Irresponsible Rumormongering

Could Derek Stepan be trade bait for defensive help?

Photo: Charles Wenzelberg

For anyone watching the Rangers this season, it’s been clear that they need help on defense. More specifically, they need a true 1RD. No matter where you fall on the spectrum of Dan Girardi and Kevin Klein, it’s clear neither of them are capable of being successful in that role. For the Rangers to be true contenders, an upgrade is needed.

However in the NHL, you need to give to get. If the Rangers are truly going to land a Dougie Hamilton or a Jacob Trouba, they need to give up something of value. A package of a bottom-six forward and a bottom-pairing defenseman is simply a laughable proposal. The Rangers need to give a top line forward in order to land their prized defenseman.

J.T. Miller was initially thought to be the most logical trade piece, but his play this season has moved him close to untradeable territory. Cheap goal scoring is very difficult to come by in this league, and Miller is cost controlled for another four years.

With Mika Zibanejad in tow, albeit injured, the Rangers have a 1A and 1B with him and Derek Stepan. Both are capable of playing top line minutes effectively, with Kevin Hayes and Oscar Lindberg also capable of playing 3C and 4C roles just as effectively.

The injury to Zibanejad has taught us two things though: 1) Hayes is capable of playing 2C minutes, and 2) Lindberg is capable of playing 3C minutes. With two kids capable of playing big minutes –coupled with Zibanejad’s ability to be an effective 1c– the Rangers are in a prime position for a blockbuster trade involving Derek Stepan.

Stepan is a bonafide 1C, capable of 50 points per year. He’s not an elite center (Crosby, Tavares, Kopitar, etc), but he’s on the next level below the elite players. At a $6.5 million cap hit for the next five years, he’s on a pretty solid deal relative to his production, but is also one of the most tradeable assets the Rangers have to clear cap space.

Another aspect of this is the expansion draft. With news that the Rangers must protect Rick Nash, the club is in a pretty pickle with their seven forwards to protect. It might force them to expose Miller or Hayes, which is something they simply cannot do. Trading Stepan for a defenseman opens up a spot to protect a young skilled forward. It’s just business at that point.

When it comes to on the ice impact, the Rangers would certainly lose one of their top forwards, but the gain on defense would more than make up for the loss of Stepan. Naturally, this theoretical trade would need to happen after Zibanejad returns from injury in January, and Stepan, while popular, could be the piece to improve their back line. It’s a critical improvement the club needs to make to seriously contend this season, be it with Stepan or by other means.

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  • it would suck from a sentimental standpoint bc you always envision winning with certain players etc. but when ur backed up against the wall with brutal contracts given out. weak prospect base, this may infact be a viable alternative.

    • Sentimental are you serious. That’s the problem with sports for some people especially owners. People can be so savvy in other areas of business but when it comes to sports so dumb. Stepan is expendable as is everyone on this team. In the lot of them there’s no SUPERSTARS. Nash and Henrik are on the other side of SUPERSTAR but the best we have. At 6.5 for the next 5 years his contract is so bad. He’s not in the level below the top guys you mention in my opinion. Each game the Rangers play except for what 2 or 3 teams the other teams #1 is better than Stepan. Trade him now while some think he’s so great and reap the rewards. Oh he’s got a NMC kicking in soon. Yes people will point to points which are given out like candy in the NHL. He’s a secondary assist guy. If you saw the last blow out it was Zuccarello who drove that line. Zuccarello who put the puck on the tape right place at the right time just don’t miss the net guys passes. He wouldn’t be missed because this team is about it’s some of parts. Hayes can handle #2 when Mika gets back. Dougie or Trouba one for one. If that’s not enough than Stepan isn’t worth what people think he is. Remember Scott Gomez or Holik. Remember Branch Rickey saying trade them a year early than a year late. Trade him before NMC kicks in and never give out another. I know the sweater not Stepan there’s not sentiment there’s only wins and losses. He gets paid 30+ millions seriously he doesn’t care if that’s here or Vancouver. If he did Mr. Holdout would take less money to stay. It’s a business and entertainment for me. Love the game but a fan is short for fanatic which I’m not.

      • Overrated in heart and passion as well and I wish a mofo test me with that line of ” dur he played with a messed up jaw “.

