Acting GM Jeff Gorton is on record as saying the Rangers plan to be aggressive on the trade market to try to improve the club by the April 3rd trade deadline. Marian Gaborik is obviously the biggest name being floated in rumors, but it’s difficult to find a good fit and it’s probably more likely than not that Gabby finishes the season with the Blueshirts. That said, it’s common knowledge that New York would like to add a top-four defenseman and a top-nine forward to help replenish the depth that was lost during the offseason and has crippled the team all season.
With so many teams still in playoff contention in this lockout-shortened season, trade prices appear to be sky high, even for rentals. So who could New York offer in trade packages over the coming weeks outside of Gaborik?
Brian Boyle – The checking center has struggled this season and has fallen out of favor with coach John Tortorella, despite Tortorella’s repeated insistence that the Rangers “need” Boyle. Boyle is a tremendous defensive center, but he’s been a complete non-factor offensively and his skating has always been an issue. Boyle might not fetch a lot, but there is always interest in defensive centers this time of year, especially one with a very affordable one-year, $1.7 million remaining on his contract.
Taylor Pyatt – After scoring three goals in his first four games with the Rangers, Pyatt has fallen completely off the map and has registered just six points. He is simply way too slow and has little value for the club going forward. That said, Pyatt is a streaky scorer and did produce in the playoffs for Phoenix last year. Like Boyle, Pyatt is moveable given the affordable one-year, $1.55 million remaining on his deal.
Michael St. Croix – St. Croix has put up monster numbers in the WHL over the last two seasons and his value may never be higher. There’s still concern that St. Croix will ever be able to play both ways in the NHL, so he’s a bit of a risk in that if St. Croix doesn’t prove the ability to score at the next level, he may not make it at all. Considering the Rangers’ top-six is relatively set in stone and Tortorella demands that all of his forwards be responsible defensively, St. Croix could be expendable.
Shane McColgan – The Rangers still haven’t signed the 2011 fifth-round pick to a contract, so right now he has little value on the trade market. That said, McColgan has shown considerable improvement and is an intriguing prospect despite his 5-9, 165 lb. stature. That size issue may incline New York to attempt to deal McColgan given the team’s struggles to develop other small players in recent years.
Christian Thomas – Like with St. Croix, Thomas is a guy that is going to need to play in an offensive role and he’s unlikely to unseat the Rangers penciled in for those spots for the next few years. Like McColgan, Thomas is an undersized guy. A respectable showing in a cameo with the Rangers earlier this year may have piqued the interest of scouts, so Thomas could be used in a package.
Draft picks – The Rangers don’t have a first-round pick thanks to the Rick Nash trade, but they do have three third-round picks this year (they’ll get a fourth if they don’t make the Stanley Cup Finals). That’s obviously a surplus and solid ammunition.
And that’s about everything of any value I could see the Rangers moving. Top prospects like Dylan McIlrath, Brady Skjei, Boo Nieves, Oscar Lindberg and Jesper Fast aren’t going anywhere. The Rangers are shallow on depth at the NHL level to begin with, so it’s hard to imagine them moving any major contributors. This is about the extent of the list.
So unless the Rangers are prepared to move Gaborik, putting together a package to obtain anything worthwhile might be awfully tricky. Boyle and a third might get another top-nine forward, but beyond that…