New York Rangers rumors have them looking for a center, and will they trade the #1 pick?

The New York Rangers rumors for the offseason are off to a flying start. We are less than 24 hours since they won the lottery and there’s legit speculation that Jeff Gorton will trade that pick.

I will address that later, but first let’s talk about a clue Jeff Gorton dropped yesterday.

New York Rangers rumors have them center hunting

During his post lottery presser, the Rangers GM was asked if winning the Alexis Lafreniere raffle will force him to find veteran help down the middle. “It might,” Gorton began. “If I went on this call and told you all our holes it probably doesn’t help me out with what we need to do on the market when I make calls.”

The candid GM is absolutely correct, but he did also acknowledge that it is going to be a need. However, there are no good centers on the free agent market worth signing, which brings me back to looking at Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

The 26 year-old center was on pace for a career year. With 61 points in 65 games he was just 9 points shy of beating his previous career high of 69 points set last season. In Edmonton’s qualifying round loss to Chicago, he netted 8 points in four games.

New York Rangers rumors Nugent-Hopkins
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on Broadway? (Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Nugent-Hopkins is entering his prime at the same time he’s going into the final year of a deal with a $6M AAV. If the Oilers don’t believe they can extend him, then they would be forced to trade him as rental come next trade deadline. That means the Oilers will at least listen to offers at the draft for him, just like the Rangers were talking about Kreider with the Avalanche in 2019.

Maybe a deal involving their 2nd first round pick this year and some of their RFA’s and/or prospects could get the ball rolling at the draft.

Will the Rangers trade their first overall pick since 1965?

It wasn’t even 5 minutes before trade rumors started coming out that the Rangers in need of centers would possibly attempt to acquire Jack Eichel or Auston Matthews with it. Then there was trading it to Ottawa for both their first round picks at 3 and 5.

Let me make it clear, I spoke to several sources close to the Rangers and they are over the moon about winning the pick. And although they won’t commit to picking Alexis Lafreniere publicly, that is exactly who they are taking.

From a logical standpoint, with the cap flat at $81.5 million for the next few years, why would the Rangers move a cost controlled phenom for a $10 million center? It’s a rhetorical question because they wouldn’t.

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