There are certain times of the year in the NHL that are often referred to as the “silly season.” The NHL Trade Deadline, Draft, and Free Agency is where rumors run wild and even the top insiders get caught in speculation.
However, one name that seems to be staying in the rumor mill is New York Rangers second line center, Ryan Strome.
Trade rumors around Ryan Strome
It started early last week with Frank Seravalli of the Daily Faceoff stating that Chris Drury had “multiple irons in the fire.” In that article, he broke down the three following rumors:
- Rangers have been shopping Pavel Buchnevich for weeks
- Kraken are interested in Ryan Strome
- Alex Georgiev is looking for a change of scenery, Rangers shopping him
So far, number one came true as Buchnevich was traded in a cap saving move to the Blues for Sammy Blais and a second round pick. It was also a continuation to a theme that started after they signed Barclay Goodrow to a six-year deal; more toughness.
Well, Elliotte Friedman’s latest blog only stirs the pot further. He is predicting that Strome will be traded to either the Kraken, Knights, or Senators.
If that’s the case, what are the Rangers planning to do at center?
What could the Rangers be planning at center
Let’s start with Strome who is 28 years-old and is coming off a tremendous season where he scored 49 points in 56 games. He has one year left on his contract that pays $4.5 million. Having some term is nice, but he’s basically a rental. That means no one should expect a massive return. Chris Drury’s motivation for this move is likely to free up that cap space.
But for what?
The Rangers are NOT going to trade their second line center unless they confidently have another deal either by trade of free agency in place. Is this a precursor to a Jack Eichel deal? Not necessarily.
As recently as this weekend the Rangers remained close to the Eichel situation. However; the two sides are way off on a trade package. And for the record, it’s not just the Rangers who are way off because everyone is saying the price is too high. Two days until free agency and Eichel is still an unhappy member of the Sabres.
According to Friedman, the Sabres want either Braden Schneider or Nils Lundkvist who the team placed off limits back in March. That hasn’t changed. If the Sabres want a deal I believe the package I heard still stands which included; Kravtsov, Chytil, Jones, and a first round pick. That pick could turn into Georgiev or a first rounder in 2022.
So here are some thoughts if the Rangers do trade Strome and can’t land Eichel.
Rangers Eichel backup plans
I took a look at the free agent market for centers and it is scarce of anyone qualified enough to be a second line center. One possible and expensive UFA signing is Habs defensive center Phillip Danault.
The question is would you pay him $6 to $7 million a year for 6 seasons hoping he can produce enough offense as a 2C? I’m not so confident he can.
There’s also talks of Blake Coleman, but he’s looking for 6 years at $5 million. Is he really an upgrade over Strome? A nice player with all that grit Drury wants, but centering either Panarin or Lafrenière?
Right now, free agency isn’t doing it for me.
Is there a trade for another center out there? Evgeny Kuznetsov? Sean Monahan? Or is it something no one even sees at the moment?
The Capitals recently walked back talk that they would trade Kuznetsov and there hasn’t been a word out of Calgary about Monahan. So, it’s unlikely something is brewing there.
What about a one-for-one swap of Strome for Jonathan Marchessault in Vegas. He’s now a winger but played center for Gerard Gallant when he was there. The 30 year-old had 44 points in 55 games last season and has 2 years left on a deal that comes with a $5M AAV.
Let me throw a wild one by you. Matt Duchene in Nashville.
Yes, he makes a lot of money at $8 million per season for the next five years. He’s also 30 years-old and struggling to find his scoring touch since leaving the Senators. What if the Predators were willing to eat $2 million of that cap hit? What about $3M? Maybe a package of Filip Chytil, and Alexandar Georgiev gets them to do it?
At this point the only real pieces of solid info out there is that Strome is on the block, and Eichel is stuck in Buffalo. If the Rangers trade Strome they have a plan to replace him, but what is it?
We may find out on Wednesday.
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