The New York Rangers have a huge hole up the middle. We’ve got three potential trade targets who can fix what ails the Blueshirts.It’s no secret that the Rangers aren’t off to the start anyone expected or wanted. It has become quite apparent that the depth in the organization isn’t what the Rangers front office thought it would be and it has become a major problem.
Kevin Hayes has yet to show signs of the player who put up a career-high 49 points last season. Through six games this year Hayes has only two points, a goal, and an assist. He’s been asked to play a different role than in the past with a greater emphasis on defense, but he can’t sacrifice his offense.
Hayes is only one example of underperforming forwards, which litter the roster. As a result, the Rangers may have to look outside the organization to put him—and others—in a better position to generate scoring chances.
Here are three realistic trade targets that the Rangers can look at in the early part of the season.
1. Carl Soderberg, Colorado Avalanche
Whenever the Rangers are talking to the Colorado Avalanche about a potential trade, you can’t help but think of Matt Duchene. In this instance, however, the Rangers don’t need to make a blockbuster trade to improve.
Soderberg has been in the league for six years and has put up solid numbers in a bottom-six role for Colorado and the Boston Bruins. Soderberg’s career high in points (51) came in the 2015-16 season, which isn’t that long ago.
While he mustered only 14 points for the Avalanche last season, the 32-year-old is capable of contributing offensively while helping defensively. Soderberg was on the ice for just 60 goals against on a team that allowed 276 goals in 2016-17. He’d also give the Rangers another experienced skater to stick on the penalty kill.
All things considered, Soderberg would be a perfect addition to help even out the roster. Hayes could focus on his game offensively with Soderberg and David Desharnais focusing on the defensive coverage.
2. Riley Sheahan, Detroit Red Wings
The relationship between the Red Wings and Sheahan is in an interesting place right now. Detroit is in the middle of a cap crunch and is trying to find a way to keep both Andreas Athanasiou and Sheahan. But if push comes to shove and the Wings can only keep one, Sheahan won’t be the pick.
In his latest “31 Thoughts” for Sportsnet, Elliotte Friedman explains that Sheahan’s name has come up in trade talks with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Those talks have since stalled, though, which could allow the Rangers to get involved.
Sheahan hasn’t developed into the player that Detroit envisioned. His career high in points (36) came in the 2014-15 season when he scored 13 goals and dished out 23 assists in 79 games. He came close the following season (14 G, 11 A, 25 PTS), but dipped to just 13 points last year.
Sheahan would either be a fourth or third line center who can handle the defensive role as he was on the ice for 59 goals against last season. He could also occasionally add some goals and become a Dominick Moore-type of player.
3. Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks
Thornton has been connected to the Rangers for quite some time. There were reports that the Rangers and the future Hall of Fame inductee spoke over the summer when he was a free agent, but Thornton wound up re-signing with San Jose.
But as Larry Brooks of the New York Post wrote earlier this month, Thornton could become an option for the Rangers if the center position continues to be an issue. So much has to happen, however, for Thornton to become available and for the Rangers to be able to make a move.
The only way that Thornton can become an option for the Rangers is if San Jose falls out of playoff contention. Thornton also has an $8 million cap hit, so San Jose would have to retain some of his salary in order for the Rangers to fit him into their budget.
Adding Thronton would be the Rangers’ way of replacing Derek Stepan for the remainder of the season. Thornton wasn’t a dynamic goal-scorer last year but was still able to put up 50 points. He’d also add some veteran leadership on top of his solid overall game.
The Rangers aren’t going to make a panic move right away as it looks like they’re giving the current roster more time to figure things out. But should the team continue to struggle, look for general manager Jeff Gorton to make a move.