Thoughts on the surprisingly good Nils Lundkvist trade

A Nils Lundkvist trade request led to his trade to Dallas

In case you missed it, the Rangers completed the Nils Lundkvist trade, sending him to Dallas for a conditional 2023 1st rounder and a conditional 2025 4th rounder. The trade wasn’t “long awaited” but it certainly needed to get done before camp started. It eliminated a potential headache, and at least gives some clarity into the final defense spot.

1. On the Nils Lundkvist trade itself, this was a solid trade for Chris Drury. Lundkvist requested the trade last Winter, and had been rumored to be on the move as early as the trade deadline. Luckily that deal for JT Miller never went through, as that kind of a trade for a rental wasn’t the best use of assets. Now, the Rangers have an extra pick in the loaded 2023 1st round, and this one should be in the 11-15 range since Dallas isn’t that good.

2. Something that impacts the Nils Lundkvist trade is how Dallas plays this year, as the 2023 1st becomes a 2024 1st if Dallas winds up in the top-ten. That’s not as good, obviously. The Rangers would need 10 teams to finish worse than Dallas, which is certainly possible. Off the top of my head, Buffalo, Detroit, Montreal, Philly, Arizona, Chicago, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Seattle, and San Jose should all be worse than Dallas. Maybe the Isles and Columbus too. It’s not a given, but it’s possible.

3. The 2025 4th becomes a 2025 3rd if Lundkvist finishes with 55 points over the next two seasons. That may be trickier than you think, considering their top-four of Heiskanen-Suter and Hakanpaa-Lindell are all returning.  Heiskanen and Suter are usually their top powerplay options from the blue line. Lundkvist would need to not only make the team, but supplant one of them on the powerplay. Suter seems like the most likely candidate there, but that’s far from a given.

4. As for the Rangers, this eliminates a variable on the blue line battle, and for all intents and purposes hands the 3LD spot to Zac Jones. Jones-Schneider complement each other well, and while they will make mistakes, they will be miles better than any pairing that had Patrik Nemeth last season. If I’m reading this right, and I’d like to think I am, then it’s between Jones and Matthew Robertson, with Jones the more NHL ready product.

5. But don’t discount Robertson, who may wind up as the biggest benefactor of the Nils Lundkvist trade. It appears that Gerard Gallant wants his third defense pair to be a little more steady and predictable in the defensive zone, meaning fewer events and shots for both teams. With Lundkvist gone, and Jones likely to play more of an offensive role, Robertson is the guy they likely want to take that spot eventually. At least, that’s my theory. But if Twitter is anything to go by, I’m always wrong.

6. The Rangers will be entering the season with a pretty big need at 7D. It’s easy to laugh that off and call a 7D a ‘nice to have,’ but that isn’t really accurate. As it stands today, the Rangers are one defense injury away from Libor Hajek in the lineup, and two away from both Hajek and Jarred Tinordi in the lineup. The Rangers will need a body to put a buffer between Hajek and the lineup.

Very few, if any, teams have enough depth to weather two injuries to defensemen, and that isn’t really the point here. The concern is that the Rangers have no bodies between an injury and Hajek, statistically one of the worst defensemen in the NHL, and a relatively significant role. The Rangers just need someone who is replacement level and not one (or two, if you include TinordI) of the worst defensemen in the league.

7. There were some jokes about the extra 1st rounder from the Nils Lundkvist trade going straight to Chicago for Patrick Kane. It was a little funny, but mostly engagement seeking. I don’t think Kane will fetch a 1st rounder. His cap hit, even at 50%, and NMC are big obstacles. Very few playoff teams that Kane will accept a trade to will have the cap space to land him. For that reason, I don’t think Kane will fetch a 1st rounder.

Naturally things change, and for all we know Kane has teams than just the Rangers on his list. Also the Rangers may not even need Kane, as Lafreniere, Kravtsov, and Kakko all have the potential to make RW a huge strength for the Rangers. If that trio, or even two of the three, make significant strides, then the Rangers won’t need Kane.

That’s a lot of words to say that there is no connection between this trade and Patrick Kane.

8. The Nils Lundkvist trade was a big win for Drury, and pretty tremendous asset recovery.