Rangers may face tough trade choice regarding their first round pick
If there is one thing we have learned over the last few years, it is that the trade market for rentals is becoming more and more expensive. If the New York Rangers want to make any move of significance as the March 8th trade deadline approaches, it is going to cost them.
Multiple reports have noted that Rangers general manager Chris Drury would like to keep his first-round pick in the 2024 NHL Entry Draft. However, based on recent trades, it looks like that will be nearly impossible if he wants to make any move of significance.
Rangers face tough choice regarding first round pick
Two big trades have happened regarding rentals thus far in the League. In both scenarios, a first round pick and then some went the other way. The first trade was for the highly sought after center Elias Lindholm, who will be suiting up in Vancouver to try and help the Canucks make a deep playoff run. In the deal, the Canucks traded Andrei Kuzmenko, Hunter Brzustewicz, Joni Jurmo, a 2024 first-round pick, and a conditional 2024 fourth-round pick to the Calgary Flames.
The 29-year-old center had been linked to the Rangers for quite some time. After seeing what went the other way, it is obvious why the move never happened for New York. This is quite the haul for Calgary in exchange for what may only be a rental in Vancouver.
Then the Montreal Canadiens traded center Sean Monahan to the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for a 2024 first-round pick and a conditional 2027 third-round pick. This was another played linked to New York that is now off the board, and another rental that cost a first-round pick.
Eventually, Drury will need to make a move. He can only wait so long before all of his targets are acquired by other teams. His desire to hang on to New York’s 2024 first-rounder is looking very slim based on these recent trades.
Also worth noting is that neither of these deals included any amount of salary retention. If the Rangers want any breathing room in terms of cap space, trading their first round pick will almost be a guarantee in exchange for cap retention.
A center like Adam Henrique may now be New York’s top target, with Lindholm and Monahan off the board. With Filip Chytil out for the year, the Rangers need to find a third-line center. Forever Blueshirts recently published a story on Henrique, noting that a second-round pick may be the asking price. Based on these recent deals, however, that cost may actually be a first.
In addition to Henrique, the Rangers might be in search of a reunion with Frank Vatrano. A bigger deal could be made for both of the Anaheim forwards. If this is the case, expect Kaapo Kakko, a first-round pick, and maybe even a prospect, to be headed the other way.
Speaking of reunions, the Rangers have also been linked to Vladimir Tarasenko and Anthony Duclair as potential suitors to add some much-needed depth on right wing. These are two more players who will likely cost a first-round pick from New York.
While Drury’s desire to keep the Rangers’ 2024 first-round pick is sensible, it may not be possible. If the right move is on the table, then trading away the pick is the most logical solution. What should be avoided is keeping the pick and trading away one of New York’s highly touted prospects, such as Brennan Othmann, Adam Sykora or Dylan Garand. The Rangers have a lot of talent in Hartford at the moment, and should hang on to as much of it as they can.
It is an expensive market right now. Last season, Drury was able to work some magic, bringing in the likes of Patrick Kane, Tarasenko, and Niko Mikkola. The season prior, it was Andrew Copp, Vatrano and Tyler Motte.
Only time will tell what moves Drury has up his sleeve this season. In this market, however, he is going to have a hard time holding on to that first-round pick.