The New York Rangers have some extremely difficult decisions to make. This isn’t a typical trade deadline for the team, as Glen Sather has the arduous task of deciding whether or not to move the team’s Captain Ryan Callahan and long-time defenseman Dan Girardi. Clock’s ticking.
The Rangers are battling for a playoff spot in an extremely winnable metropolitan division this season, so they are certainly not selling players off, but with Callahan and Girardi both set to be free agents – and Callahan allegedly asking for a contract that rivals the proceeds of Antwerp Diamond heist – the pressure is on Sather to make a move. One that both benefits the team now and down the line.
The first requirement for the Rangers, should be a player on reasonable term, that is team-controlled beyond this season. They are not in the position to be loading up on rentals, as there is so much uncertainty with guys expiring deals in the next two years.
They are in a comfortable position salary cap wise – according to capgeek, they will have room to add approximately $7.5 million at the deadline – so taking on a pricey acquisition like Ryan Kesler or Martin St Louis is a non-issue.
Regarding their salary cap situation in the future, again we defer to the uncertainty surrounding the club. Will Brad Richards and his $6.66 be subject to an amnesty buy out? Will Callahan and Girardi be signing big contract with the club?
Roster makeup-wise, the Rangers need to add another top offensive piece. They have been able to patch enough offense together to be in a playoff spot, but adding another first-line player – again, one whom is locked up past this season – could give them a legitimate shot to compete with the likes of Pittsburgh and Boston.
From a Ranger perspective, Martin St. Louis makes a tremendous amount of sense. The only problem is from a Tampa Bay Lighting perspective, trading him makes absolutely no sense, unless you are getting a player of a similar replacement level, which the Rangers cannot and should not do.
A player that has been connected to the New York Rangers that fits their absolute mold is Evander Kane. Kane is becoming an elite player and would be a great add for the Rangers, as he is locked up and team controlled. However, the Rangers don’t need a massive shakeup – sending Derek Stepan or Chris Kreider would almost certainly be the asking price to start – so unless he can be had for a package involving a younger guys like JT Miller and Danny Kristo, it’s likely a lost cause.
At the other end of the ice, a name that could address a long-standing need is Christian Ehrhoff with Buffalo. As the salary cap inevitably rises, Ehrhoff’s long-term contract will look much more reasonable. Ehrhoff brings some offense to the back end and if makes a potential Girardi trade easier to swallow. If Ehrhoff is not a top pairing defenseman anymore, he is still extremely close. He carries a $4 million cap hit until his contract expires in 2020-21.
Strictly addressing the elephants on the ice – in Girardi and Callahan – ultimately I think Girardi re-signs for somewhere around 6 years and $32 million, and Callahan is dealt. The question is where and what is the return? I’d imagine that question will have an answer shortly.
All other dominoes wait for the two at the top of the track to fall. Until the team makes a decision on Callahan and Girardi, they aren’t doing anything.