With the expansion draft looming, and the buyout window opening up on June 15th, many decisions will be made this week. One of those decisions is rumoured to be the New York Rangers buying out Dan Girardi.
Girardi hasn’t been a point producer since the 2011-2012 season, and fans have been calling for his buyout ever since the Rangers were bounced from the playoffs. If Girardi was to be bought out of his remaining three years at $5.5 million AAV, his cap hit would be $2.6 million next season, $3.6 million the following two seasons, and then $1.1 million for three more seasons. For a team who wants to contend, having $2.6 million, and $3.6 million sitting on your books to have someone not play for you doesn’t bode well for your chances at winning a Stanley Cup.
Red Wings fans similarly have been calling for the head of Jonathan Ericsson for years. However, the likelihood of Ken Holland buying out Ericsson (who also has three years left on his deal, but only for $4.25 million) at this point, during a rebuild, doesn’t seem plausible.
Is there a way that both teams could win here? If the Wings were to make a trade centred around Ericsson and Girardi, there may be interest from the Rangers side. The Rangers could buy Ericsson out, and have a lower cap hit each year, except the last three. In those last three years, the cap hit would only be $200,000 more, which is very negligible. It would free up nearly $4 million of their cap for the first three years, which, when combined with other trades and expansion picks, would allow them to add pieces to continue to contend for the Stanley Cup for the next few seasons. Because Girardi has a modified NMC, it would also allow the Rangers to protect another player during the expansion draft, which they desperately need.
On the Red Wings side of things, they would get a defender who would immediately be better than Ericsson, and add some stability to their blue line. Girardi would only cost $1.25 million more than Ericsson, he would be an upgrade, and his contract is still up at the end of the 2020 season, just like Ericsson’s would be. Obviously, this doesn’t help the rebuild of the Red Wings, but finding a suitor for Ericsson in exchange for a young prospect, or draft picks also seems pretty farfetched. The Red Wings would take on a little bit more salary, for an improved defenceman, for no longer of a term.
Perhaps the Rangers would be willing to throw in a draft pick for next year’s draft as a “thank you” to the Red Wings for taking a large contract off their hands. If this trade looked anything like Ericsson for Girardi and a 2018 4th, I think the Red Wings would have to be intrigued. It would definitely be tough to rebuild, and groom young defensemen by having them play with Ericsson; that might be an easier job with a veteran like Girardi, who has seen many playoff games over his career. While this is all contingent on Girardi waiving his NMC for a trade to Detroit, there is some definite common sense here for both sides.