The off-season is officially in swing, and once again the New York Rangers are at the heart of trade rumors. This time, they’re tied to Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon. But what would it take to land the talented scorer?
The New York Rangers have sustained at least some success over the last couple of seasons on a deep forward lineup. With a center group that includes Derek Stepan, Mika Zibanejad, and Kevin Hayes, they have scoring in waves.
But while Stepan is a first-line center, routinely finishing in the top-30 centers for scoring, the Rangers haven’t had an elite center in far too long. The 21-year-old MacKinnon would fit that mold.
After a disastrous season in Colorado, it seems Avalanche GM Joe Sakic is willing to listen to just about anything. The price tag will be high, but Larry Brooks has linked the Rangers to MacKinnon.
The Rangers really don’t need to do much upgrading at forward, but the draw is still there. If New York were to go this route, what would it take to pry MacKinnon away from the Mile High City?
Worth his weight
MacKinnon has the pedigree and talent to be a true game-changer in the NHL. His impressive 63-point rookie season resulted in a Calder Trophy, but he hasn’t matched those numbers since.
The 2016-17 season saw him score only 16 goals and 37 assists.
But the skill is still there, and much of MacKinnon’s struggles can be attributed to the frankly terrible team he’s played for the last few years. A change of scenery to the speed-oriented and high-scoring Rangers could shoot his numbers through the roof.
Sakic knows this. A package for MacKinnon will be steep, probably including a roster forward, a defenseman, and a high pick or blue-chip prospect.
For the Rangers, that likely means Chris Kreider or Kevin Hayes heads to Colorado. Sakic probably asks for Brady Skjei, or else a package of prospects like Ryan Graves and Sean Day plus a first-round pick. Stepan would probably be dangled as well, but Hayes may be the better choice.
That is no doubt a hefty package, but for a player like MacKinnon, still only 21 years old, it might be worth it.
Sending Kreider, Stepan, Graves and a first- or second-round pick might get the job done. Not only that, but getting that elite center is the one thing the New York Rangers have lacked during this era of contention. All the Cup winners in this time have featured the likes of Toews, Crosby, Kopitar, and Bergeron.
Nathan MacKinnon may very well be what the Rangers need to get over the hump. Not only that, but the Rangers might be what MacKinnon needs to truly break out.