Irresponsible Rumormongering

Despite improvements, NY Rangers should embrace strategic sell off

The playoffs are still a longshot

The NY Rangers are playing very well. Their process is improving, they look better, the kids are improving, the veterans are holding their own, and Artemi Panarin is Artemi Panarin. Yet the Rangers, despite their recent strong play, are still nine points out of the playoffs with several teams to leapfrog in the standings.

The goal for the playoffs is 98 points. If the Rangers get there, then it is more likely than not they sneak into the playoffs. In that regard, they control their own destiny. They currently have 60 points with 27 games remaining. That’s 54 possible points remaining in the season. The Blueshirts need 38 (70%) of those points. That’s 1.4 points per game. Possible, but not likely.

The trade deadline is 11 days away, and with the Rangers in their current position, it’s more likely they become sellers. The big names are Chris Kreider and Jesper Fast as pending UFAs, but Pavel Buchnevich and Tony DeAngelo have found their way into the conversation. Ryan Strome’s name has come up a few times. This isn’t like the past three trade deadlines, which saw the Rangers ship away every single pending UFA. This time around the Rangers have something to build from. Some of the guys in the conversation might be a part of the future.

The Blueshirts are likely not Cup contenders next season either. The playoffs are the goal next season for sure, but it’s unlikely enough progress can be made to shore up enough holes to truly compete. The first year of actual competition is likely the 2021-2022 season. Kreider and Fast will be 30 that season.

The question isn’t about what the Rangers can get in a trade, it’s about how all the pieces fit to build a contender for the 2021-2022 season. All five of these guys, plus Alex Georgiev, are tied together because of the cap. The Rangers can’t keep them all.

John Davidson, Jeff Gorton, and David Quinn are going to sit down and spend significant time over the next two weeks deciding who can be a part of the future. Does re-signing Kreider mean the Rangers need to trade Strome, who has cooled significantly lately? Do they shift DeAngelo to the left side and dangle Brady Skjei, or do the Rangers capitalize on DeAngelo’s career year as a 3RD? Is Fast worth $3 million to be a 30 point third liner? Is a Shesterkin/Georgiev tandem more valuable than Georgiev in a trade and Henrik Lundqvist as a backup next season?

No one knows the Rangers’ plans except for those with the Rangers. They have a strategy, and the pieces to build a contender within that strategy are likely fluid. They will be managing the cap, the prospects, and the expiring contracts to build that contender, and it may include some pieces that are in trade rumors today.

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  • The Rangers arguably are in the best position they have been at the trade deadline in quite some time. We are sitting on a pile of riches between Kreider, Fast, Georgiev, Hank, Tony D, Buch and Strome. Any of those players should garner significant interest from teams looking to add pieces.

    When all is said and done, this will be a defining moment for JG and JD’s rebuild. There are many different options on the table, all of which should be able to net us some high draft picks, prospects or even NHL ready players.

    Should be one of the more exciting trade deadlines in a while.

    • And, don’t forget the pipeline. We have a number of really exciting prospects coming in, especially on defense. I’m sure hoping that JD and JG are looking at the latest updates on prospect performance as they ponder what deals to make (or not make0 in the next 11 days.

  • Send as many packing as possible. Get some young stars and picks in return. We may be able to use the picks as trade bait to build a real playoff team next year. I would add Howden to the list of available players as well.

      • Once or Twice.
        Their GM is not our GM. Their plan was built around all draft picks. We signed Trouba and Panarin. Our plan requires solid FA’s, strong goaltending and a stream of high-quality youth. We have very good 2nd & 3rd year players but still need top 6 talent. Our defense is not all young and needs an update.

        We should be a real playoff contender with the right additions. The Sabres need require a new GM, a new coach and about 6 players to contend.

  • If they can sign Kreider, I think they will. As for who goes, I gotta believe that Fast and DeAngelo will be kept and they will dangle Buchnevich and Skjei as bait. If they can’t sign Kreider, then all bets are off.
    I still believe that we might be seeing the last season of Hank’s career. I just can’t see him wanting to be a backup next year…or going to another team to chase a brief run at the Cup. Just a hunch.

      • Because I really think they value his “swiss army-knife” ability to stabilize any line they put him on. They don’t have anyone else who can do that on that roster.

