Thursday, February 10, 2011

Cost of Kaberle Is Too High For Rangers to Pay

The rumors of the Rangers connection Tomas Kaberle do not seem to be fading away as quickly as many of the other ones have this season.  Kaberle rumors are certainly nothing new in general, or in connection with the Rangers as this saga of him being traded has gone on for the better part of three years now with nothing ever happening. 

The general mood seems to be more desperation to make the move because of how abysmal the Rangers power play has been of late and the theory that a power play quarterback like Kaberle can fix that.  Kaberle has the history and qualifications to be considered a top flight power play quarterback.  This season he has three goals and 36 points in 54 games played with the Maple Leafs, while most important to Rangers fans he has 21 assists with the man advantage.

During a Twitter discussion last night with Christian of Blue Seat Blogs and George Ays of Tracking The Rangers (and at Blueshirt Banter) among others, about a multitude of topics, but one of the main ones being adding Kaberle.  I agree with both Christian and George that Kaberle has the ability to make the Rangers better this year and a bigger threat come playoff time.  There is also, as Christian points out, the invaluable experience that could be gained for the Rangers young players by experiencing a deep run into the playoffs, even if the team likely would not with the whole thing.  The sentiment of that is absolutely true as players must experience the playoffs before they learn how to truly win in those big moments. 

My issue with the move is not that he would not improve the power play, but whether he truly makes the difference in the team advancing deep in the playoffs to be worth the bounty Brian Burke is going to try and get for him.  Speaking of the cost, this morning Arthur Staple of Newsday writes about what is believed to be cost of acquiring Kaberle.  Staple says that Toronto general manger Brian Burke is looking for three pieces as a return for his 32-year-old defenseman. 
Sources say that the Leafs would want at least three pieces back -- a current NHLer, a prospect and possibly a first-round pick in return for Kaberle.
Obviously, if that is the cost the discussion must end with Glen Sather hanging up the phone on his good buddy Burke.  Burke has always overvalued Kaberle in his trade discussions, which is precisely why Tomas is still in Toronto today.  There is the possibility that with Kaberle being a free agent this summer Burke will be forced to lower his demands as the deadline approaches to ensure getting something for him, rather than lose him for nothing.  Even if the price tag does come down, I believe the Rangers are better off just letting the season play out than detracting pieces from the future to possibly end up with a first round exit.  Is trading for a player who has not played a meaningful game in years really going to get them over the hump? 

I am left to think back to the last trade with Toronto in which we gave them a second round pick for Nik Antropov, and while Antropov played well in his time in New York, the team still lost in the first round and ended up short a second round pick.  The Rangers are finally building the right way and it was never about this year, so let’s take a step back from the push to make moves to win it all while mortgaging potential future pieces.  Tinkering moves like a faceoff specialist are one thing, but what Burke wants for Kaberle is another.

Is Stephen Weiss The Answer To Rangers Number One Center Problem?

The New York Rangers have been searching for a number one center for a number of years, and that search continues as they have yet to find one to pair with a struggling Marian Gaborik in hopes of getting the best from him.  In a league where a number one center is at a premium it is rare to see them hit the trade or free agent market, so teams are usually forced into hoping they can develop one they have drafted.  One potential number one center is considered to be in the attainable category before this month's trade deadline; Florida Panther Stephen Weiss.  Adding potential intrigue to this idea was the report per David Neal of the Miami Herald, the Rangers had scouts at Monday’s Florida/St. Louis game.   
Beyond just Weiss, this is a great game for the Rangers to scout because both teams are on the outside looking in, which might make both amenable to making trades.  Each team has some potential targets that might interest the Rangers, but let’s look at Stephen Weiss who is likely the most popular of those choices from perspective of New York fans clamoring for a deal to help Marian Gaborik at the center position. 
Weiss, 27, is an intriguing center to look at when it comes to the trade market.  He has played first line minutes and against top competition for a number of years in Florida, has back-to-back 60 point seasons and has a very reasonable cap hit of 3.1 million for the next two seasons.  Weiss has 15 goals, 22 assists and 37 points in 52 games for the Panthers this year.
On the ice Weiss is a tremendous skater, has good vision and passing ability while being able to chip in on the goal scoring front.  His ability to score goals is a little unsure because last season he put up a career high 28, but is only at 15 thus far this year.  It is tough to fully gauge whether that is a result of the lack of overall talent in Florida or speaks to where Weiss actually is. 
In addition to his regular offensive numbers, Weiss has the potential to help the Rangers in two areas that have plagued them this season; power play and faceoffs.  On the season he has one power play goal and 12 assists, which would make him number one on the Rangers in both power play assists and points.  He is also excellent on faceoffs, currently wining 54% of his draws (25th in the NHL), which would be a considerable upgrade for the Blueshirts.
The question is not whether Weiss would make the Rangers better than they currently are, but if the cost to bring him in would be worth it long term?  As always it depends on price, but the intrigue of adding a player in his prime years with a low, fixed salary to skate with Gaborik certainly has a lot of appeal.  The reasonable cap hit would also make it much easier to keep their own players this summer than signing a bigger name like Brad Richards.
There is also a huge caveat to the whole discussion; Stephen Weiss has a no-movement clause so he would have to approve any deal.  Maybe it is weird, but I love the fact that up until a reporter told him, Weiss had no idea he had the clause in his contract.
When talking about the possibility of leaving the Panthers, Harvey Fialkov of the Sun Sentinel, reports Weiss had the following to say…
“There are points where it really wears on you,” Weiss told “But at the back of my mind, I just want to try to play hard and when it does finally work here, it’ll feel that much better because you stuck it out. That’s not to say there haven’t been tough times, but this is where I got drafted and this is where I want to be.
“When the calls stop coming in and nobody wants you, that’s when you’re in trouble,” he said. “If you’re playing the way you should be, the interest will be there.”
Have to love the attitude and the desire to want to see the work through, though it makes you wonder if he would even be willing to accept a trade out of Florida.  In the end, while I really like Stephen Weiss and believe there is an upgrade over what the Rangers have right now, I do not see him as a true number one center on a contending team.
What would you give up for Weiss?  Is Weiss really a number one center?  Is center the biggest need?  Would you rather wait until the summer and shoot for Brad Richards?  As you can see the Rangers have a lot of questions right now, but Weiss might be a potential answer.