Trading picks to Vegas isn’t a great option

The buzz around the 31st NHL team, the Las Vegas Golden Knights, has only grown over the last couple of weeks. This is a culmination of them officially paying their league fees and signing their first player, Reid Duke. As the expansion draft creeps nears, there have been a lot of discussions of teams trading draft picks or perhaps prospects to Vegas as payment for them to not take an exposed player.

It is a nice business move, especially if you have assets to use and a great team that you don’t want to break up. Some people/bloggers have suggested that maybe the New York Rangers would be one of the teams that pay off Vegas, but I personally believe that it would be a wasteful move by the Rangers.

The folks proposing this move for the Rangers seem to be in agreement that the Rangers’ most valuable open targets are Antti Raanta, Michael Grabner, and possibly Jesper Fast. That makes sense, Raanta has shown that he can potentially handle a split starter role, Grabner is a 25+ goal scorer for around $1.5 million, and Fast is someone who is garnering respect around the league. For the Rangers to make a run in 2018, it would be preferred to have these players remain. But at the same time are they more replaceable than we think?

I love Raanta, he has done his job with flying colors. That said, he is simply another project by Benoit Allaire gone right. Part of Allaire’s job is to scout potential future projects, whether it be in juniors or the AHL. There is certainly a chance that Allaire has found his next project that can theoretically take Raanta’s spot if chosen.

Building on this, maybe one of Dallas’ goalies will be bought out. Perhaps the Rangers can add to their pick selection or prospect pool similar to the Cam Talbot trade. I will admit this however: Raanta would probably be –when predicting each players’ individual production next season– the most difficult to replace but if we have to I trust Allaire’s judgement.

Grabner has made a lot of new fans in his first season on Broadway, and is a contender for the Steven MacDonald Extra Effort award at the end of the season. His speed has brought a missing element to the penalty kill and has been the leader along with Derek Stepan in CF% among the Rangers penalty killers. I would love to keep Grabner in the organization, especially if there is a big push next year.

However it is highly unlikely Graber will be able to repeat this production next year. One option that intrigues me is a possible trade with the Los Angeles Kings. LA is desperate for scoring but they also have a lot of money tied up in players, LA also has 2 open spots for protecting forwards in expansion (I would take any of the Rangers forwards over guys like Andreoff), so with the NYR scouting LA’s prospects recently maybe there is a move to be made. If the Rangers get a good prospect in return for Grabner and picks, would it be worth it while also giving young guys like Jimmy Vesey and Pavel Buchnevich more ice time as well?

Finally, the Rangers don’t really have many picks or prospects that can be traded. There are only a few instances in which I would be ok with moving picks or prospects to Vegas.

  1. If the Rangers are big players in signing UDFAs potentially, allowing a draft pick or prospect to be moved.
  2. Preventing Rangers ineptitude. There is nothing that I hate more than when teams don’t sign a UFA then proceed to trade for him at the trade deadline. If the Rangers move Grabner or Raanta but don’t do their due diligence in the summer, they would be at risk to trading a pick for a similar player anyway. If someone like Ryan Gropp, for example, can be used to keep these two players, it is probably better to do that than to trade Gropp+ at the deadline.
  3. While leaving players open for expansion, potentially move players like Klein (who I believe still has value as a RHD vet) or Holden etc. to recoup the picks.

Overall, unless the Rangers can restock before moving assets, the only picks the Rangers should trade would be included to getting hindering contracts off the books.

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  • Josh,

    Check out the latest news on what George McPhee is planning to do with the protected lists. He’s open for offers from other teams for players he can draft and then Immediately trade for more bodies. As you know, getting 30 players and then only being able to roster 23 of them leaves them wide open to lose players on waivers. So, McPhee has the opportunity to turn a decent player around for prospects and or picks. So, if he wanted to he could grab Raanta and then flip him to Dallas in a heartbeat. Or someplace else. Raanta actually deserves to be a starter someplace and make more money. I hope he gets the chance. NYR will be fine with whoever becomes the new back up.

  • McPhee needs to build not only for next year, but for a few years. He may have to buy and trade in a few deals, just to make this AND next year a little promising to his new fan base. He also needs a name. It may be advantageous to grab an expensive name, even in his waning years, just to draw some fans. He then can flip him later, to a contender. I think a 20 win season is a lot to expect from an expansion team, but it is more about selling merchandise than winning games.

  • I’m not worried about LV taking Raanta, because there will be other goalies available with more experience(Fleury, Bishop etc) who are more likely to be tabbed. Actually, I would be more afraid of losing Lindberg instead of Grabner or Fast. He’s a young centre with a lot of upside. Reid Duke? Wasn’t he on the Rangers Traverse City team?

    • Duke was at TC for the Rangers after not being tendered by the wild. Showed flashes, but 3rd tier, well behind Vesey and Boo.

    • My initial thinking was the Lindberg or Fast would be player taken from the Rangers. Given Grabner’s history in the league, I think he’s far more valuable to the Rangers than any other team. I agree with Josh when he mentioned in this post that Grabner is unlikely to be able to repeat his production this year. I think his best chance to do so would be as a Ranger.

