Examining some trade rumors

With the trade rumor mill starting to gear up, or in some cases already in full swing, I thought it would be interesting look at some of the bigger name trade targets that have been bantered back in forth from respected NHL analysts and throughout the blogosphere.  3 of the more prominent names that have been mentioned in recent days and months are Brad Richards (C, Dallas Stars), Jarome Iginla (RW, Calgary Flames) and Tomas Kaberle (D, Toronto Maple Leafs).  There are obviously varying levels of veracity when it comes to trade rumors.  Often times prominent players on struggling teams whether it's in the standings or financially constrained franchises are mentioned as being on the trading block simply because it appears to make sense that struggling teams would put their best assets on the market.  For the purpose of this post, let's ignore whether these rumors have any shred of truthfulness to them.  Let's also ignore whether the players have No Trade or No Movement clauses; for the record Richards has a NTC, Iginla has a NMC, Kaberle has a limited/conditional NTC.  Not only do I want to examine the players themselves, but I will also look at a couple prominent transactions that have taken place in recent years in order to provide a frame of reference for what it would take to execute these deals.  Lastly, I also want to put such hypothetical deals in the context of how they would affect the Rangers if Sather were to pull the trigger on any of them.    More after the jump:

* Stats are from hockey-reference ** Contract info is from capgeek  

Brad Richards, C, Dallas Stars Age: 30

Selected 3rd round, 64th overall in 1998 NHL Entry Draft By Tampa Lightning.

Contract Status: Final year of contract at $7.8M cap hit.  Due to be UFA.

Career Highlights: Stanley Cup winner with Tampa in 2004.  Conn Smythe Award Winner 2004. 

"Top 10" in the League Stats Seasons (completed seasons only, # of times): Assists (4), Points (2), PPG (1), SHG (1), Shots (1)

Comments: After 4 straight 70+ point seasons from 02-03 through 06-07, Richards saw his production decline a bit the following two years with 08-09 being a career low in both games played and points.  During that time he was traded from Tampa to Dallas with an impending salary cap squeeze as the primary culprit.  Richards then rebounded in 09-10 to put up 91 points while ranking 4th in the league in assists with 67.  Often overlooked among the elite playmakers of the league and sometimes on his own team, Richards has been fairly dependable throughout his career.  He might not be a household name per se, but he will be a highly sought after player should he hit free agency this summer.        

Jarome Iginla, RW, Calgary Flames Age: 33

Selected 1st round, 11th overall in 1995 Entry Draft By Dallas Stars

Contract Status: 2 more years at $7.0M cap hit.  Due to be UFA after 2012-13.

Career Highlights: Art Ross Trophy 01-02, Maurice Richard Trophy 01-02, Ted Lindsay Award 01-02, King Clancy Trophy 03-04, Maurice Richard Trophy 03-04, 3 time NHL First Team All-Star

"Top 10" in the League Stats Seasons (completed seasons only, # of times): Goals (3), Assists (1), Points (3), Plus/Minus (2), PPG (2), SHG (2), GWG (3), Shots (4)

Comments: The heart and soul, face of the franchise, cornerstone and long serving captain of the Calgary Flames seemingly ever since he was traded for Joe Nieuwendyk.  Regarded as one of, if not the best leader in the league by fans and fellow players there are very few players that are identified with a single team as much as Iginla.  Their best skater for many years, he was a major reason for the Flames coming within 1 win of 03-04 Stanley Cup.  Despite a rugged and often times physical style of play, he has proven to be remarkably durable having only missed 10 games in a season just twice at age 20 and age 29.  He has scored at least 28 goals every season since 98-99 and has two 50 goal seasons to his credit.  One of the most complete players of his generation.   

Tomas Kaberle Age: 32

Selected 8th round, 204th overall in 1996 NHL Entry Draft by Toronto Maple Leafs

Contract Status: Final year of contract at $4.25 cap hit.  Due to be UFA

Career Highlights: 4 NHL All-Star Games "Top 10" in the League Stats Seasons (completed seasons only, # of times): I didn't get a good breakout from H-R about where his seasons have ranked amongst D. He was 10th in the league in assists in 05-06.  

