Rangers Analysis: Why The Rangers Shouldn't Try To Trade For Brad Richards

I have been standing on my tall soap box (blog box?) for the past few weeks now, saying that the Rangers General Manager Glen Sather should only go after younger players with upside this trade deadline. I've stressed that picks, prospects and youth already integrated into the team are not to be touched.

But there is one rumor swirling around that has me re-thinking my trade deadline approach.

And no, it's not for Brad Richards. In fact, I don't think the Rangers should pursue Richards at all, aside from free agency. But I'll get to that later. First, the rumor (which, for full disclosure, is completely unconfirmed) that had me changing my tune:

The Colorado Avalanche would send center Paul Stastny to the New York Rangers for Artem Anisimov, Michael Del Zotto and this year's first-round pick.

With the trade deadline rapidly approaching, rumors are going to be running rampant. Most of them can be tossed aside with the simple "it's too good to be true" or "it doesn't even remotely makes sense" tests. You will see the most examples of the latter originating from a site which will go nameless here. You know what I'm talking about.

But this Stastny rumor actually makes sense for both sides involved.

And if you join me after the jump, I will explain why.

Let's start with why the Rangers shouldn't try to trade for Richards.

Now that Joe Nieuwendyk has reportedly told Sather that the asking price for Brad Richards was Derek Stepan, Brandon Dubinsky and Marc Staal, it's obvious that the Dallas Stars will not be a trading partner. And at the end of the day, why go after Richards now?

He's having post-concussion symptoms, but more importantly he will be a free agent in July. A period where the Rangers can acquire his services for free, rather than for a price so high that it's kind of embarrassing on Nieuwendyk's part that he even asked for it.

But let's say for a second that Sather does pull the trigger, it would be a very dangerous move. Forget the king's ransom that will go the other way (even when Dallas is being realistic a lot will have to go their way to pull off the deal) that's not the risky part. The risky part is re-signing Richards once he gets here.

Sure, there are multiple sources out there who say that he wants to play in New York, that he and John Tortorella have maintained a great relationship (that's a fact not speculation) and that the Rangers are supposedly on his list of places he's willing to be traded to.

But when Glen Sather sits down with him and his agent to talk turkey there is a huge hurdle to jump over. The Rangers absolutely can't lose him to free agency. Richards knows it, and Sather knows it. And the bigger issue is his salary demands will already be high.

Let me make something clear: Richards will not be signing on with any team for $5 million a year. It's not going to happen. Richards is on pace for 86 points (33 goals) in 77 games (if he stays healthy), and don't think that this concussion "speed bump" will lower the offers.

So when Richards lays down what he wants on the table, he will be doing it with all of the leverage. He will know that no matter Sather says, or what negotiation tactics he will use, that it would be suicidal to let him walk out the door and for Sather to have traded a king's ransom for a rental.

Now if the Rangers wait till free agency, it's an entirely different story. Richards would have no leverage, and if his asking price was astonishingly high the Rangers can walk away from the table scot-free.

The Stastny deal is a different story.

Yes, the Rangers would be trading away everything I've been telling them not to, but the difference is what they would get back in return. Stastny is already an established NHL-caliber center who just turned 25-years-old in December. He's had three 70+ point seasons in his career, and he plays a similar game to Richards. He has a great shot, he can score but it's his vision and passing skills that take the cake.

Three times in his four year career  (not counting this season) he has had 47 or more assists. Twice he's had 50 more more assists, including a career-high 59 of them last year. He had 28 goals (also a career high) in 2006-2007 (his rookie year) and has hit the 20-goal mark in three of his four completes seasons. He has 18 this year, so he's likely to hit the mark again.

Of course, it would not be easy to see Anisimov or Del Zotto walk out the door. Anisimov really seems to be learning the NHL and seems primed for a breakout year next season. Del Zotto, despite his struggles this year, is still one of the brightest prospects the Rangers have, and has already proven that he can be a difference maker. And the first-round pick is an obvious loss, but this appears to be a weaker draft, and the Rangers do have a group of second rounders they can use to try and get back into the first round if they so desire.

Hopefully, if the Rangers do as well as they have shown they can, the pick wouldn't be that high anyway.