According to Darren Dreger of TSN, the New York Rangers have the assets and financial resources to acquire Rick Nash, Ryan Suter, or Shea Weber, and are actively looking to make a deal for at least one of these big names that are on the market. This news comes on the same day that Devils’ captain Zach Parise said that there was “no way” he would consider joining the Devils’ Atlantic Division rival when he becomes a free agent on July 1st.
The Rangers have plenty of financial space to take on Nash’s current contract, or sign Suter (an unrestricted free agent) or Weber (a restricted free agent) to a contract for market value. According to Capgeek.com, the Atlantic Division Champions have over $21 million in cap space, with fifteen players currently under contract for the 2012-13 season.
As the Rangers enter the off-season, bringing Nash to Broadway appears to be the team’s top priority. It’s no secret that one of the major reasons for the Rangers’ undoing in the playoffs was their lack of scoring. Marian Gaborik led the team in goals during the regular season, but he was severely hampered by a shoulder injury that required surgery, and will keep him out of action for at least the first month of the 2012-13 season.
Another reason why there is a possibility that the Rangers will acquire Nash is because this will be the second time this year that the Broadway Blueshirts have considered acquiring the Blue Jackets’ captain. The groundwork for a trade has already been established between the Rangers and the Blue Jackets because of discussions from this past February. Leading up to the trade deadline, the Rangers were willing to send Brandon Dubinsky, a first round draft pick, and three top prospects to the Blue Jackets for Nash, but a deal wasn’t able to be completed. With Nash still looking to leave Columbus, and the Rangers still in need of offensive help, acquiring Nash would greatly improve the Rangers’ roster and their title chances in 2012-13.
If the Rangers were to trade for Nash, they would have to trade away a package similar to the one that they offered Columbus back in February. However, if the Blueshirts were able to sign Suter after July 1st, they wouldn’t have to give up any of their assets for an all-star defenseman. This past season, Suter established career highs in assists and points, and was named to his first all-star team. In addition to recording 46 points, Suter was responsible in his own zone, registering a +15 plus/minus rating, and he averaged 26:30 of ice time per game, which was also a career high.
At 27 years old, Suter is entering the prime of his career, and will certainly command a higher salary than the $3.5 million he made last season. On the open market, the Rangers would be among a number of teams bidding for Suter’s services. The Detroit Red Wings would make a hard push for Suter, especially with the cap space and roster spot that was opened up when Nicklas Lidstrom retired. Also, even though Suter is an all-star defenseman, the Rangers have already have two solid defensemen who play the left side and are under contract. On the left side, the Rangers have all-star defenseman Marc Staal and Ryan McDonagh, and 21-year old Michael Del Zotto is an RFA, and likely will be re-signed.
However, even though Suter would be an upgrade to the Rangers’ blue line, and Nash would bring scoring to a lineup that definitely needs offensive help, it would be hard for the Rangers to pass up an opportunity to get one of the best defensemen in the league. Suter’s teammate in Nashville, Shea Weber, has emerged as one of the best all-around defensemen in the league, as evidenced by his Norris Trophy nominations in each of the last two seasons.
One of the reasons why the Rangers would love to have Weber is because of their power play struggles last year. The Rangers struggled through most of the season (they finished 23rd in the NHL), and one of the reasons was because they didn’t have a solid power play quarterback or a defenseman with a hard shot playing the point. Weber led NHL defensemen with 10 power play goals, thanks in large part to his 100 MPH shot. Also, with Weber playing the right side, the Rangers’ top-four defensemen (Weber, Dan Girardi, Staal, McDonagh) would be among the best in the NHL in front of Vezina and Hart Trophy nominee Henrik Lundqvist.
With plenty of cap space available, the Rangers have the ability to improve their roster with a big time trade or free agent signing. With the right move, they can be playing for the Cup in 2012-13.