The Best Way to Trade Dan Girardi

Girardi (USATSI)

Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi has become a very polarizing figure among Rangers fans.

He has been a home grown warrior, a shot blocking machine, and a former all-star. It is unbelievably tough to sign a player (Girardi) as an undrafted free agent, and turn him into a first pair defenseman for years. But, many games, and many blocks have taken their toll.

Girardi has lost a step and the Rangers play a much more up-tempo style then in his early years. At present, it is painfully apparent that Girardi is miscast as a first pair defenseman. The Rangers need better skating, puck movers to spring their transition game.
Many fans look at Girardi and his contract as a huge detriment to the team and its future.

“They gotta buy this guy out”, they scream. There is a big problem with a buyout. That is, the 6 years of dead cap space that would beset the Rangers payroll. The first 3 years of the buyout would cost the Rangers, 2.6, 3.6 and 3.6 million in dead cap space. The next 3 years would be around 1.1 million per year in dead cap space. General Manager Jeff Gorton is a very clever man. He is not going to hamstring himself with that albatross for 6 years.

Other Ways to Skin a Cat

The summer of 2017 brings an expansion team (Las Vegas Golden Knights) and an expansion draft into the mix. There will be more player movement this summer then in any recent year. How much more remains to be seen.

This summer also represents the first summer Dan Girardi will be able to be traded to 15 teams in the NHL, as his no-trade clause turns into a partial no trade clause. Meanwhile, over in Columbus, Blue Jackets beat writer Aaron Portzline on February 14 of this year, wrote about the health issues forward David Clarkson, has had. He has 3 degenerative discs in the L5 region of his spine. He showed up for training camp knowing he would fail his physical. He hasn’t played all season, and not since March 11, 2016. The chances of him ever playing again are very remote. As of now, he is not capable of working out with his lower body. But, maybe he will “finish” his career with the Rangers?

Why a Trade makes sense

On February 26, 2015, the Toronto Maple Leafs asked David Clarkson to waive his no movement clause, and accept a trade to the Blue Jackets, for injured forward Nathan Horton. Clarkson acquiesced, and went to Columbus.

Now keep in mind a few things about this trade: For starters, the Blue Jackets approached Toronto about the trade. Horton’s career is over, beyond a shadow of a doubt. He signed with Columbus in the summer of 2013 and played 35 games before back issues effectively ended his career.

One of the biggest reasons the Jackets were anxious to make this deal was that they are a smaller market team, while Toronto is a huge market team. The benefit for Columbus was they move a long term contract of a player that would never help them for a player that could play on their third line. Except that Clarkson played a combined 26 games for them. What the Maple Leafs got out of it is cap space. Quite simply, they stash Horton on LTIR every year. He doesn’t count at all towards their salary cap. Remember, at the time of the trade, Clarkson was healthy, but playing very poorly. He had become “the worst free agent signing ever”, according to the Toronto media.

Why a Columbus-NY trade makes sense

Because Horton will never play again, Toronto effectively plays 5.3 million dollars over the cap every year because of the LTIR relief they are entitled to. Columbus was entitled to the same relief, but weren’t as interested because they don’t make nearly what the Maple Leafs make in revenue. So, the object to trading Horton, from the Blue Jackets perspective, has been blown to pieces. They are back to where they started, with an injured player, whose career is almost certainly over.
If we flash forward to the expansion draft, the player that Columbus would most likely lose is defenseman, Jack Johnson. The 3 defensemen on the Jackets protected list most certainly will be Seth Jones, Ryan Murray, and David Savard. Johnson is known to have the exact type of spirit an expansion team would crave. His cap hit is around 4.35 million per, which isn’t too big for a player that would be the captain, or at least alternate captain. Bear in mind, Las Vegas has to play above the salary floor, like any other team, which will be around 54 million dollars.

Enter the Rangers

Now if this very plausible scenario plays out, Columbus may be seeking a veteran right defenseman that the coach is very familiar with. Someone they could pair with lefty rookie Zach Werenski (who is exempt from the expansion draft) on the second tandem. Girardi could be a very welcome addition to the Blue Jackets, based on his veteran leadership and the fact that they play a more conservative game then the Rangers.

Another thing they would benefit from is that Girardi, whose contract was front loaded, is owed 13 million in real cash over the last 3 years of his deal. Clarkson is to be paid 15 million, including a whopping 7 million next year. Clarkson’s contract is even more onerous in that most of the money he is paid yearly is in lump sum signing bonuses every July 1.
Obviously the benefit the Rangers get is to stash the Clarkson 5.25 million dollar cap hit on their LTIR and put that new cap space to work. Kevin Shattenkirk anyone?

The bottom line is this type of option, or even a trade where you retain 500k-1 million is a far better option than a buyout. Even if they retained some money, it isn’t 6 years of dead cap space. The one variable that could be a sticking point is if Columbus is on Girardi’s 15 team no trade list. But, as history tells us, Marian Gaborik accepted a trade to the same Blue Jackets back at the trade deadline of 2013. Glen Sather knew how to persuade, can Gorton do the same? Can Sather help him out? Those questions will be answered this summer.

