Sunday, June 5, 2011

Rumor: Brad Richards Not Giving Discounts; Rangers Should Move On, Look To Trade Market

Larry Brooks of the New York Post is reporting that Brad Richards is seeking a long term contract at a minimum average salary of $7 million a season.  As scary as the dollar amount per season might be to many, the long term is what scares me more in any deal for Richards.  I would rather pay Richards extra up front to go away quick than even get him at a discount to stay longer.  It appears that Richards wants both the money and the length, and personally you cannot blame the guy. 
This means that, a) general manager Glen Sather will not be sending an asset to Dallas for the right to try and convince the 31-year-old center to sign before he hits the market; and, b) the Blueshirts already are pondering a Plan B to bring a first-line pivot to Broadway.
We're told by well-placed sources Richards has no intention of signing for a discount in order to reunite with coach John Tortorella, with whom he won the Cup with Tampa Bay in 2004. That's fine. If five years at $6.5 million per -- that's the number -- doesn't represent enough green to get Richards into a Blueshirt, then that's that.
There has been the fantasy notion for many who follow the New York Rangers that the relationship with Tortorella was going to somehow inspire Richards to take less to play here.  I have never bought into that idea or the idea that winning is the most important thing to Richards.  Sure, if the money is close between two places, then he would probably take the one with a better chance to win than the pure highest dollar amount.  Nothing Richards has said or done all season has given any indication that he wants anything other than the attention of being an unrestricted free agent for the first time, and the bidding war that will likely ensue. 
The fact that Richards is far and away the best forward on the market this summer gives him all the leverage in the negotiations as this is no fallback option available without a trade.  Brooks tosses out the names of Jason Spezza, Stephen Weiss and Patrick Sharp as potential fits in the trade market.  Of the three, Sharp is likely the best combination of player and contract, but he would cost significant assets to pry him out of Chicago and only has one season left on his contract before being an unrestricted free agent next summer.  Spezza is a supremely talented player, but his injury history and having four years at $7 million per left on his contract makes it a no go.  I discussed the idea of trading for Weiss as a plan B here.
If Richards is about money and not winning, then the Rangers are better off not signing the talented player this summer.  This organization has slowly moved away from the buying of talent to fill holes and towards developing youth to fill the roster.  Overpaying Richards would be a step back in that movement, even if it is an upgrade in talent.

Rumor: Rangers Considering Trading Down? Could Toronto Be a Trade Down Partner?

On Friday I pondered whether the New York Rangers should consider trading down in the first round in order to add more picks during the 2011 NHL draft.  Apparently I am not the only one having this thought.  Tom Gulitti of Fire and Ice is speculating that the Rangers would look to pick up a second round pick by moving back in the first round.
Keep an eye on the Rangers, who are scheduled to pick 15th and have no second-round pick after trading two second-rounders to Calgary in Wednesday’s trade for Swedish defenseman Tim Erixon. It will be interesting to see if Rangers GM Glen Sather will try to pick up a second-round pick for moving back a few spots in the first round. The Rangers and Coyotes have been frequent trade partners since Maloney left his post as assistant GM with the Rangers to become the Coyotes GM.
One such scenario to keep in mind would be trading back with the Toronto Maple Leafs as is reporting that GM Brian Burke is looking to package one of his first round picks and his early second to move up higher in the first round.
"We're trying to move up, but haven't had any luck yet ... it's still pretty early," Burke said. "We own the 25th pick (from Philadelphia) and either a 29 or 30 from Boston (depending on the result of Stanley Cup Final), and we're trying to package 39 and one of those first-rounders."
Obviously there are issues with this scenario.  The first being how the draft unfolds and who is actually available when the Rangers #15 slot comes up.  If the player the Rangers are targeting is there, then they will stay and take him in the spot instead of risking him being gone by the time they would select again.  Also, in terms of the Toronto scenario, they could be looking to move higher than #15 and would also depend on if the player they want is there to be taken with the Rangers pick.

Burke continued…
"We're trying to identify all the ledges where the draft falls off," he said. "The way this draft is, we've got good bandwidth and a good feel that you could be getting the same player from No. 15 through No. 50. When it gets to No. 25 and if we still own that pick, you're going to see our phones start to ring from three different teams. They'll probably say, 'OK, there's a guy we really want at 25, would you trade down with us?' So we haven't ruled that out, either, in this draft. We've told our scouts, you have to have a gymnast ability to be flexible in moving up or down, so you'll see the phone ringing a lot on draft day."
As I said on Friday, the two main guys the Rangers should target and stay at #15 to select would be centers Mark McNeill and Mark Scheifele.  Both players are expected to go in the area surrounding the Rangers selection and for different reasons would be excellent fits for the organization.  However, if both are gone, the Rangers cannot discount the idea of moving down to get more picks to further deepen the prospect ranks.  A deal like what the Leafs are looking to do would make sense, even if the Rangers throw-in a minor league defensive prospect like Pavel Valentenko.