December 28, 2020

New York Rangers top trade and expansion draft candidates this season

Buchnevich celebrates a win (Getty Images)

The New York Rangers are on the verge of contention. They are also loaded with talent on the wings, and young promising defensemen in the pipeline. At some point the organization will need to make tough personnel decisions regarding trades.

Another thing to keep in mind is the Seattle expansion draft that takes place in July. Who to expose will be a big question to answer.

Let’s look at five New York Rangers that could be trade or exposed in the expansion draft.

Expansion Draft Candidate: Libor Hajek

Libor Hajek, made quite an impression with the Rangers before eventually being sent down last season. He made the team out of camp and was partnered on left defense with Adam Fox. The two rookies had some puck management issues and were separated with Hajek finding himself playing mostly with Jacob Trouba.

Libor Hajek
Libor Hajek celebrates his first NHL goal (Newsday Photo)

In 28 games he tallied 5 assists but struggled at times. Upon being sent to the Wolf Pack in the AHL He tallied 3 points in 23 games. The Rangers will need to see what they have in the 22 year-old defender before re-signing him and possibly exposing him to the Seattle Kraken.

Expansion Draft Candidate: Brett Howden

There’s been some debate if it will be Brett Howden or Brendan Lemieux exposed to the Kraken. My belief is that Lemieux represent the sandpaper presence the Rangers don’t have anywhere else.

Brett Howden
Howden (AP Photo: Kathy Willens)

This isn’t a given, especially when you consider just how much David Quinn appreciates the 22 year-old’s game. He scored 19 points in 70 games last season but will need to step up or will likely be exposed.

Trade Candidate: Pavel Buchnevich

The topic of trading Pavel Buchnevich is going to be one that grows as the season progresses. He is entering the final year of his contract that comes with an AAV of $3.25 million. When the deal ends he will be an RFA with arbitration rights.

pavel buchnevich
Buchnevich (AP)

While the Rangers continue to make strides and have MVP finalist, Artemi Panarin and sniper Mika Zibanejad on the roster, they are not yet Cup contenders. That had Rick Carpiniello thinking the Rangers will be sellers at the trade deadline again. He even mentions Buchnevich in his article.

What Jeff Gorton needs to decide is where he sees Vitali Kravtsov in this lineup. If the answer is in the top six, then Buchnevich becomes expendable and could be used as a trade chip at the deadline.

Trade and Expansion Candidate: Ryan Strome

Calls to trade Ryan Strome started last season. The arguments made is that he can’t score without Panarin. That’s false because he notched 18 goals and 33 points on a terrible Rangers team pre-Breadman.

Ryan Strome
Ryan Strome (Getty Images)

He’s on par or better than many of the 2nd line centers around the league. Is he a superstar? No. However, he is better than any other center the Rangers have on the roster or in the pipeline. Sorry Filip Chytil fans, but that’s the truth.

Recently, Rick Carpiniello of The Athletic wrote about Strome’s future in a piece projecting the 2022-23 Rangers lineup.

We don’t know if Pavel Buchnevich will still be around (doubtful), and we’re pretty certain Ryan Strome will be gone, unless he proves to the Rangers that he can be one of their top two centers (and then that they can somehow afford to re-sign him in the summer of 2022).

The Athletic

No matter what, it almost always seems to come down to Strome being a goner.

Trade Candidate: Tony DeAngelo

Tony DeAngelo understands the business side of hockey well. He’s fully aware of how the economy of the NHL is set up. Young players have no leverage until they hit unrestricted free agency.

Tony DeAngelo
Tony DeAngelo (Julio Cortez/AP)

Last summer, he tried to get more than the Rangers bare minimum offer but was unsuccessful. It’s not like he didn’t try, because he held out and missed training camp. However, as an RFA without arbitration rights there wasn’t much he could do but take the offer.

This time around, the two sides worked out a fair deal and one that in this climate made sense for both sides. DeAngelo is now making $4.8 million on average for the next two season. The Rangers will still retain his rights for one more year when this deal expires.

Of course, that’s if he will be here after this season.

With Nils Lundkvist ready to break down the door, and Braden Schneider added to the mix on an overcrowded right side, it’s DeAngelo who may be moved.

If the Rangers believe they are a #2 center away from contention, trading a high scoring right handed defenseman may need to be the price to obtain him.

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