Rangers need to be aggressive if Avalanche win draft lottery
Much to the chagrin of a very large sect of Rangerstown, the New York Rangers are not going to enter the NHL draft lottery selection process with the most ping-pong balls. That distinction will almost assuredly belong to the worst-in-the-NHL Ottawa Senators as the hockey team from Canada’s national capital continues to resemble the proverbial dumpster fire.
However, due to a trade made last season with the Colorado Avalanche in which the Sens dealt, in part, their 2019 first round pick in exchange for forward Matt Duchene, the Avs are now in possession of the Sens’ pick and would, therefore, end up with the first selection if NHL Deputy Commission Bill Daily removes the card with the Senators logo from the over-sized envelope and announces them as the winner of the Jack Hughes sweepstakes.
If you’re a Ranger fan, I strongly suggest that you root for the Senators/Avalanche to win the draft lottery if the Rangers don’t. You see, the hockey team from the Mile High City already has three young, electrifying, high-end forwards to build their franchise around. Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and team captain, Gabriel Landeskog, all of whom are 25 and under, give Colorado a three-pronged attack that keeps opposing goalies up at night and their coaches enough acid-re-flux to light up the city of Toledo.
The Avs would certainly love to add an elite talent like Jack Hughes to their line-up. Who wouldn’t? However, their top-heavy roster is more in need of depth, both up front and on the blue line. The Avalanche are currently on the outside looking in of the Western Conference playoffs which is a bit of a dome-scratcher considering how weak the West is and that the aforementioned franchise cornerstones are all having career seasons.
If other bottom feeders like the Kings, Devils or Red Wings have the card with their logo called by Mr. Daily as lottery winners, then the Rangers would be, as they say, fresh out of luck as far as trying to acquire the first overall pick is concerned. I do believe that there would be a chance, albeit a slim one, for a deal to be made between the Rangers and the Avalanche.
If you listened to Rangers owner Jim Dolan’s recent interview on the Michael Kay ESPN radio show, you heard him say in the brief moment when he actually mentioned the Blueshirts, that the team would be aggressive in the upcoming off-season. While tip-toeing around the tampering rules, Dolan all but promised the Rangers would be going after prized free agents-to-be Erik Karlsson and Artemi Panarin.
Couple what the owner stated on the Kay show with what various NHL insiders have been proclaiming about the Rangers’ transitional off-season plans, and it makes you wonder just how much longer the Garden Faithful will have to wait before things turn around and the Rangers return to playing meaningful games after the annual February trade deadline.
This is why I believe that if the Rangers fail to win the lottery and the Avalanche have the first overall pick, general manager Jeff Gorton needs to contact his Rocky Mountain counterpart before Bill Daily even places the Sens logo card on the “number one” slot on the display behind him. Any and all potential deals between Colorado and New York would presumably begin with the Blueshirts giving up Chris Kreider and their own top pick which will be a top-ten selection.
People a lot smarter than I am and who have a much higher pay grade than I do would have to figure out the rest of the specifics and particulars. For the first time in a long time, the Rangers have the assets to make an offer that a team like Colorado could not refuse.
The Rangers, as has been stated by your’s truly and many of our other fantastic writers on the ForeverBlueshirts staff, need an elite level talent like Jack Hughes to build their franchise around. With the Blueshirts continuing to grab “loser points” and hovering just above the bottom five teams in the standings, the odds look bleaker and bleaker of the Rangers having one of their ping-pong balls spewed out by the air-pumping machine when it matters the most.
Look, I am well aware that my hypothetical Rangers-Avalanche transaction has only a slightly higher chance of materializing than a meteorologist in Death Valley, CA predicting a foot of snow in the middle of July. But, this is New York City and these are the Rangers. They’ve been known to make big splashes before. Two non-competitive seasons is about all the Garden management and Faithful will stand for.
With a healthy amount of salary cap space, which could increase with potential buyouts and with an ever-growing arsenal of quality prospects and high draft picks, the Rangers are in a position to be aggressive and attempt to make bold moves like using their new found cache to circumvent the lottery and “win” the Jack Hughes sweepstakes.