Irresponsible Rumormongering

Potential cap increase opens options for Rangers to address LD concerns

Options abound for the Rangers - but LD needs to be fixed

No matter how this season ends for the New York Rangers, it is a resounding success. However despite that success, it is clear the Rangers have work to do. Injuries have exploited lack of forward depth, and the Brady Skjei trade highlighted how poor that position is on the team currently. Luckily for the Rangers, the cap is expected to increase significantly, opening up their options (and rumors!) to address holes via trade

Scoring depth is probably managed via prospect development (Chytil, Kakko, Kravtsov) and shrewd free agent signings to fill out the depth. However addressing the left defense issues requires a more hands-on approach, in the way the Rangers addressed their right defense issues last offseason.

The Blueshirts have some pretty decent trade chips in Alex Georgiev and potentially a 70-point Ryan Strome, both RFAs, plus a pair of first round picks this season. Now packaging them together won’t get you a true 1LD. Those are rare and it’s going to cost more than those that. It’s just the price of doing business. However a combination of these assets likely gets you a solid top-four option with team control.

Target Dumb GMs

Dale Tallon. Whoever is running the Edmonton Oilers nowadays. Anyone who has a history of being a bad GM or has made some baffling moves over the past few seasons.

Tallon has been rumored to be looking at blowing up the Florida Panthers. Does that mean Aaron Ekblad could become available? He could, but the Panthers don’t need Georgiev, eliminating a key trade piece. I’d avoid Mike Matheson and that contract at all costs, so unless Tallon really thinks Ekblad is terrible, I don’t think there’s a match here.

As for Edmonton, there’s some smoke here. They could use any semblance of depth scoring being McDavid and Draisaitl, plus their goaltending situation is precarious at best. Would they be willing to part with Oscar Klefbom? Possibly. Plus there’s the hilarity of them getting Strome back after gifting him to the Rangers two years ago that makes me want to will this into existence.

The Hockey Trade

These are increasingly rare lately. The Avalanche are another good fit here. Yes they just signed Pavel Francouz to a two-year deal, but that’s likely for expansion draft reasons. He’s a backup. There’s a fit here with Georgiev. The Avs have a good stock of defense with names like Connor Timmins and Bowen Byram on the way. Are they willing to part with Ryan Graves? Sure it’s a kick to the gut for the Rangers who gifted him to Colorado, but it is what it is.

Columbus can’t score at all and basically traded last year’s draft for a playoff run. Do they think Strome and draft picks have value? Are they willing to part with Ryan Murray, or even better, Vlad Gavrikov?

The Ones We Don’t See Coming

Let’s be real, this is likely what’s going to happen. Shea Theodore? Ryan Pulock? Noah Hanifin? You never know.

The Rangers are pretty good at keeping things close to the vest. When things leak, it’s usually from the other team, not the Rangers. For all we know they may look to swap Jacob Trouba for a LD.

Of course they could just move Tony DeAngelo to LD, something we’ve been preaching for a while around here.

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  • As regards Tony D and the left side: Tony’s not a #1 dman there. As much as I like his game, he’s not great defensively and is a bit smaller than I’d like to see a 1st pair dman.

    You bring up some interesting players for trade targets, but I really hope the Rangers don’t go near Murray or Klefbom. Those two have had trouble staying healthy, Murray hasn’t played a full season in the last four years. And Aaron Ekblad is a righty, the Rangers need lefty defensemen.

  • JD knows what he doing. Build from the draft and strategic free agency signings. Rangers will be a team to fear next year and hopefully years to come.

  • This would be very tempting, but they should be cautious — especially if they’re looking at someone 27+ and without some term. Just because you have some extra cap space doesn’t mean you should spend it.

    Personally I would move Tony D to the left side, insert Lundkvist on the right side of the 3rd pairing — I “believe” Lundkvist can handle that. On the left side you would have Lindgren and Tony D with either Staal or Hajek or possibly Robertson, Miller, Rykov or Reunanen (someone out of that group should be able to prove themselves capable of handling 3rd pairing minutes. I don’t know why, but Robertson is my sleeper pick. Of course the Rangers will keep Staal and play him too much, as usual.

    Keep the two 1st rounders (move up with the two picks if there’s something you TRULY covet that is a step above what you might get with your 1st pick), keep Georgiev as your backup … move Strome if he might prove to be too costly or want too much term.

    • “Of course the Rangers will keep Staal and play him too much, as usual.”

      I really wonder about the validity of this statement — and I really mean wonder if you are right or wrong.

      We probably disagree on Staal’s level of play, but let’s put that aside and simply view this as a question about Quinn.

      DQ did bench Staal early in the season when he was awful. He has largely benched Lundqvist. When Lindgren-Staal emerged as a good PK unit and he no longer needed Smith on the PK, DQ stopped using Smith as the 12th forward and benched him. He just did a one period benching of Strome.

      DQ will bench veterans if suitably inspired. OTOH, I don’t get why Brett Howden is playing and Boo Nieves is in Hartford. And why is Julien Gauthier playing 8:08 a night (instead of 12+ minutes)?

      I’d like to believe Staal will play next year if he is one of the six best defensemen and won’t otherwise. A number of DQ decisions suggest that this is what will happen. But maybe I am being naive.

      Personally, I wish the Rangers would let Darren Raddysh (career AHLer, +19 in Hartford) have an NHL shot. I don’t want him blocking the kids and I don’t expect much, but the kids aren’t ready and he might be decent third pair, maybe a short term upgrade on Smith or Staal.

      • He doesn’t pair badly with Tony D, but again I’m thinking to move Tony D to the left side and replacing him with Lundkvist … and no, Staal hasn’t played badly this season, overall … but another year older, etc. I can live with him as a 3rd pairing d’man limited to 17-18 minutes a night and certainly wouldn’t consider buying him out at this point (given the Skjei trade).

  • The last thing the Rangers need is a second pair left defenseman. They just traded one away. Last year, for most of the year, the weakness on defense was the Staal-Pionk pair. This year, it was the Skjei-Trouba pair. Brady Skjei was fine last year and frankly Marc Staal has had decent results this year – if one views performance objectively, which no one ever does. The point is that neither 2020 Staal nor Skjei is really first pair material and, unless Lindgren can hack it, the Rangers simply don’t have a first pair left dman who won’t get burned.

    You don’t fix the absence of a first pair guy by adding second pair guys.

    So if a really stellar first pair defenseman falls into their lap, maybe the Rangers should grab him. But otherwise, they should let the development of the kids solve the problem. Maybe getting a cheap veteran third pair guy or two as a stopgap is advisable – in case none of the kids are ready next year — but the focus should be on the forward group. Fortunately, the Keane-Gauthier and Skjei trades show that management gets it.

  • Tony D, George and Stromer are having great seasons. Why move them in the offseason? That’s like pulling the flowers to keep the weeds. We all know what the elephant in the room is. If the Ranger organization has to create salary cap space they have better options.

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