          • I always wonder why people blame and judge Fast based on a coaching decision. Sure Fast belongs on a 3rd or 4th line, but that doesn’t detract from his VALUE to the team. As I’ve had to say countless time, you don’t win a Player’s Player Award for nothing. It speaks to the example of his play and his popularity among his teammates. Players like this aren’t easy to find … and come the summer they’re in high demand — Depth is the hallmark of great teams, if your 3rd or 4th lines aren’t put together properly you’ll never advance far in the playoffs.

            Worse come to worse he’s a placeholder for now. When Kravtsov is ready to assume a 2nd or 3rd line role (I assume it’s 3rd line with Kakko moving to the 2nd line), then you put Fast back on a 4th line — and with a proper 4th line center and complimentary winger he can easily give you a great 13-14 minutes a night — part of that being on the PK where he’s invaluable.

          • Obviously the coach thinks he provides that defensive presence on that line. If you’re just gonna’ judge him by point production…sure he doesn’t belong there. But that’s not why he’s there. The question is, how much do the Rangers want to pay for that type of player who can be moved around the lineup, seamlessly.

          • And by providing the defensive reliability to that line, to the coaches, he is producing.

  • They are going to have to make some tough decisions. But candidly I think if they can get Hank to waive his NMC and retain less than half(maybe$2.5mill in retention) That’s a change changer for all of the above. If you could move him with no retention(Colorado is the only contending team that can absorb that), and you can sign Kreider at $7 mill (preferably for 5 years) and have about $18 mill left to sign the RFA’s and fill out the bottom six. Even if they retain $2.5 Mill they still have $15.5 mill to fill out the team.

    I’ll state it again, I am not a Hank hater at all. He’s been a great Ranger. But the RFA’s are the future. We committed to a rebuild and we need to stay on course. We need some cap relief that limits the buyout penalties.

    • I really think we have take the logical approach to any Lundqvist trade scenario in understanding that no team is straight up trading for that contract. Even at the highest retained amount (50%, leaving a $4.25M cap hit), are there any teams taking that on? It just seems far fetched to me that he’s even movable with that deal, especially with another year left.

  • The more I watch…the more I am convinced you do not trade Kreider. Absolutely no. Why? He is a leader on a team of kids and demonstrates that in his on ice work but equally how he deals with the media and takes responsibility for his failings when he has had them. Do not underestimate the impact that has on guys learning what it means to play in the NHL.

    The real question….are you 100% certain that trading him will return someone better? And when? Because today we have a real player doing real things….not potential things.

    • Kreider hasn’t suddenly become this magical super player. He’ll do close to his 30/30 stat line, probably fall short. This is what he has been for forever. He’s a very good player that has his spurts. He will almost definitely be signed if he relents the term, if not then IMO, it’s less than 50/50 that he’s here.

      Do I want him here? Yes. I think Gorton and Davidson do too. Everything says he’s not getting 7 years… but we shall see.

  • Yes, I’m in the minority. I believe they should sign as many of these guys as possible, even if it means a bridge deal for a couple of them like Strome and possibly ADA. Get rid of Smith and Staal, by hook or by crook … convince Hank to retire at the end of the season, offer him a great job in the organization — he has certainly earned it.

    Of course there’s a caveat to the above, it all depends on how much each player wants the Rangers to OVERPAY and what is being offered in trade — but in all honesty I want to be blown away with a TOP prospect and a 1st rounder … for Kreider, for ADA. I don’t think a 2nd rounder gets it done for Georgiev (who will get a small raise next year), unless it’s one of the bottom feeder teams.

    I disagree with you Dave about next year, the team can make some big strides next year if guys like Chytil and Kakko show marked improvement, Shesty as well. Let’s not forget, a top flight goalie can carry you a long long way. We may be on the cusp of contenders, not top flight contenders but actual contenders to win a few rounds.

    If we trade the wrong multiple pieces — as I don’t think trading just 1 of the players mentioned sets us back much (although Kreider being traded will definitely hurt) — we’ll be taking the proverbial two steps back and one step forward. Of course there are a ton of variables … and only the FO knows what’s being offered and whether what CAN come back will be in a position to help us right away.

