Rangers owner wants to keep 1st round pick for 2024 Draft at Sphere: report

NHL: NHL Draft
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The New York Rangers have been very protective of their first-round picks for many years now under former general manager Jeff Gorton and current boss Chris Drury. By doing so, they’ve added key young players to the current roster and several others on the way up.

However, it appears the owner of the team, James Dolan, wants to keep this summer’s top pick for another interesting reason. According to Darren Dreger, Dolan wants to make sure the Rangers have their time in the spotlight at the 2024 NHL Draft being held at the Sphere in Vegas, which he owns.

“The Rangers would like to add a forward,” Dreger began on TSN’s Insider Trading. “James Dolan, the owner of the New York Rangers wants to protect the 2024 first round pick, so that they can be part of the spotlight at the Sphere, where he’s the owner.”

His report goes on to add that it doesn’t mean Drury can’t use the team’s 2025 first-round pick in a trade if needed.

Related: Rangers taking calls on Kaapo Kakko

Rangers want to hold on to 2024 first-round pick

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Previously, Dreger reported that the Rangers were taking calls on Kaapo Kakko ahead of the NHL trade deadline on March 8. At the time, there was a lot of skepticism that the Blueshirts would consider trading the 22-year-old forward, even though he hasn’t lived up to being the second overall pick of the 2019 draft.

“Kaapo Kakko is perhaps an asset that Chris Drury considers using as trade bait,” Dreger noted. “New York has cap space and the assets like Kakko to acquire a significant piece.”

A trusted source explained to Forever Blueshirts on Tuesday, that Dreger’s reporting on the Sphere reinforces why Kakko has now become available. Additionally, and others have stressed this as well, the Rangers, especially Dolan, truly believe their window to win the Cup is now.

All of this being said, trading Kakko for a rental makes little sense, unless he’s part of a larger deal. New York definitely needs another third-line center that can provide offense and an upgrade for a top-line right wing over Blake Wheeler.

One team that the Rangers have been speaking with is the Anaheim Ducks, who have center Adam Henrique and winger Frank Vatrano as trade chips.

Henrique, 34, has 33 points (15 goals, 18 assists) in 49 games and is a pure rental as a UFA in July, Meanwhile, the 29-year-old Vatrano has one year left on his deal at a reasonable $3.65 million. Not bad for an All-Star with 22 goals and 36 points in 50 games.

Forever Blueshirts caught up with Vatrano at All-Star Weekend, where he spoke glowingly of his time on Broadway. As for his name in trade rumors, the speedy winger states he’s unaware.

“I’m happy in Anaheim, I love it there,” Vatrano explained. “Obviously, I don’t want to go anywhere but that’s way out of my control. I’m excited to be in Anaheim right now.”

The question that needs to be asked is if the Ducks would take Kakko and a 2025 first-round pick for those players with some salary retention? Based on the return the Montreal Canadiens received for rental Sean Monahan (2024 first-round pick and a conditional 2027 third-round pick), that remains to be seen.

Kakko, 22, is on pace for 13 points this season, after a lower-body injury cost him 21 games. His value is at an all-time low, so only a multiplayer deal makes sense for the Rangers to consider moving him.

Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore

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