New York Rangers must be ready to pay the high cost of trade rentals

It has been a long time since the New York Rangers were in the buyers game at the NHL Trade Deadline. I think many fans have forgotten just how expensive it can be to play the rental game at this time of year.

The last time the Blueshirts were considered buyers was during the 2016-17 season. Just a few days before the deadline, they acquired defenseman Brendan Smith from the Detroit Red Wings giving up two draft picks (2017 3rd rd + 2018 2nd rd). A fairly high price for a rental second pair defenseman. He subsequently signed a 4 year deal that turned out to be one of Jeff Gorton’s worse moves.

During the 2015-16 campaign, the Rangers gave up three pieces to acquire Eric Staal from the Carolina Hurricanes by sending two second round picks (2016 + 2017) and prospect Alexsi Saarela. Staal wound up buried on the third line because Alain Vigneault didn’t know how to deploy him.

Those deals backfired and the team announced a rebuild to recoup assets in 2018.

New York Rangers back in the rental game

trade deadline rangers
Rangers’ Chris Drury (Getty Images)

Let’s start with the elephant in the room scenario of trading for J.T. Miller of the Vancouver Canucks. Not only is he a top line player, he has one year left on his deal at a reasonable cap hit of $5.25 million.

The ask at this point is so high, that many believe he’s off the table.

Reportedly, it’s a 1st rd pick, a top young player, a top young prospect, and maybe another draft pick. Before you scoff at that, the Rangers gave up Ryan Callahan and two first round picks (2014 + 2015) for an aging Marty St. Louis, who had a year left on his contract back in 2014.

Expensive indeed!

That’s why at the trade deadline, GM Chris Drury is likely to play the rental game. While it will be costly, it won’t gut the team for a single player.

What will it cost the Rangers?

rangers trade rumors
Feb 10, 2022; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens defenseman Ben Chiarot (8) skates with the puck during the first period against the Washington Capitals at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports

The Rangers are said to be in on several pending UFA’s that include forward Rickard Rakell, and defenseman Ben Chiarot to name a few.

Landing Chiarot is much easier to gauge because there’s recent deadline precedent from last season. The Tampa Bay Lightning acquired defenseman David Savard in a three-way deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Detroit Red Wings. It was complex with multiple players, picks, and salary retention to make it work.

Ultimately, the Blue Jackets received a 1st and 3rd pick for the defensive-minded Savard with just 6 points in 40 games and a -19 rating. That’s what Montreal is looking for on Chiarot, who has 16 points in 51 games and a -19 rating. If any salary is retained, they’ll get it too.

A player like Rakell is a little harder to gauge. The Toronto Maple Leafs paid through the nose to get Nick Foligno from Columbus at the trade deadline last season. Once again, a three-way deal that involved the San Jose Sharks and salary retention. However, the Blue Jackets walked away with a 1st and a 4th rd pick in that deal. (Yes, they got that for Nick Foligno)

Rakell could easily go for a first rounder being a far better offensive player. The Penguins acquired Jeff Carter from the Kings for two conditional picks (2022 2nd + 2023 3rd). Another similar deal saw the Bruins land Taylor Hall and Curtis Lazar for Anders Bjork and a 2nd rd pick.

So for the sake of argument, the Rangers may be able to land a player like Rakell for Vitali Kravtsov and a conditional pick.

In the end, everyone just needs to be ready when the deals start coming through central registry. There should also be no surprises when you see the cost it will take to acquire a rental.

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