The Anaheim Ducks are looking into New York Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi and have had talks discussing a trade. Anaheim is first overall in the NHL with a three-point lead over the second place team and could use some reinforcements if they believe that the team can make a long playoff run. Acquiring a top pairing defender such as Girardi suggests that the Ducks plan to go for it all as he could be a rental with no strings attached come the summer free agency period. Girardi could also be a long-term investment if the Ducks and he agree to terms before or during free agency, as Anaheim features a young core on their blue line.
The only two defensemen on Anaheim that are right-handed shots are veteran depth player Ben Lovejoy and rookie Sami Vatanen. The entire top of the depth chart features left-handed players including Cam Fowler, Francois Beauchemin and Luca Sbisa. Depth is key when it comes to the playoffs, and adding a hard-nosed, defensively responsible player such as Girardi can do a world of good for the Ducks in the postseason. The Ducks’ defense has been overachieving this season with youngsters like Vatanen and Hampus Lindholm playing well and having strong supplemental production from supporting players such as Andrew Cogliano, Nick Bonino and Dustin Penner. It is understandable that the Ducks would like to reinforce their roster with established NHL players in case their overachieving players come back down to earth during a crucial time.
This trade also would make sense for the Rangers, who have decisions to make on their upcoming free agents. Along with Girardi, New York must make a decision on captain Ryan Callahan. Both are impending unrestricted free agents, and the team has not been able to make progress for a deal that works well for both sides. Given that Ryan McDonagh has proven that he can play the right side effectively in the Olympics for Team USA, Girardi has become expendable. The team would then rely on players such as Justin Falk and Conor Allen to take a third pairing spot while expanding the roles of Kevin Klein and Anton Stralman. New York’s management understands that this team isn’t built for a championship and should look to improve the team in the future, even if it ends up hurting the team in terms of short-term performance.
What would a realistic trade look like between the Rangers and the Ducks? Anaheim has roughly $8.6 million in prorated cap space at the trade deadline, so fitting a contract such as Girardi’s is not an issue. Vatanen has been mentioned as one of the players that could be sent to New York and would fill the hole of puck-moving defenseman that was left open when the team dealt Michael Del Zotto. The Rangers are also lacking in impressive forward prospects. Emerson Etem has been up and down between the Ducks and the Norfolk Admirals of the AHL and could be a valuable trade chip, as could up and comer Rickard Rakell. While Anaheim is not the only team interested in Girardi, a deal might be most realistic between these two teams.