New York Rangers need to pull off another big early trade deadline deal

The silver lining for New York Rangers after learning that Filip Chytil is out for the season, is they know a center is needed before the Mar. 8th trade deadline.

Additionally, they also have some certainty in what they can do with Chytil’s full $4.437 million in cap space. Some or all of that cap hit can be allocated to bring in a pivot to play behind Mika Zibanejad and Vincent Trocheck.

This should automatically catapult Calgary Flames pending UFA Elias Lindholm to the top of that list. The 29-year-old makes $4.85 million, and his 32 points (9 goals, 23 assists) in 49 games, would be a huge lift for the third-line.

Related: Rangers looking for a center or two

New York Rangers need another early deadline trade

NHL: New York Rangers at Calgary Flames
Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

On Sunday, the Blueshirts announced that Chytil, who suffered a setback to his upper-body injury, will be out for the rest of the season. The 24-year-old was hit in open-ice by Carolina Hurricanes forward Jesper Fast on Nov. 2nd and hasn’t played since. He finishes this season with just six assists in 10 games. Before leaving, Chytil posted a positive message on Instagram.

“It has been the hardest 3 months of my life and has not been easy for my family, closest people and of course for whole NY Rangers organization,” Chytil wrote. “But we gotta stay positive even in these tough moments and just think What is ahead of us! Thanks to you all for nice messages! I’ll come back stronger than ever!”

The fact Chytil won’t be returning makes it clear the Rangers have to replace his offense with another center for the third-line. That being said, the team’s needs at rightwing and defense can’t be ignored either.

Last year, Chris Drury showed the hockey world just how he thinks. Almost a month before the deadline, he acquired forward Vladimir Tarasenko and defenseman Niko Mikkola from the St. Louis Blues.

“It’s something we’ve been looking at for a while,” Drury said. “It gives the two new players a little more time to acclimate to our group, so excited to do it now and get them in the lineup tomorrow.”

New York was able to get the Blues to retain 50% of Tarasenko’s cap hit in exchange for a conditional first-round pick (2023), a conditional fourth-round pick (2024), forward Sammy Blais, and prospect defenseman Hunter Skinner.

This time around, they may need to do something bigger if they want to address their issues on defense as well.

Noah Hanifin is also a pending UFA, and the 27 year-old left defenseman would drastically improve the Rangers top-four on the blueline. This season, he’s posted 25 points (8 goals, 17 assists) in 49 games, and would look good paired with either Adam Fox or Jacob Trouba down the stretch.

Of course, he makes $4.95 million against the cap, which means the Rangers will have to shed salary in order to make this sort of blockbuster.

The questions Drury has to answer are plenty. Is he willing to give up a first-round pick in order to get the Flames to retain some salary on both players? If so, who from the roster is he willing to part with to make them fit? Would K’Andre Miller and his $3.872 million AAV be going the other way? Should the answer be yes to both, what else would the Flames want?

Calgary currently sits just a few points out of a playoff spot, but both these players may be leaving via free agency at the of the season anyway. It would be better for the Flames if they could get something for them instead of losing them for nothing. However, giving up those assets makes no sense unless the Rangers commit to re-signing at least one of those two players.

There is also the team’s need to upgrade right wing that may include a possible reunion with Vladimir Tarasenko, Anthony Duclair, or Frank Vatrano. After making such a big move with the Flames, I doubt the Rangers would have any cap space to even think about making a trade, unless they are willing to give up Kaapo Kakko or shed Barclay Goodrow’s cap hit of $3.641 million.

The Blueshirts are off until Feb. 5th for the All Star Break. That puts them a little over a month away from the trade deadline, and another potentially big deal.

There’s a ton of questions Drury needs to answer, starting off with if he truly believes this Rangers team can win it all to mortgage some of its future. Should the answer be yes, a very intriguing time awaits.

Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore