Where Do the Rangers Need to Focus at the Deadline?

Photo by Rich Graessle/Getty Images

The NHL trade deadline is a little over a week away, and general manager Chis Drury needs to remain diligent in obtaining a right-wing or a center.

The New York Rangers are 10-1 in their last 11 games. Their lone loss in that 11-game span was to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday, a contest that was a trap game to many, yet the result confirmed the needs for the club with the trade deadline just ten days away.

The deficiency in the right-wing and center positions is in most need of improvement.

Top Line Struggle

Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider have had different players play on the right side of their line this season. For the most part, Blake Wheeler took to the ice with the duo, but his season-ending injury two weeks ago has magnified the situation.

Jimmy Vesey has been moved up to the line, something he is familiar with over the past few seasons, but it is apparent this is not the combination the team wants to go into the playoffs with.

The team has been reluctant to give AHL Hartford Wolf Pack Brennan Othmann an opportunity to play on that line. He was recalled last weekend, but that was a precaution as Artemi Panarin and Vesey were battling nagging injuries. Both played in the two games over the weekends at Philadelphia and Columbus.

Related Post: New York Rangers: Brodzinski Cashes in On Success

The focus remains for an RW on the top line because the other three lines have played so well over the last month.

A top center is something Drury could be contemplating. Johnny Brodzinki has filled in on the third line between Will Cuylle and Kappo Kakko. The Filip Chytil injury (UBI, Concussion) has caused some concern, but the team is strong up the middle with Zibanejad and Vincent Troucheck on the top two lines.

Barclay Goodrow has been centering the fourth line and would be the most likely candidate to be traded. Still, his salary and AAV would be a sticking point as the Rangers would probably have to retain some salary to complete a deal.

Potential Targets

Some of the potential players Drury could consider are former Blueshirts.

Frank VatranoAnaheim Ducks

Anthony DuclairSan Jose Sharks

Pavel BuchneevichSt. Louis Blues

All have been in trade rumors, and all have played on Broadway. Of the three, Buchnevich’s return would be the one that stands out the most. This season he has found the back of the net 22 times with 46 points in 55 games, which is the second-best point total for the Blues.

Buchnevich played in New York for five seasons between 2016-2021. In 301 games for the Blueshirts, he scored 79 goals with 195 points, having his best season with the team in 2020-2021, where he scored 20 goals, with 20 helpers for 48 points in 54 games.

Buchnevich has the remainder of this season and next season left on his contract, so he wouldn’t be a rental acquisition. The AAV on his contract is $5.8 million. He also has a modified no-trade clause that the two sides must work out.

The Rangers salary cap situation is tricky to navigate. Currently, the club has $144,000 available, but that doesn’t include the two players on LTIR. Chytil and Wheeler’s injury status frees up a little more than $4.3 million for the tram to use at the deadline.

Follow Frank on X @RangerProud

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