New York Rangers NHL

Three tough questions the New York Rangers will face at the NHL Trade Deadline

April 4, 2021

Jan 28, 2021; Buffalo, New York, USA; Buffalo Sabres center Riley Sheahan (15) and New York Rangers center Brett Howden (21) reach for the puck in the second period at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers will have four more games before the April 12 NHL Trade Deadline. They are not easy contests either as they face the Penguins and Islanders two games apiece. The Bruins have five games in that same time span with three against the Flyers and two versus the Capitals. The Rangers are going to need at least five points in the net four games to stay in the playoff race with the Bruins only capturing four or five themselves and exclusively against the Flyers.

As you can see; the path to the playoffs isn’t an enviable one for the Blueshirts. It also isn’t out of the realm of possibility that after the deadline passes the Bruins could be well over 10 points ahead too. That’s why the Rangers will need to make some tough decisions that day.

Trading Brett Howden

brett howdenFeb 18, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New York Rangers center Brett Howden (21) carries the puck against Philadelphia Flyers left wing Michael Raffl (12) during the first period at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Brett Howden is on the roster as he came off COVID protocol and is expected to be available on Tuesday against the Penguins. Of course who are you taking out? The answer is no one. Vitali Kravtsov debuted and needs to stay in the lineup. Julien Gauthier also proved he can be effective in a fourth line role and Kevin Rooney and Colin Blackwell are contributors to success.

The Blueshirts also have Morgan Barron knocking on the door. That means the Rangers need room and I can see a trade of Brett Howden for a mid round draft pick as the most likely scenario at the deadline. They could also lose him for nothing to Seattle in expansion so it may be worth getting an asset back for him.

What to do with Brendan Smith?

brendan smithMar 4, 2021; Newark, New Jersey, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Brendan Smith (42) celebrates his goal during the third period of their game against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Brendan Smith has been a real strong contributor for the team and although there isn’t a lot of noise surrounding him at the deadline the Rangers need to move him. Good asset management suggest that getting a 4th or 5th round pick for a veteran pending UFA is the right move.

There’s a lot of bigger names on the trade market like Mattias Ekholm and David Savard, but it would be wise for Jeff Gorton to start calling up some teams and ask them if they be interested in Smith with 50% salary retention for a pick.

Anthony Bitteto or Tarmo Reunanen could easily take his place the rest of the way.

Do they go for a rental of their own?

Let’s go with a wild scenario that says the Rangers pick up 6-8 points before the deadline? Let’s also say the Bruins also do as they need with only 4-5 points exclusively against the Flyers. Do the Rangers add anything to solidify their place for the playoffs?

What would they add? There’s a logjam at forward – but what about a better 5th or 6th defenseman? Again; I don’t believe the Rangers will make any moves for a rental but could there be a real hockey deal available at the deadline no one expects? All will be answered soon.

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