rangers trade deadline - jack roslovic

It was a lackluster Friday afternoon for the New York Rangers trade deadline, at least if you don’t look at social media. But it may have been a shrewd day for Chris Drury, who didn’t make a splash but may have made the right moves.

Everyone knew what the Rangers were in the market for and that wasn’t just the last few weeks, it’s been a known issue since Pavel Buchnevich was traded, and that’s a top line RW to complete Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad. Drury tried, and failed, to plug the hole last year with the likes Vladimir Tarasenko (now a Florida Panther for pennies on the dollar) and Patrick Kane but to no avail.

The year before the void was filled by Frank Vatrano, who many believed was bound for a Broadway reunion this week but it wasn’t to be. Drury also needed to find a depth center after Filip Chytil’s suspected concussion has sidelined him for the rest of the season as the club announced a few months back. Drury did a nice tidy piece of business by trading for future UFA Alexander Wennberg on Wednesday.

Then the fun began for the Rangers trade deadline.

The Rangers, after landing Wennberg, really started getting connected to former Pittsburgh Penguin, Jake Guentzel. Now that’s exactly what the doctor ordered. A scoring winger to play alongside Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider and Guentzel’s a proven playoff commodity to boot. However the Blueshirts were beat out by the Carolina Hurricanes for the former Penguins star and it left the Rangers in a curious state.

I had long been pushing the agenda for the Blueshirts to target Anthony Duclair, but he was scooped up by the Tampa Bay Lightning shortly after Guentzel was moved to Carolina. Two extremely good play driving wingers were taken out from underneath the Blueshirts in a mere couple of hours.

This left Drury and company with only a few choices if he wanted to make a splash and that was two old friends. Pavel Buchnevich and Frank Vatrano. Alas neither were options for Drury, either because of the rich price by Pat Verbeek for Vatrano. Or because of the fact Drury didn’t feel like revisiting an old trade. Or perhaps neither were truly available.

With the big names off the board it forced Drury’s hand to do some bargain shopping at the Rangers trade deadline. This is where he might’ve struck gold like he did a few years ago when he landed Andrew Copp, Tyler Motte, Frank Vatrano, and Justin Braun.

Jack Roslovic is a speedy, talented, and play driving winger who could really benefit from being placed alongside Zibanejad and Kreider just like Vatrano did two years earlier. The Rangers need someone with speed on that top line to back defenses off and allow room for Zibanejad to operate and get his lethal shot off. Roslovic will definitely provide that if he’s given a chance by Peter Laviolette.

Kreider-Zibanejad-Kakko is a talented defensive line but not nearly as potent offensively as fans would like or hope. Kakko on a line with Wennberg and Cuylle can give the Rangers a bonafide checking line that can give opposing teams fits in the playoffs while still having room for offensive upside.

If the Rangers choose to have a top nine of Panarin-Trocheck-Lafreniere, Kreider-Zibanejad-Roslovic, and Cuylle-Wennberg-Kakko it can provide nice depth scoring and have solid defense to go along with it. Those are the types of lineups that win playoff series and that can get you sixteen wins and the clubs first Stanley Cup since 1994.

It was clear the Rangers needed an upgrade at wing and even if Roslovic isn’t the sexiest name to be dealt on deadline day he absolutely identifies a problem area the club has had all season long and that’s speed. He can come in with a fresh start and give this club a much needed shot in the arm on that top line and help provide scoring depth that’s been missing all season long.

We’ve seen the club take big swings on big names and come up empty, see last season, and we’ve also seen them go bargain shopping with tremendous results. This years deadline feels far more like what Drury did two years ago that yielded a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals. Let’s hope this year yields the same result with six more wins attached.


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