Blueshirt Banter 2023-24 Trade Deadline Roundtable

With the NHL Trade Deadline less than a week away, we’re all expecting the Rangers to be one of the more active participants in the days leading up to it. There’s been plenty of rumors circulating about which teams and players the Rangers may be targeting but after an impressive 10-1-0 record in the month of February, they haven’t been in a particular rush to shake things up. That’s bound to change as the clock ticks and the Rangers continue to make noise as one of the favorites coming out of the Eastern Conference this regular season.

With that, the time for another Blueshirt Banter Roundtable is upon us as the staff share their thoughts on what the team should and could do in the coming week.

What do you feel the team’s most significant need is?

Chris: A qualified right winger for the Zibanejad/Kreider line. In filling that position, Kakko can remain a “secret weapon” of a third liner and Jimmy Vesey can be properly deployed on the fourth line.

Tom D: Up until Blake Wheeler’s season-ending injury, I felt it was a solid third-line center, with a scoring right winger closely behind. Now, the right winger seems to be the top priority. I would love for the Rangers to give Kaapo Kakko more run on the line with Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad, but even if they do, that’s still a position where they need depth. Having said all this, I think the third-line center is a close second in terms of importance.

Roberto: Not to echo my associates comments here, but it’s very clear the Rangers need a scoring winger to fill in on the top line. I think they could get the best bang for their buck and find a player who can slot in and play both the center and wing position.

Jack: Do they Rangers *need* another high end winger? Sure, but the depth wingers that have needed to step up (Kakko, Vesey, etc) are capable players that I wouldn’t sweat playing bigger roles if necessary. Jonny Bordzinski is a nice player, and he’s been a nice story, but he’s ideally your 4C and Stanley Cup contenders can’t be one injury away from a Brodzinski or Barclay Goodrow centering the 2nd line, so I’d still prioritize acquiring a center in a vacuum.

Tom U: The Rangers’ biggest needed is a top-line RW. In the playoffs it is harder to score, and we have seen enough occasions in the past where the Rangers did just about everything but score in the playoffs. Adding someone of value up top means slotting everyone else down on the right, essentially addressing the overall depth in one move. This team is having an amazing season, and I don’t think it wants to see a repeat of the 2011-12 season where they decided not to trade for Rick Nash, and got eliminated in the Conference Final because the goal scoring dried up.

Which team do you see as the best “one stop shopping” trade partner?

Chris: Nashville has that “little bit of everything” despite not having an excitable name for the top line. You can get Tommy Novak as a great third line center option. Can pick up Yakov Trenin for gritty forward depth. Gus Nyqvist or even Denis Gurianov could be options for the right side of Mika/Kreider or line three if Kakko sticks with them. And as far as defense, Jeremy Lauzon has interestingly enough been mentioned, could be a proactive idea for the third pairing looking past this year. Nasvhille thinking they’re a playoff team however, makes this a bit challenging.

Tom D: It has to be the Anaheim Ducks, right? The Rangers could acquire old friend Frank Vatrano as the right winger they clearly need, and then they could get Adam Henrique to fill in that third-line center spot as well. Vatrano would help the team tangibly both this season and next, and would provide excellent vibes since A) the reunion would be fun, and B) he, like me, is an Italian-American who belongs on my favorite team. The Italian content with him and Vincent Trocheck would be awesome.

Roberto: While this may go against the question a bit here, I personally think the Rangers should look to the Ottawa Senators. A Tarasenko reunion would more than likely be their best move and with the Senators unable to retain salary, the price may be lower, or perhaps the Rangers could unload a player or two that has felt more and more like deadweight.

Jack: Not that I want the trade to happen, but the heavily rumored package deal to bring Frank Vatrano and Adam Henrique to Broadway kind of sets up the Anaheim Ducks as the obvious answer here.

Tom U: In terms of just trading partners, not specifically talking about whether or not they have everything the Rangers needed, the Arizona Coyotes are interesting. If the team decided to make multiple moves instead of just one, Arizona has options like Jason Zucker and Nick Bjugstad up front on offense, and Troy Stecher on defense. Zucker could slot in the top-nine, Bjugstad can center the third or fourth line, and Stecher is a more than capable defender that would add NHL experience you want to have for the playoffs.

If NYR had to go “all in” on one player to trade for, who should it be?

