There’s not much going on today in the world that is the Rangers. Regurgitating the same content about the team is getting old. We know the forwards are good. We know the defense stinks. We know the goaltending is getting better. The trade deadline is coming, and with it comes the hopes (fears?) that the Rangers will make a move to address their weaknesses. But in the back of everyone’s mind is something coming up in June: The Expansion Draft.
There are some that think this year’s trade deadline will be quiet because of expansion. Multi-year deals are going to be tough sells, especially if teams can’t protect an additional player. Teams can only protect 7 forwards, 3 defensemen, and 1 goalie (or 8 skaters and 1 goalie). Rookies/second year pros are exempt, but players with NMCs must be protected. But all AHL guys beyond their second year must be exposed. Teams can only lose one player to expansion.
For the Rangers, it’s pretty obvious who they will protect. Rick Nash (NMC), Derek Stepan, Chris Kreider, Mats Zuccarello, JT Miller, Mika Zibanejad, Kevin Hayes, Dan Girardi (NMC), Marc Staal (NMC), Ryan McDonagh, and Henrik Lundqvist will be protected. Jimmy Vesey, Brady Skjei, Pavel Buchnevich, and most of the Hartford guys that have appeal are exempt.
That means the Rangers will be exposing Oscar Lindberg, Jesper Fast, Michael Grabner, Brandon Pirri, Matt Puempel, Kevin Klein, Nick Holden, Adam Clendening, and Antti Raanta. The Rangers will lose something of value, it’s inevitable.
Predicting who the Rangers lose is tough, especially in February. There are a lot of wild cards, like the trade deadline, that could mix things up. For example, the Rangers may make a trade for a defenseman, and have someone like Girardi waive his NMC so he can be exposed. Vegas won’t take Girardi, but it’s a way of gaming the system.
Speaking of that, the Rangers likely won’t lose a defenseman to the draft. Klein and Holden are shockingly similar players who have benefited from unsustainable scoring hiding major defensive issues. I doubt the Rangers lose Raanta either, as there are better options at the moment that will be available (i.e.: Matt Murray or Marc-Andre Fleury).
That leaves forwards, and at that point we can only make educated guesses. Let’s assume Pirri (journeyman) and Puempel (waiver pickup) won’t be grabbed. I think it’s fair to assume Grabner won’t be picked up, since he will be 30 and it makes logical sense that Vegas will want to stockpile young bodies.
That leaves one of Fast or Lindberg. Fast is the guy who does the little things right, but it doesn’t show up on the scoreboard. Lindberg has the scoring potential and is solid on face offs, but is coming off dual hip surgery. If I’m Vegas, I go for the potential third line center over the winger. Centers can play wing. It’s tough to do the reverse. But NHL games might be a factor for Vegas, in which case Vegas will grab Fast. Either way, the Rangers will be losing a bottom-six player of some value.
That, of course, is assuming the Rangers don’t get creative at the deadline.
Oh, and there’s a buyout period before the draft too.
Food for thought.