        Nobody talks about it but he got his home ice assistant captain taken away to Nash. I mean who gets that as a top paid center who’s been around the longest? Add that up with how the newer guys and rookies have been playing and it comes down to probably nobody respects him. I know Joe M game after game pumps up the fans as if Stepan has all the character in the world but thats clearly not his case. Its blatantly obvious that the locker-room isn’t as tight with him. If you look well enough into it then you can see how most of the players don’t try to get him those secondary assist. Pirri last game was doing his best to set up his one time shot without having Stepan get a simple assist due to just passing it over to Mcd. Vets like Nash and MSL talked highly of playing with Hayes but the never a peep when they had Stepan as there center. The list of suspicious acts of Stepan not fitting in goes on. Remember all thos weak breakaway shots by Nash when he was on a line with Stepan earlier?

        His career will be dead after his Ranger days and especially if he goes out west to a team that has a weaker top 9 and goaltending.

      • There’s nothing wrong with sentiment among fans for a player. It’s sports for us, not business. Sentiment is part of what makes being a sports fan great. For some, it’s being an armchair GM and taking this kid’s game way too seriously. We all appreciate the sweater, some also are fans of the players in the sweater. Nothing wrong with it in the least. agentsmith isn’t an owner of the Rangers, making deals and trades. Sentiment is fine.

  • I like Stepan but I have no problem trading him. I would however like to see Nash traded. If he is willing to waive his NTC that would be perfect. I wouldnt have a problem retaining some salary as he only has another season left. This is highly unlikely but is possible. Zucc is about to hit 30 and is under contract for a few more seasons at an affordable rate. He could also be appealing in a trade.

    Lets say they dont make any moves, come time for the expansion draft we lose 1 player, who will be exposed? I believe Raanta, Klein and Grabner are three posibilities. Who do you think gets drafted from us?

      • Nash has been great. Many a few months ago said he was washed up, forgetting the guy was hurt last year.
        He is the best forward on the team and that is why he gets the big bucks. Love Zucc, but he isn’t exactly torching it this year and he is not getting any younger. Make an offer we can’t refuse, and Zucc may be a possibility to go. Sometimes the most difficult trade turns out to be the best one.

        • They will let Zucc be on the top line with Mika and Kreider once everybody is healthy, bet on that. Its been picked up by various sources that he hasn’t looked the same since Brass was traded but those stories only pile on to question Stepan’s to this top 6 value. There are so many plays that Zucc can’t do with Stepan as a center and the same goes for Kreids game which was obvious with how Mika utilize him before he went down.

    • Typical Stepan fan that you are with not being able to brace a Stepan trade.

      I’ve noticed anytime a fan of his could come down to reality that he’s the next one to be traded then they always tend to want to mysteriously add Zucc or Nash to be gone as well gone. I mean what’s Nash have to do with trading Stepan for blueline help?

      Gorton won’t add that in a Stepan care package so stop fooling yourself about that. Nash’s game is more valuable and this will be most likely his last post season as a NYR due to his contact being expired soon.

  • Dave and others,

    At what point to you finally look at the numbers and say to yourselves that this is what you are going to get with JT Miller? Why does he always seem to get a major pass with NYR fans? Yes, he had a brilliant start to the season much like his stretch last year where he had one great month over the whole season. But, he’s done it again. A great start followed by a fairly dismal 15-20 game period where he has stopped scoring. Since getting 2 goals at Vancouver on Nov. 15, he has 5 points in 18 games since then, and his possession numbers are right there with the much maligned DG. (In fact they are LOWER!). Yes, he got jerked around a bit, but so has everyone with injuries impacting lines. He’s played the most with Hayes and Grabner but that is an absolute possession nightmare!

    Stepan on the other hand has had a pretty strong stretch and now is closer to a 60 point season and has strong possession numbers on a poor possession team. If you were to trade him, where would those goals and points come from?

    Dave makes a very solid point that in a hard cap situation a young player with cost certainty is extremely valuable to his CURRENT team while an older more expensive player (even one who is much better) could be considered as the one to trade.

    Yes Miller has been great with Hayes on the PK by generating offense, but the numbers show they are the two worst forwards on the PK in the defensive zone. Stepan on the other hand is the best shot suppressor among NYR penalty killers.

