There has been some chatter and speculation of a possible trade between the Rangers and the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks have suffered another quick exit after a dominate regular season in which they captured the President's Trophy with the NHL's best record. Rumors of change in San Jose hint that Sharks GM Doug Wilson may make players such as Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton, and Jonathan Cheechoo available for trade. The Rangers are also looking to change the makeup of their team, could the two be trading partners?
Steve Zipay recently proposed that the Rangers make a move for Jonathan Cheechoo, the former Rocket Richard winner. Since his '05-'06 campaign when he notched a league leading 56 goals, his numbers have steadily tailed off from 37 goals in '06-'07 to 23 goals in '07-'08 to 12 goals last season. Considering he just recently turned 30, it's difficult to believe that his decline is due to diminishing skills. He has been bumped around the Sharks lineup, finding himself on the 3rd line for most of last season. He fits the bill for a 'change in scenery will do ya good' type player.
The proposed trade would be Michal Rozsival for Jonathan Cheechoo. Although this trade would be entirely based on Rob Blake retiring or moving to another club, it's not such a farfetched dream as the Marleau for Drury proposal of a few weeks ago.
If Blake retires or moves to another club, Rozsival's $5 million cap hit could occupy the slot left by his departure. Rozsival could also fill the void left by Blake as the secondary puck moving defenseman on the team (Dan Boyle is the goto guy). Although the 40+ year old Rob Blake put up better numbers than Rozsival did last season, the high powered offense in San Jose would certainly provide a boost to Rozsival's stat line. With two years remaining on his contract, Rozsival isn't the kind of gamble by the Sharks that could seriously hamstring them in the future (w-a-d-e-r-e-d-d-e-n). Rangers fans are brutal on the Czech defenseman at MSG and laid back Cali might be a nice destination for him.
As for Cheechoo, he has two years and $6 million remaining on his deal. With a relatively small cap hit of $3 million per even the Rangers can fit him into their tight salary cap. Even though Cheechoo statistically has been on the decline, he's a calculated risk that has a better upside than 2 more years of Michal Rozsival. Cheechoo could do well in a new environment and with the opportunity to play alongside Scott Gomez. He fits the Rangers need of size and scoring on the wing.
But if he didn't and continued to put up poor numbers, the Rangers cleared $2 million in cap space that can be devoted to re-signing Marc Staal next summer. They also opened a spot that can be filled by Bobby Sanguinetti or Matt Gilroy. Cheechoo is a risk and right now doesn't have a whole lot of trade value, but comparatively speaking, he's cheaper than most other players on the trade market and the $2 million net cap space from the trade is a much needed bonus.