Going into the season I openly wondered if the Rangers needed a player to fill a second-line winger vacancy. The options included J.T. Miller, Kevin Hayes and filling the role from the outside through a cheap free agent signing.
At the time there were few to no rumors about Patrick Marleau being available, but now he has reportedly asked the Sharks to look into trading him, listing the Rangers as one of three acceptable destinations. In theory Marleau would fill that second line winger role, but in reality he has no place on the Rangers roster.
Since I questioned who would fill the second line winger spot, both Hayes and Miller have had opportunities in that role. Hayes has since been moved to the third line center spot, while Miller has shined in the open spot. With Oscar Lindberg thriving on the third line with Hayes and Viktor Stalberg, Miller’s ideal spot in the Rangers lineup is on the second line with Chris Kreider and Derek Stepan. The Rangers boast 13 forwards fighting for 12 spots, leaving no room for Marleau to fit onto the roster. Sure, Marleau is a better player than over half of those 13 players, but the Rangers do not have a need for the aging winger at all, making it pointless for the team to give up assets.
New York has prospect Pavel Buchnevich likely joining the NHL in the next calendar year, young forwards Mats Zuccarello, Chris Kreider, Miller and Hayes, and Oscar Lindberg gaining steam as legitimate top-six NHL players, and a lack of impressive top forward prospects that would interest the Sharks. So for the Rangers to acquire Marleau, they would likely have to surrender current NHL forwards for two years of Marleau, furthering their push for the Stanley Cup while surrendering some of their future in the process.
In evaluating the balance between present and future–while Marleau is a fantastic player–he does not represent a major enough addition that it would make sense for the Rangers to surrender young, controllable NHL forwards that are actively making a difference on a team with just two regulation losses.
In addition, the Rangers cannot afford Marleau under the salary cap. For the Rangers to be able to acquire Marleau, they would have to shed ~$6.8M or have the Sharks pay part of Marleau’s contract and give up a greater bevy of prospects or NHL-ready players. The only way the deal makes any semblance of sense is if the Rangers move Dan Girardi in the deal, but Girardi holds a no-movement clause, and the difference in contracts would still not be enough for the Rangers to be in safe cap position. The deal is not a simple player for player or players deal, but instead a difficult to maneuver swap of a player to a team that has no need for him and not enough money to pay for his contract.
While Marleau is a player with an abundance of talent, and one that I may have wanted the Rangers to find a way to make room for in the offseason, there is simply no need for him on the Blueshirts roster.
The Rangers do not have the money, need, or ability to make a trade the Sharks would want to make in order to move the disgruntled forward. The Sharks would be better off looking to the Anaheim Ducks or Los Angeles Kings as a potential destination for Marleau, or asking him to consider other Eastern Conference teams that have the cap space and the need.