Rangers Rumor Roundup: Expansion is Upon Us
Hello again! @NHLRumorsDaily here with another rumor roundup, this one coming with less than 12 hours until the Vegas Golden Knights pick their roster. As you could imagine, numerous trades with Vegas have been made, however, the Rangers have NOT reached a deal with George McPhee and the Knights, as per NYPost’s Larry Brooks. The Rangers were speculated to be working on a trade, to protect valuable backup goaltender Antti Raanta, as well as 27 goal scorer Michael Grabner.
Tradewinds with Vegas
Heading into the Expansion Draft, the Vegas Golden Knights were reported to have completed a “few” deals to take undesirable contracts and older veterans; as opposed to taking a younger, top-six forward, or a top-four defenseman. What wasn’t known however was how many deals Vegas did reach, until now.
As near as we can tell, VGK consummated at least 8 trades prior to NHL teams having to submit their protected/exposed lists on Saturday.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 21, 2017
Teams that have been rumored to reach a deal with Vegas include Anaheim, Chicago, Columbus, Florida, Minnesota, the Islanders, Pittsburgh, and Tampa Bay. This morning, I also received information that Nashville could be added to that list, asking Vegas to lay off of James Neal. As of right now, that is only a rumor, but a reminder that all of the speculated trades are a rumor in one shape or another. Vegas cannot announce any deals until the Expansion Draft tonight. Another possibility is that Vegas has many secondary deals lined up to flip any draft picks that other teams may have an interest in.
Is Raanta as Good as Gone?
Sources tell me that once Stepan trade talks picked up with Arizona, the Coyotes also developed an interest in Antti Raanta and that GM John Chayka was interested in acquiring a package of both Stepan and Raanta. Speculation then began that the Rangers would try to reach a deal with Vegas to protect the 28-year-old netminder, in hopes of reaching a post-freeze deal with Arizona. However, if you follow Larry Brooks on Twitter, you’d know that this was never the case.
Once again: The Rangers do not have a deal with Vegas. Had never been their intention.
— Larry Brooks (@NYP_Brooksie) June 21, 2017
It seems that the Rangers are complacent with losing one of their players to the Golden Knights, but at this point, it isn’t clear which one they will lose.
Who Does Vegas Want?
At this point, it would make the most sense for VGK to take Antti Raanta and flip him for assets in the form of picks and prospects. Sportsnet insider Elliotte Friedman reported in his pre-expansion 30 Thoughts that the Rangers stuck to a high asking price for Raanta, as they felt he did an excellent job last season. It is a done deal that Vegas will be taking Marc-Andre Fleury from Pittsburgh and appointing him as the immediate starter; and for a franchise just beginning to build, it would make little sense for the Golden Knights to have a back-up that is in such high demand across the league. If I had to make a prediction at this point, I’d say that Vegas takes Raanta and flips him to a team in need of goaltending such as Arizona or Winnipeg.
After tonight’s Expansion Draft picks are made and all trades with Vegas are announced, the picture should be much clearer for much of the NHL, and by extension, the Blueshirts. I fully expect the Rangers to be an active team as soon as the trade freeze lifts at 8 AM EST Thursday morning. In the meantime, stay up to date on the latest around the NHL and Rangers by following myself @NHLRumorsDaily, and any of the great members of FullTiltNYR. Cheers!
Author’s Note- As of writing this post, Michael Russo from the StarTribune is reporting that Vegas has taken Minnesota Wild center Erik Haula and will also receive prospect Alex Tuch and a pick in return for staying away from d-men Matt Dumba and Marco Scandella