The New York Rangers have a pretty deep and talented roster, but like every team, there's some dead weight.
The Rangers should have a goal of getting leaner. That means getting faster, and in many cases, younger.
Getting rid of some dead weight can do just that. We'll tell you which players the Rangers should consider trading before the season starts.
Mike Rupp is just not made for the new NHL. He's slow in a game (and a system) that's getting faster by the minute.
He's a decent fighter, but offers really nothing else. He chipped in four goals, but is not a consistent offensive threat.
He's weak on the forecheck and will be burned by faster, younger players. He's a fourth-line player who plays less than 10 minutes a game. He takes a bunch of dumb penalties too.
Yes, he's a leader, and that was shown in HBO's 24/7. That's valuable to have, but there are plenty of leaders on this team. He's not part of the top leadership group and there are plenty of guys like him who contribute more.
I think the Rangers would be wise to, instead of Rupp, play Kyle Jean, who is now in Connecticut. In 11 games, Jean has four goals and six assists. He's big at 6'4" and—here's the kicker—is only 23. Rupp, on the other hand, is 32 and has knee issues.
To me, this is an issue of age and speed. Rupp is getting up there in age. Jean is young and showing promise in the AHL.
Remember, AHL competition is a bit better this year, with the influx of young NHLers staying sharp during the lockout. The Oklahoma City Barons, the minor league affiliate of the Edmonton Oilers, for example, have Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on their roster.
And Jean is flourishing, in his first pro season, no less. He's younger, cheaper, faster and has much more offensive upside.
This is a no-brainer. Yes, Rupp will only fetch a seventh-round pick, but remember, Henrik Lundqvist was chosen in that round. All draft picks are valuable. The more you get, the more chances you have to get it right.
The Rangers made it pretty clear how they feel about Bickel when, in the triple-overtime thriller against the Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, he played only three minutes.
You would think that if a game goes into overtime, you would want all your defenseman. Once you get into double and triple overtime, it's all hands on deck.
Not for Bickel. They have such little faith in him that they would rather exhaust their stars then risk playing him.
That's an indictment if there ever was one. Coaches make clear how they feel about players by how they play him. For example, John Tortorella rides Ryan Callahan in all situations. That's a good sign that he trusts Callahan and wants him on the ice in key moments. Tortorella didn't play Bickel when they could've used him.
So why keep him? Why not try to get something in return? A low draft pick is probably in order.
Steve Eminger, in my opinion, is the better option at defenseman. I actually think there's a better option in Connecticut and his name is Matt Gilroy.
Yes, Gilroy struggled with the Rangers and has not lived up to his promise, but he has a lot of offensive upside and could be a factor on the power play. He put up 20 points last season with Tampa Bay and Ottawa.
Getting a low pick for someone you're not going to play is just good business. Yes, Bickel is physical and is willing to drop the gloves, but that's really all he's good at. I'd rather give that roster spot to someone who can play in all situations. Eminger and Gilroy fit that bill.
Yes, the Rangers just signed Arron Asham to a two-year deal worth $2 million. It would seem odd to get rid of him before he plays a game in Blue.
But I never agreed with the Asham signing, and I know many Ranger fans feel the same way. Despite putting up decent numbers in Pittsburgh (five goals and 11 assists) as well as playing the "pest" role, he's 34 years old and will be 35 by season's end.
That's not the direction the Rangers need to go in. They need to go younger and faster, not older and slower. The lockout gives them a chance to re-think things.
Instead of having Asham until he's 37, why not bring up Brandon Segal, who is 29 and bigger?
Segal is more physical and a better fighter. Will he score as much? No, but it's not like Asham scores 40 goals. The Rangers can make up that five goals, especially when they have stars like Rich Nash. And, for what it's worth, Segal has seven points in 11 games so far in the minors.
It's not sexy, but this is all about the Rangers getting younger and faster and leaner. In my mind, Asham is dead weight. Bringing up Segal (or someone of his ilk) would be a step in the right direction.