Five Potential Trade Candidates in the NHL

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May 20, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Rangers defenseman

Dan Girardi

(5) skates with the puck against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the first period of game three of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Potential Trade Candidates: Dan Girardi

While Staal’s contract situation should hasten his depature, it’s the contract situation of the Rangers’ team overall that should hasten Girardi’s move out of town.  Girardi is locked up through 2019/20 at a $5,500,000 cap hit, complete with a no-trade clause.  The Rangers have been the only NHL organization he’s ever known, which makes the fan-favorite an unpopular, yet wise, player to be moved.

As it stands today, the Rangers have just a shade over $400,000 in available cap space heading into the season.  Barring any moving of salary, it’s going to be extremely tight to add talent at the deadline.  And even if the Rangers manage to get through the season without the need to make any impact moves or add salary, they are scheduled to have 11 players count for $53,500,000 against the cap in 2016/17.  That 11 doesn’t include players like Keith Yandle, Chris Kreider, Kevin Hayes, or J.T. Miller.

Ah yes, Keith Yandle.  Most fans would assume he’ll be out of town next summer, if not sooner, since he’s slated to become a free agent and the Rangers can’t afford to retain him at this point.  But, with defensive stalwarts Marc Staal and Ryan McDonagh already on board for the long-term with the Rangers, is Girardi repetitive?  He doesn’t bring much offense (four goals, 16 assists last season), is already 31 years old, and plays a rough-and-tough style that doesn’t exactly scream “longevity” (he’s also finished in the top-10 in blocked shots the last six seasons.)  For all his warts, Yandle is still one of the top offensive-defenseman in the NHL and should be able to flourish in a system partnered with a more defensively responsible blue-liner.

Back to Girardi though: he isn’t the fastest or best skater on the ice.  He isn’t going to score a ton or quarterback a powerplay.  He’s a solid, dependable, minute-eating defenseman who will likely begin to show the effects of his breaking down sooner rather than later.  For the Rangers, that’s $5,500,000 of cap space that can be used to re-sign its own players next summer or utilized to bring in another piece via trade or free agency.  Plus, the Rangers can still run out the trio of Staal, McDonagh, and Kevin Klein to go in front of Henrik Lundqvist, so losing Girardi won’t be fatal to the team.

As for who would want Girardi?  Well, there are a number of teams that should value his style of play and would want his veteran presence around including Edmonton, Buffalo, and maybe even Winnipeg.  Girardi would make any of those teams’ defenses instantly better and more formidable.

As for the Rangers, it’s never popular to move a fan-favorite.  But they’ve also gotten the best play out of Girardi’s career that he’ll have, so the time to move him with his value high is now.

Next: Lou Lams First Big Move?