AnalysisIrresponsible Rumormongering

About those Eric Staal rumors…

Staals are brothers

Over the past week or so, members of the mainstream media just cannot get enough of the “Eric Staal to the Rangers” rumors. To be honest, it’s gotten a bit out of control. These rumors seem to neglect a number of factors that make this type of trade improbably, but hey, anything can happen, right? Let’s take a look at some of the basics and see how hard we have to squint to see a legitimate fit here.

First, on Staal’s contract. He is in the final year of his seven year/$57.75 million contract he signed back in 2009. Staal’s cap hit is $8.5 million ($9.5m actual salary) and he will play this year finishing out his age 31 season. If Staal was to be traded for on deadline day, his remaining cap hit would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.92m. The Rangers are believed to have about $4.83 million of cap space on deadline day.

The financials, while not particularly pretty, are not completely out of the realm of possibility, so let’s look at the fit. Staal is Carolina’s leading forward in TOI. He is the face of the franchise and their number one centerman. He has spent his entire career in Carolina, but it does not appear they will continue the relationship beyond this season. The ‘Canes are in the middle of a significant rebuild, and a soon-to-be 32 year old commanding significant dollars doesn’t really fit their current position.

So, how does Staal fit this Rangers roster? Not particularly well, it turns out. Staal has been playing big minutes in the middle for Carolina, a position the Rangers are relatively settled at in the top six. If Staal is acquired, the Rangers would have a couple choices: 1) move Staal to wing. This isn’t particularly attractive, since he has been a center his entire career, has success in the face off circle and is used to the defensive assignments. 2) Move Derek Stepan down to 3C. While this looks great from a depth scenario, Stepan is signed for another five seasons after this year. That type of demotion may not play well between player and organization. Stepan has the skillset to play defensively in that role, but it’s an uncomfortable situation for all involved. 3) Move Brassard or Stepan to the wing. See explanation for point 2, since Brassard is signed for three more seasons after this year.

Good teams find a way to make room for good players, right? So, we can table the fit for a minute and take a look at Staal’s performance. Staal is a statistically strange case. He is still driving possession, but he isn’t shooting nearly as much as he has in the past and his shooting percentage is down slightly. His PDO is low, but he is anchored by a deplorable .899 save percentage, that seems to indicate he hasn’t been unlucky offensively. The scouting reports indicate there has been some decline in his game, but it seems that, due to a poor team around him, you can manipulate the stats to paint any picture you want. The effectiveness level you will receive from him for the next couple months is really anyone’s guess.

What about the acquisition cost? The Hurricane’s will understandably want a handsome sum for their franchise player. The problem is you aren’t buying a franchise player. You are buying a possibly in decline rental, that may or may not fit the roster and may or may not put this team in a position to make a deep run. The cost of this type of player has to be hedged against those factors. Any conversation that starts with Buchnevich or Skjei is a non-starter for me. The other issue is that the Rangers don’t have a ton of draft picks or prospect depth to get creative on this. One team is going to have to bend for this trade to happen.

Traditionally, the Rangers have always been big game hunters. Connecting one of the biggest franchises in the world to one of the biggest names available is good media business. This type of content certainly generates clicks and ad revenue. It’s quite impressive, actually. Many outlets are beginning to suggest putting Rick Nash on LTIR to accommodate Staal and keeping him out until the playoffs. It’s getting a little wonky out there.

I think the easy culprit behind this is everyone’s favorite “Staals are brothers!” meme. It’s an easy connection to make and Staal is one of the bigger names available at the deadline. It was a media perfect storm. I think you have to squint pretty hard to see a real fit here, considering roster construction and acquisition cost. I’m hoping for more reasonable asset management, myself. I guess we will see come Monday.

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  • IMO – Stall is the “Sather-era” acquisition. We will know quite soon if the “Gorton-era” is any different. We can be big game hunters of a top-6 forward – if – he brings that “scary-presence” we need. To me, only a Stamkos has that. I would think it would take more than Kreider and Skjei to break Stamkos free.

    That said, lets say we can make that trade. I only do it if Stamkos signs a 5 year deal at Nash numbers.

    • Stamkos would never sign for 5 years @ 7.8 AAV

      Understand your logic, but that’s like hoping for snow in July

      • That’s a starting point. They’ll have to up that offer since the market will be much more generous.

