The New York Rangers still have plenty of cap space to go out and improve their lineup. Per CapFriendly, they have $8.8M to play with, but should have over $9M once they cut the roster to 23. They also need to have close to $2 million for performance bonuses, but that’s still plenty for them to trade for Vladimir Tarasenko if they so choose. A possibility that can’t be ruled out per some recent reports.
On the other hand, the news that Jack Eichel is likely scheduled to have surgery and return in December should give them pause. If Eichel is healthy and ready to play hockey come January, that’s who they should target. Plus, the Rangers will have a better feel for where they stand on several fronts to make a decision.
Jack Eichel trade moratorium a blessing
TSN’s Shawn Simpson reported earlier this week that Eichel may have surgery “very soon” and his timetable to return would be December.
So what surgery is Eichel having? A fusion’s recovery time is no less than 12 weeks. Meanwhile, the disc replacement is a window of 8-10 weeks. Based on Simpson’s December return, it sounds like it may be the fusion option, but it’s NOT confirmed.
Regardless, if there is indeed a moratorium on an Eichel trade while everyone waits to see the outcome of his surgery, this is a blessing for the Blueshirts.
The Rangers will have time to assess where they are in the development of core young forwards. In particular, Kaapo Kakko who has been mentioned in potential Eichel trade talks. At this point, the Blueshirts have been unwilling to include him and rightfully so. It will also give them time to see what they have in Vitali Kravtsov.
Either way, a few months of action for both those players would help the Rangers decide if they are indeed willing to part with one to facilitate a trade.
The Zibanejad factor
Another factor that can’t be ignored is Mika Zibanejad and his next extension. The Rangers will probably have negotiated a new deal for the 28 year-old center, or at least know what he’s looking for by then. If Mika is looking for 7 or 8 years at $10 to $11 million, the Rangers may opt to trade for the younger Eichel (24) with less than five seasons remaining at $10 million.
Zibanejad, who has scored 65 goals and 125 points in 113 games over the last two seasons isn’t worried either way.
“What the club has done so far has been good and we will get the ultimate results on the ice next season,” Zibanejad said in a recent interview. “All that other stuff (Eichel) is more talk than anything else and I’m confident in the situation I’m in, so no matter if something happens, I’m calm.”
Mika’s confidence also comes from comments Chris Drury made recently when asked about his contract situation. “Mika is a huge part of our team. I’m not going to discuss his contract or anyone else’s publicly,” Drury said. “I have a ton of respect for him as a person and a player.”
The feeling around the club is that the Rangers would like to keep Mika around. Of course, if they can work out a long-term deal with a lower AAV, it’s possible they could have both Eichel and him down the middle for years to come.
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