Assessing New York Rangers and the NHL Trade Deadline

By Forever Blueshirts
Ryan Strome skates away with puck (JEFFREY T. BARNES / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

The NHL Trade Deadline is on April 12. New York has already been labeled a “neutral” team heading into it. They don’t have much to sell, and are unlikely to spend too much to buy. Of course, depending on where they are in the standings closer to the deadline, I could be writing a buyers type article.

Let’s just assess where the Rangers are now.

New York Rangers have limited piece to sell at the NHL Trade Deadline

When you look at the NHL Trade Deadline, you must keep the Seattle Expansion draft in mind. You also have to think about the Rangers game-plan going forward, which includes an attempt at a big offseason trade for a center.

The Rangers have at least one player that would make a good rental, defenseman Brendan Smith.

brendan smith
Mar 4, 2021; Newark, New Jersey, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Brendan Smith (42) celebrates his goal during the third period of their game against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The Blueshirts are going to want to stock up on draft picks which are a hot commodity for many teams in the flat cap era. Smith is going to be very attractive for his ability to play both sides on defense and some 4th line grinder minutes. The 32 year-old defender plays it safe in his own zone and has proven to be a great partner for younger defensemen. By the way, it would not surprise me if the Rangers look to sign him at a team friendly price when free agency begins this summer.

Deadline decisions: Brett Howden and Julien Gauthier

The Rangers have two youngsters that could be attractive to move in the right deal at the deadline. Both may very well be exposed to Seattle in expansion, so Jeff Gorton may want to get creative with Brett Howden and Julien Gauthier.

The Blueshirts have Morgan Barron in Hartford who could potentially be successfully moved to center or play key 3rd or 4th line minutes on the wing. They also have Patrick Khoderenko that could be a find as a 4th line center. That could make Howden expendable.

Now that Vitali Kravtsov is expected to join the team no later than next week, it makes it harder to envision Gauthier in the top 9. Is Gauthier really suited to playing 8 minutes in a checking role? Of course, I wouldn’t be quick in moving him until after the Rangers make their big offseason move.

Rangers Wildcard

nhl trade rumors rangers
Jan 28, 2021; Buffalo, New York, USA; New York Rangers center Colin Blackwell (43) gets control of the puck from Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (9) in overtime period at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

I’m getting the sense that the Rangers do not see Kravtsov or Buchnevich as third line wingers. If Jeff Gorton is going to make a trade for a center, you have to think one of these two players will be going the other way. However, how do you look at what Buchnevich has done and not say he needs to stay. Of course, Colin Blackwell is in the top 9 at the moment and could be a wild card to move.

The 27 year-old is an absolute bargain at $725,000 with ten points this season. He has another year left for the Blueshirts at that price and would be a great low cost forward next season. However, he is going to be exposed to Seattle in the expansion draft and Jeff Gorton may want to sell high on him. Like I said earlier, draft picks in the current NHL economy are like gold.

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