The deadline to request players waive their no-move clause for purposes of the expansion draft came and went yesterday. The Rangers did not ask Marc Staal or Dan Girardi to waive their respective clauses, meaning they will be automatically protected in the coming draft. To me, that comes as little surprise. There were no other defensemen to protect, as both Kevin Klein and Nick Holden are certainly not worth protection spots. So why ruin a relationship with a guy that has given his heart and soul to the team?
Don’t get me wrong, I am still of the belief that Girardi will be bought out. But at least that gives him the ability to choose his next destination. As for Staal, he still has some power to choose his, if the Rangers decide to part ways with him as well. But with this move, we know that both Holden and Klein will be exposed. And that gives us a little bit more predictive power on any potential bribe with Vegas.
For Jeff Gorton, keeping the forwards intact is of utmost importance during the expansion draft. Keeping Vegas from drafting Michael Grabner, Oscar Lindberg, and Jesper Fast is his top priority. His second priority is preventing them from drafting Antti Raanta, who holds solid trade value. I believe he will get dealt before the expansion draft, but that’s just my thought process. I have nothing to suggest they will.
That leaves Gorton’s attention on Klein and Holden, and working with Vegas to take one of them. I think Klein is a bit of a long shot, and we now also know that the Rangers don’t think highly enough of Holden’s 11-goal, 34-point season to protect him. Holden does have a lot of value to Vegas, albeit not as much as Fast/Lindberg. So I believe there could be a deal in the works to get George McPhee to take Holden (again, or Klein), to begin the remodeling of the blue line.
I honestly don’t think it would take much to convince McPhee to take Holden over Fast/Lindberg. We are talking a mid-round pick, not a top pick. Holden is not a cap monster, he’s still somewhat useful on a team that needs to build from the ground up (he plays all three strengths). Is McPhee someone that would turn down a third round pick to take Holden over Fast/Lindberg, who are bottom-six guys? I doubt it.
As for Klein, I think that takes a bit more, perhaps an additional pick in next year’s draft. He barely played this year, he’s slow, and his cap hit is double that of Holden’s. Of course, with Vegas needing to hit cap numbers, that may work in the Rangers’ favor, but there are better places to get a cap hit.
If I were a betting man, I’d wager a small amount on the Rangers working with Vegas to take Holden over one of their forwards. I have nothing to base this on, other than it’s what I’d do.