The NHL is a copycat league. It always has been, it always will be. With the Florida Panthers steamrolling the Eastern Conference and winning the Stanley Cup, albeit after some drama of nearly blowing a 3-0 lead, the Panthers are the next team to be copied. The Rangers are clearly looking to address the holes Florida exploited, but does it all boil down to finding a Matt Tkachuk type trade? Or is it more nuanced?

Is it as simple as finding a Matt Tkachuk type trade?

It seems like an oversimplification of the Rangers’ struggles against both Carolina and Florida that they “need a Matt Tkachuk type trade.” A trade of that magnitude would certainly help, but Tkachuk is a rare type of hockey player. He’s a point per game, mean, nasty player that can get to the dirty areas and create space. Those types of players don’t just magically appear.

In fact, there’s a strong argument that the Florida Panthers lucked into Tkachuk, who wasn’t going to re-sign in Calgary. Luck favors the bold, of course, and the Panthers did have to part with two very good pieces to land Tkachuk. Still, Tkachuk isn’t the normal type of hockey player. Even his brother Brady isn’t at the same level.

This type of trade isn’t the norm. It’s few and far between, and Brady Tkachuk isn’t a realistic option. If the Rangers can find a Matt Tkachuk type trade, then great! But it only addresses one piece of the puzzle, and it won’t help their defensive zone exits.

Problems lie deeper than just one forward

It’s easy to finger point at players like Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider, and Artemi Panarin for why the Rangers lost. They are the stars, and Aleksander Barkov shut them down. But that series was more than just 4 players. We also know the Rangers struggled mightily to just get the puck out of their own zone. Their defensemen simply couldn’t move the puck, and that’s perhaps a larger issue.

It doesn’t matter which forwards the Rangers have if the defense can’t move the puck up the ice with speed, control, and most importantly, with full possession. The Rangers had one defenseman capable of that, Adam Fox, and he played on one knee for the final two series. Zac Jones is an answer too, but that’s just two guys.

We know, without a doubt, that both Ryan Lindgren and Jacob Trouba struggle in this area. A team doesn’t need 6 puck movers. It’s unrealistic and it’s also not a balanced roster. But they need more than two guys, of which only one is established. Braden Schneider has shown promise, but this appears to be a relatively new thing for him. He wasn’t really known for puck moving when the Rangers drafted him. But hey, if that works out, then great!

Still, there’s a strong argument that the Rangers can’t go into next season with both Trouba and Lindgren. Belief around the league is the Rangers are trying to trade Trouba, so we will see how that goes. If they run it back with only Jones in for Erik Gustafsson, it doesn’t matter who they trade up front. The blue line needs more work than the forwards.

Multiple areas to address

Getting a Matt Tkachuk type trade is a bit of a pipe dream, in the sense that there aren’t many of those types of players in the NHL, and it’s even rarer they become available. It’s not just about what the Rangers want, it’s about finding a team willing to make a trade. This isn’t a video game where you can “call up” a random GM and force a trade through. That’s not how this works.

We haven’t heard any whispers about big name, game breaking players being available. Trevor Zegras is a fun name, but he’s not a game breaker. Tomas Hertl would have been a great fit, but that ship has sailed. Instead, it’s about finding the right winger and perhaps adjusting the roles across the existing forwards, while also addressing puck moving needs on the blue line.

It’s not as simple as finding one trade, a Matt Tkachuk type trade, and then winning a Cup. Tkachuk was a big piece for Florida, but they also had other moves like Sam Bennett, Sam Reinhart, Brandon Montour, Gustav Forsling, and others. Tkachuk wasn’t the only piece.

If the Matt Tkachuk type trade is what the Rangers need, plus the other areas, then what players are available that fit that game breaker mold? I honestly can’t think of any that are actually available.

Sometimes, the big splash is what works. Other times, it’s just finding the right players. If this offseason thus far has proven anything, it’s that Drury is going to be ruthless to get this team over the hump. We just need to wait and see how this unfolds.

Mentioned in this article:

More About: