The New York Rangers made a trade today, swapping defense prospect Tarmo Reunanen to the Carolina Hurricanes for forward Maxim Letunov. Trades can be made after the NHL trade deadline, but players involved cannot be on the postseason roster. Today is the AHL trading deadline.
Who is Maxim Letunov?
Maxim Letunov is a 26-year-old center who has spent the entire season with the Chicago Wolves in the AHL. This season he has 13 goals and 23 points in 60 games. He is was born in Moscow, Russia and is 6’4″, 181 pounds.
He is well traveled though still relatively young. He was drafted by the St. Louis Blues in the second round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft (#52 overall). The Blues traded him to the Coyotes in March 2015. A year later he was traded to the San Jose Sharks. It was with San Jose that he played his only NHL games, He scored one goal in three games in 2019-20.
Letunov signed as a free agent last summer with the Hurricanes for the league minimum of $750k ($100k minor league salary). He will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Letunov’s development path was a bit unusual as he came to the United States to play in the USHL, then spent three years at UConn.
It’s doubtful we will see Letunov in a Rangers uniform anytime soon as he is set to play in Hartford.
Who was Tarmo Reunanen?
The Rangers drafted Reunanen in the fourth round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft (98th overall). The Finn is an offensively minded blueliner who has fallen off the depth chart in the Rangers organization. He’s a left shot defenseman who was signed to an Entry Level Contract in 2019. Reunanen just turned 24.
This season he had two goals and 17 points. He made his NHL debut last season with the Rangers, playing four games and notching one assist. The Rangers had brought him over from Europe after he played a few season in the Finnish Liiga where he showed promise.
Reunanen has dropped down the depth chart behind Nils Lundkvist, Zac Jones, Matthew Robertson and Hunter Skinner on the AHL level and behind Braden Schneider at the NHL level. He is going to be a RFA this summer.
Why the deal?
This is not an earth shattering deal as both players are destined to play in the AHL. For the Blueshirts, they get a usable player who will get a trial run in Hartford. After the season they can decide if they want to sign him to a new contract.
Hartford could also use some help at forward as the teams has 14 forwards (without Letunov). With Reunanen gone, they still have eight defensemen on the roster.
To be honest, Reunanen has a better upside than Letunov, but considering the depth on defense for both New York and Carolina, he’s not going to be seeing much time in the NHL.
One issue facing the Rangers is that the team has 49 players under contract and the limit is 50. If they have their eyes on any NCAA free agents like recently signed Brandon Scanlin, they will need to free up some contract space. They also may want to sign some drafted prospects this summer and need to get rid of some contracts. This is a start.