The Rangers First Move Will Say A Lot About Their Direction
Re-brand. Re-tool. Re-build. Re-adjust.
This space has been filled with an ocean of digital ink talking about the potential moves the Rangers might be making this summer. We've covered everything from a potential Henrik Lundqvist trade conversation to how the Rangers will be renovating their prospect pool this summer in addition to whatever it is they're going to be doing.
Re-build or re-tool? Hockey Stat Miner is in the middle of a multi-part series of articles (read part one, part two, and part three here) about this very question.
We've dissected the trade value of Rick Nash. We've talked about the impact trading him would have on this team.
Hell, we've even talked about potentially moving on from guys like Ryan McDonagh or maybe even Derek Stepan.
Here's what we do know: The Rangers are going to do things this summer. Here's what we don't know: What they're going to do.
I'm of the belief the Rangers will not be rebuilding until Lundqvist is no longer at his elite level or is no longer on the team. Since he appears to be one of the untouchables this year (not a wrong move under any circumstances), a full rebuild is unlikely. (Although keeping the dead weight and moving on from younger, better players would be a re-build even if the Rangers didn't intend on doing it. Thank the Hockey Gods the Rangers have their 1st round pick next year.)
I've always maintained -- even as this ship began sinking -- the young core of this team was a solid enough foundation to build on. The Rangers don't have to move on from the heartbeat of this team, they need to move on from the extremities that are utilizing too much of that pumping blood for too little output. Getting rid of dead weight contracts to keep all the RFAs, Viktor Stalberg (if the price is right) and Keith Yandle would help push open the Rangers' Stanley Cup window.
But there's a plethora of ways the Rangers can go about this.
Do they move McDonagh to Edmonton for the 4th overall pick and Nail Yakupov? Or maybe Edmonton is willing to part with the 32nd overall pick and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for the Rangers captain. Do they then move Stepan for the 15th overall pick and Matt Dumba from Minnesota (the money doesn't work out here but just use it as an example)? Do the Rangers then keep Nash and the two-years left on his contract to help supplement losing Stepan and his two-way play? Maybe then they get rid of Marc Staal for futures and use that money to lock up Yandle. That might be an optimistic outlook (a lot of moving parts of course) but that would re-brand the Rangers, improve them now and improve the farm.
Or maybe the Rangers can't make all that work. Maybe the Rangers move Nash first in one of those three-for-one deals that see a pick, prospect and a young (cheap) roster player (let's assume defense). Then maybe the Rangers move on from Staal, try to bring in some futures for him and then jump head-first into the bidding war for Steven Stamkos.
Maybe the Rangers win the Jimmy Vesey sweepstakes and that changes the direction they go in without having to lose anyone.
The first move the Rangers make will shed some light on what direction the Rangers move in. As broad a statement as that might be, there's been very little indication from the team of anything in terms of what they're looking to do.
That might not be a bad thing. I'm sure Jeff Gorton is being inundated with phone calls, offers and tire kicking that he has to mull over. I'm sure he's trying to piece together the puzzle himself since any trade will have ripple effects that change the trajectory of other moves.
I don't know what's going to happen or when. I'd assume by the draft we'll have a really good idea of what it is the Rangers think they can do this summer.
And whatever that first move is, it will tell us a lot about where the Rangers see themselves going.