In case you missed it, social media was buzzing this weekend when Jason Botchford at The Athletic ran an article about what it would take for Vancouver to trade up to the top two picks. This was very much a hypothetical, but it did note that Vancouver would certainly explore all possibilities to move up, and they’ve reached out to both the Devils and the Rangers to see what it would take (the article states it would take an Eric Lindros package).
The number one pick has only been traded ten times in history. It hasn’t been done since the lockout, but was done in the 1999 (Patrik Stefan – yikes), 2002 (Rick Nash), and 2003 (Marc-Andre Fleury). So it’s highly unlikely the Devils move the pick.
So we focus our attention to the #2 pick, which has only been traded once since the lockout, but that was in the Phil Kessel deal, and that trade was made before the season started so it doesn’t count. The last time the #2 pick was traded outright was in 2001 in the Alexei Yashin deal (thanks Milbury). The #2 was moved in 1999 in that wild trade spree that saw Vancouver grab the Sedins after Stefan was taken at #1 overall. The #2 was moved in 1998 (David Legwand) as well in a draft where San Jose at one point owned each of the top three picks. Weird. Hartford moved up to take Chris Pronger in 1993 at 2nd overall. That’s it.
So we don’t have much to work with when it comes to comparable packages. Now it’s just a matter of what would actually make sense. Assuming Vancouver wouldn’t part with either Elias Pettersson or Quinn Hughes, which is likely a non-starter for the Rangers anyway, the next best guys are Brock Boeser, Bo Horvat, and Troy Stetcher. Horvat and Stetcher aren’t even on the their ELCs anymore (Boeser’s just ended). So more would need to be added, a lot more. So either Boeser alone or Horvat AND Stetcher, and at least another pair of unprotected first round picks, plus taking on a bad contract in either Marc Staal or Brendan Smith, or both. This is an elite franchise player we are talking about. You have to give to get.
As for the Rangers, they have a lot of middle-six prospects, bottom-six prospects, and potentially very skilled prospects. However outside of possibly Vitali Kravtsov, they don’t have an elite level scorer that either Hughes or Kakko can be. There are very few scenarios where this makes sense for the Rangers. Quantity doesn’t mean quality, after all. The Rangers have quantity. Now they need quality.
This doesn’t even factor in that the Canucks would basically gut their depth completely and also give themselves a pair of bad contracts to boot. That combination doesn’t bode well for a team that would need to give up unprotected picks. Two elite scorers do not make you a competitor. Just ask Edmonton. The team around them would stink and so would the Canucks outside of what would be their three young guns. Great building blocks, but no other blocks to help.
I can’t imagine the Rangers trading out of this pick. They get a franchise altering player no matter what. In any deal, they’d be getting quantity over quality, and that’s not what they need right now.