Irresponsible Rumormongering

What can the Rangers dangle at the deadline?

derek stepan
Photo: AP

It’s that time of the year. Teams are jockeying for playoff spots, trying to identify their team needs for the stretch run. Non-playoff teams are starting to pool offers for rentals. Buyers are trying to figure out what they can part with. Trade deadline rumors are abound.

For the Rangers, every rumor worth reading has them linked to a defenseman. I say “worth reading” because there were one or two rumors that said they want a forward. Considering the depth they have, I don’t buy those. Just looking at the teams solid offense and porous defense shows that they need help on the blue line. But with all the names that have been dropped, the one thing we have yet to hear is what the Rangers are willing to give up.

There are two clear strengths for the Rangers: Forward depth and goalie prospects. But there are concerns with both. When dealing from the forward depth, the Rangers deal from their greatest strength. That comes with some risk, as dealing the wrong forward or assuming holes can be filled internally can blow up in their face. As for the goalie prospects, they actually don’t fetch as much as you think.

Roster players always fetch the most, especially young, skilled, cost controlled roster players. Unfortunately, those are the players teams are loathe to dangle in trades. In October I was fairly confident that J.T. Miller was going to be the odd-man out. However his solid season┬ámay have moved him into untouchable territory. Personally, I think he’s best suited at wing, which limits his value. However if a team sees him as a future top-line center, one that can fetch a top-flight defenseman with term/team control, GM Jeff Gorton has to listen.

Derek Stepan is another name that gets spoken about regularly. Stepan is the type of player that is under appreciated while on the team and missed when he’s gone. He’s not flashy, he’s just steady. He’s good for 50-60 points per season, usually dishing out the assists with solid vision. But with Mika Zibanejad and Kevin Hayes showing they can take the top-two center spots, coupled with Stepan’s $6.5 million cap hit, it makes you wonder if he can fetch something massive.

Oscar Lindberg is the last forward that seems to be the odd-man out. Likely to be lost to Vegas in the expansion draft, the Rangers might want to package him to get an upgrade on the blue line. The key word there is package him, since on his own he likely doesn’t get much.

As for the goalie prospects, the only untouchable in my book is Igor Shesyorkin. Kid has been unreal in the KHL as a 20-year-old, and he’s likely headed to North America after his contract expires next season. Assuming he adjusts to the North American game, he’s likely the heir to The King. The Czar, if you will.

Outside of Sheryorkin, the only goalie that might fetch something of value is Brandon Halverson. His numbers aren’t pretty, but Hartford is a train wreck defensively. Mackenzie Skapski hasn’t been the same since his hip injury, and Magnus Hellberg is already 25 years old (26 in April). Tyler Wall is intriguing, but too much of an unknown.

The market has yet to be determined, so it’s tough to gauge what Kevin Shattenkirk will cost in a trade. Same goes for any of the long-rumored to be dealt Jacob Trouba, Dougie Hamilton, any of the Ducks defensemen, etc. Even lower value rentals like Cody Franson could see decent return if the market is right. However sometimes the best trade is the one you don’t make.

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  • The untouchables, IMO: King, McD, Kreider, Buch, Miller, Hayes, Zib, and probably Vesey.

    Everyone else is available in my mind. Yes, including Zuc if it gets us Trouba. I would not trade Zuc for anyone else other than Trouba. I would love Vatenen (if not Trouba) but not at the cost of Zuc.

  • The name that jumps out to me the most is Stepan. We have plenty of depth at the center position, that are younger, cheaper, and in my opinion more skilled.

    Look at Hayes, all of the traits mentioned above, and is doing a great job on the PK.

    Same for Miller, with a little grit thrown in for good measures.

    Z is the best of all our centers when it comes to skill, so why would we want to trade him, no way Jose.

    With a Step trade we get younger, not that he’s old, but the players taking his time are younger than him, faster. Hell with two knee replacements I believe I can still out skate Step, and most important cheaper. We have kids that are due a nice bump in pay, and for the money, Step’s production isn’t that great.

    Bottom line, he’d be my choice for the player to be moved at this time, to get a quality d-man, that’s so necessary if we plan on going anywhere any time soon !!!!!!!!!!

    • Yes, I have been making this very same argument since last year. Minnesota wants him, so let’s make a deal.

      • Minnesota is so deep on the NHL and in their system with Defensive man. They have at least three d-men in their system who can play in the NHL now.

