On McCabe To The Rangers

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Yesterday the Florida Panthers continued their Spring 2011 Sales Extravaganza, sending team captain Bryan McCabe to the New York Rangers in exchange for Tim Kennedy and a third round draft pick this summer.  After the jump, a closer look at exactly what that deal means for both sides.

For the New York Rangers:

  • Contractually, McCabe’s a big-ticket item, paid $5.75 million in 2010-11.  However, this is also the last season on that contract so it isn’t a concern going forward.
  • The Rangers have given four different defencemen heavy minutes on the power play this season: Michael Del Zotto, Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, and the since-departed Michal Rozsival.  Only Staal has managed double-digit point totals on the man advantage for the blueshirts, with 10.  Bryan McCabe, at first glance, isn’t an improvement on that total: he has seven points in 48 games for the Panthers on the man advantage.  That said, McCabe had 19 points last year on the power play, and it’s worth remembering that while the Rangers power play (at 16.9%) is nothing to write home about, the Panthers have been worse (13.7%).  McCabe has a strong track record in this department, and I think we will see him bounce back in New York.
  • McCabe’s situational statistics in Florida are mind-blowing.  On a team that has tossed Mike Weaver and Jay Garrison to the wolves (38.7/41.5% zone starts, 2nd/1st in QualComp), McCabe has been getting the princess treatment: he ranks sixth on the team in Quality of Competition, and has started 54.0% of the time in the offensive zone.  Despite that, the Panthers get slightly out-shot when McCabe’s on the ice.
  • Aside from all of those considerations, McCabe does fit a few other categories NHL teams look for.  He’s a respected veteran, and the ‘C’ on his jersey indicates a guy who won’t be a problem in the dressing room.  He’s got size (6’2”, 223 lbs) and while he has become more disciplined over the years he still plays with an edge.
  • I think McCabe is a useful piece for the Rangers, especially on the man advantage, but his usage in Florida worries me.  He was essentially used there as an offensive specialist, and didn’t knock the ball out of the park in that role; if the Rangers try and push him into a broader role I suspect he may struggle with it.
  • That said, I’m sure there are plenty of Rangers fans who disagree with me.  Blueshirt Banter’s Nick Montemagno was far more positive in his review of the trade:  

“[G]etting McCabe for Tim Kennedy and a third-round draft pick was an absolute steal by Glen Sather. Bryan will make this team stronger than they already are in more than just one area of the game. He’s going to be a key asset in the Rangers’ push towards the playoffs, and quite honestly, out of all the options out there to fill that role, he was probably the Blueshirts’ best considering the cost. Hats off to Glen on this one.”

For the Florida Panthers:

  • Count me as one of those people who thought the Buffalo Sabres were at least partially right to walk away from Tim Kennedy’s arbitration award last summer.  In 2009-10, Kennedy played sheltered minutes (both in terms of zone starts and opposition) and put in decent offence (1.56 EV PTS/60) but finished 12th of 13 regulars in on-ice shots for/against.  Those aren’t bad numbers for a fourth-liner but they aren’t seven-figure worthy either and the Sabres can’t afford many extravagances.
  • Kennedy’s AHL-level performance has been okay, but not especially breath-taking.  42 points in 53 games is a good scoring level for most players, but 24-year olds banging on the NHL door generally put up better numbers.  All things considered, I think Florida got a useful depth forward who might evolve into something better than that.  Kennedy’s a nice player to have, but he’s not special.
  • Kennedy’s been stuck in the AHL all season because the Rangers were afraid to put his itty bitty salary ($550,000) on re-entry waivers.  However, after the trade deadline, any team that claims Kennedy will be unable to add him to their NHL roster, so it seems likely that the Panthers can sneak him through.
  • Toss in the third-round pick and I think the Panthers did alright in terms of return here.  They lost a player who was a quality piece but seems to be a little overrated and wasn’t handling any essential duties for the team, and they added a top-100 pick and got a useful piece in return.  I’m a little surprised they didn’t hold out a day or two to see if they could get more, but this is a decent deal for them and Kennedy can step in right away.