This year’s trade deadline and addressing future needs

mats zuccarello
Photo: Jim McIsaac/Newsday

The secret is out, and well, it’s been out for a while actually. The Rangers are in a rebuild, or a retool, or whatever. Among the other worst-kept secrets in Rangerstown is the defense is a mess, and probably will be for quite some time.

Last spring we saw a massive shedding of players in the push to restock the farm. Still though, what we wound up with wasn’t really any elite talent – that came mostly internally. Quantity over quality was the approach, which I’m honestly fine with it, but again, it led to no elite talent in the deals. Depth is great, but elite talent gets teams over the hump.

This year we’re likely looking at a fire sale too, but with a twist. Several contracts expiring not this year but the next, a fact that might add value to a team that wants to contend for the next two years rather than going for broke this Spring only. This year’s expiring contracts are all depth guys, so there isn’t much value there. Rather, we want to set our sights on teams that are a little less short-term and looking to shore up their second/third lines this year and next rather than add a game-breaker.

Mats Zuccarello is obviously an impending UFA this year, but we’ve also got Ryan Spooner, Vlad Namestnikov, Jimmy Vesey, Matt Beleskey, and Jesper Fast up at the end of 2019-2020, all UFAs. I’m going to ignore the looming lockout, because that changes the equation in complicated ways that I can’t really comprehend, and because honestly I’d rather just not think about how unbelievably miserable another work stoppage would be.

A couple of names worth noting on defense are Brendan Smith, who despite his long-term contract may be attractive to a team depending on how he redeems himself, and Tony DeAngelo, who’s an RFA without arbitration rights at the end of this season (and for a variety of reasons may be the odd man out as far as the bigger picture goes). Add into the mix Kevin Shattenkirk, whom I really do think has a future with this team and can actually fit in well to the broader vision of what’s to come, but nonetheless could be worth something good depending on who we’re dealing with. What I’m saying here is we’ve got some stuff for the yard sale, but obviously they’re not getting our old LPs for pennies on the dollar. This is more like one of those auction shows they have on HGTV – we’ll be selling to whoever wants to pay the most for our rare first pressing of Exile on Main St.

In today’s NHL, raising your own stars is critical. That’s what I was getting at earlier about betting on upside. Our stars of the future will be homegrown, and if they’re not then we’re not going to see a Rangers team in the upper echelons of this league any time soon.

While the Rangers certainly have some elite talent potential at forward, the club is missing that bonafide #1 defenseman. Kevin Shattenkirk may fit that mold, but he’s on the bottom end of that spectrum. But even if he is on that list, will he still be on that list in three years when the Rangers are ready to compete? Eventually the Rangers are going to need that stud defenseman.

With that need for a stud defenseman so apparent, it may change the strategy for Jeff Gorton and company at this deadline, especially with the added value of a full year remaining on some of their more valuable assets. There is a viable strategy of obtaining as many assets as possible to flip for that bonafide #1 defenseman. It’s tricky, but doable with a deep and quality prospect pipeline.

Or we could see Gorton target someone directly at the deadline who instantly slides into that #1 defenseman role. You don’t build a team just by drafting – you have to strike while the iron is hot as far as the trade market goes. If Jeff Gorton wants to change the makeup of this team either for a few great years or a long-term Golden Era, then he’s going to need to make a blockbuster. There are plenty of short, medium, and long-term assets to burn, which includes a plethora of draft picks.

Wondering who they should target? Well that’s a post for another time.

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19 thoughts on “This year’s trade deadline and addressing future needs

  • Sep 24, 2018 at 8:51 am

    The Golden Knights made it all the way to the Stanley Cup finals without “elite” talent. They built their team with 3rd line talent and prospects.

    A revolving door roster is not how a franchise builds a winning hockey team as chemistry is paramount for winning.

    I am all for building through the draft and player development. But it takes good coaching and role models veterans to teach the young players what it takes to be successful in the NHL.

