Rangers and Canadiens engaged in trade talks, who is Chris Drury targeting?
Multiple outlets have indicated that the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens have been engaged in trade talks. The relationship between Habs’ current VP of Hockey Ops Jeff Gorton and Rangers President & GM Chris Drury is well known.
The Canadiens already started dealing veterans by getting the ball rolling with the trade of forward Tyler Toffoli to the Flames. It was also rumored that the two sides were looking at a bigger deal that involved defenseman Ben Chiarot. Cap issues prevented that, but the Habs are believed to be close to moving the UFA defenseman.
New York Rangers have needs the Canadiens can fill
New York continues to roll despite playing without a legit top-six right wing for most of the season. They have also relied heavily on rookies on the third pair defense with Patrik Nemeth missing a lot of time for what is still considered a “personal issue.”
Even when Nemeth has been in the lineup, he’s struggled defensively to suppress shots. This has many believing that aside from adding more forward depth, the Rangers would like to upgrade their left-side defense for a playoff run.
The Canadiens can certainly help with defense and give the Rangers a little more depth on the wing.
Chiarot, 30, recently landed on IR with a lower-body issue. He has 9 points in 44 games and could play top four minutes on the left side for a playoff team.
Even when Chiarot is eligible to come off IR, I doubt the Habs will risk another potential injury this close to trading him.
“The internal debate for the Canadiens now, after they almost dealt Chiarot in the Calgary deal, is how long they drag this out with Chiarot because there’s already sizeable interest with other teams,” Pierre LeBrun said via Insider Trading. “You name a playoff contender; I believe they’ve phoned. The likes of Florida, Boston, the New York Rangers, St. Louis, among others. The Flames could circle back on Chiarot at some point.”
It is believed that asking price for the rental defenseman starts with a first round pick and another prospect.
Lehkonen, 26, is scheduled to be a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. He has 19 points in 45 games this season. The former second round pick (55th overall) makes $2.3M on his current deal.
During the Habs’ Cinderella Cup run, he played in 17 of Montreal’s 22 playoff games recording four points. The questions with a player like Lehkonen, who is not a rental because of his RFA status, is he worth it?
Do the Rangers see Lehkonen as a fit beyond this year? He’s listed at a generous 6-0′, 176 lbs, and plays a solid two-way game. This season, the Habs are using him on the top line at right wing, but he isn’t exactly lighting it up.
Lehkonen is a solid two-way forward better suited for third line duties. He can also kill penalties, which is always a plus. At this time, the Rangers could add him and still make another move for a top winger.
Habs eyeing Rangers prospects
Earlier today, Pierre LeBrun tweeted the following:
Keep an eye on the Rangers and the Habs between now and March 21. I think Montreal covets some Rangers prospects. Habs could fill some Rangers needs. Montreal would rather add prospects over picks. Already have 12 picks for the July draft. Rangers’ pipeline drawing Habs interest
Making this connection isn’t difficult, especially since Jeff Gorton had a major hand in drafting many of the Rangers top prospects.
What I can add is this: Rangers GM Chris Drury has made calls to his old boss which has been reported by multiple outlets. It was relayed to me awhile ago not to expect Gorton to do the Rangers any favors after the way he was dismissed.
However, if the two sides can come to an agreement that works for both teams I could see something happening before the deadline.
Trade Proposal: Rangers acquire Ben Chiarot and Artturi Lehkonen from Canadiens in exchange for 2022 First Round Pick, Nils Lundkvist, and Vitali Kravtsov.
Other potential trade chips in a trade with the Habs include Zac Jones, and Alexandar Georgiev.
The NHL had 9 games on the docket and it was loaded with excitement and milestones. Sidney Crosby registered his 500th career goal. Meanwhile Capitals’ coach Peter Laviolette notched career win 700 and Kings’ Drew Doughty played in his 1000th game. Read more here.