Now that it was officially announced that Sharks Head Coach Scott McLellan has stripped Patrick Marleau of the captaincy of the team I expect that rumors will begin again of Marleau being shipped out of San Jose. As is usually the case with either high-profile free agents or trade targets, the Rangers will almost assuredly be linked to the potential acquisition of Marleau. However in this case I wouldn’t put much credence in those rumors, should they crop up.
Even though the Rangers do lack a true #1 Center, the Rangers are in no position to make a deal for Marleau. Several factors would work against the possibility of making any deal with the Sharks, not the least of which is the Rangers cap situation.
Currently, the Rangers sit just short of $1.2 million below the salary cap ceiling according to www.nhlscap.com
. Of course the Rangers still have RFA Brandon Dubinsky to get under contract before the season starts. Given that the Rangers qualified him and there are few teams that seem willing at this point to sacrifice both salary cap space and draft picks for his services, it seems likely that Dubinsky will either agree to a long term deal with the Rangers or be forced to play for the salary dictated by the qualifying offer already submitted. If the Rangers are able to convince Dubinsky to agree to a long term deal they have plenty of options in terms of demoting players to the AHL to create the space necessary to fit Dubinsky under the cap so re-signing him long-term would seem to be an appealing option.
With Drury, the acquisition of Prospal, the likely re-signing of Dubinsky and the expected promotion of Artem Anisimov, the Rangers have enough solid candidates to fill the Center positions on the team. While an upgrade would be helpful there isn’t the significant cap space needed to add any salary once Dubinsky either agrees to terms or accepts his qualifying offer. Therefore any trade to acquire a player like Marleau would have to include salary headed back the other way. Given the salary cap situation of the Sharks (they sit less than $600,000 under the cap according to www.nhlscap.com
with only 9 forwards under contract) it seems unlikely that they would want to take significant salary back in a trade for Marleau.
Some have pointed to the Prospal signing as evidence that Dubinsky is unhappy with what the Rangers have offered and therefore the Rangers may move Dubinsky (and other assets) in exchange for a veteran scoring Center. I see the Prospal signing as giving Head Coach John Tortorella options with regards to his forward ranks. Prospal enjoyed some of his best seasons while playing in Tampa for Tortorella and can play both Center and the Wing.
I apologize to any Rangers fans who might have been interested in trading for Marleau but it just isn’t plausible from either the Rangers’ or the Sharks’ perspectives. Look for Sather to get Dubinsky under contract and for the Rangers to go with what they have until the players already on the roster show that they can’t hang in the NHL. If the Rangers were seriously just a top Center away from being a Stanley Cup contender then I could see them making a move like this but unfortunately that isn’t where they sit.