I kinda touched on this over at Illegal Curve a few weeks back but as Wednesday's deadline is on the horizon, here is a quick primer of what I see that the Rangers have and what they need heading into the GMs' swap meet. It is certain that the new coach will want some new players who aren't entrenched in the locker room already, who haven't soiled the Garden ice this season. On Wednesday I will be around and should be able to keep on top of the deals but have an appointment right in the middle of the afternoon so I will likely keep an open post atop the blog for you guys to throw updates, comment and cause chaos. Here is something to get started on:
What The Rangers Have To Trade:
*Guys who will be unrestricted free agents after this season: Blair Betts, Colton Orr, Dmitri Kalinin, Paul Mara and Stephen Valiquette. Of those five, you can be pretty sure that Colt and Valley aren't going anywhere - they are virtually irreplaceable. If Paul Mara has made it known he will test the free agent waters this summer, Glen Sather may try to put him out there - even if he has been the Rangers best blueliner. Let's face it, no one will take Kalinin because he is too much of a defensive liability at this time of year. That leaves Bettsy. Regular readers and friends know that Bettsy is my favourite Ranger so this is tough but Bettsy is really a good player to trade. Any team that feels that they are a contender needs a solid defensive forward like Bettsy - let's face it, Detroit still relies heavily on Kris Draper after all these years. Tortorella is notorious for his usage of three lines so fourth liners are expendable - granted, he has rolled four lines pretty steadily of late but who knows if he has been just testing guys or this is a new leaf he has turned over.
*Spare parts - Depth guys like Mark Bell and Patrick Rissmiller are decent players who could contribute to a contender, even if only in a Black Ace roll. EDITBoth also have no usefulness for the Rangers, outside of filling a Hartford roster spot. Bell will be a UFA after this season.
*Players who will be restricted free agents after this season. This is where it gets tricky because who knows if Sather and Tortorella are truly trying to win the Cup right now and are willing to sacrifice the future. If Sather isn't prepared to give big contracts to some of these kids, he would be wise to deal them before they get poached and all he gets back is some meager draft picks. The list is pretty extensive - Nik Zherdev, Brandon Dubinsky, Lauri Korpikoski, Freddie Sjostrom, Nigel Dawes, Ryan Callahan, Petr Prucha, Erik Reitz and Corey Potter. Zherdev continues to tantalize with his skill and he seems to have already pulled the wool over Tortorella's eyes. Dubi has been a beast but will be looking for a big contract. The Korpedo has been pretty steady for a rookie but what does he add that others don't? Torts said he missed Sjostrom's presence on the PK but Freddie hasn't contributed much more than that despite his speed and a seemingly big offensive upside. Dawesie is good to trade, but who would take an undersized skill player who can't score? Cally and Pru have been heart and soul guys and now they have a coach who loves that quality so both are pretty much assured of sticking around. Considering no one claimed Reitz when he was on waivers with the Wild, it is safe to say no one really wants him except for the Rangers. And despite solid play, Potter never was able to sell Renney that he is ready for the NHL. Perhaps another team will think that he is.
*And I believe that the Rangers still possess their full slate of draft picks as well as Toronto's 5th round pick (acquired for Ryan Hollweg).
What The Rangers Need:
*A shutdown defenseman. Redden and Rozy are soft, Kalinin is a joke and Staal and Girardi are trying to recoup after months of having to cover for their partners. That leaves Paul Mara as the toughest Ranger blueliner and he has a bad shoulder now. Scotty Hockey recommended targets: Greg Zanon (Nashville). Niclas Havelid (Atlanta) was my initial pick but as I was working on this, the damned Devils got him. Zanon is one of the best shot blockers in the NHL and makes less than a mill this season so he can certainly fit under the cap with little maneuvering. Derek Morris is the dark horse here since Sather seemingly loves to deal with Phoenix but he may come at a higher cost then he is worth.
*A power play quarterback. Redden and Rozy were both supposed to be that person but neither one is capable of keeping the puck in the zone and both are reluctant to shoot more often then not. Best odds are on Sather just leaving things in the hands of his overpaid "stars" but just in case, Scotty Hockey recommended target: All of the talk is about Chris Pronger getting dealt from Anaheim but Scott Niedermayer will be unrestricted and his brother is a healthy scratch nowadays. Niedermayer is one of the top defensemen of the last decade and still has some left in the tank for a big playoff run. Then again, to get him there would have to be a significant package going the other way (if only to get him under the cap), which is dangerous.
*A top line scorer. Nik Zherdev doesn't care and Markus Naslund has a skate in the grave. There really aren't a whole helluva lot out there that won't cost half the roster. Detroit has a glut of top notch guys going to free agency (Franzen, Hossa, Hudler, Samuelsson, Leino) but Ken Holland is too smart for Sather - the Rangers would get raped. After the Fritsche-Reitz deal there is a relationship with the Wild but Marian "Ouch my groin" Gaborik would be waaaay too much of a gamble and waaay too expensive. Borat Antropov is terrible and not worth it at all. Scotty Hockey recommended targets: Mr. X from the Blue Seats pitched Marty Havlat to me months ago and I couldn't find any flaw with him unless he was hurt. He has been healthy and a steady contributor for the Hawks but the price might be too high - he is 28 and makes $6 mill. Otherwise let's just hope Tortorella can get Big Z play to his potential ...
*A gritty veteran leader. Renney didn't want Shanny. Putz. Neither Drury nor Gomez are capable of leading this team through the regular season, much less the playoffs. Everyone keeps floating Keith Tkachuk and Bill Guerin but they are both well past their primes. Tkachuk is a better than the Islander but would come at a high cost and require some salary cap magic. Scotty Hockey recommended targets: It was easy to hate him last year but Gary Roberts really is a tough sonofabitch. If Sather does deal away Sjostrom, Roberts would be a fine fourth line winger who could bring the grit. Jeff Halpern is a former captain and Phoenix's Steve Reinprecht has a Cup on his resume but Erik Cole, who won one with Carolina, could contribute some goals. The former Cane and New York native is on the block in Edmonton and all he does is give 100% every game. He came back from a broken neck to play for the Cup, 'nuff said.
*Heart and fire. Sean Avery is a possibility and is headed through waivers but there is no guarantee that the Rangers will get him. Scotty Hockey recommended targets: I would love Ian Laperriere but considering he nearly took on the Ranger coaching staff the other night, I don't think he will be joining the team. I guess that just leaves Sean ...
Then again, all of this is likely crap because no one can say what is going on in the foolish mind of Glen Sather. The guy is the worse GM in the NHL so predicting what he should do is easier than what he will do. We can only hope the other GMs don't take too much advantage of him. No more Christian Backmans!