The Rangers are in a unique position with the NHL’s trade deadline quickly approaching at 3 p.m. March 5. With trade rumors swirling around the team, it will be interesting to see whether they are buyers or sellers. Below is a case for each.
Reasons to buy
The Rangers are currently in sixth place in the Eastern Conference with 67 points, but they trail the third-place Lightning by just four points. After reaching the conference semifinals last season, it’s possible that the Rangers are just one piece away from making a legitimate run at the Stanley Cup. With goalie Henrik Lundqvist’s stellar play lately, the missing piece could be a big-time scorer. Rick Nash leads the team with 18 goals, but the Rangers are just 18th in the NHL — 10th in the conference — with 2.56 goals per game.
Although trades between the Rangers and Islanders are rare — the last one was in 2010 when the Rangers acquired Jyri Niemi in exchange for a sixth-round draft pick. Islanders forward Thomas Vanek could be the scorer that the Blueshirts need to make a deep playoff run. The Islanders have made it clear that they will trade Vanek because he will be a free agent at season’s end and has already turned down a multiyear contract offer to stay. Marian Gaborik has also been said to be on the trade block — he was dealt by the Rangers to the Blue Jackets at the deadline last season after falling in ex-coach John Tortorella’s doghouse — but could provide some much-needed scoring. Both he and Vanek have had multiple 40-goal seasons in their careers.
Reasons to sell
Captain Ryan Callahan and defenseman Dan Girardi both are unrestricted free agents at the end of the season. While they are a big part of what the Rangers do, there is a chance that they lose them both to free agency in July if they aren’t traded before the deadline.
The Rangers and Callahan seem far apart in contract negotiations. According to the Post, he is seeking a seven-year deal at $6.75 million per year, but the Rangers have countered with a five-year contract offer at $6 million per year.
Rumors regarding potential Callahan trades have been swirling for some time now. The most recently reported was a swap of captains — Callahan for the Lightning’s Martin St. Louis — according to multiple reports. The Lightning are unlikely to trade their top scorer (25 goals, 31 assists, 56 points), who also led the NHL in points (60) and assists (43) in the lockout-shortened 2013 season. St. Louis is signed for one more season unlike Callahan, who likely would be a rental player.
One potential fit for Callahan could be the Blues, according to ESPN. The Blues are currently tied for second in the Western Conference with 84 points and could be buyers at the deadline.
Meanwhile, not much progress is being made in contract negotiations with Girardi, either. He is seeking six years at about $5.75 million per year, according to the Post. The Rangers are trying to bring him down to five years at less money per year. The Ducks, with a league-leading 87 points, are said to be interested in acquiring Girardi to boost their defense and make a run at the Cup this year, according to Rant Sports. The Rangers could potentially get young forward prospects, which they are lacking, as part of the package.