Players New York Rangers Should Use as Trade Bait in 2014 Offseason
The New York Rangers were the second-best team in the NHL this past season, and they will need to make some improvement to their roster in order to compete next season. The Rangers may not be able to address all of these needs via free agency, so they could opt to add via the trade market.
In order to get, you have to give up assets, so here are players the Rangers should use as trade bait this offseason.
It sounds crazy, but the Blueshirts need to manage their assets in this situation. Carl Hagelin is a talented third-liner who has been slotted up in the lineup on occasion, but he isn't going to be in a top-six role this season.
Therefore, they need to consider dealing him to a team where he could be slotted on the second line, especially because he has value right now and a very reasonable contract, at one-year and a $2,250,000 cap hit.
Hagelin is coming off a regular season in which he recorded 17 goals and 33 points; he also scored seven goals and 12 points in the postseason. This will be enough to get some teams interested, because in addition to his offensive abilities, he is a great defensive player and penalty-killer.
Losing Hagelin would hurt the Rangers a bit, but if they can land legitimate top-six talent by trading him in the right deal, it is a move they have to make.
Before you go grab your pitchforks, hear me out. Derek Stepan had an amazing season in which he tallied 57 points in 82 games. He has one more year left on his contract and will be a restricted free agent at age 25 next season. While he is the Rangers' best young center, he is also their most valuable.
He has progressed nicely as a player, but he hasn't been able to be a consistent or dominant offensive center, and that's something the Blueshirts need.
The Rangers are in a win-now mode, and they were exploited at center offensively during the Cup Final. Stepan hasn't shown he can be the true offensive No. 1 center the Rangers need, and that is why the Blueshirts should consider offering him an deal for a true No. 1 center with offensive prowess.
This is not to say they should needlessly trade him, but if they have a shot they should move him for someone who can put them over the top this year. Stepan could surely become that guy, but if a great opportunity presents itself—say Jason Spezza—they should pursue it.
That would allow the Blueshirts to re-sign Derick Brassard and his linemates for the second line, and JT Miller could slot in as the No. 3 center.
It may not be a popular move, but it is one worth making. Stepan is a great two-way center, but the Blueshirts need a legitimate No. 1 center who can make a difference and impose his will on the opposition.
Stepan does a ton of things well, but they need an elite No. 1 center in the worst way, so they should package him in a deal for one if the opportunity presents itself.
Keeping Anton Stralman should be a top priority for the Rangers for reasons outlined here, and if they are successful the Blueshirts will have their top four locked up. Kevin Klein makes $2.9 million per for the next four seasons, but that is too expensive for the bottom pairing in a salary cap league.
Teams that need defensive help would line up to add Klein because of the lack of good defenders on the free-agent market. This would allow the Blueshirts to shore up other areas, possibly adding some draft picks to their arsenal.
Moving Klein would also allow the Rangers to add a rookie defender to their lineup, which would allow the youth movement of development to continue. Klein served a purpose this past season, but moving him could be a good idea given the value he would have in this market.