Yesterday, Elliotte Friedman mentioned that the Rangers and Calgary have been talking about a potential Mats Zuccarello trade. This shouldn’t surprise many people, as Calgary has a comfortable six point lead on the Pacific Division, with a three point lead on Winnipeg for the top seed in the West.
Calgary is a surprising team this year. They took a gamble with the Dougie Hamilton deal, acquiring Elias Lindholm (58 points) and Noah Hanifin (25 points) in the trade. It’s worked out thus far. The Flames are looking to bolster their depth, as outside of Gaudreau-Monahan-Lindholm, the rest of the forward lines look mediocre at best.
There are rumors that Calgary wants to dangle Sam Bennett. The former 4th overall pick in 2014 hasn’t cracked the top-six with any consistency and hasn’t cracked 20 goals or 40 points yet. However I don’t think Bennett, a 22-year-old forward who can play all three positions, would be available for a rental.
Flames GM Brad Treliving isn’t really known for wheeling and dealing. He took a calculated risk in the Hamilton deal. His last big deal was for Travis Hamonic. So Treliving isn’t one of those GMs that really gets fleeced regularly. Also worth noting that Brian Burke is no longer with Calgary.
A few things to keep in mind: Calgary didn’t have last year’s first rounder, and they also don’t have this year’s second rounder. Both went to the Islanders. They also don’t have that great of a farm system (29th in the league, per Corey Pronman).
I stand by my assertion that Zuccarello can fetch a 1st round pick and a mid-level prospect (swing and a miss on Colorado as the landing team, though). Calgary has a 1st round pick, and they have mid-level prospects. Now if the Rangers can get Oliver Kylington (not bloody likely) or Juuso Valimaki, then take it and run. But I chalk that up as not happening.
Rasmus Andersson is probably off the table too. Andrew Mangiapane is interesting, but Jeff Gorton doesn’t strike me as a guy who is interested in trading for a 5’10”, 185 lb guy who is already 22 years old. He routinely passes on high ceiling, small-ish players, and Mangiapane is one of those players.
Dillon Dube (2nd, 2016) might be an option here. He’s a point per game center in the AHL, and the 20-year-old center put up 1-4-5 in 23 games in his first cuppa this season. Matthew Philips (6th, 2016) is even smaller than Mangiapane at 5’7″, but he put up 112 points in his final year in the WHL before going to the AHL (10-16-26 in 40 games). He hasn’t had trouble adjusting, but he needs to get stronger. The skill is there, and if he can get stronger legs, he will win more battles. All this said, I don’t think the Rangers will be picking from this level of prospect for Zuccarello.
The next tier of prospects includes Joly D’Artagnan (6th, 2017), and this is the tier I expect the Rangers to pick from. D’Artagnan has the best name ever. Need I say more? I do? Ok then – he’s put up decent numbers on bad QMJHL teams. He’s not at the skill level of Dube or Philips, but he’s overall good with no real glaring weaknesses. Filip Sveningsson (7th, 2017) is the only other prospect at this level, who’s doing well in the J20 Swedish league. He’s a project, but he’s got the complete Swedish game. Nothing elite, but nothing bad.
My guess is the Rangers go for either a 1st and a lower tier prospect like D’Artagnan, or a 3rd and a higher level prospect like Dube. They (likely) won’t get both for Zuccarello. That said, crazier things have happened. It’s a pure rental deal, and despite his early struggles, Zuccarello is back to being Zuccarello. His hot streak has come at the perfect time. That may irrationally inflate value, because NHL GMs are NHL GMs. I’d expect Zuccarello to be traded before Kevin Hayes, perhaps sooner than we might expect.