Scott Burnside of ESPN ran a piece yesterday discussing what he terms “this year’s most tradable players,” a fan friendly list of a players likely to be moved in the weeks leading up to the deadline. There’s sexy names up and down the list, but for the most part the players either don’t fit any of the Blueshirts’ needs (Manny Fernandez, Vesa Toskala, The Bulinwall) or are just flat out unattainable because of talent/cap reasons (Jay Bouwmeester, Ilya Kovalchuk, Vinny Lecavalier, Marian Gaborik, Jason Spezza), except for one guy: Keith Tkachuk.
It seems like there’s a Tkachuk-to-the-Rangers rumor every year, and just like every other year the soon to be 37 year old would fill two needs: a top six forward and a guy that’ll park himself in front of the net with a man advantage. Tkachuk’s not Nik Antropov huge, but he does offer some size (listed at 6’2″, 231 lbs) and there’s a darn good chance he’ll be re-energized by joining a playoff team after making the postseason just once in the past four seasons (’06-’07 with Atlanta). He’s still got a nose for the net, potting fifteen goals this year (including the first goal in Sunday’s All Star Game) despite minimal help from his Blues teammates, and his ten power play goals (sixth most in the league) would far and away lead the club.
Now, how does the money work? Tkachuk’s making $4.5M this year and has a $4M cap number according to NHL Numbers, and is due to hit the free agent market following the season. That $4M cap hit is a bit of an eyesore but it’s certainly doable. Perhaps the deal could be expanded to included a physical (and cap friendly) defensman like Jeff Woywitka or Roman Polak, both of whom will be restricted free agents after the season. Adding that extra player would make giving up multiple young players/picks for Tkachuk much easier to swallow.
Bill Guerin’s name has been connected to the Rangers in the past few weeks, but Tkachuk is almost the exact same player production wise (15 G, 16 A vs 14 G, 18 A) except sixteen months younger and with a more favorable contract. Hopefully we hear some more about this in the coming weeks.