We are five weeks from the trade deadline, bu the Calgary Flames jumped, making the first big deal of the trading window. The Vegas Golden Knights also made a big move with Jack Eichel ready to return. The question is what it means for the New York Rangers.
The Calgary Flames acquired forward Tyler Toffoli in exchange for center Tyler Pitlick, right wing prospect Emil Heineman along with a protected first round 2022 pick and a 2023 fifth round pick. Toffoli makes a good Calgary team even better as it reunited Toffoli and coach Darryl Sutter who knew each other from the 2014 Los Angeles Kings. Toffoli scored 28 goals last season for the Canadiens after signing a four-year, $17 million contract, so he has two more years at an AAV of $4.25 million.
The other news is that Jack Eichel will play Wednesday when the Vegas Golden Knights take on the Colorado Avalanche. Vegas will have to shed salary if he is going to be activated and today it was announced that Mark Stone is going on Long Term Injured Reserve as he has been playing with a bad back. Stone’s AAV is $9.5 million so he is practically a salar cap wash with Eichel. Can anyone say Nikita Kucherov?
As the Rangers have long been rumored to be interested in reuniting Gerard Gallant and Reilly Smith, Ranger fans should be paying attention to what Vegas does as the Eichel debut draws closer.
While Vegas is sitting in first place in the Pacific Division, they are behind the Flames when it comes to points percentage. They are reasonably assured of a playoff berth, but are they so confident that they can afford to keep Stone off the ice for two months?
Rangers trade rumors
Besides Reilly Smith, the names you hear the most when it comes to the Blueshirts are defenseman Ben Chariot of Montreal, defenseman Jakob Chychrun of Arizona and Artturri Lehkonen of the Canadiens. One thing about Montreal is that new GM Kent Hughes has made it clear that they are not just shopping rentals, but also players on longer term contracts. On the worst team in hockey, there are virtually no untouchables and Jeff Gorton knows the Rangers’ roster better than any other hockey executive.
While many fans are pushing for re-acquiring J.T. Miller from Vancouver, the Canucks are only five points out of a wild card spot and have gotten new life from coach Bruce Boudreau. With a new management team in Vancouver, a wholesale sell-off is probably not going to happen and the Canucks won’t be in a rush to unload their top scorer in Miller, especially considering he has another year on his contract.
Montreal’s Christian Dvorak may be a potential center target. He was picked up in a trade with Arizona in exchange for a first and second round pick and is signed through 2025 at an AAV of $4.45 million. He is excellent on faceoffs and he is a decent scorer. He would provide some insurance with Ryan Strome a pending free agent.
The Montreal-Calgary trade could lead to more deals before the deadline. This is what Calgary coach Darryl Sutter said about the trade deadline. “There’s a deadline to make deals. I’m under the strong belief that the sooner you can make ’em, the better. Because you bring ’em in later and it’s 40 days before the end of the season and a lot of times it never clicks.”
Calgary GM Brad Treliving echoed that sentiment saying, “I’ve never been a huge ‘trade deadline guy’ …it’s like rush hour traffic. It’s five lanes merging into one, the closer you get to it. So, if you can get out in front of it, that’s a preference of mine.”
With the Eastern Conference playoff teams pretty much set, there may be no reason for teams to wait. The question for the Blueshirts faithful is how far Chris Drury is willing to go to try to improve this team for the playoffs.