Is a Nils Lundkvist/Kirby Dach trade an option?
Elliotte Friedman reported a week ago that the Chicago Blackhawks may be shopping Kirby Dach. Dach, the 3rd overall pick in the 2019 draft (Kaapo Kakko went 2nd) is a 21 year old center who is still looking to take the next step in his development and career. The Rangers need a young, cost controlled center to fill out their middle six, and have defensemen to spare. Chicago has a defenseman need. Is there a Nils Lundkvist/Kirby Dach trade in the cards?
A Nils Lundkvist/Kirby Dach trade makes sense for both teams
Right off the bat, we know the trade makes sense based on current roster construction. The Rangers need centers, and the Hawks need defensemen. Both teams have a surplus at these positions to trade, making it a natural match. That’s on paper, of course.
A Nils Lundkvist/Kirby Dach trade goes deeper than just prospect swaps that addresses positions of need for both teams. Both are pretty cheap too, with Lundkvist on his ELC and Dach about to his his second contract. His expected contract is around 2-3 years at $2.5 million, which is well within what the Rangers can afford to address their center need.
Both players still relative unknowns
Where this may begin to fall apart is what each player is right now, and that is an unknown entity. Dach is coming off his best year, putting up 9-17-26 in 70 games while playing all around the lineup. He’s tremendously skilled, and a “big North American kid,” which we know both Chris Drury and Gerard Gallant love. He’s got a ton of raw potential but hasn’t put it together yet.
Also worth noting that Chicago hasn’t been a great place to develop young players, so he could be a sleeper acquisition in the right spot.
As for Lundkvist, he’s blocked by Adam Fox, Jacob Trouba, and Braden Schneider. If he can play left defense, there may be a spot for him paired with Schneider. It would be a competition between him and Zac Jones. And to be fair, neither player looked great when given their chances. Lundkvist was saddled with Patrik Nemeth, who at the time was dealing with long COVID. Jones got paired with Libor Hajek…so yea.
The reason why this may be Lundkvist over Jones, at least for trade bait, is left defense vs. right defense. The Rangers are set at RD, but do have an opening on LD. Chicago is in need of RD, with just one (or two if you count Jake McCabe) signed to next season.
But this is still an unknown quantity for an unknown quantity. In theory, both players could use a change of scenery. Dach, for whatever reason, is being dangled. Lundkvist appears to be blocked. Seems like a no brainer, again on paper though.
Acquiring Dach means Chytil is the 2C?
Filip Chytil could be looked at as the 2C regardless of what the Rangers do this offseason, as both Ryan Strome and Andrew Copp may price themselves out of New York. That would mean the Rangers need to look internally at Chytil or externally via trade to address the 2C need.
If Dach is an answer for the middle six, then Chytil would likely be given the 2C role to start the season. Dach, if he turns a corner offensively, could also be a dark horse to play with Artemiy Panarin. But Dach could also find a nice home with Vitali Kravtsov as his winger, if things play out that way.
It’s also worth noting that the team you start with in October is not the team you head to the playoffs with. Chytil would get a long audition at 2C while the Rangers bank cap space. If the need arises, and it likely would just based on center depth alone, the Rangers would be able to acquire a center with a bigger contract.
The big question is whether it makes sense to trade Lundkvist, the Rangers best realistic trade piece for an unknown. It could work, but it could blow up in their face. There are many reasons why this may not work, but there’s a strong case why both teams may explore it.