    I know this will generate some controversy, but once again JT has put up some numbers in a short period and then gone missing. Yes his hits and blocks are up. But, even though those show grit and toughness, currently the best teams in the league have the far lowest amount of hits.

      • Ok….then when is he going to start progressing because he is on pace to duplicate last year but with worse possession numbers?

        • How many goals did he have last year Al? How many did the 6.5 million dollar man have? Now this year what’s the goal total and how many more millions does Stepan make.

    • Lol you’re full of it…Stepan has no good shot supression numbers. I’m lazy and don’t feel like updating you with specifics but first off for a guy who had Hags, Cally, Nash, defensive scheme’s and the one of the best goalies for the last 6 seasons he doesn’t have numbers to call him a pk specialist. Hayes> Stepan on the pk and JT honestly is just as good. If we are talking about a real shutdown center then Stepan is at the bottom of the list due to faceoff % and his shot supression.

      What’s your point about hits and block shots again? Girardi is a top shot blocker and he was on the best regular season team back in 14/15.

    • The game is about goals scored to win points and Miller does it for less cheddar. Miller who doesn’t get the PP time Stepan gets will have more or less the same goal as Stepan at millions less. Do the math. Mika needs to be signed what after next year.

  • This is what trading away those four straight first-round picks, plus two of the past four second-rounders, in pursuit of the Stanley Cup realistically means for the Rangers, a quote from Brooks’ article today!

    We have nothing in the system to really bank on, and old farts like MSL. Boyle, Yandle, and the rest of the end of career types we’ve pursued the last who knows how many years, has gotten us. It’s time we wake up as an organization, and build from within.

    I can hear it now, we got Vesey, and Hayes for nothing, that accounts for 2 first round picks, wrong! We got lucky, an organization can’t be run that way long term. Had we saved those picks, and played the players we had, we would have been in a great position to draft top quality defensmen to develop on our own. No, we went the instant gratification route, and here we stand debating what we can get in return for Stepan.

    We also have an issue with our Hall of Shame coach, I wonder who we’re talking about here, who refuses to utilize the players in the best fashion. Girardi, Klein, Staal, oh hell the whole of the defense, properly. Let’s sit the kid Skjei to make a point to him for messing up, while Dan can’t do anything right, but never sits for his mistakes. Let’s get Mr Softy type players to skate for us, worst case scenario they could hit you with their collective purses’. The team has been exposed, others are taking advantage of us, and we won’t get beyond the first round, if we make the PO’s at all.

    This is to Spozo, you strunze, I haven’t posted in quite some time, not because they were winning too much, but because I wanted to see after the early start, as was the case last season, how we would react to teams adjusting to us, and unfortunately history is repeating itself. AV can’t, or won’t make adjustments in game, or in advance of the game, he’s too bull headed. Shuffle the players around, don’t let the players develop some chemistry, heaven forbid.

    My only wish is that Jeff Gorton fires this guy, the sooner the better, because Eddy is running out of excuses for the teams play. Last year Dan was playing on one good leg, what’s the excuse this year? Staal isn’t the same player since his brother concussed him. Klein was never a first pair guy, and is slowing down as well. Skjei is a rookie who will make mistakes, as is expected, but is sat down to make an example of. Holdon is OK for a 3rd pair, but is being forced to play up due to the need of a quality 1RD.

    So what are we to do? Trade Stepan, and a prospect for a quality RD? Who in the NHL would make that trade, no one will. That takes us back to the opening remark, taken from Brook’s article today, we are in deep doo doo because we tried to go the short cut route, instead of building from within!!!!!!!!

    In closing, belated Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and a healthy New Year to all my BSB friends!!!!!!!!!

    • Haha well thank you so much Walt. I just think it’s funny that for the first week all you said was you wouldn’t post until the 20 game mark. Well that came and went weeks ago then you finally come back when they lose a couple of awful lopsided games just to say “I told you so” as if the last 5 games will define the entire season.

      • I was tempted so many times before, but wanted to see after a period of time. Bottom line, we’ll see who is right, and wrong!!!!!!!!

        I hope I’m wrong by the way……..

        • Well that’s a completely lopsided competition there.

          Of course you will be “right” in that they will probably not win the cup.

