Rangers rumor mill is buzzing as NHL draft approaches

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The NHL draft is this Friday night and the Rangers have 3 selections in the first round plus plenty of cap space to make things interesting. Rumors were buzzing before Larry Brooks’ latest edition of Slap Shots and things are only likely to heat up from here on out.

Trade Possibilities

For weeks insiders have been speculating that it is highly improbable that the Rangers will retain all of their RFA’s. The focus and rightly so are on the Big Five, namely Kevin Hayes, Brady Skjei, Jimmy Vesey, Vlad Namestnikov, and Ryan Spooner. The main line of thought is that either Namestnikov or Spooner would be the odd man out.

Now, it sounds like all the buzz is that Kevin Hayes will be used to either land a defenseman like Dougie Hamilton in Calgary or as a centerpiece to move up in the draft. While that seems plausible, the Rangers could be using Hayes to draw more interest from teams to raise someone else’s value like the often mentioned Namestnikov or Spooner.

Of all the names mentioned above, I can not see Brady Skjei being moved unless it is in a blockbuster deal for a superstar defenseman like Erik Karlsson or a superstar forward who may become available at the draft.

Draft Possibilities

Andrei Svechnikov (Barrie Colts)

The Rangers have basically stated they will select the best player available. However, they want a legit top 6 forward with their first pick. Many experts are out there doing their mock drafts. One even had Filip Zadina falling to #9, which I think is crazy and beyond unlikely. Of course, the possibility of Oliver Wahlstrom, Jesperi Kotkaniemi or even Brady Tkachuk falling to nine would indicate to me no need for the Rangers to make a trade to move up.

However, if Carolina is serious about moving the #2 pick and the Rangers could use it to draft Andrei Svechnikov, then this must be explored. Even if it means packaging Kevin Hayes, Brady Skjei and another player with the #9 pick for maybe Jeff Skinner and the #2 selection.

The Rangers simply do not have a top line scoring superstar in their system and the only forward in this draft that seems to be a surefire one is Svechnikov. It would be a steep price and a bold move for sure.

Ilya Kovalchuk

This is going to be a big week for the Ilya Kovalchuk camp. They are out there talking to a lot of teams and I expect that he and Jeff Gorton will touch base before the draft. While Kovalchuk wants to win a Cup, it doesn’t mean he needs to win it this season. If that were the case he’d take a 1 year deal at 1 million and sign with Washington or Pittsburgh.

The fact is he wants his money more and that’s why if the plan looks decent, he will sign with the Rangers. It isn’t a sure thing but that seems to be what most believe and the odds makers in Vegas have the Rangers as favorites.

Anthony Scultore has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL since 2014. His work also appears at... More about Anthony Scultore