Well that was fast. As soon as I finish up a big article speculating about Bryan McCabe, TSN’s Bob Mckenzie announces that a deal has taken place. Not sure if I’m simply a great foreshadower or if it was just luck. Regardless, my uncanny timing has resulted in readers asking me to write similar articles about, among others, Brad Richards and Chris Drury: But lets get serious and discuss the trade:
What We’re Getting:
Rental- If McCabe truly loves New York that much and he is successful here then it’s possible the Rangers resign him in the offseason. However, as of now, the Rangers are getting a guy that is for all intents and purposes a rental for this season. McCabe is a free agent at the end of the year so the Rangers strictly traded for him with only this season in mind.
Experience- But what kind of player are we getting? Well, McCabe adds a lot to this team that we lack. For starters, he replaces Steve Eminger (27) as the grandpa of the defense. McCabe (35) adds a veteran presence to a blue line that desperately needs it. Believe it or not, the Toronto Maple Leafs were at one time a contender, and McCabe played in multiple playoff series’ for them as they tried to win a Stanley Cup. His 15 seasons in the NHL are valuable to a team that has in recent games had two rookies on the second pairing. He was the captain on Florida before being sent here, so surely the Panthers at least viewed him as somebody to look up to.
Powerplay QB- Now McCabe was never Nik Lidstrom, and at 35 especially he’s not perfect. However, McCabe is far and away the best powerplay defenseman the Rangers have had since the lockout. Granted, McCabe has only 2 powerplay goals this year and 3 last season, but that has as much to do with the Panthers as a whole. McCabe will be surrounded by a better system and much better talent to work with. As recently as 2008-2009 he had 8 goals on the powerplay alone. His shot is not his only asset, though, he is a very good puck mover and has 17 in 48 games this year while having 35 assists last season. Surely, McCabe will be of at least some help on offense as a whole, but especially the powerplay.
Minute Eater- If nothing else, McCabe will at the very least take some pressure off the other defensemen in terms of playing time. McCabe has played over 20 minutes every season since 1998-1999, when he was with the Canucks. The 18-22 minutes he’ll be getting with the Rangers will take a bit of pressure off of Staal and Girardi but more significantly off of Sauer and McDonagh.
Causes For Concern:
Big Market- The minute McCabe’s play dropped in Toronto the fans and media started to talk about it. That led to his play dropping even more, leading to more talking, leading to even worse play, etc. My point being, the last time he was in a big hockey market he let the outside criticism get into his head. Florida is the antithesis of Toronto and New York in terms of a hockey market, so there would be significantly less attention given to him if and when he made mistakes. Will playing in New York hinder McCabe’s play? McCabe might have just needed a fresh start, and he’s probably had time to evaluate what he could have done differently in Toronto. Still, it’s worth mentioning.
Defensive Lapses- McCabe has solidified his defensive play in recent years, but make no mistake, McCabe earns the money he does for his offense. McCabe is prone to making mistakes every now and then, whether it be not marking his man in the slot or pinching at the wrong time. Now, this isn’t anything surprising from an offensive defenseman like McCabe. Like I said, the Rangers acquired him for his offense and his defense is usually passable. My concern is that if and when McCabe makes a mistake and John Tortorella inevitably calls him out on it, will he respond well?
What We’re Giving Up:
Tim Kennedy- After Buffalo decided against signing him following their arbitration case with Tim Kennedy, the Rangers picked him up on a 1 year, two way deal. Kennedy didn’t make the team out of training camp and was sent down to Connecticut. He was never called up due to the fact that he would have to pass through re-entry waivers to do so, and presumably the Rangers didn’t want to risk another team claiming him and thus taking a 250K hit on the salary cap. Did Tortorella make a mistake in keeping Todd White on the roster over Kennedy? Perhaps, but it’s ultimately insignificant. Kennedy was given permission by Sather to seek a trade earlier in the season and he was almost definitely not going to be resigned. Thus, in moving Kennedy the Rangers lost nothing more than some help in Connecticut for this season.
3rd Round Pick- Granted, you never want to just give away picks, but the Rangers can live without a 3rd round selection. The probability of selecting an NHL player who will play at least 200 games in a round other than the first or second round is somewhere around 5-10 %. Especially since the pick will be closer to the end of the 3rd round than the beginning, this is a small price to pay in order to acquire a defenseman who can make an immediate impact this season. Moving this pick was probably made easier by the fact that the Rangers own Washington’s 2nd round pick in the upcoming draft.
For comparative purposes, the Lightning gave up their 3rd rounder as well as Brock Beukeboom, a decent prospect, for Eric Brewer. Ian White cost the Sharks a 2nd rounder. James Wisniewski cost the Canadiens a 2nd and 5th rounder. Given the market, the Rangers got, if not a steal, then at least a very good deal. While Kennedy should be a decent fill in for the Panthers for the remainder of the season, he was of virtually no value to the Rangers. The 3rd round pick was expendable given the Rangers’ very good prospect pool as well as the fact that we own multiple 2nd round picks in the upcoming draft. The addition of McCabe doesn’t exactly put the Rangers at the top of the league, but for such a minimal cost the Rangers did very well to add a veteran defenseman who will take some pressure off the young defensemen and has the potential to change the dynamic of the power play. In the worst case scenario, McCabe doesn’t work out here and the Rangers are absolved of him after the season. There is very little risk to this trade, but plenty of room for reward.