As the offseason ramps up and we get closer to the draft, trade rumors take center stage. While many writers –MSM and bloggers alike– will try to stir up the conversation by using the E.K.L.U.N.D. rumor strategy to try to convince people they are true insiders, we won’t even bother with that. We are not insiders. We do not post fake rumors or even “logical” rumors. We take a step back and look at what the Rangers strengths are (i.e.: a position to deal from), where the holes are, and see where possible trade partners fit in.
First things first, the Rangers strength as an organization is not where you might think it is. Many are pointing to defense being a main strength of the Rangers and a possible position to deal from. If the playoffs taught us anything, it’s that the Rangers are actually not that deep on defense, especially with Michael Sauer’s career in question. They have one of the best top-four in the league, but they lack a legitimate bottom pairing. Dealing from the NHL roster on defense weakens this club.
The Rangers main strength is in their farm system. Players like Christian Thomas, J.T. Miller, Jesper Fast, Michael St. Croix, and Andrew Yogan are at the head of an incredibly deep stockpile of forwards who have the potential to be anywhere from top-six forwards to defensive specialists. Teams looking to reload their prospect system must look at the Rangers, as they have so many players to look at.
Another strength of the Rangers is their stock of bottom-six forwards. These are the role players that teams need to help fill out their roster when the skill is already there. These are the guys that aren’t being paid to score goals, but to prevent the opposition from scoring. What they do doesn’t show up on the score sheet.
With two identified strengths, the Rangers are in prime position to make a few moves to help fill holes in their roster. Those holes being a top-six forward and defensive depth. Luckily, there are a few teams that match up well with the Rangers on the trade market.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Let’s get the easy one out of the way first. The Blue Jackets have no prospects, and one key asset that can help them kick-start a full-blown rebuild process. That said, unless the rumored asking price for Rick Nash comes down, I find it unlikely there’s a deal to be made. For more details on Nash, read up on this beauty by Chris.
Winnipeg Jets: When news broke that Evander Kane would refuse to negotiate with the Jets, another team vaulted to the top of the trade list. Like the Blue Jackets, the Jets have few prospects that have top-six/top-four potential in the system. Kane won’t fetch as much as Nash, but he will give them a good haul. Another great aspect of the Jets: they don’t need much help on the blue line. That’s another part that plays right into the Rangers strengths.
Edmonton Oilers: This is a club that needs help at the bottom-six forward level. There is so much skill in Edmonton, but few players that can prevent the opposition from scoring. It makes you wonder if they are willing to deal from skill to acquire some much needed defensive help.
Calgary Flames: Whether they want to admit it or not, the Flames need to rebuild their club. Disastrous trades and signings have left this team with a few good prospects, but not enough to consider them a “deep” farm system. The Flames make a good trade partner in theory, but there isn’t much on that roster that is intriguing.
These four clubs have two things in common: They are all non-playoff teams, and they are all teams that have a need that is met by a Rangers strength. The Rangers have already been linked to CBJ and Nash, but if that asking price remains high, there are plenty of other options out there for the Rangers. A team looking to make a splash will go after Nash. A team looking to build for the present and future will look at Kane.
Removing Calgary from the equation due to lack of intriguing assets, the Edmonton scenario sure is an interesting one. If they decide to move some of that skill to help build a more rounded team, then there’s blockbuster potential here. There’s going to be a flurry of activity around the league leading up to the draft. It’s going to be fun to watch the carnage unfold.