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NY Rangers: Who Do You Want?, Part 1

Dante Vassallo looks at some possible trade targets for the New York Rangers, targets that would fill needs.

By: Dante Vassallo

The Rangers have three pressing needs heading to the Trade Deadline.  In no particular order, those needs are a legitimate playmaking, number one center, an offensive defenseman who can quarterback the power play, and a solid, if not nasty, stay-at-home defenseman, preferably with some playoff experience.

Despite his uncanny ability to make great trades, it is unlikely that GM Glen Sather (pictured) will be able to bag all three and keep the core of the team intact.  Let’s take a look at players who could fill those needs that may be available at the deadline, and decide which ones might provide the most help at a reasonable cost.

The three game changing centers that could be had are Brad Richards of the Dallas Stars, Stephen Weiss of the Florida Panthers, and Jason Spezza of the Ottawa Centers.  All three are rumored to be available, and all three have been on the Rangers radar at various points over the last year or two.

Richards is an Unrestricted Free Agent (UFA) after this season.  He has 61 points (22g 39a) in 54 games played and has a +/- rating of +5.  He is on pace to equal his career best 91 point season.  So that’s the good news.  The bad news is Dallas is currently in third place in the Western Conference and he is their top center.

Despite the fact that they will likely lose him to free agency over the summer with no return, they claim to want to resign him at all costs.  Posturing?  Perhaps.  Regardless, the asking price for Richards will be high as they will need quality roster players to fill the major void that trading him will create in order to go deep in the playoffs themselves this season.

Stephen Weiss has 37 points (15g 22 a) and is a -6.  That’s a big step down from Richard’s production, but he does not have anywhere near the talent around him in Florida. However, he is only twenty seven years old and has two years left at a very cap-friendly 3.1 million.

Florida currently sits in the 11th spot in the East, and that isn’t likely to improve much by the deadline.  I’m just not sure why Florida would even want to trade him.  Unless they think he could bring back a huge return from playoff team willing to overpay to grab the missing piece to their team puzzle.

Jason Spezza has only played 35 games this season.  He has collected 10 goals and 22 assists and has a -6 rating thus far.  Ottawa is even worse than Florida though.  Actually, they’re worse than everybody in the league but Edmonton.  Spezza is now three years removed from his career high 92 points in 2007, and has had his desire questioned more than once.

He is definitely in need of a change of scenery, and Ottawa would be happy to facilitate that, if for no other reason than to unburden themselves of his obscene contract.  He stands to earn 7 million a season through 2015.

For me, Spezza’s contract and questionable heart are deal breakers.  I wouldn’t even consider him.  Despite the rumors, I don’t see Florida trading Weiss.  He is part of their core, and his contract is very reasonable.  I like the player a lot, but not enough to overpay for him.  I would take a long, hard look at Richards.  However, there is the chance he will walk once free agency hits, so I would not part with any of the young, core guys.

I’m sure Dallas will require at least one of the likes of Callahan, Dubinsky, Staal, and Stepan.  If any of those players are needed to get the deal done, I walk and try to sign Richards as a free agent this summer.  Therefore, I would look to upgrade one of the defensive needs, and I may be able to satisfy both.

Up next, I’ll examine the available defensemen to see if a deal can be had.

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