Exploring a trade between the Rangers and Lightning for the rights to Anthony Cirelli

The name Anthony Cirelli is raising a few eyebrows around these parts lately. For the most part, this a fan driven rumor surrounding the New York Rangers trying to obtain the 23 year-old center from the Tampa Bay Lightning. Some are even calling to offer-sheet Cirelli, which is just not something I expect Jeff Gorton to do.

Who is Anthony Cirelli?

At 6′ and a 193 pounds, Anthony Cirelli is a big center. He is a finalist for the Selke Award which goes to the NHL’s best defensive forward. That’s pretty remarkable considering this is only his second year in the NHL.

Cirelli is also tough to play against and will be in your face from the opening buzzer to the final horn in OT if necessary. He is Tampa’s best penalty killer and currently serving as the team’s 2nd line center with Steven Stamkos out.

This past season, Cirelli scored 44 points in 68 games. For his career he has amassed 94 points in 168 contests. Rock solid numbers for a young center for sure.

Should the Rangers attempt to acquire Cirelli?

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Anthony Cirelli NYR target? (Photo by Scott Audette /NHLI via Getty Images)

On a recent podcast, I spoke with NYR beat report, Vince Mercogliano who feels Cirelli would be the Rangers 2nd line center if acquired. I simply don’t feel that way. Listen, I think the kid is good but in 12 playoff games for Tampa he has a grand total of four points. They miss Stamkos for sure, regardless of the fact they are one game away from the Eastern Conference Final.

Look, the Rangers need centers, of that there is no doubt. However, I am not sold that Cirelli is going to blossom into a point a game type number two center everyone else believes he will be in Rangerstown. Still, he would make an ideal third line center for sure, and instantly make the team better.

What a realistic trade for Cirelli would look like

Let me start off by saying, the Lightning want to keep Cirelli and will make every effort to do so. However, Tampa has cap constraints and must also retain 4 other restricted free agents, one being Mikhail Sergachev. On top of that they have 5 other players heading to unrestricted status like Kevin Shattenkirk. By the way, they only have $5 million in cap space to get this done.

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Filip Chytil could be a valuable trade chip (Getty Images)

Should the Lightning be forced, a possible trade with the Rangers could see Filip Chytil and their second 1st round pick acquired from Carolina for the rights to Anthony Cirelli.

Why Filip Chytil?

Chytil makes sense because he seems better suited on the wing as David Quinn continues to put him there. He is also cost controlled for one more year at $894,166.

Cirelli would automatically slot into a 3C role on a loaded Rangers team and be a force with maybe Chris Kreider or Alexis Lafreniere. It would give the Rangers four solid centers if they re-sign Strome and keep Brett Howden on the 4th line.

As of right now, the Rangers have about $14 million in cap space and have their own RFA’s to sign. That makes all of this very tight, but still doable.