    • Sep 24, 2018 at 1:12 pm

      Vegas isn’t really a good team-building comparison for any other NHL team, they were an expansion team that began the draft with no money spent against the salary cap. No other NHL team can replicate the conditions that Vegas and McPhee had in terms of setting up that roster. Additionally, when a team has been in the NHL for only one season it’s not really clear what their attitude towards player turnover is. They’ve already made some significant moves of personnel this offseason too, getting Pacioretty and Stastny. Replacing one third of your top 6 is a fair amount of change right off the bat.

    • Sep 24, 2018 at 8:42 pm

      And the Rangers made it all the way to the Stanley cup finals without any elite talent outside of the blue paint.

  • Sep 24, 2018 at 8:54 am

    2019/20 Best Case Scenario is that we move some folks (Zucc, Names, others) go out and get Panarin and a real #1 defender, and have the new kid Kravsov also be in the lineup. By then, many guys like Pionk/Gilmour/ADA/Hajek all have another year under their belt and know how to play Quinn’s defensive system. Staal would be gone and Shatty/Skjei are a strong second pair.

    IF we do this right, we will also have a few picks in the first 3 rounds, bolstering our youth movement.

    Do not see anything that will really help this year’s team be very competitive though. Too many holes on D and too many question marks on offense.

    • Sep 24, 2018 at 9:34 am

      This team doesn’t have a Jonathan Marchessault who scored 30 goals in 16-17 and 27 in 17-18 with 75 points. The lack of 30+ goals and 70+ points as
      a 1c center hurts as well. I think it’s safe to put Marchessault and Karlsson in the elite category.

      This team is going to need some major break out season’s within the top 6. No more considering 40+ season’s as top line numbers or “really good” 2nd line numbers.

      • Sep 24, 2018 at 9:55 am

        That is why we at least need a Panarin. Someone who has tasted 35+ goals.

        • Sep 24, 2018 at 11:38 am

          You’re preaching to the choir son, so much that I hope to see for a trade for him. I want Panarin apart of this quick rebuild so he could resign here as soon as possible. Before you say that we could get him for free, just remember two things, first being that Panarin wants to win.
          Second of all, that a rebuild without Panarin = Not looking to hot for him to sign here. A rebuild + w/ Panarin = better chance that this club took off = a immediate happy Panarin for a quick resign. If JG could flip Zib and whatever else for
          Panarin than you do it. I don’t that moves the needle compared to what Dallas would offer but it’s worth a try.

          • Sep 24, 2018 at 12:04 pm

            Agreed. I would make a deal for him ASAP, but we do not want to sour him with a sub-500 team. Unless we wait until he announces he wants out of Columbus soon. Blue Jackets will need some talent to replace him.

            This NYR team is so void of top talent – at both ends of the ice at the moment. We really do need a top 5 pick in next years draft.

            • Sep 24, 2018 at 12:58 pm

              If I’m JG than I rather shoot my shot now with Panarin being on board. It’s more safe than to try to win sweepstakes after a piss poor season. I see him as a upgrade from Zib on the PP. If the Rangers don’t do good things in the season while qualifying for a playoff birth or get some sort of combo with at least getting a WC1/WC2 with a deep run. Than NY will fall out of favor and might not entertain him as much. Other fun city’s around the states would clear out room for him with a better window for his timeline.

              I rather see that get done now which could help entertain Erik Karlsson this summer. I’m not convinced that San Jose is going to be a long term destination for him. I agree about defense having some holes. It would have been nice to get Jake Muzzin when those rumors started to buzz around the last couple of years.

