The expansion draft is days away, but the Rangers’ plans are still a mystery

Matt Duchene is one of many intriguing players that could be on the move in the coming days

We’ve been speculating for months about what the expansion draft would mean for the Rangers and the consequences league-wide. And yet, here we are just days away from a seismic shift in personnel around the NHL and there’s still little clarity of New York’s plans. We know two things for sure:

1) The Blueshirts will lose at least one player to Las Vegas, and potentially several more in corresponding maneuvers.

2) The Rangers have expressed an organizational desire to get younger on defense.

Beyond that the dots are near impossible to connect.

The long-assumed No. 1 target, UFA Kevin Shattenkirk, is still essentially unattainable as the Blueshirts have yet to shed the necessary salary to make signing Shattenkirk possible.

That money could be cobbled together rather easily, but it’s still not a foregone conclusion that Kevin Klein will retire, or that one of Marc Staal or Dan Girardi will be bought out. Even then, there’s been little to indicate New York’s interest in the PPQB is as strong as his is in joining the Rangers.

The other anticipated trade partners with surplus on defense – Anaheim, Nashville and Minnesota – have many other suitors and the potential to bribe Las Vegas into letting them escape the draft relatively unscathed. As with Shattenkirk, there’s been little buzz to suggest the Blueshirts have anything in the works here.

But while there doesn’t seem to be much momentum on the obvious deals, it’s far from quiet.

There’s speculation the Blueshirts could be discussing everyone from Ilya Kovalchuk, to Jacob Trouba, to Tyson Barrie, to Nathan MacKinnon.

And there are dozens more names circulating the rumor mill including defensemen Sami Vatanen, Nathan Beaulieu, Matt Dumba, Chris Tanev, Alec Martinez, Jake Muzzin, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Jonas Brodin and Justin Faulk, as well as star forwards Matt Duchene, Alex Galchenyuk, Jordan Eberle, Artem Anisimov and Sam Bennett.

There are six Blueshirts I can’t see leaving town under any circumstance: Henrik Lundqvist, Ryan McDonagh, Brady Skjei, Pavel Buchnevich, Mika Zibanejad and Jimmy Vesey. Just about anyone else is conceivable.

In other words, it’s completely bonkers already and there hasn’t been a single move yet. We’re in unchartered territory right now and it’s at the same time terrible and deliciously fun.

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  • I see Vesey as definitely tradeable in a bigger deal. Like for McKinnon or Trouba, for sure. I mean, Anthony Duclair was traded.

    • Duclair hadn’t signed less than 12 months earlier as a college UFA. Would be a really, really bad look/precedent to have a guy choose you and immediately ship him off without (presumed) consent.

      The guy I’m wondering if he fits in that six, because of the Duclair comp you gave, is Buchnevich. Not saying I would, but I don’t trust an AV coached team to properly utilize or value him.

      • You’re not wrong about Vesey, and Sather was a much bolder GM in terms of trades than Gorton, who I can’t image would’ve let Duclair go. However, I don’t see Vesey as untouchable. No one will fault the Rangers for letting him go in a blockbuster deal.

        • I think there’s some implicit understanding with regards to the Rangers and these college FA’s…. either they all really love NY (who could blame them), or the team offers things that other places are unwilling to.

          Something like, ‘Hey sign here & we’ll leave you alone until you UFA’

          Obviously just pure speculation, but IMO there’s a little more to this than meets the eye.

        • News flash Rangers were correct in trading Duclair….. Way overrated especially here in NY….
          Can’t get on ice in Arizona …. Really? He was no loss at all….

    • Yeah I never understood the hype train about him the full season was done with. It’s amazing how idiot’s thought that Hayes and JT had worst 2nd half seasons than him. He’ll maybe touch Hayes sophomore slump numbers next season but boy will the crowd be out on him if he puts up 10 less points than his rookie campaign. People freaked out because he took the puck to the net like once and finished in a regular season game. If I’m not mistaken Sather came out to the press after that Duke trade to talk about how easy it was since he still had Hayes. Gorton even made a similar speech after trading Brass but Vesey doesn’t have alot of stiff younger talent ready to take a roster spot. Buch > Vesey in terms of overall game for next season.

  • Re: your list of Blueshirts that you can’t imagine leaving under any circumstances: I can’t imagine the team trading away Mats Zuccarello. Though they have surprised me before . . .

    • If we got betting odds on each player, Zucc is probably the one I’d accept the quickest. The Brassard trade could be a window into how Gorton looks at players tipping over the age curve.

    • Yeah, I think age is the only reason Zucc may not be firmly in that group. That said, I’d certainly hope if they did trade Zucc, it would be as part of a fleecing; an absolutely can’t miss scenario, for a true proven star in his prime.

  • I’m just going to add that if Duchene gets traded over here then I expect the management to move him over at wing and try out Hayes as his center. I think alot of fans around here will get caught off guard with the the future usage of Hayes role but I feel the higher ups are high on this kid.

  • Anyway – There shouldn’t be any untouchables. Put a deal on the table and see if the final pieces make my team better. If it does, we should consider it.

    Include anyone you want, but the final roster needs to be better.

  • Listening to TSN 690 Montreal and TSN 1260 Edmonton they’ve been stating all morning that they’re hearing a lot of talk in regards to the Rangers doing some serious big time trading within the next two weeks .The one nugget that was stated on 1260 this morning was the word coming out in regards to the Rangers is everybody is in play in regards to the Rangers except Hank and the goalie from Russia that’s 21 years old

    • In my opinion the one thing you’re going to see the Rangers engaging in reference to trades is multi team trades . This will enable some teams to be able to take on some salary to help bring themselves up to the camp floor

  • James Mirtle‚Äôs sources tell him that the most likely number for the cap will be $75MM, a relatively low bump but one that could be crucial to teams already pressed to the limit.

    • That will raise the floor by a similar number, so Carolina can’t move salary out as they’ll be maybe $10.5mm under the floor.

      Stepan straight up for Pesce and the 1tth pick. If they want him, throw in Staal and the Rangers retain $2mm of the contract. Carolina gets help to make the floor (and can still sign a UFA in a dreadful year), can swap in another RD on an ELC and now are truly deep at center. Definitely gets them within the last seed as a wild card.

      Rangers get a legit top pair RD still on an ELC instead of a 6D(who AV won’t use) on $6mm.


      Holden or Graves/Berezgalov or Kampfer

      Obviously the wild card is the expansion draft. At the end of the day, I’m moving Fast on. Nice player, but not one I’m giving a raise to. Sign and trade for a 2nd or 3rd pick to someone who thinks he’s better than he is.

      Raanta: I’d rather keep him, but can move for a 2nd if Benny has someone he likes.

      The 4th line is a risk, but Nash going out on the 4th line is like Grabner last season: He will destroy 3rd pairs until teams are forced to match up.

      Cap hit is $58mm(if Klein retires) with $14.6mm under the cap with it hitting $20+mm the following season, where Tavares is a UFA and McDavid can be offer sheeted. The Rangers could offer $15mm and still have room needed to fill out roster. McJesus on Broadway? Yes please.

      I’d submit this as a draft contest, but since they didn’t publish the winner last season, why take the chance of it not getting out there?

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