          It’s not exactly going out on a limb by saying we will be disappointed by seasons end. 28 other teams will be as well.

          According the Vegas the Caps were 3-1 favorites to win the cup once the playoffs started. And they ended up disappointed.

    • Welcome back your voice has been missed. I agree with what you have said. Ranger history has shown one cup in 75+ years with this false ass win now BS. As for AV is he trying to coach up Skjei or the rest of the D by sitting Skjei? Call up Graves and let him play the cup is in the future and Graves is the future. Sit Dan once in a while.

    • Lots of good points Walt, many I have echoed myself…..
      No one is giving up a quality defenseman for Stepan……..hated the short cut route esp the st louis disaster ….duclair trade also but at least we got good player back in yandle…..

      Have said it for 2 years now AV must go, and he should bring an aging, should retire immed. girardi with him [ thanks for terrific career until 3 years ago]

      Biggest GM blunder of many was letting Strallman go, top 10 defenseman willing to sign cheap to stay here..major loss/blunder…..

      Personally I would like to see zib, hayes as 1 and 2 centers with lindberg and hrivk as 3 and 4 for rest of year and see what we got….

      Defensively I would have rather seen bodie or gilmore with their speed stay and keep mcilrath to cover for them in front of the net……..

      • I would agree with 90% of your post, but where is Yandle today, and what did we get for him in return????????? The man is over rated, looks good on a piss poor team, and is a defensive liability. Just my two cents worth…………

    • Building from within, you say?

      Homegrown current roster: Kreider, Stepan, Zuccarello, JT Miller, Vesey, Buchnevich, Hayes, Lindberg, Fast, Girardi, Staal, Skjei, Hrivik, Lundqvist, and one could sort of count McDonagh as well (traded for his rights out of college).

      Point absolutely taken regarding lack of 1st rounder picks, but this organization hasn’t taken the short cut approach in quite some time.

      • MSL, Yandle, Boyle at the expense of a younger players playing time? I could list many names, but in the last couple of years, these are the names that come to mind.

        As my boy Harlem said above, and pointed out by myself on many occasions, one cup every 75+ years just doesn’t cut it….. I refuse to insult your intelligence, but history with this team isn’t the greatest now is it???????

    • And by the way, way to be a grownup and call me a shlt in a way that won’t get flagged. So mature of you. Almost as classy as being the opposite of a fair weather fan. You’re a fan that only shows up to tell us how awful this team is.

      • It’s a term that fits, doesn’t it? Your the one that likes to dish it, but when people come back at you , well we’re not nice. As for the term, easy enough to understand in NY, there are enough of us Paisanos that use the word…….

        As for the teams performance, well when they played well, I always posted so, and when they didn’t, well so be it………

    • Welcome back Walt.

      Based on the Rangers’ history of 1st round picks, we have done better this way. Hayes and Vesey are bonafide NHL players that contribute now.

      The last 2 first rounders, Miller and Skjei, are pretty good so they did well there but prior to that they were pretty stinky with the McIlrath clusterf–k the equivalent of the Jessiman debacle.

      Drafts are not guaranteed, not by a long shot. And it appears like there will be more young players passing on their drafted teams unless the next CBA addresses that issue and closes up that loophole (they probably will).

      I’m all for first round picks but the Rangers have to do a much better job with them, getting used to drafting in the middle to the end of the round.

      And I do believe that we could have won a Cup going this route but “you-know-who” is a major deterrent towards that goal.

      • Well said Richter. 25th overall is far from a sure thing to even play an NHL game.

        Let’s not forget that Chris Summers was a 1st rounder. The pick that became Chris Summers was a lot more valuable in a trade than Chris Summers.

        Yes 4 1st rounders in a row is a bit absurd but we didn’t exactly trade away the pick that turns in to the next Patrick Kane!

        • You hit it Spozo. Look at the players that have been drafted and are “stars” on their teams, for the most part they are top 10 picks, a place the Rangers will hardly draft in. And the couple of drafts they did, they bombed, with Mclrath, Montoya, and Jessiman (ok he was 12) as evidence.

          It’s much easier to build through the draft when you pick in the top 10. But picking 20-30 is as much of a crapshoot as drafting in the 3rd round IMO.

