Rangers: Another season-ending injury creates a problem for trade deadline plans

New York Rangers right wing Blake Wheeler
Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers may be on a six-game win streak, but it hasn’t come without any casualties. In the Blueshirts’ most recent victory over the Montreal Canadiens, veteran forward Blake Wheeler suffered a lower-body injury which was later revealed to be season-ending. With the trade deadline looming and Chris Drury expected to have big plans, this injury serves as a curve ball just a few weeks away from the main event.

Kakko’s chances of being moved have drastically decreased following Wheeler’s injury

It was recently confirmed that the Rangers were taking offers on Kaapo Kakko ahead of the deadline, but that will likely change now that their right-wing stock has taken another loss. With Wheeler out for the remainder of the year, Kakko and Alexis Lafreniere are the only two regular NHLers left on the roster. Adam Edstrom has already filled in on the fourth line, and now Matt Rempe has been recalled from Hartford to take Wheeler’s place. Because of this, the Rangers can’t afford to move on from Kakko unless the deal brings at least one right winger back to New York,

A new right winger becomes the Rangers’ top priority with Wheeler done for the season

Drury had two assets on his wish list for this season’s trade deadline: a third-line center and a first-line right winger. It was difficult to determine which of the two would be the first target the GM would aim for, but now, the latter has become the clear priority.

The Rangers are probably going to need to give up a hefty sum in order to fill the hole in the lineup that Wheeler is leaving. Two major trades have already been made around the NHL, and both involved first-round draft picks for 2024. Rangers’ owner James Dolan has reportedly vetoed the possibility of moving the Blueshirts’ first-rounder, but that may need to change for a suitable top-line right winger to join the team.

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