Projecting moves New York Rangers will make at trade deadline

NHL: NHL All-Star Thursday
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY SportsCredit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers have played their last game before the NHL Trade Deadline which arrives Friday at 3 p.m. ET. It was a disappointing 4-2 loss to the Florida Panthers, who now have a four point lead over the Blueshirts for the Presidents’ Trophy.

Once again, the Rangers struggled to score at even strength as both their goals Monday were scored on the power play. Highlighting the problem is Mika Zibanejad, who has shockingly scored only 19 of his 54 points this season at 5-on-5.

The Rangers organization believes this is their best chance to win the Stanley Cup in a very long time. President and General Manager Chris Drury is expected to make multiple moves to shore up the third-line center position, a top-six winger to play with Zibanejad, and an upgrade over Erik Gustafsson on defense.

Let’s break down the latest trade rumors and project the moves that will be made.

Related: Rangers expected to assign players to Wolf Pack this week

Projecting the New York Rangers Trade Deadline Moves

NHL: New York Rangers at Seattle Kraken
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Heading into the trade deadline, the Rangers have approximately $4.3 million in cap space to work with largely due to Filip Chytil and Blake Wheeler being lost for the season due to injuries.

We will need to keep that in mind as deals are made.

Alexander Wennberg in a three-team deal

According to Larry Brooks of the NY Post, the Rangers are in the process of trading for Wennberg, who was kept out of the Seattle Kraken lineup due to trade-related issues.

Wennberg has registered 25 points (nine goals, 16 assists) in 60 games this season. The Rangers are among several teams that have expressed interest in the 29-year-old center, including the Boston Bruins and Colorado Avalanche.

Per Arthur Staple, there’s a possibility the Rangers could be using a third team to lower Wennberg’s AAV. A second-round pick and a prospect to Seattle for Wennberg, and a fourth or fifth round selection to another team may drive his cap hit to as low as $1.125 million.

Projection: Rangers trade 2024 second-round pick and either Bobby Trivigno or Karl Henriksson to Seattle. Plus a fifth round pick to a third party team to acquire Wennberg at 75 percent salary retention. That will be followed with assigning Alex Belzile to the Hartford Wolf Pack, leaving them approximately $3.9 million in cap space.

Updates: Rangers acquire Alex Wennberg

Make a hard push for Frank Vatrano

Forever Blueshirts has been reporting for a while that Frank Vatrano has been the Rangers top trade target. That was put into overdrive when Ducks GM Pat Verbeek was at Madison Square Garden last week, likely scouting a roster player.

There’s been a lot of talk that Kaapo Kakko could be up for grabs from insiders like Frank Seravalli, although Brooks is dismissing that notion entirely. Meanwhile, Elliotte Friedman indicates that the price on Vatrano is high, which isn’t shocking. The former Blueshirts forward has an NHL career-high 29 goals in an All-Star season, and has another year left on his contract at $3.65 million, which means he isn’t a rental.

Projection: The Rangers part with a first-round pick (either 2024 or 2025) along with rising prospect Brett Berard to acquire the 29-year-old winger. The Rangers will then send down either Adam Edstrom (unless he’s included in the deal) or Matt Rempe to accommodate the move, leaving them with $1.1 million in cap space.

If no Vatrano, move to plan B for a winger

Should the Rangers be unable to make a deal for Vatrano, Anthony Duclair of the San Jose Sharks is the next logical target.

Duclair, 28, has scored 23 points (14 goals, 9 assists) in 55 games this season. The pending UFA comes with a $3 million cap hit. A fourth round pick may not be out of the question to acquire him, but Sharks GM Mike Grier may have his eyes on some prospects on the Wolf Pack roster. Grier spent a year with Drury and the Rangers and is very familiar with many of their young players

Add a big-bodied defenseman with playoff experience

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at Washington Capitals
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Joel Edmundson of the Washington Capitals would be a good fit on the Rangers blue line. Adding the 6-foot-5 veteran defenseman to partner with Braden Schneider would be a shrewd move. Plus, the 30-year-old has real playoff experience winning the Stanley Cup in 2019 with the St. Louis Blues and playing in the 2021 Stanley Cup Final for the Montreal Canadiens, when they lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning in five games.

The pending UFA comes with a $1.75 million cap hit, that could come down with salary retention. A defense prospect like Matthew Robertson or Zac Jones should get the deal done.

Another potential defense target with experience is Erik Johnson, playing with the Buffalo Sabres. Unlike Edmundson, Johnson is a right-handed shot that should be able to play the left side. He’s 35 year-old, but isn’t expected to play a lot of minutes if he’s moved to the Rangers. Similar to Edmundson, he’s also won the Stanley Cup, capturing it with the Colorado Avalanche in 2022.

The biggest hurdle to acquire Johnson is his salary. The pending UFA has a $3.25 million cap hit, and the Sabres would need to eat 50%. If the Rangers get Vatrano, Johnson will likely be unattainable. Should they get Duclair, they may have enough cap space to consider him.

Projection: Rangers trade Matthew Robertson for Joel Edmundson.

Update: Maple Leafs acquire Joel Edmundson

Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore

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