For the last two seasons, the New York Rangers have seen their franchise defenseman mature right before their very eyes. He went from a young, inexperienced blue-liner who never played a game in the American Hockey League to a player that looks like a 10-year veteran.
In all my years of watching Rangers' hockey I have never seen a player that smart with the puck; a player that can go into the corners with two opposing players hanging on him and watch him calmly appear with the puck on his stick.
But will Marc Staal have a chance to become this team's true franchise defenseman?
With the Rangers coming off a disastrous season from an offensive standpoint, this team is going to change come July 1, or even draft day if Sather is eager. His new coach will help build this team to one that he sees fit, and that is a team consisting of big players that can score.
A name that comes to mind and one that has been mentioned in various rumors has been Vinny Lecavalier, and this was before his former coach whom he won a Stanley Cup with took the helm for the Rangers. It makes too much sense now to not consider it.
The only way the Rangers can acquire someone of Lecavalier's stature is by trading a player like Staal. Of course, the trade won't be straight up, and can't be, for salary cap restrictions have put a strangle hold on the Rangers.
Darren Dreger of TSN has even reported that Glen Sather has made an offer to the Leafs' Brian Burke consisting of Wade Redden, Brandon Dubinsky, and Marc Staal for Tomas Kaberle, Anton Stralman, and their first round pick in this year's draft.
When first looking at the deal, I scoffed at it but when analyzing the situation a little further, it may benefit the Rangers to actually make this deal.
Redden for Kaberle works in the Rangers favor as they will be clearing his atrocious salary and getting someone who can actually help the powerplay. Staal for Stralman is of course in the Leafs' favor and Dubinsky for the first round pick can't be decided until the draft actually happens, but keep in mind that it is a very deep draft this season.
Marc Staal is also slated to become a free agent after this season and with the way he has played, he is going to command a major hike in salary; and not only from him but his agent Bobby Orr as well, someone who GM's around the league have come to despise in recent times.
It is a reasonable assumption to make that he could be looking for a contract in the $4-5 million salary range. Will the Rangers be able to afford that?
It would be a last resort to trade Marc Staal because as I said earlier, he is the franchise defenseman for the New York Rangers. But if the Rangers have a chance to acquire a superstar for his departure, someone who could lead this team deep in the playoffs, shouldn't we jump at the opportunity?
Greg Caggiano is a writer here on Bleacher Report covering the New York Rangers. He has a New York area sports teams blog called Metro-Sports, where you can read great articles about all professional sports teams that play in the area by a dedicated team of young writers.