How New York Rangers should approach the NHL Trade Deadline
The New York Rangers are entering the stretch run with 35 games remaining. They have exactly 16 games to play before we hit the NHL Trade Deadline on March 21.
This gives GM Chris Drury ample time to make a move and address any holes he needs to fill for a run at the Cup. However, all things being equal, if the team is healthy it would be wise to do it with rentals instead of going for broke in their first year of contention.
New York Rangers needs
After 47 games, the New York Rangers are one of the top teams in the League. Their record of 30-13-4 for 64 points is ranked 5th overall. Per MoneyPuck, they have a 96.1% chance of securing one of the 8 playoffs spots in the East.
Mind you, they’ve done this with the two biggest holes in the lineup nagging at them all season.
The Rangers were 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 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 has 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 rookie Nils Lundkvist, journeyman Jarred Tinordi, and Libor Hajek.
For the most part, almost all those combinations have struggled in the d-zone and given up too many chances.
What Chris Drury needs to do at the deadline is bring in a solid top six forward and a veteran left defenseman to pair with mature rookie Braden Schneider.
New York Rangers Trade Deadline approach
There are a lot of names out there said to be on the trade market. One of the biggest names is Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun.
While he would be a huge upgrade over young K’Andre Miller today, it would be difficult to say that will be the case in the near future. Plus the cost to acquire a player like him would make filling other holes extremely difficult.
A package for the 23 year-old defenseman would look something like Filip Chytil, Vitali Kravtsov, Nils Lundkvist, and a first round pick. All of which could be used in other deals to acquire two-three pieces.
The Rangers deadline approach should be to go for it this season. However, do so without gutting all your best trade chips in one fell swoop. Drury and head coach Gerard Gallant need to see how this team does in the playoffs.
Who knows, certain performances under the pressure in post-season action could change some of their opinions on how to best go forward.
What trades should the Rangers make
Over the next few weeks, 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.
The New York Rangers need to make these two 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 the have a clearer picture of their cap situation as both Ryan Strome and Kaapo Kakko need new contracts.
Trade 1: Vitali Kravtsov to Vegas for Reilly Smith
Reilly Smith has probably been on Gerard Gallant’s wish list from the beginning of the season. The 30 year-old is in the final year of his contract with a $5M AAV. He has 32 points in 45 games this season playing RW on the top two lines. Jack Eichel is reportedly about two weeks away from joining the lineup, so Vegas must shed cap space to fit him in. Vitali Kravtsov is more appealing than a first round pick because the Knights are in their Stanley Cup winning window. A young player still on his ELC is an attractive option.
Trade 2: 2022 First Round Pick to Seattle for Mark Giordano
The Rangers need a solid veteran partner for Braden Schneider. The 38 year-old Giordano checks all the boxes, as he can also step up into the top 4 with Jacob Trouba late in games to shutdown the opponent. Seattle is going to build from the draft and will be looking to stockpile first round picks. Drury’s window to win has just opened, so waiting for prospects to develop when he still has a whole pipeline full makes no sense. Giordano has 18 points in 40 games.
The big swing
If the Rangers want to take a big swing now, Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller is the biggest they should go.
NY Post’s Larry Brooks actually put forth a reasonable trade offer for Miller.
Offer Lundkvist and Filip Chytil to the Canucks for J.T. Miller, whom the Rangers would have for two playoff runs before he becomes a 2023 free agent. He could anchor what would become an extremely formidable third line the rest of this season or he could take one of the right-wing spots in the top six. And he would represent protection were either Mika Zibanejad or Ryan Strome to go down with an injury.Post Sports+ (Subscription Required)
Miller, 28, has one more year left on his deal worth $5.25M before becoming a UFA. He’s also been extremely productive with 46 points in 45 games for Vancouver this season.
This move has major ramifications because of Miller’s cap hit. It’s likely that due to Kakko’s current season (14 points in 37 games), he won’t be breaking the bank when his ELC expires in July. There is a threat of an offer-sheet but Miller provides protection should the Rangers opt not match.
In the end, should Drury just make the two suggested moves above the Rangers will be primed and ready to take a run at the Stanley Cup. They will also leave themselves plenty of options in the summer. Should Drury feel the need to go harder, J.T. Miller should be that extra piece.
Post Trade Deadline Lineup
For some added fun, here’s what the Rangers playoff lineup could look like if they executed all three moves.
Kreider – Zibanejad – Kakko
Panarin – Strome – Miller
Lafrenière – Goodrow – Smith
Hunt – Rooney – Reaves
Lindgren – Fox
Miller – Trouba
Giordano – Schneider
If the Rangers don’t get J.T. Miller, slot Reilly on the second line. Then add Chytil in the middle of the third and Goodrow to the wing.
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