The New York Rangers 2017-18 roster is currently under construction. If GM Jeff Gorton wants to find a trade partner for Marc Staal, he may have one in the Edmonton Oilers. Does he have the savvy to make a deal to rid the team of the aging defenseman?
The rumor mill is churning around the NHL, and the New York Rangers continue to be in the thick of it. Blockbuster deals are being negotiated left and right, and the Rangers seem to have an opportunity in front of them.
When the Edmonton Oilers traded top-six winger Jordan Eberle to the in-state rival New York Islanders, the return was different than what had originally been predicted. Rather than acquiring a defenseman, as many believed would be the case, the Oilers received 23-year old Ryan Strome.
The Oilers have also recently retained the services of 30-year old Kris Russell. However, the Oilers seem to be taking an aggressive route towards Stanley Cup aspirations. The often persuaded Edmonton GM Peter Chiarelli could be convinced in acquiring Marc Staal as well.
Why Edmonton would want Staal
Last season, the aging defenseman had a mediocre season by almost every regard. Staal dressed in 72 games for the Rangers, recording just 10 points (3 goals and 7 assists) for his lowest production totals since his rookie season.
However, any selling point in a deal surrounding Marc Staal should be inspired by the need for a player that has “been there before.” Staal has appeared in 104 career postseason games. That number is more than double of the current members of Edmonton’s defensive corps.
The Oilers currently have their top-four defenseman in Adam Larsson, Russell, Andrej Sekera, and Oscar Klefbom. Outside of those four, however, there is room for improvement. As the shell of a former top-pairing defenseman, Staal could be an interesting piece if deployed properly.
Agitator Darnell Nurse occupied a spot in the lineup for over half of Edmonton’s games. Meanwhile, Matthew Benning is a prospect beginning to find his way at the NHL level. Staal could provide an upgrade, along with his veteran wherewithal to a young Edmonton team.
If the Rangers ask Marc Staal to move his no trade clause, GM Jeff Gorton should look to Edmonton as a potential suitor. The Oilers have a newfound cap space, with the departure of Eberle and his $6-million hit, paving the way to acquire another player on their blue line.
One line of thinking is that Gorton could relinquish Staal and prospects or future draft picks. This would provide incentive for Edmonton to acquire the entirety of Staal’s albatross contract. However, that scenario may seem unlikely for even the smallest of skeptics.
Perhaps if Gorton sweetens the deal by retaining some of Staal’s salary the Rangers could net a mid-tier prospect with upside. The Oilers’ organization has several offensive-minded defenseman who have yet to reach their potential. This group includes 19-year old Caleb Jones and WHL standout Ethan Bear.
If Jeff Gorton and his team in the Rangers have an opportunity to rid themselves of Marc Staal, they must. Peter Chiarelli and the Oilers have been prone to trade blunders in the past, and may very well fall victim again.
Hopefully for the Rangers sake, they are the beneficiaries this time around.