The New York Rangers are very much in the market for a top six center. This has been the case since last season when they made an offer to acquire Jack Eichel. Chris Drury is also not acting out of desperation with Ryan Strome safely in the fold and signed for next season.
However, if there is an opportunity to upgrade and also have a backup plan should Mike Zibanejad want to test the free agency in 2022, the Rangers have to look into it.
Here are the top Rangers trade targets.
Jack Eichel, 24 years-old
Depending on their comfortability with Jack Eichel’s neck issue, Drury will likely pull the trigger on a blockbuster deal involving the #15 pick in the lottery and more. That would give the Sabres two picks in the first half of a deep draft of talented prospects.
Eichel checks all the boxes when healthy. He’s an elite center, and is insurance if the Rangers and Mika Zibanejad fail to come to an extension before the NHL trade deadline next season. He’s the perfect age at 24 to grow with this young ensemble cast. And while the Rangers interest had cooled in May it has heated back up.
Acquiring Eichel will cost the Rangers, and it appears Buffalo is not interested in Ryan Strome. The deal would likely include Filip Chytil and Zac Jones, but the other piece is the question mark. I believe the Rangers are willing to include Vitali Kravtsov but the Sabres are insisting on Kaapo Kakko.
If the Ducks are as all in as many claim, and willing to part with Trevor Zegras it will be a tough decision for Drury. While I don’t think the Rangers will part with Kakko, don’t rule it out. Then again, taking on $10 million in salary for the next 5 seasons is not an easy thing for many teams to do. Including Kakko without Buffalo retaining salary is an overpay.
Evgeny Kuznetsov, 29 years-old
The Capitals are rumored to be willing to move Kuznetsov and his $7.8 million cap hit for the next four years. “I think we’re always open to trading people if it makes sense for what’s going on,” MacLellan commented during his exit presser.
The offensive talented pivot has a 15 team no move clause, and comes with a buyer beware sign. It’s been reported that they have run out of patience with his antics. Kuznetsov was disciplined several times this season by the organization, and that needs to be taken into consideration.
As far as what the Caps are looking for, it would not be anything near an Eichel package. In this case, Ryan Strome and Zac Jones probably gets it done. The Rangers get an upgrade at center, and also don’t add too much salary by moving out Strome’s $4.5 million.
Sean Monahan, 26 years-old
Monahan has two years remaining on a deal that has a $6.375 AAV and is coming off a down season. Some believe that it would lower the cost of acquisition, but I doubt it. However, he had hip surgery and is expected to be ready for next season. That could be a factor to drive the cost down, not one bad season.
For his career, Monahan has 439 points in 591 games. That is a points per game average of .74 since he broke into the NHL at 19 and played 75 games. Back in 2018-19, Monahan scored 82 points in 78 games. He’s potted 30 goals three times in his 8 years in the league as well. All very solid 2C numbers for sure, maybe even 1A.
I know what you are thinking. Can he win face-offs? The answer is yes. While he’s not a specialist, he has a career average in the dots of 50.2 and can hold his own. Monahan is also very good defensively, and does not take bad penalties.
This is another deal where a package of Filip Chytil and Zac Jones may get it done.
Long shot: Steven Stamkos, 31 years-old
The rumor mill is starting to churn regarding the Tampa Bay Lightning. They are way over the cap and its widely known that they need to move some pieces. Maybe some big pieces.
Depending on if they can trade players like Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn, Tampa may be forced to think bigger. Why? Because Brayden Point will be a RFA after next season and Tampa wants to lock him up to an 8 year deal in the $9 million range and up.
So could we see Steven Stamkos waive his no trade clause? Some believe it could happen. He has 3 more seasons at $8.5 million and would automatically be given the captaincy. This may seem far-fetched to read now, but if Drury misses out on Eichel and Stamkos is available, this is the move he makes.
As far as a trade package, think prospects and draft picks. Cost controlled players like Vitali Kravtsov and Zac Jones fit the bill.
NHL Trade Rumors
Latest trade rumors, including Jack Eichel and Vladimir Tarasenko. Read more.