Last year we spent a lot of time wondering whether or not the Rangers should move up in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. Without a first or second round pick, the Rangers were stuck without a pick until 65th overall, then two more picks (75th and 80th) in the third round. Glen Sather and his crew (lead by Gordie Clark) then did something magical. They took Adam Tambellini with the 65th overall pick. Then they took Pavel Buchnevich with the 75th overall pick. Then they took Anthony Duclair with the 80th overall pick.
At the time, it seemed like the Rangers got three very, very good players with their three third round picks. A year later, the Rangers took one player who probably wouldn't escape the top 20 teams if they drafted again this year (Duclair), one player who probably wouldn't get past the first 40 picks (Buchnevich) and a player who I'm not sure would have lasted until 65th in Tambellini.
Basically, the Rangers did an amazing job considering they didn't have a first or a second round pick.
This year, the Rangers are in a similar position. After trading their first round pick to Tampa Bay in exchange for Martin St. Louis, the Rangers are without a pick until the second round. And since the Rangers went so deep in the postseason, that pick is 59th overall. Just seven slots ahead of where they first started picking in 2013.
There have been some screams for the Rangers to try and trade up. Is that a viable option? What assets do the Rangers have to move in order to move up? Who probably won't get moved?
Let's take a look at everything:
J.T. Miller - We're going to find out very soon about how high the Rangers are on Miller. The Rangers bought out Brad Richards already, and might be trying to fill the void he is leaving internally. If so, Miller needs to be the first name mentioned as a replacement. I outlined this in the story linked above:
It also makes some sense in terms of Miller as a player. The Rangers are still high on him, as they should be, despite Alain Vigneault's cryptic comments about him "figuring it out" earlier in the year. He had two points in four playoff games, six points in 30 NHL games and 43 points in 41 games for an awful Hartford Wolfpack team in the AHL.
Yes, Miller has work to do, but I really do think he can figure things out on the offensive side. I also really like his physicality and willingness to go to the tough areas of the ice. The problem with Miller -- much like Kreider when he was first coming up -- is his defensive game. It leaves oh so much to be desired, and if the Rangers are going to take a gamble on him he must improve this aspect of his game as soon as possible. The Rangers "third line" will probably have two of Martin St. Louis, Kreider or Carl Hagelin on it (assuming Pouliot stays and that line remains together). That's a big responsibility for Miller. Is he ready for it?
If the Rangers deem he is not ready to be trusted with such responsibility, and they don't plan on being able to find a home for him next year with the big club, doesn't it make sense to trade him? Miller's offensive ceiling alone should have a few clubs willing to part with a later first round pick if he fills a need, and maybe paired with the right part they can get into the earlier stages of the round.
Again, not saying it's entirely possible, but it might be worth a shot if the right player becomes available. *Cough Joshua Ho-Sang Cough*
Dylan McIlrath - It's worth the conversation, right? Let's suspend reality for a moment and assume the team comes to terms with Anton Stralman (forget length and dollars, this is more about actual roster space) even though that seems unlikely right now.
If Stralman signs (or if there's a replacement brought in who isn't McIlrath) where does he fit? His development was stunted by a year due to a knee injury, which definitely hurt, although it should be noted that by all accounts he did take some major strides last year in the AHL. That doesn't help if there isn't a spot for him, however. Unless the Rangers make a trade, there simply wouldn't be room for him -- and they're not keeping him on as a seventh defenseman. And even if they did make a trade the only two players who McIlrath can comfortably "replace" would be John Moore and Kevin Klein who aren't getting traded.
So if Stralman (or replacement) does come into the fold what happens with McIlrath? The Rangers are crazy high on defensive prospect Brady Skjei who is currently a star on the Minnesota blue line in the NCAA, and the thought is when he does go pro he might be able to make an impact right away. The organization signed Union captain Matt Bodie this summer as well, and he might make a push next year if there is an opening. There isn't exactly a ton of room at the top right now.
For a team who needs defensive help and wants a big, hulking defenseman, McIlrath might garner some interest. He's still young and has enough upside that he's certainly not a throwaway in a deal. And if the Rangers don't have room for him -- and more importantly don't foresee any room for him -- then maybe now is the time to move him.
Danny Kristo - The Rangers acquired Kristo in a deal last summer for Christian Thomas. The 23-year-old winger had a solid first year in the pros, scoring 25 goals and adding 18 assists for 43 points in 65 games. Some people look at that statline from someone his age and get a little worried. I understand the concern, but you really can't look over how bad the Wolf Pack were this year. That doesn't help.
The problem, however, is that Kristo just turned 24 and there's not much more time for him to make an impact. Keep in mind, however, that Kristo is an RFA this year, so trading him to another team would mean trading his rights which means he has less value than a traditional prospect.
Marc Staal - No part of me thinks this is happening. I honestly can't see Staal moving and there have been rumbled the team (along with Staal himself) have already expressed a desire to open contract extension talks up this summer. But if the Rangers were going to move a roster player in this draft, Staal -- entering the final year of his contract -- would certainly bring in a pretty big haul. Again, this most likely isn't happening.
Cam Talbot - This is another move I really don't see happening. However, Talbot's value will never be higher than it is right now. He's going to leave the Rangers next year when he becomes a UFA to go try and grab a starting role -- which is exactly what he should do. He's coming off a fabulous year where he defined himself as a player in this league -- small sample size noted.
The only problem is the Rangers don't really have a replacement for him. Now they can go grab one on the market, but probably not at Talbot's $526K cap hit. And for a team that's going to run into money issues if they try to keep last year's group together, that might be a problem.
I can't shake the feeling, however, that a team desperate for goaltending might take a flyer on Talbot and give Sather an offer he can't refuse. I don't think it's going to happen, especially since the market for goaltenders isn't exactly on fire, but Talbot has real value for the Rangers.
Draft Picks - The Rangers have one second round pick this year and two second round picks next year (the other is from Tampa Bay to conclude the Ryan Callahan trade). Two second round picks can be enough to get into the first round, but a lot of that depends on positioning. This year the Rangers are at the back of the second round, and next year's positions won't be known until the season ends. That's not much leverage on Friday.
The only way something like this works (moving a second rounder to get into the first round) is if another chip is unloaded with the draft pick.
Rick Nash - Nope.
That was long, but I thought a comprehensive list was worth the time. What are your thoughts, guys? Will the Rangers move into the first round? Can they?
The floor is yours.