How the New York Rangers almost acquired forward Alexander Barabanov from San Jose

Jan 23, 2024; San Jose, California, USA; New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin (31) defends
Jan 23, 2024; San Jose, California, USA; New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin (31) defends / Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Before landing Jack Roslovic from the Columbus Blue Jackets, the New York Rangers were having conversations with the San Jose Sharks about the acquisition of Russian forward Alexander Barabanov. The Rangers wanted this player, and the two teams were deep in discussions until something bigger came around for the Sharks and the Rangers were forced to pivot to the option of Jack Roslovic. Not that there is anything wrong with the addition of Roslovic, but this is interesting.

Sheng Peng of the San Jose Hockey Now reported that Barabanov was someone the Rangers liked. Presumably because of his ability to play both sides and almost anywhere in the lineup, he was one of the top targets for the Rangers. While it was possible for him to slot into the top line, he could just as easily have strengthened the bottom six. There's a lot to like about his playmaking and the fact he can drive play, despite spending most of his career on one of the worst teams in the NHL.

Where the issue came to light was around the cap hit. New York didn't want to take on the full $2.5 million for someone that has had his production issues. That's fine because the Sharks had a retention slot available. They could eat half of the deal to make the Rangers feel a little more confident in their deadline pick ups. No big deal, right?

That was the plan until the Sharks had a big offer come from the Vegas Golden Knights allowing them to move Tomas Hertl for a first and a former first round prospect. That was a deal that was going to net them more of a return than Barabanov was going to, so they retained 17% of that contract. The fact they couldn't retain for the Rangers sunk the deal, and the Rangers turned to Roslovic to fill the gap on the top line.

It's not a bad pickup, but it is interesting how the Rangers could have had a very different lineup. Roslovic is a smart pickup for what they moved to make the deal, but the fact it could have been a very different player. Was it right to be skeptical of the Russian winger at his full cap hit? Well, we will find out in the coming months. If the Rangers have success anyway, you can argue that it was correct, but it could be an interesting debate.