        I have said over the last two months Minny should be the trade partner.

          • I would for Gorton to get one of Gustav Olofsson.
            Mike Reilly from the Wild Farm system

          • I would love for Gorton to get one of Gustav Olofsson.
            Mike Reilly from the Wild Farm system

  • Dave.
    The most profound sentence in your article is the last. “However sometimes the best trade is the one you don’t make”.
    And if I may add, especially when it comes to late season “rentals”.

  • Trading players like MIller or Zuc is like pulling out the flowers and keeping the weeds. Teams are generally looking for depth on D at this time of the year, so the Rangers should take advantage and move Kevin Kline and his 2.9 million per contract.

    Nash is having an decent year but he is in decline. La La land loves players with the famous name on their jersey and the Kings are looking for a high end forward. It would be within reason for the New York to ask for steady puck moving Dman Alec Martinez and fast skating Swedish rookie Adrian Kemper in return.

    One rental the Ranger should go after (once its’ clear Winnipeg will again miss the playoffs) is Drew Stafford. The price wouldn’t be that high and Drew style of play is a good fit for the playoffs.

  • I’m in the trade Stepan camp for reasons mentioned above if he were to return us a Hamilton, Trouba, etc.

    However, I’m not convinced we’d be better suited for a playoff run with that swap. Yes, we address our main need but taking Stepan out of the equation will, in my mind, perhaps be equally as offsetting. With minimal tinkering, lines would look something like:

    Kreider – Zib – Zucarello
    Grabner – Hayes – Miller
    Vesey – Lindberg – Nash
    Puempel – Pirri – Fast

    For the rest of the year, I think most would be surprised with what is lost by subtraction to this group (Stepan). Zooming out and looking 2, 3, 4, 5 years into the future, I’d fully endorse the swap and take any subsequent lumps this year, as our group is not top tier contenders with or without this trade.

    • Reading Dave and also your post this morning and I find all the thoughts I’ve had and things I said previously in them.

      Dealing Stepan creates a hole at center. Pirri is not nearly the player that Stepan or Oscar are despite his (streaky) ability as a sniper. If we are content when dealing Stepan to realize that dealing him might make the Rangers a lesser club at center, especially defensively, then do it if he fetches a highly skilled young blue liner. But, such a move is not likely to make the Rangers a sure fire contender for the cup this season. They need more than one defenseman and Stepan will be missed far more than many of the fans realize.

      • If he is, he certainly deserves it. The game is too quick and strong for him at the moment. He’s coming back from being out a long time, and it’s been a tough learning curve. He got pushed around and bodied off the puck fairly easily against LAK and PHI. He wasn’t very good against the Flames Sunday. Invisible and benched against the Sabres. He’s very young and ANA is a big team and strong. I’d give him a breather against this team and then play him the rest of the week.

        Now, let me sit back and wait for all the naysayers who will bash AV for not knowing what he’s doing. He’s 19, and been hurt. NYR have a lot of games this week.

        • He’s 21 Al and as soon as he gets in game shape again, he will get nearly a point a game like before.

          • I’m very high on him but he’s likely not going to sustain point per game this year. Or next. Hopefully the year after.

            It took Taresanko 3 years. 19 pts in 38 games, then 43 in 64 until notching 73 in 77 in year 3. And he’s maintained since.

            Kuznetsov- 9 in 17 games, then 37 in 80, then lucky number year 3 he put up 77 pts in 82 games.

            Expect the same from Buchnevich, best case scenario.

      • No, just missed him. It doesn’t change the point though.

        Zib / Stepan / Hayes / Pirri or Lindberg

        is vastly superior to

        Zib / Hayes / Lindberg / Pirri

        Further, – Stepan + Trouba/Hamilton/Vantanen does not necessarily mean we are going to be a contender this year. To me, the liklihood that we improve is just as high as we regress.

        Again, all of that said, I am for the move but not because of any implications this year….. more so to address holes and provide cap flexibility in future years.

    • I’m going: Kreider-Z-Buch

      Pirri sits or is waived & Hrivek brought up to rotate with Puempel.

  • Lindberg is the player that should sit has done nothing but can win faceoffs. Buch needs to play and watch some video to learn. There is no point in leaving him on the bench. He is creative and makes things happen.

