BUFFALO NY - DECEMBER 28: Kyle Palmieri #23 Chris Kreider #19 and Charlie Coyle #3 of the United States celebrate Palmieri's first of two goals against Slovakia during the 2011 IIHF World U20 Championship game between the United States and Slovakia on December 28 2010 in Buffalo New York. The United States won 6-1. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Ever since the New York Rangers took care of their five restricted free agents and the year-long quest to obtain coveted free agent Brad Richards, fans eyes have hungrily turned towards the potential of adding another elite winger to the squad. On paper the idea sounds great, getting another top-flight talent to add to an already lethal Marian Gaborik-Richards line.
But in reality, a move makes little sense for a plethora of reasons.
We'll start with the money aspect, which is the most glaring problem. Currently the Rangers have just a hair over $700,000 in cap space, not nearly enough money for the type of contract an elite winger would possess. That's not even enough space to fit both Tim Erixon and Michael Del Zotto under the cap, like we discussed yesterday.
The only way the Rangers would be able to acquire such a talent is if they traded for one, and relieved some of their higher paid players in the deal. Which brings me to my next point: The price.
You don't need me to tell you that elite wingers don't just grow on trees. They're generally drafted, groomed and see most of their prime with one team. Some of the obvious exceptions are Gaborik, Dany Heatley and Marian Hossa. But, typically, top-flight wingers don't hit free agency until they are around 30-years-old. So the only way the Rangers could get one is to acquire him via trade.
Join me after the jump for more.
The Rangers currently have one of the richest pipelines in the NHL. Thus, they can technically get any elite winger who happens to be on the market. Fortunately, the Rangers aren't willing to part with many of the pieces it would cost to get another superstar. Are you willing to part with the likes of Christian Thomas, Derek Stepan, Chris Kreider, Tim Erixon, Michael Del Zotto or Artem Anisimov (just to name a few)?
You shouldn't be. In the end, it's not worth it unless it's for a player like Steven Stamkos (who isn't going anywhere).
Incidentally, the prospects play a big role in this debate as well. Not only do you not want to trade them, you need to keep space for them. If the Rangers brought in another elite winger, he would be taking up a roster spot from a prospect. Although Thomas is a long shot to make the team out of camp this year, next him both him and Kreider can find themselves starting the year with the big club.
Assuming you don't lose the two via trade, do you really want them to have to wait for a chance to make the team because their position is filled by an aging winger? Both Kreider and Thomas have game-breaker potential, something you would be trading for to get right now instead of just waiting a year or two to have it grow organically.
The last point is a strange one to make, considering the problems the Rangers have had with it the past two years. But currently, scoring is not a concern for the Rangers this upcoming season.
Richards figured to drop around 70 points (I'm being conservative) and is expected to help get Gaborik back to the 40-goal plateau. Anisimov and Stepan are expected to make jumps in production, as are Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan (although to a lesser degree than the other two). Brian Boyle is expected to contribute another 20 goals (not unreasonable) and, believe it or not, Mike Rupp can contribute a few goals as well.
Add that into a more potent power play (thanks to Richards) and a better rounded top-three lines (thanks to Richards) and scoring shouldn't be a problem.
So it just doesn't make sense to give up assets for something that doesn't need to be fixed. Especially when those assets are just a year away in some cases, and will help add to the offense. So I preach for you to be patient, good things are on the horizon for both next year and the future after that.