Saturday, February 4, 2017

Rangers Should Take a Chance on Iginla

Last week, I made my argument for the Rangers to acquire a grinding presence up front at the trade deadline.

A couple of players who fit the criteria include Troy Brouwer, Martin Hanzal, Antoine Roussel and finally, my personal favorite, Jarome Iginla, who's apparently asking out of Colorado...

“I would like to, at the deadline, go somewhere,” Iginla said in an interview with Puck Daddy. “I would like to be in the playoffs. I would hope that there is some opportunity to go and play in the playoffs. Those are the best games, the most fun for sure, and you have a chance to win. So no, I haven’t given up on that chance to win.”

Yes, I know he's pushing 40 (39 years old to be exact) and has scored a grand total of SIX goals this season, but hear me out.

Iggy's going to come to New York motivated as hell. Just look at that quote. He wants one more kick at the can before sailing off into the sunset, so he'd infuse the locker room with some much needed enthusiasm and urgency. Remember Marty St. Louis' impact in 2014? No? Let me remind you...

Now obviously, I'm not expecting Iginla to be relied on for offense the way St. Louis was, but I anticipate he'd provide invaluable leadership for the young forwards. Could you imagine Kreider, Miller, Hayes and Vesey being able to pick Iginla's brain for the next four months?

Since Iginla will be fully invested in winning, I doubt he'd have any problem with a fourth line role because, to be honest, with how deep the Rangers forwards are, unless there's an injury or someone slumps, there really isn't room for him in the top nine. Heck, there's barely room for him in the bottom three (I'll get to that later).

With the Rangers likely to play one or both of the Penguins and Capitals on their way to a Stanley Cup, having a potential shutdown fourth line of Fast-Lindberg-Iginla could be a match-up nightmare for Crosby and Ovechkin, while allowing Stepan, Nash, Zibanejad and Kreider to focus on offense.

(NERD ALERT!!!!! The next paragraph is solely intended for an analytics audience)

For those concerned that Iginla may have lost a step in his old age, the guy is sporting a 49% Corsi For despite starting his shifts in the defensive zone 52.1% of the time. His Corsi For% is 3.2% higher than the Avalanche team average (4th worse in the NHL), so he's been able to maintain decent puck possession even while playing for a franchise that doesn't value it. Not to mention his PDO (Shooting Percentage + Save Percentage) is at a minuscule 95.3 when the NHL average is 100, meaning he's had an absurd amount of bad luck while on the ice this season. Which is bound to adjust to the mean.

(I now return you to your regular broadcasting)

Now that I've hopefully gotten you, at the very least, paying attention, I'm sure you're wondering what his contract looks like. Whelp, he's in the final year of a three-year deal that pays him $5.33M per. So basically the Rangers would be on the hook for the final four months of that salary. In other words, peanuts. Virtually zero salary and commitment?

Yeah, but how much is he going to cost in order to get him in a Blueshirt you ask? As you can see from the above quote, he's publicly stated he wants out of Colorado, so he's essentially pulled the rug out from under any leverage the Avalanche might have had for an almost 40-year old forward. No way he'd cost more than a middle round pick.

The only negative I envision is where he fits in the line-up if/when the Rangers are completely healthy. Once Hayes returns, Lindberg or Puempel will be joining Pirri in the press box. Meaning the last of those three standing would also likely find himself as a healthy scratch or waived if Iginla is brought on board. So what's the problem you ask?

I don't know, only a bottom three of Fast-Buchnevich-Iginla. Not exactly a shutdown fourth line. And who the hell is playing center? Which means, if AV wants the 4th line I mentioned earlier, Vesey or Buchnevich might need to sit. I assume most of you wouldn't be thrilled with that scenario.

So what to do. To me, AV should play it by ear. Injuries, slumps and trades (hopefully for a defenseman) happen to every team, so it's very unlikely the Rangers head coach will have his current compliment of forwards for the next four months. And if he does, play the matchups and hot hands. In a playoff series against the Caps or Pens, AV will likely need a physical presence such as Iginla, but against the speed of the Blue Jackets or Canadiens, Vesey and Buchnevich probably make more sense.

While Iginla will be brought in here to help make a difference, in no way shape or form should he be guaranteed ice time. Which, if he really is committed to winning, shouldn't bother him.

Now that I've laid out all the positives of why the Rangers should take this low risk chance on Iginla, who's with me?

Obviously, a move for Iginla alone does not put this team over the top. Not even close. So let's take a look at some of the rumors involving the Rangers upgrading their blueline.

- Pierre LeBrun at ESPN reports the Rangers are one of a handful of teams that have called St. Louis about Kevin Shattenkirk.

- According to sources, the Rangers are going to be heavily scouting the Kings and potentially their blueline (H/T Blue Seat Blogs).

- Bob McKenzie of TSN has stated that the Rangers are targeting a top-four right handed defenseman. However, they're not willing to sacrifice any of their core.

If the Rangers want any chance of making some noise in the postseason, an upgrade on defense is essential. But at what price?

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