With the trade deadline now two weeks away and teams narrowing their wish lists, the Rangers find themselves in a similar spot as most playoff hopefuls in coveting a top-four defenseman.
Ideally, the Rangers would like a right-handed defenseman who could help on the power play as well as bolster a blue line that is currently without Marc Staal. This need has been a long-standing one, actually. The Blueshirts have been seeking, and unable to find, a player that fits this bill since Michael Sauer was injured last year.
They now have one in particular on their radar.
A source confirmed what ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun mentioned earlier this week, that the Rangers have interest in San Jose Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle.
The 36-year-old veteran, who has four goals and eight assists in 26 games for the Sharks, appeals to the Rangers as a smooth skater who can move the puck and improve the power play, and also one that can log heavy minutes. Boyle leads the Sharks with 23:21 in ice time per game, an important element in the wake of Staal’s absence.
Staal averaged 24:27 per game before being sidelined with an eye injury that has him on the shelf indefinitely.
The Sharks are in eighth place heading into Wednesday’s match against Edmonton and, although it does not appear that GM Doug Wilson desires a massive shake-up, it is believed that Boyle and a handful of other players are available at the right price.
Boyle is not a rental, either, but a source indicated to ESPNNewYork.com that the Rangers are not opposed to adding a player with years remaining on his contract if he’s a good fit. Boyle has one year remaining after this season on a 6-year, $40 million deal that comes with an annual cap hit of $6.66 million.
The question is whether the Rangers are willing to match the Sharks' asking price. It is believed that San Jose wants to add some youth to its lineup without a complete overhaul, but the Rangers are reluctant to part with any of the team’s young “core” players for Boyle.
And, if the Rangers were to take on Boyle’s significant cap hit -- especially considering that the cap will lower dramatically next season -- the Sharks would have to be willing to take money back.
That leaves one obvious candidate: Marian Gaborik, who has been dogged by trade rumors for weeks.
Though the 31-year-old sniper is coming off a 41-goal season, the Rangers are open to moving him. Gaborik has been inconsistent this season and he carries a hefty price tag -- a cap hit of $7.5 million for one more year after this season -- but he could add some speed to the Sharks' lineup.
Of course, this is all for naught if Boyle spurns the idea of a deal. He does have a limited no-trade clause, although it is not immediately clear whether the Rangers are on the list of eight teams to which he would not accept a trade.
Boyle was asked about the trade rumors Wednesday morning and made it clear he wanted to stay put.
“This is where I want to be. I don’t want to be anywhere else,” Boyle told CSNBayArea.com’s Kevin Kurz Wednesday morning in Edmonton. “It’s not fun to hear that.”
Unfortunately for Boyle, he will probably hear more and more as the deadline nears.