Musings

Perspective matters heading into the trade deadline

jeff gorton

With every passing day the trade deadline draws closer, with teams already likely in the preliminary stages of making whatever deals we’ll eventually see transpire. The Rangers are likely to be active at the deadline one way or another, and while I’m not going to make specific recommendations or prescribe particular remedies to what’s ailing the team (given that I’ve already done that, and given that there’s certainly more than one way to improve this team) I do want to unpack the crucial thought process that a team must undertake in the run up to the deadline.

In short, it all has to do with whether or not this team sees itself as a true contender, and whether or not that’s actually true. We’ve seen in previous years the Rangers’s tendency to go all in, adding pieces at the deadline in order to give the team a shot at the Cup. While I think it’s certainly admirable to try and contend every year possible and give Henrik Lundqvist a shot at his Cup, we’ve also seen in previous years that this hasn’t exactly worked out.

Let’s say this team sees itself as a contender, albeit one that could use certain improvements. GM Jeff Gorton might then go out and try and make the requisite improvements, specifically at defense, and might even go so far as to pay the high price for Kevin Shattenkirk in the hopes that not only will he help the team this postseason but also sign long term. This would be yet another season of punching the “win now” button, although if Shatty does re-sign with the Rangers it would certainly help them win in the future as well.

Let’s say the team isn’t truly a contender however, despite whatever management may think. If that’s the case you just gave up a blue chip prospect and a first, two things the Rangers don’t exactly have a lot of, in order to make another early exit with the hope that Shattenkirk re-signs all while knowing that he may very well not. This would be a nightmare scenario for the Rangers, especially if Shattenkirk’s contributions come in under expectations (I’m thinking of Eric Staal’s less than stellar performance last year here).

In the alternate, if this team doesn’t see itself as a contender, Jeff Gorton might instead choose to either stand pat, or try and recoup assets by trading for either picks or prospects. This would likely mean giving up some depth guys like Michael Grabner (not going to happen, I know) or Oscar Lindberg to teams that do see themselves making the push for a Cup this year. Even trading Rick Nash potentially, although I’d be loathe to see it transpire, could be a prudent move given the right return.

Because imagine if the Rangers changed their perspective even just one year out of the several that they’ve decided to go all in on their quest for a Cup. While I’m personally of the opinion that the Martin St Louis deal was alright to make, given that the alternative was re-signing Ryan Callahan and given MSL’s playoff contributions, if the team took a different tack last season we might be looking at a dramatically different squad down the road and potentially even now. Under those circumstances the Rangers would have passed on trading for Eric Staal, and likely would have dealt Keith Yandle, reaping a huge return from whatever team would’ve been desperate enough to trade for him. Wouldn’t it have been cool to be the team that robs another one blind for once?

The bottom line is this: it’s all about perspective, and the way that perspective lines up with reality. If this team thinks it’s a contender, and if it’s right, then adding at the deadline is the right way to go. If it’s not however, the risk is diminishing the team’s future chance at a Cup. On the flip side, if this team realizes that a championship this season is likely already foreclosed and instead chooses to recuperate assets by selling to those teams that do see themselves as having a shot, the Rangers could bolster their chances for next season and beyond. Jeff Gorton certainly has his work cut out for him in evaluating this team, and I don’t envy him. But introspection and self-evaluation are going to be critical at this trade deadline, and could have a significant effect on this team’s future chances, one way or another.

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45 Comments

  1. Shattenkirk is not Bobby Orr, he’s not even James Patrick. I wish Rangers fans would stop looking at this mediocre defenseman as our savior. I wouldn’t trade for this pending FA.

    1. This guy is on par with Keith Yandle, and look how far we got with him, NOT!!!!!! He also would cost a fortune, and would want term, I wouldn’t make a move on him either …………

    2. Exactly, Ranger fans, as I said before, are so desperate for quality D, there is a tendency to lionize all young D, like Shatty, especially offensive D who can’t defend worth a crap in their own zone. Get me D who can DEFEND!

  2. Amen He would cost to much cap going forward ala G and Staal Can you just see us with a cap for staal G and Shatty and then the need to sign McD . Our blue line would be at a cost of 25M to 30M to ice 7 Ds . Key is not buying out but trading G and Staal , buy outs won’t work towards the cap for the next 8 to 10 years . But then again we will see a work stoppage and coming out of that we will get a free buy out period

  3. Wouldn’t it have been cool to be the team that robs another one blind for once? Great line, and for tooooooooooooo many years, we as an organization are the ones with a tin can, sun glasses, and a cane.

    I’m of the opinion that we are not even close to being a contender, but are a pretender. The regular season is for show, the PO’s are for dough, and we aren’t baking this year. There is no way we replace three defensmen, the Pylon Twins, and KK, so let’s see what we can do for the future. Our division is way too strong, with the Caps, Pens, Bluejackets, we would never come out of the east, even if Hank played on his head for three great series.

