2022 NHL Trade Deadline Primers

How NHL trade deadline could affect Eastern Conference playoff race

There has not been much intrigue in the Eastern Conference Playoff race for a couple of months now as the eight playoff spots have pretty much been secured since the around the halfway point of the 2021-22 NHL season, and maybe even earlier.

No team currently on the outside of a playoff spot is closer than 11 points away from a playoff spot, and with every team having between 20-22 games remaining that is a pretty significant gap to try and make up in a quarter of a season. The only real intrigue is what the First Round matchups will look like and which teams will have home ice advantage.

Having said all of that, the eight playoff teams do seem to be separated into two different tiers.

At the top you have the Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers, and the back-to-back Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning as the clear favorites, while the Panthers are clearly ready and willing to add to their already strong roster at the NHL trade deadline.

The Pittsburgh Penguins, Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers, Washington Capitals, and Boston Bruins are on the second tier.

All of these teams are good and no matter what the first round matchups look like nobody is going to have an easy time here. Any outcome should not really be seen as a surprise, but those three teams at the top are still going to enter the playoffs as heavy favorites. What can the other five teams do to before Monday’s NHL trade deadline an effort to close that gap? Or is there anything they have to do?

Let’s examine each team and the one thing they need to do to beat one of the top-three Stanley Cup contenders.

Boston Bruins (scoring depth, maybe another defenseman)

Even without a move the Bruins are looking like a nightmare matchup for one of the two division winners in the First Round. As long as Jeremy Swayman can maintain his strong play they do not have many weaknesses. Patrice Bergeron is playing at an absurd level, they are starting to find some depth scoring with Taylor Hall and Craig Smith picking up their production, and you have to think a move of some sort is coming here, whether it be for a second-line center or a big addition on defense.

They have been connected to Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun and putting him on the same blue line as Charlie McAvoy would be a game-changer. They may be a wild card team right now, but with the way they defend and the way their top-four core players (Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Pasatrnak, McAvoy) are playing right now they are going to be a hellacious matchup.

New York Rangers (forward depth)

The Rangers are going to be a scary matchup because of one man: Igor Shesterkin. He is not only the runaway favorite for the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goalie, he should absolutely be in the MVP discussion for the way he has helped carry the Rangers this season. Their record with him as their starter versus without him is absurd, and it is not difficult to see how much they rely on him.

[Related: NHL Trade Deadline Primer: Is there a surprise trade to be made this year]

New York is the team here that could benefit from the NHL trade deadline the most. They have a dominant goalie (Shesterkin), an elite defenseman (Adam Fox), and a couple of top-line offensive players that can change a game (Artemi Panarrin, Mika Zibanejad, Chris Krieder). What they are lacking is quality depth throughout their bottom six. The good news is New York has more salary cap space than any other contender to work with, a strong collection of young talent to deal from, and the flexibility to be players for pretty much anybody that is available. They already made one strong addition to get Frank Vatrano from the Florida Panthers for a fourth-round draft pick and they could still be aggressive in the coming days.

You want to take advantage of the seasons Shesterkin, Panarin, and Fox are having so this is definitely the time to strike with a big move or two if you can make it happen. As presently constructed they might be the most flawed of the eight playoff teams given their lack of depth, but they have the power to change that.

Pittsburgh Penguins (top-six winger)

The Penguins have shown that their window for Stanley Cup contention is still wide open. They have exceeded most expectations this season and been one of the best teams in the league. They are strong defensively, still have elite forwards (Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Jake Guentzel) and have received mostly excellent goaltending from Tristan Jarry.

Their needs are simple. They need Jarry to continue to play like he has for most of this season and avoid the type of postseason experience he had a year ago against the New York Islanders, they need to stay healthy (and get healthy; the return of Jason Zucker would be helpful), and they probably need to add another top-six winger to play next to Malkin given the struggles of Kasperi Kapanen. General manager Ron Hextall has repeatedly said he does not feel pressure to do anything, and he seems reluctant to give up much for a rental. He seemingly wants a player with term still on their deal, which would be especially helpful given the possible free agency departure of Bryan Rust after this season.

