Glen Sather...yet again...has totally changed the Rangers roster, from top to bottom. We have the toughest coach since the iconic Mike Keenan. The two best penalty killers on possibly the best penalty killing team are gone. Our free agent prize from two years back, Scott Gomez, was happily shipped up north.
Added to an anemic-like goal scoring team was quite possibly the most exciting Slokak ever. We picked up a few big ifs, like Tyler Arnason, Brian Boyle, and Enver Lisin. Our most exciting winger from last year is gone, and probably off to Russia. To me, none of these though are our biggest issue.
Without a doubt, our blueline is where questions remain. We are still, so far at least, left with two of the most questionable free agent acquisitions, being Michal Roszival and Wade Redden. Now, prior to last season, I have been a fan of Roszival's. He's shown me the potential to be a solid offensive defenseman.
Wade Redden on the other hand, has been a bust since he's been on Broadway. Because of that, Redden is unmovable (especially at $8 million per), but Roszival might be trade bait. At $6.5 million a year, for a No. 2 or 3 blueliner, he might be a solid option.
Normally, I'm a guy who believes that a team must have players who can get the puck to their forwards. The Rangers are stocked with youth who can almost certainly do that. Both Michael Del Zotto and Bobby Sanguinetti are billed as exceptionally skilled offensive defenseman.
I truly do not believe that while getting third pairing minutes, either one of them can come close to their potential. For them to get the minutes, the guys playing those minutes have to be shipped.
The Rangers also lack that tough blueliner to help play in the harder areas. Dan Girardi and Marc Staal are solid players, but they need some help. Interestingly enough, a guy who himself has a ridiculously bloated contract, Jeff Finger, might truly be the guy the Rangers should look at.
Finger is nothing more than a solid, team first, defensive defenseman. Will he man the point on the power play? No. Will he throw up that breakaway pass and hit the open man? No chance. However, will he block shots? Yes. Will he help to clear the crease? Absolutely.
These are skills that we lack, and truly need. In Toronto, with the acquisitions of Mike Komisarek and Francois Beauchemin, Finger becomes expendable, and with only Tomas Kaberle as a top notch offensive blueliner, they could use another puck mover.
However, I really am not sure that we need anyone Toronto has to offer. We could use another solid piece up front though. Players like Prospal and Kotalik are iffy to say the least. At worst, Prospal's gone in a year if he puts up a duplicate of last season. Are players like Gratchev, Stepan, and Anisimov guarantees to succeed? Who knows.
I do know of one forward who has the ability to play all three positions, and is one of the most dynamic goal scorers in the game, and is definitely available. This is Phil Kessel.
Now, what do the Bruins need, to give up a player like Phil Kessel? They certainly want a puck moving defenseman; they almost gave up Kessel for Kaberle during the Entry Draft. Now however, they'd want a little more. This is what I propose:
Rangers trade Michal Roszival, Artem Anisimov, Ryan McDonagh, and a second round pick.
Bruins trade Phil Kessel and Byron Bitz
Toronto trades Ian White and Jeff Finger
Rangers acquire Phil Kessel and Jeff Finger
Bruins acquire Ian White, Artem Anisimov, and Ryan McDonagh
Toronto acquires Michal Roszival, Byron Bitz, and the Rangers' second round pick.
The Rangers here are trading a lot of youth. However...when have they not? Also, have they ever had the depth of prospects they boast today? I don't believe so. I still think that they have plenty of youth going forward.
The Rangers traded an extra offensive defenseman that I don't believe they need with the prospects they have. Sanguinetti and/or Del Zotto will fill the void.
They also traded prospect McDonagh, who by all accounts, was acquired to be part of a Dany Heatley deal that since hasn't come to fruition. They are also trading from an area of depth, that being defense. They acquire the defensive stalwart they need in Finger, while adding that top six guarantee of a monster, to line up with Gaborik for the next decade.
This move also allows a guy like Chris Drury to go down to the third line, grinding it out where he belongs. If Dubinsky falters also for any reason, Kessel's right there to push him. Sad to lose Anisimov, but we trade a possible second line center, for a definite 2nd line center. I'll do it.
The Bruins here trade their salary problem in Kessel, for a probable second line center, a very interesting player in Ian White (who can be a great quarterback on defense, or a point producing forward up front), and an incredibly solid prospect in McDonagh.
In essence, they traded a second line center and a player who was a healthy scratch, for a top blueline prospect, a top forward prospect, and a player who can in October, play basically any position.
With a healthy Patrice Bergeron, and a continuing emerging Blake Wheeler, they might actually see their offensive numbers go up. And...they save some serious cash. Kessel wanted near $5 million, and all three players they acquired make under a million. They could even go out and sign another free agent if necessary.
Toronto, during this move, takes in a small amount of money, but also continues to build to the future. They are dealing two blueliners here, but with a guy like Frogren ready for a full time role, they can afford to do so.
Roszival and Kaberle is a very solid second and first powerplay quarterback option. Mike Van Ryn is a good third option. Add Beauchemin, Exelby, and Komisarek, and that is one balanced blueline.
Byron Bitz is a PERFECT Brian Burke kind of player...incredibly large, rugged, and willing to pay the price. He continues that trend. The second rounder only again, helps Toronto rebuild.
Roszival adds the dimension they truly lack, while trading two defenseman, who in all honestly, might have trouble cracking the stacked blueline Burke has masterfully put together. This is the icing on the cake.
Considering I bleed Ranger blue, here is what I believe the Ranger lineup should be, if this actually went down, in September:
Avery Dubinsky Gaborik
Prospal Kessel Callahan
Kotalik Drury Higgins
Brashear Boyle Arnason (extras: Lisin, Byers, Voros)
Sanguinetti Potter (extras: Sauer, Heikkinen, Gilroy)
Not exactly Detroit yet, but a solid lineup nonetheless. A lot grittier than last year, for sure. Up front, Stepan, Ryan Bourque and Chris Kreider all impressed at the US hockey tryouts, while Dale Weise and Max Campell appear to have been solid picks.
Hopefully again with a core like Dubinsky, Kessel, Gaborik, and Callahan, we're solid for the next few seasons. If any of the top six falter, Lisin seems ready to step in. Major steps from the late 1990s, wouldn't you say?
On the blueline, again, we are stacked. Potter and Sauer could be good stay at home players for the future, while Sangs, and Gilroy help sooner rather than later. If they produce, and if God exists, Redden might be moved next summer, helping Del Zotto move up from Hartford.
However, with the way the defense has been crafted, Redden has the No. 1 spot to lose. And if he does...there are plenty of guys who seem to be ready to step in and kick him out.