Mailbag: Other choices at 2? Staal and trading bad contracts?

Two questions for the mailbag. As always, use the widget on the right to submit your questions for the week.

Steve A asks: Jack Hughes or Kaapo Kakko gets hit by a truck tomorrow. Who is the next logical choice at 2? Would it make sense to trade down for assets?

Well this is a bit of a morbid question, but let’s tackle the second half of the question first. The logical answer here is yes, trading down might make more sense, however it takes two to tango. After the top two picks, the next 5-7 guys are all interchangeable throughout the draft, so it’s team preference. There’s no clear cut choice, unless a team really likes someone to move up and take them at second overall.

My guess is the Rangers would want to target Dylan Cozens in this scenario. They signed his line mate Jake Elmer earlier, and it’s a safe assumption that they were also scouting Cozens when scouting Elmer. The Blueshirts have a history of keeping players together like this. Cozens isn’t the consensus #3, but it’s whom I bet the Rangers target.

There are also good choices in Kirby Dach, Vasili Podkolzin, Trevor Zegras, and Alex Turcotte. Any of them would be good choices in this scenario. Again there’s no clear cut answer here, and the Rangers would be getting a solid prospect no matter what. Hopefully it doesn’t come to this though. Kakko and Hughes are on a whole other level.

Rangers West asks: If other teams take on contracts of players who will never play again (Pronger/Savard) to reach the cap floor, why is trading Marc Staal so impossible?

The easiest answer here is that Staal has a no-move clause and would need to approve any trade. Considering his family is here, is kids are here, and his life is here, why would he do that? It’s not like any team he’d be traded to would be contending for a Cup. He has the power in his contract to veto any trade.

The other answer here is that Pronger, Savard, Datsyuk, all these guys were basically retired. They didn’t file the paperwork though because of the silly cap penalty rule. Pronger was working for the NHL when the Coyotes still had him on the books. It was crazy. Staal is still an active player, so it’s not like he’s completely dead cap space for these teams. He’d require a roster spot and some teams may prefer to just have their kids play.

I’m sure the Rangers will approach Staal some day about waiving his NTC to go to a contender. As of now, he’s still a guy that can fill in a roster spot for the Rangers if some of the kids aren’t ready. He’s not a value add kind of player, but hey I’m finding silver linings here.

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  • If the Rangers were to use a buyout on Staal (Buyout window opens on 6/15), they would have dead cap space for 4 years. They have the cap room to make this work and open a roster spot up for a young defenseman.
    The numbers aren’t too bad.

    Year. Cap Hit. Savings

    2019. $2.9. $2.8
    2020. $3.7 $2.0
    2021. $1.2
    2022. $1.2

    I think Gorton has the money to take on $3 mil in dead cap space for the next 2 years. He would also be saving enough money to replace Staal with an ELC and still be cheaper than keeping Staal for the remainder of his terribly overpriced contract. I like Staal as a person. He’s a great guy but the NHL is a business and he held out for his pay day.
    The Rangers did good by him and now it’s time to move on. It’s time his place go to a young, up and coming player with an affordable contract.

    • Nah, it’s probably easier to trade him and retain half his salary (just because you have a NMC doesn’t mean he won’t see the reality of the situation and wave it) — at least that way you get some sort of asset back and he’s on the book at half salary for just two more years. In the alternative we just keep him, a NMC doesn’t mean he can’t sit up in the press box every once in a while … and we try to trade Pionk, Shattenkirk or Smith.

      If we buy him out you’ll just have a repeat of the Girardi situation, he’ll sign somewhere for half price and we’ll look like idiots.

      • No one trades for Staal.

        I mean try of course, but buyout is the logical option. The roster space Nd saving nearly $2.5 in cap space over the life of the contract $11.4 minus $9 million. Youd only be paying him $9 million as opposed to $11.4 million to suck.

  • Less worried about Stall than Smith or Shatty. We do not need a defenseman who plays winger on the 4th line or a PP QB who no longer can be that QB. THese are the guys who need to be moved and some money held. I think we need 2 open defensive positions for next year. Not sure where we open the space up unless we make a trade or eat some cash. I would be okay moving Pionk too, although play him as a 3rd pair and I think he will be alright.

    • The easiest tradable player is Shattenkirk, he has some redeemable metrics in addition to his ability to run the PP, and he is right-handed. if you retain half his salary, IMO, there would be more than a few interested teams. BUT, he does have a modified NTC so it won’t be so easy.

      OTOH he might be the only one worth keeping outside of ADA.

      • We need to let the kids play and our current crop of defenders are so bad (other than AD & Skjei) I would be happy moving anyone to open spots. While I do not expect miracles, I do think we need some youthful exuberance on the blueline! We should be able to let these kids play 50 games at the NHL level so they are ready for the year after.

        • Agree with your post, and I’d love to see two young guys play all season. Hajek, along with either Lindgren,
          or possibly Rykov on the right side!

          • Young players need experience playing proper hockey. That means playing with good teammates, playing to win, learning discipline, earning your playing time. That may be in the NHL, that may be in the AHL. If you just throw kids out there because they are young and talented, you get Edmonton.

            I am not saying Hajek, Lindgren, Rykov should not be Rangers next year. I just think the decision should be based on rational thinking and not gut feelings. If I have a choice between Staal and Hajek and neither belongs in the lineup, I want to play Staal because Hajek and other kids need to learn that playing time is earned (and Staal earned it long ago). On the other hand, if I feel both belong in the lineup and they are equal choices, then Hajek should play ahead of Staal because he is the future.

            Hypothetical situation (some version of this resembles reality but I have the names wrong because I am not a master of evaluating talent): DeAngelo, Chityl, Lindgren, Kravtsov, Kappo, and Howden are key parts of the Ranger future while Hajek, Rykov, Day, Pionk, Andersson, Lettieri are crap. The best way to develop the good players is to pair them with established players and keep them away from the crap. Of course, sorting the players out is tricky, but this is the goal, not willy-nilly playing kids.

          • I beg to differ, Hajek is a player who should be out there on a full time basis. As for Day, Pionk, etc, time will tell if they are players or duds.

            Staal may have earned his time, but that time has passed him by due to injuries, and lack of speed. The game has become a game of speed. While Marc is like a diesel out there, and the kids are like Corvettes. We have to disagree on this point Ray!!!!!!

  • I know that Staal is not what he was, but they might retain him and continue to play him because of the intangibles. They played him all season long I am sure partly because of leadership and experience. I am not endorsing it, just trying to figure out what might happen.

  • In addition to taking Kappo as their second pick…the Rangers could also go for Cozens
    or another of the top seven via a trade. Say Kreider as the center piece of a trade.

  • Kapo is the pick, done.

    Staal has to go, buyout, trade, whatever. So does Smith. So does Names. So does Vesey.

    Strome can stay.

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