Toronto Maple Leafs (goaltending)

No team is facing more pressure to win than this team. This core has gone five straight seasons and five straight postseason appearances without a series win, and a sixth will no doubt lead to major changes. They have to win. No questions asked. The roster is strong overall, and their defensive player is better than it often times gets credit for being. They also have managed to build some solid forward depth around their big-money core of forwards.

The one thing that can undo all of that? Goaltending. Given the way it is going right now, that position has to be some major nightmare fuel for Maple Leafs fans.

[Related: Maple Leafs have goalie concerns, but trade deadline options are risky]

If there is one thing for this team to fix, that is it. Maybe Jack Campbell comes back and plays like he did in the first half of the season. Maybe.

That is no guarantee, and they really do not have a Plan B right now at the position. They look to be avoiding their long-time playoff nemesis Boston in the First Round, but are instead looking at either Florida, Tampa Bay, or Carolina. Not exactly ideal, and they are not going to beat either one with the goaltending they have.

They need a goalie. Badly. That is the position. That should be the only focus over the next couple of days. Goalie. Goalie. Goalie. Goalie. Trade for a goalie.

[Related: 2021-22 NHL Trade Deadline Tracker]

Washington Capitals (goaltending, stay healthy)

You could make the argument that they could use some additional forward depth, but that part of the roster looks a lot better if Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie are healthy (they have each missed more than 20 games this season).

Goaltending is the big wild card here. Ilya Samsonov has not developed like they hoped he would, and while Vitek Vanecek has played well this season, is he somebody that is going to take you through this Eastern Conference playoff field? If you can get an upgrade, you have to explore it. Marc-Andre Fleury is the obvious answer here, but does he want to move again (and to Washington?) and do the Capitals want to make that investment in a position they may not truly *need* in order to win.

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    NHL Trade Deadline Primer: Is there a surprise trade to be made this year?

    2022 NHL Trade Deadline Primers NHL Trade Deadline Rumors
    Getty Images

    The 2022 NHL Trade Deadline is Monday, March 21 at 3 p.m. ET. As we get closer to the deadline we will take a look at some individual players who could be on the move. We continue today with some players that you might not be expecting to move but could if the right offer presents itself, similar to what we saw a year ago with the Anthony Mantha for Jakub Vrana trade.

    Every year there are typically three types of trades that happen at the NHL Trade Deadline. The most common of these trades is the rental, where a non-playoff team that has given up on the season trades a pending unrestricted free agent to a playoff team to help fill an area of weakness for whatever they can get. This is usually what we see.

    The second type of trade involves the rebuilding team that deals a player with term on their contract to really kickstart their rebuild, hoping a team that wants to get multiple playoff runs out of that player will pay a premium price.

    Then there is the “hockey trade.” This is is the least common trade involving players under contract, maybe even players on playoff teams or playoff hopeful teams. Maybe somebody has a glut at one position and is thin at another and they find a team that complements that. Maybe a team outside the playoffs has hopes of competing next season and jumps at a opportunity. It is players you did not expect to be traded.

    The Anthony Mantha-for-Jakub Vrana trade a year ago fits the latter two categories quite well.

    Is there anybody that could be involved in such a deal this season?

    Some potential candidates and the possible returns

    Travis Sanheim, Philadelphia Flyers. Honestly it is really difficult to understand what, exactly the Flyers are doing here. The team is lousy, is probably going to trade Claude Giroux after his 1,000th game on Thursday, and they are not even close to competing, meaning anybody could be on the table. But they also just re-signed Rasmus Ristolainen for five years for some reason. Could that make Sanheim expendable? It should not because he is the one that has driven that defense pairing this season, but Sanheim carries a reasonable salary cap hit for another season after this and if some team is going to give up a nice pick for pending free agent Ben Chiarot, you have to imagine Philadelphia could do well here.

