The New York Rangers plan to be major sellers leading up to the 2018 NHL trade deadline, reports the New York Post’s Larry Brooks. Both rentals and players signed beyond this season will be available as the Rangers see “a unique opportunity to refresh the roster and replenish the organization.”
Forwards Rick Nash, Michael Grabner, and David Desharnais, and defenseman Nick Holden are among the upcoming free agents that Brooks names specifically. But the bigger fish would be defenseman Ryan McDonagh and forward Mats Zuccarello, who are both signed through the 2018-19 season.
Kevin Shattenkirk and Marc Staal have full no-movement clauses, per Cap Friendly, so they would have to approve any deals involving them. Nash, McDonagh, and Brendan Smith have partial no-trade clauses.
That group gives the Rangers some major bargaining power before the Feb. 26 trade deadline. And while the team remains in the playoffs hunt with a 25-20-5 record during the first half of the season, Brooks says the mandate is to to “build a Stanley Cup winner rather than to simply extend a seven-year playoff streak that is in jeopardy.”
New York reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2014 and the conference finals the following year, but the team has trended in the wrong direction as its star players have gotten older.
That playoff streak has also prevented the team from acquiring the high draft picks necessary to land star prospects, which compelled it to trade Derek Stepan and Antti Raanta to the Coyotes last summer for the No. 7 overall pick, which was used on Lias Andersson.
The team has some talented young players on its NHL roster in forwards Mika Zibanejad, J.T. Miller, and Pavel Buchnevich, and defenseman Brady Skjei. It also has Andersson, Filip Chytil, and Igor Shestyorkin, which is the beginning of a good farm system.
But that’s a core that probably lacks a franchise cornerstone, and Henrik Lundqvist can’t play forever. Selling now, as the article points out, could be the perfect opportunity for the Rangers to reload on the fly by supplementing the young talent discussed above with a major haul through a series of trades. The team already has all of its future picks other than a 2018 seventh-rounder, so the cupboard is intact.
This won’t necessarily lead to deals across the board, especially for the players signed long-term who could be traded in the offseason, but it’s a sign that we can add at least one more team to the list of sellers for the NHL trade deadline.