    There comes a time when you have to close the rebuild phase and move into the refinement phase, which normally involves little tweaks … not big moves. Chemistry is important … and if you can’t see the obvious chemistry that exists between Kreider, Buch and Zibby, you’re legally blind. If you can’t see the impact that a bottom 6 player like Fast has on the team, you have a cataracts. These guys will be terribly hard to replace. Honorable mention to Strome, he compliments Panarin well because like Buch, he’s more of a distributor than a goal scorer. Yeah you can try Chytil, Kakko and Panarin next year — or you can go with 3 very deep lines and keep Strome for a while.

    The key will be these contractual terms, no full NTCs or an NMC … keep the term to 3 years for Fast, 5-6 years with Kreider, 2-3 years with Strome and ADA (unless they plan to move ADA to left side, in which case you could go a little longer). Re: Georgiev, if there’s good value out there we could take the chance that either Wall or Huska improve enough over the course of next season to put themselves in the conversation of being Shesty’s back up (assuming also of course that Hank hangs around one more year — but will he do that as a backup?).

    • Conceptually, I am in agreement with you here – keep everyone if you can. We also may get quality play next year from Kravtsov and Rykov. The Rangers should not mortgage the future to win the Cup in 2021, but they should be thinking about winning the Cup in 2021. Indeed, a good run is good preparation for 2022 even if it falls short.

      My only real disagreement is that my plan – which I describe in another comment – involves trading Skjei rather than buyouts. I am certainly not suggesting that Skjei is not better than Staal and Smith. He is better. However, I don’t think he is a top six defenseman for the Rangers long term and so I want to escape his contract long term – and if trading him now solves all the money problems, do it.

      As for Staal and Smith, sure get rid of them if there is an easy way. But I would not make a bad trade, e.g., give up a first rounder to get someone to take them off our hands – and I would not buy them out.

      Scenario 1: Buy out Staal and Smith, replace with Rykov and Hajek.
      2020-2021 savings (compared to present): c. $1.95M
      2021-2022 additional cap hit: $1.85M

      Scenario 2: Send Smith to Hartford, replace with Rykov (but Rykov plays and Staal sits).
      2020-2021 savings: $150K (a little more if amount you can bury goes up)
      2021-2022 additional cap hit: $0.

      Over two years, scenario 2 actually saves more money.

      Finally, I suspect Staal would prefer a buyout to spending his final season on the bench. Letting him know where he stands and ruling out the buyout would encourage him to waive his NMC or retire.

  • Looking at the numbers, I am inclined to stand pat for the most part. If there is a fine offer out there, maybe grab it, but (if the FAs agree to stay) there is a path to keeping Strome, Kreider, Fast, and DeAngelo while avoiding buyouts. If they can sign Kreider for about $7M and DeAngelo for $4M, there will be enough money left for Strome and Fast if they can replace Skjei by an inexpensive defenseman. This is a good solution both long and short term.

    Action plan: 1. Sign all four players ASAP (or three of the four, waiting on ADA to see if a bridge contract or long term contract I better).
    2. Trade, buy out, or keep Hank depending on his wishes. (If Hank gets a buyout, he can sign anywhere he likes for $1.5M without losing any income whatsoever – and any team can afford that money)
    3. If Hank is going to be kept, trade Georgiev for as much as you can get. If there is a good offer now, take it. Otherwise wait until after the season.
    4. Trade Skjei. Again, whenever you can do it optimally. Often it is hard to trade long term contracts at the deadline, but sometimes you can.
    Not clear how much the Rangers can get, but unlike Smith and Staal, Skjei should have actual value.
    5. Obviously trade Smith (or Staal) if you can, but the backup plan is to send Smith to Hartford and keep Staal in NY – hopefully as a non-playing seventh defenseman. [Ideally, you don’t want a kid in that role anyway and remember that if one of the top six goes on IR, you can bypass #7 for a call-up. So the 7th guy only gets to play if someone has the flu or a minor injury.

    • I have an extremely strong feeling that Staal gets bought out. Maybe it’s a weak argument to say he’s holding back another, younger LD.

      But no one can argue with the fact that buying him out and replacing him with a Rykov will save the team approximately $1.2 million in real “cap” money for next season. This can be used for other contracts and it’s becoming apparent that they are going to need every dollar.