        • Someone may offer him 7 @ $10M, but the way the Cap is stabilizing, that is a monster percentage for one player. A Cap-floor team may do it, but would he want to go there?

          Ok, if not Stamkos, who else is a real impact player from a team that will not make the playoffs? Not talking Eichel or McDavid either

  • it looks like stamkos will be down in Tampa because Yzerman will not trade him we need a netfront presence Staal would be great but we don’t have the cash that he wants.

  • Well thought out article. Given the realistic acquisition cost I am against adding Eric Staal. You pretty much hit the nail on the head with, “The Hurricane’s will understandably want a handsome sum for their franchise player. The problem is you aren’t buying a franchise player. You are buying a possibly in decline rental, that may or may not fit the roster and may or may not put this team in a position to make a deep run.”

    I’d change my tune if we could get him on the cheap (Tambelini and a 3rd, for example) and he would be used as a 3rd line match up pivot. The issue is that he would displace Hayes to wing, but it would give us a lot of roster options once Nick Rash gets healthy.

    Realistically, I do not think Carolina would sell that low, and I am not in favor of over extending ourselves for this particular player. And one last thought- any time I hear anyone mention the Staal brother thing I just want to punch myself in my own face. Was happy to see you call that contingent out.

  • How many past their prime big named players do the Rangers have to acquire before they figure out its a losing strategy. Drafting and developing their own players should be the foundation in which to build their franchise on, if they wish to ice a competitive team. Cap space is limited, especially when your load up your roster with high salary has been players.

    • Thanks for some sanity on this player, and this policy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Too many examples, over the years, prove that your right on………..

  • If the Rangers are considering Staal as the piece that brings the Cup, that is a fantasy. He will be a UFA this summer, so if they really want him, wait till then. Those wing scenarios above are fallacious because the guy who would go to the wing is Hayes, not Stepan or Brass.

    • Hatrick & paulronty are right, Eric Staal is not the answer to bring the Cup home. He is a role player at best. If this was 5 years ago, I would be all in. He has slowed down considerably, not the player he once was. The word is that he has lost the passion for the game. 9 goals this year would attest to that.

  • I’d rather they try for Versteeg. Better fit, costs less (both in terms of cap and assets the other way), good winning pedigree (2 cups with Chicago).

  • No doubt that Eric has been a great player. If the situation were different, acquiring him would make sense. However, the Rangers are not a team that is merely one player away from dominating in the playoffs. They are weighed down by expensive contracts for fading veterans and also lack sufficient young prospects to bring up and replenish their roster. Under these circumstances acquiring Eric would be a move that could damage their ability to compete long term. I am afraid that we are witnessing the results of past ‘all into win now’ moves.

    • There’s NOT 1 team in the ENTIRE NHL that’s 1 player away from “Dominating the Playoffs”…Heck there’s not 1 team thats 3 or 4 players away to “Dominate in the Playoffs”. Nobody is looking to “Dominate” anything bud.

      With the way the NHL has evolved to what it is over the past decade with so much parity. To even consider to dominate in todays NHL is dillusional.

      Perhaps you are correct in that we aren’t just one player away, but maybe we are.

      Don’t get me wrong, as I’m not too high on getting Staal, because like you said, it would be difficult w/o the necessary resources which involve a high prospect or two or a first rounder and we don’t have that.

      However, we ARE a VERY young team loaded with home grown, drafted picks within our system that ARE on the big club NOW!!! Probably just as much as ANY team in the NHL today.

      • If you don’t think the Blackhawks and the Caps and the Stars are far more capable than dominating in the playoffs than this Ranger team, then I don’t know what teams you’ve been watching.

      • LOADED with home grown draft picks? Please expound with specifics upon the great depth of the Rangers’ draft picks and prospects just waiting to replenish the big club?

        If they spend their kids again on a rental or a player in decline it will be incredibly foolish. No, they are not one or even two players from being a serious cup threat unless half of the D suddenly rejuvenates and the forwards suddenly catch fire, both if which seem very unlikely.

        • Lundqvist, Girardi, Staal, McDonagh, McIlrath, Stepan, Zucc, Kreider, Miller, Fast, Lindberg, Moore (technically), Hayes.

          All either NYR draftees, acquired as prospects, or undrafted UFAs.

          • My point is that they do not have prospects in the system to send to the big club. No idea how you both decide that we should speak about the guys already on the club. That is why trading away youth would make little sense.