      • True, but at least your at the table, and get a shot at decent players, instead of waiting for left overs. Also, let’s be fair, the Rangers didn’t have a scouting system worth a darn before Jeff, and company came along and showed them how to draft. I’d much rather draft in the first round, than the 6th any day of the week!!!!!!!!!!!

        • No question Walt, their scouting system is light years better now than they were years ago.

          For a while there the Rangers had 30 years of bad drafting. Remember when they had not one but two shots at Bossy? They drafted Deblois and Duguay instead, both in the first round.

          I’m not an advocate of trading picks but I think there are alternatives available when you do.

        • I think we are both right. I think they got a little bit ahead of themselves with trading 4 straight 1st rounders but I don’t think it was catastrophic to our farm system. Let’s not forget that the last time we were on the other end of a veteran rental trade deadline trade that we traded Brian Leetch, who at that age had a 50 point season, for a pick (plus more but I’m focusing on the 1st round pick) for a pick that ended up being Lauri Korpikoski. Hardly a player you build your franchise around. All I’m saying is that sometimes the allure of a 1st round pick sounds a lot better than what it truly translates in to.

          Did we just not totally disagree on something???

    • And I hope you realize that Eddie is cringing when he reads your post. A one word, direct, accurate response that sums it all up. Wow.

      • Hey pal, doesn’t mean it will happen, but is Stepan’s name out there for a possible trade? You bet it is. His NTC kicks in July, 2017 so if he’s going to be traded without needing his permission it is now.

        It was actually pretty smart to start the NTC clause after the 2nd year of this contract.

        • It will happen without a doubt, its as given as the anticipation of getting Nash in the summer of 12. If you’re a fan of his or not we should all prepare for Stepan being traded. ” Once last kick at the can ” had his name written all over it and his embarrassing performance from last April and when he had P Kane and Oshie as a line last summer probably didn’t help much that lol . The question’s for me is more like to what team and for who? If JT somehow gets sacrifice then I could see the Avs doing a Barrie and Gabriel Landeskog for JT and Stepan and maybe Pirri or Fast. I hope I’m wrong about the Miller bit but Derek Stepan’s name seems to be wellout there and with the Blues wanting a top 6 center then that’s another partner in trade for Gorton. Shatty and Reeves please.

          He’s a 26 year old prime center… Thats overpaid and could easily be replaced to help this team grow which seems to be the case for this years blockbuster. His baby narratives of still young aren’t cute anymore and with how Mika and Hayes got used then I would say that AV basically showed FO that he’s expandable now.

          • That’s a very interesting trade with the Avs you put out there Jack. Hearing a lot of rumblings coming out of Colorado, that they may be trading a core player to shake things ups.

            The only problem with that trade is that the Avs don’t have D men to trade to begin with and now they trade one of the few that they have? I would think that they would trade Landeskog for a D man.

            I don’t remember if I posted it here but I am also hearing Miller’s name surface. Now maybe that teams asking for him as opposed to the Rangers offering him.

            I would be shocked if the Rangers don’t make a fairly major move for a D between now and the trade deadline.

  • If you gotta trade him or lose him. Thenmake the trade.

    But av has all the necessary personnel. It’s now time to earn his paycheck and make it gel.

  • I like Oscar Lindberg, I think he could develop into a 3C but he is not right now. He has 3 points this season.

    When the Rangers are at their best their third line is a match up weapon, i.e. Brassard ’13-14. Lindberg is a 4C right now, and a good piece to move up the line up if necessary. Count on as the 3C long term? No way. Look at the third line since he took it over, him, fast and Miller/Vesey/Grabner have been getting creamed. We were doing better when Pirri was handling those duties.

    I think we skew Stepan’s age because he has been around and productive for so long. What is he a year older than Hayes?

    I think wing depth is much easier to replace and that’s the direction the Rangers should look for trade bait

  • Stepan is a overall good player, (not great player) that most likely won’t get much better. Though he has very good hockey sense, he is a slow soft player, has a history of getting hurt, and is at best a 50 point guy, not to mention his weak shot. I always was a fan of his, but lately, if we get a solid good speedy gritty tough defenseman, I would pull the trigger. If we have to, throw over rated Fast in there to complete the deal, no biggy.

