Rangers unlikely to land prized trade target Jake Guentzel

NHL: New York Rangers at Pittsburgh Penguins
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

According to multiple reports, Jake Guentzel who is considered the top prize of this NHL Trade Deadline, will be traded before the day is done. Although the New York Rangers are expected to be very active in acquiring players, the Pittsburgh Penguins sniper is unlikely to be headed to Broadway.

“Sources say the Penguins are hoping to have a trade in place for Jake Guentzel by [Wednesday] evening,” Darren Dreger noted. “Pittsburgh is open to quality over quantity in return, but would like a 1st, young NHL player, plus prospects. Flexibility comes in the calibre of prospect or roster player.”

That’s a steep price for a rental.

Guentzel, 29, has scored 52 points (22 goals, 30 assists) in 50 games to date. The pending UFA comes with an AAV of $6 million, and should the Penguins need to retain any of that cap hit the cost to acquire will go up.

Related: Rangers need to look at Antony Duclair before the deadline

Rangers unlikely to land Jake Guentzel

new york rangers
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

While many fans are hoping that the Rangers will go all in to acquire Guentzel, the mere fact that the Penguins are a Metro Division rival already hinders the possibility. Divisional trades of this magnitude, even for a rental, are not common in the NHL.

As the Rangers are closing in on acquiring Alexander Wennberg from the Seattle Kraken as soon as today, they have been eyeing a reunion with Frank Vatrano in Anaheim. If not, they can also look to a reunion with Anthony Duclair in San Jose.

All three players are much cheaper options than Guentzel, whom Pens’ GM Kyle Dubas would want to extract the maximum return from a division rival.

Larry Brooks of the NY Post recently reported that Rangers’ GM Chris Drury is reluctant to part with a first-round pick to acquire Vatrano, who has more goals than Guentzel with 29. USA Today’s Vince Mercogliano indicates they have “serious interest” in both those players, but are unwilling to part with Kaapo Kakko in a deal.

Let’s not forget, ESPN’s Emily Kaplan noting that anytime a team brings up prospects Brennan Othmann or Gabe Perreault, the Rangers shut that talk down.

So how are the Rangers landing Guentzel? While I believe the Rangers would give in to moving their first-round pick (even if it is in 2025) to the Ducks for Vatrano, I can’t see them willing to give up too much more.

The teams rumored to be interested in Guentzel are the Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers, Vegas Golden Knights, Carolina Hurricanes, and Florida Panthers.

When looking at the list, the last two teams are in the Eastern Conference. If I’m Drury, I want people to think I’m interested to raise the cost up for opponents the Rangers may need to play in order to get to the Stanley Cup Final. Throw in the caveat that it could also help lower the price on Vatrano to have this info out there as well.

At the end of the day, you can never say never. However, trading a first-round pick along with multiple prospects to a team you will need to compete against for years to come, for a rental, makes little sense.

Of course, not a lot makes sense this time of year.

Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore

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