In case you’ve been under a hockey rock, in a meeting, on an airplane or otherwise the last couple hours, the NHL world blew up for a bit with three big announcements ahead of Friday’s July 1 free agency.
No, your New York Rangers were not involved. However, it definitely has an impact in Blueshirt World both in the value of their own assets and how they may proceed in the coming weeks.
First to recap:
Adam Larsson, D, New Jersey Devils for Taylor Hall, LW, Edmonton Oilers
P.K. Subban, D, Montreal Canadiens for Shea Weber, D, Nashville Predators
Steven Stamkos, C/W, Tampa Bay Lightning re-signs, 8-years, $8.5mm AAV
Aside from the fact that these are staggering “blockbuster-esque” moves (and true hockey trades nonetheless), they do have a trickle down effect on the league and Rangers.
Make no doubt about it, the Rangers have been speaking with the Oilers regarding some of their younger assets. You don’t need inside sources to recognize that. The Rangers and Oilers are always tied together. However, they wouldn’t likely have been in on Hall. It’s more likely the Blueshirts are kicking the tires on Nail Yakupov, 22, RW, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 23, C, and perhaps Jordan Eberle, 26, RW.
What the Larsson deal tells us is that Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli is prepared to part with some previous young talent for some position-specific pieces, especially established. Could the Rangers turn Marc Staal or Dan Girardi (should they agree to waive their NTC) into a Yakupov or Nugent-Hopkins? Today’s trade says it is very possible. Throw in a Kevin Hayes kicker and you probably have yourself a deal.
These deals also affirm the value of defensemen on the open market. While none of us will truly understand the desire for Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin to trade Subban for an older, less cap-friendly Weber, it gives some hope to Rangers fans that big-player deals are not dead. You can still make large salary, star transactions in a salary cap world.
So while the Rangers were not directly involved in these deals, the contracts of Rick Nash, Tanner Glass, Staal and Girardi are no longer the perceived death sentences of 12 hours ago.
Finally, the Rangers were in on Stamkos. They talked numbers and there was mutual interest. However, the allure of home and tax-friendly Florida climate (as well as well…climate) ultimately won the day. Not unexpected, as we stated on Twitter earlier today that our money was on him remaining in Tampa with the Rangers at a 50/50 shot at best.
The hiccup this presents is that while Derek Stepan and Derick Brassard are generally reliable and talented centers, neither is a true No. 1 down the middle, especially on a contending team. Stamkos would have immediately given the Rangers a legitimate threat in a division that features Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, John Tavares and Alex Ovechkin. Now, the Blueshirts have to hope that Brassard or Stepan can break through, which is unreasonable, or they can fill that void elsewhere.
Be sure to stick with us for all-day coverage of 2016 NHL Free Agent Frenzy this Friday, July 1.
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