2018 NHL Trade Deadline: Recapping All The Rumors Surrounding The Rangers

There’s been a lot of rumors surrounding the Rangers and their rebuild, here’s how everything stands right now:

Rick Nash

Who is interested in him?: Everyone within sniffing distance of the playoffs, it appears.

Does anything seem close?: Well, yes and no. The Nashville Predators have been linked to Nash hard, and by multiple people (specifically the always amazing Elliotte Friedman). From that linked story:

5. Nashville definitely is all in on Rick Nash. The question is if they can outbid a large field. They already dealt Sam Girard, Vladislav Kamenev and their second-round pick in the Kyle Turris deal, so how deep are they willing to go? A first-rounder that might be 27th or lower won’t do it. They’ve still got excellent prospects (Dante Fabbro and Eeli Tolvanen atop the list) and no doubt the Rangers will try to leverage from those.

As of right now, I would assume Tolvanen is a pipe dream, although that should absolutely be the asking price from Jeff Gorton. Remember, contending team’s first-round picks are often similar to a very early second-round pick; if Nashville does make it to the Western Conference Final, the pick will be in the 28-31 range.

Fabbro has seen a slight decline in his reputation since he was drafted in 2016, but he’s still a top-pair defenseman from Boston University; I wonder how much his stock “falling” is due to his no-point showing in the World Juniors for Canada this year. Regardless, Fabbro is 19, closer to NHL-ready than most that would be picked this year, and could help fill the void the Rangers will have on defense if the team moves on from Ryan McDonagh.

Complications?: Nash has already submitted his no-trade list to the Rangers, and there are 12 teams not on the list that Nash can do nothing about if he’s moved there. That said, Nash and his camp have floated that they would be willing to listen on offers from most teams so long as they’re contenders.

Do you expect him to be traded, and if so where?: 100%. As a pure rental keeping Nash would be insanity, so it just wouldn’t happen. There’s been a ton of smoke around Nashville — and ultimately that’s where I think he will go — but Dallas also seems to be poking around. Winnipeg has been kicking tires as well, but I can’t imagine Nash wants to go there, even for just a couple of months.

Blueshirt Banter Stuff?: Mike has something great here.

Ryan McDonagh

Who is interested in him?: Boston and Tampa Bay have been linked by actual people in the know. Minnesota has been added as well since there’s a need and obvious fit, plus it’s where he’s from. That, however, seems more speculative than a “true rumor.”

Does anything seem close?: It depends on how you look at things. In the above linked Friedman story, he also mentions the below:

6. Steve Yzerman told Tampa Bay Times beat writer Joe Smith, “We are trying to win. We would want to add to our team, not go sideways.”

That said, if he wanted to, I could see a package of players, prospects and picks that could tempt the Rangers for both Nash and Ryan McDonagh. The Lightning would consider moving a centre for a signed winger.

7. Family connection I didn’t know existed: Ryan McDonagh’s agent, Ben Hankinson, is the brother-in-law of Boston assistant coach Kevin Dean. The Bruins are interested, but, like everyone else, know it will be a big price to pay.

In terms of being “close” I’m not totally sure, I do think McDonagh is going to be moved, and those two teams seem to be the “finalists” but...

Complications?: Nothing on the actual McDonagh end, but the two teams in the running for him openly don’t have a ton of jump off the page assets.

Boston doesn’t have a ton of “elite” level prospects. They’re not trading Charlie McAvoy, and the Rangers should have no interest in Brandon Carlo as the centerpiece of this return. Would Boston be willing to give up two of Ryan Donato, Urho Vaakanainen, and Jake DeBrusk along with picks? I would willingly take Carlo, but not as the centerpiece of a deal.

Tampa is a different animal altogether. Stocked with a plethora of ready-for-the-NHL talent, the team doesn’t have any actual “wow” prospects. For me, Tampa’s assets for this substantial of a trade are more-so their young NHL players. Would they be willing to part with Brayden Point or Mikhail Sergachev in addition to a pick? Because outside of that type of return, Tampa’s farm system leaves a lot to be desired if you’re moving a guy like McDonagh to them — especially since Steve Yzerman held Glen Sather to wall for Martin St. Louis, and then traded the two first round picks the Rangers gave up for him to the Islanders. If you’re dealing with Tampa, keep that bad blood and force every drop out of Yzerman.

