Zac Jones has earned more time at the worst possible moment
UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - MAY 01: Zac Jones #6 of the New York Rangers skates against the New York Islanders at the Nassau Coliseum on May 01, 2021 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The 2024 trade deadline is 2 weeks away, and all signs point to the Rangers making a few moves to solidify the roster depth. We know what they need, but not necessarily what they are willing to give up. The best Rangers trade chips likely aren’t at the NHL level, as the Rangers would be looking to add, not remove, to bolster the roster. With so few draft picks, that means prospects.

The thought of trading prospects is always a tough one. But let’s remember one key thing: We as fans always, and I mean always, overrate and over value our own prospects. It doesn’t mean all of them are bad, but it means most either won’t pan out or won’t hit their ceilings. We also overvalue depth players after a few strong games. It’s just human nature.

We know the Rangers will have about $6 million to work with at the deadline, giving them room to add the 1RW and 3C they desperately need. The big cost is likely to be the 1RW, requiring the Rangers to give something that most will be uncomfortable losing. That’s just how things work. The good news is the best Rangers trade chips, at least the realistic ones, likely aren’t a part of the immediate or long term Rangers future.

Unlikely to be moved

While the best Rangers trade chips are on the active roster, it’s not likely anyone gets moved off the NHL roster, including Kaapo Kakko. The Rangers need to add without creating other roster holes, so subtracting from the roster doesn’t make sense unless it’s a blockbuster deal. Subtracting from the roster is more likely to take place at the draft or in the offseason.

That means players like Kakko, Braden Schneider, K’Andre Miller, and Will Cuylle are most likely off the board. That should put many at ease.

Top prospects for a rental are also a non-starter, and that’s evidenced by Chris Drury’s trade history. The only prospect of note given up in any deadline recently has been Morgan Barron. So that means the top prospects like Brennan Othmann, Brett Berard, Gabe Perreault, and Adam Sykora are likely off the board, at least at the trade deadline.

Matt Rempe and Adam Edstrom are the two big, no pun intended, question marks when it comes to the best Rangers trade chips. It’s clear the Rangers like them both, and they both are big dudes who can skate and appear to be able to drive play. They aren’t untouchable by any means, but it does feel like the Rangers don’t want to move them

Draft pick capital

Given the names above that are unlikely to be moved, the best Rangers trade chips are likely in the form of draft picks. The Blueshirts are limited here though, after two straight deadlines of sacrificing picks. The Rangers have just 5 of 9 available picks in the first three rounds in the next three drafts, and three of those are first rounders.

It’s safe to assume that the Rangers won’t trade all of their first round picks, but given what they are most likely to trade from, one will most definitely be used at this deadline. Since the Rangers have a 2nd rounder this season but not in the next two seasons, the smart money is on the first rounder this year being used.

It’s not ideal to have so few picks available. The first round picks are going to be the best Rangers trade chips this season, but Drury will need to be more creative when acquiring depth pieces, as the mid-round picks simply aren’t there this year.

Best Rangers trade chips are aging-out prospects

If we are talking the 2024 NHL Draft, then I would say the best Rangers trade chips are at that left-handed wing position, as the Rangers have that quartet of prospects plus Cuylle, Kakko and Alexis Lafreniere. All are left handed wingers, and there are only so many roster spots available. But that’s a problem for another day.

For the 2024 trade deadline, the best Rangers trade chips are aging out prospects that simply don’t have a roster spot. Matthew Robertson is front and center here. Assuming the Rangers re-sign Ryan Lindgren in the offseason, there is only one defense spot open next year. Zac Jones may have the inside track there as well. Robertson is simply blocked and has solid trade value.

Speaking of Jones, mind you, he might be one of the best Rangers trade chips since he’s considered NHL ready and just doesn’t have a roster spot. The thing with the open roster spot next year is that it can be filled from bargain bin signings like an Erik Gustafsson. That’s not to say Gustafsson will be back, but there are so many undervalued defensemen that can fill a 6D route that trading Jones or Robertson isn’t a deal breaker.

A wild card trade chip is Dylan Garand. The Blueshirts don’t have a track record of trading goalie prospects, but mostly because none have been at Garand’s level. There’s value in trading Garand, as one of the better goalie prospects available, but there’s value in keeping him in case Igor Shesterkin prices himself out of New York with his next contract (after the 24-25 season).

Jones, Robertson, and the 1st round picks are definitely the best Rangers trade chips, at least the realistic ones for this trade deadline. But there are plenty of Hunter Skinners in the system that qualify as low-ceiling prospects that can be moved for depth. Players like Ryder Korczak are the next level of prospects that wouldn’t kill the Rangers if they are traded, but still hold at least some value.

There will always be a part of us that expects a 1994 trade deadline repeat, or Glen Sather/James Dolan to get involved and sacrificing the truly best prospects for short term, big name players. It’s a tough habit to shake given the history of this organization, but I think we can be relatively confident that the top prospects won’t be moved for rentals, including rentals with another season on their deals (yes, those are rentals too).


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