    • In his first 4 years, he played every game. He missed 14 games two years ago, and 10 last year. He’s played every game this year. He’s played in just over 95% of the games that has team has played while here.

      Who replaces Step at center? We don’t exactly have a good one in any pipeline.

      • So far this year he has managed to stay healthy, but its a long season. I still don’t see him improving as a player to a much higher level, due mainly to his lack of speed, maybe I’m wrong.
        Zib, Lindberg or Hayes, whichever given the opportunity, and excels and develops can become our first center. I think the critical need for big upgrade on defense outweighs the lose of Stepan. Adjustments can be made, especially once our team gets healthy again.

        • When healthy Mika averaged basically 20 minutes a game as the top line center and brought out the best in Kreider while doing the PP which was brought to uncharted territory in the standings. Then you had Hayes who was getting use to shutdown top lines with sharing basically 2c duties with Stepan. He as well brought the pk to uncharted territories. So going by AV’s calculation then I think its safe to say that AV looks at him as a top center.

          Mika will supply the better ice time with probably a little over 19 minutes a game for Hayes to keep at his 16-17 minutes a game to work with. I think for solving the bottom 6 will go with a traditional 4th line with shutdown capability and the 3c could be a line that you shelter since away from top pairings.

  • And with this logic, the Icelanders should unload JT because he’s getting older and trending downward. He’s on pace right now for about 65 points.

    Guys, stats say a lot. DS is the top center, best penalty killer and is anchoring the top line which has the best possession numbers on a very weak possession team. The return for him would have to be massive. Look at his numbers.

      • Yo are you high? Flames certainly wouldn’t do that, that’s stupid to think Stepan will be able to handle feeding Johnny boy his annual backdoor passes. Thats like thinking Caps would trade Backstrom for Stepan so he could cross the puck through the slot for Ovi’s one timers. Sorry to say but all of that isn’t a foreseeable future for any team that has a sharp shooters that like’s there passes a certain way.

        Avs would just look at our roster and see the unicorn in Kreider after seeing Zucc’s name and all the potential from our PP to our top 6 wingers. Then they would look at their hot mess and see Duchene has 6 more goals from the worst offensive team in the league compared to Stepan. No way they throw out McKinnon like that unless we give them a 1st as well and thats still a maybe lol.

        • Jack my point to Al is both teams wouldn’t do either deal. EZ big guy I’m with you Stepan isn’t as good as easily 25 centers. Hell the Rangers have to better centers than Stepan.

  • The bottom line is that you need to trade something to get something. D men are at a premium because there really aren’t a lot to choose from that would be available, so it’s a sellers’ market for sure.

    I said this the other day about Stepan: Bascially .80 pt per game player, a lot of secondary assists which kind of dilutes the .80 pts per game, middling talent for a #1 C spot, good 2 way player, and plays all facets of the game. He’s valuable to us and to other teams even though he’s not an “elite” #1 C.

    Nothing gets done until Zib is 100% healthy and then the Rangers might do something with Stepan. Don’t forget, Zib has to be signed next year and I assume that G gone will bring in Shatty.

    • You trade him then our number 2 center fills the spot which he already is,a number 2 center *(at 6.5 mil)

      • Could you live with Zib, Hayes, Lindberg, and Pirri or whomever?

        I think I cold if the back end were substantially upgraded.

        • Does he do lots of stuff good ? Yes … he’s also got lots of flaws but I think the spot can be mostly filled(85-90 %) , if the back end is upgraded ( which is desperately needed with the play of Klein (wtf ) and the two traffic cones )

          • yep, your answer is my answer, and that’s why given the right deal to upgrade the back end then I think you do it.

    • I’m all for trading Step for a 1D but you are forgetting they have to protect G and Staal. plus McD. So the 1D they trade for must be expiring bc he will be exposed. Hence Shatty

      • Hey pal, I would hope that the buyout period is before the expansion draft so G can go and then Shatty signed thereafter.

        • There’s been no announcement about compliance buyouts, so I wouldn’t hold my breath. Where it gets interesting is a team like Chicago doesn’t have enough bodies to expose for the draft due to roster construction.

          • It would be like Bettman to screw the Rangers (specifically) and hold the draft before the buyout period were open, to force the NTC keeper issue.

