Gaborik may not be your prototypical "franchise player", but I don't see an argument against Staal or Richards. Staal is the workhorse D that logs 28+ minutes every night and shuts down top players. One of the best pure defensive players in the league, and he's only 24. His offensive game may be relatively mediocre, but he's still a huge difference maker.
Richards is a legitimate #1 center that completely changes the dynamic of the entire forward group. He can carry the powerplay, provide clutch goals, and isn't a shabby defensive player. He may be a bit older than most of the "franchise" centers in this league, but he's still a fantastic player, and an overall difference maker that this team hasn't had at center since Mark Messier (and MAYBE Gretzky).
As for Gaborik...I don't think he's a "franchise player" in a definitive sense, but he is one of the important cogs of this team. For this team to succeed, he must succeed, and more often than not, Gaborik is a dangerous offensive player.
We're splitting hairs here. Agree with you wholeheartedly that Gabby must be a difference in order for this team to succeed because he is the only pure sniper we have.
Richards is without question one of the best passers in the league, will end up being a really good signing but he isn't any good defensively. In fact, if D-Step stays on the first line, he is hands down the most defensively responsible of the 3 players. Staal is a very good defensive defenseman who eats up minutes and is important to our team but he isn't even remotely close to being a franchise player. He is not even a legitimate #1 d-man because he doesn't possess the overall skillset necessary to be classified as such. I have nothing but respect for Staal but I honestly believe that McDonagh will be the best defenseman on the team within a few years unless of course we get lucky and sign Weber(wishful thinking on my part).
I agree. The Rangers probably didn't pick Fowler because they thought they had that guy in MDZ.
For argument sake the Rangers could also use a bruiser on defense as well(so I sort of get the Dylan McIlrath pick) but I do think they put in to much stock into Del Zotto being the offensive guy(that being said give him a year or 3 he could be it). I don't think having 2 puck movers as well hurts a team.
I do think the main problem with the Rangers though is all there defensemen basically are defensively well positioned guys and you need a little variety on defense. To me guys who are defensively well position guys are best served pairing up with offensive puck movers or hitters to cover there mistakes(when paired together it's good for a defensive zone but you lack in other areas such as transitioning to the neutral and offensive zones)