New York Rangers likely want to trade for a veteran defenseman

The New York Rangers have played 8 games this season and have already alternated between Zac Jones and Libor Hajek several times.

Jones has played the most with 5 games to Hajek’s 3. However, neither of them has been able to register a point on the season. It should also be noted that each player has a minus rating with Jones at -3 and Hajek at -1. When it comes to giveaways, Hajek has committed 4 in his appearances, while Jones has just 1 to his name.

At practice today, it looks like Gerard Gallant will go with Hajek again for his third straight game.

Which begs the question, are Rangers already looking at trades for a veteran defenseman?

Zac Jones and Libor Hajek

zac jones new york rangers
Apr 22, 2021; New York, New York, USA; Zac Jones #6 of the New York Rangers skates during warm ups before the game against the Philadelphia Flyers at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Elsa/POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports

Coming into training camp, Zac Jones was the clear cut winner for the third left defense spot alongside Braden Schneider.

He played in 5 of the teams first 6 games and looked solid. But one bad turnover along with a few poor reads has kept him out of the lineup since last Sunday (5-1 loss to Columbus).

Jones’ inability to get back in the lineup isn’t because Libor Hajek has been better. Matter of fact, he’s committed more giveaways in less time. So why keep him in? Whether Gallant wants to admit this or not, size matters for him on defense.

Here’s the tale of the tape:

  • Zac Jones (22 years-old, 5-11′, 185 lbs)
  • Libor Hajek (24 years-old, 6-2′, 203 lbs)

“Jones is not a real big defenseman but he defended real well in the zone,” Gallant said earlier this season.

This isn’t the first time that Gallant has brought up Jones size.

“We know what Jonesy is,” Gallant said last season. ”He moves the puck real well. We like what he brings and I like the way he carries himself on the ice. He’s not a big guy but he defends pretty hard.”

Obviously not hard enough to play over a struggling Hajek.

New York Rangers trade for defense?

carson soucy
Apr 16, 2022; Seattle, Washington, USA; Seattle Kraken defenseman Carson Soucy (28) takes a shot against the New Jersey Devils at Climate Pledge Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports

Which brings me to the question, should the Rangers make a trade for a veteran left defenseman?

Of course there are cap concerns for the Rangers, which means they need to send either Zac Jones or Libor Hajek the other way.

Then they may need some help with that defenseman’s cap hit. However, if they can find a way to get it on their books in the neighborhood of $1 to $1.5 million it could work.

As to who’s out there that fits the bill, there aren’t many options. The most likely trading partners are teams that are building for the future with little aspiration of making the playoffs this season.

That’s why Carson Soucy in Seattle makes some sense to me.

First off, the 28 year-old left defenseman is 6-5′ and weighs 210 lbs. So that’ll check off Gallant’s most important box.

Soucy also has only one year left at $2.75 million. If the Kraken would eat half of that contract for Jones, it will add an extra $400K to the their cap hit using a 22 man roster. That checks off GM Chris Drury’s most important box.

There could be other options that present themselves, as it’s likely the Rangers are already in the market looking at such a deal. If they weren’t, Zac Jones would be a regular already.

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