Is Vladimir Tarasenko one of the potential NY Rangers trade targets?

With Ryan Carpenter clearing waivers and assigned to Hartford, the Rangers cleared another cap hurdle for the trade deadline. They now have a projected $7.1 million in cap space at the deadline. While that number will likely change if there are injuries or call ups, it’s a good baseline to use. The rumors about Patrick Kane won’t stop, but there are a few other potential NY Rangers trade targets that aren’t Kane and may make more sense.

The case against Kane

The Kane rumors won’t go away. It’s been pretty clear that Chris Drury wants him in New York. Funny enough, the winger would likely have the least acquisition cost, even at 50% retained, because of his no-move clause. Looking at past players that forced their way to one team, the cost was very manageable. The Claude Giroux trade was Owen Tippet and 1st and 3rd round picks. That’s Vitali Kravtsov with the picks. Very manageable, especially since Gerard Gallant doesn’t want to play Kravtsov.

But cost, even at 50% retained, is the only thing Kane has going for him. It’s easy to write off his production as a product of a bad Chicago team, but Kane has been bad at driving play for quite some time.

The above are his one and three year possession numbers. He doesn’t do anything that drives play on the ice, which means he’d be more of a passenger, carried by linemates. The above is his even strength production, along with his 3-5-8 in 26 games at 5v5. So to say that Kane doesn’t produce at even strength isn’t hyperbole, it’s proven. He’s a third liner at 5v5 now. His 1-11-16 on the powerplay inflates his numbers.

Another thing to consider is what the Rangers actually need. They need shooters. There’s a reason why Frank Vatrano worked so well last season, and it’s because he shot the puck. Kane doesn’t shoot. He’s a passer, especially at this point in his career. There’s certainly some projected boost if he reunites with Artemiy Panarin, but given his age, it’s likely not to be much.

There’s a strong case to avoid Kane altogether, given his lack of even strength production. There are other potential NY Rangers trade targets that make much more sense.

Other NY Rangers trade targets

Timo Meier – San Jose

Timo Meier in San Jose can play either wing and is a shoot-first type of player. He took over 300 shots last season, and is on pace for the same this season. He’s producing despite the lack of support in San Jose, to the tune of 14-13-27 this season, 8-11-19 of that at even strength. So he’s not a one-trick pony.

In addition to putting up the numbers, Meier is also a play driver. He gets to the front of the net, gets in on the forecheck, and overall plays the style that the Rangers would like. Remember, David Quinn wanted an aggressive team, which is what Gallant wants for the Rangers. So the style, production, and underlying numbers all sync up.

The concern with Meier is acquisition cost, as he’s a 26 year old RFA at the end of the year. Any acquiring team is getting two playoff runs at a minimum. If Kane is the cheapest option, Meier might be the most expensive, both in acquisition cost and the extension.

Vladimir Tarasenko – St. Louis

Vladimir Tarasenko, the guy the Rangers should have drafted in 2010, has an open trade request with St. Louis as far as we know. The request was made a while ago, and we haven’t seen anything that he’s rescinded it. The Blues are terrible, even with Pavel Buchnevich, so Tarasenko might be a lower cost option than Meier.

Tarasenko still drives offense and supports it with a 7-13-20 line, with 7-8-15 of it at even strength. It’s not Timo Meier numbers, but in terms of potential NY Rangers trade targets, he might be the happy medium between Meier and Kane. He produces, he drives offense, but he’s a concern on defense. Partnering him with Panarin might be a defensive problem, but Filip Chytil should be enough to balance that out.

There are two concerns with Tarasenko. The first is that shoulder, although he appears to have moved past that lingering issue. The second is play style. He’s not the aggressive forechecking type, which means Gallant won’t necessarily plug and play him around the lineup. He’d need the right role. If it does wind up being Panarin-Chytil-Tarasenko, they’d be relying on Chytil to do the bulk of the forechecking work. Doable, but acquiring Tarasenko might lead to a whole lineup rework.

Tarasenko is a pure rental and a pending UFA that the Rangers likely wouldn’t re-sign. In terms of acquisition cost, a good starting point is the Andrew Copp trade.

Ryan O’Reilly – St. Louis

Ryan O’Reilly is a name that has recently hit the trade rumors, although it’s more speculation now than anything. As a center/wing, he’d be a good plug and play option for Gallant, giving him lineup flexibility to move players around.

O’Reilly drives play and is a solid two-way player. He’s more of a Gallant and Drury type than Tarasenko for sure, and he’s also a pending UFA the Rangers likely wouldn’t re-sign. Acquisition cost would likely be the same for O’Reilly as it would for Tarasenko.

O’Reilly doesn’t play much on the powerplay, which is probably good given his trade cost would go through the roof if he had better counting stats. His 9-5-14 at even strength is still solid, since only one goal is with the man advantage. He simply does the little things right, and would be an ideal middle six option to round out the forward depth.

O’Reilly’s addition to the rumor mill makes for one of the more interesting NY Rangers trade targets. He can play center or wing, meaning an injury down the middle wouldn’t cripple the Rangers, nor would it necessitate Barclay Goodrow moving back up to a scoring role as a center. He and Meier are the best two way, three zone options of any of the NY Rangers trade targets as well.

In the end, it seems inevitable that it’s Kane coming to the Rangers. He’s the worst on-ice option, and it’s not really close. But he’s likely the cheapest. Does Drury want to go all in again? Or is he comfortable going for the big name without any real impact?

Or should I say, which route does James Dolan want to go?


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