        • Hey Tony. Let us pray that happens. Would be a shame to trade Step for an expiring that will sign here anyway probably.

          Agreed with a lot what Reena says below.

          • Stepan may not be going for Shatty. May be for another D with the idea that Shatty comes July 1st.

            I don’t have to tell you of all people that they really need 2 guys, not just one, lol.

  • What Defenseman does the team get that we don’t lose (or McDonagh)in the expansion draft, bar Girardi agreeing to be put on an ice floe?

    Unfortunately the way forward is something AV has shown an unwillingness to do bar an emergency: Skjei on his off hand as McD’s partner and then you have options. Either make Holden the #3 LD and rotate Clendening, Girardi & Klein or unload Klein and rotate Holden on the right and call up Graves. At this point Graves has done about all he can do in the A, is going to have to go against better talent if he is going to continue to develop.

    Both Girardi and Klein cannot play back to backs, should be on a straight alternate game plan to allow them more recovery time. But then Clendening would have to play nightly and AV can’t have that. Maybe the team gets lucky, Regina gets eliminated early in the WHL playoffs and Zbo’s progression curve is like a moonshot when he gets called up.

    This is a problem that everybody has seen from the Summer, yet the only person who can do something about it hasn’t bothered exploring the obvious options. Maybe AV will change, but I doubt it. The benefit of doubt has long evaporated, what you see with what you get with AV and what I’ve seen i find wanting.

    The biggest shame is that they didn’t let him go over the Summer so we could’ve gotten someone like Travis Green on board.

    • If things stand as they are and the buyout period is not a savior for the expansion draft then Holden gets exposed for sure as McD, Staal and G are/have to be protected (Skjei exempt) because the Rangers would go the 7-3-1 route of protected players, I would imagine.

      Does trading for Trouba allow Trouba to be exempt if he’s on the Rangers?

  • Should have traded Stepan to Minny when they had the chance, but Minny is playing so well now I doubt they would do anything at this point. I sure hope they trade him(he’s not worth the money they gave him,sorry) before his no move clause kicks in. I know people want a D for him like Dumba, but I want Charlie Coyle, love that guy.

    • Word was that Minny didn’t want to give anyone younger in return and that they were basically happy with the D for now. Coyle as a 3c on a line with Vesey and maybe Buch or JT would have been nice.

  • When I first saw this headline I had to check to see if I was I was really on the BSB website. A stunning departure from previous stances regarding Stepan.

    I have been a proponent of using Step as trade bait and laugh as the analytics crowd berates the notion whenever it comes up.

    No doubt he is a solid player but in my mind his contract is hefty for what he brings. He is a decent scorer but obviously not the offensive presence that would be preferred for that kind of contract.

    He is horrible on face offs which always seems to be something overlooked by the analytics folks. Doesn’t possession begin with winning face-offs.

    I agree that he is the most suited asset to be moved for a d-man upgrade as he has some value and the forward depth can absorb his move. And if he isn’t moved soon he will be a Ranger for a very long time. I would prefer a young d man myself.

  • Stepan is the leading scorer on the team, and his line mates are doing equally well. His possession numbers are strong relative to the rest of the team. His line mates are equally strong. So, lets trade our leading scorer. Makes perfect sense to me. Let’s trade our BEST penalty killer.

    Also, make arguments with me without any facts based on your bias about his salary and lack of something that hasn’t won the Cup since I can’t remember when.

    Yes, the eye test lies. But, let’s stop counting the shots which lead to the goals which lead to wins which lead to the Cup. Let’s just go by feel, and if he isn’t OUR type of player (whatever that is) let’s get rid of him, and we’ll even take something back in salary.

    • Unless you’re blind the eye test never lies. See if you’re blind you can read stats and come to the conclusion Stepan is great. If one can see one would find a player who’s a not our best PK player that’s Grabner by far. Not our number one center Mika is and Hayes is better. Zuccarello, Buchnevich and Hayes pass better. He’s slow not good on face offs and can’t one a puck. But AV keeps putting him out on the first PP unit. Stubborn coach. The thing with stats is you can put them together to get the result you want. Moneyball never won Billy Beane anything. Great players produce great results. People talk about Pittsburgh’s numbers. I see CROSBY and MALKIN and you don’t win cups without a SUPERSTAR center. Mika is that hope.

