Should the New York Rangers pull the trigger on a Max Domi trade?
Various media outlets have been reporting that the Montreal Canadiens are shopping Max Domi. Rumor has it that that New York Rangers are involved. Should the New York Rangers be interested? A first round draft pick (12th overall) for the Arizona Coyotes in the 2013 NHL entry draft, Domi certainly checks off several boxes of Ranger requirements.
He is a young scoring center with a high ceiling, only one year removed from leading the Canadiens in scoring with 72 points. Further, he produces heavily at even strength. Of his 132 career points, only 32 (23.7%) have come on the man advantage. The 25 year old son of former Rangers enforcer Tie Domi does not have an overly physical game in terms of hits or blocks, but plays an in your face game.
During the past two seasons Domi took 45 minor penalties and drew 46, leading the Canadiens in both categories. He was also a positive possession player for a Canadiens team that was the third ranked team in the NHL with a 54.1% Corsi For percentage at five on five during the 2019-20 season. the 25 year old is coming off a two year bridge deal that was worth $3.15 million per year. A restricted free agent (RFA) with arbitration rights the center will looking for a pay raise.
All things being equal, Domi would be an improvement to the Rangers center group. Should the New York Rangers acquire him, Domi would immediately take over as the the teams second line center. But things are rarely equal and specifically in terms of asset management it would be wise of Jeff Gorton to pass on this transaction.
Firstly, the New York Rangers still own the rights to their own arbitration eligible RFA center in Ryan Strome. Strome is coming of a career year and will cost the Rangers nothing more than cap and cash to retain. With Strome the Rangers are also in a position of retaining him short term, which is the most ideal option. Acquiring Max Domi will not only cost cap and cash, but a mixture of the three P’s: Players, prospects and picks.
A deal that does not begin as an RFA center swap should be a non-starter. To attain the highest return possible form a deal, It is highly doubtful that Marc Bergevin, the Canadiens General Manager, would be accepting of such an offer. He would instead be looking for a return package to fill team needs, including left side defense. A position the Rangers themselves are looking to improve.
The Rangers additionally have a pipeline full of young promising centers. Both Filip Chytil and Brett Howden are already in the NHL. Lias Andersson is on loan in Sweden playing for SV71 of the SHL. NCAA players Morgan Barron, Patrick Khodorenko and Justin Richards just signed entry level contracts. And 2019 second round pick (58th overall) Karl Henriksson is playing for Frolunda of the SHL after excelling in the Swedish under 20 league.
With the costs associated to acquire Domi from the Canadiens, he would be a long term solution to the Rangers current center depth issues. This would effectively relegate any of the above players and prospects that the Rangers have coveted to either third line minutes and/or a trade asset. For a team that entered a rebuild phase at the 2018 trade deadline they are better suited to add to the team via subtraction.
The Rangers need to show patience, restraint and proper asset management. They need to allow their youth to grow and prove they deserve a shot at a larger role on the team. John Davidson and Jeff Gorton need to use the considerable assets they’ve built up over the past two years to fill many holes, not just one. In short the Rangers should pass on the big shiny new toy and focus on smaller moves that improve the overall team, not just the second line.