The New York Rangers have remained on their similar path since the start of the new calendar year; they’ve beaten some good teams here and there but mostly had close losses.
Therefore, their path in terms of making the playoffs looks just as blurry as where it was a month ago. I mentioned who the New York Rangers could trade and the likelihood of it happening. The question is, where will these players end up? Who needs that extra boost in a statistical category? Who would give the Rangers the best package back? All are questions that must be asked before making a trade, and here are my options.
Many people’s surprise team of the year has been the Montreal Canadiens. I thought at the start of the year they would be the worst team in the NHL. Yet, they are currently sitting comfortably in a playoff spot. Carey Price has stayed relatively healthy. They have re-birthed and reformed guys like Jonathan Drouin and Max Domi. Seeing them become the stars they couldn’t be on other teams. With that, they have succeeded expectations and might be a candidate to buy.
One of the things they could use is center, making Kevin Hayes a possible trade candidate. For one thing, they need faceoff help. They are 4th worst overall at 47.6%. Phillip Danault is the only guy above 50% that consistently wins them. Kevin Hayes’ 48.43% would be second on the team. Not to mention, with the way Hayes has helped the New York Rangers’ young wingers, he could help guys like Drouin, the emergent Tomas Tatar, and 3rd overall pick Jesperi Kotkaniemi.
Now, I don’t believe Kevin Hayes will spawn a prospect like Nick Suzuki. However, #4 prospect defenseman Josh Brook or #5 prospect center Allan McShane would be reasonable pieces going the other way. The Rangers could opt for draft picks out of instead, or maybe a combination of the prospects right in the middle of their system. However, I feel like this would be a good fit for Hayes, and with the Canadiens still being young, the New York Rangers could get decent young players in their system back.
St. Louis Blues
A team that has under-performed to start the year but has heated up after the All-Star break, the St. Louis Blues managed to scrape themselves back into contention. With their strong play they now find themselves currently in the first Wild Card spot. However, one thing they are still lacking is goal-scoring. They are tied for 24th in the league with 155 goals, which is low for a playoff team. I particularly think with Jaden Schwartz‘s injury history and them not having the depth after Tarasenko and Perron, a winger would be crucial for them, and Chris Kreider fits them perfectly.
The Blues have always liked size on their team, and Kreider fits the bill as a bigger winger that can help a system that has always been very physical. More importantly, they would be getting Kreider in a year that has seen him score well. He has 24 goals and 18 assists, which would be second in points on the Blues only to Ryan O’Rielly. It would put Krieder as the goal scoring leader for the club. Being that both David Perron and Jaden Schwartz have been injury-prone throughout their careers, they can’t afford to lose wing production. This is even more critical with Vladimir Tarasenko on a down year (for him).
Since St. Louis has that sense of urgency, I think Kreider could garner a quality AHL prospect. This means players like defenseman Mitch Reinke or right winger Jordan Kyrou, could possibly be up for trade. Whether it is a good decision or not to trade Kreider is still to be determined. I mentioned how I was skeptical of trading him to begin with. However, if they can get a good package back, it wouldn’t be too bad. I think the Blues can give them that package due to the sense of urgency now that they’re winning.
Another team that had peaked after a slow start is the Dallas Stars. Now 3rd in the Central Division, the talent is there. The problem is, this team has been completely star-driven all season long. Their depth pieces have looked old and are only producing in spurts, and a lot of them are on bad contracts. Therefore, Chris Kreider could be a piece that could help them a lot too, especially since he is still young. Being their center depth is already amassed with veterans, I don’t see Kevin Hayes fitting them unless they move him to the wing like he’s done at times in Vigneault’s system.
Kreider seems like an ideal fit for a team that needs depth and size. He gives Jim Montgomery a little more versatility with the wings in the Top 2 lines. Jamie Benn and Alexander Radulov are already talented as is, but Kreider will help give them support or even balance out the lines. Especially, if they want to move other guys up. Kreider also gives them some size on a team that really doesn’t have much either, with their forwards and even their top defensemen being more speed types. Plus in terms of youth, the Stars have a lot of good prospects. The New York Rangers would be wise to try and land an AHL prospect for Kreider.
The Stars don’t have the defense prospects that other teams may have to help the New York Rangers’ biggest weakness for the future, but it certainly has a great multitude of quality forwards and a few goaltenders. And when it comes to potentially replacing Kreider, a lot of those prospects are wingers, with names like Adam Mascherin (OHL), Denis Guryanov (AHL), and Roope Hintz (AHL). Odds are all three of these guys will not be up at the same time with Dallas having good top line offensive talent so don’t be surprised if they trade one of them. It is tough to win now in today’s NHL with just top line scoring depth.
Recent champions such as the Penguins and Capitals have fixed that flaw in their game and got more depth to get three lines deep. Dallas is one of those teams I can see being aggressive to try to counter the depth of their division leaders in Winnipeg and Nashville which have a ton of depth. Therefore, I think a trade makes perfect sense for both ends of this party. I wish they had more defense in their system for the New York Rangers to trade for, but I think the quality is still there with these prospects, and the Rangers can’t shy away from quality after selling short on several other occasions in the last 5 years.
stats from NHL.com, hockey-reference.com
Featured Image Photo Credit – Nikos Michals