Report Card for New York Rangers' 2014 Trade Deadline Decisions

Jeremy Fuchs@@jaf78Correspondent IIIMarch 5, 2014

Report Card for New York Rangers' 2014 Trade Deadline Decisions

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    With the 2014 trade deadline looming, it's time to look at some of the decisions the New York Rangers have made already and grade them.

    A lot can change, but the Rangers have been presented with significant choices, and those choices reveal a lot about the franchise. 

    Let's take a look at some of the moves—or non-moves—that the Rangers have made thus far and give each move a grade. 

Re-Signing Dan Girardi: A+

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    The Rangers didn't have an alternative.

    After all, where was the team going to find a right-handed defenseman that plays 23 minutes a game against the opposing team's best players? 

    They weren't. It's why the Rangers had to lock up Dan Girardi long-term.

    And that's what they did, signing the blueliner to a six-year, $33 million extension. He will be a Ranger through the 2019-2020 season.

    Had the Rangers moved Girardi in order to recoup assets, their playoff chase would have instantly ended. There is no one on the roster that can play those minutes, and they would not get that talent back in a trade. Any talent they did get would be younger players.

    Had the Rangers moved Girardi, they would've lost a leader and someone who has embodied what it means to be a Ranger.

    There was no choice—no alternative. On and off the ice, the Rangers would have regretted trading Girardi. Signing him to a relatively team-friendly deal was icing on the cake.

    Grade: A+

Passing Up on Chris Stewart: A

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    Mark Buckner/Getty Images

    The Rangers were offered Chris Stewart in exchange for Ryan Callahan, but the Blueshirts rejected the St. Louis Blues' offer, according to Larry Brooks of the New York Post

    Stewart is a nice player, but this was a wise decision by the Rangers brain trust.

    Stewart has 15 goals and 11 assists this season while playing just under 14 minutes a game. But that's nowhere near the 28 goals he scored for the Colorado Avalanche in 2009-10.

    In addition, Stewart doesn't kill penalties, so the Rangers would suffer in that department. Callahan is integral to the penalty kill, a unit that ranks 11th in the league.

    A player with Stewart's size could've fit nicely, but the Rangers need to get faster—not slower. 

    The Rangers may yet move Callahan, but they were smart to pass on Stewart. Callahan is a better player, and Stewart's career is trending downward. 

    That's why the non-move gets an "A."

Not Getting Ryan Kesler: C

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    The Vancouver Canucks seem to be in a firesale, and Ryan Kesler is the team's best asset.

    But could he be a Ranger?

    No. It's not going to happen. According to Brooks, Kesler refused to waive his no-trade clause to come to New York. 

    While he is familiar with Alain Vigneault, that seems to be the reason why he doesn't want to come to New York. According to Brad Ziemer of the National Post, Kesler had this to say about Vigneault, after Vigneault criticized the center for not getting his wingers involved enough:

    “Me utilize my players? Obviously, I don’t know what he means by that and if he wants to say that he can come to me and talk to me about it. I am going to play my game, the things that have made me successful. I know what that is and if he wants to come talk to me he is more than welcome.

    While it's not entirely the Rangers' fault that Kesler did not want to come, it does hurt them. After all, Kesler would have represented a significant upgrade over Derek Stepan.

    In a down year, Kesler has 21 goals and 18 assists. Stepan has just 10 goals. When he's on his game, Kesler is a better offensive and defensive player.

    Think about it: In Sochi, Kesler was the No. 1 center for the Americans. Stepan was No. 5 on the depth chart. 

    Again, it's not entirely the Rangers' fault, but it's significant. Adding Kesler would have made the Rangers a real threat to Pittsburgh and Boston. They are not going to find a center on the market that could bring size, speed and skill.

    That's why the non-move gets a "C."