Of late I have tried posting blogs that discuss more than just Ranger game recaps and previews. The reason for this is obvious; Jan Levine already does such a great job doing that and most of us watch the games anyhow so what’s the point in me writing up another game analysis. It’s especially tough, when the team is losing, to rehash what went wrong or what needs to be done better. As such, I’ve decided to focus on hypothetical solutions for this year’s team or looking at this upcoming season with my posts on the Rangers.
I hope by doing this to generate more interesting topics for discussion on the site. Some of what I may propose or suggest may be done solely for the purpose of motivating interesting discussions amongst us Rangers’ fans. Please feel free to hit me up in the comments sections with any seemingly wild or crazy trade conjecture or solutions; that’s exactly what I plan to do.
So today I am going to look at the possibility of dealing disappointing and overpaid defenseman Michael Rozsival. I’ve seen this so often suggested on Rangers’ posts but it isn’t as easy as picking up the phone and making a call. Just because you make a player available to any taker doesn’t mean a trade will be executed.
First of all, a team has to be interested in the player, in this case Rozsival. Secondly, that team needs to either have the cap space available to take on Rozsival or they need to move enough salary back in order to accommodate Rozsival’s cap hit. Third, the return the other team offers to the Rangers needs to be of enough quality to interest the Rangers unless the Blue Shirts just want to dump salary. In that case a low round draft choice or a minor league non-prospect could be enough.
I’ve taken a look around the NHL to find the potential trade partners for the Rangers by utilizing the above-mentioned criteria. I’ve found 3 possible matches. Now I’ll look at what the Rangers might be able to do in respect to dealing Rozsival.
Columbus Blue Jackets – The Jackets, who are coming off of their first playoff berth last season, were rumored to have been in the market for a right-hand shooting defenseman since this past off-season. The Jackets did add Anton Stralman via trade just before the season started and he has 13 points in 19 games to date. But the Blue Jackets are still dressing Marc Methot, who is sucking up 19:45 worth of ice time per game. Would Rozsival be considered an upgrade over Marc Methot?
The Jackets are only 10th in the West in goals scored with 65 and are a -7 in goal differential (72 goals allowed). It is unlikely that the Jackets would be willing to give up a scoring line forward (which the Rangers could certainly use) unless the Rangers overpaid; especially considering the Jackets would be assuming the remaining 2+ years of Rozsival’s deal at $5 million per.
The Jackets do have over $9 million in cap space but I can’t see them dealing a scoring forward for a guy like Rozsival unless the deal was expanded. It might (and I emphasize might) be plausible that a Rozsival/Higgins for Huselius/Methot deal might work. However, given that Huselius is the 2nd leading scorer on the Jackets (16 points in 17 contests), Columbus would have to be very sure that Rozsival would improve their D significantly and that Higgins would contribute a whole lot more than what he has offensively on Manhattan.
My take: I find a potential deal with Columbus, therefore, highly unlikely.
Dallas Stars – The Stars currently dress a blue line corps of; Stephane Robidas, Matt Niskanen, Karlis Skrastins, Trevor Daley, Mark Fistric, and Nicklas Grossman. Certainly nothing there to write home about, so it stands to reason that the Stars may be in a position to look at a guy like Rozsival.
The Stars also have more than $6 million of cap space available but with owner Tom Hicks’ financial problems lingering, Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk may not have much money available to improve his roster. Given that possibility, it seems reasonable that the Rangers would have to take money back. An interesting idea might revolve around a deal of Rozsival for LW Fabian Brunnstrom and D Karlis Skrastins.
Brunnstrom is a great skater and was a highly sought after FA from Sweden before last season. He has lost his spot on a scoring line to fellow youngsters Jamie Benn and James Neal after recording 17 goals in only 55 games last year. For him to be effective, Brunnstrom needs to be skating on a scoring line. He could provide a scoring boost to the Rangers while not subtracting much from the Stars offensive attack. Skrastins would be a throw in to make the money work better and also give the Rangers another defenseman since they are only carrying 6 as it is.
My take: This idea has potential. Brunnstrom might need a change of scenery and his speed fits in with Sather’s and Tortorella’s fondness for attacking offensively. He needs to ramp up his defensive play though. Dallas might be able to get better offers elsewhere so if this idea is intriguing to the Blue Shirts then they may need to include a prospect or draft choice(s) in order to better other offers.
Nashville Predators – This is an intriguing idea to me as the Preds have several pieces that I would find appealing. Right now, Nashville is one of the lowest scoring teams in the NHL but they’ve always found ways to be competitive on the back of defense and goaltending. They’ve also struggled with injuries on the blue line so could possibly be interested in adding a vet to shore up their defense corps.
A couple of the names that intrigue me the most are RW J.P. Dumont and D Dan Hamhuis. Now after pointing out how much the Preds rely on defense why would I suggest that Dan Hamuis, one of their better young defenders, be included in a trade? Hamhuis will be a UFA this summer and it may not be possible to keep him from signing elsewhere. Trading him now would give the Preds a chance to recoup some value for him now.
Dumont is leading the Predators in scoring with 15 points but only has 3 goals. He is also under contract for this season and two more at $4 million per. That might be a commitment that the Preds would like to get out from under. A trade involving Hamhuis and Dumont for Rozsival would clear $1 million off of this year’s cap.
Naturally the Preds would ask for more than just Rozsival for one of their best forwards and a top 4 defenseman so what else would the Rangers have to include? Probably one of their better, young forwards like Enver Lisin (probably not), Artem Anisimov (maybe) or Evgeni Grachev (hope not) or another good, young player plus a draft pick would have to be included just to get Preds GM Dave Poile’s attention.
My take: I would like to pursue this but I’m not sure what the Predators frame of mind is.
Of all of the above mentioned options, I find the Dallas idea the best. Of course all of this is conjecture on my part. To my knowledge, none of these deals has been either proposed or entertained by any of these parties. Hit the comments section with your thoughts on these ideas or your own. Please try to keep them reasonable and well thought out.