Rangers, Tomas Hertl linked yet again

Rangers Tomas Hertl
Photo: Photo by: Marcio Jose Sanchez, AP, The Starphoenix

As the old saying goes, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Pierre LeBrun has become the second “NHL insider” –term in quotes for a reason– to link the Rangers and Tomas Hertl. Frank Seravalli was the first last week.

This is now two people linking the Rangers and Hertl, which likely means something is brewing. We do know the Rangers wanted him in the offseason, but nothing ever materialized. The cap hit for Hertl is $5.625 million, but that’s inconsequential for the Rangers. They have more than enough cap hit to absorb two Hertl’s at the deadline. The concern, as per usual is acquisition cost. But acquisition cost is a two-fold risk.

The obvious risk is paying too much to acquire Hertl. The good news is that as a pure rental, he’s not going to cost a haul. In theory, the cost is a Kevin Hayes type return. That basically means a 1st round pick and something like Julien Gauthier. There’s obviously wiggle room here to make that a 2nd rounder with a better player going the other way. Of course the three team NTC changes things a bit, and with a lack of leverage, the Rangers *may* be able to get him cheaper.

The second risk is the risk of taking a half measure. The Rangers are not a Tomas Hertl away from being a true Stanley Cup contender. They aren’t even a Tomas Hertl plus a veteran depth defenseman away. They need a pair of forwards, with the second being more of a middle six than a top six. This need gets exacerbated if a roster player like Gauthier or Filip Chytil is included in the trade.

Will Chris Drury recognize the need for a second top nine forward? Can he get one for cheap? Will the cost for both forwards be something that doesn’t blow up the rebuild? These are all important questions, to which we have absolutely no insight.

The Rangers and Tomas Hertl are a match, for sure. It represents the Rangers likely going all-in on this relatively surprising season. But if the Rangers are to go all-in, there are no half measures. Hertl is a big piece. But the Rangers need another two pieces to make it work.