New York Rangers may have some tough decisions at the NHL Trade Deadline

It’s hard to look at the current standings and see the Rangers as a playoff team. While they are just a solid win streak away of getting back in it, the deck is stacked against them.

The loss of Jacob Trouba is huge. If Artemi Panarin’s leave of absence goes beyond a few weeks, how can any team be expected to make the post-season?

New York Rangers will be sellers at the NHL Trade Deadline

When you look at the NHL Trade Deadline, you must keep the Seattle Expansion draft in mind. You also have to think about the Rangers game-plan going forward, which includes an attempt at a big offseason trade for a center.

The Rangers have several players that would make good rentals, and others that could be extremely valuable assets. Let’s take a look at the roster and point them out.

UFA’s Brendan Smith and Jack Johnson

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Feb 18, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Brendan Smith (42) scores a goal against Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Carter Hart (79) during the third period at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

If there are any takers, both UFA defensemen Brendan Smith and Jack Johnson would be great to move for additional picks. The Blueshirts are going to want to stock up on draft picks which are a hot commodity for many teams in the flat cap era.

The 32 year-old Smith is going to be very attractive for his ability to play both sides on defense and some 4th line grinder minutes. By the way, it would not surprise me if the Rangers look to sign him at a team friendly price when free agency begins this summer.

RFA’s Brett Howden and Julien Gauthier

The Rangers have two youngsters that could be attractive to move in the right deal at the deadline. Both may very well be exposed to Seattle in expansion, so Jeff Gorton may want to get creative with Brett Howden and Julien Gauthier.

The Blueshirts have Morgan Barron in Hartford who could potentially be successfully moved to center or play key 3rd or 4th line minutes on the wing. They also have Patrick Khoderenko that could be a find as a 4th line center.

Don’t forget, another right wing by the name of Vitali Kravtsov is expected to join the team after his KHL season is done. That could be as early as next month or April.

Rangers Wildcards

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Jan 28, 2021; Buffalo, New York, USA; New York Rangers center Colin Blackwell (43) gets control of the puck from Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (9) in overtime period at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Pavel Buchnevich is an RFA this summer with arbitration rights. He’s looking at a handsome increase from his current $3.25 million. The 25 year-old is second in team scoring with 12 points in 17 games. One has to ask if he’s not more valuable than Vitali Kravtsov?

I’m getting the sense that the Rangers do not see Kravtsov or Buchnevich as third line wingers. If Jeff Gorton is going to make a trade for a center, you have to think one of these two players will be going the other way.

Another forward that has been a great signing this past offseason is Colin Blackwell. The 27 year-old is an absolute bargain at $725,000 with six points in nine games. He has another year left for the Blueshirts at that price and would be a great low cost forward next season.

However, he is going to be exposed to Seattle in the expansion draft and Jeff Gorton may want to sell high on him. Like I said earlier, draft picks in the current NHL economy are like gold.

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