A Trade Deadline Prediction

Darren Dreger reported that the St.Louis Blues are “committed to trading Kevin Shattenkirk”, this afternoon. I will make the semi-bold prediction that the Rangers acquire him for a first round pick and a solid  prospect, possibly Ryan Graves. If that were to happen, i think they move Kevin Klein for a pair of second round picks. This prediction is not based on any inside info, or  sources. Just an absolute guess.


  • Well thought out plan, dont know if it will come to fruition. However I would hate to have Clarkson have any ties to the Ranger franchise as he was one Devil I extremely hated.

    I refuse to give up a 1st round pick or any prospect for Shattenkirk. Their best option is to wait till free agency to go get him. If the market drives up his price then walk away and get a cheaper option who is better in his own zone.

    • Mike,

      I point out why Clarkson trade might not work in my other comment but I disagree about Shatty. I have 2 different offers for Shatty their pick, I’ll follow up with why.
      1. First round this year, Gropp, and Clendening(he has no value but a 6/7 dman to fill the whole of Paryanko moving up).
      2. First round this year, Raanta, Clendenning for Shatty plus Hutton. They get some a goalie to battle Allen for number 1.

      Why trade for a dman that will most likely sign here in the off season, two reasons. First, make sure he fits before signing the big fish contract, we have repeatedly failed in this category Richards, Gomez, Drury, Redden. Id be nice to make sure he can play top assignments before signing him like he can, he never has, but he will be paid like he can. Make sure him and Mac as well as him and AV gel, they should but its a nice assurance to have.

      Second to go for it all. Yes weve done this before and failed, so why will it work now? There is no guarentee it works but some food for thought. 3rd in wins in the NHL, thats with Hanks worst slump, injuries to 3 top 9 forwards that over lapped, and Dan Girardi playing top line minutes. If Shatty is picked up Girardi goes to third line minutes and can take a game or two off if Klein is still here cause AV trusts Klein. With the scare of the expansion draft teams dont want to bring back anyone with term, I expect a quieter deadline (could be wrong) for this reason.

      While there is no guarentee Shatty works, there is also no guarentee that the offense clicks like this next year. With next year after the draft, who knows what trades will happen once teams have lost that fear. One thing I do know if the plan is Shatty in the offseason, Id much rather test drive him now and see his worth.

  • By the way where did you see Dreger reporting that St Louis wants to trade Shattenkirk today?

    • Check Chris Nichols timeline on twitter. Any interview Dreger does Nichols tweets out to people out of market. Dreger on Shattenkirk: “I’m told they’ve committed to trading him.”

  • PLEASE STOP trading away our draft picks! The Pack is an extremely weak team. Why? Simply because we give away draft picks like Halloween candy……………………..

    • Jerry,I agree 100% with you about trading our draft picks. I had no problem trading a 1 for St. Louis because I thought he would have been the player to put the Rangers over the top. Now the Rangers should be thinking about making this franchise a top team for years to come.

  • Loved the piece. Great read with my breakfast !
    I see a lot of sense to that idea from both sides. I read Columbus is hoping Vegas takes clarkson. NHL has yet to rule if he can be left unprotected even with permission. I don’t see it. McPhee will want something to take him. Columbus would
    Be better off making this deal. I am
    Ok with them moving a first for shatty. Let’s get him now and try for a cup! I know 3 straight drafts without a first BUT signed Hayes and Vesey. That replaces 2 of them with top 6 forwards. I’ll take it.

    • Why are you ok w giving up a 1st for someone you can sign in July? The other problem w Shattenkirk is going to be his upcoming contract. Ranger fans are up in arms with Staal and Girardi’s cap hit and length. Shattenkirk is looking for a 7 million dollar deal and a length of 6 years. That’s not what I think he wants but what respected insiders like Dreger are saying. In fact this is what Dreger stated about Shattenkirk;

      Here’s the deal with Shattenkirk:

      He’s a very good NHL defender, but the next contract he gets is going to be for what he’s done, and not for what he’s going to provide.

      You can’t pay a guy $7M per year long term when he’s going to decline and eventually hamstring the salary cap for whoever he signs with.

      Dealing assets for Shattenkirk and spending that kind of money long-term on someone who won’t fulfill expectations is a disastrous move.

      If it was a team-friendly contract, say, under six million per season for around five years, then it’s easier to do. Unfortunately, that’s not realistic.

      Aside from his massive payday that’s inevitable, Shattenkirk is going to be extremely expensive to acquire.

      Ranger fans and I hope the franchise should have learned their lessons in giving bad contracts to players nearing the down side of their careers. I hope the Rangers stay clear away from Shattenkirk the more information that comes out about what St. Louis is looking for and what his wants and needs for his upcoming contract.

