New York Rangers Trade Target: Nashville Predators’ Ryan Ellis

Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /

It’s no secret that the New York Rangers need help on defense, especially on the right side. Their prospect pool is barren in this department as well, so it’s become increasingly obvious that help will have to come from external options. In this scenario, let’s take a look at how the Nashville Predators can solve the Rangers issues on defense.

The Predators face an interesting dilemma for the upcoming expansion draft, and the New York Rangers can take advantage of that. Nashville can choose to protect their top 4 forwards and top 4 defensemen, or protect 7 forwards and only 3 defensemen.

This may leave them exposing Ryan Ellis, a player the Rangers absolutely need. If David Poile decides to take this route this June, the Rangers should step in and look to acquire before Nashville loses Ellis for nothing in expansion.

Unfortunately for the Rangers, David Poile is one of the smartest general managers in the league, so everyone’s favorite trade bait, Oscar Lindberg is not going to net you Ellis straight up.

The good news, however, is that it’s possible to make a trade here without giving up a player like Brady Skjei. New York cannot afford to rid themselves of the only young defenseman they have.

Nashville is already stacked on defense as is, with top defensive prospects Dante Fabbro and Samuel Girard on the way. It also doesn’t hurt to have P.K. Subban and Roman Josi signed long term.

Trade Idea #1: Rick Nash (20% retained salary), NYR’s 2018 2nd round pick and Brandon Halverson for Ryan Ellis and a 2018 3rd round pick.

Aside from the Nashville puns, Rick Nash would be a good fit for a Nashville team that’s been looking for more stability on the wing. Nashville has had 24 different forwards play a game for them this season, with a good chunk being a constant stream of players going from the AHL to Nashville.

The Predators having a trio of Filip Forsberg, Viktor Arvidsson and Rick Nash on the left wing would be a force for a team looking to add more offensive firepower. Nashville has been a middle of the pack offense the last few seasons.

The 2018 draft is set to be a strong one, and with the Rangers holding two 2nd rounders, dealing away one should not be an issue. Lastly, Pekka Rinne is 34 and the Predators need goaltending depth which lacks after rookie Juuse Saros. This is where Jeff Gorton should sell high on the 20 year old netminder.

The retained salary on Nash’s contract would cost the Rangers $1.56 million for next season, but not beyond as his contract ends after the 2017-18 season. Ryan Ellis’ $2.5 million cap hit easily can fit in.

The remaining cap hit on Nash can be absorbed by Nashville, with the Predators expected cap space to be roughly $19 million for next season (all salary cap information credited to CapFriendly).

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Trade Idea #2: Ryan Gropp, Sergey Zborovskiy, 2019 1st round pick for Ryan Ellis and a 2018 4th round pick

This deal depends a lot on how the Predators view both Gropp and Zborovskiy. The Rangers infamously traded up to take Gropp in the Carl Hagelin trade.

Gropp had himself a good season for the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL last season, but was assigned back to juniors at age 20 after being cut from Rangers training camps. He got off to a very slow start, having only 10 goals through the first 33 games, but has gotten it together as of late and now has 50 points in 47 games.

With the Predators looking for stable depth, a match could be there.

Zborovskiy has had mixed reviews since the Rangers unexpectedly took him in the 3rd round of the 2015 draft. Zborovskiy is a big, towering defenseman who has finally begun putting up points for the Regina Pats of the WHL.

However, the Pats are loaded with talent and are perhaps the best team in the entire CHL. Zborovskiy represented Russia at this year’s World Juniors and did not particularly stand out. Zborovskiy has gotten praise for his coaches at Regina, and has still improved his game regardless.

While trading away more first round picks is not in the Rangers best interest, they might not have a choice especially with how well constructed Ryan Ellis’ contract is at age 26 signed through the 2018-19 season at only a $2.5 million cap hit.

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The Rangers are in desperate need of help on the right side of the defense, and if David Poile makes the decision to protect 7 forwards and 3 defensemen in expansion this June, the opportunity could be present for the Rangers to strike gold.

That being said, if Nashville decides to protect Ellis, the Rangers should still look into the possibility.