Before you allow the title of this article ruffle your feathers or get the hackles on the back of your neck standing on end, I’m just engaging in a little game of “what if.” It’s a purely hypothetical scenario that came to mind watching Rick Nash dominate Tampa Bay and create scoring chances all over the place for himself and his linemates Thursday. He was so good in fact that I wonder if the Rangers could afford to move Gaborik for blue line help and actually help their chances of winning the Stanley Cup in doing so.
In case you can’t see how important Nash is on the ice, take a look at the numbers. In the four games Nash was out of the lineup, all losses by the way, the Rangers scored six goals (half of which in came in the Winnipeg game) and averaged 27.25 shots on goal per game. In the three games before he missed time with a mystery ailment and Thursday’s win over Tampa (four games, apples to apples), the Rangers scored 13 goals and fired an average of 37.5 shots on the opposition net. Small sample size to be sure but that is a noticeable difference.
Now let’s get back to the eye test. The Rick Nash I’ve seen for most of the season is aggressive on the puck and is causing havoc in the offensive zone with his size and skating ability. Rarely does he have a shift where he doesn’t do something to create some sort of offensive chance. We saw firsthand how Nash’s presence in the lineup made others around him look better. Richards had arguably his best game in weeks. Hagelin and Stepan were all over the ice. It’s clear Nash makes the Rangers a more dangerous offensive team when he is in the lineup.
Now let’s talk about Gaborik for a minute. I have always liked Gaboirk. I understood his deficiencies but respected his abilities too. That being said where Nash was aggressive in pursuit of the puck and trying to make things happen Thursday night Gaborik was coasting; seemingly content to let the puck come to him as opposed to going and getting it. Again, I realize that the whole point in getting Nash in the first place was to add offense and to be able to roll the double threat of Nash and Gaborik. Subtracting Gaborik would seem to be counterintuitive, wouldn’t it?
Well, let’s hypothesize for a moment. We have heard that the Rangers have had a scout watching the last two Red Wings/Sharks games. He’s not there scouting potential Stanley Cup matchups; not this early at least. It could be a coincidence. The scout could have happened to be in the area on other assignments and took in those games in his down time just to get some more info on those players in case something comes up. Or, he was there scouting specific players because the Rangers are targeting someone or multiple someones.
Think back to something John Buccigross tweeted during the lockout; he stated that he had heard a Marian Gaborik for Dan Boyle deal had been discussed. Of course that was shot down soon after by others in the hockey media but let’s pretend for a minute that had been discussed to some degree. Dan Boyle happens to play for San Jose and he even played for John Tortorella in Tampa so there is that connection. What if that’s exactly what the Rangers scout was doing watching those games? What if some form of that trade is on the table right now?
This is now purely conjecture on my part but another guy that could interest the Rangers is RW Ryan Clowe. He is goalless through 17 games to start the season but has twice scored 20+ and has three 50-point-plus seasons under his belt. He’s big at 6-2, 230, and will be a free agent after the season. What if San Jose was willing to trade Dan Boyle and Ryan Clowe to New York for Gaborik and either a prospect or draft pick? Is that at least not intriguing enough to condsider?
Clowe wouldn’t replace the skill of Gaborik but given his size and physical game it’s possible he’d fit in well with the Rangers. I could see the lines shaping out to look something like this with Clowe in and Gaborik out.
Hagelin – Richards – Nash
Pyatt – Stepan – Callahan
Miller – Boyle – Clowe
Powe – Halpern – Asham
It may not be quite as imposing with Clowe on the 3rd line and Gaborik out but it still looks solid to me.
Now let’s picture our D corps with Dan Boyle on the blue line.
Staal – Girardi
McDonagh – Boyle
Del Zotto – Stralman
Torts will appreciate the left-right matchups throughout the three pairs. It’s just about worth making the trade so you don’t have to slot one of Eminger, Gilroy or especially Bickel in the lineup with any regularity.
Also, I have to believe Boyle playing the point on the PP would be a boost to that sad sack unit too. He has two goals and six points so far for San Jose’s man advantage group and last year finished with 17 PP points.
Sure, he’s 36 and has one more year left on his deal but he’s on pace to score roughly nine goals and 40+ points in a full regular season so he can still contribute.
Gaborik also has a year left at a salary just north of $800K more than Boyle so the Rangers would actually save a little bit on next year’s salary cap.
Now I’d truthfully be surprised if the Sharks would contemplate trading Dan Boyle at this point but I’ve been surprised many times before. I’m not saying the Rangers SHOULD make this deal were it offered but I’d recommend they at least consider making this TYPE of trade if it was out there. Nash looks like he makes the offense better all by himself and if you can add another top-9 F and a top-4 D that can help on the PP for Gaborik I think that COULD be a deal the Rangers should make.
Filed Under: Rangers
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.