Even though the NHL Trade Deadline isn’t until 3PM on Monday (March 2nd), the flurry of activity that has occurred in the past couple of days makes it feel like it’s sooner than that. Jaromir Jagr is heading to South Florida, the Panthers moved an unhappy Sean Bergenheim to Minnesota, and the Maple Leafs unexpectedly moved David Clarkson’s cap-unfriendly contract. The New York Rangers are one of the hottest teams in the NHL at the moment, but they could use a couple of minor upgrades just like any other team gearing up for a playoff push. Unfortunately for them, two of their targets are ready heading to their new teams.
The Need For A Center
-The recent uptick in the play of rookie Kevin Hayes has been a big help, but the Blueshirts need some more depth down the middle. One of the Rangers primary targets was Daniel Winnik – formerly of the Toronto Maple Leafs, but was dealt to the Pittsburgh Penguins earlier in the week. He would have been a cheap rental that would have been a force on the penalty kill with some added grit. Instead, he went to a division rival. Another center being bandied about in the Rangers rumor mill would also be from Toronto, and that’s Tyler Bozak. The 28-year old would be an excellent addition, but GM Glen Sather would need to clear some cap space in order to add Bozak. Antoine Vermette of the Arizona Coyotes won’t be a target because he’s in high demand and the bidding war will make him too rich for the Blueshirts’ blood. The Rangers are already deep on the wing, so that rules out most other forwards. The Carolina Hurricanes’ (who are also in a complete sell-off mode) Jay McClement could be a likely target, and would be similar to Winnik in terms of the attributes he brings.
The Need For A Defenseman
-Another name the Rangers were rumored to be in on was former Carolina defenseman Andrej Sekera, who will now call Los Angeles home for the next couple of months. Sekera will provide the Kings with a quality option on the blueline that can chip in offensively and run a power play when needed. Matt Hunwick has played well, and John Moore has been average, but Sather would really like to add another quality defenseman to make a deep blueline deeper. The remaining names on the market that will garner interest are Edmonton Oilers rearguard Jeff Petry, and Coyotes defenseman Zbynek Michalek (both guys would be rentals). However, defensemen are always hot commodities at this time of the year, and the Rangers need to be careful about moving draft picks. They already lost last year’s first round pick and this year’s first round pick in the Martin St. Louis trade with Tampa Bay. Two guys who could be used as trading chips are JT Miller and Oscar Lindberg. Both are restricted free agents at the end of the season, and would get every opportunity to prove they could be a contributor to a rebuilding team in the coming seasons.