Jake Guentzel Rangers interest trade
Pittsburgh Penguins' Jake Guentzel (59) backhands the puck over New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin for a shootout goal during an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh, Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

The New York Rangers are in the midst of one of their best seasons in franchise history. They currently sit with a record of 39-17-3 and are just coming off of a ten game winning streak; tied a franchise history. But even a team as good as the Rangers needs to fill holes, and a Jake Guentzel trade would certainly fill one of those holes.

I want to preface this by saying that I understand how unlikely a Jake Guentzel trade is for the Rangers. Guentzel’s $6 million cap hit alone makes things challenging, especially with Chris Drury also seeking a 3C to replace Filip Chytil. We can’t ignore Jonny Brodzinski’s performance, but a 3C and a 1RW give the roster balance and depth, and both are needed for a true Stanley Cup run.

Even with 50% retained, getting Guentzel and a 3C would be tough since a Jake Guentzel trade will come with a high acquisition cost as well, perhaps exhausting the trade chips Drury likely wants to use. There are some strong comparable trades from recent deadlines that highlight a potential Jake Guentzel trade cost.

Looking at the past five trade deadlines, only three star forward trades stood out: Bo Horvat, Taylor Hall and Mark Stone. Horvat (25% retained) was moved from the Vancouver Canucks to the New York Islanders for an established young forward with top-six potential (Anthony Beauvillier), a top prospect (Aatu Raty), and a 1st round pick.

Horvat isn’t a direct comparable since he’s a center, but even ignoring position, this package doesn’t really work for the Rangers and Penguins. The Rangers don’t have an Anthony Beauvillier type, unless you’re counting Kaapo Kakko. We’ve said this before, Kakko won’t be moved for a rental, let alone to a team in the same division for a rental. Plus, the Rangers won’t have the cap space to re-sign Guentzel the way the Isles re-signed Horvat.

Was Taylor Hall a Jake Guentzel trade comp?

A better comparable would be the 2020 Taylor Hall trade between the New Jersey Devils and Arizona Coyotes. Hall at 50% retained was sent to the Coyotes for 3 prospects (Nick Merkley, Nathan Schnarr, and Kevin Bahl), a conditional 1st round pick, and a conditional 3rd round pick.

Hall was the hot commodity at the 2020 deadline and the Coyotes paid up for the star winger. Merkley was a former first rounder pick, Bahl a second rounder and Schnarr a third rounder. A package based around this deal would look like this:

New York Rangers receive:

  • Jake Guentzel (50% retained – $3,000,000)

Pittsburgh Penguins receive:

  • Adam Sykora
  • Zac Jones
  • Drew Fortescue
  • Conditional 1st round pick in 2024 (If Rangers make the Eastern Conference Final the pick becomes a first, if not it becomes a 2024 2nd rounder)

In this scenario, the Rangers get their star winger to pair with Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider without losing any of the depth on the current roster (Jones notwithstanding). Sykora, a speedy 19 year old wing with bite, heads to Pittsburgh along with a very promising defense prospect in Drew Fortescue.

This Jake Guentzel trade comp hurts the Rangers pipeline, but with this core at their most powerful it’s time to take a big swing. Guentzel’s playoff prowess is well known, and he could be the piece that puts the Rangers over the top. The lineup with Guentzel, even without a 3C replacement, is dangerous.

Kreider – Zibanejad – Guentzel
Panarin – Trocheck – Lafreniere
Cuylle – Brodzinski – Kakko
Edstrom – Goodrow – Vesey

Mark Stone trade comp is borderline restrictive

Finally, the Mark Stone trade from the Ottawa Senators to the Vegas Golden Knights was a doozy. The Senators sent Stone (nothing retained) for a bottom six NHLer (Oscar Lindberg), a top prospect (Erik Brannstrom), and a 2nd round pick. This is a pretty good comp for a Jake Guentzel trade, but it isn’t pretty.

New York Rangers receive

  • Jake Guentzel (25% retained)

Pittsburgh Penguins receive

  • Brennan Othmann
  • Zac Jones
  • 2nd round pick in 2024

That even felt crazy for me to type, but this is the best comparable to offer for this scenario. Othmann is one of the Rangers top two prospects in their system and is up there with Gabe Perreault. If the Rangers were forced to part with one, it’s most likely Othmann, given Perreault’s elite potential.

Would the Rangers really give up Othmann for a rental, especially if they won’t give up Kakko for a rental? A Jake Guentzel trade moves the needle in a big way for an aging, but still elite, core. But would something like this be a repeat of the 1994 deadline, which saw numerous high potential kids moved for rentals? It led to the ultimate goal, and also those dark ages.

Personally, I feel the Hall trade comparable works best if the Rangers chose to pursue a Jake Guentzel trade. Pittsburgh gets a great young prospect in Adam Sykora, a young defenseman who may have some untapped potential in Zac Jones, and a promising young defensemen in Drew Fortescue, plus picks. The Rangers get the best 1RW on the market.

But as we know, a Jake Guentzel trade is highly unlikely. The acquisition cost is simply too high, and the pieces going to Pittsburgh could haunt the Rangers for a decade after.


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