Trade storms brewing around the league, will the Rangers be involved?
The NHL landscape is changing. There has been a noticeable shift in power and all you have to do is check the standings around the league. Can the Rangers benefit from this in any way? Let’s take a look.
Hockey Insider, Bob McKenzie was on TSN Radio in Vancouver discussing the increased buzz in the NHL rumor mill. “There’s lots of unhappy GMs, whether they’re in L.A. or Pittsburgh or Chicago,” he said. McKenzie continued, “some of the venerable teams that have been ‘salary cap dynasty teams’ are in the mode to try and get something done.”
Think about it, L.A. and Pittsburgh already made a deal with each other and Chicago just made a trade to shake up the team. The mighty Pens sit 6th in the Metro, as do the vaunted Blackhawks in the Central. The once big and bad Kings are dead last not only in the Pacific but in the entire league.
Changes are coming for these teams and they are coming soon.
Old Dynasties Aren’t The Only Ones
While those three team stand out like sore thumbs for obvious reasons, there are teams with plenty of talent that are underperforming. Let’s look at the St. Louis Blues and Philadelphia Flyers. The Blues are last in the Central and have already fired their coach. The Flyers are last in the Metro and just relieved Ron Hextall of all his duties. Both those teams have some very interesting players that could be moved to reinvigorate the franchise.
What about #1 center, Claude Giroux? What is he worth on the market to the right team? Giroux is 30 years old and has a contract that runs until he’s 34 with an 8.25M cap hit, but has 28 points in 23 games so far. How about sniper Vlad Tarasenko in St. Louis? The 26 year old RW is struggling this year with only 7 goals and 18 points in 22 games. The interesting thing with Tarasenko is he has a no trade clause that kicks in next season on a contract with a 7.5M cap hit until 2023. Are the Blues ready to move him?
Of course these are just two obvious teams that could be looking to deal players to change their teams, but there are plenty of others. The Edmonton Oilers are still struggling and could make a big move. There are teams with players like Columbus who have players like Artemi Panarin that could be lost for nothing if they become a UFA.
Trust me, NHL GM’s are still shaking their heads that the Islanders didn’t get even a single pick for John Tavares.
Will the Rangers Get Involved?
Now how do the Rangers fit in all this? Everyone knows that the Rangers are “rebuilding”, but they’ve made it clear that they aren’t looking to tank and are trying to win. They have players like Mats Zuccarello and Kevin Hayes who are set to be UFA’s this summer and may need to be moved. And finally, they have a decent talent pool of prospects if they feel there is a move to be made.
Right off the top, a player like Giroux doesn’t fit because of his age and his position. Jeff Gorton has done a great job of loading up on centers and can hold steady there. However, if a player like Tarasenko becomes available, the Rangers need to investigate that seriously.
Holding out hope that Artemi Panarin will become a UFA this summer isn’t a plan. Matter of fact, Panarin is very happy in Columbus right now, and they are scheduled to talk during the break this season. It is very possible that Panarin could be off the board by Christmas. So that means improving the team’s offense faster will have to come via trade.
I believe the Rangers will monitor this situation closely and pounce if the right player and deal presents itself. The NHL roster freeze runs from December 19th through the 27th and there should be activity. Will the Rangers be involved? Stay tuned.