The Rangers need to target a new center at the trade deadline

New York Rangers center Filip Chytil (72) warms up before a game against the Winnipeg Jets  at Canada Life Centre
James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers have been without Filip Chytil for about the last two months. Following an upper-body injury that was later revealed to be a concussion during the Blueshirts’ matchup against the Carolina Hurricanes on November 2nd, Chytil was swiftly placed on the IR and has not been with the team since.

Now in late December, HC Peter Laviolette has confirmed that Chytil is continuing to skate on his own. However, he has not practiced with the team since suffering this most recent concussion. With no realistic timetable for his return, it’s time that the Rangers start to consider some possible options for a new center at the trade deadline.

How would the Rangers be able to afford a new center?

Despite the massive hole in the lineup that Chytil’s injury has left, it’s still not the number one priority for New York as the trade deadline grows closer. The first line is in desperate need of a right wing, and the Rangers will undoubtedly look to fill that void first. With a new center at number two on the priority list, and the limited cap space that the Blueshirts have to work with, it will be very difficult for the Rangers to afford a second player.

Luckily, Vincent Trocheck has stepped up since Chytil’s concussion and has assumed the role of the second-line center perfectly. If Chytil does remain out for a long period of time and the Rangers do need to acquire a new center at the trade deadline, they will only need to look for a bottom-six player. This would come at a much cheaper cost, making it more realistic for the Blueshirts to acquire both that and a winger.

Who would be a good fit in New York?

Right now, one of the best options on the market appears to be Montreal Canadien center Sean Monahan. The Canadiens have been mediocre this season, which has certainly had an effect on his stats, but Monahan is still having a solid performance this year.

What makes Monahan so intriguing isn’t his offensive capabilities, but his contract and play style. His cap hit comes at just under $2 million dollars, making him an affordable option if the Rangers also want to look for a top-six winger. He’s also known to be a gritty, defensive forward whose skills would make a welcomed addition to the Rangers’ third line alongside Will Cuylle and (potentially) Kaapo Kakko or Blake Wheeler.

The NHL trade deadline is still a while away, but the Blueshirts should be looking into Monahan immediately. Acquiring new depth sooner rather than later would be preferred, as it would give Laviolette more time to contract a true Stanley Cup-caliber team.

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