Chris: A Buchnevich reunion is the obvious solution so I’ll go a little off the board with my answer and say Tyler Toffoli. Would it ever happen? Probably not considering the Rangers and Devils have only done business together once in the entire history of the league. Nevertheless, the Devils are falling further and further out of a playoff spot and may be on the brink of resetting for next year. With Toffoli on an expiring contract, they could look to move him and he brings the perfect mix of goal scoring, experience and a pair of Stanley Cup rings on his fingers. I’d be willing to overpay just a little bit to bring him across the river.

Tom D: Despite him being such an annoying thorn in the Rangers’ side over the years (or perhaps partially because of that), there’s a lot I’d be willing to see the Rangers give up for Jake Guentzel. If they were to acquire him, I’d like to see them make the cap situation work for next season and beyond to immediately extend him, which would make the sure-to-be-astronomical asset cost more palatable. I recognize that this is very unlikely to happen, as is my other all-in choice here: a Pavel Buchnevich reunion.

Roberto: Pretty unrealistic, but Zegras to the Rangers would be a monumental move. I may be biased since he was my favorite prospect in his draft year, but if the right pieces were moved it could be a good fit for the Rangers. On a similar note, a Buchnevich reunion would fix the hole in many Rangers fan’s hearts and he happens to be an elite goal scoring winger that has experience playing with the same players in need of just that, a scoring winger, crazy right? It’s like he never should have been moved or something.

Jack: Any asset the Rangers have (yes, including Gabe Perreault) should be on the table if the Blues are willing to deal Pavel Buchnevich. Realistically, Perreault isn’t getting traded and Othmann would be the “prize” to be had, and there would surely be hand wringing over potentially trading him, but Rangers fans should be willing to drive Othmann to Missouri themselves if he’s the highest value asset the Rangers would need to give up to re-acquire Buchnevich.

Tom U: The answer is righting a wrong and getting Buchnevich back because you’d have him under contract this season and next to try and win a Stanley Cup.

One depth player you want to see the Rangers trade for?

Chris: I don’t necessarily see this happening, but Nick Bjugstad from Arizona would be my choice. He’s a guy I wanted the Rangers to pick up this time last year and while Rempe is likely back to Hartford after the team makes their moves, how fun would a 4th line of Edstrom, Rempe and 6″6 Nick Bjugstad be? With a higher cap hit and another 2 years left on his contract, Arizona would have to retain and given where they’re at, I don’t think they’d do the Rangers any favors in that regard.

Tom D: It’d be cool to grab Yakov Trenin from the Nashville Predators (or, as a more high-end depth player, Tommy Novak), but with the Preds’ recent winning streak, they might become too shortsighted and push for the playoffs so that they can get bounced in six games in Round 1 instead of four or five.

Roberto: Nic Dowd, his hard nosed style would supplement any bottom line well and is something the Rangers could absolutely deploy.

Jack: Warren Foegele of the Edmonton Oilers has softly been rumored to be available. Not a flashy player, but a lowkey solid player the Rangers could plug into the lineup mostly anywhere to help shore up their lackluster depth.

Tom U: Bjugstad would be a fine addition as a depth piece when you consider that you’d be adding him to help things out 5v5. You wouldn’t need him to do much else, and numbers wise he’s fine, and an upgrade over some of the players currently earning ice time for the Rangers. It seems that Tommy Novak will be signing an extension with Nashville, but if things had fallen apart, he’d be the top choice.

One player you’re confident the Rangers will trade for?

Chris: Adam Henrique. Despite the price team’s paid for centers in other trades (Lindholm, Monahan) I don’t see Henrique breaking the bank and something about the idea of him joining Quick as former ‘enemies turned friends’ on a potential cup run is quite the story.

Tom D: I’m not really confident in any specific players being added, because most of these rumors (besides Patrick Kane last season) never amount to anything, and President/GM Chris Drury is pretty stealthy and will probably acquire someone no one is really thinking about. But there does seem to be a lot of smoke around Vatrano, so I’ll go with him.

Roberto: Tyler Motte? Seriously, why not make it a third year in a row.

Jack: There isn’t any one player I’m expecting to be acquired. but for the sake of tying it into the next question, I’ll go with Winnipeg’s Logan Stanley. Big, hulking physical defenseman that doesn’t draw into the Jets’ lineup all too often.

