Twas the night before the trade deadline,
When all through the Garden
not a creature was stirring; not even Jeff Gorton.
With the trade deadline rapidly approaching on Wednesday, the Rangers are keeping a pretty tight lid on things so far. Leaving fans and writers alike with not much to go on besides rumors of phone calls and cryptic tweets from beat writers. That silence ended tonight as I am writing this post, but not from the Rangers. The team with the best record in the NHL has pulled the trigger and brought right-handed defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk to Washington. The Capitals not only make their own blue line that much stronger, but also take away a prized target from Metro division rivals in the Penguins and Rangers. I wonder how many times trades are made because a team wants to prevent a possible playoff opponent from getting the player they just acquired. The reported price for Shattenkirk is a 1st round pick, a 2nd round pick (a pick that they may not even own), and 2013 61st overall pick Zach Sanford. It is still unknown if Shattenkirk will sign an extension with Washington.
What does this mean for the Rangers going forward? Jeff Gorton still has potential targets in Red Wing Brendan Smith or Hurricanes defenseman Justin Faulk. Faulk is signed to a reasonable contract at a cap hit of under 5 million for three more years after this season. He boasts impressive possession statistics, 52.8 corsi 52.1 fenwick and a PDO of 96.2, on a team that hasn’t sniffed the playoffs since ’08-’09. His price would likely cost a core forward and possibly a premium pick, instead of the depth or minor league player/pick package that Smith would cost. I think the best moves going forward is to sit back and not force any trades in reaction to Washington. NYR are positioned as perfectly as they can be in the first Wild Card spot that would see them face either Montreal or Ottawa in the first round. Hank has been on fire ever since that disastrous Dallas game and completely unconscious when facing 30+ shots a game, and for whatever reason, the Rangers keep winning when Hank faces that many pucks on net. There is an argument to be made on the value of corsi, total shot attempts, vs scoring chance % for, but that is an argument for another post.
However, another argument can be made, that given the recent hauls that the Coyotes and most surprisingly the Canucks have gotten for forwards, that the Rangers could sell off a forward or two to restock their farm system and gain more picks in coming drafts. The most obvious, and maybe controversial, target for this is Michael Grabner. He has regained his scoring touch that eluded him in Toronto and has potted 26 goals, pointless in his last 7 however, already this season. Along with his low cap hit, 1.65 mil, through next season makes him a tantalizing target for any contending team. Given what Martin Hanzal and Alex Burrows got in return from their new teams, this is an option Jeff Gorton must be considering. I would be reluctant to break up one of the league’s best forward groups unless the return was eye-popping. The Rangers can still win with their current team and with some lucky playoff seeding may be poised to make a run in the playoffs.
Until the trade deadline arrives at 3 p.m. on March 1st, we will have to rely on tweets and rumors to figure out what the Rangers will be working with and going up against for the rest of the season and playoff push.
Thanks for reading the first of what is hopefully many more blog posts here on Stick, Gloves, Blueshirts, and Lets Go Rangers!