  • Sep 24, 2018 at 9:17 am

    Trade Zuc this year…and if we get the blockhead Kreider again…move him too…No way you extend those guys with long term contracts….Try to move Smith and if someone wants Shatt…see ya

    • Sep 24, 2018 at 11:21 am

      I agree TB, if Kreider played like he was beast mode than his heart would fill alot of missing voids on this team. First off, it would give the team some insurance that nobody is going to try and punk the Rangers. Second of all, he could be one of the able body’s to finish his checks and put big star names on their backside, a instigator type. Third of all, he would be able to chip in more points with that kind of style, which could make him more of a 50-55 point player. Right now his production is underwhelm than most top 6 players from the NHL. Than his rest of the game reminded me of why Torts didn’t like him. He was almost traded last year so I don’t think it’s wrong to assume it’s a must or bust season for him as a NYR.

      • Sep 24, 2018 at 11:47 am

        Yes sir Mint…we need the Ottawa G6 3rd period Kreider

        • Sep 24, 2018 at 12:59 pm

          That’s a rare sight around these parts

          • Sep 24, 2018 at 1:37 pm

            Sure is bro

    • Sep 24, 2018 at 6:03 pm

      Everyone complains that the Rangers are soft and fans want to trade the one guy who’s big, fast, and plays with an edge, not to mention a 25 goal, 50ish pt player.


      I would bet a lot that Kreider would not bring back the trade haul that would replace his value to the Rangers. You’re not getting Draisaitl or someone of that ilk for Kreider, so a trade would not be worth it.

      CK is young enough to be one of the vets for the younger guys. Possible Captain of the team.

  • Sep 24, 2018 at 9:23 am

    Smith looks rejuvenated, Pionk, Skeij and Shattenkirk will be better, McQuaid will be a force and a leader that will make up for some liabilities. Hajek will be ready by December. We’ll be ok on defense, I think, not a tire fire that everyone is saying.

    • Sep 24, 2018 at 3:56 pm

      I have to agree, I don’t think the D will be quite the mess some suggest … it also won’t be that good barring some major internal improvements from players like ADA, a healthy Shattenkirk, a resurgent Skjei and Smith … that and we have to find some way to move Staal (even if it means retaining half his salary for the rest of his contract if we could get a decent asset in return).

  • Sep 24, 2018 at 9:51 am

    I think they will move a few players at the deadline of before. This draft is very strong and the first 2 round’s will have a lot of talent.

    There are few decisions to be made that can help us start to fix the D. First is if we think Chytil, Andersson and Howden are our Centers of the future, what happens with Hayes and Zib? I think one goes this year, assuming the kids are working out. And the other stays for a period of time, but could also be moved out in the next few years depending on needs. Carolina has been in the market for centers and they have D men. Same thing with Winnipeg, although I have the impression we are not interested in Trouba. But a deal with Zib or Hayes for Faulk + something is the kind of trade we should look at here, to improve the D. Maybe Faulk is not the guy, but one of those centers need to return a solid D man (sort of like Henrique for Vatanen) It’s hard to see a team part with an Elite D man when they are planning on making a play off run. Unless they have excess.

    Won’t be surprised to see them trade Zucc if they can get a 1st and a prospect. I love Zucc but that’s the business. I would be fine with resigning him again. But if Kravtsov comes next year and we can sign Panarin, he would be looking at 3rd line minutes.

    If Smith rebounds and you can get some draft picks trade him. We have plenty of D men to keep the internal competition going. Besides you have to hope at least 1 or 2 rookies breaks the line up next year. We can also retain some salary to improve the return.

    McQuaid can hopefully get better draft picks than we parted with to get him.

    I see guys like Vesey, Spooner, Calesson and Namestnikov as add on’s to a bigger trade. But I feel like they are going to keep Namestnikov around a bit longer.

    The best way to get the elite talent on D is a top 5 draft pick and based on most expectations that could very well happen this year. Bowen Bryam and Philip Broberg would be the guys I think we would target. (if the draft were today) A lot can change but these are 2 guys to keep an eye on this season.

    And finally. What’s going on with Rykov and SKA? If they have no interest release him and let him come to Hartford. He’s not elite talent, but he needs to keep his development going.

  • Sep 24, 2018 at 3:59 pm

    Yeah, I don’t think Faulk is the guy …

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