Trade rumors have been running rampant about New York Rangers stars Ryan Callahan and Dan Girardi as of late, and there have been varied opinions about what should happen with each player. Fans have voiced opinions on message boards, and journalists have opined their thoughts in various publications, but what should the Rangers do?
From a financial perspective and an asset management standpoint, keeping Girardi makes a ton of sense. On Thursday, Larry Brooks of the New York Post reported that the Blueshirts have made two offers to their No. 2 defender:
Sources have told The Post that though Girardi is seeking a six-year deal in the neighborhood of $5.5 million per season, the Blueshirts have countered with a six-year deal in the neighborhood of $5.2 million per season or a five-year contract worth approximately $5.7 million per season. In this case, it seems as if there is a deal to be made.
The difference between Girardi's asking price and the first offer is $1.8 million. In the grand scheme of things, that shouldn't be a roadblock. The second offer pays Girardi an extra $200,000 per year, but he misses out on $1 million in salary with the lack of a final year.
For a shutdown defender that puts up average offensive numbers, it may seem like a lot of money. However, the Rangers don't have a lot of flexibility in this situation.
That is why the Rangers' offer is in the same ballpark as Girardi's, and it is for good reason. There is currently some uncertainty regarding the Blueshirts' defense, and the team simply needs Girardi or a player like him.
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After this season, only Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal and Kevin Klein are under contract. Anton Stralman is an unrestricted free agent due for a raise, and Justin Falk and John Moore will be restricted free agents looking for new contracts.
McDonagh has become the Blueshirts' undisputed top defender, but Girardi is still needed. Girardi logs big minutes, he is a top penalty-killer and he is a great character player and leader.
In times of injury, Girardi serves as the team's temporary alternate captain, and that speaks volumes in regards to his value to the Rangers.
By this point some of you may be saying to yourselves, "Well if Girardi leaves, we will still have Staal." While that is true, you can't count on Staal.
That isn't a negative statement about his play or his ability, but just a fact about him as a player.
While Staal has played well this season after rebounding from injury, he has the potential to be a ticking time bomb. His luck, or lack thereof, when it comes to injuries is comical.
When at the top of his game, Staal could be a top-15 defender in the NHL. The problem Staal has is something he shares with Sisyphus of Greek mythology. Once Staal is close to reaching the top of the hill, or the pinnacle of success, he is struck down and sent to the bottom.
If Girardi was not re-signed, Staal would become the team's No. 2 defender, and that would bring uncertainty to the defense corps, even more so when you consider that Staal is a free agent next year.
Therefore, it makes sense to re-sign Girardi. He is a known commodity, he has adapted to the system and he is the best available option. On the free-agent market, the only comparable players that are similar in age and style of play are Brooks Orpik, 33, of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Matt Greene, 30, of the Los Angeles Kings.
Either defender could end up costing similar or just less of what Girardi already makes, but at that point it really doesn't matter. Girardi has been a durable shutdown defender that has progressed since the Rangers took a chance on him as an undrafted defender.
He has blossomed into an All-Star defender, and he even received some consideration for the Norris Trophy a few seasons ago. The Rangers' strength the past few years has been their defense, and they should have no hesitation when it comes to retaining their anchor on the blue line.