    John Marino or Marcus Pettersson, Pittsburgh Penguins. The deal here is the Penguins need another top-six winger to play next to Evgeni Malkin because Kasperi Kapanen is just not getting the job done. The Penguins do not have many tradable assets that other teams are going to covet and general manager Ron Hextall wants to add a player that has term left on their deal (perhaps as insurance for a seemingly inevitable Bryan Rust departure this offseason in free agency). That means some money has to go out.

    Marino and Pettersson are mid-level players with fairly significant contracts for a few more years so trading one of them makes sense. They are good enough to have some trade value, but are expendable within the Penguins’ lineup. Especially since Pettersson has been the odd man out lately due to the recent emergence of Mark Friedman. You do not want to give away too much of your depth, but this is a situation where the Penguins have a lot of options on the blue line and need forward help. This is classic hockey trade territory. Is this is a potential match for Jim Rutherford (who acquired and signed both players in Pittsburgh) and one of his forwards (Brock Boeser or Conor Garland?).

    Clayton Keller, Arizona Coyotes. There has not been any indication of this happening, but consider this: If Arizona is willing to trade Jakob Chychrun, and has already traded Garland, and Oliver Ekman-Larsson, and Christian Dvorak, and Darcy Kuemper, and will almost certainly sell off any pending free agent it can (Phil Kessel, etc.) then what purpose does Keller serve in Arizona? Yeah, you have to keep somebody. Yeah, you have to pay somebody. But if you are going so deep into a rebuild that not even Chychrun is safe from trade talks, then nobody is off the table.

    [Related: NHL Trade Deadline: Primer: This is not the time for a Jakob Chychrun trade]

    Keller has a massive contract that might be difficult for teams to take on, but he is also having an outstanding year and averaging a point per game. Would Arizona really turn down a first-round pick, a top prospect, and some other filler right now? Can not hurt to put it out there.

    Tyler Bertuzzi, Detroit Red Wings. The Red Wings are in an interesting spot here. They are reaching a point in their rebuild where it is time to take a big step toward the playoffs next season. They have two cornerstone players in place in Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider, a heckuva veteran in Dylan Larkin, and a healthy Jakub Vrana now healthy and coming back. They also have gobs of salary cap space this offseason and can be very aggressive.

    [Related: 2021-22 NHL Trade Deadline Tracker]

    Bertuzzi is having a great year offensively, but he is going to be an unrestricted free agent after next season and be 29 when his new contract kicks in. Will he repeat this performance? How much is he worth in the future as he gets into his 30, and is his trade value right now worth more than than that hypothetical value to the Red Wings as a player? If you could get similar value to the Mantha trade here, it might be worth exploring.

    Brock Boeser or Conor Garland, Vancouver Canucks. J.T. Miller‘s name also surfaced in trade speculation for a while but there seems to be little chance of that happening. Nobody is going to pay the justifiably high price Vancouver will almost certainly set for him, and there is also the fact the Canucks are not out of this thing. They have been great under Bruce Boudreau, while the Vegas Golden Knights are self destructing and I am not sure how much you should trust the Edmonton Oilers.

    [Related: NHL Trade Deadline Primer: J.T. Miller should carry high price for Vancouver Canucks]

    They are in this. For that reason they should be very cautious when it comes to selling at the trade deadline. Boeser is due for a new contract as a restricted free agent after this season, and the salary cap is tough for the Canucks, but maybe you see what these guys can do and worry about the offseason and salary cap in the offseason when you need to. Maybe this is where Pittsburgh is a match with one of their defenders (Marino or Pettersson) for a good hockey trade.