Comments: Anchor and PP QB of the Maple Leafs blueline for what seems like forever.  Kaberle has averaged at least 23 minutes a night since 99-00.  He's had 7 seasons of at least 40 points and had 3 straight 50+ point seasons from 05-06 through 07-08.  A relative bright spot on a franchise that has long underperformed or have been among the NHL's weakest.  He has remained in Toronto his entire career despite the lack of team success.  He also refused to waive his NTC when previously asked.   

Now given the high quality of these players, it is not a stretch to assume that their current teams would ask for quite a bit in return should they become available via trade.  Let's look at two high profile trades that took place in recent years and see what assets were involved in order to strike a deal.   

Last year's biggest trade took place before the deadline when the Devils acquired impending UFA Ilya Kovalchuk who had rejected an 8 figure deal from his original team the Atlanta Thrashers.  With several high scoring seasons, Kovalchuk was seen as the jewel of the upcoming free agent class.  The Devils acquired Kovalchuk along with Anssi Salmela and the Thrashers 2nd round pick in the 2010 draft in exchange for D Johnny Oduya, F Niclas Bergfors, prospect F Patrice Cormier and the Devils 1st and 2nd round choices in the 2010 draft.  Essentially, the Devils traded a 2nd pair D, a former 1st round pick, a near-NHL ready prospect and 2 high draft picks for Kovalchuk and a 3rd pair D.  At the time it was far from a guarantee that Kovalchuk was going to re-sign with the Devils as it appeared he was very intent on testing the free agent market.  We all know the ensuing saga with his current contract, so not much needs to be said about that.   

Atlanta was involved in another high profile impending UFA trade a few years before that when they sent Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis to the Penguins in exchange for Angelo Esposito, Colby Armstrong and shoot out artist Erik Christensen and the Penguins 1st round pick in the 2008 draft.  While Hossa did not necessarily carry the buzz that Kovalchuk did for the Devils, it was a bold move to acquire a player who's playoff performances had been questioned and was going to be on the open market.  Nevertheless the Penguins ended up sending a former 1st round pick in Esposito, a pair of 3rd liners and a 1st round pick in that year's upcoming draft for Hossa and player who's talents dictate 3rd line minutes but given that the Penguins have invested most of their salaries everywhere else but on the wing, Dupuis usually rides shotgun with Sidney Crosby.   

So with those 3 aforementioned players in mind and the 2 trades to use as reference, what would it take for the Rangers to add one of Richards, Iginla and Kaberle?  For the record, I'm against adding any of them because I'd rather see Rangers further implement the youth movement for at least another season if not two. 

Again, let's ignore whether the Rangers should do these trades and focus on what they would probably have to yield in order to make one of them happen.  It seems that very productive 1st line forwards or 1st pair defensemen are going to cost a pretty steep package.  That package includes 1 or 2 established NHL players such as a top 9 forward or top 4 defenseman as well as a high ceiling or NHL-ready prospect (usually a former 1st or 2nd round pick) as well as a 1st round pick.  Thus, for the Rangers I think they would have to look at giving up some combination of Anisimov, Stepan, Callahan, Dubinsky, Del Zotto from the established NHL player group, Kreider, McDonagh and McIlrath from the high ceiling/near NHL group and a 1st round pick.  Now I understand that in some cases salary has to be moved in order to make sure both teams can fit this deal under the cap.  So there might be players such as Rozsival or Frolov involved, but they will not be the centerpiece of the Rangers package.  Thus, when I see proposals of Frolov/Christensen/Gilroy/Rozsival and draft picks for the likes of Richards or Iginla I would hope that looking at previous deals involving players of similar magnitudes helps put into context how much more would be required to bring any of those guys to MSG.

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