Boone Jenner (C): 13-5-18P in 35GP, 3 yr, $3.75M AAV Remaining
When it comes to combining grit and leadership, few do it better than Boone Jenner. Add in a dash of scoring touch and he is a player that the Rangers should be throwing themselves at. As the captain of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Jenner has the tough task of leading a team through a season where they sit last in the Metro by a wide margin. Despite this, he continuously plays hard and leads by example. Beyond adding leadership and accountability to the locker room, Jenner boasts a positive Corsi%, a 54.7% win rate on his draws, and his 13 goals would be fifth on the Rangers.
With the Blue Jackets rebuild in full swing, they might be willing to move off Jenner for some young assets. For the Rangers, he would be a defensively responsible 3C with some scoring upside with term remaining on his deal. Because of that last aspect, it might require a slightly higher price to incentivize the Jackets to send Jenner to New York. However, with the transaction history between these two teams, it would not be shocking if they linked up once again.
Adam Henrique (C): 15-18-33P in 49GP, 1 yr, $5.825M Remaining
Henrique is probably the most polarizing player on this list. His name has been thrown around Rangers Twitter for a while now with mixed opinions. He is the type of offensive threat that the Rangers need to add to their lineup, but some have questioned whether he is the right guy to spend top-end assets on. However, I think this doubt is for two reasons: 1. Rangers fans would rather trade for his teammate Frank Vatrano 2. Rangers fans liked Sean Monahan better. Well, Sean Monahan is now gone and who is to say that another team won’t beat the Rangers out for Vatrano. Henrique is an excellent all-around player and would give the Rangers lineup an instant shot in the arm.
As for price, Henrique will likely go for something similar to Monahan. Montreal set the market for a 3C at a first round pick, though Monahan’s contract ($2M) is much more digestible for cap strapped teams than Henrique’s. That should bring the price down a bit, but I imagine a second-rounder packaged with another pick or a prospect would be a reasonable expectation.
Nick Bjugstad (C): 10-17-27P in 48GP, 2 yr, $2.1M AAV Remaining
An underrated name to watch this year, Nick Bjugstad has quietly put together a solid season in Arizona. At 6-6, 209 lbs, he not only a big and physical center, but is deceptively fast and has some scoring touch. Add in solid possession numbers and the ability to win over 50% of his faceoffs, and Bjugstad would bring a little bit of everything to a Rangers team that needs a bit of everything.
The main question with Bjugstad is whether the Coyotes want to part with him. They have overachieved this year and could theoretically contend for a playoff spot. Since Bjugstad has another year on his deal after this season, Arizona doesn’t have to worry about losing him for nothing over the offseason. Even with the extra year, he would not be as expensive as some of the other options on the market. If Arizona is willing to part with him, Bjugstad is a solid option for Drury to pursue if his wants to keep his high-end assets.
Nic Dowd (C): 7-6-13P in 38GP, 2 yr, $1.3M AAV Remaining
Nic Dowd is a player Rangers fans are very familiar with, as he has played the last six seasons with the Washington Capitals. The Caps have tailed off after a hot start to the season, currently finding themselves seventh in the Metro and most likely will be sellers at the deadline. Dowd is a gritty player with some offensive upside, as he is on pace for double-digit goals for the fourth straight season. He wins right around 50% of his faceoffs and would immediately become the Rangers’ best 4C option.
Dowd is the type of player that is always in demand at the trade deadline and should have a few teams calling about him. The fact that he has an extra year on his deal will make him more attractive. His price should be in the range of third rounder and may get bid up the more teams get involved.
Nicolas Aubé-Kubel (RW): 5-8-13P in 35GP, 1 yr, $1.225M Remaining
In addition to some scoring, the Rangers desperately need some more speed in their bottom six. Enter Nicolas Aubé-Kubel. The Capitals’ right-winger is speed, as he currently ranks in the 96th percentile amongst NHL forwards for top skating speed and in the 93rd percentile for bursts over 20 MPH. Beyond that, he does have some scoring ability and is willing to throw a hit here and there. His roll with the Rangers would be to keep opposing defenders honest, as he able to generate a breakaway if he gets lost in transition. As it currently stands, the Rangers do not have a winger in their bottom six with that ability. Considering that he would come fairly cheap, this is low risk move for Chris Drury to consider.
Yakov Trenin (LW/C): 8-3-11P in 48GP, 1 yr, $1.7M Remaining
While he does not offer the speed of Aubé-Kubel, Yakov Tenin would offer an all-around skillset and steadying presence to the Rangers’ fourth line. He usually plays on the wing, but has the ability to slide over to center (46.7% on faceoffs this season). Trenin has the shown the ability to score goals (17 and 12 the past two seasons) and a willingness to use his 6-2, 201 lb frame to lay hits and keep opponents away from the crease.
Trenin’s availability will depend on how the next few weeks go for Nashville. Preds’ GM Barry Trotz has not committed to whether or not he is going to sell his pending free agents at the deadline, and Nashville currently sits two points out of a playoff spot in the West. Trenin likely does not factor into the Predators’ plans beyond this season and would at least fetch a mid-round draft pick. For the Rangers, that is a good price for a player that would be a big upgrade over Tyler Pitlick or anyone else Laviolette can currently slot onto the fourth line with Jimmy Vesey.