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Are Smart Rentals Even Worth It?

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Buffalo Sabres v New Jersey Devils Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

It’s trade deadline season, yo. In fact, we did an entire podcast on the trade deadline possibilities last night; going over Cody Franson, Kevin Shattenkirk and our biggest rumor fears. It was good. You should listen to it. That’s why this is blue.

There was some dissent on the show as I’m sure there is within the fanbase. The question of how Jeff Gorton should move forward this trade deadline hangs over the organization like a storm cloud. Will it rain? Pour? Thunder? Pass?

The way I see it, there’s five options for Gorton and company (with my analysis in italics):

  1. Be full sellers (Not going to happen. The team is clearly a playoff team.)
  2. Be shrewd sellers (Think moving a guy like Michael Grabner for longer-term defensive help, moving guys like Brandon Pirri and Matt Puempel for assets or trying to put a package together to get rid of a Kevin Klein.)
  3. Do nothing, really (Maybe move Pirri or Puempel but outside of that, sit tight)
  4. Soft buyers (Rental like Franson)
  5. Go all in (Spending big assets to get a guy like Kevin Shattenkirk would be the smarter end of this. Spending assets on a “veteran leader” forward/defenseman who doesn’t help at all would be the worst of it.)

The question we discussed on the podcast (again, blue, listen!) is whether or not getting a rental like Franson really makes the Rangers all that much better. If he replaced a guy like Klein or Dan Girardi it would probably make a big impact, but isn’t it fair to assume he’d more than likely take minutes from someone like Brady Skjei?

Say Franson does replace Klein fully. Does it make the Rangers an instant Stanley Cup contender?

Probably not, but it does get them a hell of a lot closer. With Henrik Lundqvist returning to form and the offense healthy again, there’s reasons to be optimistic about this group creating some noise even with the defense they currently employ. Of course, that’s a big enough hole that it could sink the ship without so much as a whimper, but that reality is what it is.

I guess the question comes down to risk.

There are those who will tell you it’s not Gorton’s job to worry about the risks, that it’s his job to make this team the best they can be right now. I disagree with this assertion, simply because it’s Gorton’s job to see the big picture. He’s still going to be the general manager next year.

The Keith Yandle move didn’t work in the Rangers favor. Was it a risk worth taking? Yes. Did the Rangers do themselves a disservice with the way they handled Yandle at the end of his tenure on Broadway? Absolutely. Both of these things can exist at the same time.

Gorton should have traded Yandle at the trade deadline last year. He didn’t, opted to go all in, “upgraded” a part of the team that didn’t need help and got burned. The haul Yandle could have fetched was whittled down into a 4th and 6th round draft pick.

There are big picture ramifications there. The Rangers farm system has three legitimate prospects (one of which is being suffocated in Hartford). They do have a slew of young talent in the NHL now, but beyond that the field is barren. The Rangers might be temped to move further assets for a guy like Franson (read: a rental) but is it worth it?

Does it make the Rangers that much better? Would he even be used properly if the Rangers got him?

These are fair questions, like it or not.

Vegas will also be coming this summer. Teams have the option to trade assets (say a second round pick) to ensure Vegas doesn’t take someone (say, making them pick Oscar Lindberg over Grabner) but again, is it worth it?

If you’re going to spend assets to keep Grabner for another year, you might as well move him now at the peak of his value. Or this summer to a team who can protect him and will pay for him.

There’s a big picture here for Gorton to look at. It’s a hard question, no one is arguing that, either.

But it’s his job to make the right choices. And he’s got about a week to figure this out.