Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What If Steven Stamkos Had Become a Ranger?

I am sure by now you know the story of the potential/almost trade of Steven Stamkos to the New York Rangers during his rookie season as was told by Glen Sather to Larry Brooks back in April.  Obviously I have no idea how real the story is or is not, but it does not really matter for this particular exercise in which I am going to play out the hypothetical trade and see what the Rangers would look like today if it had happened.  Yes I know it is for all intents and purposes a pointless exercise since it did not and will not happen, but then again why not for a few moments examine what we would be looking at if the best player in the game right now was a blueshirt.  In this exercise I am limiting any additional trades from being done as a result of these moves, but free agency and the draft obviously could have shifted.

The deal as described by Sather to Brooks was said to be the following, “By the time the Blueshirts visited Tampa on Thanksgiving of 2008, the talks had become serious. Barrie was asking to choose two or three from a wish list that featured Michael Del Zotto, Evgeny Grachev, Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky and Dan Girardi.”

Obviously right now any and all Rangers fans would do the deal for any combination of the players listed with the toughest to take possibly being Brandon Dubinsky and Dan Girardi, but still done in a second.  The difference was at that point Stamkos was struggling mightily in his rookie season and had only two goals and five assists in 21 games, which is why Barrie would even consider dealing him.  The acquisition of Stamkos for the Rangers would have only increased the desire to move Gomez as they would the following summer and they would still have looked to add a scorer with him so Gaborik likely still happens.  If it had been Dubinsky or Callahan and Girardi for Stamkos the salaries are close enough that no other drastic changes to the club have to happen.  That would put the Rangers last season adding Stamkos year to Gaborik and only subtracting out a subpar year for Girardi and Callahan with a relatively similar year to previous for Dubinsky and with that combination you have to believe the Rangers make the playoffs, though a defenseman would definitely would have to have been added.  Now during the season it would have meant the Jokinen trade likely never happens, so there would be no Brandon Prust on the roster.

It changes this past offseason because Frolov is not necessary but defense help would be if not made up for the year before and the Rangers probably go after Michalek, Hamhuis or Volchenkov with the combination of Frolov and Christensen money if Girardi was the one who was traded or a Paul Martin if it was Del Zotto who went in the deal.  The roster projection this season would likely have looked something like this:

Avery- Anisimov-Callahan
Fedotenko – Stepan – Drury
Boogaard – Boyle – Weise
White Kennedy



This lineup makes it with a million to spare under the cap and would be a very good roster overall, just wondering if they could have survived all the injuries the actual club had so far this season.  Now if Dubinsky was still here and Callahan was the one in the deal I put him up top with Stamkos and Gaborik, let Prospal play with AA and Aves/Fed.  I still don’t buy the club as a true contender, but if say Paul Martin, Girardi were there with Staal and Rozi as a top 4 I might.  Just to finish that thought off with a bit of hot topic conversation anyway if MDZ had been the one gone in the trade, Cam Fowler would have been taken over McIlrath in the draft, though the Rangers likely aren’t picking 10 for it to matter.

For the Rangers it really would have depended a lot on how the combinations played out to see if the deal makes the Rangers a contender, but I find it hard to argue that they are better now than they would have been had the deal happened.  It is tough for me as a fan of this team to imagine it without Dubinsky or Callahan or Girardi, especially the way all three of them are playing this season, but for Steven Stamkos you make the exception.  Steven Stamkos to me is the best player in the NHL right now and there is not a team in the league that would not be better with him on it.  The real question is the combination of Stamkos, Gaborik, Staal, Henrik, Anisimov, Stepan, Dubi/Cally, MDZ/Girardi and mainly filler enough to be a contender?  The answer is that I do not know, but I do believe if you added in over the next couple years the youth that is on the way they would be though unfortunately we will never find out.  The joy of watching Stamkos on Broadway 41 times a year would have been immense, but so is getting to watch and enjoy watching all of those homegrown Rangers continue their growth in their Rangers sweaters, which we should all be thankful for.  Also with any luck Staal, Girardi and likely Dubinsky, Anisimov and Callahan will shut down Stamkos tonight.

So while in the end a pointless exercise for me it made me appreciate the depth with which the Rangers team possesses right now and internally decide who I think is expendable and who is truly critical to the club. Hopefully for you this exercise was more fun for you to have taken in than depressing because that was the point, but leave whatever thoughts you have in the comments.