We've heard all about how there have been Rangers scouts camped out in Nationwide for the past month or two.
Well tonight Aaron Portzline reports on his blog that there are 3 Blue Jackets pro scouts in Pittsburgh and guess who they are playing, that' s right—the Rangers.
So what gives here? Are these teams gonna make a deal or what?
The Rangers are struggling, they are 21-19-5. They are last in their conference and just lost to the Penguins tonight 4-1. One would think its time for a shakeup.
The Jackets...well, they are starting to really come together. Gonna be tough right now for them to trade pieces of the roster but if they do, you can bet its going to be for a roster player and not picks or prospects.
So who are these teams interested in?
Lets first take a look at whom the Jackets may want.
Jagr, Shanahan, Drury, Gomez, Lundqvist, Rozsival, Avery, Straka & Staal are all guys I can't see the Rangers parting with unless your talking blockbuster in the Nash return area—that ain't happening here. Some are either high priced recent UFA signees, some are young cornerstone building blocks that the Rangers won't move.....and a guy like Jagr...well, I just don't see him being moved to a team like the Jackets.
Blair Betts, Colton Orr, Nigel Dawes, Marcel Hossa, Ryan Hollweg.....3rd/4th line guys of whom the Jackets have plenty of of. I don't see them interested in that group.
So that leaves Brandon Dubinsky, Petr Prucha, Dan Girardi, Marek Malik, Paul Mara, Jason Strudwick, Fedor Tyutin.
Malik and Mara are fairly high dollar UFAs to be. If there needed to be some salary taken on or evened out in a deal maybe the Jackets take one back in a deal. They wouldn't be the center piece but could be throw in for cap purposes. The Rangers are very close to the cap.
Strudwick is 32 year old depth defensemen who makes 500k and will be a UFA to be. Don't see the Jackets interested in him.
So that leaves Tyutin, Dubinsky, Prucha and Girardi. Tyutin is a young d-man who makes 1.25 mil averaging 20 minutes a night but is a -9. Dubinsky is a 21 year old forward with good size and plays a gritty game - he's got 14 points in 45 games and is a -5 and will make 600k next year. Prucha is a two time 30 goal scorer 25 year old who is struggling this year with only 5g, 7a in 42 games. Girardi is another young guy who is 23 years old—he's a puck moving defensemen who got 8g, 10a in 42 games and is a -10. He'll make 550k this season and will be a RFA.
Prucha is too much like a Vyborny and I don't see him being the type of guy the Jackets would want to add. Tyutin is a possibility but I think they much rather have a guy like Girardi who could give the Jackets a much needed offensive pop from the blueline. Then there is Dubinsky who is the exact kind of player the Jackets want to build a team with.
If I were a betting man the Jackets want either Girardi or Dubinsky with an outside chance at Tyutin or Prucha.
From a Rangers perspective who would they want?
Nash, Zherdev, Leclaire, Boll, Methot, Brassard, Modin, Russell not going anywhere unless you talking a guy like Staal coming back and that ain't happening. Prospects like Mason, Legein and Voracek are staying put as well. I would also throw Norrena in there, the Jackets aren't trading their goaltenders—Norrena is cap friendly and quite frankly we need him. Modin has an NTC and Hitch loves this guy.
Klesla is the one young guy in this group that I could possibly see the Jackets consider in a trade. Klesla is arguably playing the best hockey of his career right now and logging some huge minutes. He's cap friendly, young but will never quite reach that top 2 defensemen everyone hoped he'd become when he was drafted. If the Jackets want a Girardi or Dubinsky then Klesla may become expendable.
UFAs to be Fedorov, Foote, Peca, Hejda, Hainsey. The Rangers could be interested but I don't think they are looking for the big names—not yet—they have plenty of those. I don't think the Jackets are ready to deal any of those guys quite yet considering where they are in the playoff picture and how far we are out in terms of the deadline. They may also want to resign some of these guys. The one name that keeps popping up is Vyborny. He would seem like a good candidate but I don't think he's the kind of shakeup the Rangers need but I won't rule him out.
Shelley? Naw, they have their version in Colton Orr.
Brule or Lindstrom? Could be part of the deal but I don't think they would be the centerpiece of what the Rangers would be looking for. Just not proven enough for what I think the Rangers want.
Now to the workers. Chimera, Fritsche, Malhotra, Glencross, Tollefsen, Westcott. I don't think anyone wants Westcott at this point with his healthy problems. I think the Jackets want to resign Chimera so I'd rule him out. That leaves Fritsche, Manny, Glencross and Tollefsen. If the Rangers want some workers then this is the group I think they are looking at.
So Klelsa, Vyborny, Fritsche, Tollefsen, Malhotra. That's my guess.
Can a deal for Girardi, Dubinsky, Prucha or Tyutin be made for guys like Klesla, Vyborny, Fritsche, Tollefsen or Malhotra. I'd think so but I guess we'll just have to wait and see.
I'm convinced though those are the kinds of players we are talking about there. Not the big blockbuster names like Drury, Staal, Zherdev, Russell, etc, etc.
As Howson said during the first intermission of the Nashville game, things are really going to start heating up here soon and if the deal makes sense the Jackets will do it. He also hinted that perhaps the checkbook has been opened up a bit so keep that in mind. The Jackets could actually be sellers and buyers at the deadline.
Also a good read over on CNNSI.com
about the Jackets run this season. Enjoy!