    • Also, you say that “we are witnessing the results of all into moves of the past.” Which moves would that be? The one for Yandle? Okay fine, I’ll give you that, but again, I would make that same move again in a heartbeat, because I don’t know where this team would be without Yandle.

      What else?

      • The trade for Callahan where we give up a first…Okay I’ll give you that as well, but what else?

        I just feel like many here are comparing this teams maneuvers over the past 2 years to the ones that this same organization made 12, 13 years ago. If that’s the case, then you guys are comparing apples and oranges. This team is just as ripe as ANY club in the league today.

        When those moves were made over a decade ago, this team was in a far worst position to begin with.

    • Absolutely agree – I like what his game could bring but not at the cost and Justin certainly makes a great point about the trickle down effect at center.

      Now if there was some blockbuster out there that would move Stephan and his $6.25M (through 2020-21) I think that should be entertained. I believe he has a NTC that kicks in after this year.

      I was busting on Jordan STALL yesterday but man, Stephan has only 29 points for that kind of money? OUCH!!!

      I think Steph would look marvelous in Columbus with Torts – maybe Steph and something could net a nice package. I like Jenner a lot. I don’t know much about Atkinson but i know his name is out there. I have a huge dislike for Hartnell but he sure makes your team tougher and the NYR could use the grit.

  • Very good write up. I live in Carolina’s market and have seen quite a few of their games this year. Carolina has an outside chance (1 point behind 9th place NJ and 2 points behind 8th place Pittsburgh but the Pens have 3 games in hand). I think they will be interested in a forward. They have a lot of good, young defensemen (5 defensemen on their roster are 25 or younger and there was a post on this site about two months ago asking if the Rangers should attempt to acquire 22-year old Ryan Murphy when he was sent to the AHL). For that reason, I would think they’d be more interested in a young forward then Skjei.

    An issue you didn’t address when you mentioned moving Stepan to 3C is that would push Hayes either to the wing (where he has struggled) or to 4C at a time when Hayes is heating up. In my opinion, that would be just downright stupid. Another issue is that he is a left handed shot, which the Rangers don’t “need”. If the Rangers get anyone from Carolina as a “win now” type of rental, I hope it is Versteeg.

  • Oh my god you people are crazy. Big hulking centers with hands and a mean shot. Or keep the peewee centers we have now. If gorton can pull this off. Pull the trigger.

  • What about him playing the wing? While I don’t think trading assets for Staal and then having him play out of position is necessarily the safest move, I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss his ability to play there. The points you bring up against him playing wing are pretty unconvincing, just because he’s played one position his whole career and is accustomed to those defensive assignments does not equate to lackluster performance at positions elsewhere. If we can nab him up for a reasonable deal, I’d go for it. The guy’s a tremendous hockey player.

  • Whatever happened to getting another teams’ ok to negotiate with their player for a new contract, instead of renting the player. Getting Stall to agree to a two year contract, and play with his brother might make trading for him more desirable. The two could become free agents together.

  • Trading for Staal shows an organization incapable of rationally analyzing its problems. We do not need a top shelf forward. Our problem for a long time now, and highlighted in the playoffs, is that our defense is overrated and is not able to skate and or make the quick pass. The main culprits for this are Staal and Girardi. They both cannot skate. Make horrible decisions. The only reason they are playing is because they are AV’s favorites.

    What is sad is that we actually had two top four defensemen on our team (hunwick and stralman) who we let waltz off for nothing. Replace Girardi and Staal with those two and we definitely beat the Lightning last year.

  • Always Walt. Don’t sell the farm but if the price is right and I had to choose between brass/step vs Staal/Staal. I would have to choose the staals. Their bigger stronger faster with a better shot. The only thing brass/step have is they are playmakers. It’s a pretty easy decision based on raw skill and potential.

  • Yes Calahan & DuClair are exactly what I am referring to here. If we had those two players now, would we be searching for a forward?

  • What a dumb move it would be to get Staal at age 31 and then a UFA who we could never resign. So do we give up Kreider or Hayes after we already pissed away Duclair? I bet we keep Yandle now and then he walks too after the season.
    Enough of the Sather dumb f–k trades. We have very few prospects and we don’t even know how our few prospects will pan out in the NHL. We could us a power forward scoring winger, not another center. We traded all of our #1 picks awaw. Dumb organization. No wonder teams like to trade with us.

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