The New York Rangers have had a solid start to the 2023-24 season. With a record of 16-4-1, the Blueshirts currently sit second overall in the NHL with three games in hand over the league-leading Golden Knights. Assuming the Rangers’ continue their elite play deeper into the year, it’s safe to say that they will once again be buyers at this season’s trade deadline.
Now 21 games deep into the season, there have been certain players already standing out as possible targets to move when the deadline approaches. No player has been bad, as shown by the overall success of the team, but all Stanley Cup contenders must look to bolster their lineup as much as possible ahead of a hopeful playoff run.
1. Goodrow’s cap could be moved to make room for a bigger target
Barclay Goodrow has been quite mediocre to start this season. He’s recorded just three points so far as a regular member of the Rangers’ bottom six. Not only has his offensive production been lackluster, but he consistently takes unnecessary penalties that hurt the team substantially.
What truly makes Goodrow stand out as a possible trade option is his cap hit. He’s currently tenured for $3.64 million per year, and his taking up way too much cap space for what he provides to the team. With the Rangers having as little money to spend as they do, the Blueshirts will need to clear significant cash in order to even attempt to acquire a solid player at the deadline. As of now, Goodrow seems like the best candidate to do just that.
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2. The Rangers could swap a depth defender for a solid forward
Heading into the season, it seemed as if both Erik Gustafsson and Zac Jones would be competing to be the sixth defender in the Rangers’ defensive corps. But now 21 games in, it’s clear that Gustafsson was the right choice all along. Jones is still a solid defender, but there was no denying what Gustafsson provided to the defense.
As of now, Jones has no place to fit in on the Blueshirts’ roster. This gives the Rangers two options- keep him on the sideline for another year, or trade him. Jones’ potential is incredibly high, and he has the skill to become a solid NHL player if given the time and opportunity. There are many teams that would be willing to make a deal for him, and the Rangers could look to acquire another depth forward with their defensive corps being as full as it already is.
3. Kakko could have already played his last game as a Ranger
A few games back, Kaapo Kakko suffered a lower-body injury against the Buffalo Sabres. And although Rangers’ HC Peter Laviolette has said the injury doesn’t appear to be season-ending, only time will tell if that ends up being true. For now, the Rangers are utilizing Jonny Brodzinski as Kakko’s replacement. However, there are many options out there for long-term solutions to this issue.
Trading away Kakko is an idea that many fans will reject, but for a team that’s in a very strong “win now” mindset, this hole in the roster can not be left unfilled for long. Similarly to Jones, there are plenty of teams across the league who would be willing to give up a solid player in order to gamble on Kakko’s future. Trading away the second overall pick doesn’t seem likely, but it’s a possibility that GM Chris Drury may consider if things start to go south.