Rangers must be in it to Winnik
Two of the Rangers most likely targets were taken off the board in the last couple of weeks. First, Martin Hanzal underwent back surgery and ended any interest by Sather for his win now squad. Then Mike Santorelli was shipped to Nashville in a multi-player deal killing any hopes of landing him to center the third line.
Antoine Vermette is still out there in Arizona with his price still firm at a 1st round pick, a prospect and/or an NHL ready player. Multiple teams are still in on him with the Montreal Canadiens leading the pack and cap rich Nashville looking to go for it all this season.
Tyler Bozak of the Leafs is rumored to be available but his asking price is also high and Dave Nonis made it clear that they aren’t look to “trade the whole team.” So where does that leave the Rangers for bottom six help?
Jesper Fast is a week or more away from returning from his sprained knee. Tanner Glass has actually played his most impressive games of the year in consecutive performances, but it doesn’t erase a season’s worth of below average play.
The Rangers still rank near the bottom on draws and could use another capable body to help. Carolina’s Jay McClement‘s name has also surfaced and could be a fit. Playing for the Carolina Hurricanes on a 1 year $1M deal, the 31 year old has 3 goals and 15 points in 56 games. He very impressive on draws however with a 56% chance of success in the dots. While the Rangers need that, his lack of offensive ability may not be worth the trade off of moving red-hot Kevin Hayes to the wing.
Enter in Daniel Winnik of the Toronto Maple Leafs who is a winger that can take draws. Winnik is a big boy at 6’2″ and 213lbs. He is also a left handed shot even though the Rangers could use someone right handed. At 30 years of age and a cap friendly hit of $1.3M his 6 goals and 23 points in 56 games would be a nice addition to Kevin Hayes’ flank.
Winnik has only taken 181 draws this season but has won almost 49% of them. So an ideal set up would be him taking defensive zone draws for Hayes and relieving pressure on the other lines during the game. Allowing Alain Vigneault to deploy lines appropriately and giving his top two lines a majority of offensive zone starts as possible.
Kevin Hayes’ game as a rookie has grown in leaps and bounds outside of face-offs. The only way he should be moved to the wing would be if the Rangers could bring in a Vermette or a Bozak without breaking the bank. Winnik’s believed asking price is a 2nd or 3rd round pick.
Daniel Winnik’s size during the playoffs will also come in handy. Once Jesper Fast is back and healthy, Tanner Glass can make his way to the press box unless the Rangers are playing the Flyers, Devils or Islanders.
The move is just screaming sense on multiple fronts and could be the most likely fix for the Rangers bottom 6 depth heading into the playoffs.