How should the New York Rangers approach the trade deadline

NY Rangers (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
NY Rangers (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) /
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The NHL Trade Deadline is less than a week away and many wonder what Chris Drury and the New York Rangers will do. This will be Drury’s first foray into the NHL’s trade deadline waters as Rangers’ General Manager. It will be interesting to see how he navigates through the next several days. The team has a robust pipeline of prospect, young players and available draft picks as well as an abundance of cap space to wield as a weapon. The big question though is, should he use it?

This will be the last season in which the Rangers will have cap space freedom. Per Capfriendly the Rangers have a projected $32 million in cap space available at the deadline.  This places the Rangers in position to make a huge splash with the ability to take on several players on expiring contracts. However, Drury must tread carefully as beginning next season, the Rangers cap space begins to tighten significantly.

The team also has many young players and prospects that have not yet been given the chance to make their mark at the NHL level. Players like Vitali Kravtsov, Zac Jones and Nils Lundkvist are at the top of the Rangers prospect pool, but have each found themselves on the outside of the Rangers NHL roster.  With his departure to the KHL and Brennan Othmann’s OHL success, Kravtsov may never wear the Rangers sweater again. The ascension of Braden Schneider on the right side has cemented the right side of the Rangers defense along with Jacob Trouba and Adam Fox, leaving little room for Lundkvist.

And with the desire for a veteran presence on the third defensive pair, Jones has given way to Patrik Nemeth on the left side. As coveted as these players may have been when they were strictly prospects, they do not appear to be in the organization’s immediate, nor possibly its future plans. As such, each, or several, of these players can be leveraged in trade to make improvements to the NHL roster for this seasons playoff run. It is a good problem to have that the farm system is full of assets, but an NHL team is only 23 players deep.

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In the end, if a trade is available to improve the team now and for the future, while remaining cap compliant, Drury should pull the trigger immediately. However, when considering the idea of rental players, Drury should be wary of the costs, in terms of the assets necessary to acquire. Losing a top prospect for twenty or so regular season games and one playoff run from a rental player would be a high cost to pay.  Pragmatically, Drury should be asking himself one simple question. Of the players available at this deadline to acquire, will any be enough to bridge the competitive gap between the New York Rangers and the Carolina Hurricanes.

The road to get out of the Metropolitan Division and onto a deep playoff run goes through Raleigh, North Carolina. If Drury believes that rental player acquisitions will give the Rangers the edge they need to win four out of seven against the Hurricanes, then the trade floodgates will open. However, if he does not believe this, then the costs of assets in trade are most likely already too high and any significant transactions should wait until the off season.

This is the hopeful path that Drury will take. The fact is that the New York Rangers are a good young team that has learned to win in the regular season after three seasons of rebuilding. The Rangers are not a team that is one or two rental players away from reaching the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in seven years. It is too soon to start selling the future to win now.

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