Welcome to 2022 ladies and gentlemen. It’s early January, Winter is rearing it’s ugly head in the Northeast, and the NHL season is nearly half over for teams that have mostly avoided Covid related postponements. With the Olympics out of the picture, the next two flash points of the year are the all star game and the trade deadline. It’s currently one of those nights where the Rangers are coming off a thrilling win at home, I can’t sleep at midnight despite having work in the morning, and all I can think about is this team and it’s playoff aspirations. With that being said, let’s speculate about who might be available come deadline day and why the Rangers should take a flier on them. To be clear, this is pure SPECULATION, just me letting my mind wander as this Monday night becomes a Tuesday morning.
The first thing that grabbed my attention as I checked on HF Boards for the first time in what felt like years was Freidman reporting that the Coyotes are gauging the market on Jakob Chychrun. Now, do the Rangers need another D in the mold of Chychrun? Not at all, no, but what is interesting about the idea is his current contract situation. He’s a 23 year old left handed D signed for 3 more years at $4.6m. The ask is reportedly massive so I’m hesitant to even daydream about bringing in this former 16th overall pick, but he would bring a stable presence to an already strong blue line and would undoubtedly improve his play on a team where he isn’t so heavily relied on to do it all from the back end.
Let’s stick with the theme of struggling organizations from out west. The Dallas Stars have a veteran core that has gotten them far in previous years but seems to have run its course as they sit well below a wild card spot approaching the half way point of the season. Joe Pavelski hasn’t been there long but has been a key contributor to some of those successful runs, not to mention his illustrious career as captain of the Sharks as well as his stints with Team USA. He’s a swiss army knife of a player that can play center or right wing, he’s a net front presence, he kills penalties, and his experience is invaluable to a young team like the Rangers. He’s also starving for a Stanley Cup, so do with that info what you will. He’s a UFA at the end of this year so he would purely be a rental pick up, but that fits the ultimate plan of the Rangers organization better than acquiring a player with salary and term on their contract. Recent reports suggest he’s happy in Dallas despite the lack of success, but business is business, and if the right deal comes across the table, the Stars could be forced to deal him.
I’ve heard rumors since the off season to this day about different centers the Rangers have kicked tires on. We all heard the Eichel rumors and saw him get traded to Vegas. I heard rumors before the Blais deal that a Buchnevich/Horvat swap was close to happening. Tomas Hertl’s name seems to always be connected to the Rangers in the rumor mill these days. The most appealing one to me, though, and I don’t think this is even much of a rumor as much as it is wishful thinking, is Rickard Rakell. He’s a very talented Swedish center who seemed like he might be a franchise cornerstone in Anaheim for a while, but with a decline in his production and the rise of young star Trevor Zegras, it wouldn’t entirely shock me if his time as a Duck came to an end soon. The fact that Anaheim is currently in a playoff spot pretty much guarantees a deal for Rakell doesn’t happen this year, but let’s just pretend because it would be extremely cool if he ended up in New York. Now, we’re all familiar with Mika Zibanejad, correct? Well, before he was a Ranger, or even an Ottawa Senator, he scored the golden goal for Sweden in the 2012 World Junior Championship. Who else was on that team? That’s right, Rakell. Not only did they bask in the gold medal glory together, but the two of them actually played pretty well together throughout the tournament, as they both finished with 5 points in 6 games. We love our Swedes here on Broadway, so Ricky Rakell would without a doubt be a welcome addition to our center core.
That’s enough baseless speculation for one night, folks. I’m gonna hate myself at work tomorrow, but at least I have the Morning Skate crew to lift my spirits. Enjoy the rest of the season everybody, let’s hope it goes off without a hitch. Stay healthy and safe, and finally, happy new year to all. Let’s go Rangers.