It was just the fourth game of the season and the Rangers, for the most part, look like a team that can compete for a Stanley Cup. That said, we are always trying to see how the team can improve for this season and in the long term. Conor Garland in Vancouver is a name popping up in trade rumors recently, and the right wing could address some potential long term concerns on wing.
Vancouver is even willing to eat up to 30% of his contract to make a trade work. The Rangers may or may not need another winger before the season is done as well, depending on how Blake Wheeler looks after he gets more games under his belt. But that’s just this season. Beyond, the Rangers might have a need for another winger on a good contract. But at what cost?
The emergence of Will Cuylle has certainly relieved some of the strain the Rangers have on wing. Cuylle has looked solid to start the season, alongside Wheeler and Vincent Trocheck. On that line, only Wheeler is the question mark, but he has strong metrics thus far, and it appears to be just a matter of time before the points start coming.
Garland does appear to be the shiny new toy that Rangers fans love, and he would definitely be a nice injury upgrade should the Rangers need to manage one for their current playoff run. The problem, of course, is with Garland’s contract. He has three years, including this one, on his deal at $4.95 million. It’s a good deal for what Garland brings, but the Rangers have wingers both in the NHL and in the minors.
For Garland to work, the Rangers would need more than just Wheeler not working out. One more of their current top-nine wingers would need to be traded. It doesn’t appear that the Blueshirts are ready and willing to part ways with Alexis Lafreniere or Artemi Panarin, regardless of what the drama this past offseason brought. Chris Kreider isn’t going anywhere, and Kaapo Kakko has been progressing nicely.
In the short term, Garland would work if Wheeler doesn’t. At 30% retained, the Rangers would have him at a shade less than $3.5 million, a solid contract. Beyond though, the Rangers would need something else major. Another flame out in the playoffs could lead to major moves, making this point moot.
As of the writing of this post, Garland is a solution to a problem the Rangers don’t currently have. They may eventually have a problem. Many injuries could pop up. The nice start for Lafreniere could go down the drain. Panarin could regrow his hair. Garland would be a nice to have, but not at the current moment.