Rangers’ disinterest in trading 2024 top pick has ‘zero validity’: report

NHL: New York Rangers at Philadelphia Flyers
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

With the NHL trade deadline exactly one month away, there are varying reports about the willingness or lack thereof the New York Rangers have in using their 2024 first-round draft pick in a deal to bolster the current roster.

On Thursday, longtime Rangers beat reporter Larry Brooks of the New York Post emphatically shot down a story that Blueshirts owner James Dolan wants the team to keep the pick. Darren Dreger reported the previous day that Dolan wants to “protect” that pick because the 2024 NHL Draft is being held at the Sphere in Las Vegas, which is also owned by Dolan, and he wants to make a big splash.

“The concept is ludicrous,” Brooks wrote Thursday. “More to the point, it has zero validity.”

These conflicting views notwithstanding, each reporter is highly respected and reliable.

Related: Rangers owner wants to keep 1st-round pick for 2024 draft at Sphere: report

Rangers expected to be busy ahead of 2024 NHL trade deadline

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

What’s most important is what the Rangers accomplish ahead of the trade deadline over the next four weeks. They’ve won three in a row for the first time since Dec. 15-19, opened up a six-point lead for first in the Metropolitan Division and appear in go-for-it mode this season, even with goalie Igor Shesterkin not quite on top of his game.

The Rangers could use a top-line right wing to play alongside Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider and a third-line center, now that Filip Chytil is out for the season with an upper-body injury.

A reunion with Frank Vatrano makes sense. The Anaheim Ducks All-Star right wing has 22 goals this season. Vatrano said “Playing in New York was the biggest thing that’s happened in my career to this point” in Toronto last week.

Vladimir Tarasenko is also a familiar option. And Anthony Duclair is probably the least expensive choice to fill that hole.

Down the middle, the Rangers could do a one stop shop in Anaheim if they could swing a big trade that would net Vatrano and center Adam Henrique. On a smaller scale there’s Sean Kuraly, who, like Vatrano, has another season to go on an affordable contract. Veteran Tyler Johnson is likely in play again now that he’s off injured reserve.

A Vatrano trade, or certainly a large-scale Ducks deal, likely would cost the Rangers their top pick in this year’s draft. Brooks reported “the Rangers first-rounder is in play.”

This should come into sharper focus in the coming weeks. Perhaps sooner rather than later what with top trade targets like Elias Lindholm and Sean Monahan already moved way ahead of the deadline.

Jim Cerny is Executive Editor at Forever Blueshirts and Managing Editor at Sportsnaut, with more than 30 years of... More about Jim Cerny

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