Should the New York Rangers go all in at the trade deadline?
The New York Rangers have 24 games remaining with just 5 games to play before we hit the NHL Trade Deadline on March 21.
To be honest, I would have expected GM Chris Drury to make a move to address the many holes he needs to fill for a run at the Cup. The Rangers are tied for second in the Metropolitan Division with the Pittsburgh Penguins at 77 points and enjoy an 18 point cushion for the last wild card spot, should things go sideways.
That explains the lack of urgency, especially with mounting injuries to the forward group. However, have the Rangers warts been exposed enough over the last few games that may have the GM second guessing how hard he should go at this deadline?
New York Rangers have lots of needs
After 58 games, the New York Rangers continue to be one of the top teams in the League. Their record of 36-17-5 for 77 points is ranked 7th overall. Per MoneyPuck, they have a 99.2% chance of securing one of the 8 playoffs spots in the East.
Impressive, when you consider they’ve had issues on right wing almost all year and struggled with their third defense pairing.
The Rangers were immediately behind the proverbial 8-ball when they traded Pavel Buchnevich to free up future cap space. It is still a debatable move, but since it was inevitable, arguing it now is a moot point. The issue at right wing was also compounded with the loss of Sammy Blais, who was part of the return package going down for the season with a torn ACL.
On defense, the third pair had been a revolving door of blue-liners. Patrik Nemeth has been the most used on the left side but has struggled this season. His partners have been journeyman Jarred Tinordi, Libor Hajek, rookies Nils Lundkvist and Braden Schneider.
Schneider has been a revelation since playing his first game back on January 13. He’s now dressed in 21 straight. If Drury can deal for an upgrade over Nemeth, it would be helpful.
Of course, with the amount of injuries they have and the lack of scoring on the third line, upgrades to the bottom six are in order too.
Should the Rangers go all in at the Trade Deadline?
The New York Rangers just completed back-to-back bad games in which they gave up 11 goals. The goals haven’t been the issue because Igor Shesterkin has been all-world this season. However, the moment he was average, the team found themselves down 4-0 after 20:15 of play in St. Louis.
It was the first time Shesterkin was pulled (out of mercy) this season. The Rangers have real issues beyond not scoring enough at even strength. When it comes to giving up Grade A chances, they’ve been consistently bad.
Against Minnesota, the Rangers gave up 18 high danger chances against at even strength. They followed that up with 10 in St. Louis per Natural Stat Trick. That’s 28 high danger chances against to 21 for, which is only made worse with 6 goals scored by the opposition (MIN 3, STL 3) on those chances to the Rangers 0.
So the question begs to be asked: Is this team close enough to win a Stanley Cup that Chris Drury should go all in at the trade deadline?
The answer for me is no. Although, he still needs to make moves to give his team a chance. They’ve earned that from him, especially with the incredible season Shesterkin is having.
What trades should the Rangers make
Over the next 10 days, more teams will fallout of playoff contention and put additional players on the market. The list of contenders should lessen which will make for better buying conditions.
What Drury should be avoiding are any big moves like trying to acquire Tomas Hertl from the San Jose Sharks. At this time, the general consensus is the Sharks will retain Hertl. But in the off chance he’s on the block, there’s no way young players like Nils Lundkvist or Zac Jones should be sent the other way.
When the realization hit that J.T. Miller was really not available unless a king’s ransom was paid that included Braden Schneider, the Rangers reprioritized. They are currently focused on Ducks’ forward Rickard Rakell and Habs’ defenseman Ben Chiarot. Both are pending UFA rentals.
Rakell is the guy the Rangers need to stabilize the right side. A first round pick, or Vitali Kravtsov are reasonable assets to move for him. The Rangers will also try land Chiarot, but the price tag is high and there’s at least 4 or 5 teams in on him.
The Rangers could stick with their defense and be fine. If Drury beefs up the bottom six with players like Calle Jarnkrok, Ryan Carpenter, and/or Mattias Janmark, that will help the overall defense.
The New York Rangers need to make these type of moves to give them the best chance to compete come the playoffs. It will also allow them to keep key pieces to make bigger trades in the summer once they have a clearer picture of their cap situation, as both Ryan Strome and Kaapo Kakko need new contracts.
Simply put, this is not the season to go all in. The Rangers are very good, but unless you truly believe this team is a prized rental away from a Stanley Cup, you have to hold on to your big assets.
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