NEW YORK, NY – We are less than two weeks away from the NHL trade deadline, and some curious scenarios are there for consideration on the NHL landscape. Let’s look at the team in town.
The New York Rangers find themselves nine points behind the Philadelphia Flyers for the second Wild Card slot in the Eastern Conference. There are also three other teams between the Rangers and Flyers. While the Rangers have been playing some good hockey lately, I still think the playoffs are a bridge too far for the Blueshirts and they still should be selling at the deadline.
Chris Kreider is number 1 on the trade list, since the winger will be an Unrestricted Free Agent this summer. The Rangers have little chance of signing Kreider, who will be asking for north of $6 million a year for seven years or so. They already have half their payroll for next season tied up in Panarin, Trouba, Lundqvist, and the ghost of Kevin Shattenkirk. The only way I see the Rangers signing Kreider this summer is if they find a way to move Trouba or if Lundqvist retires. Neither is out of the question entirely.
Trouba’s no-trade clause kicks in this summer so the Rangers would have to trade him now if anyone will take him and his hefty cap hit. Trouba has shown signs of falling into the same traps as a lot of young Rangers. New York has an infinite supply of distractions for young players and Trouba is following in Michael Del Zotto’s footsteps. If he’s not careful, Toruba could be following Del Zotto out of town. He’d be tough to move with his $8 million cap hit, though, so the Blueshirts would probably need to swallow some of that contract in a trade.
Lundqvist still has one more year left on his contract, but the writing is on the wall. With Shesterkin and Georgiev both playing well, the Rangers won’t be carrying three goalies much longer. It would make sense to trade Georgiev, who will be a restricted free agent this summer and his trade value is as high as it can be right now. But the Rangers might want to hold onto both him and Shesterkin. That leaves Lundqvist as the odd man out. I’m not sure that Hank has much value in a trade and I don’t think anyone would take on an $8.5 million cap hit for a goalie who will be 38 years old in March and has been average at best. But stranger things have happened. The Rangers have a lot of decisions to make over the next two weeks. Having JD back with the organization leaves me optimistic that the right decisions will be made. But time will tell.
Time is out for me though, so please drop your pucks below and come back tomorrow for Short Matt, with a face-off in the corner.