    If Jeff is smart, and I believe he is, I’d stay pat, or try to dump the three d-men mentioned, and get back a bucket of pucks in return. The last thing I’d do is make any move for Shatty, period. The guy is overrated, and isn’t too sound on the defensive side. Yes he can move the puck, can skate, but he is nothing more than a 2nd pair guy, period. If he wants to come play for us, sign him for a reasonable amount, but give up zero, nothing, zilch for him. Who in their right mind would give away assets, and picks, for something you get for free, I will never understand that mind set.

    Bottom line, we make minor moves this year, that’s what I believe will happen, and see what wheeling, and dealing we do before the draft, and free agent signings !!!!!!!

    1. I agree that we’re not close enough to the cup with this defense. Shatty is not gonna fix our problems defending. And I don’t know why we would sign him long term if we didn’t want to do it with Yandle. Shatty is 28 years old so what’s the difference between him and Yandle. Similar players too. I would like to see us think of the future. We’re not that far away but not close enough for one guy to make the difference to win it all now. Maybe if we didn’t trade so many top picks in the past we would be in better shape now

    2. Gorton needs to eschew that “one more kick at the can” philosophy, stop listening to AV, & plan for the future by revamping the D over the next 2-3 years, if that is how long it takes. Buy outs are not the answer, that just further hamstrings the team. Let Klein go(get a pick if necessary). trade Staal to Minny for a good young prospect(I think he’d go there to be with bro & close to home) if Minny even wants him. Make Girardi the 7th D, and run him in & out of the lineup.

      1. Paulronty,

        Minny would have no interest in Staal, they have younger better defenseman. The only non buyout way to rid Staal and Girardi is to retain salary or include a good young player. Neither are worth their contract, but both can still play.

    3. Walt,

      I agree that Shatty is not the answer, however if Gorton and company believe he is, then Im for renting him. The only roster player, id give up is klein with picks as a take it or leave it option. Id rather he prove he can or cant play first line minutes in NY then throw a big contract at him and hope. Just throwing money at him can result in another terrible UFA signing. Again I dont think hes the answer, but if he is in Gortons then Im for renting him.

      1. Kris

        I understand where your coming from, but assuming we do as you say, and he doesn’t pan out, then we go another year, (5), without a first round pick, just to see if he works out. Sorry, I just can’t justify that in my own mind !!!!!!!

        If he wants so badly to come here, then wait until he is an UFA, sign without long term, and by no means any NMC, that would kill this organizations ability to make deals down the road. Just my thought process, but hey, I’ve been wrong before!!!!!!!!!!

  4. the game against Caps today could turn out to expose our d core big time and show Gorton that we need to remove them if we have any chance to make a run in the postseason. There is no quick fix to that or the special teams. IT COULD BE UGLY

    1. You’re right. Pretender or contender,this is the game that we can really assess where we might be going. If we look terrible, expect nothing by the trading deadline. Cleaning house next season will be a priority. How about no more NMC in Ranger contracts.

    2. We won, but look at the game closer.

      We played a back up goalie, not their best.
      We only managed two goals against said goalie.
      They came off a week without playing, except yesterday, and seemed a bit out of sync.
      Can this team play this way long enough to win a series, two series, three series, and a cup? I suspect not. What we saw today is fools gold, and I won’t fall for it!!!!!!!

  5. I don’t know if I would call him a mediocre D man but I do agree that it’s a little nuts how fans talk about him as being the. Answer to alll our problems. What I still don’t get is why we would pay him 7 mill for 5 years, which is what I’ve seen he’s gonna be asking, but we didn’t want to pay Yandle 6 or 6.5 mil for 5 years. I’m pretty sure Shattenkirk is only a year younger. I’ve mentioned this a few times and I keep thinking someone is gonna give me some type of reasoning on it but that hasn’t happened.

    1. If he wants 7 mil for 5 years, then the Rangers would be insane to give it to him. Give him 4 mil for 2 years, take it or leave it.

  6. Great article but I must disagree with you on the St. Louis trade. There is no way we should have gave up 2 first round picks when St. Louis only wanted to go to the Rangers! and our captain was 11 years younger

    1. I can’t really argue except to say that we do not go to the SCF without St. Louis. So was the trade worth it? O top of the fact that Cally was an overrated player who passed 50 pts once in his career as a Ranger looking for $36M.

      Good riddance and if we did do that then none of the success we did see in 2014 and 2015 comes about and we would be stuck with another bad contract like TB is now.

      1. Another bad contract that has to be protected from expansion!

        The NTC was the sticking point Sather wouldn’t budge on.

      2. That trade would have been fine without giving up the 2- #1 picks !

  7. Here’s a thought,
    Being the Hartford Wolfpack stink anyway, why not make some major minor league deals (trade a top forward or two) with minor league teams which may be stacked with potential decent defenseman (aren’t there scouts for this?). Start to build from within the minor leagues and bring up Graves now for a trial run as a seventh defenseman (Clendenning is a waste). Get rid of Staal for a second or third draft pick. Also Stephen must go at the trade deadline for a righty defenseman period, and we deal with it!