      • We will agree to disagree on this one. Shatty is 28 and a very good skater. To me he is a right handed Keith Yandle, but two years younger. And he isn’t shy about shooting the puck. I could see 4-5 very good years from him and maybe 2 good ones. I honestly don’t think it gets to 7 mil per. Tampa offered 6 mil per and I think it ends up closer to that figure. I also think Girardi will be moved this summer. One way or another. And I could see torts wanting a veteran D especially if he loses Johnson. I don’t mind trading a first when they are restocking with free agents like Hayes and Vesey. Back of the first round picks have a low chance of being top 6 forwards that 13 and 26 will be or are. Outside of Nash and maybe zuc they are very young up front with gropp coming soon. I understand your thinking. And if they were just barely making the playoffs I would pass, but they are a top 5 team.

        • Did you read what Dreger said about him? Nowhere is the prevailing thought that it will take 6 million per year to sign him. That makes little sense bc he’s making 5.2 now, so in his last contract to pull in big money he’s going to sign for a few hundred thousand more? Not happening. Nowhere has Shattenkirk said that he would gives his favorite team growing up a home town discount, and his agent would never allow that to happen. Dreger’ statement should be a major warning to Ranger fans, it’s going to take a big return to get him and his next contract will cripple this teams cap space. And to give up a 1st and a prospect just to completely kill your cap situation makes no sense at all. I personally am done with this team handing out terrible contracts, enough is enough. This team cannot afford another mistake of a contract. STAY FAR AWAY! the same fans who would give up prospects and 1st round picks will be screaming about his cap hit and declining play.

          The Rangers have a long history of bad deals, let’s not add to that list. I rather go after Brendan Smith or Cody Franson. Both would be cheaper to get in a trade a day be a better financially in the long run.

          • We definitely will agree to disagree. Hockey more than any sport, has seen many free agents leave money on the table to go somewhere they wanted to be. Brad richards did when he signed here. Vanek did when he signed with the wild. Brian Campbell did when he signed with the Blackhawks. You and I are diehard ranger fans. Shattenkirk is also. As is his family. So yes, it’s no stretch to think he will leave money on table. And yes I think he will be south of 7 mil. ( he wants to win here too). And yes I will give up a first and a prospect to get him now because this team has earned that. They are a top 5 team and he makes them better for the Cup tourney.

  • Chris,

    I agree there are other ways then buying out Girardi, I think you have the right idea but the wrong team. I dont know the right team but heres issues I see on why they arent.

    First Torts has changed his system with using quick outs, no d to d passes, that doesnt help him. G would probably slot into the third line, thats alot of money for a third pair guy.

    You point to the Clarkson Horton trade, the main factor in this deal was Horton’s contract was not insured, im not sure why it wasnt but most are. If Clarksons (i assume it is) is insured, the salary is not paid by CBJ but by an insurance company. Its a good idea to look into but Im not sure that option is there.

    One rule I would like to know, is if you can offer something to Vegas to take Girardi or Staal in the draft if Gorton gets one to agree to waive for the expansion. Getting one clean off the books would help especially if retaining salary on the other.

    • I can’t say I know all the details about the insurance on clarkson’s deal. I have never heard of a deal that is fully insured. So it’s probably a matter of what percentage it’s insured. I think torts and JD know girardis character, which is very high. There is also still a lot of shot blocking being asked of his young D and IF they lose Johnson, he is the only veteran D they have. I know there are many who think Girardi can’t play, but the reality is in a slower system, as Columbus is not as up tempo as NYR, he is still a 4-5 D man. Remember girardis real money owed goes down a lot over the last 3 years. Maybe nyr picks up the 1 mil bonus like they did with brassard to make it more attractive to CBJ? There are 210 defensemen in the NHL right now. Believe it or not, Girardi is still in the top 50% of them. Add 7 more defenseman next year with Vegas and it thins out some more. I think insurance or not cbj gets a defenseman that is still great on PK and could be a great pair with Werenki. And they give up no real asset. Paying him 5 mil then 2 years at 4 mil isn’t so bad.

      • Chris,

        Im not sure the full details, I just remember the big deal with that trade is Hortons wasnt insured and therefor a team like Columbus would rather take a similar contract and have a player on the ice. I think most are insured not sure why Hortons wasnt.

        Im not an anti-Girardi guy that sits there waiting for a mistake to point it out. Theres many guys Id rather have Girardi on the rink over, but how many of them are making close to him, not many. Thats the problem, sure he could play bottom assignments or second pair on not a contender, but his cap hit is top pair.

        The difference between Brassard trade and trading Girardi is Brass is worth the cap hit, Girardi not anymore, to a contender. Maybe a rebuild will take a flyer on him but I dont think a CBJ will.

        • Cap hit is less of an issue with small maket teams. Actual money owed is bigger. CBJ is not a team that plays to cap anyway. And who Girardi is will be a big factor to torts and JD if this scenario ever plays out

          • Chris,

            The thing is CBJ is not in a rebuild, they are a playoff team. I know understand about more of a budget team then a cap team, even though they have more money spent on the cap then we have this year. Its not wise for a budget team to pay a 3rd pair guy 5 mil, 4 mil and 4 mil. That money can be better spent on results over intangables.

            My whole point is a rebuild budget team is a much better option then a playoff team. I dont agree with buying him out but if they did, I could see CBJ taking a minimal contract out on him. Similar to Chicago and Roszival.

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