The New York Rangers have emerged as a competitive team after missing the playoffs the past four seasons. With the upcoming trade deadline of March 21st, the Rangers will look to make a splash in the market. A few trades can help the Rangers continue in the top-teams group of the Metropolitan Division. The Rangers hold a record of 37-17-5, with a .669 win percentage, good enough for second in the Metropolitan Division. The club only sits eight points back of the power-house Carolina Hurricanes.
New York Rangers Trades Before Deadline
2022 second-round pick
New York’s Side
The first Rangers trade option for the 2022 trade deadline is acquiring Montreal Canadians forward, Artturi Lehkonen. The 26-year-old native of Piikkio, Finland has attracted significant interest around the league. Artturi was selected in the second-round, 55th-overall back in 2013 by the Canadians. He is a really solid middle-six option for the Rangers, providing an excellent two-way game. Lehkonen is considered one of the top two-way forwards in the league. Not only that, Lehkonen is a player who can add to the score-sheet whenever needed. The Rangers need to improve their 5v5 play, making Lehkonen a promising candidate to acquire.
In 53 games this season, Lehkonen has posted 11 goals and 14 assists for 25 points so far, including ten primary assists (A1). Lehkonen has an individual point percentage (IPP) of 91.67, ranking second in the entire league at 5v5 this season. Individual point percentage shows how frequently a player is awarded a point in an event his team scored or if the player was on the ice (via Natural Stattrick). In addition, he has an expected goals-for percentage (xGF%) of 55.61. Finally, Lehkonen ranks 7th among forwards in RAPM expected goals-against per 60-minutes (xGA/60) this season (via Evolving Hockey). With over 2 standard deviations (SD), this puts Lehkonen above the 95th percentile among forwards in this metric.
As for the Canadians, Kravtsov is a player who has shown flashes of promise in the KHL. In 19 games for Traktor Chelyabinsk, the 22-year-old has recorded six goals and seven assists for 13 points. Furthermore, Kravtsov added three points in four playoff games. During the 2020-21 season, Kravtsov suited up for 20 NHL games with the Rangers, notching two goals and two assists. He has showcased his crafty offensive skills over-seas and has good awareness on the ice. A team can never acquire enough draft capital with a second-round pick.
2022 third-round pick
New York’s Side
The second Rangers trade option that needs to happen this deadline is acquiring forward Max Domi from the Columbus Blue Jackets. Domi, at 27-years-old, hasn’t found the most success with Blue Jackets. His name has been in some trade talks, but he’s quite under the radar. Domi is a player that has to be playing in a top-six role in order to reach his maximum potential. This season in 49 games, Domi has recorded nine goals and 20 asssists, for 29 points. These numbers aren’t eye-opening, but Domi is averaging around 13 minutes a game, the lowest time of his career. During his time with Arizona and Montreal, he averaged over 16 minutes of ice per game.
When given over 17 minutes of ice-time a game with Montreal in 2018-19, Domi recorded 28 goals and 44 assists for 72 points in 82 games. In the same year, Domi posted an impressive 52.69 expected goals-for percentage (xGF%) and over two standard deviations (SD) of RAPM goals-for per 60-minutes (GF/60). His RAPM goals-for per 60-minutes (GF/60) was good enough for 19th among forwards in the NHL that season. Furthermore, he had a 5v5 individual points percentage (IPP) of 79.1, ranking 28th among forwards league-wide with over 750 minutes of ice-time.
In 2022 with the Blue Jackets, Domi has an expected goals-for percentage (xGF%) of 45.06 which ranks 269th among forwards with over 500 minutes of ice-time. In addition, he’s recorded an RAPM goals-for per 60-minutes (GF/60) of about 1.61 standard deviations (SD). Even with less ice-time, Domi has put up some decent numbers. With more opportunity, Domi’s gritty play-style can complement the Rangers top-nine forwards very well.
As mentioned before, a team can never have too much draft capital. A third-round pick along with 21-year-old defenceman Matthew Robertson is a solid package for a young Blue-Jackets team. Robertson’s great puck protection and stick-handling can help bolster the Blue-Jackets’ future defensive-core. The former 2019 second-round pick has one goal and eight assists for nine points in 45 games with the Hartford Wolfpack this season. Robertson has potential to develop into a good second-pairing defenceman for the Blue Jackets. Along with blue-liners like Zach Werenski, Adam Boqvist, and Jake Bean, Columbus can build a scary top-four defensive core.
New York receives:
2022 third-round pick
Returning to Montreal, the third and final trade option for the Rangers this deadline is acquiring 28-year-old defenceman Brett Kulak. One of the main weak-spots for the Rangers is their third pairing left-defenceman. With a cap-hit of only $1.875 million, Brett Kulak serves as a cheap and realistic target for New York. Moreover, Kulak provides a strong 5v5 defensive game, recording an RAPM expected goals-against per 60-minutes (xGA/60) of 1.25 standard deviations (SD). This impressive defensive metric ranks 25th among defenceman in 2022.
The former 2012 fourth-round pick can pair great alongside rookie Braeden Schneider on New York’s third-pairing. While defensive-defenceman are very valuable, there are some cases where these players can leave holes in the team’s 5v5 offence. This is not the case with Kulak, as he has recorded a respectable two goals and 10 assists for 12 points in 52 games. Kulak is a cap-friendly option before March 21st for New York.
With Montreal looking to sell pieces during the 2022 trade deadline, another draft pick can be useful for the future. Kulak is in the final year of his current contract and could hit the open market this summer. Montreal gets good value for a solid second or third-pairing shutdown defenceman. It’s better to ship Kulak for a third, rather than losing him for nothing.
Outlook for New York Rangers Trades
With the Rangers current up and coming core, the team should continue to give opportunity to youngsters like Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko. New York should be in no-rush to throw multiple assets at rentals like Claude Giroux and Filip Forsberg. Max Domi is capable of filling a second-line center role if the management and Ryan Strome decide to part ways. The Rangers should only focus on addressing 5v5 play overall as a team, which these three players can fulfill.
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