    • I could not disagree more about Lindbergh sitting. He is a good 4th line center, is responsible defensively and has some edge to his game now too. Buchnevich struggled a bit recently so sitting him for a game and giving him a breather might make sense. Not all healthy scratches are punishments you know. When he is back in the lineup Pirri should sit, not Oscar.

  • They should really look at doing something like Annti Raanta and Dan Girardi for Annti Niemi and Johnny Oduya…Even of you have to take Lehtonen instead. He and Niemi are easier buy outs than Girardi from a penalty stand point. Losing Raanta would not improve our situation in net for the play offs, but we may lose him at the expansion draft anyway. Have to imagine Raanta and Grabner would be taken by Vegas ahead of Lindberg. Maybe some draft picks need to go back and forth. As nonsensical as this trade may sound. It could actually work for both sides more in the long term than greatly improving either teams chances of winning this year. Dallas desperately needs help in net and we need to move Girardi’s contract and Oduya has enough experience he won’t hurt the cause.

    • Vegas only takes 1 player from each team. There will be several better goalies exposed than Raanta. Raanta will not be taken by Vegas. It’s going to be Grabner which I’m fine with. This year has been a treat and he will not repeat this season next year. Hell, if he doesn’t score another goal this year he still is hands down the best free agent signing of the year. But either way, his current pace is no where near sustainable.

      • “This year has been a treat and he will not repeat this season next year.” I think you should change your handle from Spozo to Kreskin.

      • Grabber has found the perfect team for his skilset. You watch how much our pk becomes a disaster next year if he is lost. Also, arguably he has been our most consistent player. 22 even strength goals. Gorton will have to be creative to keep him.

        • disagree on PK. Miller and Hayes have really driven the PK improvements. Grabner has been great, but Hayes and Miller have been the difference makers on the PK

        • Nah, any speedster with a decent set of hands can score lots of goals in the Rangers’ system.

          If the Rangers have targeted some speedy, low cost replacements for Grabner, I wouldn’t mind losing him this summer (either through a trade before the expansion draft or in the expansion draft).

          If Grabner was a truly talented offensive player, he would be well north of 50 goals by the end of this year simply based on the number of chances he’s had.

      • Grabner scored 34 goals one year and 20 in another, and has 23 thus far this year. That tells me he has the hands needed to hit the net in addition to his incredible speed, and when given the right system and line mates he can score a decent amount of goals. His anticipation and vision are also pretty darn good. I’d like the Rangers to try to hold onto him for at least one more season if they can because in their system he flourishes and he is a valuable role player-the kind that gets a good team over the top for a cup.

        Sure, if they are offered a young stud defenseman for him, they’d have to consider it. But I like him on this team and in this system and I think the idea that his scoring is not sustainable is suspect.

  • I will go against the grain here and dangle Grabner. Sure he has speed, but he is not in our long term plans and surely we can sell high on him right now. If anyone is asking for him, I have to listen. I hate to say it, but I would listen on Vesey too, but the player returning would have to be a a real defensive stud – like a Trouba.
    Someone who you put at right D, and leave there for 5 years. If you can, you get back a solid #2 pick too.

    Just saying, you have to give to get, and we need, i mean NEED another defender.

        • First, I’d have a long talk with my goalie scouts and coaches to fully understand the potential I’m giving up. Then I’d see if the cost to acquire a Vatanen, Hamilton or Dumba would be less.

          I can’t answer today, but I’m operating under the impression that Sheryorkin is our heir in the crease and in 3 years could be splitting with Lundqvist. Given that, I’m hesitant to say yes.

          • My take is that Trouba is a proven quantity and both Vesey and Sheryorkin are potential quantities. Could Trouba be enough to bring us to the promiseland all by himself this year, I am not so sure, but he is young and if you make the right buy-out move with Girardi and bring along Graves slowly (if he is NHL calibre) then you have a young defensive core that can be there for 5 years to come.

            You still have most of your youthful offense in place except that your heir to King Henrick’s throne is now gone. That has to be fixed, and hopefully Aanti isn’t taken by LV and we keep him around to suppot Hank for another year or two while we find out if another goalie in our system can be the new king. I think I make the move.

          • Vesey and Shestorykin are nowhere near enough to land Trouba in a trade. Traditionally, goalie prospects are generally worthless in trade discussions. Add in the fact that Shestorykin in Russian and he has almost zero trade value. Not saying he’s a bad prospect, just that the Rangers won’t get much in return for him.

