Rangers Roundup: Madison Square Garden announces new COVID plan for young fans, and is Phil Kessel best trade rental option?

Late yesterday, MSG Entertainment updated their COVID policies for attendance to all events including tonight’s Rangers game against the Golden Knights.

Per a press release:

MSG Entertainment today announced that in order to comply with the City’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate for children, it will begin checking for proof that children ages 5 to 11 have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in order to gain entry to MSG Entertainment venues.

As of tomorrow, December 17, MSG Entertainment is pleased to announce that it is working with the de Blasio Administration to have an onsite mobile unit at Radio City Music Hall that will provide vaccinations exclusively for children ages 5 to 11. The mobile site will be located at 44 West 51st Street (between 5th and 6th).

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Is Phil Kessel the best trade rental option?

Kessel, 34, has 15 points in 28 games for the lowly Coyotes. He’s been trying to escape the desert since the summer but so far there’s been no takers. He will be a UFA at season’s end and has a cap hit of $6.8M. The veteran is widely considered a top rental.

Will he make it to the trade deadline in March?

I asked around about the temperature of the NHL trade market and as you’d expect it’s cold. Basically, you have a lot of buyers with only two sellers. Both the Arizona Coyotes and Montreal Canadiens are done for this season making them the only two shops on the block open for business.

Knowing this, they are rightfully asking a premium in trade talks. Phil Kessel will assuredly net them a first round pick at the deadline, but it is possible he could go a little earlier?

NHL Rumors Phil Kessel
Apr 24, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Arizona Coyotes right wing Phil Kessel (81) controls the puck against the Los Angeles Kings during the second period at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Rangers, who have a glaring need at right wing keep coming up. Arthur Staple recently noted as much but also added Dustin Brown in L.A. and Joe Pavelski in Dallas. I find those two unlikely.

The most likely route for Drury is a forward on an expiring contract, given the limited space available in the offseason. The team has space now, though, to take a decent-sized swing at adding someone impactful. Phil Kessel would be a wild-card out of Arizona.

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The other option, but one that won’t be available until Jack Eichel is fully ready to return is Reilly Smith in Vegas. A strong winger that better fits the previously reported “middle-six” description Chris Drury is looking for, is certainly capable.

However, if the Rangers really want to go for it in the playoffs, they would be hard pressed to find a better rental option for offense than Kessel. A former two-time Stanley Cup champion with 395 career goals and 919 points.

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