The New York Rangers have a defense problem. The Dallas Stars possess a problem between the pipes. Let’s take a look at how the two teams could work together to solve those problems.
Before the Dallas Stars acquired Ben Bishop, the New York Rangers trading one of Dan Girardi or Marc Staal felt like a pipe dream. Now it looks like a possibility. Although Girardi and Staal’s respective trade values are low, the Dallas Stars own their own problems. Swapping problems could work out for both the Rangers and the Stars.
Here’s how it would work. New York would take on Kari Lehtonen, allowing the Stars to avoid buying out Lehtonen this off-season. Dallas would take on their choice of Dan Girardi or Marc Staal, allowing the Rangers to avoid buying them out this off-season.
It can’t be that simple, can it? Let’s look for both teams.
Why the Rangers make the deal
It’s a simple move for the Rangers. Not only do they rid themselves of one of Dan Girardi or Marc Staal, but they also take on a shorter contract as well. Kari Lehtonen is under contract for only one more season at $5.9 Million.
New York could keep Lehtonen on as their new back-up goaltender (working with Benoit Allaire to become a good goalie again) or they could buy-out the new goalie. Lehtonen’s buy-out would cost the Rangers $2.5 Million in 2017-18, then $1.7 Million in 2018-19. However, buying out Dan Girardi would cost New York $3.6 Million in both 2018-19 and 2019-20, not including the $1.1 Million in other years.
So Jeff Gorton and company save money and save the amount of years they have to spend that money. In return, they take on a goaltender who has been awful. However, they could bank on Lehtonen improving while working with Allaire, perhaps even trading Antti Raanta for assets and keeping Lehtonen. Suddenly they spend $5.9 on a back-up goalie, but only for one season.
The options are far more enticing than paying Dan Girardi not to play for the next six seasons.
Why the Dallas Stars make the deal
It takes a little more convincing to understand why the Dallas Stars would make the deal. For the Stars, it comes down to how desperate they are to rid themselves of a goaltender. Dallas could simply buy-out Lehtonen themselves, but they would likely prefer bringing someone in for the goaltender instead.
While Dan Girardi and Marc Staal are not exactly prime defensemen in the NHL today, they do still receive props from pundits across the league sometimes. Executives have been known to judge players based on their past and not their present, so that may benefit the Rangers as well. Finally, the Stars are not exactly the gold standard for identifying talented defensemen.
Dallas could look it as a near even swap of salary, with the Stars actually receiving the smaller contract. The length could be concerning, but Marc Staal has not yet exited his (believed) prime yet, while Dan Girardi’s contract runs out sooner. Regardless, the next NHL collective bargaining agreement may allow for a new amnesty buy-out, giving the Stars an exit from the deal.
It’s a shaky line of thinking admittedly, but if the Stars want to get something back for Lehtonen, this is their chance. The hope is they believe in Girardi or Staal’s past, and want to get rid of Lehtonen badly. Crazier things have happened.