Steven Stamkos should be New York Rangers top trade target at deadline

The New York Rangers have never been afraid of making a splash around the trade deadline when it comes to gearing up for a playoff run. It is no doubt that some acquisitions have panned out better than others. Last year it was Patrick Kane and Vladimir Tarasenko. In 2014, it was Martin St. Louis. It was Pat Verbeek in 1995. Other names like Keith Yandle, Derrick Brassard, Andrew Copp, and Frank Vatrano have all been brought in to help the Blueshirts.

Despite these moves, some incredibly bold, New York remains without a Stanley Cup since 1994. While it may seem like a stretch, there is one player whose name has been brought up with the Rangers time and time again, Steven Stamkos.

Of course, we’ve all heard the story of the supposed “done deal” that would have sent Stamkos to Broadway at only 20 years old in a massive trade that fell through. Since then, Stamkos’ name has been linked to New York numerous times. This year, however, the pieces could finally fall into place.

Related: New York Rangers trade tiers

Rangers should go after Steven Stamkos (if he’s available)

NY RANGERS
Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

Stamkos is in the final year of his contract with Tampa Bay and has yet to sign an extension. Furthermore, Tampa has made it clear that they won’t negotiate a new contract until after the season, opening the door for a trade deadline deal if the team is not in a playoff spot.

The Lightning are an average 15-13-5 this season, and it is looking like their reign as one of the most feared teams in the league may be coming to an end. It could be the perfect time to ship Stamkos off to a contender in order to acquire some young talent and draft picks.

Enter the New York Rangers.

As one of the best teams in the NHL right now, the Rangers will undoubtedly be looking for that final piece to send them over the top. While the consensus is that the Blueshirts need some help on the right wing, adding a superstar center like Stamkos is too intriguing to not give it a look. He has also spent time at left wing, but with Chris Kreider and Artemi Panarin locked in on the left side, Stamkos would likely center the second or third line.

Stamkos has a full no-movement clause. He holds the cards at the trade deadline. Could the Lightning make their call on him by then, based on what BriseBois has seen from the team? And if so, will they seek to use his value to improve the roster before he walks as a free agent?

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What a Stamkos trade may look like

Of course, the Rangers will have to give up a bit in order to make this happen. With a cap hit of $8.5 million, New York would have to make room for Stamkos’ contract even with Tampa retaining salary. The first casualty of this trade would most likely be Filip Chytil. Assuming he returns from injury and can find his game, he would be a great young center for a team like Tampa Bay to acquire. His $4.5 million salary being moved would also help a great deal in making room for Stamkos.

The Rangers would most likely have to give up another young and promising player. Zac Jones is a name that comes to mind. As the Rangers’ seventh defenseman this season, losing Jones would not hurt too much for New York. He is a young and promising player who could become a regular in the lineup should he be moved to the Lightning.

Couple Chytil and Jones with a first round pick, and you have a solid trade package for the 33-year-old forward. As the years pass, rentals have been coming at a much more affordable cost, making this deal relatively friendly for both sides.

Bringing in a two-time Stanley Cup champion with 1,090 points to his name could be just what the Rangers need. At 33 years old, Stamkos has 34 points (15G-19A) in 30 games this season. He is projected to finish the year with 84 points, proving he still has a lot left in the tank. While it didn’t pan out with Patrick Kane, a healthy Stamkos could make the Rangers too powerful to take down.

The next question to be asked is what would the lineup of the Rangers look like with Stamkos thrown into the mix? Assuming Chytil goes the other way, and the Rangers are fully healthy, here is a potential forward grouping that the Blueshirts could run with:

Kreider – Zibanejad – Wheeler
Panarin – Stamkos – Lafreniere
Cuylle – Trocheck – Kakko
Goodrow – Bonino – Vesey

On paper, this group of forwards comes with incredible depth. Yes, Vincent Trocheck has been incredible on the second line. That being said, it’s simply too tempting to not have Stamkos in the top-six. Stashing him on the third line seems like a disservice when he could potentially create something special playing with another superstar in Artemi Panarin.

Any way you draw the lines up, bringing in Steven Stamkos has the potential to make the Rangers a juggernaut. It is important to remember that this is all hypothetical and probably a long shot. Both Tampa Bay and Stamkos want his career to end in a Lightning uniform. However, that is proving to be a difficult task for the pending UFA and the Tampa Bay management. Should the right pieces fall into place, Stamkos just might be putting on another sweater later on this season.

Dane Walsh is a life-long fan of the New York Rangers. Growing up in the tri-state area, Dane has... More about Dane Walsh