Irresponsible Rumormongering

Looking ahead: Who might the Rangers lose in the expansion draft?

jesper fast
(Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke)

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.┬áThe 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.

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  • Thanks for the write-up. Hope you are correct about the above. I wasn’t aware that each team only loses one player but with so many teams now – it makes sense. Hate to lose Lindberg but I thought we were looking at more damage.
    I think long term keeping Fast would be better for the Blueshirts anyway.

    • I’ve been using the Expansion Draft Simulator at to go through various options on the teams. The crowd-sourced percentages there echo your thoughts showing the clear 7 protected players and Grabner as the obvious odd man out

  • Grabner will easily be gone. Cheap contract with 1 yr left and he would be easy for them to flip elsewhere. Or maybe he is a first liner in vegas and they sign him longer. 30 is not old.

  • It’s entirely possible that if the Rangers lose Grabner in the expansion draft, that they make a trade with Vegas to get him back, such as a two for one. Losing one of the above players is not the end of the world in my mind, since Hrivek could be slotted in on the fourth line.

    • I think the Rangers may instead try to make a trade ahead of the draft. Something like a prospect or draft pick for the Vegas Golden Knights to NOT pick Grabner. There were a few deals like that during the last expansion draft and the NHL is fully open to that

    • Paulronty,

      NYR would have to work a deal before the draft for them not to take Grabner. The rules indicate that you cannot trade a player back to the team they were taken from for 1 year.

  • Mcphee isnt an idiot. He will take Grabner over Lindberg and Fast in a heartbeat. Fast would be in the pressbox on another team.

  • If they this is the roster after the deadline it will be interesting to see who is taken. Mock drafts are fun but as soon as one pick of a different position then expected from a team the whole thing goes out the window. I know you can trade to protect but can you trade to take?

    If Im taking a player from the NYR from the list, Im not sure I take Grabner. Is he thriving in the system and chemstry that he may not have here and look like he did the last 3 years. Fast is interesting hes just a solid everyday 3/4 liner. Holden has value cause he can play both sides. Klein helps me get to the mandatory salary I must take, as well as, high return for a deadline return for a RHD with playoff experience. Raanta, I have to take a 3 goalies and he is inexpensive, but are better choices available.

    Its hard to say they take player x without the knowledge of whos available from all 30 and whos offering what to protect their exposed players that they want to keep. Plus who am I friends with as an ex gm that im willing to accept their offer on protect and who in my division can I hurt by taking the exposed player they want to protect.

  • I personally think Gorton uses a buyout on Marc Staal. He’s a lefty and is much easier to replace than Girardi is and Girardi is a little better with the puck. Gorton is a cap guy. He manages the salary cap. I think Gorton will realize that for the dead cap space that comes with The buyout, he can insert a guy like Skjei into the 2nd pair and still have money left over.
    My guess since that’s all we can do now is that Vegas would take Lindberg the center over Fast the winger. They will have a young affordable player that fits in a bottom 6 center spot and can handle the defensive responsibilities that come with that.

  • Dave,

    So is that a confirmed loophole that players can waive their NMC to get exposed? If so, you think Danny G would do it?

  • I also see no reason why Vegas wouldn’t take a super fast, 30 goal scoring PKer. That’s pretty much a no brainer.

    • Chris,

      The thing is Grabner has scored 30 twice (assuming he does hit 30 this season), before this season his last 3 seasons he didnt score 30 combined. He was signed as a fast penalty killer, if anyone expected 20 plus this season they are a liar. He is a UFA at the end of next season he could leave them, if he doesnt have a season like this one his deadline value wont be as high as it would be this season.

      • Not saying he’s a guaranteed 30 goal scorer by any means, but at 30 years old his speed hasn’t shown any signs of decline, so there is no reason to think he can’t continue to produce if deployed correctly. And he brings a lot to the PK. Just saying, he’s a tempting option for Vegas.

  • Rangers MUST trade stepan ASAP so we can keep Grabner……a future draft pick would be fine……although a smart GM will not give much for him……
    Deal him before deadline to team contending might overpay…….

