Irresponsible Rumormongering

A look at Nashville’s centers as potential Rangers trade targets

In Elliotte Freidman’s latest 31 Thoughts, he mentioned that the Nashville Predators may be looking to shake things up. Their season doesn’t look promising, and they are at a crossroads. If they decide to sell, they have some interesting assets. The question here is whether or not the Predators assets fit into the Rangers roadmap to contention, and if so, do they fit within the cap and trade cost?

Mikael Granlund

Granlund is an attractive option, as the 28 year old center is putting up good numbers for a middle-six center. He’s fairly consistent, but his point totals did drop the last two seasons. This may be due to injury, as he missed 20 games in each season. That said, he’s got a line of 3-4-7 in 12 games this year.

Small sample size warning here, but Granlund does the right things at even strength. There’s an argument that he’s actually had some bad puck luck at evens as well, given the GF/60 is well under his xGF/60. He drives offense and isn’t a liability on defense.

The concern on Granlund is that he’s a UFA this year and will be approaching 29 on his next deal. If the Rangers are desperate for centers, then he could be a fit. However, believe it or not, he’s not much of an upgrade over Ryan Strome. Unless the Rangers plan on parting ways with Strome, then Granlund is, at least this season, just a copy/paste.

Nick Cousins

Nick Cousins has another year after this one at $1.5 million and is a year younger than Granlund. On paper, that might jive better with the Rangers’ organizational direction. However Cousins, at least this year, is essentially an all defense and minimal offense bottom-six center. He’d be an upgrade on Brett Howden, but that’s about it.

It is worth noting that Cousins is another player with a checkered past. The Rangers just rid themselves of one player with past off-ice issues. Do they want another?

Matt Duchene

Matt Duchene, already 30, has another five years at $8 million left on his deal. Yikes. Hard pass.

Ryan Johansen

Another oof contract by Nashville, as Johansen has four years at $8 million per year left on his deal.

The whole point is to upgrade from Ryan Strome. Not downgrade. Yes this is small sample size alert, but at those contracts for Johansen and Duchene, you need more. This just doesn’t cut it.

Do Any Fit?

The only viable options from Nashville are Granlund and Cousins. The question is whether or not they fit within what the Rangers are doing.

Focusing on the on-ice production, Cousins is likely the cheapest to acquire, but also the one without a real role when the Rangers are healthy. Kevin Rooney is looking just fine in his fourth line role, and he’s going to get the boot once Filip Chytil comes back. If the question is depth, then maybe Cousins fits. But at $1.5 million? That seems like a waste of cap space.

As for Granlund, trading for him makes little sense, as he will be a UFA at the end of the year. Signing him might be beneficial, but he might come in at more expensive and with more commitment than Ryan Strome. Granlund has better defensive play –not a high bar to clear– and comparable offensive numbers. However is it worth it for a guy who will be the 3C? Remember, Chytil will likely be the 2C before the season is out.

The Predators and Rangers don’t sync up here on a trade for a center. The money and the acquisition cost just don’t jive with the Rangers’ direction and rebuild plan. There are far better options out there.

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  • Yes, hard pass. Nothing there fits — Ryan Johansen would be an interesting reclamation project, he’s just 2 years removed from a 64 point season … and he’s big, but he’s barely worth half his current salary and his best days look behind him. Stand pat, remain patient … there are better and younger options out there. Besides, do we need a 3C (Chytil becomes #2) or a 2C (Chytil stays as the 3C for now)? Depends on how they feel about Chytil.

  • Chytil coming back anytime soon? 3 weeks in and he isn’t even skating yet.

    Between Chytil & Trouba, stick a fork in this season.

  • The Rangers are in a bind because of the injuries. Trouba and Chytil out for weeks does not bode well for the season. No quick fix is in sight that would make sense to spend assets on. I think you just suck it up and stand pat. The season will be what it is. The hope is for next season.

    • In a full 82 game season I could see making some moves, but with just 42 games left in the season I agree, they just need to suck it up … and let’s find out what the younger (and depth) players can do.

    • Beyond the injuries, something is just not right with the team, in general.

      Their body language says a lot. And it could be because they lost like 3-5 games that they should have won a couple of weeks ago.

      Whatever it is, it’s hurting the team, as a whole.

      • Sometimes they look pretty damn good. Yeah, they couldn’t score against the Bruins, but they held a very good team to one goal. Other times they don’t look that good. But I see them working hard defensively more of the time.

        I think the injuries and the cold start / COVID effects on Zibanejad might be affecting the team. The DeAngelo blow up may have affected them too. I believe that he had a number of friends on the club and it probably does affect the room when something like that takes place.

        • The D is much better, no question.

          But, last night, no PPs drawn against a team that has not played a game in 2 weeks? Seems impossible.

          Kakko, is doing everything but get pts. Playing outstanding hockey. So is Fox.

          Most of the top 6, bleh. Rooney, Blackwell, mostly Lemiuex, pretty good, but they are not game changers.

  • Nothing there looks great. But a substantial upgrade would be nice even in this lost season as we have a $hit-ton of prospects and a potential high lottery pick.

    This coming draft is weak so an unprotected first rounder could/should be in play too. Between teams in serious cap trouble and rebuilds Gorton should have little trouble making good trades…. if only.

  • I prefer, if Rangers take Emil Pettersson. He is center, from reserv list of Arizona currently playing in Shl and had 22 goals and 24 assists. Best forward in Shl.

    • Haven’t seen him play, but we’ve been down that road with Swedes that have great numbers in the SHL — it’s a risky move that isn’t worth throwing a lot of value at. He’s 27 and should be scoring a ppg in that League.

      • What are you thinking for the leader of the statistics in Khl goal plus assist Vadim Shipachyov center of Dynamo Moskva. 20 goals and 42 assists.

    • Couldn’t grab him until next season, but still too skinny and this is literally his career year just as the aging curves are about to kick in. Would be a bottom 6 C, sorta have enough of them as is.

  • Yeah, I heard that Nashville is basically open for trade business.

    Granlund would make the most sense out of any of their centers.

  • NO! NO! NO! don’t need any nashville centers ! if you need a center bring one up from hartford, that’s what you hired them for, to play hockey.

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