The Rangers February success has them thinking big at the deadline

Marc and Eric Staal (Getty)

Marc and Eric Staal (Getty)

If you still haven’t figured it out, the Rangers are a “win now team”. While the shelf life of great goaltenders has increased (ala Martin Brodeur), Henrik Lundqvist‘s best years are right now. So as the Rangers have gone 8-3-1 with a legit chance to go 10-3-1 (Stars tonight, Jackets Monday) in February, they are looking to go big at the deadline.

The big name swirling around with serious legs according to some I spoke to and the regular insiders is Eric Staal. Marc Staal‘s older brother (Yes! They’re Related!), is in the final year of his contract and heading to UFA status this summer. He is considered a rental…a damn expensive one to say the least. Plus, he has a full no trade clause that he must waive.

Now, we know E. Staal’s numbers have been in a steep decline but the last time the Hurricanes were competitive was 2009! Can you imagine, 6 years without a playoff game? If you’re a Ranger fan circa late 90’s early 2000’s you can. Maybe, what Eric Staal needs is motivation to be the point a game player he’s been in the past. What he needs is a chance to win it all again.

Eric Staal's decline...

Eric Staal’s decline…

Late last night, we got inside news from former Ranger now broadcaster, Nick Kypreos that Eric may only waive to go play with his brother Marc in NY. This puts GM, Ron Francis in a major pickle (almost same situation as Yzerman was with Martin St. Louis). Does Francis, who is still looking to build the Canes for the next few seasons regardless of their current success, risk losing him for nothing? If he holds on to him and decides to trade his rights at the draft, he will get even less than what the Rangers would offer today.

 

Here’s the other issue, the Canes would likely have to retain a large portion of his remaining salary in order to facilitate a move with almost any contender, especially the Rangers. The fact of the matter is Francis can as they have 8M plus in cap space. If he is handcuffed by Eric only wanting to go to the Rangers, he could leverage salary retention as a way to induce a better return from Jeff Gorton.

E. Staal and J. Fast

E. Staal and J. Fast

What are the Canes looking for? Youth, but not necessarily prospects and picks. The more salary they retain, the better the package could be. Canes coach, Bill Peters has brought a lot of the Red Wings philosophy and style with him to Carolina. He likes possession players with some skill. He is into speed, but with a head for defense. That means one of the logical players in any deal for E. Staal would likely be Jesper Fast who has some 2nd line potential. Of course, if the Canes retain a majority of salary that player could escalate to Chris Kreider. Ultimately, no one knows for sure what names are in play for the Rangers but Kreider has come up in the rumor mill.

Here comes the big twist, if the Rangers land E. Staal and the Canes retain a large portion of that salary, another major move could happen at the deadline. Here’s what I understand, this is it for the Rangers…it’s all in time. Go for broke. Leave nothing on the table. If possible the Rangers may look to add another big name forward like Patrick Marleau in SJ, or Scott Hartnell in CBJ.

Basically, go big or go home.

The Rangers know they can win it all, especially if Rick Nash comes back healthy and starts scoring. However, if they want to improve their chances they are going to have to get bigger and deeper up front to contend with the Washington Capitals and eventually the powerhouse Chicago Blackhawks.

Gear up Rangers fans because beginning most likely tomorrow, Jeff Gorton will start wheeling and dealing.

P.S. Marc would really like to play with his brother Eric. *WINK, WINK*

 

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