Exploring Rangers Trade Possibilities and Gorton won’t trade 1st rd pick
Over the last week or so, Rangers center Derek Stepan’s name has come up prominently in trade rumors, which have been confirmed by many of the most clued in hockey insiders. Then, six days ago, Rangers insider Larry Brooks sent out this tweet:
Unless NYR get no doubt first-pair right D for Stepan, would not make deal. Already have 2d pair guy in Smith if they will pay market $.
— Larry Brooks (@NYP_Brooksie) June 16, 2017
While defensemen are the favored currency of many general managers, very good NHL centers are always of need. And after buying out defenseman Dan Girardi, and with Kevin Klein possibly retiring, the Rangers will have around $16 million in cap room.
The Rangers didn’t swallow hard and eat the bitter buyout pill without the intention of making drastic changes to the blue line. With that cap space, they could sign Kevin Shattenkirk, and re-sign Brendan Smith for just under $11 million in combined salaries and go to war with also McDonagh, Staal, Skjei, and Holden. I think though, it’s obvious by the information that’s been leaked, that the team is big game hunting, with the hope of landing a defenseman in a trade, and then signing one of Smith or Shattenkirk. Let’s take a look at a few potential trade possibilities that make sense.
The Minnesota Wild have plenty of depth on their blueline and are seeking a forward. At this time last year, there were strong rumors that the Wild were trying to acquire Minnesota native Derek Stepan, but got nowhere in talks with the Rangers. Fast forward to this offseason and consider this; what if the Rangers traded Stepan for defenseman Jonas Brodin, then sent Brodin and goalie Anti Raanta to Winnipeg for Jacob Trouba? The Wild would get a center that plays in all situations and will put up between 50 and 60 points. The Jets would get a 23-year-old defenseman that plays the left side and can play on the top pair with Dustin Byfuglien, as well as a low-priced goalie in Anti Raanta, that could play 32 games or more depending on how well Connor Hellebuyck plays.
Another option would be a three-team trade involving Arizona, the Jets, and the Rangers. Recent reports have the Coyotes very interested in Derek Stepan, for many reasons. Stepan, if acquired, could go up against some tough first line centers in the western conference. This would allow young guns like Max Domi and Christian Dvorak to face lesser players on second and third lines, and develop better and more efficiently.
Stepan is in his prime and is under contract for four more years, which is another plus for Arizona, who has a hard time keeping players in their prime. So, how about Stepan and either Nick Holden or Ryan Graves for Jakob Chychrun, who is then sent with Raanta to Winnipeg for Trouba? Again, the Jets get a young left defenseman that they could keep for many years, plus a solid goalie. The question there is does Arizona want Stepan enough to part with a 19-year-old defenseman they picked in the first round just last year?
This one would be more direct in that it would be a two-team trade. Quite simply, the suddenly rich in defensemen Carolina Hurricanes send Justin Faulk to the Rangers for Derek Stepan. The Canes just added to their depth by acquiring Trevor Van Riemsdyk from the Vegas Golden Knights. They are actively seeking a top-six forward, and reports have them trying hard to acquire Avalanche center, Matt Duchene. Stepan wouldn’t be that much of a step down and is signed for four years, as opposed to Duchene’s two. It also would cost more in assets to obtain the Avalanche center.
There is a plus and a minus to trading for a defenseman, rather than just signing Shattenkirk and Smith. Signing them means no player loss. If a trade is made, in any of the above scenarios, the Rangers also gain cap space. In the case of Trouba, it would be significant cap space. The minus comes into play, by leaving a hole down the middle of the Rangers forward lines. Can Zibanejad and Hayes step up? Do the Rangers shift JT Miller to center? Should they sign a veteran like Joe Thornton? Should they trade one of their extra wings for a center? These are all big things to consider. But one thing I am sure of; Jacob Trouba is a better defenseman than Derek Stepan is a center.
If I am going to pay one of these guys $6.5 million a year, it would be Trouba (eventually). You would get a guy playing 25 minutes a night on the top pair with McDonagh, going against the best players in hockey. Stepan is a solid player with many intangibles, but hasn’t played up to his lofty contract, in the regular season or the playoffs. These are just a few scenarios I came up with myself. All of this will probably be sorted out sooner, rather than later. Stepan’s no trade clause kicks in on July 1, so he can’t breathe easy until then.
Gorton Doesn’t Appear Willing to Trade NYR 1st Rd Pick
In an interview discussing the expansion draft and the upcoming NHL draft, Gorton made it fairly clear that the Rangers are excited finally have and make a pick in the 1st round. Interview is below.
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) June 23, 2017