The Rangers are sellers at this year’s deadline. We knew this as far back as one year ago when the Rangers released their public letter stating their intent to rebuild. Nothing major has happened yet, but the Rangers have acquired a pair of 2020 7th round picks for Cody McLeod and Marek Mazanec. Acquiring extra dart board throws is always good, so that’s a pair of wins already. As per usual, I have some thoughts.
1. It seems to be a foregone conclusion that Adam McQuaid, Mats Zuccarello, and Kevin Hayes will be traded. There are the usual caveats (legitimate offers), but those are the “big” three of the Rangers that will be on the move. Hayes will fetch the most, followed by Zucc, and then McQuaid should at least fetch what the Rangers paid for him (4th + 7th). Chris Kreider’s name has come up, but it will take a huge offer to pry him loose.
2. But as per usual, the haul for these guys is yet to be determined. There’s hope because the Predators may have set the market by sending a 2nd to New Jersey for Brian Boyle. Counterpoint: There are a ton of players available. Ottawa’s entire roster is available. Artemi Panarin is probably available. There are ten teams below the Rangers in the standings, including Ottawa, and all of them have available players. The market is flooded with players better than Hayes (Panarin, Stone, Duchene), and Hayes will be the fallback option for teams, not their first choice. That may hurt the Blueshirts.
3. When it comes to Zuccarello, there’s a lot of talk about a trade and re-sign. There was a lot of hope with that for Michael Grabner and Rick Nash too. It’s exceedingly rare for this to happen, but Zucc does love it here. If Jeff Gorton handles this properly –sending Zucc to a legitimate contender and letting him “choose” where– then there’s a shot. I want this to happen. I really do. But for every Keith Tkachuk back to St. Louis, there’s hundreds of players that don’t rejoin their teams.
4. During the Winnipeg broadcast, Dave Maloney mentioned that Jacob Trouba is unlikely to want to stay in Winnipeg. His wife is a doctor who cannot practice in Canada. The 24-year-old is a top pairing RHD, and those are worth tons. If there’s any big-name player the Rangers trade for, it would be Trouba. Let’s assume that’s a draft-day deal, though. Wonder if Kreider is a starting point for that discussion?
5. Speaking of Kreider, there’s a very good case for trading him now before he starts getting into his thirties. Remember the Derick Brassard trade? Same concept, just a different player. It’s better to trade a player a year too early than a year too late. That said, there’s also a very good case for keeping him: Locker room, speaks Russian, many Russian prospects coming over soon. I don’t necessarily think there’s a wrong decision here. I can get on board with either.
6. I wonder if there is any possibility of the Rangers moving a body on the blue line. Marc Staal probably isn’t moving, but Brendan Smith has been experiencing a bit of a revival with bottom-pairing usage. At 50% retained, he might have some value. Kevin Shattenkirk might have value too, but I see both as draft day moves, and not deadline day moves. Neal Pionk, though, is someone that might generate some attention. I’ve been on record a lot that moving Pionk now is in their best interests.
7. Hartford is going to be sending bodies to New York after the deadline. I know we want to see players get big minutes in the AHL instead of bottom-six minutes in the NHL, but Hartford is such a mess that may just even out. That team is a train wreck, and it has very little to do with the prospects down there. They’ve been so bad for so long you wonder if the environment is toxic. If the Rangers are about development, something needs to be done down there."Thoughts as we wait for trades",