Sather’s Quest: Find A #1 Center and Unleash Rick Nash

Rick Nash (l) and Joe Thornton (r) - (HC DAVOS)

Rick Nash (l) and Joe Thornton (r) – (HC DAVOS)

The offseason is officially underway, and many believe that the Rangers job is to find help for Lundqvist. Considering that NY was the best defensive team in the playoffs, that statement appears odd. What they are really talking about is offensive support. 

Most people want the Blueshirts to acquire a 50 goal scorer, well there isn’t one to sign on the free agent market. Last I checked, Ovechkin, Perry and Stamkos aren’t available either. However, there are a mountain of goals locked away in a box within the Rangers lineup.

Using my x-ray vision, I see a chest full of power play goals, with a mix of rebound goals and a few breakaway tallies. When I examine them further, two names keep coming up more than any other on those pucks and they are – Chris Kreider and Rick Nash.

Derek Stepan has done his very best to try and pick that box open, but he hasn’t been able to yet. Derick Brassard has given it a shot, but could barely get the lock to move. As for Brad Richards, he simply didn’t have the tools to even try.

What the Rangers need is a big man in the middle. Someone who can not only dish the disc but make space. Chris Kreider has breakaway speed and needs someone to find him in stride. That takes precision passing that few out there have. Rick Nash is a finesse player dressed in a power forward’s body. He needs someone to open up the defense with size, so he can come off the wall and score his signature reach goals.

So how will Glen open this treasure chest of offense? Who is the answer?

If we look to the Free Agent market the first name that pops out is Paul Stastny. The 28 year old free agent center is not overly big at 6′ and 208 pounds. He is also not a point a game player either, and will be looking to improve his current 6.6 million on the free agent market. On the bright side, he had 10 points in 7 playoff games this year.

Paul Stastny (ESPN)

Paul Stastny (ESPN)

The rest of the free agent centers pool is littered with old guys like Michal Handzus or disappointing players like Derek Roy or Mikhail Grabovski. So for everyone in the NHL, it’s Stastny or bust. Meaning he will price himself right out of Rangers range.

Rumblings from within the organization say a trade is imminent for a #1 center to play with Rick Nash. Sather has already contacted the Senators about Jason Spezza but they are looking to move him out West. Would Spezza fit? At 6’3″ and 215 pounds the answer is yes. He is a fluid skater with deft passing ability. Spezza is also a point a game player for his career with 687 points in 686 games.

Jason Spezza (ESPN)

Jason Spezza (ESPN)

In Spezza’s career he has cracked 90 points twice and 80 points once. Not too shabby for sure. One major concern is his health as he’s played 70 games or better in just about half of his 10 years in the league. Financially, he’s is owed 4 million next season and will become a UFA. His cap hit however, is 7 million. If Glen could use his Jedi mind tricks, he could persuade Ottawa to change their minds.

Some fans are asking for Eric Staal. Forget it, his cap hit is over 8 million a season and is a financial misfit. The man who holds the key is already out west. If there is any truth that San Jose would consider moving Joe Thornton, Sather has to win his services. Now before you get excited, Jumbo Joe has a no move clause and would need to waive it in order to come to NY.

Joe Thornton (ESPN)

Joe Thornton (ESPN)

He’s big and goes to the net. He has laser like vision for passing and is a power play specialist. Before you jump up and down and yell that he is 34, realize the Rangers are a win now team.

Joe Thornton signed an extension in SJ at a 6.7 cap hit. He would be under contract for 3 seasons and it’s a perfect fit financially. Hockey wise, he and Rick Nash already have chemistry. Both big men played for HC Davos in the Swiss League during the lockout. Joe was able to unlock Rick’s scoring ability in 2012 and would do so again in 2014/15. If there was ever a team he would waive his no move clause for, it would be NY and his pal Rick Nash.

What will it take to get it done? A package of Derick Brassard, Danny Kristo and Dylan McIlrath might be the one. You can be sure SJ will push for JT Miller or maybe even Derek Stepan, and Sather would have to say no. Without the luxury of first round picks, it’s possible that making this trade could prove tough.

That is unless, Joe would only waive his clause for the Rangers.

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Anthony Scultore has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL since 2014. His work also appears at... More about Anthony Scultore

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