        • F!!!!!! NO. Are you kidding? Shestyorkin is a future superstar. When I saw him singlehandedly beat the Canadian Three League team. over six games, I was left sitting there going WOW!

  • I know I’m singing this same song over and over,
    but it’s nice to see a few of you are starting to recognize the same faults in Buchnevich I have pointed out in the past.
    . He simply does not ,or ever will have the foot speed to be a major force in NHL. The KHL is picked over by all the major scouts and yet he fell
    far enough down the board that he was there for the Rangers to grab him,
    contract or no contract.
    I would be bold enough to bet a pence that he is the slowest Russian
    skater in the NHL.

    • Very well could be the answer. A lot of us do like him with Hayes though…… a great segway into today’s afternoon article!

      • Segue, my friend, segue. Sorry to be Mr. Dictionary, but for some of you guys it’s LOSE, not LOOSE.

    • I hate the idea of trading for a D this year as it forces the Rangers to buyout Girardi before the expansion draft, and winning a Cup with all that dead cap space is next to impossible.

  • If I was the Front Office I would buy out G and then stand pat until after March 1st.
    Lets see what the fall out is . So many teams looking for defencemen, Philly
    and Carolinia should benefit most during the day decause they have the most D TO OFFER.. Dads out there, teach your
    kids to skate backwards if they want to play in the NHL.
    The new way to “trade” in the National Hockey League , is for very smart GM’s
    evaluate talent and then use the waiver wire to build a deep club. Sound

      • Yes, since Trouba and Skjei are pretty similar. Except, Skjei is much cheaper and doesn’t require expansion draft protection.

        There are literally no positives for the Rangers in that deal.

        • I do not think Winnipeg is looking to move Trouba at any cost, so we need to look at either Anaheim or Dallas. Only going to get second line help from these teams, not the young 1RHD we need, so any trade will be an improvement move, not a cataclysmic move. Maybe even the Avs. Don’t be surprised if we pick up Iginla & Erik Johnson for next to nothing as complementary players. E.Johnson is better than Clendening, and probably as good as Holden. Jerome may need a change of scenery for 20 games. Who knows.

  • Just remember, everyone, that ADAM LARSSON was traded for a top five winger! So, the bar has been set. It would take a TON to get a top righty defenseman because of the sheer stupidity of the Oilers.

    • Just because the Oilers made a foolish deal doesn’t mean that is now the bar. Not to mention that Kane although very talented, has issues and was in some ways damaged goods.

      Gorton shouldn’t overlook the opportunity to get a stud LHD. Getting a stud RHD would be ideal but McD and Skjei have both shown an ability to play the right side. Girardi or Klein, Lindberg or Fast, a prospect and/or draft pick aw well as a bunch of cash should be what we are willing to part with.

      Anybody got suggestions on current/future stud LHD from a non contender, cash poor team?

  • If you make a move for Trouba you have to make sure one of the 3 traffic cones are either retiring or bought out or going with the trade …. moving Skjei for him wouldn’t be good , letting staal,G or Klein go wouldn’t hurt along with a forward but who’s that gonna be?

  • I don’t see why we can’t get Trouba for Girardi n Klein. What you don’t think so? We need a little humor here or we could go completely nuts by the deadline. I mean this is the Rangers we’re talking about..

  • Dave
    and all

    JT has CLEARLY playmaker/passing skills
    should be our 1C w/Kreider and atm Zib as 1RW, = a dominant line

    Hayes = 2C, w/protected Grabner keep no expose at exp draft as LW, Vesey RW

    move more senior vets
    develop younger core

    this year’s playoffs, we are not winning cup even if we get to the finals we don’t have enough horses; let’s accelerate the process

    • Totally agree with this^ especially the accelerate the process part. I always use to imagine if Travares low key wanted to play for the Rangers then why not move Mika at Hayes wing with JT occupying the other side. The better bet would be to leave the centers where they play best, no offense but JT is a winger with Hayes and Mika taking care of the center ice on this team.

      JT- Hayes – Grabner
      A Roussel -___ – Vesey
      Hrivic – Oscar – Fast

      Basically ask Dallas what kind of picks are they looking for Antoine Roussel, he would help now and for the future and exactly what this team needs. He remembers numbers to take runs at and he would deck whatever super star to cause a scene. He helps on the PK, can go up and down the lineup and he’s still young too. Basically its that 3c spot that makes this hard to do. Maybe if they send a good enough package with Stepan that a respectable 3rd liner comes back.

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