I think we can all agree that New York Rangers defenseman Marc Staal‘s best years are behind him. Even though he showed tremendous courage after concussion problems and that horrific eye injury two seasons ago, Staal only shows flashes of what once made him the team’s best shutdown defenseman and unfortunately business is business. With the Rangers rumored to buy out center Brad Richards before July 1 and needing help at center already anyway, Staal can be a key trading piece to fill the void at center.
Two prime candidates the Rangers will try to trade for are Joe Thornton of the San Jose Sharks and Jason Spezza of the Ottawa Senators. Both teams are looking for defense, and while in both scenarios it will not be a straight up deal, you can guarantee Staal will definitely be in the package shipped to either team.
While Thornton and Spezza may be good players, especially in the regular season, both are on the wrong side of 30 and are really not the best trade options for the Rangers. The Colorado Avalanche are once again having contract disputes with young center Ryan O’Reilly, and reports have said the organization is getting fed up and may be forced to trade him. If these rumors are true then the Rangers must swoop in.
O’Reilly has been in the league since he was 18 years of age in the 2009-10 season, so right now he is only 23 years old and going through his second contract dispute with the Avalanche, as he is currently a restricted free agent. If both sides do not find common ground a package of Staal and prospects could be well worth it, as O’Reilly has No. 1 center potential. He has shown that he is getting better and better with every season, recording 66 points last year, which would have led the Rangers last season by the way; and did I mention he is only 23?
You can say money and giving up too many prospects could be issues with acquiring O’Reilly, but the exact same thing would be said about Thornton and Spezza as well. So all in all, in my opinion, if the Rangers luck out in free agency and need to trade for a center, it should be O’Reilly on the top of their list and not Thornton and Spezza.