  8. Best line of this article is trading to contend to give Henleak the cup….and why I stated he has become a detriment to the team. Stupid moves to make the team a one and done cup champions which did not occur. You do not make moves to give one player the cup, you make moves to make the team cup contenders and never where they real cup contenders in Leaky’s tenure, not even in 2014
    As for this year I agree they are still not cup contenders and need to realize that and start re-tooling. Trading Grabner and Holden is not such a bad idea and if we can trade the 4 Albatrosses, which means Lundqvist as well, and including Girardi, Staal, Nash and Klein then it should be explored.
    Hate to say it, but let’s be realistic here we are a 1st round exit team in the playoffs. I as any fan of this team however hope and root that we can bring the Cup home

    1. So again, I will ask the question that none of the Hank Haters like to answer because there is no answer: What would the Rangers do to make themselves a contender without Henrik on the team?

      I can’t wait to hear the answer.

      1. They could have kept Talbot at the time , had 4+ million to spend …. the team as everyone says always plays better in front of the other goalie … waaa laaa

        1. So an extra 4 million to spend makes up the difference between Lundqvist and Talbot or Raanta? So add in a hagelin? What difference maker is available for 4 million that could be added to this team?

          1. Talbot is a better goalie than Leaky in my opinion

            To be a contender you have to draft a generational player, which means sucking up when bad and be in a position to draft such a player. That means being a lottery pick in the 1st round.
            Stanley Cup Champion teams have proven you can win it all with good goaltending, you don’t need the superstar goalie. Leaky and Price are oh fer while Ward, Murray, Crawford, Gerber….so yeah….

          2. “Talbot is a better goalie than Leaky in my opinion”

            I guess this is all anyone needs to know.

            Rangers won today against the Caps only because of Lundqvist like many other Ranger wins in the past 12 years.

          3. We’ll never know cause right now we’re strapped on the cap with a few awful contracts … But Talbot is gelling nicely with a young Oilers team , has better numbers as well

      2. The Rangers have already proven they can win with Talbot and Raanta in the lineup in place of Lundqvist. Henk is and has been an exceptional goaltender. But hockey is a team sport, every player on the roster is replaceable.

        1. Bloomer, really? A few regular season games and you’re convinced? wow.

          Lundqvist is not replaceable.

      3. Give Shestyorkin’s KHL team some cash, bring him over & throw him into the fire, might be one strategy, although I’m not advocating getting rid of Hank. Instead I’m advocating getting rid of AV(sigh).

        1. Shesty is Lundqvist’s heir apparent, it looks like. He just finished up a stellar KHL season.

  9. Trading Callahan away at the trade deadline was the right move. But throwing in a first round pick along with him, was a terrible shortsighted blunder. First and second rounds picks are precious, as they allow clubs to restock players at a discount.

    Jeff Gorton is in a bind, his club is up against the cap ceiling. This is the reason I advocate moving Rick Nash and Kevin Klein at the trade deadline, it will give the new GM some needed cap-space. The Rangers young forwards will fill in for the loss of Rick Nash. The Rangers already have 2 stay at home defencemen with Staal and Girardi, which makes KK expendable.

    Both Nash and Klein could help put a playoff team over the top. In return the Rangers should seek a younger defenceman that can help them on the PP and also some prospects to restock the cupboard. I am not suggesting the Ranger team needs to be blown up, but it is time to retool.

    1. Not against the ceiling, the team is $2.25mm under, have cap credits of $8mm, looking to get to $10mm by the deadline. They could move somebody and retain salary quite easily.

      1. There will be no increase to the salary cap this summer. The Rangers have to resign Zibanejad, Fast and Lindberg in the offseason and won’t have room unless they shed salary.

        The Rangers have gone the rental player route, trading away draft picks and prospects for a quick high. In the long run, this hurts the franchise and takes the club further away from being competitive.

    2. That stupid st louis trade cost us 2 first round picks I believe…and st louis insured that we would lose to tampa the following year with the WORST performance by an individual in a playoff series I have seen in 50 years of watching hockey….

      Since sather is still with us and Unless phil esposito or mike milbury are still gm’s NO ONE is crazy enough to trade for either of the pylon twins….unless we give them stepan to sweeten the deal……addition by subtraction…..

      that would allow us to keep , resign grabner…..waaaaaaaaay more valuable than stepan!!!!!

  10. Gomez for McDonagh was grand larceny at the minimum. That was the last time that we stole candy from a baby, and glory-be was that a trade.

  11. Hemmed in by NMC’s and the expansion draft, unless Gorton pulls a rabbit out if his hat and somehow moves Staal or Girardi, or gets one to waive their NMC, Gorton likely makes minor moves at the deadline.

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