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Rangers take on the Stars with trade connections looming

Bobby Bevilacqua

rangers vs stars 2 2-8

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

After a resilient win over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday, the Rangers (35-20-6) will close out their three game road trip against the number one team in the west, the Dallas Stars (38-18-6) with trade rumors linking the two teams ahead of the Monday trade deadline.

Tanner Glass and Chris Kreider each scored a goal and Henrik Lundqvist was phenomenal, making 35 save and picking up his 30th win of the season, making that 10 seasons with at least 30 wins. The Rangers didn’t play all that well, but timely goal scoring and Henrik Lundqvist stole a win away from St. Louis.

The Rangers have now won 11 games in a row following a loss, and they haven’t dropped back-to-back games since December 20th when they lost 7-3 to the Washington Capitals to close out a 3-9-2 stretch. But in the last 11 games, the Rangers are 8-2-1 and as strong as any team lately. Read the rest of this entry

Eric Staal is good, but is he the right fit for the Rangers?

Bobby BevilacquaEric Staal

Where there’s smoke, there tends to be a fire.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie and Darren Dreger as well as Elliot Friedman have all been talking about a trade that would send Eric Staal to the Rangers. The captain of the Hurricanes is in the last year of a seven year contract that carries a cap hit of $8.25 million, and it’s been rumored for a while that he’s on his way out.

This is a move that has Glen Sather written all over it. While he’s not in charge anymore, he still has influence in the organization and it seems more and more likely that Eric Staal will be a Ranger by Monday.  The Rangers seem to be prepared to make one more run at the Cup with this group of guys, and acquiring Staal would indicate that’s exactly their plans.

However, would this be the right move for the Rangers?

Let’s start off by clearing this up; Staal is not a bad or overrated player. He’s a guy with a proven track record of offensive production, including seven straight 70+ point seasons, which included a 45 goal, 100 point season.

His numbers don’t look good this year (16-23-39 in 62 games), but it’s somewhat deceiving, kind of like how Rick Nash’s numbers are deceiving. Staal has had bad luck (shooting 4% below career average) and the lack of talent around him make for deceptively low production.

And for all of you that love to point out playoff production, Staal has done that too. When the Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup in 2006, Staal scored nine goals with 19 assists, totaling 28 points in 25 games. In 2009 when the Canes went to the Eastern Conference Finals, Staal scored 10 goals and 15 points in 18 games. That gives him 43 points (19-24-43) in 43 playoff games.

However, he currently has the second highest Corsi for% of his entire career (56.56%), and that number is very, very impressive. He’s driving possession and creating chances at the same rate as he always has been, but hasn’t gotten the bounces or help from his teammates. If you put him on a line with Kevin Hayes and Chris Kreider, I have no doubt that his scoring will pick up.

However, Eric Staal is going to cost A LOT. Trading their captain means that the Hurricanes, who sit just two points out of a playoff spot, are essentially giving up on their season and moving on from the face of their franchise. To do that, they’ll need a good package to convince them.

Andrew Ladd was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks last night, and he got Winnipeg a first round pick in 2016, a conditional third round pick in 2018 (If Chicago wins the Cup), and a high-end prospect in Marko Dano. Eric Staal will require a similar return.

Translating that to the Rangers terms, that would mean giving away yet another first round pick and someone like Pavel Buchnevich or Brady Skjei. Are you willing to give up either of them? Because I’m not.

If the Rangers were winning championships like the Blackhawks, then go right ahead and send all the draft picks away. But they haven’t won a Cup since 1994, and their strategy of shipping out first rounders has not paid dividends yet. The team also has an extremely thin prospect pool, so trading away Buchnevich or Skjei would widdle away at that even further.

There is one route they could go though. The Hurricanes are in need of goaltending depth, which is an area the Rangers have a plethora of prospects. Mackenzie Skapski, Brandon Halverson, Igor Shestyorkin and the surprising rise of Adam Huska has given the Blueshirts a bright future between the pipes. They could probably trade away Halverson, since Shestyorkin looks to be the future between the pipes, and that would be a prospect they could afford to ship away.

But the question remains with the draft picks. Unless Jeff Gorton made another deal at the deadline, like shipping out Keith Yandle or another defenseman, then they don’t have a draft pick to send away. At some point, you need to start creating depth through the draft or else there is no future.

The Hurricanes could sweeten the pot a big by including an affordable young player that could factor into the Rangers’ future plans, like young center Viktor Rask, who is an upcoming RFA who currently makes $680k.

