New York Rangers: Trade These Players For Tyson Barrie

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

The New York Rangers, unquestionably in need of new blood throughout the roster, are particularly vulnerable on the back line.

Aging veteran Dan Girardi, whose season was not going well even prior to a string of injuries that diminished his game further, cannot reasonably be ready to step back into the role of first pair, shut down defenseman that he held for so many seasons.

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /

He is very likely not that player anymore, despite the fact that his salary would suggest otherwise, and regardless of what an extended off-season might mean for his health. However, all indications suggest that the Rangers will not be buying him out of his hefty contract, and so room will be made for him on the ice. Marc Staal, the usually dependable left d-man, who would have competed for first pair assignments on virtually any NHL team while in his prime, also presents a question mark heading into the 2016-17 season. Staal, as compared to Girardi, was still a superior asset throughout most of the season and is more likely to rebound with more time to recover this off-season. Where Girardi often looked over-matched, Staal simply appeared fatigued.

Both d-men had surgeries following the 2014-15 playoffs, undermining their ability to train properly, but it was Girardi who never really seemed to get back on track. Look for Staal to return to form this upcoming season, and if you’re a Rangers fan, cross your fingers that Girardi will not be the liability that he was during this most recent campaign.

Where Does the Defense Stand Now?

Jan 14, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Dylan McIlrath (6) checks New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) into the boards during the second period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

Currently, the four remaining d-spots appear to be held by Captain Ryan McDonagh, Kevin Klein, Brady Skjei and Dylan McIlrath. McIlrath holds the most tenuous grasp on a spot of all, however without the recently departed Dan Boyle blocking his way he perhaps has the best chance of his young career to make himself a fixture. The Rangers sorely lack grit, both up front and on the blue line, and McIlrath needs to be part of the picture if the Rangers are to remedy this glaring deficiency. McIlrath has been rumored to be trade bait, but the Rangers would be foolish to go that route barring a viable alternative being in the mix. That alternative does not exist internally, so McIlrath should be given every opportunity to demonstrate his value.

Barrie is the Missing Link

With the Rangers’ top six d-men apparently a lock heading into the season as things stand now, the unfortunate reality is that this team cannot hope to compete if things remain as they are. Right-side d-man Kevin Klein has had his moments, and has been an unexpected asset during his Rangers tenure,

Nov 26, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Kevin Klein (8) against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the second period at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

but he is not the Top Pair d-man that Girardi’s slide into mediocrity has forced Rangers management to ask him to be. He is a top four type, for many teams, and for many others a top six. Under no circumstance is he a top two, and its time the Rangers acknowledge this. Packaging him in a deal for Colorado’s exciting right-side d-man Tyson Barrie, along with C/RW Kevin Hayes and minor league All-Star d-man Ryan Graves, would be the most effective acknowledgement of all.

Barrie comes equipped with an abundance of tools, the kind that the Rangers will need once Keith Yandle is inevitably signed elsewhere. While Skjei may one day be able to generate some decent production from the blue line points-wise it will be his shut-down defensive capabilities that will likely set him apart. Skjei’s skating ability is well above par, as are his vision and passing skills, and this is why he may evolve into a possible offensive threat down the road. Barrie, on the other hand, would be that threat the moment he stepped onto the ice as a Ranger.

Over the past three seasons, which saw him play 64, 80 and 78 games respectively, Barrie has averaged right around 47 points per season, with average goals per coming in around 13 and average assists per in the 34 range. No Rangers d-man has approached those numbers over the past three years combined, with only Yandle putting up comparable numbers this past year and McDonagh three full seasons ago. Though Barrie is not blessed in the size department, coming in at 5’10”, 190 lbs., he is a formidable and balanced skater. He won’t be clearing the big boys out of the crease, of course, but he will beat opponents with his legs and ability to make that critical first pass out of the zone.

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  • Strategies for Getting Barrie

    The wrinkle is that the Rangers would have to first execute on the trade and then sign Barrie prior to July 1 when he becomes a restricted free agent (RFA). He is likely heading for a package in the $4-5 million per year range, and although that price-tag would normally be prohibitive based on the Rangers cap status the number would be absorbed by the exits of Klein, $3 million per, and

    Apr 2, 2015; Saint Paul, MN, USA; New York Rangers forward Kevin Hayes (13) against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. The Rangers defeated the Wild 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
    Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports /

    Hayes, another RFA that would likely cost the Rangers around $2 million per if they signed him. Even if the numbers don’t align as perfectly as described, though, jettisoning Hayes amounts to addition by subtraction based on his performance and lack of maturity this past season. Barrie enters the picture as the immediate partner for McDonagh, allowing McDonagh to concentrate on his defensive responsibilities and perhaps ease back into a more prominent role on the rush, a role that he had begun to excel in prior to the dip in his play over his past two seasons.

    As for the remaining pairings, the likely combinations with Barrie in the mix on McDonagh’s right side then become Skjei with McIlrath and Staal with Girardi, not necessarily in that order. It will all depend on what version of Staal and Girardi arrive at training camp.

    Losing youngster Ryan Graves in the process hurts, yes, but in gaining Barrie the sting is eased. There is no guarantee that Graves continues to develop into the kind of asset the Rangers currently envision him as, of course, however it is likely that he will based on his recent progress and considerable frame. With that said, having Barrie on board makes the Rangers better now and for years to come, as Barrie will be just 25 when the 2016-17 season begins.

    Next: New York Rangers Summer Boot Camp: GM Edition