The NHL trade deadline is less than a month away, and as always the big market New York Rangers are at the center of online trade rumors. It’s no secret that the Rangers are in need of upgrades on defense, but that doesn’t stop outlets for saying the Rangers are in the running for names like Jarome Iginla and Shane Doan. The Rangers are also in a very odd position this season that may throw a monkey wrench into possible plans.
The Rangers are in the best division in the league, where 5th place in the Metro would be 3rd in the Atlantic division. This provides something odd as the Rangers will likely play either the best team in the Atlantic Division (Montreal) or the second place team in the Metro, which will likely be better than Montreal. Either path provides a difficult and path in round 1 and an even tougher matchup in the second round.
In either case it does look like the Rangers will make the playoffs, which naturally leads to the band-aid improvement mentality for rentals to make a run. This is something that I simply am not in the mindset to do.
The Rangers are locked into Marc Staal and Dan Girardi. It is highly improbable either is moved in the month. Not only do they have negative value, but their contracts are likely not something another team wants to take on. Those are two of the Rangers’ defense spots set in stone. Add in the obvious one of our Captain Ryan McDonagh and you have half of the Rangers defense who play significant ice time, for better or worse, ready for the playoffs.
Nick Holden, someone who cost the Rangers a pick already and has won the trust of newly extended head coach Alain Vigneault, is likely a shoo-in as well. This leaves two spots on the team, one of which is likely already safe with Brady Skjei as well. This leaves Kevin Klein’s spot, but only if he is included in any potential trade.
Instead of the Rangers looking for the classic “improve on one guy by using him as part of the trade” move, in my opinion the Rangers should make a two part deal. Step one is to trade Klein, who for all his awful play is still better than Girardi. Contrary to popular belief, I think Kevin Klein still has some value. He is a veteran right handed defenseman with playoff experience. Those guys always return something of value at the deadline. Heck, Roman Polak landed Toronto picks last year, and Mike Weber got a pick for Buffalo as well.
Since Klein has one year remaining on his deal, there is added value since he’s not a pure rental. He can also be exposed in the expansion draft, and will likely go unclaimed. Now, the Rangers won’t be getting a top pick in a trade, but a mid rounder can help quite a bit.
Following a Klein trade the Rangers can experiment a bit. Yes that opens up a spot for Cody Franson or Michael Stone, but if they cost a lot of assets it may be counter productive. I’d only advocate for a a trade of these players if for some reason their teams are practically giving them away. Instead, I want the Rangers to take a risk on another Adam Clendening. A young, right handed defenseman who may have been leap frogged in another organization, or simply couldn’t earn the trust of a coach.
The very easy target could be Toronto Maple Leafs, Frank Corrado. The almost 24 year old puck moving defenseman hasn’t been given a shot at all in Toronto. Playing behind Polak and given the dearth of games that he has played, he obviously looked rusty in the 2 (!) games that he has played, but has shown flashes of skill. If he doesn’t work out the Rangers can always send him down.
Another guy to look at is 25 year old Alexei Marchenko, a player with some good possession numbers in his 100 NHL games. The Red Wings have a lot of young guys nipping at the heels so maybe he can be had for chep. I have also seen some pretty good play out of San Jose’s Dylan Demelo as a defensive defenseman, but can’t say whether or not he may be available.
These players likely cost less than it was to theoretically trade Klein, they’re in the age group that can fit the team along with Clendening, and maybe one of them can likely be a nice third pair guy for next season as well. That is important, these guys are not the saviors to defense. But if you can get a young guy who fits the molds you need before the summer, you can target other guys *cough Shattenkirk cough* and suddenly have a bit of a respectable go around next season.