Rangers: 3 right wingers to target at the trade deadline

Pittsburgh Penguins left wing Jake Guentzel (59) looks to score past New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin (31) during the third period at Madison Square Garden
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers have gotten Kaapo Kakko back from injury, but the first line still looks incomplete even with the former second-overall pick joining Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanehad. Kakko’s skills may be better suited for a third-line role, but if he is sent down to the bottom six, there would once again be a massive hole on the top line.

The Blueshirts are expected to make a push for a new right winger at this season’s trade deadline, and there are plenty of names circulating for whom they could target.

The Rangers could look to make a deal for Jake Guentzel, but Pittsburgh may deny business with New York

Because the Rangers are continuing to struggle offensively at even strength, Jake Guentzel could pose as a solid solution to that issue. He’s one of the best 5v5 wingers in the NHL and would make an immediate impact on Kreider and Zibanejad’s production. He may be a natural left winger, but transitioning to the right side should not be too much of a problem.

The main issue regarding Guentzel is the fact that he currently plays for the Pittsburgh Penguins. If the Rangers make an attempt to acquire the winger, not only would Guentzel have to leave the Blueshirts out of his 12-team no-trade list, but the Penguins would also have to be willing to send one of their top forwards to a divisional rival. The chances of both of those happening are slim, but the Rangers should certainly take a crack at acquiring Guentzel.

Drury could look to make amends for his worst move as GM by forging a reunion with Pavel Buchnevich

There’s no denying that Chris Drury is one of the best general managers in the NHL. But even the best make mistakes sometimes, and the Rangers’ GM is not perfect. Perhaps his worst move with the organization was to trade away Pavel Buchnevich, who was the Blueshirts’ second-best forward at the time. It would be no easy task, but Drury could look to make up for this mistake this season at the trade deadline.

Since being traded away, Buchnevich has developed into an elite winger. He’s gone over a point per game in his two full seasons with St. Louis and is on pace for another stellar year right now. His cap hit comes at $5.8 million and extends through next season– and although it may be a bit pricy for the Rangers, it’s a perfect contract for a player of Buchnevich’s skills.

The Rangers could aim for a bottom-six winger in order to save money for other needed positions

Aside from the gaping hole at the right wing, there are some other areas of the roster that need to be worked on at the deadline. The defensive corps is in total shambles, and a depth center could also be helpful if Filip Chytil does not make a strong return from injury. The Rangers don’t have infinite cap space, so one option could be to look for a handful of depth pieces rather than expensive stars.

Kevin Labanc is one cheap option that the Blueshirts could look to target. If Kakko remains on the top line, this San Jose Sharks winger could make a solid addition to the third line. He’s regressed quite a bit throughout his career, but moving from a bottom-of-the-league team to a playoff contender could be enough to spark a new resurgence from Labanc. His cap hit sits at just under $5 million, which may seem expensive for his current production, but the Rangers could bring out the elite potential he once had.

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