Tom U: At this point there’s no one of note. I almost feel like this deadline could be similar to the year the Rangers surprisingly traded Marian Gaborik with minutes left before the NHL trade deadline, and Chris Drury could surprise us by dealing for someone that wasn’t being talked about.

Who on the current roster (if anyone) is most likely to be moved?

Chris: Zac Jones. It may be the easy answer but it really doesn’t make any sense for the Rangers to move anyone when they’re looking to go on a run. I think Jones has a future in the NHL but I just don’t see it happening in New York the way this team is currently constructed.

Tom D: Zac Jones. It’s easy to forget he’s on the roster because he almost never plays, but I just feel like the Rangers will never find a permanent spot for him, and would probably want to go into the playoffs with a low-ceiling physical defenseman with size as the No. 7 guy (which could be another low-cost, under-the-radar move). I’m not saying I endorse that, but it’s something I could easily see them doing. That being said, I’ll never forget Jones and Connor Mackey for saving the Rangers’ season in Ottawa right before the bye week and All-Star break.

Roberto: If Zac Jones is on the roster past the deadline and the team makes a substantial move, I will eat my hat. It’s a very depressing reality to me, but Jones has been the odd man out and it’s only a matter of time until he’s used as a trade chip.

Jack: Zac Jones, who will be a Winnipeg Jet after he gets traded one-for-one with Logan Stanley! In all seriousness, the Rangers can’t afford to subtract significant pieces from their roster this season. If any roster player was to get dealt, it’d be Jones.

Tom U: Jones is the likely candidate, because you almost feel like he’d have more playing time this season  if the team was going to trust him to be a depth option in case of injury for the playoffs. The fact that he hasn’t played recently, all while Ryan Lindgren has been struggling mightily speaks volumes to me.

How many new players need to be added to the roster in order for the Rangers to be properly ready for a playoff run?

Chris: 3 is the sweet spot. You need a right winger for the top line, a veteran center that can ideally play the wing if needed for the third line and another depth piece whether that be a forward or a defenseman. Too much depth is never a problem and while a forward with experience can be helpful, the organization is much deeper up front than they are on the back end.

Tom D: Two. A scoring right winger and a third-line center.

Roberto: It depends, the team needs two forwards to really supplement their roster in a scoring winger and a depth center, however depending on what they move for those pieces, it’s likely they’d need a replacement for the depth, cough Zac Jones cough, that they’ll more than likely be sending the other way. So the answer is going to be 2-3.

Jack: Uhhhhh, this won’t happen but two, could argue three defenseman (Ryan Lindgren and Braden Schneider are both having poor seasons, and Trouba and Miller aren’t any great shakes either) two or three wingers, and a center or two would get them properly ready. Back on planet Earth, I’m hoping for two wingers, a center, and a defenseman.

Tom U: Ideally you’d want a scoring right winger, a depth piece you can deploy at center and/or wing, and defenseman that is good enough to log minutes in the event you have a major injury to someone in the top six.

O/U 2.5 total trades?

Chris: Under. I think there will be more than two new players on the team next week but I also believe there’s going to be at least one trade where Chris Drury kills two birds with one stone.

Tom D: I’m gonna go with over, as I could see the Rangers, in addition to two forwards, adding a low-cost depth defenseman to be a spare piece for the playoffs instead of Zac Jones. Again, I’m not endorsing that last move; just predicting what I think will happen.

Roberto: Over, counting some depth pieces that will more than likely be in Hartford to start.

Jack: Over. Aside from 2021, where COVID-related travel restrictions hampered the mid-season trade market, the Rangers have gone over 2.5 trades in the days leading up to the deadline each of the last six years. Over 2.5 trades that impact the NHL roster might be a different story, but history says we should expect two more deals out of Chris Drury over the next few days

Tom U: Under. I think the Rangers try and address everything in two trades for the NHL level. I do think they could make AHL trades that don’t have a consequence on this roster, but in terms of NHL deals, two feels right.

The Rangers only have one game (Monday, March 4th vs. Florida) on the schedule prior to the league’s trade deadline (3pm on Friday March 8th). It’ll be interesting to see when the dominos start to fall for this team as well as the approach Chris Drury and the rest of the team choose to take. Let us know in the comments who is on the top of your list for who the Rangers should go out and get.