Photo credit:© Brad Penner - USA Today
Meet the Buyers: The Rangers can use an upgrade on right wing in their top six
30 days ago
This Original Six team is looking to win it all.
This is Meet the Buyers, where we look at teams that are contenders for the Stanley Cup, and what they need to improve their chances. The Calgary Flames have three players – Chris Tanev, Elias Lindholm, and Noah Hanifin – set to become unrestricted free agents at the end of the season, and the chances the Flames move at least one of them are increasing as we head towards the March 8 deadline.
In this edition, we’ll look at the New York Rangers and what their needs are, their assets, as well as the cap situation of both teams.
The needs of the New York Rangers
On Jan. 12, Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff looked at the needs of each Eastern Conference team in this article. The Rangers, who have 61 points and lead the Metropolitan Division, ideally need a third line centre.
It’s worth mentioning that Filip Chytil was their third line centre to start the season, but he only played the first 10 games for the Rangers. On Friday during an optional skate, he was seen down on the ice after apparently stepping on Jake Leschyshyn’s stick and falling.
Hopefully Chytil isn’t seriously injured and will be back before the playoffs, but in the meantime the Rangers could look for centre help elsewhere. Make no mistake about it, Elias Lindholm is in no way a third line centre, even with his struggles during the 2023-24 season. The Flames centre man has eight goals and 31 points, but has had several 60+ point seasons, including one in 2022-23, and a career-high 42 goals and 82 points in the same amount of games in 2021-22.
It’d be hard to consider Lindholm an upgrade over Vincent Trocheck, who has 15 goals and 45 points in 48 games, or Mika Zibanejad, who has 15 goals and 44 points in 47 games. Perhaps the Rangers could utilize Lindholm on right-wing where he’d likely be an upgrade over Blake Wheeler, who has eight goals and 19 points in 48 games. However, the acquisition cost for Lindholm may not be worth it when a player like Sean Monahan is available.
Defensively, the Rangers are pretty set as well. According to Daily Faceoff’s line combination for the team as of the morning of Jan. 27, Jacob Trouba and Adam Fox occupy the two top pairing right-side defenceman slots, meaning that Tanev would be an expensive third-pairing option. The Rangers are also pretty set for their top 4 on the left side, with K’Andre Miller and Erik Gustafsson occupying the top two roles, meaning that Hanifin isn’t needed.
Their goaltending situation is set as well. Igor Shesterkin is having a down year as he has an .899 save percentage and a 2.86 goals-against average in 32 games, but he is just two season’s removed from the Vezina Trophy. Jonathan Quick has had a career resurgence in the backup role, posting a .913 save percentage and a 2.46 goals-against average in 16 games.
What assets do the New York Rangers have to offer
The teams that are good tend not to have good farm systems, as draft picks and prospects are moved to improve their team immediately. While the Rangers have a better farm system than the Boston Bruins and Colorado Avalanche according to The Hockey Writers, their prospect pool ranked 22nd heading into the season.
Their two best prospects are Brennan Othmann (2021, 16th overall) and Gabriel Perreault (2023, 23rd overall). Left-winger Othmann is further along in his development, scoring 10 goals and 28 points in 34 games with the American League Hartford Wolf Pack and could be ready in the next few seasons.
Perreault, right-winger, plays for the prestigious Boston College and has eight goals and 35 points in 22 games as a freshman. That ranks third in the entire NCAA, trailing just Massimo Rizzo and Jack Devine, both of whom are in their third season of collegiate hockey.
Other interesting prospects include 2022 second-round selection Adam Sykora, 2022 third-round selection Bryce McConnell-Barker, and 2023 third-rounder Drew Fortescue, who is a teammate of Perreault at Boston College and played with him at the 2024 World Juniors.
Furthermore, the Rangers have both their 2024 and 2025 first-round selections, along with their second-round pick in 2024, per Puckpedia.
While the Rangers aren’t as perfect as trade partners as the Bruins and Avalanche who desperately need a top six centre like Lindholm, the Rangers have a quite a few interesting assets (mainly Othmann) if the Flames and Rangers do decide to make a trade.
The cap situation of both teams
As of the morning of Jan. 27, the Rangers have $4,470,833 in cap space according to Puckpedia. Chytil is the only player on the long-term injured list and he has a cap hit of $4,437,500 this season.
The Flames on the other hand, have those three soon-to-be unrestricted free agents. According to Puckpedia, Lindholm has a cap hit of $4.85 million, Tanev has a cap hit of $4.5 million, and Hanifin has a cap hit of $4.95 million. Moreover, the Flames have all three of their salary retention spots available, meaning they can help out teams by eating some salary, although it’ll cost them!
Any player that the Rangers trade for from the Flames would just be a luxury, and not a need. Lindholm probably fits the best of the three soon-to-be unrestricted free agents, as he could play right-wing on the top line. However, the acquisition cost would be immense and the Rangers would probably be better off finding an actual third line centre.
Still, we’re over a month away from the trade deadline and a lot could happen before the deadline. You never know when an injury can occur and if it happens to one of the Rangers’ defencemen (knock on wood it doesn’t), the Flames would then become an ideal trade partner.
Thanks for reading! You can follow me on Twitter @Brennan_L_D.
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