The New York Rangers could be asked to take a contract to facilitate an Erik Karlsson trade. What should they ask for to do it?
The New York Rangers are in territory that has been unfamiliar in recent years. In a rebuild (which could be long, according to ESNY’s Dominick Renna), the team is focused on young talent and has some extra salary cap space. According to CapFriendly, they have almost $24 million in available space and didn’t use a significant portion in the early stages of free agency.
Many teams that are rebuilding and don’t plan on contending for several years will add a contract that a team wants to get rid of, and will also get draft picks and/or prospects for their trouble. The Rangers could follow that path, as TSN’s Darren Dreger reports that the team could be involved in a potential trade between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Ottawa Senators.
Tampa Bay and Ottawa continue to work on an Erik Karlsson trade. The NYR may be involved as Lightning need cap room. Callahan back to NY?
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) July 5, 2018
As Dreger says, Ryan Callahan is the most likely option to come to the Rangers. The former Rangers captain was traded to Tampa Bay in 2015 for Martin St. Louis. He signed a six-year contract with Tampa Bay with a $5.8 million cap hit, of which two years remain.
The Rangers could absorb those final two years, as they are probably two or three years away from returning to contending status. Another option could be Bobby Ryan of the Senators, but he has four years left at $7.25 million and should be avoided due to the length of that cap hit.
ESNY’s Frank Curto argues that the Rangers should not help the Lightning by taking Callahan’s contract. However, the Rangers could also help themselves by taking it, assuming that they are able to get enough to make it worthwhile. With the team in a rebuild, that should be the primary, and frankly only concern.
The Rangers aren’t going to get any future superstars for bringing Callahan back. As much as everyone would love to see the Rangers get Brayden Point or Thomas Chabot that’s too much for the Lighting or Senators to give up. While Callahan has a high cap hit, it’s not outrageously high and it isn’t long enough to have a chance at handcuffing the Rangers salary cap for years to come.
So that brings us to what a realistic trade could look like for the Rangers.
Rangers Trade Away
- 2019 seventh-round draft pick (to Senators)
The Rangers would send this pick to the Senators simply because they need to trade something away to be involved in the trade. Losing a seventh-round pick won’t hurt at all.
- Ryan Callahan
- Yanni Gourde
- 2019 third-round pick (from Penguins, via Senators)
- Conditional 2019 sixth-round pick (Lightning), becomes a 2019 fourth-round pick if Tampa Bay wins the Stanley Cup.
- The Lighting drop the condition on their second-round pick that the Rangers have in 2019, making it a first round pick regardless of whether the Lightning win the Stanley Cup or not.
This return would make it worth the headache of Callahan’s cap hit for Jeff Gorton and company. Guaranteeing the first rounder is huge, as only one team can win the Stanley Cup every year. Although it will likely be a late first-round pick, that’s still a significant upgrade over a late second rounder.
Getting the third-round pick from the Senators gives the Rangers a chance to add another impact player (remember, Pavel Buchnevich was a third-round pick. If a team is good at scouting, mid-round draft picks are very valuable).
The conditional sixth-round pick, although it may seem unimportant, can be used as a trade chip in a package to move up in the draft. Additionally, extra draft picks never hurt a team, and you never know when you may find a player like Henrik Lundqvist late in the draft.
That brings us to Yanni Gourde. Gourde had a very good season, finishing sixth in the Calder Trophy voting as he produced 25 goals and 64 points in his first full season.
He is older for a rookie, having turned 26 in December of last season. His numbers were also inflated somewhat by playing on a very strong Lightning team. Much like Vladislav Namestnikov, he’s probably a 45-50 point producer on most teams, placing him in a middle six role.
However, with the Rangers giving up nothing except cap space that they weren’t going to use anyway (and a seventh-round draft pick), that’s a very good return on investment. For such a small cost, getting a player that can help your team or be used as a trade chip is a smart move.
While helping another team win the Stanley Cup can be hard to swallow, this move would make it worthwhile for the Rangers to do so.