What will the New York Rangers do at the trade deadline? We are now days away from the deadline and the Rangers are still on the bubble of playoff contention. The Blueshirts are just seven points out of a playoff spot but they are in a tough spot. With just 17 games left do they go for it or sell off some parts?
Last year the big talk at the deadline was if Chris Kreider would be dealt. They ended up holding onto Kreider and signed him to a seven-year contract extension. So what is the big move this year? Let’s break it down with two scenarios: the Rangers as buyers going for the playoffs, and the more likely scenario of being sellers at the deadline.
Looking at the Rangers current lineup if they were to go for it, I do not think they make a move. They already have their top nine forwards set so I do not see them adding a forward. If they were to make move it would be for a veteran right-handed defenseman. Possibly someone like Colin Miller from Buffalo who is a UFA at the end of the year. I don’t really see the Rangers making a move if they do decide to go for it, but if they do a right-handed defenseman on an expiring contract makes the most sense.
This is the most likely scenario for the Rangers. There are not too many pieces that are expendable with such a young team but there are definitely a few players that can help a playoff team down the stretch. Here are a few players that I could see getting moved.
This is a long shot but I have been talking about this the last couple of weeks on my podcast The Broadway Hat Podcast. The Rangers have to decide soon if Strome is going to be part of the future or not. He is on a two-year bridge deal currently after re-signing in the offseason because the Rangers couldn’t find a deal they liked for him at the draft last year. To me, that showed he might not be in the long-term plans and if the Rangers do move him, his value might never get higher. He is having a great season averaging just under a point per game. Seeing that the Devils just got a first-round pick for Kyle Palmieri, the Rangers should be able to get that and more for Strome who still has another year left on a team-friendly contract. Looking at the TSN Trade Bait tracker, the top center available is Luke Glendening, who is not close to the same caliber player Strome is. If the Rangers are offered a first-round pick and a high-ranking prospect, I think they need to pull the trigger. If not go the Kreider route and give him an extension before he has another big year next year. This eliminates the risk of having to sign him to a bigger deal to retain him. If not and they wait until the next deadline, his value will be lower as a rental so the return will not be as great or they will be at risk to lose him for nothing in free agency.
I think Smith is the most likely Ranger to be traded. After an up-and-down Rangers career, Smith has settled in as a third pairing defenseman this year. He is in the final year of a four-year deal, so he is the perfect fit for a team looking for a veteran rental. Smith played in his 500th NHL game this season and has 42 games of playoff experience. He can play on both the left and right sides, so he would be a great depth seventh defenseman for a contender. He is also a great locker room guy that can also do this:
Phillip Di Giuseppe
After Vitali Kravtsov joined the team last week, Di Guiseppe now seems like the odd man out. It would make sense for the Rangers to play some of their younger players down the stretch. Players such as Morgan Barron and Julien Gauthier should get some playing time if the Rangers fall out of contention. This makes Di Giuseppe expendable. He played in all three Rangers playoff games last year, so he has a little playoff experience. He is a solid fourth line player that can add depth to a lineup. Not sure if there will be a market for him, but with the young forwards in the Rangers organization, I don’t see him sticking around for the long haul.
Another long shot like Strome. I don’t think the Rangers are looking to trade him but the goalie market is not great. The Rangers have seen firsthand how important it is to have three NHL-caliber goalies. In a year where COVID can hit at any time, I think playoff teams will look to solidify their goaltending depth. Kinkaid has played well this year, 3-2-1 with a 2.61 GAA. I think the Rangers hold on to him for the purpose of exposing him in the expansion draft, but if they get a nice offer maybe they pull the trigger.
We will know all the answers by 3 pm on Monday. The Rangers have a big two-game series this weekend against the Islanders. If they win both I see them staying pat. If they drop both I see them shift to selling and focusing on the younger players.
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