In case you missed it, the Rangers are looking for trade destinations for Nils Lundkvist after an apparent trade request made by the young defenseman. Lundkvist is clearly blocked at RD with the Rangers committed to Adam Fox and Jacob Trouba in the top four. The emergence of Braden Schneider has pushed Lundkvist even further down the depth chart. Now is the best time to move the defenseman, so the Rangers are going to look to move quickly
Finding trade destinations for Nils Lundkvist is a challenge
As the Rangers look to find trade destinations for Nils Lundkvist, they will need to out maneuver some of their own constraints. The biggest constraints are timing and the public knowledge of the trade request. Training camps are opening soon, so the Rangers will need to make a trade before Lundkvist potentially no-shows or asks for a loan back to Sweden. The former seems unlikely, since there is no damaged relationship with the front office.
That leaves the Rangers with a few weeks to find trade destinations for Nils Lundkvist, but it’s not just timing, it’s potential return asks. While we don’t know what Chris Drury’s ask for a return will be, we do know what the club doesn’t need. The Rangers aren’t likely to ask for a winger, defenseman, or goalie in return. They are stacked at these positions. That leaves center.
That doesn’t leave too many options.
The Kings are the easiest and most rumored go-to for trade destinations for Nils Lundkvist. They have a bunch of centers with no roster spots, and need defensemen. Even with the Kings planning for life after Anze Kopitar (2 years left), they still have Phillip Danault (5 years), Alex Iafallo (3 years), Quinton Byfield (ELC), Gabriel Vilardi (RFA), Rasmus Kupari (RFA), and Alex Turcotte (ELC, not NHL yet). There are also others, but these are the big names.
Given cap situation, only an ELC makes sense for the Rangers, and no they aren’t getting Byfield. The most logical choice and match is Turcotte. Both Lundkvist and Turcotte have not stuck in the NHL yet, with Turcotte having some injury concerns and Lundkvist being blocked. Turcotte has the pedigree though, and when healthy he was 6-12-18 in 27 games in the AHL. In theory, this is a match made in heaven.
The Rangers likely need to add a piece to make a trade for Turcotte work, as the value is a bit off in a 1-for-1 trade. Then again, the value was off in a Larsson/Hall swap, so what do we know?
Maybe this is where the Rangers can add a disgruntled Julien Gauthier as a sweetener?
The Canucks are a team that may be interested, but their status is a relative unknown right now. They might be competing, or trying to? If so, they need a defenseman. Their cap situation is bad, but Lundkvist is as cheap as it gets and does address a need. Assuming the Canucks can figure out their cap issues, they make for a dark horse trade partner.
I’m not well versed in prospects or prospect value, so take this with a grain of salt obviously, but is there a match with Linus Karlsson? The 22 year old 3rd rounder (2018) just came over after a fantastic rookie season in the SHL, putting up 26-20-46 in 52 games. Again, unsure if that’s a fair value scenario.
If the Rangers can’t find a match for a young center, then the only realistic route is to go for fair value draft picks. That means sending Lundkvist to a team for what would likely be a late 1st round pick. This isn’t be best scenario, since Lundkvist projects to be a top four defenseman who runs a powerplay, and teams needing that aren’t usually in the playoff or Cup contending picture.
If that’s the case, then the Rangers may be looking at an early 2nd round pick as the best piece in a return, likely with another pick or two. This isn’t ideal, since the Rangers would essentially be taking their top prospect and trade chip and sending him away for pieces that neither move the team forward nor generate significant value in other trades.
Finding trade destinations for Nils Lundkvist is going to be a challenge for Drury. This may not be a shining moment for the new GM.