In the Toronto Sun, Bruce Garrioch stated that the New York Rangers were very eager to make some changes that would improve their roster. The 16-18-2 Rangers have been pretty mediocre to say the least, and according to the report, there are only a few players the Rangers wouldn't consider dealing to improve the roster.
In the same piece, it was reported by Garrioch that Colorado Avalanche vice president of hockey operations Joe Sakic is ready to make some deals, and one name that could draw interest is Paul Stastny. The Avs center is slated to become a free agent this summer, and to this point, there have been no talks about a potential extension.
Considering the Avs' depth at center and the Rangers' need to strengthen their roster down the middle, should the Rangers consider trading for Paul Stastny?
The short answer is yes, but Rangers general manager Glen Sather would need to make sure that he could lock up the 27-year-old pivot before July 2014. As previously stated, Stastny is set to become one of the top free agents on July 1, 2014.
If the Rangers can guarantee that Stastny will remain a fixture in New York, there should be no hesitancy to pull the trigger, because the 6'0", 205-pound center has a number of desirable qualities that should pique the interest of the Rangers.
For starters, Stastny is a quality two-way center who can contribute offensively. This season, Stastny has 22 points in 33 games, and he also has three 70-point seasons on his resume. The Blueshirts are in dire need of a center who can contribute offensively, because outside of Brad Richards, there hasn't been consistent play from any of the Rangers' pivots.
Derek Stepan is having a tough year, but ideally he projects to be a second-line center. In this scenario, adding Stastny would bump him down in the lineup, and it would significantly bolster the team's depth down the middle.
Besides offensive contributions, Stastny is a tough player who is very good in his own zone. Although Alain Vigneault wants to play an offense-first system, he wants his players to be competent in their own zone. Stastny's ability to play offense and defense would allow Vigneault to deploy him in multiple situations.
This would include starts in the defensive and neutral zones, because Stastny is one of the league's best at taking draws at the faceoff dot. At the time of publication, the Colorado center ranked 18th overall in the NHL with a faceoff win rate of 54.7 percent.
If he were on the Rangers, Stastny would be the team's second-best center on faceoffs and only the second center with a efficiency rating above 50 percent.
Adding Stastny to the lineup would greatly bolster the offensive potential of the Rangers' top six, and it could look something like this:
|Projected Rangers Lineup|
|Chris Kreider||Paul Stastny||Rick Nash|
|Brad Richards||Derek Stepan||Mats Zuccarello|
|Carl Hagelin||Brian Boyle||Ryan Callahan|
|Jamie McGinn||Dominic Moore||Derek Dorsett|
|Lineup could look like this when healthy.|
While this sounds fine and dandy, do the Rangers have the pieces necessary to make this trade? The Avalanche are looking to add a top-four defenseman to their ranks, and the Rangers have one who would be a great fit for Colorado.
According to Garrioch, the Rangers are openly shopping 29-year-old blueliner Dan Girardi, and his brand of hockey would be a welcome addition to the Avalanche. The Welland, Ontario, native is a physical shutdown defenseman who loves to hit and block shots.
He is capable of eating big minutes, and he is one of the top penalty-killers in the NHL, an area that Colorado could stand to improve. The Avs currently rank 18th overall with a 81.5 percent efficiency rating, and Girardi's proficiency in this area would be greatly appreciated.
In addition to Girardi, the Rangers could offer center Derick Brassard, an upcoming restricted free agent who could use a change of scenery. He hasn't had the greatest start this season, but he showed during last year's playoffs that he has what it takes to be a top center.
The Avalanche have a number of talented wingers, and Brassard could slot in a second- or third-line role. If acquired, Matt Duchene would remain the No. 1 center, Nathan MacKinnon or Ryan O'Reilly could move back to his natural position as the No. 2 center, Brassard would take the No. 3 spot and Marc-Andre Cliche would hold his own on the fourth line.
Ideally a move that would be fair for both sides would look like this:
New York Rangers receive [C] Paul Stastny and [LW/RW] Jamie McGinn
Colorado Avalanche [D] Dan Girardi and [C] Derick Brassard
The move is fair because the Avalanche would add a legitimate top-pairing All-Star defender and a young center who could fill a top-nine role in exchange for a top-six center who could get a huge pay raise this summer.
They also would strengthen their defense without compromising their forward depth.
Both sides could make tweaks here or there to get a deal done, but this framework would be enough to get real negotiations going for both sides.
If the Avalanche made this trade, this is what their lineup would look like:
|Potential Avalanche Lineup|
|Gabriel Landeskog||Matt Duchene||Nathan MacKinnon|
|Alex Tanguay||Ryan O'Reilly||P.A. Parenteau|
|John Mitchell||Derick Brassard||Max Talbot|
|Patrick Bordeleau||Marc-Andre Cliche||Cody McLeod|
|Lineup could look like this when completely healthy.|
Right now the Avalanche have some injuries, but this lineup would be pretty solid when healthy. The team's defense would also improve, and here is what Colorado's blue line would look like:
|Projected Avalanche Defense|
|Erik Johnson||Dan Girardi|
|Jan Hejda||Cory Sarich|
|Tyson Barrie||Andre Benoit|
|Blue line could look like this.|
As you can see, there are a lot of reasons why both sides should make this deal. One side is in desperate need of a top-four defender, and one side could really use an established pivot.
The Rangers want to make a move very soon, and if the team's struggles continue, expect Sather to make a move sooner rather than later.