In Andrew Gross’s post-game wrap of the Rangers win over the Lightning, he mentioned a little nugget about San Jose scout John Ferguson Jr., who was attending his second straight Ranger game. While this could just be JFJ and the Sharks doing their homework for the trade deadline, it got me thinking as to who would be a potential trade target for the Rangers should San Jose come calling.
The Rangers, considering their cap situation, are going to be looking for someone with an expiring contract. Out of the ten expiring contracts, nine if you assume Ryane Clowe won’t be a target due to price, there are two players that really stand out as players the Rangers could target that San Jose might be willing to part with: Douglas Murray and Michael Handzus.
Starting with Handzus, he would clearly fill that void that Jason Arnott was supposed to fill as veteran center. While Arnott is clearly the better option, Handzus would give the Rangers a center that is primarily used in a defensive role. Using last season’s numbers –since this season we would be victims of small sample size– Handzus was deployed in the offensive zone just 46.8% of the time following a whistle. The problem here is that Handzus’ other metrics (-.189 QoC, -20.5 RCorsi) are rather awful. It’s interesting to note that Handzus, despite the awful metrics, posted a 3.8 GVT (1.27 PVT).
Handzus hopefully wouldn’t be the first target for the Rangers in their search for forward depth. That said, he’s not the worst fallback option out there. After all, the Sharks do have Scott Gomez on an expiring deal.
The more interesting player of the two is Murray, a hard-nosed defenseman who has a lot of that “jam” that Torts loves so much. His metrics aren’t awful, with a .009 QoC, -16.2 RCorsi, and 47.3% OZone Start (following a whistle). Murray won’t be a puck possession monster, but he is certainly more serviceable than Stu Bickel. His 0.8 GVT leaves a lot to be desired, but he’s on the positive end of that metric, which is all you can ask for when he’d be serving as a sixth defenseman.
The question about Murray is this: Why target him when you have someone like Steve Eminger sitting in the press box? My guess is that Torts isn’t too enamored with Eminger, and he is looking for someone a bit more physical to replace Mike Sauer. If that’s the case, then Murray makes sense. He’s essentially Eminger with a physical game.
The Sharks and the Rangers actually make decent trading partners, in the sense that the Sharks have an abundance of depth guys that might entice the Rangers. Considering the Sharks are 7-0-1, it’s tough to really gauge what they would want from the Rangers. If they don’t want a roster play, than a middle-pick or a C prospect might get it done for either of these guys.