September 17, 2020

Two unlikely but interesting options for the Rangers at center

Clayton Keller trade? (Ralph Freso/AP Photo)

The New York Rangers are said to be in the market for a center. That of course could mean just about anything. Are they scouring the unrestricted free agent market? Or are they looking to make a trade? Obviously, it should be both.

Jeff Gorton has to take care of some housekeeping since he has $14 million in cap space at the moment with four big RFA’s to sign. Should the Henrik Lundqvist buyout rumors turn true, then he will have $17 million. While that is a nice amount, the Blueshirts will still need to shed more salary to land either one of these two centers.

Alex Galchenyuk, UFA

Minnesota Wild center, Alex Galchenyuk will likely be a UFA this summer. GM, Bill Guerin said so in his post trade presser after sending Eric Staal to Buffalo. The left handed center will certainly peak curiosity in the market, and the New York Rangers could find him of interest.

Galchenyuk is 26 years-old and his last deal had a cap hit of $4.9 million. He is versatile and can play the wing, but the Rangers would look to him as most likely a third line center.

new york rangers rumors
Alex Galchenyuk to the NYR? (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

If Galchenyuk is seeking a huge increase and the max seven years on a new deal, Gorton won’t bother. Of course, if Alex is willing to be a little more flexible and take a three or five year deal at around $5.5 million it might make sense.

Last season, Galchenyuk notched 24 points in 59 games bouncing between Pittsburgh and Minnesota. He has 320 points in 549 career NHL games and has never really played on a good team. His best seasons came in Montreal where he scored 30 goals as a 21 year-old in 2015-16.

Clayton Keller, trade target

At the 2016 draft, Jeff Gorton tried to move up in order to select Clayton Keller. This was reported by Dave Maloney during the New York Rangers Pregame show. He said they Rangers approached the Edmonton Oilers for the 4th overall pick in that draft, and Ryan McDonagh was part of the package.

Now we are hearing that the Arizona Coyotes could be looking to move some big names like, Oliver Ekman-Larsson-Larsson and Darcy Kuemper. Darren Dreger appeared on TSN1040 in Vancouver and said, “I heard from a good source today that Arizona has basically said anyone 25 or older, make an offer and they’re willing to listen.”

Other reports indicate that the Coyotes are in financial trouble and will be imposing an internal cap of around $70 million. That means going into next season they would need to shed over $10 million in contracts. A big portion of that could come in trading Ekman-Larsson who has an $8.25 million hit, but he has a full no move clause and may not want to go.

Which brings us back to Clayton Keller, who is only 22 years old. Here’s the rub, his 8 year extension at $7.1 million AAV kicks in next season with a $3 million dollar signing bonus to boot. Another thing to note is that he was drafted as a center, by has played mostly wing for the Coyotes.

Is either option possible?

The simple answer is yes. Especially with regards to Galchenyuk if he’s willing to work with the Rangers on years and salary. However, when it comes to Keller you are talking about a big gamble with big reward as a future #2 center.

Since his rookie season where he scored 65 points in 82 games, Keller has regressed. A lot of that could be playing in Arizona, but it is concerning. Especially if you are going to take on an 8 year deal.

The plus is that if it’s a cost cutting move, it may only cost you a player like Filip Chytil and the 22nd pick overall. Of course, that also means you may not retaining either Ryan Strome or Tony DeAngelo to make it happen.

Two different options and two different routes. Just some ideas for Jeff Gorton and company.

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