Elliotte Friedman did a 30 Thoughts column late Tuesday night to give some final thoughts before the NHL Expansion Draft came down the home stretch; shedding some much-needed light on all the moving pieces of the current NHL landscape.
I thought the Rangers would do something to protect Antti Raanta, but the information does not point in that direction.
Before the roster freeze went into effect last weekend, there were rumors that multiple teams had interest in Raanta — specifically the Calgary Flames. Those rumors burned hot and heavy for a day or so, but whatever deal was on the table (or if it was only talks that got blown up to true rumors) died when Calgary moved assets to acquire Mike Smith from Arizona to mind their nets.
That move churned out new rumors about how Arizona was now looking for a starting goaltender (see how this all webs out?) and Raanta’s name was again thrown into the fold. From Friedman (also in the story linked above) Gorton was asking high for Raanta:
The Rangers asked a high price for Raanta in the last few days. He did a great job for them, and the organization feels Henrik Lundqvist benefited from the rest provided during the season.
Some believed Jeff Gorton was going to try and swing a deal with Las Vegas to protect the prime four assets the Rangers have left in the open: Michael Grabner, Jesper Fast, Oscar Lindberg, and of course Raanta. I voiced a warning that with the prices teams were paying to keep Vegas off their assets (the Columbus deal is an enormous red flag for how much it was going to cost) that Gorton and company were better off just swallowing the loss and moving on. Yes, losing Raanta who could have been moved for true assets — and could still be if he’s not selected — hurts, but with the Benoit Allaire School Of Quality Goaltender Creation you’d have to assume there’s anothe project that be risen to the backup role.
That so many talking heads are talking about Raanta when it comes to protection, it lends to the ideology that Raanta is the primary target for Vegas. I truly believe (my speculation) that it’s between Raanta and Lindberg.
Furthermore, by protecting Nick Holden the Rangers have sort of removed any chance of actually dealing with Vegas. Kevin Klein is probably retiring and there’s not benefit for Vegas to select him for cap savings; that idea makes no sense on any level for Vegas. They don’t need to save money and to get them to pass up on getting anything from the Rangers would be remarkably expensive.
Remember, you’re not cutting a deal with Vegas to just get a lesser player (like Holden would have been). You’re paying Vegas to PASS UP on another player. In this case a potential starting goalie, a 27-goal scorer on a fantastic contract, or two young, dependable forwards with upside. It’s going to cost a lot.
For a Rangers team with so little picks/true prospects as it is, this is the smartest move.