    Artturi Lehkonen, Montreal Canadiens. This could be this year’s Blake Coleman. Lehkonen is an outstanding possession driver and having a really good year offensively and on pace for close to 20 goals and 40 points over 82 games. With his two-way play and possession ability that is an incredibly valuable player, and he is still only a restricted free agent after this season. The Canadiens could aboslutely get a strong return here if they wanted. Almost certainly a first-round pick at minimum.

    Trade Deadline Predictions

    These types of trades are pretty rare, which is why the Mantha trade a year ago was so surprising. So anything along those lines happening again this season seems like a pretty significant stretch. Those types of trades tend to happen more in the offseason when more teams are involved.

    Arizona is not trading Keller, the Flyers are going to keep Sanheim, and a Bertuzzi trade really seems like a stretch to imagine, even if general manager Steve Yzerman is willing to listen to offers for all of his players outside of Raymond and Seider.

    But maybe there is a match with Pittsburgh and Vancouver (most likely Garland?) where both teams can address a need, and it would not be a surprise to see Montreal get a strong deal for Lehkonen.

    NHL Trade Deadline Primer: Hoping for a Dominik Kubalik bounce back

    NHL Trade Deadline Rumors Dominik Kubalik
    Stacy Revere, Getty Images

    The 2022 NHL Trade Deadline is Monday, March 21 at 3 p.m. ET. As we get closer to the deadline we will take a look at some individual players who could be on the move. We continue today with Chicago Blackhawks forward Dominik Kubalik.

    With the Chicago Blackhawks at the bottom of the Western Conference standings and a new general manager talking about rebuilding and a “three or five year” process it seems like a given that they are going to be sellers at the trade deadline. The question is simply how much are they willing to sell. Starting goalie Marc-Andre Fleury is the most impactful name on the roster, while Brandon Hagel might bring them back the biggest return outside of dealing one of their big-three (Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Alex DeBrincat). But Dominik Kubalik might be the most likely player to get traded over the next week-and-a-half.

    Kubalik burst onto the scene in Chicago as a rookie during the 2019-20 season with 30 goals in only 68 games, resulting in a third-place finish in the Calder Trophy voting behind defensemen Cale Makar (Colorado Avalanche) and Quinn Hughes (Vancouver Canucks). For as promising as that season was, there were some things to have pause over when it came to projecting his long-term value. For starters, he was already 24 years old, which is typically around the time scorers hit their peak. He also had a 19.7 percent shooting percentage for the season, which is unsustainably high long term.

    Over the next two years his production has steadily dropped across the board, to the point where he has 11 goals and 21 points in 59 games this season (a 15-goal, 29-point pace over 82 games).

    Instead of being a top-line winger, he is probably more of a middle-six option. That still has some value.

    What the return might look like

    Probably not all that significant. Not only is Kubalik having a down year and regressing for a second straight year offensively, but he is also a restricted free agent after this season and is going to require a qualifying offer of around $4 million. Is it a guarantee somebody wants to commit to that right now? It would probably come down to what he does over the remainder of the regular season and the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Blackhawks are reportedly hoping to get a second-round pick for him, but do not be surprised if he goes for even less given all of the variables. He is a goal scorer that right now is not scoring a lot of goals and is about to make more money next season.

    The most logical landing spots

    • New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Edmonton Oilers

    The Rangers have some serious depth needs but they also have the ability to aim for something more and maybe swing for the fences given their trade assets and gobs of salary cap space. If you could land any player available, why set your sights here? But, they do need additional depth scoring and Kubalik is one of the many options.

    The Penguins are definitely in the market for a middle-six winger given the struggles of Kasperi Kapanen. General manager Ron Hextall seems reluctant to part with his first-round pick and they do not have a ton of salary cap space to work with, so Kubalik could be an option. Hextall also reportedly would like a player with term remaining on his contract (the Penguins might lose Bryan Rust after this season in free agency) and while Kubalik is not currently under contract, he is still a restricted free agent.

