As I mentioned yesterday, it’s time to strike while the iron is hot. Thanksgiving and the onset of the holiday season is a silly time of year, with that strange-but-true rule about not making the playoffs if you’re already out in mid-November being something on teams’ minds (and if not, pundits will be sure to remind them).
The Rangers have a need to keep selling, keep stocking up on picks and prospects, and keep clearing room. It also wouldn’t help to uh, get worse. That’s counter-intuitive at first glance, and certainly something I won’t enjoy in the present, but I can tell you for a fact that I will enjoy seeing the name “HUGHES” or “KAKKO” stitched on the back of a blue jersey. Let’s leave unpacking that whole debate to the side for now and just focus on the selloff; we’re going to accept the premise and deal with the bigger mess later.
The Rangers have had a slightly weird trajectory as far as their asset management these past couple of years. Prior to this past February, the Rangers were implicitly planning on contending so long as Henrik Lundqvist took the ice in a Rangers sweater. Jeff Gorton danced around the issue of trading Derek Stepan for the top-ten pick that would become Lias Andersson and selecting Filip Chytil later on in that draft by calling it a “retool” or a “rebuild on the fly.” The idea was that we could update the roster for the coming years and still push for the Stanley Cup. I mean, we did just extend Brendan Smith and land Kevin Shattenkirk in free agency right?
Well, that’s not exactly how things panned out and whether or not you’ve made your peace with the whole thing it’s the reality of things regardless. Our defense has been a weak point for some time now, and this year it’s been the worst it’s ever been. Why on Earth am I suggesting we trade our two sturdiest defenders (more or less, because Brady Skjei and BRendan Smith seem to swap who has a good game and who has a bad game depending on the day of the week)?
It all goes back to what I started off by saying: we need young blood, roster spots for the babies to eventually grow into, and perhaps even a few more L’s. Smith and Shatty each have relatively medium-term contracts, the kinds that are totally workable in a trade scenario and maybe even ideal depending on what a team’s particular outlook is. They have relatively modest cap hits, or at least relative to their talent level, and if we sort out the rest of our books we could potentially retain salary.
They’re each having relatively solid seasons, certainly on the fancy stats side of things, and if they heat up at any point in the near/not so distant future then Gorton would be remiss if he didn’t pull the trigger and land something sweet. Teams are going to begin panicking right around now, and we can nail some of our long-term needs by making room on defense.