Taking stock of the Rangers’ trade chips
By Alain Vigneault’s own admission, the Rangers are being very conscious of their cap situation because they expect to add a player or two before the trade deadline. With Monday’s 3 p.m. buzzer looming, let’s take a look at how the Blueshirts might use their assets to bring in reinforcements for another Cup run.
Chris Kreider – The 24-year-old still possesses all the tools to be a star and should be a bargain as a pending RFA thanks to his disappointing season. With that in mind, Kreider is possibly the team’s most valuable bargaining chip, but it would take a huge return for the Blueshirts to pull the trigger – likely a better player than is currently believed to be available. Depending on how the rest of the season shakes out, it’s perhaps more likely New York considers dealing Kreider in the offseason.
Oscar Lindberg – There have been whispers about the Swedish rookie over the last few days and it’s possible that he’s a player the Blueshirts would be willing to part with. Lindberg burst onto the scene with unsustainable offensive production, but has been very quiet over the last couple months. Once seen as the heir apparent to Dominic Moore’s role as the team’s fourth-line pivot, Lindberg’s future role now is a bit more uncertain. For clubs that can’t or won’t take on salary and are looking for young roster players with future potential, Lindberg could be very appealing. The Rangers probably won’t even consider moving J.T. Miller, Jesper Fast, Kevin Hayes or Pavel Buchnevich so Lindberg might become expendable almost by default.
Keith Yandle – Just a few weeks ago most NHL pundits expected the Blueshirts to auction off Yandle at the deadline, but the injury bug has taken a bite out of the defense and it’s now almost a certainty that New York will take its chances with Yandle this postseason and figure out the next move in June. On one hand, it might be very tempting for GM Jeff Gorton to listen to offers for Yandle that might include top prospects like Adrian Kempe, but unless something crazy happens over the next few days that cripples the team’s postseason hopes, Gorton has no choice but to keep Yandle and risk losing him for nothing.
Marc Staal/Dan Girardi – Despite fans’ protests, the Rangers have shown no inclination toward moving on from either of their underperforming veteran defensemen during the season. As with Yandle, the salary cap situation will have to be addressed in a few months, but for now the club clearly views its old horses on D as irreplaceable.
Draft choices – Here’s a quick guide as to what New York has at its disposal. Assuming the Rangers make the playoffs this season, their first-round pick will go to Arizona. The Blueshirts will retain next year’s first-rounder, but front office executives have made several comments indicating they’re not likely to part with another top choice. Luckily for New York, it seems as though later draft choices are carrying more value of late, so a second- or third-round pick might be enough to obtain one of the frequently discussed rental forwards.
Prospects – Buchnevich and Brady Skjei may as well be untouchable – the Rangers have dealt most of their future assets in recent years and would have a nearly impossible time justifying a trade of either of the two remaining blue chippers. But beyond those two and maybe Ryan Gropp, everyone else is probably fair game. Not that the organization has too many prospects of significant value remaining, but Gorton would likely at least consider including any of the other mid-tier players in a deal.
Who do you think are the Rangers’ trade chips as we approach the deadline?