Why Vadim Shipachyov Makes Sense For The Rangers

USA Today
Things have been going just swimmingly in Las Vegas for the first year Golden Knights. They have won eight of their first nine games, creating an exciting buzz for their new fans in Sin City. They are averaging just under 18K in attendance at the state-of-the-art T-Mobile Arena. But not everything is coming up aces for the new organization.

On May 4, 2017, the Golden Knights signed their first major free agent when they inked KHL star Vadim Shipachyov to a two-year deal with a $4.5 million cap hit. The slick Russian center is known for his great vision, tremendous passing ability, and accurate shot. In his last 3 seasons, the 30-year-old center has been more than a point per game player for SKA St. Petersburg. He was also at or above a point a game in the KHL playoffs. Things have not worked out for Vadim in Vegas at all.

On October 3, he was technically sent to the AHL affiliate, Chicago Wolves. Technically, because GM George McPhee drafted an abundance of defensemen on one-way deals at the expansion draft. As training camp broke up, McPhee still had 10 defensemen on his roster. All would have to pass through waivers in order to be sent down. Shipachyov did not need to clear waivers “to be sent down”, as he was on a two-way contract. McPhee wanted to get future picks or prospects for his abundance of NHL caliber defensemen. That plan crashed and burned big time. Teams did not trade for their excess and instead waited for McPhee to be forced to waive his defensemen for nothing. This left Shipachyov in limbo and upset.

NHL Debut

After some injuries struck the Golden Knights, Vadim was summoned to play and make his NHL debut against the Bruins, on October 15. And, in the second period, he buried his first NHL goal. All is forgiven? Not quite; McPhee, again, sent him back to the AHL on October 24th. At the same time, it was reported that his agent was given permission to seek a trade.

Why Should The Rangers get involved?

The Blueshirts currently sit at 3-7-2 and are extremely short at the center position. While newly recalled center Boo Nieves potted 3 assists in his MSG debut, they were of the dubious variety. All three came on horrendous misplays by rookie Coyotes goalie Adin Hill. Hill’s performance was so bad Arizona promptly sent him back to the AHL and traded for Devils’ goalie Scott Wedgewood.

The Rangers need a center and Shipachyov is a center. He could start off on the third line with a couple of talented players, namely Pavel Buchnevich, who he played with during the 2012-13 KHL season with Cherepovets Severstal. Las Vegas has suspended the Russian forward after he left the Wolves on Saturday. Many insiders think if a trade isn’t worked out very soon, he will be put on unconditional waivers for the purpose of terminating his contract, which would allow him to go back to the KHL with his family, and sign with a good team there. But, there is a very good chance a team from the NHL will claim him since Vegas has already paid Vadim $2 million of the $9 million his contract is worth. This would mean that the claiming team is on the hook for under $7 million total if he played out the rest of his contract.

The Rangers could get a low risk look to see if he is a fit here. Why is it low risk? If he turns out to be a poor fit, they could always do what Las Vegas may do next. They could trade for him, and if it doesn’t work out, put him on the same unconditional waivers. If he went unclaimed, chances are, Shipachyov would terminate his contract rather than report to Hartford. I don’t see a downside to this especially with the team floundering so badly. Let’s keep in mind, that the Rangers are completely healthy. Imagine if Kevin Hayes or Mika Zibanejad got hurt? There would be a lot of rookies getting a baptism under fire.

The other positive aspect is if he does play well, he wouldn’t get in the development of Lias Andersson or Filip Chytil. David Desharnais’ contract is up at the end of the year, which opens up a center job. If Shipachyov plays well and puts up points, the Rangers have the option of trading him or letting him finish out his contract on Broadway. If the Rangers could clear Nick Holden’s contract off the books by trading him to Vegas, who just placed two of their defensemen on waivers in a deal for Shipachyov, or possibly Edmonton or Boston for a draft pick(s), they would be able to fit his contract under their cap. Possibly getting Vegas to keep a small amount of his cap hit, could also be negotiated.

Many fans are already thinking it’s time to forget about this year, and just sell off some pieces, and get a good draft pick. Realistically, the Rangers won’t pull the plug anytime soon. Change is needed, in personnel, and quite possibly in the coaching staff. Now, I have no idea what they think of this player. Buchnevich can give them plenty of insight, and the Blueshirts are known to scout players from overseas very extensively, unlike other teams around the NHL. We should find out in short order, this week, how this will all shake out.

One More Trade Idea

Columbus Blue Jackets forward Cam Atkinson is an unrestricted free agent after t

his season and he has suspended any contract negotiations until after the season. Last night, Atkinson left his game due to an injury. So this trade idea surely has to wait until he is healthy. So, if the Jackets do not want to potentially lose the player for nothing, what if they traded him to the Rangers for JT Miller? Atkinson is right-handed and prefers being a shooter rather than a passer. Miller, as we all know, is a lefty, and much more of a passer. Miller has some control left; he is a restricted free agent after this year. He would be a good fit in Columbus’ top 6 forwards, while Atkinson, a long time favorite of the Rangers, adds something the Rangers need. With Miller’s next
contract, he will probably command a raise to close to $5 million per year. Taking that into account, Atkinson would get a million or so more than that. Just an idea.