New York Rangers trade tiers: From untouchable to on the move

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The New York Rangers are looking to take the next step after reaching the Eastern Conference Final and losing in six games to the Tampa Bay Lightning this past June.

What direction that next step will be depends on how they address the lineup for the upcoming season. The wrong moves, especially regarding the second line center position could be a backwards step.

On Friday, it was reported that Ryan Strome, Andrew Copp, and Frank Vatrano will all test free agency. That’s half of the Rangers’ top six forwards possibly on the way out.

While Alexis Lafrenière is open to switching to right wing, there’s a little uncertainty regarding Kaapo Kakko. The pending RFA is believed to be close to signing a bridge deal that will keep him with the Rangers. The re-signings of Sammy Blais and Vitali Kravtsov make losing Vatrano palatable.

However, if the Rangers can’t bring back either Strome or Copp they will look to the trade market for a new center.

So who would they trade in order to fill that hole? That’s the biggest question of the summer. Then there’s the need to create cap space which opens up the possibility of trading other players.

For this article, I will rank the current roster and prospects into three categories: Untouchable, Probable, and Trade Bait.

New York Rangers trade tiers: Untouchables

new york rangers trade tiers
May 30, 2022; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; New York Rangers left wing Alexis Lafrenière (13) celebrates the goal scored by defenseman Adam Fox (23) goal against the Carolina Hurricanes during the first period in game seven of the second round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PNC Arena. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

The untouchables tier is pretty straight forward. These players are considered the foundation of the team this season, and many go well beyond that. In some cases, the player’s contract has either a full no-move clause.

  • Adam Fox (NMC in 2025-26)
  • Alexis Lafrenière (ELC)
  • Artemi Panarin (NMC)
  • Barclay Goodrow (NMC- Modified)
  • Braden Schneider (ELC)
  • Brennan Othmann (ELC)
  • Chris Kreider (NMC – Modified in 2024-2025)
  • Igor Shesterkin
  • Jacob Trouba (NMC – Modified in 2024-2025)
  • K’Andre Miller (ELC)
  • Mika Zibanejad (NMC)
  • Ryan Lindgren

The list is comprised of many players that are currently considered the core of the team. None of them are going to be traded no matter how many teams ask about Alexis Lafrenière, K’Andre Miller, or Braden Schneider.

One prospect is on this list. Brennan Othmann was drafted in the first round of the 2021 Draft. He’s got size, speed, and skill with the ability to play either wing. He very well could become a top six player within the next two to three seasons.

Probable: If the deal is right

new york rangers trade tiers
May 3, 2021; New York, New York, USA; Kaapo Kakko #24 of the New York Rangers celebrates his goal at 4:35 of the second period against the Washington Capitals at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Bennett/POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports

The flat-cap era has made having a strong pipeline of prospects extremely important. This offseason, you will see the Probable list is filled with them as the cap is only expected to go up by $1 million increments for the next two seasons. Of course, a steady stream of low cost young players is how to stay competitive in today’s game which means these players are only available in the right deal.

  • Alexandar Georgiev (RFA)
  • Dylan Garand (ELC)
  • Dryden Hunt
  • Filip Chytil
  • Jarred Tinordi
  • Julien Gauthier
  • Kaapo Kakko (RFA)
  • Lauri Pajuniemi (ELC)
  • Matthew Robertson (ELC)
  • Ryan Reaves
  • Sammy Blais
  • Vitali Kravtsov
  • Will Cuylle (ELC)
  • Zac Jones (ELC)

This is always the most interesting tier to assemble. With the Rangers now looking at the trade market for a second line centers one or two of these players could be in a trade.

Other players like Alexandar Georgiev and Julien Gauthier have reportedly requested trades. Georgiev is a unique case because the Rangers can’t really afford his $2.65M qualifying offer and are trying to move his rights by the draft. Otherwise, he walks as a UFA on July 13.

As has been discussed, the Rangers are in the market for a second line center and it will likely take either Filip Chytil or Kaapo Kakko along with pieces from the Trade Bait list to get it done.

The Rangers are also in need of cap space, which is why Ryan Reaves and his $1.75M salary make this list.

Trade Bait – Likely to be traded

new york rangers
Dec 3, 2021; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Nils Lundkvist (27) plays the puck against the San Jose Sharks during the second period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

What is going to become apparent is that the Rangers’ Trade Bait list is extremely small as I was only able to identify two key pieces that are highly likely to be moved in Nils Lundkvist and the team’s first-round pick in 2023.

  • 2023 1st-Rd Pick
  • Libor Hajek (RFA)
  • Nils Lundkvist (ELC)
  • Patrik Nemeth (NTC – Modified)

Nils Lundkvist remains the most likely prospect to be used as trade bait. The right-handed defenseman has an elite shot and excellent puck moving skills, He’s a bit on the small side but has a strong HockeyIQ. The emergence of Braden Schneider and having Adam Fox and Jacob Trouba on the right make Lundkvist expendable.

The Rangers do not have a first-round pick after the Andrew Copp trade, so their 2023 selection is now the moveable commodity.

Regarding Patrik Nemeth, the Rangers need to get all or as much of his $2.5M cap hit hit back. If a trade doesn’t happen soon a buyout is almost guaranteed. Trading Libor Hajek’s rights also won’t fetch much, unless they to do a sign and trade.

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