There comes a time in every rebuild where teams need to start using some of the assets they’ve accrued as trade bait and the New York Rangers are officially there. Jeff Gorton and the Rangers should not be using their own first round pick this year at the 2021 NHL entry draft.
I’m not saying that the Rangers should go Glen Sather crazy and start to trade off futures left and right but they’ve started to turn the corner in their rebuild where it’s not bad to start dangling certain picks or prospects.
We all know that the Rangers have a need at center and what better way to try and address it than by adding a proven commodity? Especially since the Rangers haven’t felt the need to address their lack of organizational center depth through the draft then use some of the assets you’ve brought in to target a player like Aleksander Barkov.
Barkov is one of the best two way centers in the NHL that folks don’t talk about because he gets to play in the hockey abyss that is South Florida. He currently has two years left on his deal at 5.9M per and will be looking for a pretty substantial raise next season when he begins his extension talks with the Panthers. With Anton Lundell in the pipeline and some big money tied up in some players already can the Florida Panthers really afford to pay Barkov anywhere from 8.5-10 million a year on his next deal?
The Blueshirts could start snooping around looking to steal Barkov away from Florida by dangling their first round pick this coupled with Vitali Kravtsov and another lower level prospect to look to solve their center issues. Another potential move the Rangers could look to make would be adding Sam Reinhart from Buffalo who wouldn’t cost nearly as much as trading for Jack Eichel or even Barkov.
But the point of this whole thing is that the Rangers have made so many picks within the last five years that they now have options to not just use the draft to round out the roster. It doesn’t mean get trade happy and dish away all your prospects and picks because that’s how you get mired into the mushy middle of the NHL but it’s now time to be smart and use some of these picks to build up the roster. Not every player you draft will wind up hitting but it’s about filling the cupboard and giving yourself enough kicks at the can to make sure you can hit on as many NHL caliber players as you possibly can.
We have now reached the point where it’s time for Jeff Gorton to start using the players and picks that he’s brought in since 2018 as weapons to start rounding out the Rangers roster and get them closer to being a Cup contender than a rebuilder. With the Rangers surplus of wingers and defensemen in the pipeline it is now time for the Rangers to start being more active on the trade market looking to add to their weaknesses from dealing from their positions of strength.