Analyzing the available – Pavel Buchnevich
Pavel Buchnevich, 25 – RFA with arbitration rights
Buchnevich could be a very attractive asset to a playoff contender. A top six right winger who has developed into an outstanding penalty killer, the main reason he is a candidate for a trade is the glut of right wingers in the Rangers system. Another reason is that he an arbitration-eligible Restricted Free Agent (RFA) and based on his season, he could be looking at a substantial increase over his current salary of $3.25 million.
What would it take?
The odds are that unless Jeff Gorton is overwhelmed with an offer at the deadline, he will hold onto Buchnevich and look to deal him in the offseason. What would be an overwhelming offer? If Gorton could pry a top six center prospect in exchange who is almost NHL ready, he may jump at that deal.
Losing Buchnevich would have an immediate impact on the Rangers’ penalty kill and offense. It could mean a promotion of Vitali Kravtsov to a top six slot and save Julien Gauthier’s job with the Rangers. Buchnevich is also a popular play in the locker room and has been developing into a leader.
Analyzing the available – Ryan Strome
Ryan Strome, 27 – UFA after 2021-22
Is he or isn’t he a top six center? Ryan Strome is having a year worthy of a top six center. He is 10th among all NHL centers in scoring and despite having an undeniable chemistry with Artemi Panarin, this season he has proven that he can excel without his wingman. He signed a two-year bridge deal for $4.5 million last summer and is proving to be bargain.
Strome would be a very attractive asset for a contender. He could slot into a third line center role and be ready to step into to top six role if needed. Being under contract for another year with favorable terms is another reason he would be sought after.
The challenge for Gorton is that trading Strome would leave a huge hole in the Rangers lineup. Filip Chytil has not proven that he can be a top six center and there is no one in the pipeline that is a sure thing.
The likelihood is that Gorton will hold onto Strome until he knows if he can swing a deal for a top center, then seek to trade Strome in the offseason. If he cannot get that top six center, Strome is an excellent option for next season. Another factor is the development of Morgan Barron who is the leading player for the Wolf Pack. There is no doubt that we will see Barron in New York before the end of the season and we will learn a lot about his potential.
What would it take?
The same goes for Strome that goes for Buchnevich. If a contender was willing to trade a top six center prospect, Gorton would have to be tempted. With all of the uncertainties going into next year with the center position, there would have to be a return at that position. A high draft pick is not an answer.
Strome is even more popular with his teammates than Buchnevich and his departure would leave a huge void on the Panarin line without anyone to fill it. Without Ryan Strome the Rangers would have to force Chytil in to a top six role and elevate Barron to the NHL. The results may not be pretty, but it would give the team a real look at their future and the need to go out and make a trade for top six center.