The Rangers certainly have some holes to fill on the roster, but luckily for them those holes aren’t on the blue line. Sure, they need a 3LD, but that’s it. It does leave Chris Drury with an immediate need among the prospects though. Assuming Braden Schneider sticks, and he should, then now is the time to trade Nils Lundkvist.
Roster space and construction
The primary reason why the Rangers would look to trade Nils Lundkvist is because of roster space and construction. There are many words we can put to it, but it all boils down to Adam Fox, Jacob Trouba, and Braden Schneider aren’t going anywhere just yet. With Lundkvist already NHL ready, he’s on the outside looking in, unless he can play on the left side.
We had a hunch the Rangers would trade Nils Lundkvist once they were able to draft Schneider. The JD fist pump when the Rangers traded up to get him said it all.
At that point, the Rangers knew they wanted Schneider on this team. With Fox developing into one of the best defensemen in the NHL and Trouba signed long term, the writing was on the wall as of this moment for Lundkvist.
This is how hockey works sometimes. Lundkvist was, at this moment, insurance against Fox and Schneider. If one faltered, Lundkvist would be the guy. Neither did. Thus, Lundkvist is now the Rangers best trade piece.
Now is the best time to trade Nils Lundkvist
The Rangers do need to learn a lesson though. They waited one offseason too long before trying to trade Alex Georgiev, most likely as insurance against Igor Shesterkin, and now his value is minimal. The Rangers missed out on his peak value, and now have no leverage in any trade involving him. When it comes time to trade Nils Lundkvist, they cannot make the same mistake twice.
Lundkvist is by far their best NHL ready asset in a trade that doesn’t come from the main roster. He’s going to be a solid offensive defenseman for a team in their top four and running their powerplay. He showed flashes of that ability in his stint on the Rangers, but was definitely held back by Patrik Nemeth being at his all time worst.
Lundkvist also isn’t what the Rangers need on the roster right now. I’m all for amassing as much skill as possible, but Lundkvist is best served as a puck mover and on the powerplay. With Fox getting all the PP1 time and the Rangers deferring to Trouba on PP2, Lundkvist was only getting even strength, bottom pairing time. That is not the best value for a player like him.
The good news is that Lundkvist is a popular asset, and he has a decent amount of trade value. Other teams are aware of the Rangers logjam at RD, but unlike with Georgiev, the Rangers still have a good amount of leverage in a trade here. He’s a top prospect, he’s cheap, and he’s NHL ready. For a team like LA, Winnipeg, or any other team that might need blue line help, he’s a tremendous asset.
But for Chris Drury, they need to act now. Lundkvist’s value won’t get any better if he spends another year in the AHL, or worse, goes back to Sweden. He is still at peak value, and if/when the Rangers trade Nils Lundkvist, it will be to address these roster holes, particularly at center. Or, if nothing materializes, they might need to dangle him to get back into the first round of the 2022 NHL Draft.
No matter what the Rangers choose to move him for, now is the only time to maximize his value.