    As for the Oilers, well, who really knows. They have played better under Jay Woodcroft but they still have a lot of issues with forward depth, defense, and goaltending. They need everything just to make the playoffs. The question is whether or not general manager Ken Holland wants to address any of it.

    Wild Card team: Los Angeles Kings

    The Kings are better than most expected and look to be in the driver’s seat for a playoff spot thanks to some big offseason additions (Philip Danault and Viktor Arvidsson). Kubalik’s career started with the Kings organization (seventh round pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft) before being traded in 2019 for a fifth-round draft pick. The Kings could use absolutely use a little extra depth and Kubalik would be a cheap roll of the dice to see if they could catch some lightning in a bottle.

    Spot I want to see just for fun: Florida Panthers

    Not their most pressing need but it would be fun if they could get him back on track the way they have with Anthony Duclair and Sam Bennett. Every player they acquire these days seems to put it all together there.

    NHL Trade Deadline prediction

    The Kings strengthen their playoff push and add Kubalik for a second-round pick hoping that he can rediscover some of his goal scoring touch with a fresh start.

    NHL Trade Deadline Primer: Georgiev, Korpisalo and the second tier goalies

    NHL Trade Deadline 2022 Goalies NHL Trade Rumors
    Jared Silber, Getty Images

    The 2022 NHL Trade Deadline is Monday, March 21 at 3 p.m. ET. As we get closer to the deadline we will take a look at some individual players who could be on the move. We continue today New York Rangers goalie Alexandar Georgiev, New York Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov, Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Joonas Korpisalo, and the rest of the second-tier goalie options that could be available on the trade market.

    The goalie market is going to be an interesting one to watch ahead of the NHL Trade Deadline over the next couple of weeks. Chicago Blackhawks goalie Marc-Andre Fleury is the obvious top player that could be available, but there is no guarantee he will move (or if even wants to move) ahead of the deadline. There is also the fact that there are not a ton of teams even in the market for a goalie upgrade. At least as far as starters are concerned.

    After you get by Fleury, Alexander Georgiev, Semyon Varlamov, Joonas Korpisalo, and maybe Braden Holtby could be potential trade targets around the league.

    What the return might look like

    There is not a major blockbuster trade to be had here. Goalies in general tend to not bring major returns, and that is especially true at this time of year when you are talking about potential rentals.

    Just for some perspective here: Back in 2020 Robin Lehner went to Vegas for a second-round pick, Malcolm Subban, and a low-level prospect.

    In 2019 Petr Mrazek went to Philadelphia from Detroit for a third-and fourth-round pick when he was still a pending restricted free agent.

    Back in 2017 Ben Bishop went from Tampa Bay to Los Angeles for some conditional late round picks, Peter Budaj, and Erik Cernak.

    Lehner and Bishop were well established goalies with strong track records of success and did not bring significant returns. Expect similar returns if players like Varlamov, Korpisalo, or Holtby move.

    Georgiev is the intriguing one because he is so young and still has some potential, but he has really struggled this season and would probably part of a package deal with other assets.

    The most logical landing spots

    • Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers, Washington Capitals

    The Maple Leafs seem to have their focus on adding to their defense, but that goalie situation is a problem right now. Jack Campbell is injured and had been struggling before that, and Petr Mrazek has not played well at all lately. That is a nightmare situation for a team that has Stanley Cup goals and is facing more pressure than probably any other team in the league. They probably do not have the salary cap space to acquire Fleury (and does Fleury want to go to Toronto?) so one of the second tier goalies might be more of an option.

    Edmonton has a lot of problems, and goalie is definitely among them. They can not continue to waste more prime years of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, and right now this team is in real danger of missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs entirely. Goaltending is not the only position the Oilers need help at, but it is definitely one that can solve the most problems quickly if they get the right goalie.

