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.