      • Certainly you save $1.2M, but of course it costs you $1M+ the following year, when the Rangers will also need every dollar. And $1.2M doesn’t solve their problems whereas trading Skjei does.

        In my scenario, Staal actually loses his job and takes Smith’s job as #7 guy. We don’t want Rykov or Keane or Lundqvist in that #7 slot because we want them to play and the seventh defenseman doesn’t get to play. If you don’t give that #7 slot to Staal or Smith, it should go to a journeyman veteran or Raddysh or perhaps Hajek, who likely will never amount to much – but not to a real prospect.

        Admittedly, those are cheaper options, but the savings are small and in no case is Staal actually blocking anyone (unless he actually plays). We have seen this year that DQ is both willing to bench Staal and to restrict his ice time.

  • I can be convinced of a lot of different scenarios being the right course of action (keep vs trade Kreider, DeAngelo, Buchnevich, etc).

    But trading Strome has to happen. We’re not going to like his next contract. His value is that he plays well with Panarin, that’s it. And even then he disappears for long stretches.

    See if you can get a younger, less established center for him from a team looking to win this year. The term sell high describes the Rangers Strome situation to a T.

  • The big issue is not next year but the year after that and beyond that. People want to keep everyone who is playing good hockey right now but for everyone you keep it impacts those you bring in through trades and FA and those coming out of ELCs in subsequent years. Fox, Chytil, Kravtsov, Shesterkin, Lundkvist, Lindgren and others all will need new contracts in one or two years. Lundquist, Smith and Stahl will be gone but their dollars will have been eaten by the people we sign this year. If you think ADA is taking a discount after last years acrimonious dealing or that Kreider will take 5 years or a discount we could be in for a rude awakening. If you sign someone to a bridge deal, in two years you need a bigger decision and contract. I think you need to be very careful who you give long term contracts to (Skjei) or we wind up back in a cap mess again. Liking someone doesn’t mean being wed to them. Now we all love Kreider after how many years of complaining about his inconsistency? Will he slow down, like Strome. Yes and we will complain about him again but he could just have signed on for 6 or 7 years at & 7 million plus. JG and JD have tough decisions to make. I’d rather they make the decisions than DQ because his preference for his straight line players doesn’t fit with today’s danglers. You can’t have all one type of player. Wonder what DQ would have done with Panarin when he was a rookie, benched him because he roamed all over the place? You need to capitalize on player’s strengths by waiting to see what they are good at and add what they need, not remake them to your mold while killing the instincts that got us to select them. DQ is doing good in some area but he has weaknesses and prejudices.
    Long winded but smart decisions need to be made, for the future.

  • Important note here: The quality forwards on the Rangers are Panarin, Strome, Fast, Kreider, Buchnevich, Zibanejad, Chityl. Perhaps we can add Lemieux. Kakko and Kravtsov should join this club soon – some might put the former already in it. There is literally no one else in the organization that is likely to get there. (not even much on the reserve list)

    That is 9-10 players. That is enough if you complement them with a few guys who are respectable marginal players. But it is barely enough. If you remove Strome, Fast, Kreider, and Buchnevich, that list gets awful short. Trade that quartet for young talent and 2022 will surely be too early to seriously compete.

    • If you sell off assets in bunches you may be able to get a big piece that fits in and solves your long term problems. For example could we package Georgiev and ADA to Toronto for Nylander. You may not have to add too much to that because ADA is becoming more attractive, but you might. I shy away from ADA only because I expect his demands to be very high and and he may be resentful about how he was treated last fall. I think, a bridge contract puts him as an UFA after it expires. The deal with Toronto solves their goalie and defense problems and gives us the replacement for Kreider. Now you can trade Kreider for a great package including first round and players that can add at least a 2nd or 3rd line wing or center for good depth. Add something from us to that with Kreider and you may be able to get someone else in early 20s with good upside to that return package also. Need number ones to keep the pipeline filling and avoiding multiyear contract. Nylander at 7 billion seems like a good deal for a number of years, and it frees up Toronto to make other decisions. The balancing of the dominoes is what I see JD and JG doing. That’s their job, ours is to talk like we know something.

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