New York Rangers: How to acquire the missing piece

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 09: Henrik Lundqvist
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 09: Henrik Lundqvist /

As the Rangers look to complete their roster, there are plenty of things they must consider doing and know not to do.

The New York Rangers are one piece away from legitimate contender status in the NHL. Yesterday we covered how the Rangers’ season will depend on their ability to acquire a top six center in the NHL. Jeff Gorton has his work cut out for him, as New York does not boast plenty of prospects to help their cause.

We identified the problem, now it’s time to find the solution. Let’s talk what the Rangers should and should not do in looking for a top six center this offseason.

Do Not: Move J.T. Miller to Center

While J.T. Miller likely can move to center, moving him is taking an unnecessary gamble. Miller has proven to be an effective NHL winger, one still growing today. Attempting to shift his position and asking him to learn on the fly is far more than the team should consider doing.

Miller can take on a more two-way role through his work as a penalty killer, while also working to be a more reliable defensive forward.

Additionally, moving Miller to center and rolling with a top three of Mika Zibanejad, Kevin Hayes, and J.T. Miller will rob the Rangers of wing depth, while not scaring any teams away with center depth. J.T. Miller is not the answer at the pivot.

Related Story: A Ryan Spooner Trade Makes Sense

Do: Consider Acquiring Expiring Contracts

No, we do not mean John Tavares. Well, if the Islanders are willing to trade Tavares, then yes we do. Anyway.

Teams may be more inclined to move their top six centermen if those players are on expiring contracts and are not willing to sign extensions.

Among the centers that fit into this category: Mikael Backlund, Brian Little, Paul Stastny, and Kyle Turris.

Adding any of those forwards would be wise maneuvering by Jeff Gorton. Though their prices will range, each can play in the top six, while not costing as much as a long term piece. Should the piece fit, the Rangers can attempt to negotiate an extension. Should the piece fail to fit, New York can cut ties, or even attempt to make some additional moves at the Trade Deadline.

However, teams will likely be more inclined to listen on players they will eventually lose for nothing. Identifying potential fits that won’t empty the prospect pool is key.

Related Story: Rangers should target a Paul Stastny trade

Do Not: Trade J.T. Miller For A Center

A top six center would be more valuable than J.T. Miller in many situations. But the old saying goes not to rob Peter to pay Paul. Or something like that. When you can explain it’s raining cats and dogs to me, maybe then I’ll use sayings. Anyway.

Trading J.T. Miller for a top six center would be rejuvenating one position and robbing the depth of another. It’s the same concept as moving Miller to center himself. New York must find a way to acquire a center without weakening the fragile forward depth of their current roster.

J.T. Miller will be a crucial part of the team’s success in the near and distant futures. That must not change over one position in one season.

Related Story: Four free agents worth targeting

Do: Get Creative

How about trading Anthony DeAngelo for a center? What about looking into Ryan Spooner of the Boston Bruins, a player who has been disgruntled for seemingly his entire tenure with the team? Perhaps a look into what Nick Holden and a draft pick can bring back would be worth a try.

NHL teams make horrendous roster moves seemingly on a daily basis. The Rangers have been on both ends of that practice, but this is a situation where they must try everything in their power to be on the positive end.

Next: Who the Rangers should look to add next

One disgruntled player, one organization incorrectly evaluating a player, even one General Manager feeling pressure to make a move can accomplish what the Rangers need to accomplish.

Jeff Gorton must not get complacent at any point this offseason. There’s an entire offseason ahead to acquire the missing piece. It’s time for creativity. It’s time for legitimate cup contention.