William Nylander
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

As the stalemate in Toronto continues with center William Nylander, the New York Rangers need to make an enticing offer. 

Frank Curto

Things look great on Broadway for the New York Rangers. Winning will do that. The team is 7-1-1 in their last nine games as they sit in second place in the Metropolitan Division. The team has found an identity, a team chemistry, as head coach David Quinn has been pushing all the right buttons as the team hots the first quarter of the season mark.

Now is the perfect time to make a big move, a trade that will make the NHL, Rangerstown and everyone in between forget that the term rebuild was ever uttered in New York.

Jeff Gorton needs to go after Toronto’s William Nylander right now.

The 22-year old center has not played a game yet this season as he is a restricted free agent unable to agree on a new deal with the Maple Leafs. Every day that goes by, Toronto realizes the time to trade the 2014 first round pick (eighth overall) is fast approaching. They want to get the best deal for him and the Rangers can make that happen.

The Rangers have plenty of pieces to offer but understand it will cost the team active roster players to make this work.

The Realistic Trade Package:

New York Rangers, Brady Skjei
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Rangers trade Brady Skjei, Kevin Hayes, and a third-round pick in 2019 NHL Draft to Toronto.

Rangers receive William Nylander and Toronto’s second-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft.

I’ll pause for all of the “are you out of your mind” screaming to cease. Now let’s take a look.

The numbers for Nylander are outstanding. The center appeared in 22 games in the 2015-16 season scoring six goals with 13 points. The next two season he appeared in 163 out of 164 games recording 42 goals with 122 points. A combined total of 185 games, 48 goals with 87 assists for 135 points. All of this and he isn’t 23-years-old yet.

The team wants to continue getting younger and this trade would do that as Hayes is 26-years-old. The Rangers also have to contend with their own contract crisis as Hayes will be an Unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. As the team was unable to sign him to a deal longer than just one year last summer, they are not able to sign a new contract until January 2019.

Hayes is currently having a strong season after a slow start in October. The five-year veteran has appeared in 330 games for the Blueshirts with 77 goals and 187 points. In 20 games this season, he has scored four goals with nine points.

Brady Skjei signed a six-year, $31.5 million contract in July 2018. His average salary cap hit is $5.25 million. Moving the 24-year old defenseman would be an unpopular move, but Skjei has not developed into the defenseman he was expected to be. A big drop-off last season from the year before was thought to be a minor set back. The team went out and signed him to a big contract, but this may have been more because the Rangers wanted to commit to a young player following the rebuild announcement.

Skjei may be falling out of the top six defenseman category as he was a healthy scratch for the first time since December 2016 in Saturday’s win over the Florida Panthers. The Rangers have depth in the defense position, along with the additions of both Fredrik Claesson and Adam McQuaid help make this trade more desirable.

Trades can be messy, but emotions aside, this would make the team better with minimal loss.

The Untouchables and the Maybe

There are some untouchables on the team. Neal Pionk, Filip Chytil, Lias Andersson, Pavel Buchnevich, Brett Howden should not be moved. The future of the club lies with these players. The Rangers will have to deal with some growing pains, but the returns will be great in the next few seasons.

Players such as Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider, and are the bubble players. They can help the team now, they are the primary players on this club this year, but they may be the ones to draw the most interest as the season leans to the halfway mark. Their contracts may cause Toronto and other teams to go in another direction.

Should Toronto not want a center in return, Mats Zuccarello’s name could be mentioned to go the other way. A fan-favorite and the face of the Rangers after Henrike Lundqvist, Zucc will be an unrestricted free agent after this season and could help the Leafs playing with Auston Matthews and former New York Islanders John Tavares. 

Understandably, things need to be done in some sought of order. The Rangers, first and foremost, have to decide the future of Kevin Hayes. Sign him to a long contract and keep him, sign him and trade him, trade him without signing him to a new deal at all. With that decision made, a lot will fall into place. Time is of the essence here as Toronto is probably fielding calls right to for Nylander.

Trade rumors are entertaining, sometimes they are necessary to get contracts signed and in this case, a trade for Nylander could get the Rangers a wild card spot, maybe something more come April.

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A graduate of St. John's University class of '91. I have been a fan of the New York Rangers since the days of Peter Puck. Founder of Ranger Proud, the Facebook page that covers all news, notes, pre /post-game stats, and player quotes. I can be reached at Nyrfc12@gmail.com