With the offseason underway, the New York Rangers have some tough decisions to make including the future of players on the current roster.
The offseason, one of the toughest times for a fan base due to the change that can unfold in a matter of just months.
For New York Rangers fans, this summer is no different as the organization tries to find ways to incorporate their young talent up and down the roster. While that’s a great problem to have, the Rangers find themselves in a difficult situation because of the limited amount of room available, creating the possibility of potential trades down the road.
We’ve already heard the potential trade noise in trying to move the likes of Kevin Shattenkirk and Brendan Smith, but they shouldn’t stop there. While New York needs to create some space on the blueline, they also need to create some spots up front to be able to fully take a look at the young talent the organization already possess.
The one way the Blueshirts can create the necessary room to get a legitimate look at their talent is to explore the trade market for potential deals with a return of either draft assets or younger players who are further away from NHL readiness.
Here are some players who could find themselves in trade discussions during the summer of 2019:
Acquired at the 2018 trade deadline, Vladislav Namestnikov hasn’t lived up to the potential he came to New York with.
While playing with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Vladdy saw himself as a goal-scoring winger who could play center if needed and even saw time on Tampa’s top line with Steven Stamkos. But as it’s turned out, Namestnikov’s game rises when playing with elite talent and the Rangers have learned that the hard way in his year and a half as a Blueshirt.
Even though the early returns on the Namestnikov deal weren’t great, he did turn things around last year playing extremely well at times for head coach David Quinn. The problem is New York is paying him $4 million next season to primarily be a bottom six player who can kill penalties, a role you can easily see someone like Lias Andersson in at a cheaper price, while also providing the youngster a chance at consistent playing time.
It might be safe to say that we might have drastically overhyped the type of player Jimmy Vesey could become coming out of Harvard three years ago.
Vesey’s a great depth player to have a team contending for a championship, but that has not been his role with the Rangers over the last few seasons. He’s become a guy who’s seen minutes in the top-six forward group, taking some time away from the likes of Pavel Buchnevich and even Filip Chytil at times a year ago.
We’ve already heard rumblings around the league how Vesey has garnered some trade interest around the league, including interest from the Buffalo Sabres. It makes sense for New York to gauge his value now considering Vital Kravtsov coming over to North America, along with the possibility of Kaapo Kakko coming over in the draft. Vesey’s spot is one that could be grabbed by Kakko or Kravtsov, but not with Vesey on the roster.
Ryan Strome’s name has been brought up a ton throughout the Twitter world as an expendable player on the Rangers roster based on his inflated points total a year ago. While we don’t know if the Rangers are actively shopping him this summer, he is someone to keep an eye on as the dog days of late July/early August go by.
Strome salvaged his career with the Rangers after coming over in a trade in November, but like Namestnikov, he takes away an important roster spot from a younger player, like Andersson or a Brett Howden. While we instantly think of those two as young players who play down the middle, we forget sometimes Chytil was drafted as a center and New York could end up with an elite young center at the draft depending on what the Devils do.
While moving someone like Strome won’t be easy, they would be creating cap space along with giving more minutes to players who might not see them with already on the roster. The only way you allow a player to take away minutes from a young player should be if the player receiving the minutes is an instant game changer and Strome isn’t that.
Trades for these players are usually creative deals and we’ve seen general manager Jeff Gorton get creative in the past, but it doesn’t mean the team might not explore a bigger deal. Chris Kreider’s name has been thrown out there the last few weeks as he enters the final year of his contract, and Gorton is still trying to find a way to move one of Shattenkirk or Brendan Smith.
This summer is truly going to be an intriguing one with twists and turns no one saw coming, so buckle up and enjoy the ride especially if some of the players on this list are dealt.