Rangers must focus on future coming out of the break

The Rangers fell to the Islanders in their last game before the All Star Break and have lost 2 in a row heading into Friday against Detroit. At 23-21-4, the Blueshirts have 50 points and are 11 points out of the last wild card spot. With the trade deadline coming faster than you think on February 24th, the team will play only 13 more times by that date.

Can the Rangers close the gap for that final wild card spot? Unless the Rangers go on a huge run out of the break, they are likely to be a distance from the last playoff spot. That should certainly motivate Gorton to make trades that have an eye on next year for sure.

Trading Kreider

I love Chris Kreider the player and the person. He is a leader for the team on and off the ice. The issues with Kreider is his age (28) and what his next contract will look like. He will want at least 7 years at $7M and while that will be fine in years 1 and 2, it will be a burden for the rest of the term.

Kreider (Getty Images)

Right now the list of known teams that are interested in Kreider are the Avalanche, Bruins, Blues, and Penguins. One other team to keep an eye on as a dark horse to land him are the Lightning. I fully expect him to be dealt by the deadline. A 1st round pick and more will be the minimal return as long as several teams are all vying for him.

Trading Georgiev

The only way the Rangers don’t trade Georgiev is if Lundqvist says he’s wants to be moved or will retire at the end of the season. I simply don’t see it. Expect many teams to be in on Georgiev and for the Rangers to maximize the return. The Leafs may actually consider parting with Kasperi Kapanen soon but they want to use him as the main piece for a top 4 LD. Keep a look out for the San Jose Sharks to make a push for him also and Kevin Lebanc would be the Rangers target.

Trading the RFAs?

There’s been lots of talk about the RFA’S Ryan Strome, Tony DeAngelo, and Brendan Lemieux. This one is easy…

THE RANGERS AREN’T TRADING THEM!

Why would they? The team is in control and if they want, they could trade one at the draft for a better return anyway. I still think the team re-signs all three.

DeAngelo (Getty Images)

Other Trade Assets

One Ranger I can see traded is Brendan Smith to a contender for a 3rd or 4th rounder. Another possibility is moving Brady Skjei in the right trade, but without knowing if K’Andre Miller is ready to challenge for his spot, it may make sense to wait. Jesper Fast is also a UFA but I still don’t see the Rangers moving him at the deadline. If they can’t get him to sign by the draft, they could trade his rights. He’s not going to garner much either way.

Buyouts?

Now to the topic of buyouts, which we don’t believe the Rangers will be adding to their already large amount of dead cap space. But here’s Brooks’ take:

So, buyouts? Buying out Lundqvist would save $3 million (Don’t count on the Rangers buying out Lundqvist). Buying out Staal would save $2.133 million (Might not want to count on that, either). Buying out Smith would save $1.567 million on a presumed AHL assignment (Maybe).

Larry Brooks

If the Rangers buyout Smith they will save $2.7M next season but will have dead cap space of $788K the following year. If they send him down to the AHL next year (final year of his deal) they will save almost $1M with no penalty the year after. My thought is that he’s traded at the deadline to a team looking for defensive depth for the playoffs. Expect the Rangers to eat 50% of his salary to facilitate the move.

After the Break make the Czar #1

Once Georgiev is moved, the Rangers need to make Igor Shesterkin the #1 goalie and let him run out the stretch. He needs to get in the work and start assuming the role as Lundqvist’s heir.

The Rangers should also promote Vitali Kravtsov to the big club and see what he can do as well. And Kakko should get heavy minutes for the rest of the season.

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