Jeff Gorton puts the Rangers on notice in advance of the NHL Trade Deadline

Yandle (Getty)

Yandle (Getty)

Yesterday, for all intents and purposes GM, Jeff Gorton put the Rangers on notice. After trading away a very disappointing Emerson Etem to Vancouver for Nicklas Jensen and a pick in 2017, he said as much.

[su_quote cite=”NYDN” url=”http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/rangers/rangers-gm-gorton-talks-yandle-situation-etem-trade-call-blog-entry-1.2490570″]“We went through a tough stretch in December. I would like to say we’re starting to see signs of getting better and coming out of it. Obviously we have a big test against Washington, but we’re always looking to get better and doing our due diligence (on the trade market). We have a number of players who can all play better, and hopefully we’re seeing signs of that happening now. We’ll continue to evaluate in that stretch coming up.”[/su_quote]

The players who can play better are as follows:

  • Chris Kreider (pending RFA w/AAV of 2.475M) – just 6 goals in 39 games despite playing top line minutes
  • Kevin Hayes (pending RFA w/AAV of 900K) – only 17 points in 38 games after a big rookie splash of 45 points
  • Dan Girardi (NMC – AAV of 5.5M) – struggled mightily to start the year but has been playing through injuries and showing signs of resurgence
  • Marc Staal (NMC – AAV of 5.7M) – has steadily declined all year, either this is a prolonged slump or a much deeper issue

When it comes to Kreider and Hayes, moving either of them makes little to no sense unless the return is a top 6 forward that fits the cap situation. Both are going to become RFA’s and the Rangers will still be able to sign them to bridge deals that can keep them on the team for a little longer. Unfortunately, cap issues will restrict them from giving them a Ryan McDonagh type deal (4-5M for several years, which would look like a bargain 2-3 years from now).

As for Girardi and Staal, those No Movement Clauses are killers and unless they agree to waive it, they aren’t going anywhere. So Gorton may be forced to play hands like Dominic Moore who will be a UFA this summer. His biggest piece however is Keith Yandle.

[su_quote cite=”NYDN” url=”http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/rangers/rangers-gm-gorton-talks-yandle-situation-etem-trade-call-blog-entry-1.2490570″]“I think with any prospective unrestricted free agent there’s gonna be questions, but for us we’re looking at it like how we’re gonnna do these weeks leading up to the trade deadline,” Gorton said. “So much is gonna happen (between now and then) that will help (clarify the situation). Keith is a UFA who stands to do quite well in the market. I’ve had discussions with his agent and we’re gonna see how our team does, how we stack up, and we’ll figure it out from there.”[/su_quote]

The Rangers could insert Dylan McIlrath on the bottom pair and fair just fine. The fact that Yandle for some reason isn’t getting top PP minutes now (which is confusing), means we likely wouldn’t him miss him there. Still, he is by far their most talented offensive defenseman and that will be hard to replace. Chris Summers could be the call up as the 7th defenseman but what would the Rangers be looking for?

I think, Gorton and Alain Vigneault feel that another top winger is needed for the playoffs when scoring becomes tougher. One of the rumors floating around has Yandle to Boston for Loui Eriksson. The 6’2 winger has 14 goals and 34 points in 39 games. It should be noted that he makes 4.25M on the cap and just like Yandle will be a UFA at the end of the year.

Of course, if the Rangers simply start playing better and winning games, the deals made will likely be of the smaller variety. More like depth deals if anything at all. What we do know today is that Gorton is talking to teams, talking with Yandle’s agent and let his players know, they’re on notice.