Next year’s Rangers team is going to look considerably different than the one that came three wins away from a Stanley Cup this season. Brad Richards will (or has been, since this was written) be bought out, Dominic Moore, Brian Boyle, and Anton Stralman are unrestricted free agents, and I would be expect the Rangers to be active in free agency and in the trade market to improve.
In this post, I’ll take a stab at picking the Rangers most likely to be traded. The Rangers may, or may not, make a significant trade this summer, which would render this post useless. But since the trade market is poised to be very active and with the draft a few days away, it’s worth taking a look at the roster in that capacity. The rating will be on a scale of one through four “Dubi’s”. Why Brandon Dubinsky you ask? Because that guy was damn near always ‘about to be traded’.
A quick note, the Rangers are not well positioned to make a trade for most of the big name players available this summer. They have very few prospects worth a damn as far as trade value in Hartford and don’t have a first round pick in the next two drafts. So as much as I would love Joe Thornton, it is highly unlikely.
The Derick Brassard trade
Derick Brassard is an interesting player. He’s absolutely a second line center and has shown an ability to perform on the power play. He found a home with Mats Zuccarello and Benoit Pouliot this season and it may be best to just keep that trio together as a relatively affordable second line. However, Brassard is a restricted free agent with one more season to go before he hits free agency. The Rangers can either qualify him for one year at $3.7M or they can work out a contract extension.
Considering the potential depth of the trade market for centers this summer, the Rangers may need to move a center to acquire a better center. It sure won’t be Derek Stepan who will be traded, which leaves Brassard. Trading Brassard if a top six center is acquired mostly has to do with the salary cap. The Rangers will need to shed some space and Brass may be deemed expendable while contributing good value to the trade. I contend that the Rangers are most likely to replace Brad Richards with a third line center, think Mikhail Grabovski. But I don’t think the Joe Thornton rumors will go away.
The Marc Staal trade
If i were Glen Sather, I would explore trading Marc Staal at the draft for a first round pick and an affordable depth roster player (use Jordan Staal trade as a template) to accomplish two things; improve their depleted prospect pool and open cap space for Anton Stralman.
The Rangers don’t have a talented prospect pool and have few players in Hartford poised to make significant impacts. They did not have a first or a second round pick in last years draft and do not have a first round pick is neither of the next two. If they hope to remain contenders throughout the duration of Henrik Lundqvist‘s career, they need affordable young talent to gradually fill the ranks.
Re-signing Anton Stralman should be the Rangers number one priority this summer. It will come down to cap space and my suspicion is the Rangers can afford to lose Staal and use some of the savings to give Stralman a raise and sign another left handed defenseman.
I did mention that this is what I would explore if I were Glen Sather, but I’m obviously not him. Plus, Staal has the feeling of a “Forever Ranger”.
The Derek Dorsett trade
The Rangers seemed to be faced with the question of retaining Derek Dorsett or using Dan Carcillo as a cheaper replacement on the fourth line. My preference would be to keep Dorsett, much to the chagrin the #FreeCarcillo crowd. The savings between Carcillo and Dorsett would likely be around $700K, which could very well be significant. The Rangers would be wise to keep at least two members of their effective fourth line together next season. With Brian Boyle likely lost to free agency, the best option would be to keep Dominic Moore and Dorsett. But I could reasonably see a Carcillo for Dorsett swap happening
The JT Miller Trade
It sure feels like Miller would be included in damn near any big trade, doesn’t it? He had a strange year under Alain Vigneault and spent most of the season shuffling back and forth between Hartford. He will be heading into training camp in an awkward spot next year. The Rangers can’t rely on him to be the third line center, since he hasn’t been given enough minutes to prove that he can do the job. He is also not well suited for a fourth line center role, which likely will be occupied by Moore anyways. Which leaves him open for a spot on the wing. But which one? Again, he’s not a fourth line player and the only opening via free agency is Benoit Pouliot’s spot, which hopefully will be occupied by Pouliot.
2 1/2 Dubi’s