    • This is a 2 fold question:

      #1: Do the Rangers contend for a Cup if this is the D corps they go to battle with? No matter who the forwards are?

      #2: Does making a fairly significant upgrade on the back end (I would assume that this would be the case if Stepan were the trade cost going the other way) outweigh the decline in the C position that trading Stepan would cause?

      My opinion? No way and yes. So I am in the camp of trading Stepan ONLY for a significant upgrade on the back end.

      So if not Stepan, then who do you trade that other teams will want to give up a significant D man? Nash? Miller? Hayes? Buch? Vesey? Zuc? Kreider? Zib?

      Which one of those are you trading to get that D upgrade?

  • Dave, nice article, I enjoy the suggestion pieces that make you think.

    This is a tough one for me, not because of sentimental attachment or his stats, but in my opinion it is robbing Peter to pay Paul. When talking about the league as a whole yes, they are strong down the middle, when comparing just contenders and past winners they are weak down the middle. They are also extremely weak on RHD. With that in mind, you must start somewhere and may as well build from the back end.

  • The Rangers can’t come close to winning the Cup as currently constructed and that’s with all the forwards healthy.

    So other than not trading the King or McD or Kreider or Hayes (the untouchables), everything else is fair game and on the table for discussion. That’s a fact.

    • The team is good enough as constructed to make a deep run, but not as currently managed. We have a coach who sees it as a sprint instead of a marathon. A team that is basically already locked in to a playoff spot, yet the coach is riding the whip hand hard from the gate even before they hit the 5th furlong.

      We know how this ends, why repeat it?

  • Trouba and Hamilton isn’t much of an upgrade to what the Rangers already have. Right now the Stepan, Zucc, Kreider line is the only line that got anything going. So no thanks. I would consider moving their million dollar goalie who been playing like a backup so far this season.

  • Excellent column, give it way thumbs up, 9 out of 10; lose a point for omitting 2 facts: 1) JT Miller can also play C, which is pertinent to extent of our pivot depth; and 2) Stepan has a NMC which kicks in if he stays, but is defeated if dealt.

    Short hand on a few thoughts:

    Klein and ranger 3rd
    Tor 2nd + Marincin

    CBJ 2017 1st, Jenner, Prout

    Jenner, Staal (reasonable he’d waive to go to Chicago)
    Anisimov, Seabrook
    Hawks get badly needed cap relief for future signings
    decent replacements, Staal replaces expiring (retiring?) Campbell
    Rangers add AA to work w/Buch, relocate Staal’s NMC

    Zuc and Rangers 1sts 2017 and 2018
    Sens 1sts 2017 and 2018
    Zuc is the price to flip 1sts this yr + next, and since they still pick in the round, Ott agrees, getting Zuc to reunite and do magic w/Brass

    which leads us to:
    is there a point at which you can so massively overpay for MacKinnon Colorado HAS TO consider if not actually DO the deal

    McDonagh, Zib, Sens 1sts 2017 + 2018, Ott 2nd 2018, Toronto 2nd 2017, Raanta, Marincin
    MacKinnon + cap dump Varmalov + Siemens

    tho MacK could be the 1C, think believe it or not if Nieves placed in pivot w/LW Kreider and MacKinnon at RW, that would be a dominating power line w/super speed.

    add Nash at half for expiring Shatty

    Kreider – Nieves – MacKinnon
    Grabner – Hayes – Vesey
    Miller – Anisimov – Buchnevich
    Pirri – Lindberg – Fast

    Skjei – Shattenkirk
    Graves – Seabrook
    Holden – Girardi

    immediate lack of F depth in minors not a butt biter now, w/Gropp groomed to replace Pirri.

    hopefully our D depth in minors does gel into quality.
    Gilmour pushes Holden
    Day maybe the next real deal big thing; if he can’t handle coverage responsibilities, he can fallback make the club as LW. Shatt extended. Seabrook moved for placeholder, prospects

    Skapski, who did it before and is only now returning to form since hip injury, holds til Shesty and Hank are ready

    • You know that Nieves could never play 1st line minutes in the NHL, right? He can barely hack 2nd line minutes in the A.

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