The trading deadline is now 2 days away, and I fully expect all hell to break loose. This will be one of my last chances to calmly evaluate what’s going on. It will be a scramble from now on. The most significant news out there right now is the multiple rumors surrounding defenseman Bryan McCabe. The transition from speculation/word of mouth type rumors to legitimate, concrete rumors began with George Richard’s announcing that the Rangers and Panthers were “close to finalizing a deal for Bryan McCabe.” Richard works for the Miami Herald, and according to our very own The Rat Trick he is a very reliable source who is “always on top of things.” The momentum died down just a bit when McCabe agent stated that Bryan “hadn’t waived his no trade clause” and that “nothing is imminent.” However, Sportsnet analyst and former Ranger Nick Kypreos insists that a deal will definitely get done, while Newsday writer Arthur Staple believes that McCabe will “only waive his no trade clause to come to the Rangers.” This is important for two reasons. First of all, if the always informed Arthur Staple implies that the Rangers are likely to get McCabe then there’s probably something to it. Richard, Kypreos, and Staple, three solid sources, all hinting in some way to McCabe coming to New York, makes me think that it’s not a matter of “if” but “when” a deal is announced.
But let’s look at this a little bit more deeply. In this current market, defensemen, and especially puck moving defensemen, are in high demand. It is certainly a buyers market, and teams such as the Avalanche are asking the world for JM Liles while Tomas Kaberle, Ian White, Francois Beauchemin, and Alex Goligoski brought in significant returns for the teams trading them. Under normal circumstances, the Rangers could similarly expect to give up a relatively significant asset or two in order to acquire McCabe. McCabe’s no trade clause, and specifically that he might “only waive his no trade clause to come to the Rangers” chances everything, completely limits the market Panthers GM Dave Tallon has to work with and gives Glen Sather almost all of the bargaining power. If we assume that Staple’s report is true, then the Panthers have two options. They can either hold out for what they want and keep McCabe. They would then keep McCabe for the rest of the season, a season in which the Panthers are most likely not making the playoffs, and then watch him leave to go elsewhere as a free agent. The Panthers would of course be giving him up for nothing. Or, they can cut their losses and accept the best package Glen Sather will offer. This will shed the Panthers, a small market team, of the remainder of his salary as well as give them something to show for McCabe.
Now, this doesn’t mean that Sather can just offer, say, Kris Newbury, and expect Florida to take the offer. The Panthers aren’t going to virtually give him away. The Rangers are still going to have to give up something of decent value. Florida can not expect anything of great significance. The first round pick as well as guys like Grachev, Del Zotto, Kreider, and Thomas are completely out of the question. Kundratek, Niemi, Weise, and any other draft picks are more reasonable targets. Don’t take my word for it completely, because how the Rangers value certain players is different from how I value them, and management knows the market and hidden details a lot better than I do. That said, I think the Panthers would do well in getting a 2nd round pick from the Rangers.
In similar news, John Tortorella spoke to the media today about the Rangers plans at the deadline. Tortorella acknowledged that the Rangers are looking to improve the team this year but that they don’t want to give up the future to do so. Andrew Gross states that Tortorella mentioned that the Rangers are talking to a lot of teams about many players but that teams keep “asking for Rangers prospects” and the Rangers “aren’t willing to do that.” I’d assume that he means prospects that the Rangers believe have a future with the team. I doubt the Rangers would balk at giving up someone like Niemi or Max Campbell. The official twitter of the Rangers quotes him as saying that the Rangers “could have made 10 trades by now” but that they “don’t want to give up the kids.” Tortorella also stated that the Rangers don’t want to continue to be a 7th or 8th seed and then get their asses kicked in the first round. Thus, I think we can expect to make less of the Nik Antropov and Christian Backman type rentals. The Rangers will make moves that don’t involve giving up significant pieces and if the additions truly make the team better. Adding depth for the sake of depth, at this point, is pointless.
Some Final Notes:
-Derek Stepan was fined by the NHL for his hit on Green. Fair enough. The hit was borderline and the NHL is trying to cut down on headshots, but were reasonable and didn’t suspend him. Stepan said “he wouldn’t do anything differently.” Good for him.
-Marc Staal and Ruslan Fedotenko didn’t skate at practice today. Staal is out for the game against the Lightning tomorrow. Fedotenko isn’t likely to play either. The good news on Fedotenko is that the Rangers don’t think it’s anything major and list him as day-to-day.
– To add fuel to the McCabe fire, ESPN’s Pierre Lebrun says that talks between the Rangers and Panthers are going on “as we speak.”
– Today is the big waiver day in the NHL. Players placed on waivers take 48 hours before they can officially be claimed or clear waivers. If cleared, then those players are allowed to be sent down to the AHL. Thus, teams who want to waive a player in order to open up a roster spot or cap space in order to make a deadline move have to make there waiver moves today (48 hours from now is Monday, the day of the trading deadline). Players put on waivers on Friday that were claimed today include Marco Sturm (claimed off waivers by Washington from Los Angeles), Nick Boynton (claimed by Flyers via Blackhawks), and Craig Rivet off re-entry waivers (by Columbus via Buffalo).