NYC we are stronger then this. One CUP in 75 years. That CUP winning team was everything but weak. Skilled,Fast and oh so tough. Leaders up and down the rosters. The Captain may have been the greatest leader in modern times. Be smart sellers and improve this team FOR this YEAR and the FUTURE.

    • HARLEMBLUES, you nailed it AGAIN. I see Mcllrath as our solid pillar of strength as a quality D man for the next 10 years. I also see him as the captain of the NYR’s in the future. This kid is a throw back. My greatest fear is that he will never be the AV type player, thus AV convinces Gorton to trade him. Lets hope that does not happen.

  • I like the idea of the kid Pesce. He’s got good size and has some offensive upside. He’s a righty so forward or Defenseman I’d take him.
    In my personal opinion the Rangers need to find a real star right handed Defenseman to pair with McDonagh. That will give them a pair of shutdown blue liners that can be successful in all situations and McDonagh would be able to fly without Girardi weighing him down.
    If I’m Jeff Gorton I do whatever it takes minus Buchnevich, Skjei, Hayes, Miller, or Kreider to make that happen. If it takes Fast, Lindberg, or McIlrath then so be it. I can’t see why Armstrong wouldn’t want Yandle and his $2.65 mil expiring contract with Lindberg in return.

  • The biggest roster upgrades would involve removing a couple of pieces that are dragging down the team and proper utilization of the players the Rangers already have. Doesn’t really matter who the Rangers bring in if Girardi is still logging top minutes and we keep dressing a joke of a 4th line.

  • I be ok with the younger version of Tyutin that the Rangers deal away almost a decade ago. The older version that I have watch play a few times this year-no thanks. Blake Wheeler on the other hand has great hands can score goals, but at what cost? Pense looks intriguing. Me, I would try to add Chris Steward or Shawn Matthias- both players are on expiring contracts and will give the Blue Shirts some needed grit.

  • You would part with Hayes? After he had a 35 point second half last season? He’s had a slow start to the year. It’s what he does in the playoffs. The regular season means little. As long as the team wins.

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