Rangers trade target off board, but Predators teammate is of interest

NHL: Nashville Predators at Detroit Red Wings
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With Filip Chytil out for the rest of the season, Tommy Novak was an intriguing pending UFA center the New York Rangers had shown interest in ahead of the NHL trade deadline Friday.

However, a path to a Novak trade was always a complicated one. Elliotte Friedman reported on Saturday Headlines that Novak is off the market since the Predators are seriously pursuing a contract extension with the 26-year-old.

“The understanding is today — and you’ve got to be careful because things can always change — but the understanding is today he’s not on the market, there’s belief there’s been progress between him and the Predators on an extension,” Friedman reported. “They’re likely to keep him. That’ll disappoint teams; he was a [trade] target.”

But that doesn’t mean Novak, who’s making only $800,000 this season and could be in line for somewhere between $3.0 – $4.5 million per on a multi-year extension, won’t be traded.

“[Predators general manager Barry] Trotz is not going to lose him for nothing,” a source told Forever Blueshirts. “That’s common sense. They’d prefer to sign him, but the Preds also have a lot of young talent in Milwaukee (of the AHL) and a ton of draft picks. If they can’t sign Novak, they’ll likely try to land another first-round pick for him.”

Nashville has four first-round picks and five second-round selections in the next three drafts.

Update: Predators sign Novak for three years

Related: Rangers coach still ‘confident’ in top line amid Kyle Okposo rumor

Possible Tommy Novak trade could be difficult, but fruitful for Rangers

NHL: Colorado Avalanche at Nashville Predators
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The Rangers might balk at dealing a first-rounder for Novak, especially when top-line right wing is more a position of need for them. Plus it’s less likely that the Rangers would try and sign Novak if they acquired him should they believe that Chytil will be healthy and able to play next season. Chytil missed all but 10 games this season with an upper-body injury believed to be a concussion.

With Mika Zibanejad and Vincent Trocheck entrenched in the top six at center, there wouldn’t appear to be a long-term fit for Novak if Chytil is able to play.

Novak is a late bloomer, who played four years at University of Minnesota and parts of four more in the minors before finally securing a full-time NHL role. The former third-round draft pick broke out with 17 goals and 43 points in 51 games with the Predators last season.

The 6-foot-1 pivot was sidelined with an upper-body injury earlier this season but has regained top form with 13 points (five goals, eight assists) in his past 13 games. He’s been a big player for Nashville in its current eight-game winning streak.

“What kind of message would it send to the fans, and the team itself, to trade Novak now with Nashville pushing for a playoff spot?,” another source said. “It’s my understanding the Rangers were scouting him, but it’d make no sense for Nashville to trade him at this point.”

Related: Rangers trade tiers ahead of March 8 deadline

Are the Rangers interested in Predators center Yakov Trenin?

NHL: New Jersey Devils at Nashville Predators
Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

Assuming Novak re-signs with the Predators or the asking price is too high for someone who’d be the 3C on Broadway, there could be another center of interest for the Rangers in Nashville.

Yakov Trenin is a bit more of a traditional third-line pivot. He’s a very physical two-way player, a streaky scorer who did have an NHL career-high 17 goals two seasons ago and has 10 so far in 59 games this season.

The former second-round pick can handle a checking role. But he does struggle in the face-off circle. 

It’s believed the Rangers have scouted Trenin, as well as Novak, ahead of the deadline.

But it’s worth asking if Trenin, a pending UFA who makes $1.7 million, is that much better of an option than Jonny Brodzinski, who is averaging more points per game (0.36 to 0.24) and is better at face-offs (50.0 percent to 44.0 percent).

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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