New York Rangers second line center: Ryan Strome deal or trade for Mark Scheifele

mark Scheifele
Feb 9, 2021; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele (55) warms up before the game against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

The clock is ticking on the New York Rangers and who they will have lining up in the middle with Artemi Panarin. General Manager Chris Drury still has time to get something done without unnecessary pressure but time flies in the summer.

As the calendar turns to July 1, the NHL Draft is coming up on July 7 followed by the opening of free agency on July 13. These are key offseason dates for all teams and the Blueshirts would like to address their second line center before the latter date.

One thing is clear, what initially seemed to be just re-signing Ryan Strome or Andrew Copp were the only two options, more have presented themselves in recent days.

Let’s breakdown the current situation.

New York Rangers more likely to re-sign Ryan Strome

If the Rangers are going to solve their 2C problem with a signing of either Copp or Strome it will be the one that’s willing to accept a short-term deal.

At this time, Copp appears to want no less than 5 years on term. Another thing that’s becoming evident is that Copp has the potential to get more than 5 years on the open market and likely more than the initial $5.5M AAV he was seeking.

That’s why rumblings are emerging that the Rangers are working on bringing back Strome, who may sign a 3 or 4 year deal at around $5.5M to $5.75M to stay.

“Obviously my heart’s here. The last four years I’ve tried to pour everything into this thing on and off the ice,” an emotional Strome said on breakup day. “I can’t predict the future but all I know is I love these guys and this team is destined for great things. It’s a little emotional. Honestly, it’s a great group of guys and I hope there’s more.”

While the Rangers would probably like to sign Strome for two years, this option avoids trading younger cost controlled players.

new york rangers ryan strome
Jan 13, 2022; San Jose, California, USA; New York Rangers center Ryan Strome (16) during the first period against the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Rangers second line center trade options

The Rangers can also try and solve their 2C question in another way, but it comes at a much steeper price than just money.

Yesterday, we noted the Rangers interest in Canucks’ forward J.T. Miller and Jets’ center Pierre-Luc Dubois. Either player is going to cost the team three pieces in a trade.

Forever Blueshirts learned that the Jets wanted two young players/prospects and a first round pick for Dubois on Wednesday. Darren Dreger speculated on TSN’s Insider Trading that Filip Chytil, Kaapo Kakko, or Braden Schneider would need to be one of the main pieces going back.

So, if we’re looking at the Rangers, we’re looking at [Filip] Chytil, we’re looking at [Braden]Schneider, we’re looking at [Kaapo] Kakko as one of the main principles and maybe a first-round draft pick on top of that. Otherwise, I don’t think that Winnipeg’s [general manager] has the stomach to move Dubois this off-season.

Darren Dreger, TSN

Let’s make one thing clear, Schneider is highly regarded and considered an untouchable by the Rangers. Plus he’s likely going to become their top 4 right defenseman once Jacob Trouba’s full no-move clause becomes modified in 2024.

There’s also a huge risk in trading for and signing Dubois, who told Winnipeg he wants to become a UFA in 2024.

If the Rangers were to give up that kind of a package, they would need to sign the 24 year-old longterm and we were told that’s a 7 year-deal worth at least $7M per season. That’s not cap space the team has to give. Especially when you take into consideration Alexis Lafrenière and K’Andre Miller are set to become RFAs next summer. Chytil will also need a new deal unless he’s part of the package.

Much of this goes for J.T. Miller as well. He’s 29 and has one year left at an affordable $5.25M but will likely test free agency next summer. Why would the Rangers give up anything of consequence for a player that will be here for one season? And while Miller can play center, will he and Panarin click? All things to think about it unless the Canucks drop the asking price tremendously.

Which brings me to the best fit for the Rangers if they want to go the trade route.

Mark Scheifele best trade option

Scheifele, 29, has two years at $6.125M AAV which many teams would jump at including the Rangers. He had a strong season with 70 points in 67 games and is a perfect for this team and its salary cap needs.

While his AAV may be just a tad higher than what Drury is looking for, it’s that two year contract that’s perfect. It coincides with both Chris Kreider’s and Trouba full no-move clauses becoming modified. They represent $14.5M in cap space that could potentially be freed up to give to younger players.

He would also come at a cheaper trade cost than the aforementioned Miller and Dubois. A package of Filip Chytil and a 2023 first-round pick likely gets it done. By trading Chytil’s one-year remaining at $2.3M, it also frees up cap space to re-sign Frank Vatrano. That’s one less RFA to worry about next summer as well.

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