And akin to what I wrote above with Nashville, any 1st round pick for 2018 from Boston or Tampa has to be looked at as basically a second round pick.

Do you expect him to be traded, and if so where?: I do, and it’s because of the letter Gorton and company sent out. Saying “familiar faces” screams guys like McDonagh and Mats Zuccarello. I think the Rangers are aware, as much as it may hurt to admit it, that McDonagh’s next contract is going to be a minefield, and they want to avoid it. He also has the most value now, when his acquiring team gets him for two playoff runs and a full season in-between.

Blueshirt Banter Stuff?: I wrote about acceptable returns for McDonagh here.

Michael Grabner

Who is interested in him?: Everyone, apparently.

Does anything seem close?: Shockingly no, even though there’s a ton of interest for him. Apparently everyone wants to know what it’s going to cost to get Grabner, but no one team has come out on top. There are two major differences with Grabner and Nash — despite both being true rentals:

  1. Grabner has no restrictions for a trade (i.e. no no-trade clause)
  2. Grabner’s cap hit is $1.45-million before it’s pro-rated for the deadline. So anyone can easily fit him in.

Is it possible Gorton is dangling Nash and Grabner to the same teams, then planning on moving Nash and hanging Grabner as the “consolation prize” to the teams that didn’t get Nash? That’s what I would do!

Complications?: I honestly can’t think of one. Grabner is the perfect rental: cheap, fast, can be plugged in anywhere, and can score goals.

Do you expect him to be traded, and if so where?: I do, since he’s a pure rental. There were rumors Grabner and the Rangers were exploring an extension with him, but he wants four years and that’s too long for my blood.

Blueshirt Banter Stuff?: Mike wrote something on just how good of a free agent signing Grabner has been for the Rangers.

Nick Holden

Who is interested in him?: Teams looking for depth defenseman going into the playoffs.

Does anything seem close?: No, and they probably won’t be until the last day of the trade deadline. Holden is classic “we need to upgrade the bottom half of our defense” rental material. Those guys don’t normally go until the back half of deadline day.

Complications?: No, shockingly. In fact, if the market is any indication, Holden might bring back as much as a third round pick!

Do you expect him to be traded, and if so where?: If there’s actual interest for him, yes I can’t imagine the Rangers hold onto him.

Blueshirt Banter Stuff?: Mike wrote about that here.

Mats Zuccarello

Who is interested in him?: We don’t know anything.

Does anything seem close?: No.

Complications?: Honestly, Zuccarello’s inclusion here is simply because he’s on the back end of a deal, is too old to go through a rebuild, and is too good not to think about moving on from. The problem is a mental and emotional one. It makes business sense to trade Zuccarello, the question should be what the Rangers can get back for him.

Do you expect him to be traded, and if so where?: I’m not sure if I expect a move for Zuccarello before the deadline. If a contending team wants to unload the farm then fine, but I see Zuccarello as a draft day move. It gives the the Rangers time to assess what they need after their flurry of deadline moves. And, it allows a team who thinks they’re close but not close enough to being good make a decision as they’re putting the roster together. Zuccarello should have far more suitors in June than February.

Blueshirt Banter Stuff?: Adam on why he does (and doesn’t) want the Rangers to trade Zuccarello.

J.T. Miller, Kevin Hayes, Chris Kreider

Who is interested in him?: Teams have kicked the tires on Miller and Kreider according to reputable reports. There’s been nothing on Hayes.

Does anything seem close?: No. At least nothing close enough to be reported nationally.

Complications?: A slew of them. Miller seems the most movable of the three, with his age, point-production, and reputation around the league. Miller should have a ton of value as a sub 25-year-old 55+ point player, and teams who are playoff contenders should be interested in him. The complication is that he’s an RFA as is due a big pay raise.

Kreider and Hayes are harder. Kreider has two years left on a fantastic contract, but is coming off an injury that’s seen him miss a significant amount of time this year. That might scare teams off.

And Hayes shouldn’t be moved for all the reasons in the below linked story. TL/DR: Alain Vigneault’s usage of him as a defensive first center hurts his offensive production, and there’s no way to get his actual value back as of right now.

Do you expect any to be traded, and if so where?: If anyone I’d expect Miller, but I don’t see the stars aligning before deadline day. Miller feels like a sign and trade at the draft kind of move.

Blueshirt Banter Stuff?: I wrote about this on all three here!