New York Rangers Trade Target: Bryan Little, Winnipeg Jets

WINNIPEG, MB - APRIL 8: Bryan Little
WINNIPEG, MB - APRIL 8: Bryan Little /

The New York Rangers still are void of a top line center. There is one option North of the Border that they should really explore.

As we approach the middle of July, the New York Rangers center depth remains rather bare. The defense is ready to contend after signing Kevin Shattenkirk and Brendan Smith. The Rangers are about to play a risky game jumping Mika Zibanejad and Kevin Hayes up the depth chart perhaps prematurely.

There is still plenty of time to get an upgrade at center before training camp, and the best place to look on the trade market is Bryan Little of the Winnipeg Jets.

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Who is Bryan Little?

Little has been Winnipeg’s number a top-six center with the Jets for almost a decade. He was drafted by the franchise when they were in Atlanta and has been an organizational staple since.

The Jets’ center has recorded 432 career points in 672 games, spending his whole career with Atlanta/Winnipeg. Little has been a two-way center, something the Rangers now need more than ever. He’s been a positive possession player, playing for mostly bad Jets teams. The Edmonton native has a career 51.8 Corsi-for percentage which is always a plus. Now 29 years old, Little enters the final year of his contract with the Jets. He carries a $4.7 million cap hit.

Because Little is a top six forward, there are hurdles as acquiring impact players is never of ease. His contract carries a modified no-trade clause, where he must submit a list of fourteen teams he cannot be traded to.

The more concerning part is the trade history of current Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff. Cheveldayoff is seemingly allergic to making trades. It took more than three years for him to complete an NHL “player for player” trade. The trades of Andrew Ladd and Evander Kane have been more encouraging, but seemingly still grasped to players.

However, trading away the center is within reason when looking at the current situation for Winnipeg. The Jets have the center depth to replace Little if he were to walk after this season. Behind Mark Scheifele, they have Mathieu Perreault locked up for the long term and have youngins Nic Petan and Jack Roslovic ready to make the next step. And of course losing a player for nothing when not contending is never a good look.

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What it’ll cost

Shown by the recent trade market, it is practically a lock that any quality center is worth, at a bare minimum, a first round draft pick. Derek Stepan and Martin Hanzal are prime examples. Is trading another first round pick worth it?

If the Rangers want to truly contend this upcoming season, and try to salvage what they’ve got left in Henrik Lundqvist, they should not hesitate to trade the pick. Draft picks can always be recouped, and winning a Cup is obviously worth the cost regardless.

Next: Rangers trade target: Tyler Bozak

Bryan Little is the perfect and perhaps most easily attainable player from the list of veteran centers on reasonable contracts. The Rangers could very well be just fine without Little to begin the season, but the closer we get to the trade deadline, the more we may here this name.

Winnipeg is a coin toss when it comes to playoff contention next season, but on an expiring contract, Cheveldayoff’s hand may be forced. Bryan Little could be the missing link for true Cup contention, and Jeff Gorton needs to find a way to make it happen.