    Washington might be cooling in its goalie quest with the way Vitek Vanecek has played, but do you trust him and Ilya Samsonov to get you through the playoffs right now and compete for a Stanley Cup? Like Edmonton it might not be the biggest need, but it could be an easy fix to solve multiple problems.

    Wild Card team: Vegas Golden Knights

    This will probably depend on what happens with Robin Lehner’s status. If Lehner is healthy, he is still pretty good and capable of leading Vegas on a run. If he is not, they could be looking at Laurent Brossoit and Logan Thompson. That is not an ideal situation for a team that expects to compete for a championship this season and is currently on the playoff bubble.

    Spot I want to see just for fun: St. Louis Blues

    Ville Husso should be the guy in their net right now based on the way he has played this season. He has been significantly better than Jordan Binnington, who is in the first year of a massive long-term contract extension. But how comfortable are the Blues with Husso being their goalie in the playoffs, and how much faith do they have in Binnington who has been bad so far this season and has had some postseason meltdowns the past few years? They are probably not in the market for a goalie or in the position to add one, but it probably would not hurt if we are being objective here.

    NHL Trade Deadline prediction

    Georgiev stays in New York because there is really no need to trade him unless you get an offer you can not refuse. But why would anybody make you that offer now given the way he has played this season?

    Varlamov could be an option for somebody, but he still has one more year left on his deal and it is really a stretch to think the Islanders could bounce back next season with a fresh start and a season that is not messed up like their season was early in the year? He and Ilya Sorokin can still be an elite goalie duo. Varlamov also has a lot of say in where he goes with a no-trade clause.

    Korpisalo has shown flashes of being a good goalie in the past, but he has a sub-.900 save percentage the past two seasons and is all the way down at .883 so far this season. As bad as things like for teams like the Oilers and Maple Leafs in net right now, is that really an upgrade? Plus, Edmonton and Toronto seem destined to make additions elsewhere their lineups. If Edmonton even makes an upgrade. The goalie market is simply not very strong.

    Rangers trade deadline targets: J.T. Miller, rentals, and more

    Rangers trade deadline targets: J.T. Miller, rentals, and more
    Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images

    The 2022 NHL Trade Deadline is Monday, March 21 at 3 p.m. ET. With that time approaching, PHT will break down how contending teams and hopeful contenders should approach this challenging and exciting time. Sometimes, it won’t be totally clear if a team should even buy or sell at the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline. We continue today with the New York Rangers.

    Want to get the lowdown on individual players and other teams? PHT’s Trade Deadline Primer series has you covered.

    How good are the Rangers, really? Why that is only part of the trade deadline puzzle

    If you look only at the standings (and a +27 goal differential), you might believe that all is going to plan for the New York Rangers. Certainly, being in comfortable playoff position with key players peaking isn’t a bad thing.

    Yet, if you’ve followed even a bit of discourse around the Rangers, you likely heard that there are red flags waving left and right. That still seems to be the case.

    The Rangers rank among the bottom-10 in “quality” stats like expected goals and high-danger chances, and are among the absolute worst in sheer volume like scoring chance and shot differentials. Overall, there’s reason to be concerned, if not perturbed.

    This Money Puck chart of expected goals differential tells the story most dramatically:

    Overall, the Rangers are succeeding based off a mix of Igor Shesterkin playing at a Hart Trophy level, players like Chris Kreider reaching new heights, and blazing-hot special teams. Wait, did Igor Shesterkin get mentioned? Better do that another time.

    While that may not be sustainable, worries about being a “paper tiger” may only matter so much when considering the Rangers’ trade deadline targets.

    Beyond everything else, it just makes sense for the Rangers to be buyers at the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline. Cap Friendly places the Rangers’ trade deadline cap space at more than $31 million. After this season, the Rangers go from flush to snug, cap-space-wise, though. Extensions raise the cost of Mika Zibanejad and Adam Fox about $12M combined, while future earnings are unclear for young Rangers such as Alexis Lafrenière and Kaapo Kakko.