    • Agree with you. Stepan is making too much $ for his production plus next year he has a NMC that kicks in. We can’t afford to expose Grabs. Put a trade together for Shattenkirk giving up Stepan and Fast. We have the depth to cover it

  • Grabner has been a great find and he definitely flourishes in the Rangers’ system. I’d hate to lose the guy. But trading Stepan might only make sense if the Rangers got some young stud defenseman. And trading him comes with the cost of opening a big hole at center. It might happen but I doubt it. However, trading him to keep Grabner makes very little sense.

    • Trading Step for a stud defenseman is fine with me, but we have plenty of talent at the center position, Z-Hayes-Miller-Linberg-Nieves to start with.

      Step is too expensive, too slow, too soft, and with the NMC kicking in next season, we will have less options available to us down the road to make deals should the need arise !!!!!!!!!

      I’d trade Step in a heart beat…………..

      • Have to disagree with your assessment of Stepan. He is an excellent two way player who does all the little things right. He is an excellent passer whose feeds to Nash are a big reason Nash has been productive. The replacements you mentioned can’t touch Stepan’s production, save Miller, but Miller belongs on the wing in my opinion.

        Yes, they should consider a trade for Stepan if they can obtain a talented blue liner that they can protect in the draft, but there is the problem. They have to protect Girardi and Staal, and of course will protect McDonough. Unless something is done with either Girardi or Staal, they will not be able to protect another defender. Dealing with the Girardi and Staal problem is far from simple.

        • Unless G or Staal waives the NMC before the trade deadline, there will be no blockbuster deal.

          Rangers management needs firm guarantee of G/Staal exposure at the draft before they’re going to bring in some stud defenseman who’d otherwise be exposed.

          So, first step is G/Staal waiving the NMC. Then, and only then, can Gorton begin entertaining offers for anything other than a rental.

          • Exactly Chris. Unless that problem is handled I expect much smaller moves by the deadline.

          • cant figure out what fans see in stepan, a good guy, good teammate, solid citizen……
            however in 7 years I can only think of a handful of games he was somewhat dominant….or a difference maker…..
            grabner, kreider, miller, zucc, hayes, nash, zib , totally overshadow stepans play!!!!!!
            In a year buch and vesey will join that list!!!
            We dont need stepan at the expense of grabner or any other current forward except fast or lindberg….

          • I like Zibanejad too but how do you put him above Step after playing not even half a season. He’s got speed and good on faceoffs but he’s not exactly lighting up the scoreboard either. I do think he will st some point but I can’t see putting him above Step already.

        • Not bagging on Stepan, but at his age & term he is an asset that is fungible, provides good value and can be replaced internally at no cost.

          This is the definition of a trade asset.

        • Pete

          We will disagree on this, and it’s for ONE main reason, the NMC. That is the reason I’d dump Step first, and foremost. Just look at the clusterfu*k that is Girardi, and Staal, all due to the NMC. Also for the other reasons mentioned, because for the cap hit, the production isn’t there!!!!!!

  • Fast is fungible player that you can replace from within with no appreciable drop in production. Deal him for a pick as you’re already playing with house money.

    Also, I would expose Zuccarello. Currently at his peak, but he’ll be 30 next season and is also replaceable at this point. Probably an unpopular opinion but a little guy who plays a physical game will hit the wall soon more often than being Marty St. Louis.

  • Solidly written and constructive so I gave it a deserved thumbs up

    But that said, I respectfully with the premise

    I see 2 pricier vets – Nash + Stepan – moved as soon as GMJG figures out which is his best offer. Suspecting Nash at half to SJ for lotsa goodies. Stepan is greatly desired, just need to figure out best fit. If NY eats a full 2 and he is then 4.5 per, I could see a fit with ‘Canes for Faulk at 4.88.

    The valued Zuc survives if there is no overpay and that is 50-50

    based on all of the above, we retain Lindy + Fast and of course Grabner

    If I am LV and NY has not dealt him for a + — and by all means don’t give him away — I see Raanta as the most valuable chip to take

  • A few comments here. Trading Nash make much more sense than trading Stepan. We would never expose Zucc. He is a great asset and a trade would bring a high return. I am not a big Fast fan, but all teams need a soild defensive forward to shut down other teams. So Nash is the guy to go but he may not waive his no trade contract. Shattenkirk not that great to overpay. We need a stud right handed defenseman to compete for the cup. Staal or Giradi will be bought out and not be on the team next season. We should do what we can to keep Grabner or sell him out ONLY if we can get an amazing return.

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