If the Hurricanes were interested in acquiring a roster player, like Chris Kreider, or would be fine with a goalie prospect, a mid-tier prospect (think Ryan Tambellini or Brad Morrison) and maybe a third round pick, I say go for it.

The Rangers can refill their prospect pool through undrafted free agents (read this article by Blueseat Blogs on the topic) and get more mid-tier prospects, they have a ton of goalie prospects so trading one would be okay, and a third round pick isn’t too much to give up. The Hurricanes would have to eat a significant portion of Staal’s contract for this to work out (unless the Rangers place Rick Nash on LTIR, read more on that here).

The problem is, I don’t think the Hurricanes want to walk away with anything less than a first rounder. They’re getting close to completing their rebuild, and the more high picks they have, the better it is for them. At that price, or the same price as Andrew Ladd, the Rangers simply cannot afford to make that trade.

Also, Eric Staal is a center and has rarely played wing in his career. But the Rangers would be shifting him to the wing because they already have Derick Brassard, Derek Stepan and Kevin Hayes all playing well at that position already. If they want to use Staal at wing, it doesn’t make much sense. If that’s the case, then just go out and get Radim Vrbata from Vancouver or Staal’s teammate, Kris Versteeg. Both are cheaper, great depth wingers and they fit the Rangers needs better.

In conclusion, passing up on Eric Staal and his proven record is hard to do. But when you think about the cost it would take to acquire someone who will almost definitely leave after this season, it becomes quite clear why the Rangers should instead search for more affordable yet still effective options.

But with all of the rumors flying around, don’t be surprised if Eric Staal is wearing blue by Monday morning.

The Impact of the Next Three Weeks on the Rangers’ future

Ezra Kwestel

Gorton

Photo via Getty Images

Being that this is my first post as a writer for The Ranger Zone, I want to take a moment to introduce myself. I am a junior in college and have been a Rangers fan since the day I was born. I began writing as a member of NYRFullTilt last March and joined the team at TRZ this past Thursday. I welcome the opportunity and look forward to interacting with you all on twitter. My twitter handle is @ekwestel. Questions, comments etc. are always welcome, so feel free. Now to the actual article…

We sit just under three weeks until the NHL Trade Deadline (Feb. 29). This is the time when teams identify themselves as buyers or sellers. With the new scheduling format instituted two seasons ago, more teams find themselves within arms reach of the playoffs, with less inter-conference games being played. This day has had major significance for the New York Rangers throughout their history, but even more so the past three seasons. To recap:

April 3, 2013: Rangers trade Marian Gaborik to Columbus in exchange for Derek Dorsett, Derrick Brassard, John Moore and a 6th round pick Read the rest of this entry

Top trade targets and how the Rangers should approach the deadline

Bobby Bevilacqua

Jeff Gorton and Glen Sather

Photo courtesy of Bruce Bennet/Getty Images.

Following the conclusion of an exciting 2016 NHL All Star game, one that saw Pacific Division captain John Scott scored two goals and help led his team to the million dollar prize, the league will get back to business with games starting on Tuesday.

Perhaps more importantly is the approaching trade deadline, when the trade window closes on February 29. Team’s looking to improve their roster and make a playoff push will be inquiring about several players around the league, and the Rangers are expected to be right in the middle of it, both as buyers and sellers.

With Alain Vigneault’s misuse of Keith Yandle and his expiring contract, the Rangers may unfortunately wind up dealing him to a team looking for a puck moving defenseman. However, they’ll also likely be in the market for a top six winger to add some consistent scoring, something they really need. Read the rest of this entry

Rangers Player Grades; Keith Yandle, Kevin Klein and Matt Hunwick

Yandle, Klein and Hunwick

Keith Yandle, Kevin Klein and Matt Hunwick combined to make up the third pairing for the Rangers throughout the season, each playing a very different role on the team. Photos courtesy of MSG Photos.

Bobby Bevilacqua

Rounding out the Rangers defense is the third pairing, which at times, can be just as important as the other two pairings. For Alain Vigneault and New York, that third pairing was constantly changing. This article will evaluate what it looked like at the end of the season, including the extra defenseman.

As of March 1st, that last pairing consisted of Keith Yandle and Kevin Klein. Yandle had just come over in a trade with the Arizona Coyotes, and Kevin Klein, playing in his first full season with the Rangers and having one of the best seasons of his career.

Matt Hunwick, signed in the offseason as the seventh defenseman, wound up playing 55 regular season games, and became a very important player for the Rangers this season.

When looking at each of these players, Yandle, Klein and Hunwick are all very different. But each one of them were important to the team in their own way. Read the rest of this entry