    So, the time kinda sorta has to be now. Logically, the Rangers seem best suited to focus on rentals at the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline. But that doesn’t mean that Broadway’s NHL team won’t shoot for a matinee star or two instead.

    Who/what might the Rangers be willing to trade away?

    While the Rangers figure to mainly be buyers at the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline, they could ship out more than mere draft picks.

    Granted, they have a decent reserve of those, too. Along with their first-rounder, they have two second-rounders to work with.

    They also have some other pieces to consider. It seems like the Rangers want to move on from backup goalie Alexandar Georgiev early. Vitali Kravtsov and Nils Lundkvist receive a lot of mentions. While reports indicate that the Rangers would rather trade Lundkvist than move Braden Schneider (or maybe Zac Jones), their blueline pipeline is a little crowded.

    One would assume that the Rangers will opt for the patient approach with Alexis Lafrenière and Kaapo Kakko, but this franchise loves splashy, front-page-worthy moves. So they’re at least worth mentioning.

    Rangers trade deadline targets: Miller, rentals, and more

    In some ways, that makes sense. Miller’s a former Ranger who’s versatile enough to plug into multiple spots in any lineup.

    For the most part, getting “two playoff runs” out of Miller is a perk, as his $5.25M cap hit is quite manageable. Would even that relative bargain squeeze the Rangers a bit, though? Would they want the Canucks to retain some salary, or take on money?

    It’s possible that a Rangers – J.T. Miller trade could be trickier than other ideas, and he won’t be cheap to acquire. He could very well be worth the fuss, though.

    [More on a potentially high price for a J.T. Miller trade]

    To me, rentals still make the most sense for the Rangers. Luckily, there are some some quality choices.

    • Would the Flyers trade Claude Giroux, and would he accept a move to the Rangers? The idea really hasn’t been paraded around all that much. He’s so good (and almost as versatile as J.T. Miller) that it would be silly not to have the conversation. Joe Pavelski seems less likely to be available with the Stars improving their playoff odds, but it’s at least another call/email Chris Drury should consider. It may not even be worth dreaming about Filip Forsberg, however.
    • Staple cites sources who say the Rangers have shown “increased interest” in Rickard Rakell lately. Rakell’s an interesting consideration.

    On one hand, there’s skill there (33 goals in 2016-17, 34 in 2017-18), and Rakell boasts at least some of the versatility of bigger trade deadline rental targets. He could provide a boost, though likely a subtler one.

    Yet if the asking price includes a first-rounder, is that really worth it? Maybe if the market ends up quite shallow.

    [Rakell is still a worthwhile trade deadline target overall]

    • Like Giroux, Mark Giordano isn’t connected to the Rangers in many trade deadline rumblings. Maybe he should be, though. As often as Igor Shesterkin bails this team out, Giordano may help them clean things up a bit in their own end. Playoff teams don’t want their Hockey Viz charts to look like a sea of red in front of their own goalies:

    • The Kraken may instead present the mid-budget trade deadline rentals that could appeal to the Rangers. Forwards like Calle Jarnkrok and Marcus Johansson won’t set the world on fire, but they also may only cost a second-rounder or less. Something to consider, especially if the Rangers aren’t just burying their hands in the sand about troubling team-wide underlying metrics.

    Rentals make most sense for Rangers, but there’s room for creativity

    Again, with a salary cap squeeze looming, the Rangers may be wise to focus on cleaner rental-style moves at the trade deadline.

    That said, their massive, short-term cap space could open up possibilities. Could the Rangers absorb cap space for other teams’ trades and land some picks in the process? That’s an odd thought for a would-be buyer. But sometimes it’s wise to take what the defense (and trade market) gives you.

    Granted, if there was a trade deadline for the Rangers to try to shoot for a big, bold play, this could also be it. If the Rangers end up quiet at the trade deadline, it won’t be for a lack of possibilities.

    James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.