      You can make a great case for Las Vegas drafting Raanta. Las Vegas is likely going to take three goalies in the expansion draft and possibly four. They will likely take at least one goalie with the intention of trading him for players / prospects to a team like Dallas who is a playoff team until you get to the netminder. The Atlanta Thrashers drafted Trevor Kidd from Carolina and then traded him to Florida. They also drafted Corey Schwab (Tampa) and Norm Maracle (Detroit) and acquired Damien Rhodes from Ottawa a week before the draft for future considerations (agreeing not to draft an eligible player).

      I might be in the minority, but I’d rather lose Raanta than Fast or Lindberg.

      • The Rangers can plug Boo Nieves in for Fast and would be an upgrade sizewise.

        Lindberg has a skillset that is much more valuable than Fast.

        The problem is this: Stepan & Zuccarello are now being outproduced by Hayes & Miller and are blocking the way forward for the latter pair, and also not optimizing the roster/salary structure in regards to Buchnevich & Vesey as well. They play 2 more minutes a night yet P60 puts Stepan outside the top 6. Losing Stepan for nothing is not nothing if his salary is off the books. This also applies to Zucc, but not nearly as much.

        Food for thought.

        • I know you see Hartford games and you like Boo? I’ve seen him a few times and I’m not impressed.

          • I don’t think he’ll ever be anything beyond a 4th liner, but that’s what will be needed.

          • yep, I agree. Some Ranger fans envision him as more that that and I can’t see it.

          • No shooting hands. Plus size, plus skating, okay passing skills. 10 goal scorer by being net front.

          • Yep I saw him when Penn St played Michigan at the Garden in his senior year. He scored a goal but was hardly dominant. I was very disappointed.

        • I agree with you regarding Stepan. I am not as down on him as several on this board, but there is no doubt in my mind that he is the #3C with Zbad and the emergence of Hayes. Stepan in Vegas might be the best thing for the Rangers.

          • If he is the 3C then he needs to be traded at $6.5M per. I think that’s where the discontent on Stepan is.

            If you’re not down on Stepan and you think that he is a 3C on this team, then that speaks volumes. And I somewhat agree with you too. No question that Zib and Hayes are more talented. My feeling is that if Stepan were traded for a major D upgrade then Lindberg could fill the 3C spot just fine.

  • Rangers will end up making a large package deal with Vegas.

    1. Vegas needs to add salary to get above minimum.
    2. Most unprotectedplayers will be 3rd and 4thliners
    3. Rangers want to keep Raanta and Grabner

    Trade Stepan (or maybe include Staal and Giradi to avoid dead salary) plus a good pick (2nd Round) for opportunity to select several (3 or 4) players from the pool including the Rangers own pick. In searching the list, there will be several unprotected players that fit the profile of speed and defensive to fill the 4th line and 3rd pair D.

    However, the only way this happens is if the Rangers agree to this after the Cup and before the draft starts. Probably without knowing the list.

    I know this seems like a huge gamble, but a great way to free cap for Rangers and add cap for Vegas

    • The twins have NMC can’t be moved to any team with out their consent and that is not happening . $tepan would do a lot better if he would carry the puck into the O zone instead of always gaining the red line and shooting around the boards and letting the goalie stop it and getting out again until he can do it again the next time he is on the ice .Just saying watch the next game and watch him shoot it in with out anyone on him when he could just as easy just skate it over the blue line and try to make a play

      • Ranger

        We may be the only ones on this site who has been wise to this for some time. One of the many reason’s I’m not a huge fan of his !!!!

      • He shoots it in when he gains the red line because of 2 things. He has poor stick handling ability, and he wants others to do the initial dirty work with the puck. In a way he reminds me a Ratelle. The big difference is that Ratelle had a snap shot that was deadly accurate, but both hate to create dirty goals, and prefer to stay at the 20 ft. mark where contact is less. As a 3C, his cost is high. I think it makes sense to move him, but we will not move him and he will be a NYR long after his value diminishes.

      • Girardi will have to do something because immediately following the draft he loses his leverage and his list of 16 teams he can be traded to takes effect.

        It will happen with Girardi because he has no leverage left and could stand to lose Millions if he doesn’t play nice and gets bought out after 7/1

  • I usually agree with you Josh, but not this time. If you look at the possible guys that will be available for LV, then I think Raanta is the most valuable.

    I know, Grabner, but he’s also gone from 34 goals to 10 in one year. Even without the goals Grabner is valuable as a PKer, for sure. But if you look at the make up of the Rangers including for next year, I think having a strong goalie tandem is a must. And Raanta will get more games next year, maybe even 30 games.

    Would it be worth it for the Rangers to send a 3rd to LV not to pick Raanta? I think so. I would do that deal.

    • Grabner is getting sprung by playing with 2 good passers, something that Vegas won’t have access to. Now Vegas could flip him, but too many moving parts to have that much concern.

      • Grabner does fit the Rangers’ system well and that line should never be broken up, though the coach tries if they are ineffective for 2 or 3 shifts.

        LV will go for names. They will have a fan base that is tourist oriented, not fans that will go to all 41 games. So Fleury will be there and other big names that can still play somewhat.

        Rumors that LV will go for Oshie big time as a FA.

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