Yesterday afternoon was relativity quiet in Rangerstown. The Rangers were coming off an excellent five-goal effort in a comeback win over the Bruins, and people were generally feeling pretty well.
Initial reactions weren’t great (especially on the Podcast Thursday night), nor should they have been. The Rangers’ history of really bad asset management during the Alain Vigneault years continued -- although let’s be honest, it wasn’t great under John Tortorella or Tom Renney, either.
The Rangers will find out at Noon today if they’re going to lose McIlrath to another team for nothing, and even if he does get sent down to Hartford he will almost certainly not play the required 42 NHL games to keep him a RFA next year — which means he’ll be leaving this summer for nothing anyway. I suppose the Rangers could try to trade him while he’s in the AHL, but that had to be the first option and there weren’t any takers.
There’s a lot of questions about the situation. Mainly: Why didn’t the Rangers give McIlrath a real shot last year or this year — especially when Dan Girardi was playing hurt? Putting that aside, though, the bigger question right now is just that: Why do this right now?
During the win over the Bruins the Rangers lost Josh Jooris to what was later learned to be a separated shoulder. As a result, Jooris was put on IR and will be out for around a month. That move 1) saves cap space until he returns and 2) opens up a roster spot. So there was no need for an immediate move with McIlrath.
Perhaps there is a trade in the works here. Anaheim just locked up their star defenseman Hampus Lindholm to a six-year, $5.25-million per deal. With their own salary cap issues (they have four player on IR) there has to be something to alleviate that cap situation. The Rangers have been watching the Ducks extensively and it makes sense the two sides might be talking. The Ducks have too many defenseman and the Rangers have too many forwards.
The problem? Cam Fowler is the guy who is reading his name at the bottom of trade talk tickers, and he’s not much of an upgrade over what the Rangers have. In fact, I would argue Adam Clendening is a better option all around (especially financially) than Fowler would be.
Sami Vatanen? That’s a different story, but his name hasn’t been leaked at all.
Larry Brooks stoked some flames back into the Jacob Trouba fire with this little tweet:
Complication re immediate move on McIlrath is if NYR management believes he could be component of trade package for, say, Trouba.— Larry Brooks (@NYP_Brooksie) October 26, 2016
But clearly that wasn’t the case, since McIlrath is currently floating in the ether.
If a move is happening it would have to be coming soon. The Ducks don’t have time to screw around and if the Rangers are involved they should be pretty deep in talks already. The Rangers can take on more money than you’d think -- they will have just over $3-million in cap space once McIlrath is claimed/clears waivers — to absorb in a move, as well. That doesn’t even count the money going the other way. Since we’ve been speculating J.T. Miller, that’s another $2.75-million added there. So Trouba does make financial sense, for example, if it happened.
Do you trust the Rangers to do the right thing on this? Well, on one hand they’ve already done the wrong thing by killing McIlrath’s trade value to the point where they had to waive him. It’s borderline inexcusable the team is at this point with him. It would be one thing if there were talented, effective defenseman in front of him but that’s not the case.
And now we’re here: Once again questioning an organization that’s done so much right on the front end of the ice and so much wrong on the back end of it. With an opportunity you hope they’d put those questions to bed with a savvy move here.
Or they’d just open the door for more questions.