Rangers weigh ‘high’ price for Frank Vatrano trade, check in on Alex Tuch ahead of deadline: report

NHL: New Jersey Devils at Anaheim Ducks
Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

With the NHL trade deadline arriving in four days, the New York Rangers remain busy exploring all avenues to find a suitable right wing to play on their top line with Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider.

The Rangers are not limiting themselves to discussing pending unrestricted free agents. They’re open to trading for players with term remaining on their contracts.

They’ve long been linked to Anaheim Ducks right wing Frank Vatrano. The former Blueshirts forward has an NHL career-high 29 goals in an All-Star season, and has one season after this on his contract with a $3.65 million salary cap hit.

But the Rangers face an uphill battle to acquire Vatrano, according to NHL Insider Elliotte Friedman.

“The price for Frank Vatrano is high,” Friedman wrote in his 32 Thoughts blog Monday. “He’d be perfect in many places, but someone reminded me that, a year ago, there was interest in [center Adam] Henrique, but [Ducks] GM Pat Verbeek made it clear if he didn’t get what he wanted, he could wait.”

Of course, Verbeek did wait. And Henrique, now a pending UFA, will likely be traded ahead of this deadline. Of course, that’s of interest to the Rangers, too, as they consider replacing the injured Filip Chytil at third-line center.

But back to Vatrano. The Ducks, rightfully so, are seeking a huge haul for the 29 year-old, who was an excellent fit playing with Zibanejad and Kreider down the stretch in 2022 en-route to making the Eastern Conference Final, where they lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning in six games.

How much past their first-round pick would the Rangers have to give up for Vatrano? That’s where a decision to move forward or not will be made.

Related: Tommy Novak could be Rangers trade deadline fit, but there’s a catch

Rangers have ‘asked about’ Sabres forward Alex Tuch

NHL: Buffalo Sabres at New York Rangers
Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Friedman also pointed out that the Rangers “asked about” Buffalo Sabres forward Alex Tuch. However, Friedman reported that Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams “rebuffed requests to discuss Alex Tuch.”

Tuch scored an NHL career-high 36 goals and 79 points last season and has 17 goals this season. The 27-year-old is signed through 2025-26 with a cap hit of $4.75 million.

His interest in Tuch shows how Rangers GM Chris Drury is turning over every stone to try and find someone to spark the Zibanedjad-Kreider pair. By checking in on Tuch and pursuing Vatrano, the Rangers would appear to have interest in a long-term solution at the position, not just a rental to help drive a Cup run this spring.

It’s worth noting that top prospect Brennan Othmann is in line for a regular top-nine spot next season with the Rangers. And a deal for Vatrano, or Tuch, if the Sabres had interest, would provide an obstacle for Othmann unless someone else was traded off the current roster before next season.

That said, Tuch isn’t the only Sabres wing tied to the Rangers in recent trade rumors. Sabres captain Kyle Okposo has been linked to the Rangers, as well. The 35-year-old, though, is likely a better fit on a third line not top line at this stage of his career.

Jim Cerny is Executive Editor at Forever Blueshirts and Managing Editor at Sportsnaut, with more than 30 years of... More about Jim Cerny

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