Fri 24 Feb 2012
It looks like the Jeff Carter to the Los Angeles Kings deal might have produced a new, and surprising, face on the trading block. The talk is that the Kings are looking to move Dustin Brown. The Kings captain has two more years left on a contract worth $3.2 million. TSN’s Bob McKenzie’s opinion is LA likes him as a player, but not as their captain. While Brown is a RW, Coach Daryl Sutter has been playing the slumping Brown on LW of late.
Brown isn’t a big-time goal scorer like Rick Nash, but he is a solid two-way player who plays on the PP and PK and would fit like a glove into Coach John Tortorella’s system. I am not sure if Brandon Dubinsky is the right price in terms of what the Rangers should give up and in terms of what the Kings are looking for in return.
TSN’s Darren Dreger tweeted that the Kings would be looking for young defenseman and a secondary scorer. While Dubinsky fits the secondary scorer tag, I don’t know if the Kings want a prospect like a Tim Erixon or Dylan McIlrath.
McKenzie tweeted that the following teams might be in on Brown: “BOS, BUF, EDM, NJD, NYR, PHI, TOR, VAN are amongst teams with high levels of interest in Brown.”
ESPN’s Pierre LeBrunn mentioned the Rangers, Boston, Philadelphia, and Toronto as strong suitors for Brown. LeBrun writes that while the Kings really like Luke Schenn, that might be a non-starter for Leafs GM Brian Burke – despite Burke a big Brown advocate.
It is hard to see the Devils involved on Brown because there is talk they can’t fit Marek Zidlicky in their payroll structure so I am not sure if Brown would fit unless an equal salary went west. Besides, it appears that the Devils are more interested in adding a defenseman.
The question we need to consider is how does the Carter deal play into Rick Nash’s situation. Columbus cleared about $4.7 million in cap space by trading away Carter and Antoine Vermette and adding in Jack Johnson’s salary.
Columbus might not be done dealing, outside of any Nash movement, with rumors swirling that they might move Sammy Pahlsson (expiring $2.7 million) and R.J. Umberger ($3.8 million for next six years). If that is the case, there may not be an urgent need to subtract Nash’s $7.8 million.
Aaron Portzline of The Columbus Dispatch tweeted this morning that Montreal and Tampa Bay have inquired about Derick Brassard ($3.2 million).
However, if you are Nash do you really want to stay in Columbus as GM Scott Howson continues rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic? The Blue Jackets captain could force Howson’s hand by demanding a trade and limit Columbus’ ability to trade by invoking his no trade clause.
The most interesting point to note is that while Columbus is dumping salaries, they are doing among their forwards while running a nice tab among their defensemen. The Blue Jackets have approximately $15.7 million committed to their top four blueliners: James Wisniewski ($5.5 million), Johnson ($4.4 million), Marc Methot ($3.0 million), and Fedor Tyutin ($2.8 million).
In one way the Carter trade plays into the Rangers hands because President/GM Glen Sather can avoid dealing Chris Kreider by offering multiple forward prospects (Dubinsky, Christian Thomas, Michael St. Croix or even J.T. Miller) to Columbus make up for the loss of Carter, Vermette and possibly Nash.
On the down side for the Rangers, the Blue Jackets still need to bring in a goaltender to replace or, at the very least, push Steve Mason to pick up his game. With the Kings and Jonathan Bernier out, does Vancouver with Cory Schneider look to step in or does San Jose step up with one of their goaltending prospects and then decide to bite the bullet and move Logan Couture in a potential trade?
One player I omitted in my Rangers trade deadline preview was Buffalo Sabres center Paul Gaustad. The 6-foot-5 and 212-pound Gaustad will be an UFA at the end of the year and carries a $2.3 million cap hit.
While he is not going to solve the Rangers scoring problems (scored 12 goals in each of three previous seasons), he is a solid defensive player who does use his size and has the ability to play wing or center. However, Gaustad’s biggest calling card is his faceoff ability. He is winning 56.2% of his faceoffs this year and is coming a career-best of 59.8% last season.
As far as defensemen go, the two names I have seen mentioned are Chris Campoli and Shane O’Brien who are on opposite ends of the defenseman spectrum. While both have expiring contracts, Campoli ($1.75 million cap hit) is a mobile d-man who is not strong physically or defensively while O’Brien ($1.1 million) is a physical defensive d-man who is not a strong skater with little offensive game.
There are three other defensemen who should be available and offer up expiring contracts and might draw some interest from the Rangers.
Jordan Leopold ($3.0 million) is not a physical player, but he is a strong skater and has an offensive upside. Brett Clark ($1.5 million) is a mobile defenseman but not as offensive as Leopold. While Clark will block shots, he is not a physical player.
The one defenseman who does intrigue me is Carolina’s Bryan Allen ($2.9 million). While the 31-year-old often has battled the injury bug, he would bring much-needed size to the table for the Rangers. The 6-foot-5 and 226-pound Allen has no offensive game at all, but he is a decent skater for his size and has the ability to be a shutdown defenseman.
We might know sooner rather than later the direction the Rangers are choosing. This morning Dreger tweeted that the Maple Leafs are pushing the Blue Jackets to make a decision as early possible – with Saturday being a potential deadline. Dreger also wrote that the Rangers are taking the same stance.
It seems that both teams want to know the deal with Plan N (Nash) before deciding if they have to switch to Plan B (Brown).
Whichever way Sather decides to go, it will not surprise me to see him make a small deal or two to help the Connecticut Whale in their playoff push. Thise type of deals might not seem like much, but it was deals like that which netted the Rangers valuable parts like Stu Bickel and John Mitchell.
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