One blockbuster trade for a star that would solidify the NY Rangers as the East’s best team

The NY Rangers are looking up at the Stanley Cup Champion Florida Panthers right now, but if they pull off one blockbuster trade, that won’t be the case for long.
Oct 26, 2023; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl (29) and New York Rangers defensemen Ryan Lindgren (55) battles for position during the first period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 26, 2023; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl (29) and New York Rangers defensemen Ryan Lindgren (55) battles for position during the first period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports / Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
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Now that Jacob Trouba is currently in the rumor mill, there is only one place the NY Rangers need to move their captain. With a star forward in Leon Draisaitl becoming a potential trade piece himself, general manager Chris Drury must call up the Edmonton Oilers and at least inquire about whether they would be willing to listen to trade offers for the 29-year-old. 

Suppose, for a second, that a trade like this commenced and everything else remained equal for the Rangers in their forward lineup, barring any potential trade asset Drury could use to acquire Draisaitl. And yep, I’m thinking of none other than Kaapo Kakko for this one.   

This team, which should more than cover the cost of keeping Draisaitl this season and perhaps finding a way to extend him, would have a pair of 40-plus goal-scorers as he would join a team that also has Artemi Panarin. Not to mention the fact Chris Kreider and Vincent Trocheck are still viable forwards, as is Mika Zibanejad. 

Oh, and Alexis Lafreniere is on the rise after he put up 28 goals and 57 points in the regular season plus another eight goals and 14 points in 16 playoff games. Yeah, those are impressive numbers, and if you want my not-so-bold prediction, Lafreniere is going to be a 70-plus-point player next season. 

Before I continue, let me just say this: It is still very up in the air whether Draisaitl will be traded this offseason. And chances are, if you asked a thousand different people in NHL circles, you would get a thousand different opinions at this point. At the time I wrote this piece, Draisaitl was currently not on Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli’s Trade Targets Board

Landing Leon Draisaitl would be a dream scenario for the NY Rangers

But with a year to go on his deal and for a player of his caliber, there is no way a team like the Oilers wouldn’t try to maximize compensation for Draisatil. Trading Jacob Trouba and Kaapo Kakko would be a great start, but, predictably, there would be other assets, including current players, draft picks, and prospects involved. 

Keeping things simple, let’s just say the Oilers are interested in moving Draisaitl to New York, and Trouba and Kakko are part of the trade. Sure, the Rangers may have just surpassed the Stanley Cup Champions on paper, but we would also need to address how this dream scenario would continue after just one season because the Rangers are currently 20th in the NHL in cap space estimates for 2025-26. 

Of course, Lafreniere needs to re-sign next offseason, and any extension for goaltender Igor Shesterkin will also kick in for 2025-26. So the hard part would be finding ways to keep Draisaitl long-term in such a scenario, while seeking creative ways to keep pending RFAs for 2025-26 like Matt Rempe and K’Andre Miller, and also looking to build a strong bottom six. 

That said, landing someone like Leon Draisaitl would undoubtedly result in a dream scenario for 2024-25. But not only would this be a longshot, an issue that would rise would come in the form of how a team like the Rangers, using up so much cap space, would keep Draisaitl around long-term. But if Chris Drury found a way or at least saw one, why not call the Oilers and start working on a deal?

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