One of the themes of the offseason is trading for defensive help. With Erik Karlsson off the market, that appears to be the path with the most options, since the UFA bin is limited to Jake Gardiner –a decent option we will cover here in a future post– and not much else. But with these discussions comes a frequent concern/question about how to fit these new acquisitions in with about 900 defensemen already on the roster.
In the case of potentially trading for Colin Miller, an option I’m preferring over trading for Jacob Trouba, the question is always about where he slides in. The Rangers need to be creating room for prospects, not creating more roadblocks, right? I mean, I can’t argue that logic at all, it’s a fair concern.
But as we’ve learned with Lias Andersson, putting unfair expectations on a prospect doesn’t help them at all. Rushing a prospect doesn’t help them at all. K’Andre Miller comes with a lot of hype and talent, but throwing him to the wolves right off the bat doesn’t help him. Ditto Adam Fox and Libor Hajek. Development is crucial, and with that comes a need to fill out the NHL roster. Filling out the NHL roster with players that are actually good is an insurance factor as well.
The Blueshirts have a ton of defensive prospects, of which only Hajek has seen some NHL time. There’s no way all of these kids pan out. If all of Hajek, Fox, Tarmo Reunanen, Miller, Nils Lundkvist, Yegor Rykov, Ryan Lindgren, and Joey Keane all wind up hitting, then that’s one hell of a great problem to have. Statistically speaking, though, half won’t make the NHL. Of the other half, some won’t hit their potential, and some will be used as trade bait. Plus it’s not like all are going to hit the NHL at the same time.
A rebuild isn’t just about getting prospects to the NHL. It’s about filling in the roster with other role players that will be a net-positive on the ice. If a prospect is a net-negative, like Neal Pionk today, then there’s no reason to really save a roster spot for him.
Which brings us to the next and possibly most important point: You can clear roster room easier than you can find legitimate bodies. Clearing room isn’t overly difficult. It just seems difficult right now because of some contracts. With those contracts set to expire before some of these kids will be truly ready for the NHL, it becomes less of an issue.
When it comes to landing NHL talent right now, you assume there will be changes made with the guys currently on the roster. Does Vegas think a deal with Neal Pionk is enough for Colin Miller? Well that solves one problem. Will a 50% retained Kevin Shattenkirk entice someone, perhaps Tampa, who missed out on Erik Karlsson? Well there goes another problem. Does 50% retained Brendan Smith have any value as a bottom pair defenseman? Probably – and there goes a third body. All of this is hypothetical, of course, but there are ways to clear roster space.
Coming full circle, with no certainty on who is a part of the Rangers’ future and who will actually make it, landing bodies that make the team better in the present and future is a priority for the Rangers (and basically all NHL teams). Problems like too many players work themselves out through trades, injuries, and regular NHL attrition. Too many bodies is a good problem to have."Quick thoughts on trading for defensemen in an already logjammed system",