Possible call ups for the Rangers after the trade deadline
With the trade deadline just two days away the Rangers still have many decisions to make. Kevin Hayes, Adam McQuaid and even Chris Kreider are all heavily rumored to be on the move to any number of destinations depending on who you believe.
The possible departure of those players will have the Rangers needing to replace them. If we go with the theory that the Rangers will be loading up on picks and prospects rather than roster players, then there will be quite a few Hartford call-ups post deadline. Who are those call-ups going to be? The names that pop out are John Gilmour, Ville Meskanen, Vinni Lettieri and newly acquired defenseman Darren Raddysh.
Gilmour has proved himself admirably at the AHL level this year. With the trade of Peter Holland to the Chicago Blackhawks, he became the Wolf Pack’s leading scorer. He currently has 16 goals and and 23 assists for 39 points in 55 games. Those are fantastic numbers for the young defenseman and you can make the case he already deserved to be called up.
The Rangers defense has not been good this year with poor play from some players such as Neal Pionk, Brenden Smith and to some extent, even Kevin Shattenkirk. Gilmour deserves a chance to show what he’s got with the big club and show that his solid stint with the Rangers at the end of last season wasn’t a fluke. He was an AHL All-Star this season, has nice skating ability and a shot that can find the net. With the trade of Adam McQuaid a foregone conclusion, Gilmour’s call-up should be on top of GM Jeff Gorton’s post-deadline to-do list.
Besides Gilmour, there is another intriguing Wolf Pack defenseman for the Rangers to call up and that’s the player they acquired from the Blackhawks in exchange for Peter Holland: Darren Raddysh. Raddysh is a former OHL defenseman of the year; he put up 81 points in 62 games as an overager during the 2016-17 season with the Erie Otters. He went undrafted before being signed by the Blackhawks.
After a little over a season and a half with their Blackhawks’ AHL Affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs, where Raddysh put up 48 points in 120 games, he was traded to the Rangers and assigned to the Wolf Pack. Gorton could possibly call Raddysh up to see what he has in the 23-year-old Caledon, Ontario native. A rebuild is all about finding which players can stick and be apart of the solution and which ones just don’t fit in long term plans. Raddysh could be a hidden gem of a player, or he may amount to just being a career AHLer. It’ll be up to Gorton to decide if he deserves a test with the big club during the last part of the season.
Now, there are two names that need to be pointed out here as well and those are Libor Hajek and Ryan Lindgren. Lindgren already had a call up this season and the organization most likely wants him to just play big minutes for the Wolf Pack. He’s a physical defenseman who will eventually carve out a niche for himself in New York. In Hajek’s case, he just flat out isn’t ready for the bright lights of Broadway. Make no mistake, Hajek will be a huge part of the Rangers future and will grow into a top-four defenseman on the Rangers blue line. But for this season, it’s the right call to leave him in Hartford. He needs big minutes, power-play time and a better understanding of the pro game before he gets his shot.
Now that Zuccarello has been traded and Hayes likely to depart, hat will leave two forward spots open. Two names that absolutely need to be on Gorton’s list to call-up are Ville Meskanen and Vinni Lettieri.
Meskanen, who was signed as a free agent after putting up 24 goals for Ilves of the Finnish Liiga, has had a great first season for the Wolf Pack. He currently has 29 points in 53 games (10 goals, 19 assists) and has looked to be a great pick up for Gorton. While Michael Lindqvist – who the Rangers signed along with Meskanen in the offseason – didn’t pan out, Meskanen has shown flashes of a player who could be a nice middle six player in the NHL within the next few years. Remember, Liiga is a men’s league and Meskanen did very well there. He has the talent but it’s all about putting it all together.
With so many questions regarding lineup decisions, Meskanen deserves a little stint on Broadway to see if he can hang with the big club. Worst case scenario is he ends up not doing much and he goes back to Hartford. Best case: he makes a nice case for himself, chips in a goal here and there and makes a good impression on head coach David Quinn going into the offseason. It just makes too much sense.
Lettieri has to be in the back of Gorton’s mind as well. His shot first mentality is something all fans can appreciate and the kid gives it his all every game. Seemingly too talented for the AHL but not yet ready to truly impact the game at the NHL level, a stint at the end of the season could do wonders for Lettieri’s confidence. If he becomes a nice bottom six winger who can add some offense on occasion and can be sound defensively than the Rangers will have done well with him. He hasn’t looked bad during his previous call-ups, but giving him some more responsibility and ice-time at the end of the season may be good for the kid in the long run.