Possible NYR Deadline Targets

BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 17: Chris Drury talks with the media before the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Induction ceremony at Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel on December 17, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

As we approach the new year, the New York Rangers are sitting in the top 3 of the Metro Division and their sights are firmly planted on a playoff appearance. If the Rangers do in fact make the postseason this year it’ll mark their first true appearance since the 2016-2017 disappointment to the Ottawa Senators.

While this team has seemingly found their game, their roster is still far from perfect and will require some tweaks from first year GM Chris Drury. While Dryden Hunt has filled in well playing alongside Artemi Panarin and Ryan Strome, he’s still not a top six winger that you need to win in the postseason.

Through this I will take a look at a few names that Drury could wind up targeting to help bolster his roster.

1) Phil Kessel: We all know the Arizona Coyotes stink and they’re going to for the next few years. Bill Armstrong has made his vision very clear and that’s to acquire as many draft picks as humanly possible to help restock the Coyotes cupboard and properly conduct a rebuild. Kessel is a name that’s been floated about by Rangers fans since the offseason and he’s a guy who could slide in and play alongside Zibanejad and Kreider or Panarin and Strome. One thing we know about Kessel is that he has no issue playing along superstar talent going back to his years in Pittsburgh. Also being on a competitive team should reignite Kessel as he’s just languished, like so many others, in the desert. Another benefit is that he shouldn’t cost more than possibly a conditional 3rd and mid level prospect to acquire since he is on an expiring contract.

2) Dominik Kubalik: This is not a name we’ve heard bandied about much because he seems to be well liked in Chicago. However, things are changing for the Hawks as they dug themselves into a hole with their horrendous start to the season and while they’ve played well of late, they don’t have the horses to dig themselves out of their early slump. Kubalik will be an RFA at season’s end and is only making 3.7M this season which the Rangers can easily fit into their cap situation. The price here could be tricky because I can see Chicago asking for as much as a 2nd rounder and a B+ level prospect like Mattew Robertson in return. Is that something that Drury would balk at? We’ve seen in the Jack Eichel talks that he has no issue setting his price and not moving.

3) Joe Pavelski: As of the writing of this the Dallas Stars currently sit 3 points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference. If things don’t turn around quickly for them they could very easily become sellers at the deadline and Pavelski could net them a pretty nice return even at 37 years old. The C/RW hybrid is playing very well for them through 25 games with 21 points including 9 goals and he would make a perfect addition to the Rangers. Not only can he play in all situations, he brings great leadership into the room and could likely be extended for a year or two at a team friendly price. While he can be used as a RW, he also he great as a center and is excellent in the faceoff dot, which is an area the Rangers have struggled mightily at. His cap hit would be hard to fit in at 7M for this season so that would likely force the Rangers to give up a conditional first to get some cap retention by Dallas.

4) Reilly Smith: Vegas needs cap space and they need it badly. Reilly Smith won’t be a Knight next season and everyone knows it and with Jack Eichel’s season debut creeping closer the Knights will need to get a return on one of the original misfits. The Rangers make all the sense in the world with a head coach who knows Smith extremely well from Florida and Vegas. He’s also the head coach that has gotten the most production out of Smith in both spots. Smith could perfectly slot in on the Panarin line and not miss a beat. This isn’t the sexiest name on the list but he would prove to be one of the most effective additions for Drury to make. He also shouldn’t require a lot since the Knights will likely be dealing from a position of weakness.

5) Claude Giroux: This is the least likely of all the options presented. Rarely do trades within the division happen and even more rare is when it’s between two hated rivals. The Rangers and Flyers don’t have a robust history of trading with each other and the most notable deal blew up in the Rangers face when they acquired Eric Lindros. While Giroux is 33, he doesn’t have the concussion history Lindros had, but he does have his own injury baggage that he would carry with him. He’s also making 8M for the rest of this year and the price tag of any trade to nab him would have a rivalry tax along with it. While adding him would exponentially help the Rangers it would also be costly for what would likely be a half season rental because re-signing him would mean the exile of Ryan Strome. That move would be sure to anger Artemi Panarin and after the trade of Buchnevich last year that wouldn’t be a wise choice for Chris Drury.

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