Rangers’ ongoing defensive struggles suggest alternate approach to the trade deadline

New York Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba (8) and Calgary Flames defenseman Chris Tanev (8) fight during the first period at Madison Square Garden
Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers started the season as one of the best defensive teams in the NHL, but their reputation has quickly diminished over the last few weeks. The Blueshirts have lost countless games by multiple goals recently, as their record in their last 10 games now sits below .500.

Throughout the year, the Rangers’ lack of a suitable first-line right winger was the clear number one issue they would have to address at this season’s trade deadline. While that position still presents a problem, this defensive collapse has rapidly grown into a concern that might become their top priority as the deadline approaches.

The Rangers might need to target a defenseman as the trade deadline is now just under two months away

With the 2024 NHL trade deadline set for March 8th, the Blueshirts don’t have much time to decide what kind of approach they will bring to the most exciting time of the season. Teams will be looking to bolster their lineup for a Stanley Cup run, and it’s safe to say that the Rangers will be heavy buyers once again this year.

At this point, the Blueshirts may need to stray away from targeting an offensive player and focus on their defensive corps. They have limited cap space which will likely restrict them to making only one major move, so GM Chris Drury must choose wisely. The right wing remains a pressing issue, but the defense might just take the cake as the top priority.

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Which defensemen around the league will be available at the deadline?

As the deadline approaches, the list of targets will grow as teams prepare to either buy or sell. But just under two months away from the event, there are already some notable defensemen listed as top trade targets.

Noah Hanifin, who is perhaps the number one target around the league, is an elite defenseman for the Calgary Flames. He would likely insert himself on the top defensive pairing wherever he is traded, which will probably cause the Rangers to stray away from him. That, and the fact that his high interest will generate an expensive price tag, means that the Rangers probably need to look for other options elsewhere.

Chris Tanev is another Flames defenseman who is expected to be traded, but he better fits the Rangers’ needs and limited spending resources. He’s a shutdown defender who could possibly earn top-four minutes, which is exactly where the Blueshirts need help.

K’Andre Miller and Jacob Trouba seem to have lost their way this season, so one of them could be moved down to the third pairing to also relieve a struggling Erik Gustafsson/Braden Schneider duo. Schneider would be the likeliest cut if Tanev is acquired, but that may be for the best as the Rangers require a pure defensive defenseman right now.