Rangers and Canadiens Matchup Well For Potential Blockbuster Trade

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The 2018 NHL Entry Draft begins Friday night in Dallas and the Rangers, as you almost certainly know, currently hold the ninth, 26th and 28th overall selections in the first-round of the draft. Will they keep all those picks? Will some of them be packaged in a big blockbuster trade? Will the Rangers be drafting a forward or a defenseman at nine? All of these questions will be answered soon enough; but as for a trade package, there’s one idea that comes to mind: Kevin Hayes, the 9th overall pick, and the 26th overall pick go to the Montreal Canadiens for their third overall selection in the 2018 draft.

This idea makes too much sense and helps both clubs get exactly what they want. Rumors have been abundant that Rangers GM Jeff Gorton has been wanting to move up in the draft, and the Canadiens represent a perfect trade partner in this scenario. Why does it make sense for the Rangers? Well, they get a top-three pick which guarantees them either Filip Zadina or Andrei Svechnikov. Both promise to be dynamic wingers at the NHL level. Either of those two would be awesome to see flying down the wing sniping goals on Broadway for the next decade and a half. No prospect in the Rangers pipeline comes close to the talent that Zadina and Svechnikov possess, so having either one would instantly make this team better.

Giving up Kevin Hayes in a trade would be a bit of a short-term hit for the organization but let’s remember that Filip Chytil and Lias Andersson will both be competing for full-time NHL jobs this season. Hayes is going to command a salary of $4.5 – $5 million and would you be comfortable giving that to a third or fourth line center? Not at all. Mika Zibanejad is the Rangers number one center for the foreseeable future and Chytil and Andersson should be penciled into the second and third line center spots for this team next season. And although Hayes can also play the wing, you need to give to get in this league. That third overall pick won’t come cheap. The Rangers may take a hit, but with the higher ceiling players in Andersson and Chytil, they’ll be fine at the center position in the long run.

Why would it make sense for the Canadiens? The guy who Montreal is rumored to be after is Jesperi Kotkaniemi; a big kid from Finland who is looking like he could be a nice center in the NHL in just a few years. He’s a project to be sure, but one that could potentially become the center the Canadiens have been searching for for years. Kotkaniemi isn’t a lock to go top five by any means, and there’s a good chance he will be there at the number nine spot. Scouts aren’t sure if he could be that dominant center in the NHL, but it seems the Canadiens have seen something they like in him.

If they complete this trade with the Rangers, they would move down and attain other nice assets for doing so. They would have Hayes to be a good number two center for them behind Jonathan Drouin, or potentially the number one depending on how things go in Montreal this year. They would have a shot at the center they crave and if Kotkaniemi somehow gets taken, then Joe Veleno and Barrett Hayton, two other great centers, are waiting as well. With the recent trade of Alex Galchenyuk, the Canadiens are even thinner down the middle than they were so getting Hayes fills an immediate void while a pick of Kotkaniemi, Veleno or Hayton gets them a center for the future.

This is one of those trades that works out immensely for both teams. The Rangers get a dynamic winger for their retool and still keep one of their two lower first-round picks for another prospect. The Canadiens would add Kevin Hayes to their crop of centers, will have a great shot to draft Jesperi Kotkaniemi at number nine overall and they obtain an additional first-round pick in a deep draft.