Depth trade targets for the New York Rangers

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 18: The New York Rangers salute the crowd following their 2-1 shootout victory over the Carolina Hurricanes at Madison Square Garden on March 18, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 18: The New York Rangers salute the crowd following their 2-1 shootout victory over the Carolina Hurricanes at Madison Square Garden on March 18, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The New York Rangers are guaranteed to be buyers at the upcoming trade deadline. Due to the scheduled Olympic break the deadline is March 21, about three weeks later than usual. Chris Drury will have big decisions to make over the next month and a half.

Going into the break, the Rangers stand second in the Metropolitan Division with a 30-13-4 record giving them an impressive 64 points. Although they are high up in the standings, this roster has holes that need to be filled if they want to be competitive in the postseason.

The Rangers are in a unique situation. Teams that have this much success are typically right up against the salary cap. The Rangers currently have $12.7 million that they can utilize to acquire players at the deadline. They could (and should) make multiple moves to strengthen their team.

With their cap situation, the Rangers have been at the center of almost every rumor. They have the funds to go after virtually anyone no matter their cap hit. The big fish that everyone has eyes on are the likes of Jakob Chychrun, J.T. Miller, Tomas Hertl, Joe Pavelski, Mark Giordano, Reilly Smith and Claude Giroux.

Even if Drury makes a move for one of them, there will still be left over cap space to acquire multiple lower cost players. When stocking up for the postseason it is important to emphasize depth. Currently with Adam Fox, Filip Chytil and Kaapo Kakko out of the lineup, the Rangers depth has been put in question.

Obtaining bottom six forwards and depth defenseman at the deadline can sometimes make the difference. Drury should not be looking to make only one big move.

Let’s look at some under the radar players on struggling teams that the Rangers could acquire at fairly cheap costs.


Lawson Crouse – LW, Arizona Coyotes

The Coyotes have been a dumpster fire this season. Despite their performance, they have players that could be useful for a contending team. Lawson Crouse is one of them.

This season Crouse has posted 20 points in 42 games. These numbers don’t jump out at you, but he is on track for a career high in points in his age 24 season. He has high draft pedigree, being the eleventh overall selection in 2014. He may be coming into his own and putting his game together after a disappointing start to his NHL career.

Crouse can put up respectable numbers offensively while also playing a quality defensive game. He also adds sandpaper to the lineup. He stands 6’4” and weighs 220 pounds. He isn’t afraid to get into the tight areas and use his size. Crouse has the tools to be thrown up and down the lineup and be useful in any situation.

He has a cap hit of $1.5 million and is set to become an arbitration eligible  restricted free agent this summer. If the Rangers like what they see, they could possibly bring him back instead of Sammy Blais. If not, they could trade his rights this summer. He’d be a solid addition to any team aiming for a postseason run.

Travis Boyd -C, Arizona Coyotes

Crouse’s teammate, Travis Boyd, is another name that many are not talking about. He is set to be an unrestricted free agent this summer and has a cap hit of just $750,000. In Arizona he is being given the most ice time he’s seen at 15:49 per game, and is succeeding. He has found the net ten times, and has posted 20 points in 35 games.

Boyd, 28,  can be a versatile piece in the bottom six. He plays center, but could be used on the wing if necessary. He won’t be a massive difference maker, but he will be a reliable option on the third or fourth line and will do his job well. If he can be obtained for the right price there is no harm in bringing him in.

Artturi Lehkonen – LW-RW, Montreal Canadiens

Arturri Lehkonen’s name has been mentioned more often than the others on this list as he has been rumored to be sought after by the Rangers for a while. Where he differs from the first two players is his playoff experience. He has appeared in 33 playoff games with the Montreal Canadiens. He was a key contributor on their run to the Stanley Cup final last season, even scoring the goal to send them to them there.

He is known to be one of the best defensive forwards in hockey and can play both the left and right side. He could slot in well on the Panarin-Strome line, as they seem to like having a winger who can do the dirty work. This would be dependent on whether Kakko goes back to this spot or if a top six forward is brought in. Otherwise, he’d be a great bottom six forward.

He has 19 points in 43 games, but has has an expected goals percentage of 58.54 percent (stats via He would likely post better numbers on a better team. He can even be added to the penalty kill unit. You can never have enough guys that can kill penalties.

Lehkonen, 26,  is set to be an arbitration eligible restricted free agent and currently holds a cap hit of $2.3 million.

Vladislav Namestnikov – C, Detroit Red Wings

Remember when he was a Ranger? This name may leave a sour taste in some fans mouths. When Namestnikov was acquired by the Rangers in 2018, he came in with fairly high expectations as a 20 goal scorer with the Lightning.  He then only recorded 25 points in 99 games with the team before being traded for a fourth round draft pick.

Since then, he bounced around the league a bit and has been thriving in his role in Detroit. He has been utilized primarily on their third line, but has been skating with their first line as of late. That displays his versatility and ability to play in different situations. He also plays heavy PK minutes for the Red Wings.  With 12 goals and 22 points, he is headed for his best season since his last year in Tampa.

With more reasonable expectations, Namestnikov, 29,  could succeed in New York. He only earns $2 million and could likely be added for a cheap price. An unrestricted free agent after this season, he is a player worth looking into.


Luke Schenn – RD, Vancouver Canucks

Luke Schenn of the Vancouver Canucks has exceeded expectations this season. He was a seventh defenseman for the Lightning previously. This year, the 32-year-old has been a very competent solution on their bottom pair.

He has a light cap hit of $850,000 and the Canucks could sell him off as their playoff chances appear grim. He could likely be acquired for a mid round pick. He would shore up the Rangers bottom pairing, and replace Patrik Nemeth. He is a two-time Stanley Cup champion with Tampa Bay, so he knows what it takes to win in the postseason.

What’s interesting about Schenn is that he has an additional year on his contract. He would not be a rental. However, since he has such a low salary, his contract would be easily moveable after this season. If all works out he could even stick around.

Erik Gustafsson – LD/RD, Chicago Blackhawks

Erik Gustafsson is very familiar with being dealt at the deadline. He has been sold off in the past two seasons. In both instances, he was a cheap addition only costing picks in the third and seventh round.

The 29-year-old Gustafsson could also slot in on the bottom pair and replace Nemeth. Gustafsson has been a strong offensive presence on the Blackhawks’ blue line. If he were to be brought here he would provide important depth on the power play.  People forget that he scored 17 goals just three years ago.

He has recorded 14 points in 39 games this season and has been one of the Hawks better blue liners in a tough season for them. He earns just $800,000 and would be another experienced body on the back end.


All of these players aren’t flashy and won’t catch the headlines if they are acquired by the Rangers. But they can be just as important for this team in the second half and postseason as the big fish they may trade for. With the amount of cap space available Drury has a plethora of options for how the bolster the depth of this roster.

There’s no moratorium on trading during the long break so it’s possible that the Rangers could make a move, possibly for one of these players.   As even more players become trade bait options, it will be intriguing process to keep an eye on.

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